People want to be able to live their lives by the rules they set for themselves. That is universal.
The second thing that many people want is to be able to force others to live by rules that they themselves set for those others. Those many who would force others to live by those rules do so through strength. That strength can be obtained through physical toughness: the weak are overpowered by those who are larger, faster, or can lift heavier things. It can be obtained through force of numbers: the many overpower the few.
We establish governments to support both of those goals. A limited government can support the goal of freedom. The danger is that the government with enough power to allow one group to overpower the other, and force rules on others, has enough power to take everyone’s freedom, leaving all citizens at the mercy of the governing power at the helm.
The founders wrote about this (emphasis added):
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
When we established the government, the intent was to restrict its powers, so that the second goal of using it to control others was impossible. When that fails, people will want to part ways with that government. Just as the citizens of Catalonia are doing, or at least trying to do. Their government is responding the way that governments always try to do. They are using force and clamping down.
This is going to be instructive.