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How the Catalan government uses IPFS to sidestep Spain's legal block (la3.org)
906 points by kilburn 50 days ago | hide | past | web | 548 comments | favorite

"Basically, the code recurses a sha256 computation 1714 times to get a lookup key, and then once more to get a password for decryption."

This is an Easter Egg. Barcelona fell on September 11, 1714 during the War of Spanish Succession and with that Catalonia's freedom as well. September 11 is the National Day of Catalonia.

Also, at 17:14 of each and every game of FC Barcelona in Camp Nou Stadium, Barcelona fans claim for independence [1].

So it was not by chance that the coder chose 1714 for the encryption algorithm.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EneqR3oDpmQ

Wasn’t this the succession war between Habsburg and Borbon dynasties?

I’ve seen some depictions in paintings [1] where you can see soldiers from the Habsburg (wearing the Catalan berretinas) porting a Spanish flag... I believe it was more a war for two different models for Spain, not for independence or anything like that. Sounds like revisionism to me.

[1] http://www.msde.es/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/2-Embarque-de-...

Generally, nationalist movements appropriate historical events (particularly wars), which were not at the time national in character, in order to create a historic narrative for their nationalism. See e.g. the place of Battle of the White Mountain (Thirty Years' War) in Czech nationalism, or the place of the Battle of al-Qadisiyya in Iraqi nationalism.

Generally establishment movements just start brand new wars (or re-open old ones) in order to create a current narrative for their nationalism. See e.g. Thatcher, Blair, Bush (1 and 2), and now Trump

The war was between European powers and had many ramifications in different places. For Catalonia the net result was that it lost its political institutions and became a province in a centralised state.

Also, became a much richer region, because after the centralization got access to world-wide trade because of the Spanish Empire.

And with that definition/benefit you've stated, how is that different to colonialism?

Catalans were doing colonialism within the Spanish Empire. I.e. doing the colonialism, not suffering it.

Getting rich as in- getting flooded with indio mined cheap silver, driving inflation of the currency ever onwards, while mercantilism ruins the competition ability of ones industry?

Out of curiosity, how do the Catalan constitutions Charles promised to uphold compare to the current autonomy?

Also, is it historically accepted that, if Charles had won, he wouldn't have done the same to the other regions with fueros / constitutions?

The Crown of Aragon, which controlled the territories of modern-day Catalonia, was an independent state in all ways aside from military and foreign policy. The union of Castile and Aragon was a dynastic union, with very few shared institutions until the Kingdom of Spain was established in 1716. Aragon itself was a fairly decentralized state with constituent principalities having their own Corts and legal systems (rights referred to as "Furs" or "Fueros")

> was an independent state in all ways aside from military and foreign policy

It was still an absolute monarchy with the same monarch; it's not like the Aragonese were free to choose their own destiny. Still, the Constitutions Charles promised them to uphold must have given them something, I just don't know what it was. That's why I'd like to know how they compare to the current rights granted by the autonomía.

Most European monarchies were not absolute. The nobles, the burghers and the church could of often have substantial powers. A king ruling a bunch of regions with varying degrees of autonomy was the norm.

The King of the Corona was far from an absolute monarchy, and there limits to what the monarchy could do. The Fueros were a kind of primitive Constitution pacted between the king and the kingdom (mostly the nobility), and nobody was above it.

Of course this put severe conatrains to the royal power, and the Habsburg had been trying for a long time to get rid of the Fueros and it was the first thing the Borbons did when they took over the Corona.

What were these limits? What did the Constitutions allow the nobility do against the will of the king, assuming a king that wanted to uphold them?

> nobody was above it.

It's not like there was an independent judiciary branch with the power to enforce that against the nobles or the king. Case in point: the king decided to eliminate them and he just went and did it.

It was not an absolute monarchy, that's the point. There was a balance of power between the king, the church and the nobility. A comparison with the current statute autonomy seems difficult since it was an entirely different form of government.

This painting is from Catalan Volunteers in Cuba in 1870 more less, it has nothing to do with the Succesion War

It's also the war that made Gibraltar pass from Spanish to English hands.

That wasn't the Spanish flag until 70 years later, in 1785.

Apparently the flag in the image posted was Photoshoped. The Spanish flag in 1714 was white, both for Habsburgs and Bourbons. Looks like flag revisionism to me.

It was officially adopted 70 years later but it had been used in war ships far earlier than that. That’s where it came from: I was made to be easily identifiable while at sea.


The 1714 is in an abbr tag with a title that explains that ;)

That's pretty hard to notice, haha.

An Easter Egg for another Easter Egg... it seemed just right to me (and I didn't want to interrupt the article's flow with that, admittedly)

Off topic: I don't know if it's Firefox, GTK or some other component at fault but all tooltips in the browser last for an unreasonably short amount of time and it's really hard to read something more than a couple of words. I have to either view the page source or freeze the process.

I wonder why a tooltip is supposed to disappear in the first place.

My guess would be GTK, I'm on Debian Stretch, XFCE + i3 + firefox-esr and I have no such problem.

Author here. I've tried to keep the article as apolitical as possible, while giving some context to provide the setting.

Anyway, I'm very interested in knowing if the used crypto is sound or not, and stirring a discussion around possible alternative approaches.

Ask me anything if you want to know further!

The crypto is far from ideal.

The situation is very similar to password storage, where you want to not make it trivial to brute-force moderate-entropy passwords even if your database gets breached. We have functions designed specifically for that: scrypt, argon2 etc. https://www.npmjs.com/package/scryptsy is a pure JS implementation of scrypt for example.

Even with scrypt the situation is not great, but using sha for this kind of thing is no longer state of the art. If people are willing to (a) download and run a program rather than rely on the browser and (b) willing to wait half a minute or so for the result then you could easily tune the scrypt/argon parameters up to 11 but at the cost of quite a bit in the way of usability. If "must work on smartphones without extra app downloads" is a requirement you're pretty limited in what you can do this way.

Another solution might be to use real servers but host them on the "dark web" - get Tor a bit of publicity in Catalunya!

EDIT: in response to a few posts that briefly appeared and then disappeared again - IPFS is fine. SHA256 for authenticating a page is fine. I'm only objecting to using raw SHA-anything as a key derivation function as in the section "A static database".

I'm not sure what you mean by "the crypto is not ideal"? I was under the impression that there are not yet collisions for SHA-256 https://github.com/ipfs/faq/issues/22

Only for SHA-1 (which has 160 bit hashes) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SHA-1#Attacks

The attack mentioned on the page is brute-forcing someone's details from partial information:

"it can be used to “fill the gaps” of information about any citizen. If you know someone’s birth date and the area where they live, you can obtain their government ID by trial-and-error on that website."

The mitigation is slowing down the number of guesses/second that an attacker can try. In a well-designed key derivation function, an attacker with 100x the resources should only be able to try out guesses 100x as fast. That's what scrypt/argon2/bcrypt/PBKDF2/... try and achieve.

SHA and other general-purpose hash functions tend to be easy to parallelize, at least in parts, and you can get huge speedups on GPUs or even better, FPGAs/ASICs. That's why no-one serious still mines bitcoins on CPUs and the big mining syndicates [hire planes](http://uk.businessinsider.com/cryptocurrency-miners-rent-boe...) to ship GPUs a little bit faster.

This has nothing to do with collisions. It's to do with hash functions being designed to be fast, and key derivation functions are designed to be slow and memory-hard.

Holy shit! People are hiring planes to ship them GPUs!?

Jeasus!! Gibson was far more prescient than acknowledged;

"the future is already here, but not evenly distributed yet"


I had such opportunity and ability to buy bitcoins in 2012... and I missed that boat.

I downloaded the Bitcoin mining app in 2010, opened it once, got bored of waiting for it to sync with some server, then shut and forgot about it for a few years. It might be a funny story to tell my grandkids if BTC is still around

If Bitcoin is around when your grandkids are of age, even this minute might be a great time to buy Bitcoin. Why miss the same boat twice?

Hope what you say is true, because I bought bitcoin @ $4700 :'(

Like they say; "The best time to buy bitcoin was yesterday. The next-best time to buy bitcoin is now."

> I had such opportunity and ability to buy bitcoins in 2012... and I missed that boat.

You also have opportunity and ability to buy bitcoins now. And, just like in 2012, you have no idea what the price will be five years into the future.

No, they’re not. They’re just overnighting large shipments of GPUs with carriers that use airplanes to handle overnight shipping.

That quote also isn’t from Gibson. :)

This isn't as big a deal as it sounds. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14887929

Yup. For one example of a software package that can use GPUs to accelerate password cracking and hash brute forcing, folks can look at hashcat: https://hashcat.net/hashcat/

Thanks for the clarification. That makes sense now.

Just fill 9/10 of database with plausible crap. It would be pretty useless to brute-force it (and any part of it) then.

Scrypt is tweakable for RAM and runtime constraints. From that PBKDF, it would make sense to use something like HMAC-SHA2 with another magic nonce, and then private information plus previous PBKDF output hash together as the authenticated part. If you want to get really tricky, add another random secret hash.

And, they probably should’ve used HMAC-SHA2 to derive the public primary index key insead of a hash function directly.

Thanks for the article. After reading it, I went and added an IPFS node to my Kubernetes deployment on Google Cloud and then mapped the /ipfs and /ipns endpoints through Kong so they would be served by https://api.wisdom.sh/<ipfs|ipns>/. This effectively gives people yet another domain they can use which doesn't require installing the IPFS client. Any IPFS site wil work through the proxy, but here's the site under discussion: https://api.wisdom.sh/ipns/QmZxWEBJBVkGDGaKdYPQUXX4KC5TCWbvu...

If anyone wants the scripts I used to build up the system, let me know. Here's the Kubernetes YAML I used: https://gist.github.com/kordless/5625ae8abf3d3f14dd3f9c9d500...

https://ipfs.github.io/public-gateway-checker/ It would be nice to add your gateway to the list.

It took a very long time to load the page. Consider implementing some caching if you haven't already.

I think it's because the named version is being used (ipns) which may or may not be involving a lot of requests to the network to resolve (perhaps to the main node even). I've resolved and pinned the original content here: https://api.wisdom.sh/ipfs/QmXj5GjZ8WApwq79EyAeNZ2E6pQkJmbrj...

Alternative approach: Instead of using the IPFS2HTTP gateways (that can easily be censored, as gateway.ipfs.io has already been censored in Catalunya), run a IPFS daemon locally that cannot be censored (but is not anonymous either).

I live in Catalunya and wrote this tool for doing just that, in a easy way. It 1) starts a go-ipfs daemon locally, 2) opens up the referendum website in your default browser, via localhost.

If you're interested in accessing the website from inside Catalunya, give it a try: https://git.io/vdGUx

> that cannot be censored

I am not familiar with IPFS internals, but is there no pattern to the IPFS traffic that the ISPs can shape/block?

Too bad about the entire IPFS domain being blocked, because besides the host, HTTPS traffic has safety in numbers. If only there was a way to proxy through google.com or some other popular domain too important to block.

> If only there was a way to proxy through google.com or some other popular domain too important to block.

There is. Domain fronting is used in China to circumvent the Great Firewall. The concept you are talking about is collateral freedom.



Thanks for mentioning domain fronting! It's also been used by Signal to circumvent communications censorship in Egypt [1]. We want to bring domain fronting to IPFS by making libp2p's websockets transport capable of it. [2]

Fun fact: advanced networking setups like domain fronting are impossible to address in a URL/URI scheme. Check out multiaddr :) [3] A domain-fronted service could be addressed as something like `/dns4/google.com/tcp/443/tls/sni/google.com/http/example.com/ws`

[1] https://signal.org/blog/doodles-stickers-censorship/

[2] https://github.com/libp2p/libp2p/issues/18

[3] https://github.com/multiformats/go-multiaddr

> If only there was a way to proxy through google.com or some other popular domain too important to block.

Host IPFS nodes with http proxies on GCP and point the domain with multiple A records at those instances?

This is basically how Signal avoid being blocked in (IIRC) Saudi Arabia.


The magic term for others to google is "domain fronting". Here is a bit more info:


Ah, too late to edit, but it was Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (apologies).

More info please

You cheeky bastard... but thank you.

IPFS is P2P and very delay tolerant. It can run on a sneaker-net.

They'd have to block it close to endpoints, because IPFS is a P2P system.

I don't think that's tough if a country has said you need to be able to filter traffic. Assuming it is a simple pattern (e.g. whatever their NAT busting bootstrap is), set of ports, etc they could easily push filter rules to their downstream network devices if the law makes them.

You can help with the anonymity with the Tor transport. We created it to enable OpenBazaar nodes to use our network over Tor.


I tried to go get your project, but got a bunch of "unrecognized import path" errors. Looks like you're pulling a dependency off of IPFS, do I need to set something up for that to work correctly?

You're likely missing gx, the package manager used by IPFS and many projects in its community. Try:

    go get github.com/whyrusleeping/gx
    go get github.com/whyrusleeping/gx-go
    cd your-project/
    gx install
    go build // or whatever you were doing :)

being a catalan expat with some expertise in computers, is there any useful way that i can help this weekend? (I am not afraid of losing anonymity nor being condemned or prosecuted by the spaniards, I actually would find it rather amusing.)

Download and run the IPFS daemon for your OS (from ipfs.io) and access the banned websites/files locally. That will make you serve them to other people.

There's a set of them on the pinning service I run (https://www.eternum.io/ipns/QmZxWEBJBVkGDGaKdYPQUXX4KC5TCWbv...), so they're in no danger of disappearing, but you'd help in case Spain banned the eternum.io node.

> access the banned websites/files locally

What exactly does this mean?

Do you mean by accessing this address:



i'm doing this since this morning, there is actually a lot of traffic!

I'd be interested in any way to help out too. As part of the Scottish independence movement, our Catalonian counterparts are comrades & allies. Other than solidarity protests over here, I'd love to help in some way.

Its a funny old world mate (I'm English) and I despise seeing censorship like this. I will also see what I can find in my toy box to assist Catalunya in expressing themselves democratically.

(I would rather GB stayed in one piece but if push came to shove, I'd probably do the same here in similar circumstances - there is no excuse for this heavy handed nonsense)

It's not often I find myself agreeing with a UK unionist but it's a point of honour that the Scottish referendum 2014 passed off largely as an orderly point of democracy. Westminster is often seen as heavy-handed North of the border but everyone is proud of that expression of democracy (however there are still words to be had about subsequent political events!).

At least the UK gov't wasn't banning Scottish referendum websites.

No, but Tony Blair suspended the Northern Ireland assembly several times and reimposed direct rule from London, which is probably where the Catalan issue is headed, because everything is illegal from the state's point of view.

Texas has had secessionist movements also for some time, but it'd be also illegal to do a binding referendum, and Washington would take the required steps to stop it.


Because was a legal referendum from the UK government, it's very different with the Catalonia referendum

The notion of a referendum being "illegal" is farcical. No democracy should prohibit people from deciding to get together and conduct a poll on something.

The idea of a referendum being "illegal" may be counter-intuitive, but I don't think the situation is as simple as you suggest.

For example, secession (not to mention sedition or treason) is illegal in many jurisdictions, and is a natural thing for sovereign countries to want to prevent. It is also natural for the sovereign central government of a country to put limits on what a regional government can and cannot do, with the usual principle being that the regional government cannot do anything outside of the powers specifically given it by the central government (regardless of what powers the inhabitants of that region want).

You're right that "people" could "get together and conduct a poll on something", but if this was informally conducted it would be hard to prevent double voting, and not accidentally disenfranchising certain people, and there would be little recourse against these self-appointed pollsters stuffing their home-made ballot boxes.

At the same time, if a regional government spent money, or used people's personal information, for a purpose they were not legally permitted to, then those would potentially be crimes themselves, regardless of the issue of secession.

The questions worth debating are "How much autonomy should regions of sovereign countries be given?", and "If a region isn't legally given that much autonomy, what is most peaceful and just means for that region to attain it?"

Secession can certainly be illegal, but that simply means any outcome of an unsanctioned referendum is legally irrelevant.

As far as I can tell, Spain is going to great lengths to curtail the rights of citizens to express their opinions on secession. They're free to ignore the outcome of this vote, but raiding ISPs, shutting down political pamphlets, and reading private mail are not the actions of a democratic country—they're tactics straight out of an authoritarian regime.

Secession is also illegal in the US (and we fought a war to prove it), but you don't see federal agents arresting people for starting ballot initiatives in California or shutting down Vermont secession websites.

Neither do you see the government of California or Vermont organising a binding vote to secede from the US in 48 hours (while maintaining the US citizenship!).

How should countries be created then? If the central government doesn't let you do it legally and peacefully, that's on them.

The same people that are doing the referedum seized with the police ballot boxes and ballots for a vote in 2013

many thanks to both of you! it's reassuring to see there's still civilized people out there!

Just expressing your solidarity is more than enough. It seems silly but it really gives us strength and determination.

Radical Independence Scotland and friends will be outside the Spanish embassy in Edinburgh, all of Sunday; we absolutely support your right to self determination as the Catalans did during our recent bids for independence. Solidarity, comrade.

This is a very interesting real world use of IPFS. Is this the first real world & large scale use of it?

So far it seems it is delivering on its promise: I was able to find my voting station. Too bad I am a continent and and ocean away from home :(

> Catalan officials can just distribute the hash of the main page file, and everyone else can be sure that all content linked from that file has been published by the catalan authorities.

How does the hash of the main page guarantee that content linked from that page is authentic?

Well, that assumes that all content is linked within ipfs too (which is the case here). Does that clarify it or should I explain further?

If the Spanish government wants to redirect or modify the contents of the page, then you would get a different hash than the one provided by Catalan officials.

How do IPFS links work, such that modification of what they point to modifies the hash of the document where the link is?

IPFS is immutable and hash addressed, so 'modifying' something yields a new address. Existing documents that point to the modified thing will still point to the old version, unless their links change as well. Effectively, sharing a hash address to the main page is sharing a snapshot of the site.

It's essentially the same technique as git.

There are two types of links in ipfs. Static content that works by hash of the content. Dynamic content that is signed by the owner of the bucket.... I think I haven't looked at it for months

You use IPNS to give a static name and change the root hash of that name when you update content.

Nice summary! Definitely an interesting use case, the first real world practical application for IPFS that I've seen.

Perhaps you missed it when IPFS was used to make the Turkish version of Wikipedia available after the Turkish government blocked access the Wikipedia website: http://observer.com/2017/05/turkey-wikipedia-ipfs/

You say "the code recurses a sha256 computation 1714 times to get a password for decryption, and then once more to get the lookup key", however in the code above the search string is computed as var search = sha256(key);, note it's using key and not passkey, which means, assuming that is correct, only one round of sha256, so roughly 1715 times faster to crack.

It seems weird that the sensitive part (ID number + birth date + post code) would be encrypted the most weakly, and the public part (voting station) would be encrypted the most strongly. Maybe I'm reading this wrong or the code author involuntarily made his encryption quite weaker.

The text was right, but I made a mistake writing key there when it should have been passkey. It is fixed now, thank you for noticing!

Althought crypto is not hard to beat, specially knowing some user data, that is not also an issue.

The only information you would get by knowing some of that data is where somebody is supposed to vote. An information you can already infer from the Zip code. There are, at most, four possible voting sites for each zip code. In some (several) small/medium villages there is only one voting site, so, not to much to learn from decrypting.

Besides, the census (voting places) information is usually (in normal elections), placed (via paper printed listings) on voting places. And there there is more information (full name, for example).

This may have been stated already, but the DNI final character is a control one, it can be computed from the characters and the algorithm is well-known. So there should be no need to brute-force it.

Out of curiosity, where on the actual website is the crypto code? (It's way harder to follow than your simplified version :) )

Also how are they distributing the initial hash - physical signs? I figure the easiest threat from Spain is to get people to show up to the wrong polling stations, which don't have them on the voter rolls, and then cast doubts on the validity of a referendum that has a huge number of provisional ballots. Since you don't actually need to staff polling stations, this attack only really requires a single person setting up a cloned website and distributing a different hash (although it gets easier if e.g. the postal service is willing to help you send out the wrong hash).

The code is in the bundled file at [1] (look for the "calcular" function).

The hash was distributed in URL form through twitter by both the Catalan president [2] and the catalan economy minister (who is the 2nd in command actually) [3].

[1] https://ipfs.io/ipns/QmZxWEBJBVkGDGaKdYPQUXX4KC5TCWbvuR4iYZr...

[2] https://twitter.com/KRLS/status/911482634789953536

[3] https://twitter.com/junqueras/status/913010751429840896

fyi: Advantages is misspelled as advanta(d)ges in Paragraph ~6 under "A website stored in IPFS"

Thanks! This is a great read

I actually thought it was spelled that way :S Corrected, thank you!

Ironically, your website is blocked the the network of my university: https://imgur.com/a/fJxvX

I love this story. Just wanted to say that.

As an outsider, it's strange that nobody here seems to question whether the referendum really makes sense.

Forgetting about Catalonia for a moment, isn't it fundamentally amoral that a part of the country where prosperity has (by mere chance) concentrated suddenly wants to split off? Isn't this taking wealth-inequality to the next level?

Of course the people in a prosperous part of the country want to split off. Absolute democracy seems to result in an undesirable situation, because do we really want to live in a world that converges towards little selfish islands?

On the one hand, look at these maps [1], that show the results of the general spanish elections since the dissolution of the dictatoship. Do you see the upper-right part that is nearly always different than the majority? That is Catalonia.

Catalans also have a different language, a strong sense of being a nation (their "local consitution" says so!), etc.. Money is one of the reasons, but not the only one, not even by a long shot.

[1] https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anexo:Elecciones_en_España#Dis...

> Catalans also have a different language, a strong sense of being a nation (their "local consitution" says so!), etc..

And none of those things is being repressed, I have to add. As a Catalan friend pointed out, they speak and teach Catalan in schools, have complete freedom to vote on issues of their region, etc. I have to agree with the GP that it's mostly the economy doing a bit better than the other regions, which leads Catalonia to a "why should we have to support these others" mentality.

Yes they are.

The pro-independence movement didn't really take off until the Spanish Constitutional Court thwarted 17 articles and redacted 27 more from the latest "Catalan constitution" (Estatut). A "constitution" which had been approved by the Catalan Parliament, the Spanish Parliament and the Catalan citizens themselves in a referendum (in that order).

Likewise, the latest Spanish education law (LOMCE) includes an article making it MANDATORY to offer a Spanish-as-the-vehicular-language education if any parents ask for it.

How is that "having complete freedom to vote on issues of their region"? You may mean "... so long as Spain as a whole is fine with them". How complete.

Couldn't you make the same point for any region? I'm free to do whatever I want to my house, as long as my district is fine with it. My district is free to do whatever they want, as long as the country is fine with it. The country is free to do what they want, as long as the EU is fine with it. And so on. It's the cost of living with other people, and there are benefits to that too.

The United Nations have sanctioned the self-determination right [1]. Quoting wikipedia:

> It [the self-determination right] states that a people, based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity, have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no interference.

Hence, your argument breaks down at some point. The big issue is how to define that point, because the right definition does not include qualifying criteria for what constitutes "people" and what doesn't.

Based on their strong national identity, pro-separatists in Catalonia consider that they have this right. There are many issues and arguments supporting both sides (although most state-nations are against any kind of wide applicability of the self-determination right for obvious reasons).

In any case, nobody, neither in Catalonia nor elsewhere advocates for that right for your family, your district, etc. because you don't have a national sentiment, you don't feel like a separate ethnic and so on.

We can discuss whether Catalans constitute an ethnicity separate from the Spaniards or not, whether the self-determination right applies in this case or not, and so on... but please don't use the "If Catalans can, my family should also be able too" because it is just derailing the conversation.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-determination

Being a self-sustainable, and relatively wealthy region is what allows the Independence movement but, as you said, it is not the cause.

Catalan here. There are historic and cultural reasons to split also.

The economic rationale behind your post is absolutely correct. However we don't want to split because we don't want to share; we want to split because of the missuse and economic opression and the unending corruption that plagues Spain. We don't think ourselves of so-prosperous at all in that sense - and at the same time I'll admit corruption is always an issue in democracy, but Spain's case is taking it to ridiculous levels.

Let me post sources in few for what I'm saying, on the phone right now.

And Pujol(ex president of Catalonia with money in Andorra, and some of his son in jail) cases? The 3% percent... From Huelva to Girona all sucks and the corruption is everywhere. Pujol one day said: "if I talk everything is going to be destroyed" because everyone knows that the other stole money but nobody talk

Not sure why constantly saying "u more!" is an argument at all to deny population voting. Childish if you ask me.

I didn't say you more. I said some examples to say that in all the country it's the same with the corruption. I said anything about the vote in this comment

it's a matter of magnitudes :-)

There's nothing sudden at all. They effectively lost their independence 300 years ago but the drive for independence has always been there (along, famously, with a few other parts of modern Spain). They have their own language, their own culture.

Their desire for independence has been around for hundreds of years.

But even if that wasn't the case: what's wrong with that? Why would a few million people that want to form a sovereign state have to be held hostage by the others just because they're wealthier?

It depends. Is Catalonia rich because the federal government pumped money and resources into it? If so, then I would say yes, it's wrong to try to break off.

But, if Catalonia is rich due to their own industriousness, and effectively prop up other parts of the nation by sending more of their own money to the federal government, then no, I don't think there is a problem with trying to break off.

They were basically granted monopolies by law, and it's industry priorized over other regions, when not directly pouring money into it. That was while the spanish little industrial revolution and even the francoist regime.

Sorry, but this is not fully true. Catalonia has had a long story as merchants and as a prosperous land for most of its story. Specially Barcelona. It was not Franco who promoted businesses there. It would be utterly unfair to say so.

Further, the current investment of Spain's government is far beyond expected. Key infrastructures like railway, airports and ports. If Catalonia represents 19% of the GDP and 16% of population is nowadays receiving in a sustained manner 8% of the country investment.

Said that, I don't have anything to argue against the terrible situations other regions suffered from. But this should not diminish the dynamic economy in Catalonia, which would be unfair to relate to Franco.

> If Catalonia represents 19% of the GDP and 16% of population is nowadays receiving in a sustained manner 8% of the country investment.

That does not mean anything now is it ? The problem is to know if 8% is enough or not. And even if it is not enough, is there anything in the 92 other percent that is unreasonably spent ?

For example I pay way more in tax than I receive from the State. Is it a problem ? It depends: I'm not sick or in trouble there is nothing that the state can really do for me. If I were sick then I would like to receive some of my money back in healthcare. The amount should be the same than to anyone with similar problem. If I receive less, then and only then I have room for complain.

Here in the UK, the North complain about just the opposite: how much money is on already wealthy region, completely neglecting the crumbling infrastructure outside the South-East.

As a german i find the economic reasons of "why should we pay for the poor people" highly ironic...

That's what we all founded europe for... stronger together!

No the treaties that led to the EU were to prevent Germany and France having huge destructive wars every 20-50 years - something it has done very well so far.

EU was formed for opening up the market in a way that the economic benefit will be more for richer countries. In return, there are many benefits for other countries, but lifting up poor country was not that much of an aim.

you don't find it so ironic when southern europe buys bmws :)

As long as the part that wants to split is also willing to take a fair share of the national debt, I don't see anything amoral with it.

> suddenly wants to split off?


HN is always good for massively-ignorant-grand-political-statements-from-first-principles theatre.

I agree with you that the wealth inequality is an issue.

But I also find it amoral for anyone to try to stop someone else from ruling themselves.

It would seem a large part of the problem is the morality of strongly enforcing strong property rights in itself.

In other words, if you see the wealth inequality as sufficiently amoral, then that should not be enough to stop independence, but there might perhaps be worthwhile arguments over what terms to negotiate independence on.

But it is harder to have sympathy when Spain as a whole has not done more to redress that wealth imbalance earlier.

So why does Spain deserve Catalonia's money any more than any other country? Why shouldn't France get it or a poor African country?

Because Catalonia was granted monopolies and a lot of economical favours by law in the last centuries, eve when it was detrimental for other regions, like it was with the textile industry, car manufacturing and so on.

Sources please.

>As an outsider, it's strange that nobody here seems to question whether the referendum really makes sense.

I think now that the referendum has started it should be really obvious why Catalonia doesn't want to be a part of Spain.

Just look at twitter being filled with imagery of Spanish riot police beating up kids and old people while trying to stop the vote.

https://twitter.com/SERCatalunya/status/914390058383413248/p... https://twitter.com/naciopolitica/status/914383283718410240 https://twitter.com/ThIsCatalonia

Who would want to live in a country where the government sends an army of masked thugs to violently attack people who are doing nothing criminal?

Yes. You are right. Spanish government has failed miserably, just look at the images.

The next obvious step will be end-to-end auditable voting systems.

"by mere chance"

Is that your opinion, or do the Catalonians and people outside Spain agree?

It's like saying that the Industrial Revolution started in England by mere chance. In a way it's true, but does that mean that England has a moral obligation to share its wealth with the rest of the world?

Does being conveniently located to trade on the Mediterranean sea count as chance or not?

Valencia is also in the same line, but there is a dirty secret that nobody wants to hear and much less admit.

Franco, being the same horrible dictator that killed a lot of innocent people, favoured actively Catalonia's economy over other provinces, for decades.

Is true that he discouraged them to speak in Catalonian language, but also discouraged people to speak in Galician language (and Franco was born in Galicia). At the same time give them priority in the efforts to rebuild industry and infraestructures after the civil war. Catalonia is richest than other parts of Spain, in part because Franco wanted 1) having a cluster of industries next European frontiers and roads to trade and obtain foreign divises easily, 2) money from tourism 3) conjurate the revolts giving the area a special silk-hand treatment after the first iron years passed.

Specially in the late stages of franquism, a massive exodus of workers from other parts of Spain migrated and stablished in Catalonia atracted by the favourable conditions to work and live and the "smell of freedom".

I'm aware that this counts as black heressy for millions of young people in the area, but well... nobody will stop them to read history books about post-war if they want. Ask your grandpa. Everybody in Spain has an uncle or some cousins in Barcelona.

Oppression is not something allowing you to became one of the more modern and rich places in the country; oppresion, to me, is what happened to Extremadura in the same period for example.

Valencia was one of the places I was hinting at (although I suppose they removed the river that originally made it a convenient place for a port).

Anyway, I wasn't completely aware of that part of the history, thanks.

That said I don't quite agree that Catalonia wasn't oppressed. I'm not qualified to say which regions were oppressed the most, but economic prosperity isn't the opposite of oppression. If anything the real dark truth is that oppressive authoritarian dictatorships can be quite effective, and even prosperous.

Other regions were oppressed AND kept down economically. There was even innovators, like Barreiros, a galician-born car and truck manufacturing brand that was cut off from growing more because of SEAT, that had quite a big impact in Catalonia, in terms of capital flows, jobs etc.

This is true. Galicia has been continuously kept down since centuries so that Madrid could take the spotlight.

Part of my family is Galician, I'm Portuguese myself. Still, instead of breaking Spain apart I would actually prefer to see the whole of Iberia working together as a union.

The main problem seems to be where the capital would be placed since only Castilians would want Madrid. I only wish that we could agree on a small but memorable place like Santiago de Compostela as centre for that union.

Fragmented even more, our Iberia has little voting power in regards to negotiating with France and Germany in the European Union. If Catalunya has to separate, so let it be. In the end of the day we are all together on the same boat, can only wish that we could row together too.

I still think an Iberian federation is possible in the future. The main impediment IMHO is that the Castillian/Spanish political leaders - and hence probably their voters - never understood the multi-national nature of this gorgeous peninsula. Mediterranean greetings my fellow Iberian :)

Castella follows a model similar to France in regards to centralization, where Madrid should be central to Iberia. Other regions openly refuse (or reluctantly conform) to that location since they know that Madrid will mostly only serve its own interests.

This was the reason why Portugal split from a joint Spanish kingdom centuries ago.

Then we should see the foreign interests. France and UK profit from fragmentation in Iberia. Smaller countries are easier to place against each other instead of being an economical threat to them. Portugal remains a strong UK ally over the centuries while Spain sides with France, and now further fragmented as Madrid doesn't open the hand to a decentralized model.

Really sad. People in Iberia consider themselves more or less as part of the same family (which is true to large extent). We should be working together.

I don't think it's about the money, but about having a different culture that's not being respected by the central government. I've recently read about a lot of (very reasonable sounding) Catalan decisions that got blocked or reversed by Madrid.

With this referendum too, this article gives me the impression that it might be Madrid's unreasonable reaction to it that might really drive the independence here. With this kind of response, I don't blame the Catalans for wanting independence at all.

>Forgetting about Catalonia for a moment, isn't it fundamentally amoral that a part of the country where prosperity has (by mere chance) concentrated suddenly wants to split off? Isn't this taking wealth-inequality to the next level?

Nope. There's nothing "sudden" about Catalonia splitting off. Franco went out of his way to incentivize it, and while the governments that followed him haven't been genocidal, they haven't exactly encouraged anyone to remain.

Of course it sucks for Spain, but they very much made their own bed.

The part that makes it even more confusing for me is that their party, Podemos, is a real left party which you'd expect to be against increasing income inequality.

I expect that the situation in Spain is much more complex than we give it credit for.


EDIT: added link, changed "socialist" to "left"

Podemos is a national level party and they are pro-referendum only, they do not have a strong position on independence.

Downvoted because "their" is a very misleading word. Podemos is not particularly Catalan.

Thank you for the correction.

Lots of left flavored parties are for "income equality, except for foreigners"

PVV in the Netherlands or Dansk Folkeparti in Denmark come to mind. I don't know enough about Podemos to know where to put them, but there's nothing contradicting about left leaning parties and nationalism.

For the the record: your position here is really fringe as far as the science goes. Most political science analysts agree that both PVV [1]and DF [2] are right-wing populists, not 'left-flavored' at all. See the very first line in both of the Wikipedia articles. [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_for_Freedom (PVV) [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danish_People%27s_Party (DF)

Well the article on DF also says "While overall considered part of the radical right, its policies on most economic issues would rather place the party in the centre to centre-left."

We try to squeeze too much meaning into the 1-dimensional "left-right" that it really doesn't mean anything at all.

As a note: Podemos isn't a Catalan-only party, it's national.

Ironically I suspect that many small selfish islands who are members of a larger union may be the best way to reduce inequality.

It's immoral to forcibly drag people down when they'd do better on their own. The crab mentality is awful.

> It's immoral to forcibly drag people down when they'd do better on their own

Will really do?

There is a group of people that mainly buy the Catalonian products. Guess who? well this is embarrassing, the evil non-catalonian spaniards. It seems that they forgot to mention it or include such small fact in their economic big plans for a brighter future (without your main clients).

This is bussiness almost becoming pure radical art. They are publicly declaring that will not stand a minute more in the same room as the scumbags that buy their products and support their families. "Keep walking customer, there is nothing to see here".

It is true if by "fly like an eagle of finances" you mean "sink as a rock full of crabs", of course.

>Of course the people in a prosperous part of the country want to split off. Absolute democracy seems to result in an undesirable situation, because do we really want to live in a world that converges towards little selfish islands?

Did you ever consider the possibility that maybe the people in Catalonia somehow work harder/smarter/better than in the other regions of Spain? In which case the rest of Spain would be the selfish ones, wanting to mooch off Catalonia, just like a lazy brother always nagging his richer brother for money. In my experience, often when Person A calls Person B selfish, it's because Person A expects Person B to do something for Person A without Person A doing anything back in return, which to me seems particularly selfish.

Well, if you know a bit about the economical history of Spain you could clearly see what happend here, which is not a case of selfishness but planned economy, keeping some regions down in favour of others.

The ones that oppose the referendum also do it for selfish reasons. They don't want to lose something that in their view belongs to them.

> The ones that oppose the referendum also do it for selfish reasons. They don't want to lose something that in their view belongs to them.

Is not so complicated to understand. Spanish constitution grants clearly and explicitly that all citizens co-own the country and (unless this right is retired for things like committing a crime and losing their freedom) they can benefit of the use of any public space. The ramblas are also mine, as from millions of other people. Not, is not "my point of view", and not, is not "debatable". All Catalonian people are also co-owners of Doñana and this is not debatable either (not even in the hypothetical case that the current and temporal president of Catalonia wouldn't stand Andalucia).

They will lose this rights, and many other, because somebody is starting flames every day and acting as a troll for fun and profit since years

What was happened in Spain was just tyranny of a minority using people, women, elder and children as human shields with the purpose to steal people from their rights, by any means. Some people came from their home with urns closed and loaded with ballots, before voting. I ask you, second-person plural, was it funny to use your computer skills helping scammers to commit a big fraud?. Sorry, but I can't see where is the fun. Some people got beaten and there is a man in the hospital with a severely damaged eye.

What you would expect from the police in case that somebody would announce that, for a small ramson, will not distroy unilaterally the future, bussiness and current rights of millions of non-independentist people in 48 hours? Would you negociate and pay?

To fight for your constitutional rights and for the respect to the law is to fight by saving the society from falling into the law of the jungle. Is the opposite to "being selfish" and benefits everybody.

I just left Barcelona a couple hours ago, the capital of Catalonia. Everywhere you look, Catalan flags, signs demanding 'democracia', demanding freedom.

I'm told this is just normal for the region, but if this is normal then independence is eventual.

Well, it is normal since independentists have controlled Catalunya since 40 years ago. It used to be that 20% of the population was independentist through, now is over 50%.

For example, they choosed school principals among independentist so now over 85% of them are Catalan language teachers that tend to be independentist. This way kids could be directed to be independentist too.

The same happened with the local media, TV3, newspapers like La Vanguardia. If you were not independent public funds were not given to you. Those private media without the public funding could not live on their own.

Since 20 years ago they control education too, and kids are forced to speak Catalan as the main language, studing a very biased History full of lies like that Catalunuya was a reign in the past. They also put big sanctions on shops labeling things on Spanish until nobody dare.

They brought nearly a million muslim people to Catalunya to work so they do not speak Spanish, like people from Spain or South America does. This makes it the higher terrorist risk area in all Spain, including Ceuta and Melilla.

The problem was not independentist forces doing this, but the central gobertment that let this happen.

Now with half the population(controlling Catalunya) against the other (supported by the Govertment) there is a significant risk of civil war there.

A Catalan here. Quite a bad description, I think. We should remember that Catalonia had its own language forbidden to even speak in the street for 40 years during Franco's dictatorship. Language and culture was kept alive thanks of people keeping it in secrecy.

When "democracy" returned, some of the competences they had before the war were returned to the government.

After 6 years of demonstrations of 2-3 million (out of 7million) asking to hold a referendum and receiving NO to any request, it was announced and proposed one year ago in order to agree it with Spanish government, but they would not even discuss it. In the end the unilateral way is the only way to hold this referendum.

Why shouldn't it be allowed to ask people's preferences? Isn't it democracy? People who doesn't want independence can say NO. Laws should serve people's desires, not forbid participation and opinion.

Another Catalan here, a Catalan that has lived in Italy and France.

In the dictatorship Catalan was forbidden, but now Catalan in Catalonia is the only language used in schools (the teachers are told to only speak in that language even to the parents, search for "immersió lingüística"), the official buildings, hospital papers, and so on. Is this what you would call repression or not-democracy?

Now, in Spain other languages (I am using the word languages again) are official, and they are the language the teachers use at schools. Do you know what they call other languages in France or Italy? dialects! They are not official, of course, nor used as official languages in schools or public buildings.

So Spain is even more democratic than Italy and France in that issue, but people are complaining in Catalonia because of the adoctrination, and millions of euros spent by the Catalan government. Don't fool yourself. A referendum in a moment of maximum propaganda by the Catalan government is really democracy?

The conservative Catalan government, as the conservative Spanish government, have a lot of cases of corruption, and since all this irrationality nobody is talking about that. Last week Spain freed two Catalan politicians from the current governing party from going to jail because of the Pretoria case, but almost nobody mentioned that. Do you really thing this chaos is not premeditated?

> but now Catalan in Catalonia is the only language used in schools(...), the official buildings, hospital papers, and so on. Is this what you would call repression or not-democracy?

Isn't this the point of autonomy? You decide what languages to teach/use in your institutions. We can discuss whether this is a good idea or not. Or whether what you say is true in reality or not. But it's the Catalans' decision, that's what autonomy is for.

> So Spain is even more democratic than Italy and France in that issue, but people are complaining in Catalonia because of the adoctrination, and millions of euros spent by the Catalan government.

Comparisons are meaningless in this situations. Maybe Spain is more "democratic" (if you say so) than France(which is not hard to beat honestly, considering the status of non-French languages in France). But one could also say that Spain is less democratic than Switzerland wrt languages, and that would be equally meaningless.

The question is whether the autonomy Catalonia receives is enough for the Catalans. That's for the Catalans to decide.

> Do you really thing this chaos is not premeditated?

Are you saying that all the Catalan citizens collaborating and organizing together have been manipulated by the elites for all these years? When did the manipulation start exactly? Would you mind sharing sources that support this?

Catalan is a lenguage... because it is. Don' play demagogy around that

"We should remember that Catalonia had its own language forbidden to even speak in the street for 40 years during Franco's dictatorship."

We should remember this is a false myth. Catalan was never banned. There were many works in literature and music using Catalan as language during Franco's dictatorship (1939-1975).

For instance, you can check the full list of works that won the Lletra d'Or awards, to the best year work written in Catalan. It started in 1956. Josep Pla, one of the most importan Catalan writters won that award in 1957.



And here you can watch Joan Manuel Serrat, singing in Catalan on TVE (the Public Spanish national television). That was in 1968.


What Franco did was to ban Catalan language from public institutions.

> What Franco did was to ban Catalan language from public institutions.

Like schools. An entire generation missed out on learning Catalan at school like my own mother. Call it whatever you want but that to me feels like forbidding a language.

> Why shouldn't it be allowed to ask people's preferences?

Doesn't that happen all the time in polls and in local, regional, and general elections?

Yes, and after last elections the majority of the Catalan parliament is pro-independence. Instead of proclaming independence, a referendum is proposed, which has the support of 80% of the population in Catalonia.

Yeah I know that. The point I was trying to make is that the referendum wasn't deemed illegal because "the government of Catalonia isn't allowed to ask people's preferences". It is allowed and it happens all the time.

You can do it your own way, if it is done just how I say.

Alternatively: You can do it your own way, as long as it doesn't conflict with the law. Like all other things in a democracy really.

How is being "forced" to speak the local language any different than what any other schooling system does? Do Madrilenian schools allows kids to choose their primary language, now?

They brought nearly a million muslim people to Catalunya to work

Only ~520k Muslims live in Catalunya. Meanwhile, Andalucia has more than 300k and Madrid over 280k, so it's not like there's such a big difference. http://observatorio.hispanomuslim.es/estademograf.pdf

There has never been such a policy of promoting Muslim immigration in Catalonia. It's one of the many myths propagated by certain groups in Spain.

> This way kids could be directed to be independentist too.

Lived in Catalonia all my life, never had a teacher tell me any of the biases you are stating.

I ought to think you are the one who was directed to think like that?

What you describe here happens not only in Catalonia, but in every other region of the world.

Every government has its media, they control education in a way or another, etc.

However, things get bad when your central government is perceived as acting against yourself in every single move they do.

I agree with you about the risk of this confrontation getting worse. That's why I think a referendum should be made so people can express themselves. People's Party is against, of course. They feel pretty comfortable talking about nothing but Catalonia.

> studing a very biased History full of lies like that Catalunuya was a reign in the past.

I'm not sure what do you mean but Catalonia was in fact a reign in the past (please correct me if I am wrong):


I guess he meant kingdom?

Well, it did have kings, and their chronicles were written in Catalan[1].

[1]: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crònica_de_Ramon_Muntaner

As a Spaniard, I don't think there's any risk of civil war at all. The most that can happen out of this all is a vote of no-confidence in Congress against the government if they overstep.

You have never lived in Catalonia, have you? Sad to read things like that. Sounds like the speech that the Spanish government gives every other week. Deplorable comment.

Are you implying that catalans brought muslims to work there and that now terrorism is because of that? Aren't you aware this is a global problem and that the catalan government had nothing to do with it?

You shouldn't make such bold statements, less without providing any sort of evidence.

I never felt the need to downvote in HN until I read this.

What does the population in the rest of Spain think about Catalan independence? Would they be happy with Catalonia leaving if its population was in favour of it, or would they prefer that it be forced to remain part of Spain?

Catalonia would have trouble becoming genuinely independent without approval from Spain. Even if they declared independence, and didn't face military action, they'd only have the status of other unrecognized states like Somaliland or to some extent Taiwan.

Catalonia is one of the highest earning areas of Spain, constituting about 20% of the nation's GDP. Their secession would be about as well received as New York or California's from the US.

I have the impression that quite a few conservatives in the US would be thrilled to see New York and California leave, regardless of the economic implications.

They would notice pretty quickly. The California GDP is ~2.6 trillion. NY is another 1.4. Together, they're about 20% of the US economy.

And that's before we start thinking about agriculture. Of course, in that scenario, water becomes interesting.

I'm sure there are individual Spanish nationalists that think the same about Catalonia. Central governments, on the other hand, generally behave rationally (read: in their own interests) instead of emotionally.

No, the central government is as petty as it gets. For instance when the Canaries banned bull fighting a long time ago there was no problem, but when the Catalans did it recently the ban was overthrown by Spanish courts. Don't get me wrong, the Catalans did not bann it because it is not part of "their culture" or because it is cruel, they just did it to piss off Madrid :-)

Also now for the referendum, the central government sent four thousand police officers in cruise ships to the port of Barcelona to prevent voting. Does not seem particularly grown up to me neither ...

I have been thinking about this as I listen to NPR discuss Catalonia. Not being in Spain or Spanish, I think, what's the big deal, let them become independent.

Then I think about the secession desire of some in California. (I'm on the west coast of US). Personally I don't care. It doesn't really make historical sense, but whatever. Of course the talk is of the whole west coast seceding, and I live in Oregon. I don't want to secede, so that I have a problem with.

I suspect the main issue is money, but the secondary issue would be fear of a slippery slope of secession.

Actually, only slightly less than 50% wants independence. They are very vocal though. Also, since education in Catalonia is entirely in Catalonian (also they have their own history books), and use of Spanish in public is heavily discouraged, children will grow up in a mostly Catalonian environment, which makes it likely that that percentage will grow over time.

What do you mean by discouraged?

I'm from the US and my wife is from Barcelona. Her family all speaks Catalan between each other but they are perfectly happy speaking Spanish with me (as are all of their family's friends and associates).

Between my wife and her friends, they speak probably a 50/50 mix of Catalan/Spanish.

I have never heard or seen anyone in all of Catalunya be discouraging or negative in relation to speaking Spanish.

When I was first in Spain, the calls for independence were few and far between compared to now, but the situation hasn't improved so they continue to grow.

But the basis of those calls, from what I've seen, is primarily rooted in real, economic/political issues. They aren't calling for independence because they have a different language, but because Spain is not providing them with the fair share of resources they need to succeed and grow as a region.

I can think of a few examples myself, such as fines for business daring to exposing public banners in Spanish [1] or the impossibility to study with Spanish as a vehicular language [2].

[1] https://www.google.com/amp/www.lavanguardia.com/politica/201...

[2] https://www.google.com/amp/www.elconfidencialautonomico.com/...

Spanish is studied alongside with catalan. Out of 10 tv channels, 9 are in spanish. School is mostly taught in Catalan, so what? It's not a commodity, but you are abogating extinguishing a language for commodity?

However I just see for the first time your [1], and as a totally pro-independentist person that I am, I totally condemnd that. Thats blatant catalan fuckup, that is unacceptable and that is not what my independentist rationale claim for.

Well, the region grows better than almost any Spanish region (except maybe the metropolitan area of Madrid) and they saved their banks when the crisis hit them first ;-)

What the... You've never been in Catalonia, am I right?

1. It's false that the education in Catalonia is entirely in catalan. I've had tons of classes in spanish.

2. It's false that the use of spanish in public is discouraged. If you go to Barcelona I'd say that you're going to hear 50/50 spanish and catalan in public.

3. It's not clear if the percentage of people who defend an independent country are above or below 50%. It'd be great to verify it with a real referendum allowed by the spanish government ;)

It's OK to express an opinion, but please, don't propagate these kind of lies. They do no good to anybody.

> 2. It's false that the use of spanish in public is discouraged. If you go to Barcelona I'd say that you're going to hear 50/50 spanish and catalan in public.

Despite the efforts of the Catalan government, it will be much closer to 100% Catalan in the environments where they can dictate what language may be used. Do you hear 50/50 Spanish and Catalan in the media controlled by the Catalan government, for example? They push the usage of Catalan over Spanish as hard as they can, going beyond what is legally possible in some cases (see http://blogs.ua.es/sevila1/2016/05/30/nulidad-de-parte-del-p...).

I was not really expressing an opinion, but providing a counterpoint to the parent comment, which was really not based on enough data. I could have been a bit more detailed, sorry about that, and I wholly agree with your #3.

I've been to Barcelona for a few days around five years ago, keeping mostly to the touristic areas. Had to skip it last year on an Interrail trip due to lack of time, sadly.

The best "measure" we have right now for the percentage of independentists (and the one I assume you're implicitly citing) were the last Catalan elections the 27th of september of 2015. There are two problems with that measure:

- That was two years ago

- Even then, that was a parlamentary election, not a referendum.

This <50% metric has been widely cited by the media, but it is flawed IMO.

I think it is reasonable to demand a proper referendum, whether you want independence or not.

I'm not disputing at all that it's reasonable to have a referendum, and I understand that a huge majority there wants that, if, for some, only to vote against independence.

> and use of Spanish in public is heavily discouraged

Would help to know (for non Catalans, specially) what you hint at. My parents talk in Spanish everywhere and to anyone they want to with no problems. Have done so for all her life for my mother and more than 40 years for my father.

I assume you mean that public offices and positions require knowing and using Catalan?

I'm not from there, my information comes mostly from Dutch and English media. But I've read that all public schools are all-Catalan except for the Spanish language lessons, and shops with Spanish-only signs are fined.

For shops, that’s the language equality law. Not sure about the justification, but it’s not that hard to have dual signs (and written Catalan is easy to grasp for Spanish speakers). This law was introduced some 10 years ago.

For classes, IIRC it’s not mandatory (or wasn’t 15 years ago), just common. My chemistry teacher spoke only Spanish, and it was fine.

150 years after the US civil war, the confederate flag is still flying around. I wouldn't be to hasty to call it eventual.

If you are comparing the two, you have never visited Catalunya. The flag is everywhere, also they speak a different language.

It is much more complicated than this. Yes there are a lot of flags but there are also lots of places where there are no flags.

In my building in Barcelona there are 10 flats. 2 flats have occupants who speak Catalan as the mother tongue, 4 flats with occupants who speak Spanish as their mother tongue and 2 flats with foreign languages.

The language divide isn't always an indicator of their views, in the building there are Spanish speakers who want to vote yes, Catalan speakers that will vote no and a general consensus that everyone would just like the legal option to vote regardless of yes/no leanings.

" a general consensus that everyone would just like the legal option to vote regardless of yes/no leanings."

And that it's really the only relevant point in this issue. All the other arguments are just distractions.

When 82% (1) of the population want to vote, the two options are, voting or an undemocratic imposition by people that doesn't live in the area.

In the context of a democratic Europe, sooner or later there is going to be a vote, ergo, whatever the result, better sooner than later.

(1) - https://twitter.com/jpfbadcock/status/911702508749443074

That's not correct. In mother tongue terms, 55% of population in Catalonia has the Spanish as his tongue (mother/habitual tongue), and 35% Catalan. The "economic power" is in hands of Catalan-"ethnic" people, though. Source (official): https://www.idescat.cat/pub/?id=ed&lang=en

"The first casualty when war comes is truth".

If I'm recalling correctly from NPR this morning, nearly 100% of Catalan people under the age of 40 speak Catalan, while very few over the age of 40 do.

This is the result of the language having been made illegal, then not illegal, then taught predominately by the school systems.

Is it possible the 55% who speak Spanish primarily fall along those demographic lines? Is it also possible that some portion of that 55% speaks both Spanish and Catalan?

Sincere question. I know very little of the situation.

100% of us speak Spanish and actually it's very common to use both languages in a conversation when more than two persons are involved :) it's just natural for most of us. Actually I learned Catalan when I was 18 so I usually speak in Spanish and it is not a problem at all... And I'm very proud of being bilingual. In any case I would love to be able to express better myself in English :)

(anecdote) That precisely describes my personal experience of people in BCN and BDN, at least as a foreigner that keeps coming back as a tourist.

I also have a friend who has been teaching English as a Foreign Language in BCN for at least a decade now, and he and his wife tell a similar story.

"In any case I would love to be able to express better myself in English" - you already have a fluent grasp of English. You spelt it's with an apostrophe which is spot on and come across as a native writer - for a given value of "native" 8) Good skills mate.

Small aside: its/it's and similar mistakes are more common for native English speakers.

You expressed yourself very well in English in your comment!

I don't want to discuss politics, there is data in the same (official) web I pointed in the above comment.

55% of population has Spanish as their mother tongue, but that's not necessarily what they speak now. Is there any poll showing what they actually speak daily?

55% mother/habitual tongue. In the above link (official data, from an official source) is explained in detail.


This is not the same thing. My mother tongue is not my (current) habitual tongue. I don't see where the report shows the habitual tongue spoken.

It is explained in the above (official) link.

Like I said, I've read the above official link. Multiple times, by now. Nowhere do I see a reference to the habitual language. Only to the Primera Llengua, which is

Llengua o llengües que la persona ha parlat primer a casa seva. Es considera que aquesta llengua ha estat transmesa familiarment i adquirida en el procés de socialització de l'individu.

This is not the habitual language. So, where is it?

The above official link has many sections. Here is the link for the official language poll ("Enquesta d’usos lingüístics de la població 2008"), which includes mother-initial/identification/habitual language details (official data):


"Initial language" (page 45):

Catalan: 31.6%, Spanish: 55%.

"Identification language" (page 48):

Catalan: 37.2%, Spanish: 46.5%

"Habitual language" (page 51):

Catalan: 35.6%, Spanish: 45.9%

Edit: in my first comment in this thread I spoke from memory. Also, the data from the 2013 poll (official data):


"Initial language" (page 45):

Catalan: 31%, Spanish: 55.1%.

"Identification language" (page 46):

Catalan: 36.4%, Spanish: 47.5%.

"Habitual language" (page 49):

Catalan: 36.3%, Spanish: 50.7%.

Thank you!

EDIT: Seems like that's the old poll. There's a new one from 2013, in which both Catalan and Spanish grew as the habitual languages. It still doesn't reach 55%, though.

What has to do your answer with what the OP has said?

That's true, but you don't see signs demanding "democracy" or secession (except perhaps in Texas, and not really much there either).

That is, while there are confederate flags, there isn't a active, ongoing independence movement in the US south.

But there’s no chance a binding secession referendum would be allowed in the U.S..

The US federal government would simply do what it always does in these situations: ignore the referendum, allow it to proceed, and intervene when "votes" turn into "actions". (Even then, as with cannabis legalization, sometimes the feds ignore "illegal" state actions as long as they aren't too threatening to federal authority.)

"But there’s no chance a binding secession referendum would be allowed in the U.S.."

I'm not sure what you mean by that but I would like to know.

Suppose that 100% of Texas wanted secession (it's just an example), what the federal government would do?

Keep a permanent occupation force like in Iraq or something like that?

It would be difficult keep talking about democracy with a straight face.

Sure it would, if it got popular enough.

All you got to do is change the constitution.

How is that different from what is happening in Spain?

While that's true, its only a small, mostly racist white minority that is really serious about secession. And don't forget that the Catalan people have their own cultural identity for hundreds of years. i.e. they have a legitimate claim of being different from other Spaniards and thus wishing for their independence.

> the Catalan people have their own cultural identity

Spain is divided into 17 communities. Each has their own cultural identity.

What I like about travelling around Spain (and I must do the Canaries and Balearics some day) is the microcosm of different regional flavours, e.g. Asturias and Galicia have bagpipes, the Basque country is a foodies delight, Andalucia has flamenco & Moorish palaces, the Canaries have a whistled language etc.

Now I get the Catalans feel "different" but when I see the graffiti around the place saying "X is NOT Spain", I wonder which Spanish identity they're referring to.

>Now I get the Catalans feel "different" but when I see the graffiti around the place saying "X is NOT Spain", I wonder which Spanish identity they're referring to.

Fake Spain, such Andalusian or Castillian identified both as proper Spanish.

"Hablame en castellano, polaco".

> While that's true, its only a small, mostly racist white minority that is really serious about secession.

Are any of them still serious about it now that Obama is out of office?

I'm hesitant to call them racist on a whole (though there most likeley are racists among their ranks) but the Republic of Texas group and their spiritual successor the Texas Nationalist Movement have been around for close to three decades now.

They're the fringiest of the fringe though.

The Confederate flag was essentially banished until the 1960's in response to the Civil Rights movement.

For what it's worth, that was also the 100 year anniversary of the war. The two happened to coincide.

Even in South Carolina where there was so much controversy around having it at the state house...the reason it went up in the first place was supposed to be temporary (4 years) for that purpose alone.

That it never came down when it was supposed to the real issue.

There are also many many people and windows without flags ;) Once they become an independent country, it will be one where ~50% of the people doesn't want to belong to it. Let's see what kind of "democracia" will they apply there.

Well, that's happening already: half the population does not want to belong to the state. The "democracia" here is you don't vote and never will. What can be worse than that?

No, that is not what is happening. Spain is a state where the majority of the people wants to belong to the state. Catalonia would be a state where half of the people wouldn't want to belong to it. I wonder if the future Catalan government will allow referendums so that such people will be able to split from Catalonia.

Besides, not voting is also democracy. Most of the Spanish people don't want to allow these kind of referendums in Spain. Therefore, Spain is doing what the majority wants (== democracy).

I agree that "not voting is also democracy". However I cannot agree about not allowing to vote, which is the case. It's a political issue, which should be solved like it was in Scotland.

In the name of what, a group can decide over another on what is it allowed to do? Because of the frontiers made after conquering when using force?

"In the name of what, a group can decide over another on what is it allowed to do?"

Of course that a group can decide over another group which is a subset of the former. Otherwise, any city of any country, or any group of individuals, could decide to vote and set their own rules for whatever they want.

Pure rule of the majority is a perversion of democracy (this holds both on the Spanish and the Catalonian level). Taking minorities into account and giving them appropriate rights is just as integral a part of democracy.

"decide over another group which is a subset of the former" A subset of the former in the name of the frontiers set by a centralist monarch who won a war and forbid language and institutions in Catalonia in 1714. Check the law that supports my comment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nueva_Planta_decrees

"Otherwise, any city of any country, or any group of individuals, could decide to vote and set their own rules for whatever they want." --> And do you think this is wrong? I think self-governance is the future. Not to go against anyone, but to decide more about everything. Not to put a paper in a ballot every 4 years.

>No, that is not what is happening. Spain is a state where the majority of the people wants to belong to the state. Catalonia would be a state where half of the people wouldn't want to belong to it.

Current Catalonia vs future Catalonia is the proper comparison. The one you made is just manipulative crap.

Should the people in Hungary have asked the Habsburg government or the population of the rest of the empire whether they can have their own country? Should the Slovenians, Czechs, Poles or anyone else?

Should the Irish have asked people in Britain to kindly let them have their own country?

>Besides, not voting is also democracy. Most of the Spanish people don't want to allow these kind of referendums in Spain. Therefore, Spain is doing what the majority wants (== democracy).

Self determination, ever heard of it?

One has the right not to vote, but not the right to stop others from voting. - Heard somewhere (?)

Well; just a point; inside Catalonia there's also a part that wants to separate from Catalonia; the Aran Valley; with their own culture, history and language; and Catalonian Government has never ever wanted to hear about that.


Indeed, in the brand new Catalonian Independency Law, it's stated at the very beginning that Republic of Catalonia is (will be) a non-severable country; exactly like the Spanish Constitution article that doesn't allow Catalonian referendum... Just committing the same mistakes that they denounce?

"it is nearly-impossible for any actor to block access to this content because it is replicated around the network automatically, using peer-to-peer encrypted connections that would be very hard to identify and block at the ISP level. "

It's right that the connections are encrypted, but it's NOT correct to say that content is automatically replicated (but it's a common misconception). Instead, content who is wanted by other peers is the only content that gets replicated. You need to explicitly "pin" content to help replicate it.

This is different from Freenet where content is indeed pushed out to other peers in that fashion.

You do NOT need to explicitly pin content to help replicate it. Any content which is requested via IPFS is replicated by the daemon, up until it is GCed. The only thing that pinning does, is prevent the content from ever being GCed

You make it sound like if merely accessing a resource will make my ipfs node share it to others. Is that the case?

Yes, analogous to downloading a torrent. The GC is run pretty regularly by default so you generally want to pin anything you want to keep local.

As far as I remember GC isn't run by default - but it could have changed


I noticed that you're an IPFS dev living in Catalunya -- did you have a hand in persuading the government to use IPFS? Pretty cool if so.

Thanks for pointing this out. I've corrected the article!


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