Understanding separatism

The Scottish bid for independence was far from unique in today’s restless world. Madrid’s central and highly interventionist government, for example, is no friend to the people of Catalonia, who speak a different language and have every reason to feel remote and culturally disenfranchised. French-speaking Canadians in Quebec recently urged divorce from British-oriented Canadians in Ottawa. Northern Mexico seeks a break from central government in Mexico City. Islamic Uighurs of Western China press for independence from the Chinese in Beijing. The Flemish want independence for Flanders in Belgium; and Ukraine seeks a split from Russia.

This rash of separatist movements is a global phenomenon. What links them? Not a need for machismo-style autonomy for its own sake. Could it be a wish to break free from centrist governments with destructive policies, formed on the basis of populist expediency, devoid of principle?

If one of those governments were to promote entrepreneurship, not by subsidy, but by abolishing the minefield of regulatory barriers to business start-ups; introduce a flat-rate low-tax regime; encourage savings as the true source of industrial investment; allow interest rates to be market-determined; protect purchasing power by desisting from destructive money-printing; and dismantle the myriad barriers to free movement of goods services, capital and people – what would happen? The problem of break-away movements by disaffected minorities would disappear overnight.

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