Historic general strike in Catalonia – Out with the PP government!

From a statement by Izquierda Revolucionaria [4/10/17)

Continue the fight until we win a Catalan socialist republic!

Catalonia experienced an historic day on 3 October. Millions of workers, young people and citizens paralysed companies, transport, education and administration. They took to the streets crying out against the brutal police repression of 1 October and threats of more violence against the Catalan people by Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy and Partido Popular (People’s Party/PP) government ministers.

The possibility of achieving a Catalan republic through the revolutionary mobilisation of the masses is causing panic among the Spanish ruling class. They know that this victory would open the way to the struggle for socialist transformation of society in Catalonia and in the rest of the Spanish state.

The Catalan political crisis has been transformed into a crisis over the 1978 constitution, which motivated King Philip VI to address the “nation” on the night of 3rd October. Would the king denounce the violence of the police and the civil guard against tens of thousands of families, elderly and peaceful people who only wanted to vote? Would he offer sympathy to nearly 1,000 people injured by the repressive intervention of the Francoist regime? Would the king condemn the leaders of the PP and Cuididanos [Citizens party] who described the general strike and the huge demonstrations on 3 October as “Nazi” and “xenophobic”, using the language of civil war? Would the king strongly oppose suspending Catalan autonomy?

We anticipated from the beginning that the king would not do any of these things. The monarchy supported, as expected, the PP government’s repressive policy, justifying it as the “defence of the rule of law.”

The oppression of the PP government and the state apparatus against the people of Catalonia shows their true DNA and that the legacy of Franco continues within them. And after 1 October, far from retreating, reaction has intensified its nationalist-Spanish propaganda. They present the mobilisation of 16,000 police and civilian police, and future repressive measures, as legitimate actions to defend the “law of the state”.

But by what state and by what right? What right does a government, full of corruption and thieves, who plundered the public resources to enrich a minority, have to claim its authority to act in this way? It is the state of the bankers who have their hands full of billions of stolen euros. The “rule of law” drowns us in mass unemployment, precarious jobs, low wages, poverty and misery. The “rule of law” born of the pact of 1978, when the Spanish bourgeoisie and the leaders of the organisations of the left – PCE [Communist Party] and PSOE [social-democratic party] agreed to reform the dictatorship to abort a revolutionary situation, guaranteed the capitalist class control through a monarchical and parliamentary regime that included many authoritarian elements.

Catalonia, September 2017

Catalonia, September 2017

Exemplary resistance to savage police violence by the people of Catalonia!

  • Down with the PP government!
  • For a Catalan socialist republic!
Esquerra Revolucionària [Revolutionary Left], Catalonia, 2/10/17

Catalonia on 1st October saw scenes of a territory under military occupation. Thousands of police and civil guards – sent by the PP government and the State Attorney’s office – used savage repression to prevent voting in the referendum and viciously cracked down on tens of thousands of peaceful citizens, families, children and the elderly.

They smashed the glass panes of schools and stole the voting urns as if they were trophies. This indiscriminate violence prevented voting in 400 schools, but what the riot police, the PP government and the state did not count on was the massive resistance of the Catalan people, who exercised their right to vote with determination and courage in thousands of polling stations and undoubtedly defeated a repressive offensive unprecedented in the last 40 years.

Franco’s repression

According to the official data of the Generalitat, 844 people have been injured by the police and the civil guard, of which two are in a serious condition in two hospitals in Barcelona.

The photos of thousands of police force deploying all their violent repression to prevent the Catalan population from expressing themselves democratically have gone around the world.

All the international press has reflected it, comparing the actions of the repressive forces of the state with the Franco dictatorship. And it is impossible to deny this fact.

The images of the Franco regime have returned with all their strength from the hands of Rajoy and his government of thieves, reactionaries and national-Spanish.

Pretending to give a lesson to the population of Catalonia, the heirs of the dictatorship have reaped the whirlwind.

The rage, indignation and fury of millions of young people and workers has been transformed into a wall against which the right and its repressive state have crashed.

The political lessons of what happened on 1st October in Catalonia will be recorded in the consciousness of millions of people, both in Catalonia and the rest of the state and internationally.

The justification that the PP (People’s Party) and its government are applying the law, cannot mask that the law is unfair, undemocratic and goes directly against the aspirations of millions of Catalans who they are trying to muzzle.

Facts that make even more shameful the capitulation of the leadership of PSOE [Spanish Socialist Party], which has preferred to weave an alliance with the heirs of Franco rather than recognise the right to decide of the people of Catalonia.

The political bankruptcy of the PSOE leadership

After the triumph of Pedro Sanchez in the first of the PSOE elections, and the defeat of those leaders who made possible the investiture of Rajoy as president of the government, there was much hope that something had begun to change in the party of social democracy, that there was a possibility of a turn to the left.

All these hopes have once again been disappointed by the unspeakable behaviour of Pedro Sánchez and the current socialist leadership on the Catalan national question.

The complicity of the current leaders of PSOE with the PP to muzzle the people of Catalonia and prevent them from voting on 1st October will go down in the history of social democracy as one of its most infamous pages.

The intervention of Pedro Sánchez on the same day that tens of thousands of people were subjected to excessive violence, crying crocodile tears for the “police charges” without even daring to call things by their right name, and then reaffirming his unwavering support for the “rule of law, the institutions, the constitution and territorial integrity”, that is, the government of the PP and “one Spain, large and free”, demonstrate their complete political bankruptcy.

The leaders of PSOE have revealed in these weeks the dire consequences of embracing for years Spanish nationalism and merging with the ruling class in all essential matters.

They have not only abandoned the view of socialism on the national question – which has always defended the right to self-determination of the oppressed nations; but they try to hide their responsibility by rhetorically calling for “negotiation” and “dialogue”.

In fact they have placed themselves alongside the Francoists who resort to violence and repression by the state.


Barcelona   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

The idea that the referendum of 1 October was a “coup d’état” or an “anti-democratic” imposition on a sector of the Catalan population is one of the biggest lies that the media try to sell at the service of the Spanish capitalists.

And an absurd one in itself. If the state, the PP, or the current PSOE leadership are so sure that the ‘independentistas’ are a minority, why not accept the polls? Why stop the voting? Why in Venezuela is a vote fine but not in Catalonia?

In a democratic vote on self-determination, anyone who not does not support independence has the clear choice to vote NO.

The parties that defend the legality emanating from 1978 have a great amount of resources and influence to campaign in favour of their arguments and against independence.

The real reason that explains the attitude of the right and the state is not that they defend democracy, but rather the opposite: they deny that the people of Catalonia have the right to decide and that Catalonia is a nation.

Their position is simply the continuation of a course of conduct that has historically been expressed by the Spanish capitalist class and its centralist state, having frequently squashed by military means the national-democratic aspirations of Catalonia, the Basque country and Galicia.

That is what happened under Franco’s dictatorship, and since the Transition any progress in winning these rights has always been the result of mass mobilisation.

The 1978 regime responsible

The mobilisation of millions of young people, workers and citizens of Catalonia has questioned the authoritarian and oligarchic character of the capitalist regime enacted in 1978.

In order to abort a revolutionary situation – in which the working class and youth of all the territories of the state put the Spanish dictatorship and capitalism on the ropes, the Spanish capitalists and the leaders of the organisations of the left (PCE and PSOE) agreed to reform the dictatorship in exchange for legally recognising the democratic freedoms that had already been conquered with the mobilisation of the masses.

In this way the socialist transformation of society was prevented, and the capitalist class maintained control of the situation through a monarchical and parliamentary regime that included huge authoritarian elements.

The constitution of 1978 sanctioned many things: a law that guaranteed impunity for the crimes of Francoism; and the state apparatus, the judiciary, police and military forces remained in the hands of the reactionaries always.

Of course, the economy of the ‘free market’ and the unquestionable power of the capitalists was assumed, and the right of self-determination of Catalonia, the Basque country and Galicia was denied, inscribing in the constitution the dictatorship’s maxim: A great Spain, and free.

The current mass movement unleashed in Catalonia in favour of national-democratic rights has placed the debate at an essential point: the denial that Catalonia is a nation – so often reiterated by the centralist capitalist class and the right through repression or simple military conquest – has been combined with widespread frustration at the consequences of the capitalist crisis: mass unemployment, evictions, precarious work and low wages, and the lack of future for the youth.

Catalonia, September 2017

Catalonia, September 2017   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

The struggle against national oppression and class oppression have intertwined, as in other times (1909, 1931, 1934, 1936, 1977 …), generating a revolutionary potential that has defied the forms of political domination of the Spanish capitalist regime.

The working class and youth of the whole state must understand that the cause of the people of Catalonia is also theirs. “A people who oppress another can never be free”, said Karl Marx.

That is why the labour movement throughout its history always inscribed on its flag the struggle for national liberation, for the self-determination of oppressed nations, as part of the struggle for the socialist transformation of society.

Today in Catalonia we are fighting for the democratic freedoms that cost so much to win at the start of the 1970s. If today they act against the people of Catalonia, what will happen tomorrow? The answer is not difficult to give.

Tomorrow they will intensify repression against all those who stand up against injustice and call into question their oppression and their domination. They will approve new gagging laws and more exceptional measures to undermine democratic freedoms.

The Spanish capitalists and their state prepare new blows against the people of Catalonia

On 1 October, there was a turning point in the class struggle not only in Catalonia, but in the whole Spanish state. The government of the PP has shown with its repressive action its extreme weakness and its absolute lack of legitimacy.

Attempts to mobilise its social base in the days before the referendum were reduced to a small minority on demonstrations and dominated by fascist elements who sang the anthem “facing the sun”, while raising their arms in the fascist salute. Absolutely pathetic.

As in all the great events of history, it has been the direct action of the masses, their revolutionary intervention, which has changed the whole scenario.

The crisis of the Spanish political regime, of the forms of domination of the bourgeoisie that were maintained during four decades, are being shaken.

The decision of the Generalitat [Catalan government], after a day of historical mobilisations, to present the results of the referendum before the parliament (about 2,100,000 votes in favour, 90% of those who voted), and possibly proceed to declare the Catalan Republic, has set off all alarms bells among the Spanish ruling class.

The crisis is of such a magnitude for the Spanish state that the PP government and other reactionaries now openly speak of a coup against the Catalan institutions, dissolving the Catalan government and ending the autonomy.

The newspaper El Mundo expressed in its editorial what Barrunta said in La Moncloa: “Faced with this flagrant insurrection to legitimate order, and in a revolutionary context that includes the call for a general strike, the government cannot delay in taking the measures necessary to cut short plans for separatism, including the immediate application of Article 155 or the Public Safety Act, in order to preserve legality and place the Mossos under state control (“not a moment to lose against independentismo”, 2nd October 2017).

Other sections of the media such as El País, cheering on the PP for weeks and applauding every one of the repressive measures adopted in the days before the referendum, now see an increasingly more complicated situation which requires negotiation between the central government and the Generalitat.

But this, after what happened on 1st October, is not possible given the position of the PP. The state apparatus and its allies are rooted in the denial of the right to self-determination for Catalonia.

It is very difficult to establish a fixed perspective for the events that will develop in the next days. But the confrontation, that is to say, the class struggle, is going to see a great escalation. The PP has already threatened the leadership of PSOE with a new general election if it does not give its unwavering support to defend current legality. That is, support new repressive and authoritarian measures.

The question is very specific. The population mobilised in Catalonia feels strong after the political triumph against the repression of 1 October.

Consciousness has taken a giant step forward. Now is the time to take advantage of this open gap to achieve the immediate resignation of prime minister Rajoy, defeat this repressive onslaught and win in a revolutionary way the Catalan republic. This would represent a brutal blow to the Spanish capitalist regime and its centralist state, and would become a powerful tool in the fight against the policies of austerity, through the socialist transformation of society.

We must respond with massive mobilisation. For the Catalan socialist republic

All conditions are maturing to achieve these goals. The call for the general strike on 3 October, which finally the CCOO and UGT de Catalonia [trade union federations] have been dragged into supporting is a reflection of the enormous pressure of the masses and the critical point that has been reached in the crisis. The strike will be a success without doubt, but it is necessary to go further.

We call on the leaderships of the Catalan left parties – CUP [Popular Unity Candidacy], Podemos [We Can], Catalunya in Comú [The Commons] and ERC [Republican Left of Catalonia] – to establish a combative, left united front, based on the Defence Committees of the Referendum and all organisations that have been emerging in the recent weeks in Catalonia.

These should organise ‘committees for the republic’ in all centres of work, and coordinate amongst themselves to defend a working class alternative – an internationalist and revolutionary socialist alternative – that drives the mass movement with increasingly bold and massive actions.

We say clearly that the left front must maintain a policy of class independence, it must break any subordination to the nationalist capitalist class, the PDeCAT [Catalan European Democratic Party] and Carles Puigdemont [president of the Catalan Generalitat].

We cannot forget that even though they now suffer the reactionary onslaught of the PP, these political leaders have applied savage social cuts that have caused immense suffering, and defend their own privileges and very concrete class interests: those of the economic elite.

We cannot rule out that these bourgeois leaders, as they have done in the past so many times, again betray the aspirations of the people and try to agree to a beneficial outcome for them with the state and the PP government.

The fighting left, the labour movement and its class unions in Catalonia, today have enormous responsibility to offer a way out of this revolutionary crisis.

That is, to deepen and extend the struggle, preparing an indefinite general strike in the workplaces to resist any repressive action by the state and win the Catalan republic with a left government at the forefront to implement a programme that will meet the needs of the majority of the population and oppose the Spanish and Catalan capitalist oligarchy.

That left government should immediately end the cuts, ensuring quality public education and health; should create millions of jobs with living wages and rights, and end evictions by establishing a public housing scheme with social rentals.

This government should end the dictatorship of the great economic powers by nationalising banking and large corporations, to place wealth at the service of the needs of the majority of society.

A Catalan republic gained by the revolutionary action of the masses would necessarily imply a struggle against the PDeCAT and Puigdemont, against all this political and economic oligarchy that has governed Catalonia applying the same neoliberal recipes as the PP.

It would open the door to the struggle for a socialist republic in Catalonia and a federal socialist republic in the Spanish state based on a free and voluntary union of peoples and nations that make up the Spanish state; and would gain the active solidarity of the oppressed masses of Europe and the whole world.

It is absolutely necessary to stop defending utopian ideas that are a dead end. Right-wing reactionaries will never grant the right to self-determination to the people of Catalonia because they know that doing so not only represents a defeat of all their politics, but also encourages all workers and youth in all territories to settle accounts with their governments and the system as a whole.

It is time for Unidos Podemos and for Pablo Iglesias to go from words to deeds. We must organise the active solidarity of the population of the rest of the state with the struggle of the Catalan people.

Their triumph will be our triumph, and achieving this will not be done with motions of censorship, nor imploring Pedro Sánchez to abandon the PP.

They need to follow the example of the youth, workers and citizens of Catalonia during these recent weeks: with direct action, with mass mobilisation, with the courage that makes possible the defeat of an adversary that only counts on repression.

Revolutionary Left calls for the building of a massive left-wing alternative that will promote the unity of the workers and youth of Catalonia with their class brothers of the Spanish state in a common struggle for socialism and to end the national oppression of Catalonia, the Basque country and Galicia.

This can only become a reality in this era of imperialist decay if it is firmly united in the struggle for a socialist transformation of society and the overthrow of capitalism.

  • Visca Catalunya lliure, republican and socialist!
  • Join the Revolutionary Left!

The second piece above was posted on the Socialist Party website on 2 October 2017. Issue 965 of the Socialist carried an extract from it. The part in italics has since been expanded in line with later material produced by IR.
The first piece above was posted on 5 October 2017.