While it remains an open question whether the UK is better off with the EU or without it, there is much to be said for political self-determination. As the principle of subsidiarity holds, many of the world’s political problems are best solved on the smallest and the most local level of government.
That makes a lot of sense in light of how mayors of towns and governors of provinces know more about their communities than presidents of republics or let alone international governing bodies like the EU. It’s also worth noting that that the local politicians are more attached to their communities and have more of an incentive to do what serves the public rather than their cronies.
On that note, I will also say that I support independent Catalonia, even if I am glad that Franco won the Spanish civil war. George Orwell’s “homage to Catalonia” is often misunderstood to be a one-sided denunciation of fascism. Yet, in the opening chapter, he wrote: “I am not writing a propaganda book, the Republican militia suffered from serious problems”.
Orwell earned his immortal fame critiquing the pathological structure of totalitarian regimes, especially those that emerge in the far-left, with a particular emphasis on Stalinism. While “1984” can be seen as a general critique of totalitarianism, “the Animal Farm” was an attack on Stalinism, where the Old Major represented Karl Marx and Napoleon represented Stalin.
In a similar vein, Orwell went on to show that while the Catalonian forces were home to many well-intentioned, albeit misguided idealists, they were often co-opted by the totalitarian left. Stalin famously supported the Republican forces and his motives certainly were not altruistic or humanitarian. Stalin was a barbarian who probably would have started World War III, had he not died under questionable circumstances in the hands of Kruschev.
Had the Republicans gotten their way in the Spanish civil war, Spain would have been much more like Greece than the civilized, prospering democratic society it is today. It is a little known fact that despite the excesses of Franco’s far-right regime, he presided over the “Spanish miracle” which was a series of reforms in economic liberalization that produced tremendous growth. Toward the end of his reign, the Franco regime even made a number of concessions to tolerate limited pluralism in Spain, which is partly why the Francoist Spain was allowed to join NATO.
These acts of compromise are unthinkable on the far-left: there has never been an economic miracle of this proportion in the former USSR nations or any ex-communist country for that matter. China may be the lone exception, but they will never be a free country.
Freedom is always easier to pry away from the jaws of right-wing extremists than it is from the communists, which is why Chile is now a proper democracy, despite the atrocities committed by the Pinochet regime. Portugal was also afflicted by the far-right regime of Antonio Salazar, but it is now a thriving democracy. With the exception of the Baltic states, this is a result that virtually none of the ex-communist regimes will ever achieve.