Posts by Tom Semmens

  • Speaker: Catalonia, interrupted,

    The two opinions most commonly expressed by friends in Barcelona:

    1. The independence movement is driven by wealthy families who stand to gain financially and the extent to which Catalonia has been in any way negatively affected by the current system is vastly exaggerated. Cf Brexit.

    2. The central government’s response of using force to shut down the referendum was wrong and counterproductive.

    I wasn’t going to mention the accusations that the whole independence movement was stirred up by Catalonian politicians looking to avoid investigation for corruption and nepotism, but yes – that is also a reason.

    The use of force is counter-productive, but you have to ask why it was deployed. Why was Madrid so confident it could get away with a crack down? It was confident because it had a cast iron legal position, the backing of the EU and crucially, most of the rest of Spain. Electorally, making an example of Catalonia was the easiest call ever, especially given the intransigence of the pro-independence groups.

    Everyone in Spain knows the Civil Guards are next level – conservative and absolutely reliable in defense of the perceived “honour” of the Spanish state. Once they turned up, their actions were inevitable.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Catalonia, interrupted,

    What a load of hogwash. For all the nice leftism of the Catalan independence movement it has as it’s base exactly the same conceited logic as the Fascists of the Italian Lega Nord – cultural snobbery and a selfish rejection of the poorer parts of Spain as an albatross around the Catalonia’s neck and a desire to abandon their poorer fellow countrymen and women in places like Estramadura for the sake of being unfettered in the sunlit uplands of posh, progressive Europe.

    a massive grassroots movement had taken root wanting a vote on Catalonia becoming its own independent state within Europe.

    Really? A good 50% of the region isn't keen, if election results are any guide. I guess though if you don't want independence you opinion doesn't count in Catalonia, a selective definition a bit like if you want Brexit your view doesn't count in the minds of the ultra remainers I guess.

    Most Spaniards I know are deeply unsympathetic to the Catalonian chauvinism on display every day there, and the Catalans themselves are so wrapped up in their own self-importance they refuse to face certain political realities.

    From 1938-75 Spain was a deeply socially conservative, fascist dictatorship where the army and the Church were the standard bearers of “Spanishness” and of the highly reactionary values of Francoism. These values might currently lie dormant, but have not necessarily vanished from Spanish society, let alone the military.

    The semi-federal, highly autonomous nature of Spain’s internal organisation created by the seminal 1978 constitution is in a large part a reaction to the enforced and suffocating narrowness of the Francoist cultural and social agenda. Regions wished to express their identity again, and the 1978 constitution recognised this. These concessions to autonomy were negotiated within the context of a highly politicised and dangerous military and one of the key aspects of the 1978 constitution over the line against the far right’s objections is the first part of section two –

    “…The Constitution is based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation, the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards; it recognizes and guarantees the right to self-government of the nationalities and regions of which it is composed and the solidarity among them all…”

    In other words, to gain their semi-autonomy without losing everything in another military coup, the Spanish regions (including the Basque Country and even regions like Asturias as well as Catalonia) agreed to the INDISSOLUBLE UNITY OF THE SPANISH NATION. The Catalan government is trying to renege on this key promise – and take the wealthiest part of the country off with an insouciant two finger salute and an attitude of “I’m all right, Jack” and they then disingenuously claim they don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

    None the less, the Spanish constitution is clear and is the legal basis to the claim by Madrid that the independence referendum was illegal and unconstitutional. It wasn’t that “Some laws were broken” the whole damn thing was a massive exercise in illegality under the 1978 constitution Catalonia signed up to, and why – as you put it – the Spanish government doesn’t “…even acknowledging that Catalans might have a legitimate political demand…” and the reason why the EU did nothing.

    And anyway, Catalonia’s claim to independence is piss-weak. Catalonia has always been a possession of the crown of Aragon, with the uniting of Aragon and Castille (Ferdinand and Isabella) Catalonia became part of Spain, with significant local autonomy. Catalonia has NEVER been an independent state and has less claim to independence than, say, the Lega Nord where Piedmont had at least been an independent state in the 19th Century.

    The Catalonians need to get over themselves.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Cabinet and the Reeferendum, in reply to Sacha,

    Peter Dunne is not impressed.

    Of course he is not impressed, that creakingly ancient stuffed shirt made an art form of obfuscation dressed in up a bow-tied tweed of supercilious pomposity.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Cabinet and the Reeferendum,

    It is now blindingly obvious National are going to run a “just say no, two ticks for blue” campaign next election with maximum fact free FUD.

    Middle aged male blowhards in the media will reckon their love and support National's "strong stand".

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Digital persuasion and the…,

    I would like to see the NZ police issue a warrant for the arrest of Mark Zuckerburg in relation to the Christchurch shooting video and seek his extradition.

    NZ is a serious country with a proper rule of law so the US courts would have to hear the case and Zuckerburg would have to take it seriously.

    Not that I think we'd ever be able to extradite him here on a charge of abetting terror. But to paraphrase Lyndon Johnson, it would be great to get him into a courthouse and make him deny it.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: These things we must now change, in reply to steven crawford,

    Because semi-autos allow you to dice the animal as you kill it? Our laws will still allow five and seven shot magazines.

    Given that there are some people who think the only acceptable weapons with which men should fight boars is a plastic spoon and a couple of hellhounds named “Adolf” and “Satan” that even their owner won't pat unexpectedly, anyone who can’t hit an angry pig with a seven round mag deserves to be tuskered.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: These things we must now change,

    I was wondering how it would take things to get back to normal. As it turns out, about two weeks.

    it is all well and good for the Herald and it’s owners to throw their hands in the air in horror and exclaim “how did we get here????” but the reality is they contribute to the febrile atmosphere of entitlement, anger, othering, intolerance and all the rest of it every damn time they publish a rant by this asshole and all the rest of the clickbait assholes in their stable.

    The MSM need to own their contribution to the growth of hate. There is a direct cultural line linking Mike Hosking and all the other angry shock jocks to the logical outcome of constant ravings against the “enemy” and that logical outcome is the Christchurch shooter.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: Questions, but no answers,…,

    When I was younger and did a spot of deer stalking we would kit up in our swanndri bushshirts and shorts, grab our trusty bolt action rifles plus 20 rounds and hike into the ranges to perhaps bag ourselves a deer, but mainly to get away and eat simple food and drink some rum in a rusty hut. A nice gun was nice, but an old sporterised .303 would do just as well. It was tool, for a job to be done should the opportunity present itself.

    A few years back, I noted a guy about to go bush standing on the side of the Taupo road. He looked like a Serbian warlord, full matching Russian style camo, jungle boots, and military style webbing and he was equipped with two SKS self-loading rifles. I wondered at the change in the type of bloke who goes shooting these days.

    The point is that the contagion of the US obsession with firearms as a marker of the wider culture war around identity -with all the attendant attitudes – for a particular section of society has certainly now got a decent foothold in NZ. So there isn’t much point in “negotiating” with the gun lobby in the assumption they are a bunch of aesthetic collectors, grizzled farmers and salt of the earth hunters and trappers who will see reason when you tell that as a result of a massacre you will require new rules around some of their tools. The gun nuts are fundamentally unappeasable, because gun control is just another front in the endless culture wars.

    Military style weapons in particular have become a symbol of power and ego for the gun nuts, and by extension crazy crackpot white power types.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Cannabis reform is a serious…,

    The chances of getting any serious buy in from the National party for decent drug law reform seems to diminish by the day. For the right, the power of the culture wars seems just to much. Simon Bridges was at it again today, when asked attacking the Greens (in relation to the creation of an astroturf Green party) for supporting drug reform.

    All in all, the focus groups and polling must be telling National their are votes in provincial and suburban NZ in scare mongering up a culture war on drugs. As long as National remain committed to political expediency on this issue, the chances of meaningful and sensible reform our drugs laws are not good.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Cannabis reform is a serious…,

    The growing adoption (everyone from the screamingly loony Stephen Franks to the insecure Simon Bridges) by right wing radicals (I won't call them conservatives, the real conservatives these days are the centrists who run Labour) in NZ of Breitbart style talking points Trumpian culture war rhetoric shows how the US environment of a toxic right wing media that brainwashes it's audience has consequences beyond the borders of the USA itself.

    The danger these people pose to social order is ominous.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

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