Unwilling, or unable, to take up arms in their own defense, the Catalan people will suffer the total loss of autonomy. The jackbooted Spanish state is

The Catalan drive for statehood is led by people who are unable or unwilling to resort to force against a state that is willing to resort to force.

coming, and it appears the only response, "peaceful protests", won't prevent the leaders and even media members from being "rounded up" and tossed into jail.

Unless a people are willing to physically fight, or unless they are ABLE to do so, they should not pursue aims that will be met with violence. The Spanish State has a long history, going back over 500 years, of using extreme violence to oppress other people and its own people. Almost the entire western hemisphere was once enslaved by this state.
I wish the Catalans well, but I predict they are set to become the mud on the boot of the marauding Spanish "police" sent to oppress them.
The problem here is a mixing of the idea of sociocultural and economic autonomy through free association, which is the true basis of nationhood, with the political state. Catalans certainly own an inherent right to form such a Society among themselves by which they might meet their needs, raise and educate their children, and encourage and support one another in their own language and according to their own culture. This can be found outside of a political state.
I am not saying they cannot or should not have a state if they wish. I am saying that they have made a tragic mistake on two levels:
1. they put their entire national regency as a people in the basket of a political state, merging a political state with their nationhood, as if they could not have one without the other
2. they pushed for political independence without having the means of the will to take up arms, perhaps because they thought it would not come to that
WHENEVER you wish to obtain a state, even if your aim is to do so peacefully, you MUST have the means and will to take up arms if your opponent decides to use force against you, and you must always consider that as a possibility.
On the other hand, if you understand that nationhood, or national regency, can be expressed through free associations, such as fraternal societies, intentional communities, and even virtual "nations", then you have other means outside of politics to restore or protect your national identity and way of life.
Even an underground and, if necessary, secret society that preserves your language and culture can be quite impervious to politics and physical force.
The bottom line, is that nationhood is not dependent upon statehood, you can and must pursue it outside of politics and the state, but if or when you desire staehood, unless you have the means and will to take up arms you should not even START down the road of confrontation with an existing state. And, if you eschew violence in principle, you should definitely find non-political ways to express and preserve your nationhood.
Consider the Russian ethnic groups in Ukraine. Like them or not, they want their own state, or to be part of the Russian state, and they have shown they can and will fight.
Let's look at other national peoples.
The Kurds are willing to fight, though they have lack of cohesion as we saw in Kirkuk where one faction, the faction that had the most fighters in the city, retreated and betrayed the cause of Kurdish statehood. The Kurds certainly have non-political institutions which preserve their identity and way of life and have endured political oppression.
The Igbo of Biafra are not cohesive in their political aims, and the ones agitating for a state have shown either they cannot or will not fight, while even Igbos who are sympathetic to the cause of an Igbo state (Biafra) may eschew all violence. The Igbo need to have their own Societies and non-political cultural organizations which preserve their language, culture, religion, and way of life. It is not likely they have the means or unity to fight the state, and therefore starting a fight may prove to be more trouble than it is worse.
And of course the leaders of the drive for a Catalan state are both disunited and unwilling to fight. They have plenty of armed police, but they have moved with such indecisiveness and slowness that the Spanish can easily stop any of their efforts. For instance, every decision has been telegraphed days in advance, and even when summoned by Spanish courts on charges of sedition, the pro-statehood leaders show up like sheep.
One might ask, what choice do they have, but, really, the question is: why start on the road to statehood unless you are willing to take decisive action, including the use of force, to enforce this policy? The Catalns should have mobilized their police, shut the borders, and started up local militias of their supporters on the day after the referendum.
If you argue that doing so would be suicide, well, you are wrong: Spain cannot AFFORD to occupy the region and has enough troubles in the south. But, even if you are right, ESPECIALLY if you are right, the leaders who pushed for statehood should have already counted the cost and not started down this road.
Catalonia is doomed, for now, to be enslaved by the Spanish state, just as the Igbo are doomed to be dominated politically by the Nigerian state. Both peoples should be pursuing non-political sociocultural and spiritual independence and, unless they are willing and able to fight, they should seek an accommodation with the state, not their own state.
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