Jussi Halla-aho, the chairman of the Finns Party, has an op-ed in The Financial Times about Catalonian* independence entitled “Most independent states today were born ‘illegally’”. The piece is behind a subscription firewall, so I’ll just quote the final paragraph:
One must bear in mind that most of the independent states of today were born in an “illegal” manner, against the laws of the entity from which they separated. This applies to my own country, to the US, Algeria, Mozambique and many others. Is their independence therefore illegal? Can it really be that you need to fight a brutal war to make your independence “legal” and acceptable? Empirically, unfortunately, that seems to be the principle.
He’s quite right: that is the general principle. A country is independent if and only if it can defend its borders successfully against those who would prevent its independence.
There is no other metric for it. If your nation can expend enough blood and treasure to defend itself, it is independent. Anything else is simply some grade of “autonomy”.
That’s the metric we used in 1781 in Yorktown, after five years of bitter, costly warfare**.
On the occasion of his surrender, the band played “The World Turned Upside Down” for General Cornwallis. I wonder what “The World Turned Upside Down” would be in Castilian?
|*||My remarks about Catalonian independence do not in any way imply approval of its politics. Like Flanders, Catalonia sends more tax revenue to the central government than it receives in return. However, unlike Flanders, it is a communism-loving “migrants welcome” sort of place and holds the EU in high esteem.
If Catalonia becomes fully independent, the Spanish rump state will be both poorer and more conservative.
|**||The newly independent United States could not have achieved that independence without the colonies’ alliance with France. However, the French could not project enough military power to enfeoff the new nation, so we were able to achieve true independence, as opposed to becoming a French colony.