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The Nation-State Strikes Back

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Firemen and people face off with Spanish Civil Guard officers outside a polling station for the banned independence referendum in Sant Julia de Ramis, Spain October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Medina

Spain has resorted to violent state repression in the face of today’s referendum on Catalan independence. The latest from Reuters (at the time of writing) is that more than 760 people have been injured in clashes with the police.

If you haven’t been following this one, the basics are as follows: Catalan separatists scheduled yet another vote on the possibility of independence and Spain, yet again, declared that such a vote would be unconstitutional. So far, so 2014. This time, though, the Spanish government has grievously overreacted. Police in riot gear have been sent against family-occupied schools, to prevent people from casting votes at these polling stations. Images of bloodied civilians at the ballot box are fast accumulating. Even the region’s firefighters have stepped in to serve as a human shield against national police (see photo above).

Whatever you think about Catalonia’s bid for nationhood, the Spanish reaction has not only been unjust, but also stupid. This crackdown can only hurt the case for a united Spain. Because nothing says winning like a desperate reliance on police violence and voter suppression.

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