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The modern day independence movement

Column

The Parthenon

Published: Sunday, February 17, 2013

Updated: Sunday, February 17, 2013 23:02

In 1776, when a small group of colonies declared their independence from Great Britain, a chain reaction was set off. The American Revolution sparked off independence or revolutionary movements in Haiti, France, and a dozen other countries around the world.

Today, we see a new light of independence movements around the world. Some movements carry very little weight, but some have incredible support from the citizenry and therefore do threaten to bring real change to the global standing of many countries in this modern age.

One of the largest and most powerful independence movements is currently taking place in the province of Catalonia in northern Spain.

In the past several years, the Catalan Independence movement has seen the first major unofficial referendum votes that taken place since the start of their movement. Of the seven million people that reside in Catalonia, around 700,000 have voted in the referendums that have taken place since 2009, and from these unofficial polls, between 51% and 74% have voted in favor of independence from Spain.

The government of Spain has stated that no official referendums will be allowed as, under the Constitution of Spain, they are illegal. The government of Catalonia, on the other hand, voted 84 to 21 in favor of holding an official referendum in the next four years.

The other major ongoing independence movement is taking place in the hills of Scotland. Led by several independence minded political parties in Scotland, their argument is that Great Britain is holding them back from a better future. This spring, the Scottish government plans to introduce a bill to Parliament that will set the rules for the referendum ballot, which is expected to happen in the fall of 2014.

Here is the problem with the Scottish independence movement — they are almost entirely dependent on the economy of the United Kingdom, and if they do become independent, they will need help from Her Majesty’s government in London to have any form of economic stability without a financial crash.

Despite an increasing support for independence from the Scottish populace, whether or not the United Kingdom will lose one of its key regions is yet to be seen.

Looking around the rest of the world, you see any number of familiar places that are seeking independence and even revolution.

Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet and even places close to home, like Texas, Alaska or Vermont are all places seeking independence from the larger body.

Many of the modern day independence movements have little or no weight, and the people behind them are people that the rest of us scoff at, but these are serious people, and they should be taken seriously by the separate governments that are dealing with them.

People see independence as something to strive for, and it is, even though it is not always in your best interest, you should strive for it nonetheless. These places will keep fighting for an independent country of their own, and how we treat them will define just how far they are willing to go.

Ross Whitford can be contacted at whitford@marshall.edu.

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