On Oct. 27, the parliament of Catalonia voted for independence from the Spanish state. However, on the same day, the central government in Madrid, citing Article 155 of the constitution, dissolved the Catalan parliament and nullified its vote.
Below is a response to those events, issued on Oct. 30 by the Izquierda Anticapitalista Revolucionaria (IZAR), an organization of revolutionary socialists in the Spanish state that is in solidarity with the current inside the Fourth International supporting the “Platform for a Revolutionary International.”
What economic growth is in danger?
In this escalation of the sharpening of the conflict between the Spanish state and Catalonia, the ruling classes continue pressing in order to paralyze the process. With the interests of the Catalan bourgeoisie threatened due to the increasing polarization between the Catalan government and the central government, a large part of it has begun to align its discourse with that of the Spanish bourgeoisie, pointing out that continuing to follow the road map of the DUI would place the entire economic recovery in danger.
This recovery has been exclusive to capital, with estimated benefits for the IBEX 35 companies this year of some 43.4 billion euros, while the situation of the working class continues to worsen day by day due to the cuts and the job insecurity that we have suffered from the beginning of the crisis.
It is indeed ironic to listen to members of the PP [People’s Party, the main party in the Madrid parliament] talk about the detrimental effects of instability in Catalonia on pensions, when they have spent years in cutting them, or to listen to the PDeCAT [Catalan European Democratic Party] and ERC [Republican Left of Catalonia] denounce the PP’s adjustment policies, when during all these years their own policies have hardly been better than those of [Spanish Prime Minister Mariano] Rajoy.
However, we must try to see beyond the politics of fear when we analyze the relocation of the headquarters of more than 1000 companies outside the territory of Catalonia, or when they speak of the brake on foreign investment and the fall of tourism in Catalonia and its catastrophic repercussions in the Spanish economy.
The extension of the budgets of 2018, with a forecast of a GDP below 2.6%, or the drop in public spending on education and health to historic lows in the forecasts for 2018, show that the capitalists want to continue making us pay for the crisis while they earn money. And the consequences of this new economic recession will be none other than a new attack on the working class to alleviate it.
The instability in Catalonia will be simply the mantle that they use to cover up the structural weaknesses within the growth of these years and those of the capitalist system itself. Therefore, let’s not allow them to deceive us. In the whole of the Spanish state we have more in common with the Catalan worker than with the Spanish capitalist. Defending a democratic right as basic as the right to decide remains a component of elementary solidarity among peoples.
Let’s not allow them to deceive us. If Rajoy, the IBEX 35, the King, and the EU, which have battered the working class and the youth so hard in these years, are so nervous, it is not because the possible independence of Catalonia would be detrimental to the interests of working people, but simply because it calls into question the rule of the regime of ’78, the monarchy, and the immediate interests of the Spanish capitalists—and above all, because the struggle for the right to decide can unchain other social struggles in Catalonia that put deeper changes on the table.
Against their repression, our solidarity
With the presentation of Article 155, any doubt has been removed about the reactionary attack that was to take place as soon as the [Catalan] government backed down.
The dismissal of [Catalan President] Puigdemont, [Catalan Vice President] Junqueras, and the councilors, and the designation of newly created figures for the ministries; the disqualification of the parliament for any function that is not administrative, and the capacity of Rajoy to suspend it leaves the Catalan Chamber as a merely decorative element.
For now, we do not know how long this situation can last—set for six months at the maximum and supposedly ending with the call for new elections in Catalonia, and leaving in doubt how they will avoid the triumph of a new pro-independence candidacy.
The hypothesis that we in Izquierda Anticapitalista Revolucionaria (IZAR) are putting forward is that it will serve as a prelude to a constitutional reform with a marked reactionary character, with a strengthening of state centralism in all its forms—not only territorial but also in repressive matters. There are numerous historical examples of how exceptional governmental measures were applied in a more generalized form to suppress social struggles.
In fact, beginning in 2011, when the social response to the cutbacks policies arose, the response was a hardening of repression through the Gag Law. Consequently, in the face of new cuts and adjustment policies that can be glimpsed on the horizon, there is no doubt that the bourgeoisie is preparing to prevent possible responses from the working class and youth. We need to understand state repression in the sense that, while today it is the Catalan people, surely in the distant future it will be the rest of the working class in the Spanish state.
Mobilization for the power to decide
The workers in Catalonia are the only ones who can assume the right to decide, at the same time that they are the ones who can best counteract the repression of the state and the capitalists. Faced with the take-over of TV3 [the main Catalan TV channel] by the Rajoy government, who could be better to contravene that intervention than TV3’s own workers? The editorial board ought to become the wage-earning employees of the media.
Faced with the supposed flight of companies and banks in Catalonia, what better measure is there to respond to these pressures than nationalization under the control of the workers of those banks and companies?
If the bankers and the businessmen want to leave, let them go! But let the money and the companies remain, and under the control of those who must work for a living. The method by which this can be carried out goes through the self-organization of our class in the workplace and in the neighborhoods, and by an extended general strike.
For this reason, the fact that the working class would stand at the head of the democratic right to decide of the Catalan people acquires a fundamental character. A scenario like this would open the way to allow us to recognize our own right to decide, as a social class, about how we should live. Their crisis need not be our crisis, just as the crisis of their political system is not a problem but an opportunity to end their antisocial policies.
For this our response must be coordinated and powerful, presenting a common front before the two bourgeoisies, weakening the pillars of those responsible for labor reforms, cuts in pensions, and evictions, as are the monarchy or the unity of Spain. And the best way to do that is with a general strike in Catalonia that extends to the rest of the [Spanish] state and that unifies solidarity for Catalan independence with [demands for] the non-payment of the debt, repeal of all labor reforms, prohibition of dismissals, retirement at age 60, and the rest of our claims.
Faced with the divisions that they try to generate among the working class, we have to respond together. In Catalonia, [this requires] encouraging spaces for self-organization that can organize this method of struggle; and in the rest of the Spanish state, generating ties of solidarity in the work centers and educational campuses.
The struggle of the workers there is that of the entire working class and youth, and we must organize it with the same intensity from within but also from outside Catalonia.
Photo: Santi Palacios / AP