I first became aware that there was a Catalonia Independence movement when I was writing for the Capitalist Review a couple of years ago. Catalonia is a region of Spain that is centered on Barcelona. Even though it has been a part of Spain since the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, Catalonia has its own distinct language and culture. Pro-independence parties won regional elections in 2015. Now Catalonia has gone the next step and has declared independence. Authorities in Spain are not amused and are moving to crush the independence movement and take the region under direct control.

The first rule about declaring independence: better be prepared to fight

The one mistake that the people of Catalonia made, even as they are turning out into the streets to celebrate their “independence”, are not considering what it might take to make the declaration stick. Some independence bids end well. The Czech Republic and Slovakia divorced amicably after the end of the Cold War.

However, take it from someone whose direct ancestor took his musket down from over the fireplace, kissed his wife and children goodbye, and then marched off to war in 1776. If you want independence from a mother country that does not want to give it to you, you have to take it in fire and blood. The matter will end with smashed cities, ravaged fields, and widows and orphans made in droves.

On the other hand, the matter may devolve into terrorism. Then Catalonia will devolve into something like the Basque country or Northern Ireland during the Troubles and all that implies.

Catalonia independence will end in tears

The Spanish government has an immense advantage in that no one outside of Catalonia supports independence, not the European Union still reeling over Brexit, and not the United States, that is ill-disposed to put up with another foreign headache.

Not all Catalonians want independence either, but their voices have been silenced.

What happens next depends on how far the Spanish government is prepared to go and how far the pro-independence Catalonians are prepared to go in response. According to the law, Spain would be well within its rights to start prosecuting and jailing pro-independence members of Parliament on the charge of rebellion.

However, by so doing, they might create martyrs around which Catalonian separatists could rally. Then it takes only a single bombing or shooting to light the match. Spain has had a civil war before, back in the 1930s. That conflict ended with a military dictatorship under Francesco Franco that lasted for decades. One hopes that the current conflict does not have a similar ending.