The Catalan revolt and the Scottish independence campaign of 2014 raised a prospect much more radical than mere secession. In both countries, the supporters of independence understood that if you start a new state from scratch – even if you keep the economy just as capitalist as it was before – you are suddently in a place where the elite has lost its power to lie to you, to cover up corruption, to bombard you with surveillance and to subject you to arbitrary repression.
This reveals an interesting fact about the modern state. If it had to be founded anew, conforming to modern concepts of human rights and accountability, it would lose large parts of its repressive apparatus. As a result, revolts that take the form of secession – by a city or a region – are more terrifying to authoritarians than outright attempts to take the entire state at once.
The realities of elite control are always based on decrepit things: in Spain’s case, the monarchy, the deep state, the business corruption networks and the militarized riot police. So at one level, all revolts against neoliberalism simply call its bluff. They ask – since the market and individual choice are supposed to be paramount – why do we need a repressive state to dictate, limit and control our choices? Likewise, the basic form of all neoliberal counter-revolutions is the imposition of militarized policing, arbitrary justice and media control.
from “Clear Bright Future – A Radical Defence of the Human Being”, Paul Mason, Allen Lane, London 2019. Mason is a journalist, former BBC correspondent and author of “PostCapitalism – A Guide to our Future”