From Catalonia/Spain: Against All Nationalisms

The following two documents have been translated from the internationalist Spanish blog Nuevo Curso (New Way). The first was written after the supposed Catalan Declaration of Independence, the second before the flight to Brussels of Carlos Puigdemont and his cohorts. We have translated it and publish it as our common contribution to proletarian internationalism.

CWO

1 November 2017

A Fake Independence

The entire world media, including Spain’s, carried the headlines "Catalan Declaration of Independence".

However, yesterday the celebrations were rather muted except in Gerona, where they were confused – literally – with festivities for the local patron saint. Symbolically, in many municipalities controlled by the supporters of independence, the flags were lowered, but the one star flag (independentista flag) was not lowered. In the Parliament itself, no one seemed eager to place even a "senyera"[1] on the facade of the building. How could this be? Did they declare independence and yet feared to breach the law of flags of the country from which they were supposedly emancipated?

Let's leave aside the headlines, read the official text first and see what happened yesterday:

  1. The independentista deputies changed their voting procedure to be able to vote in secret.
  2. The approved text consists of two parts, a declaration without legal validity for which, according to Spanish law, they cannot be tried and an executive part which at no time establishes a republic, only that the Catalan government is urged to develop the law of transition and make independence effective ... a mere problem of authority.

After any declaration of independence of any country in rebellion, the first thing that happens is the securing of the borders, by security forces loyal to the new state, as well as the headquarters of their own administration and the strategic infrastructure. None of this has been done so far by the government of the Generalitat[2]. Once again, there is no declaration of independence but an instruction from the Parliament to Puigdemont for him to carry it out ... an instruction which he does not seem to have heard. And according to his statement today, his only response to his dismissal by the Spanish government is:

Our willingness to continue working to fulfil democratic mandates, and at the same time seek maximum stability and tranquillity.”

It cannot even be said that this is a response to his dismissal!! What is not referred to is his own declaration of "fake" independence!!!

We are by now used to Catalan nationalism’s great ambiguity and gross banality as tools to get their way to what they really want. In all this process, as they have said from the beginning, the real objective has always been to negotiate a new tax regime and privileges from the government to maintain the "social contract of pujolismo"[3]. Always, being very careful not to jeopardise the freedom of their leaders or, above all, their wealth.

What we are seeing, both yesterday and today, goes beyond this. The great confession now is the recognition by the petty bourgeoisie Catalan independence movement of its inability to sustain a national state of its own. They provoke, they make declarations but without risking possible judicial actions from the state from which they pretend to be independent ... but not for a moment do they try to make this a material reality.

«Sun and paella: socialism», says the shirt of Anna Gabriel (CUP[4]) in the debate on the consequences of the application of Article 155, which led to the alleged "declaration of independence". The Catalan Republic of Puigdemont and Junqueres is always a little step away, it is as republican as the socialism of Anna Gabriel and the CUP is socialist. Although the latter at least have a hint of sincerity, through their shirts, thanks to which we know their definition: socialism is "sun and paella," i.e. good times without consequence.

In this interminable soap opera, the next instalment depends on the attitude of the "Mossos", the autonomist government’s brutal police, when Madrid removes their boss from office. Have no fear. They will not resist or face the national police or the civil guard. The aim is not to lose the pay they get from the Spanish state. No one will give up their salary even if suspended from employment for a few months.

And “the people"? Yesterday and the day before yesterday we saw that the only basis of mobilisation left for independence, the only ones willing to get involved physically, are the students, especially middle school students and those in the first years of university. The men on the tractors, the rural petty bourgeoisie favouring "hard independence" did not come out until late at night and did not demonstrate much conviction. The large factories in the industrial zones, where not even the independentista unions called for an assembly, are still outside the show. Only a cruel and gratuitous repression of 'the children' could perhaps stir them up.

In the picture above it says «Xarnegos to the wall[5]». This is racist grafitti against workers in Terrasa and other cities. But be careful. The most characteristic branches of the rural petit bourgeoisie realise this as well. What has deflated the "process" by closing the door to a "real" independence movement has been its inability to include the great mass of the workers. It could not be otherwise after years of segregation, denial of the existence and cultural oppression of the great majority of workers on both sides. In the parliamentary debate prior to "the declaration", the "unionists" tried to openly take over the passivity of the workers, accusing the supporters of independence of wanting to make them need a passport to see their families in Andalusian or Extremadura; the spokesman of CUP, among great applause of all independence supporters, replied comparing them to Chinese and Pakistani immigrants, insignificant in number if compared to the former and mostly non-workers, who already have to use a passport. The overall picture was wonderful: neo-liberal unionism is incapable of thinking of workers as such and resorts to family "origins"; independence supporters, including those advocating socialism of sun and paella, consider workers as foreign, as a foreign body in the Catalan homeland. Both are so racist that they are unable to draw in the masses!! They are incompetent even as bourgeois!!

That is why, when Puigdemont announced that he would call elections, following the exit route that Rajoy had left him, his fury began to be directed against workers without Catalan surnames, the "xarnegos." Interestingly they constitute the majority of the country. The rural independence movement is likely to take on this most brazen ethnic hatred. Maybe even with some terrorist drift like they had back in the 70s and 80s.

What is the final outcome? An "independence" that is, recognition by the Catalan petty bourgeois of its inability to sustain a national state of its own. A "state intervention" pretending not to listen to what they are really asking for: a bigger ration of income and privileges. The result is not pretty. It cannot be otherwise in a society in which the ruling classes and the economic system that sustains them are the main brake on development.

When They Wave The "Democratic" Flag, It’s Because They Want Your Pension

Predictably, after the "fake" independence and the intervention of the government, dismissing the President and senior officials of the Generalitat, what has become clear is that none of the heroic protagonists wants to stop receiving a salary from the Spanish state in the future, nor do they wish to suffer harsh legal penalties or fines that undermine their assets. Parliament recognises that it has been dissolved. Over the weekend, the "Mossos" took down pictures of the Catalan leaders from the offices of their own commissioners and their commanders accepted without a murmur the changes in their leadership. This coming week, apparently, PDC, ERC and the CUP, the parties of the independence bloc, will announce that they will participate in the December elections called by the Spanish government[6].

Over the weekend we have gone from calls, with a broken voice, for peaceful resistance and civil disobedience, including a new, failed “national strike", to the "audacity" of Minister Rull who spent five minutes in the office to take a photo and post it on twitter. And as for what the repressive state wants, all that remains is a note to the "mossos" that if they see a councillor, dismissed from office, they remind him that he is unemployed.

So ...do we "now have peace and then glory"? Absolutely not. The danger does not come, although from the outside it may have looked like it to more than one, from the capacity of the independence movement to expand its ranks. While the extreme left bourgeois, from the ineffable Guillamón, and parliamentary Trotskyism to orthodox-Trotskyism, would like to call upon the Catalan workers to join the CDR ("committees for defence of the Republic") and those of the rest of Spain to demand "the Republic”, the momentum has passed. Not that it was very glorious at its peak: 300 people marching through the Catalan capital, with the "old militants" of the CUP, ERC and varied Trotskyists at their head and, during the "great moments", youngsters, initially from the first year of university, later, just schoolkids.

The danger, on the contrary, now comes from the normalisation of Spanish nationalism as the "only possible response" to the institutional racism of the Generalitat and its independence project. It is not the case that yesterday’s demonstration can be explained by a massive patriotic turn of the Catalan proletariat under the Spanish and European flags. Absolutely not. But if it is true that participation increased between the first and second demonstration and that it came from sectors of the working class that by their age, are those who have suffered the most crushing cultural oppression and the sterility of recent years. It is also the generation that still remembers the strikes of the 80s and sometimes, the 70s. And their defeat. The organisers, this time, also had the star performance of Paco Frutos, an old Stalinist leader, to remind them that they are the heirs of a class defeat and encourage them to keep it that way.

Because what is coming, and that was the focus of yesterday's speeches, is how we are moving towards a territorial redefinition of the state. The Spanish bourgeoisie – especially the Catalan bourgeoisie – is angry about having to change its social bases and for having been put one step away from being at the centre of inter-imperialist conflict. And now it wants to "solve the roots": the excessive power given, as viceroys, to the local petty bourgeoisies. But after decades of sanctifying the Constitution and refusing to change a single line (except those that Merkel dictates), it needs a social movement to legitimise it. That is to say, the scenario created by the independence movement forces it to compete with its own project. That is why it now needs the "constitutionalist parties" to win the Catalan elections and needs a renewed "constitutionalism" in the rest of the country in order to carry out constitutional reform. That is, it needs to gather support, revive voter turnout percentages, etc. to fix its own internal mess. A tremendous patriotic, but above all "democratic", campaign is looming.

If they succeed, we already know what is coming; to spell it out, "democratic national unity" is never accompanied by a wage increase. At best a new "worker's statute" in the French style, that enshrines precariousness and a new twist to the "gag law", is the most likely outcome if they manage to mobilise the workers electorally as in "the old days" of the “Moncloa pacts”[7], a privatising and dismantling reform of Social Security that “compensates” the banks for their “commitment” to the state.

That's the state of play in Tarragona and Badajoz, in Algeciras and Valladolid or in La Coruña. The big lie of the moment is to make us believe that faced with the racist barbarians of Catalan nationalism, our defence lies with the Spanish flag and its ballot boxes. Under the Spanish flag there is as little future as there is under the Catalan or European flag. The real battle today is not the territorial organisation of the state, but the defence of human needs wherever they want to submit them to the accounts of the banks' results. And to defend ourselves we need a flag of our own; the red flag of proletarian internationalism.

Nuevo Curso

October 30, 2017

To find the original Spanish documents go to nuevocurso.org

Notes

[1] The Senyera is a symbol concocted on the coat of arms of the Crown of Aragon, which consists of four red stripes on a golden background. This coat of arms, often called bars of Aragon, or simply "the four bars" (les quatre barres in Catalan), historically represented the Crown of Aragon.

[2] The traditional name for the autonomous government of Catalonia which goes back to the 1930s

[3] After Jordi Pujol, head of the Catalan Government (the Generalitat) from 1980-2003. His name sums up petty-bourgeois Catalan nationalism.

[4] The Popular Unity Candidacy (Catalan: Candidatura d'Unitat Popular, CUP) is a left, pro-Catalan independence political party active in the Catalan Countries in Spain. The CUP has traditionally focused on municipal politics, and is made up of a series of autonomous candidatures that run in local elections.

[5] i.e. put up against the wall and shot. “Xarnegos” is a racist term like “terroni” in Italy, or “metec” in France and refers to the descendants of people from Andalusia, Extremadura, and La Mancha etc. who migrated to work in Catalonia after the civil war (under miserable conditions).

[6] They didn’t wait that long. Within an hour of publishing this article, Puigdemont’s party, the ERC (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya or Republican Left of Catalonia), announced its participation in the elections. Since then all the pro-independence parties have followed the ERC.

[7] In 1978 the Moncloa Pact was passed: a series of agreements amongst politicians, political parties, and trade unions to plan how to operate the economy in favour of the state and against workers during the transition from Francoism to democracy.

Thursday, November 2, 2017