Showing solidarity with Catalonia, Downing Street, 3.10.17, photo Martin Powell-Davies

Showing solidarity with Catalonia, Downing Street, 3.10.17, photo Martin Powell-Davies   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

We stand with Catalonia

  • For a socialist republic of Catalonia!
  • The workers can finish what Puigdemont won’t!

As this article is being written, a session of the Catalan parliament is underway in which, while thousands of ordinary people amassed outside, Catalan president Puigdemont asked politicians to agree ‘suspending’ a declaration of independence for Catalonia for ‘a few weeks’ to allow ‘dialogue’ with the Spanish state.

This hesitation and unwillingness to decisively implement the will of the people exposes the nature of capitalist nationalist parties – in reality they are no friends of the movement of the masses that has been taking place in Catalonia.

The announcement followed weeks of intense battles between the people of Catalonia and the capitalist class along with their establishment politicians and parties.

Millions of working class and young people have taken part in mobilisations to demand the right to decide their future – by turning out on demonstrations, student strikes, a general strike and of course the historic independence voting day on 1 October.

In response, the Spanish state has enacted brutal police repression, an unrelenting Spanish-nationalist propaganda campaign and economic sabotage.

It remains possible that the right-wing Spanish government will enact Article 155 to take direct control of Catalonia – probably including elements of a military occupation.

This will not just be accepted. Any attempt at such a shutdown of democracy must be resisted by further mass mobilisations of workers and youth. The mass movement can achieve what Puigdemont is not willing to.

The Spanish, Catalan and European capitalist establishments are terrified by the mass resistance that has been seen in Catalonia – which has a strong revolutionary history.

The Catalan people are fighting for a Catalan republic, but through that want to see a genuine change in their lives.

They will not be satisfied with a continuation of the neoliberal agenda by the Catalan capitalists and their political representatives Puigdemont and his party PDeCat.

This movement can be just the beginning of one which raises the confidence of the masses to fight for socialist change – in Catalonia, Spain and beyond.

Reactionary forces step up response – Continue the fight for a Catalan socialist republic

Extracts from the latest (up to 10 October) declaration by Izquierda Revolucionaria, our sister party in the Spanish state. For latest updates see .

The rebellion of the Catalan people in the 1 October independence referendum forced the Spanish capitalist regime and the right-wing PP government onto the ropes, opening a revolutionary crisis in Catalonia.

The reactionary forces wasted no time in their response. Using all resources at their disposal, and with an absolute monopoly in the media and the state apparatus, they launched a rabid campaign of Spanish nationalism to mobilise their social base.

On 8 October a demonstration took place in Barcelona – called by the right-wing ‘Catalan Civil Society’, backed up by the PP, Ciudadanos, numerous small fascist groups and joined by the leaders of the ex-social democratic Psoe and PSC.

It amassed 400,000 people, many of them coming from outside Catalonia. This is a much inferior figure to the historic mobilisations of 1 and 3 October, which brought to the streets millions of youth, workers and Catalan citizens to exercise their democratic right to decide and against police repression.

The class struggle in Catalonia and the Spanish state has entered a decisive phase. The alliance woven between the monarchy, the judiciary, the police and the army, with the PP, Ciudadanos and the social democracy, has been reinforced in by the Catalan capitalists, who fears the mass movement just as much as the capitalists in the rest of the Spanish state.

This is why the two united to exert pressure against the proclamation of a Catalan republic.

Even so, the Spanish-nationalist reaction – which defends the interests of the capitalist oligarchy, the state inherited from Francoism, the most stale and backward elements of Spanish society – has not been capable of winning the majority of the people to their cause, and much less of the working class.

The current crisis in Catalonia has opened the possibility of winning a Catalan republic through revolutionary methods based on the direct action of the people, the youth and workers.

This is what terrorises the Catalan bourgeois, which has quickly given an ultimatum to the masses: abandon your revolutionary pretensions or we will unleash economic chaos and plunge you into misery.

In this they have obtained the rapid assistance of the PP government, which didn’t take 24 hours to approve a law to facilitate the transfer of the headquarters of companies out of Catalonia.

A Catalan republic won through revolutionary action would necessarily involve a head-on struggle against the capitalist-nationalist ruling party in Catalonia, PDeCat, and Catalan president Puigdemont, who have governed Catalonia with the same neoliberal policies as the PP.

It would open the door to a government of the left that should immediately end cuts and confront the dictatorship of the Catalan and Spanish economic powers, nationalising the banks and the big companies.

The correlation of forces in Catalonia continues to be favourable to the working class and youth who have shown their determination to reach the end in the struggle against political repression and for a Catalan republic.

It’s completely necessary to respond to the state and the PP government with the same audacity as 1 and 3 October, increasing the mobilisations.

Izquierda Revolucionaria calls on the leadership of all left parties, trade unions and militant student organisations in Catalonia to establish a left united front based on the Referendum Defence Committees and on all the bodies that have been emerging in the recent period.

Committees for the republic should be formed in workplaces and factories, neighbourhoods and schools and colleges and coordinate them to boost the movement with increasingly bold actions.

These committees should prepare an indefinite general strike capable of resisting any violent action by the state and winning a Catalan republic with a left government.

This united front must call for the active solidarity of the workers’ movement and youth in the rest of the Spanish state.

Failures of the ‘left’

There is much confusion at this time. This is because of the absence of a left leadership that poses a class position to give a way out to this revolutionary crisis in benefit of the majority of the population.

The parliamentary left has either openly caved before the right, like is the case with the social democracy, or has called for dialogue and an “agreed and legal” referendum with the same state and the same government that, wrapped in the Spanish flag, plans a new wave of repression.

It can only be concluded that Psoe’s leadership has moved fully into the field of reaction. Their leader Pedro Sanchez has crawled behind PP prime minister Rajoy, backing up all his methods and contributing to the continued spread of Spanish chauvinism.

Even those on the left within the ex-social democratic parties have in practice passed to the other side: not only have they appealed to the constitution to suspend the session of the Catalan parliament to stop the proclamation of a Catalan republic, but they called for participation in the Spanish-nationalist demonstration in Barcelona.

We have also witnessed the political wrecking of leaders who are formally positioned to the left of social democracy, such as those of Izquierda Unida.

They have also appealed for ‘dialogue’ ‘agreement’ and for a referendum which is ‘legal and agreed’ with the Spanish state and its government.

It’s also absolutely clear that the position of the left-nationalist CUP and ERC, giving parliamentary support to the PDeCAT to apply its neoliberal agenda in exchange for being kept in the independence bloc, is a complete error.

But equally wrong, or more wrong considering what’s at stake, is that when Catalan president Puigdemont and PDeCAT are completely surpassed by a movement of the mases, the ‘left’ fails to support this movement with accusations that it is reactionary and implore Rajoy and Puigdemont to settle the problem by sitting down to negotiate.

The struggle for the right to self-determination of oppressed nations like Catalonia is a priority for Marxists; but in this fight we don’t subordinate ourselves to the capitalists of the oppressed nation, in this case the Catalan capitalist class, nor to their political representatives, the PDeCAT.

Rather, at the same time as we advocate this right – which obviously includes the right to independence – we link it to the defence of a revolutionary programme for the socialist transformation of society.

In their own words: establishment lines up behind Spanish state

The European Union

  • European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans: “That is the rule of law, you abide by the law and the constitution even if you don’t like it.”
  • President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani: Said that the EU was backing the Spanish government because “on a legal level, Madrid is right”.
  • Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s spokesperson on Brexit: Condemned the Catalan government for going ahead with the referendum and called for a settlement based on the “constitutional and legal order of the country”.
  • The European Commission: “This is an internal matter for Spain that has to be dealt with in line with the constitutional order of Spain… If a referendum were to be organised in line with the Spanish constitution, it would mean that the territory leaving would find itself outside of the European Union… Beyond the purely legal aspects of this matter, the Commission believes that these are times for unity and stability, not divisiveness and fragmentation.”

The Spanish monarchy

  • King Felipe VI: “With their decisions, they have systematically undermined the rules approved legally and legitimately, showing an unacceptable disloyalty towards the powers of the state — a state that represents Catalan interests.”

The UK government

  • A Foreign Office spokesperson: “We want to see Spanish law and the Spanish constitution respected and the rule of law upheld. Spain is a close ally and a good friend, whose strength and unity matters to us.”

The French government

  • European Affairs minister Nathalie Loiseau: “If there were to be a declaration of independence, it would be unilateral, and it would not be recognised… Catalonia cannot be defined by the vote organised by the independence movement just over a week ago,” she told CNews television. “This crisis needs to be resolved through dialogue at all levels of Spanish politics.”

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 11 October 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.