Workers Hammer No. 245
For a Catalan workers republic north and south of the Pyrenees!
Free all Catalan independentistes!
We publish below a 20 February article written by our comrades of the Grupo Espartaquista de México and the Ligue trotskyste de France, sections of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist). In the 28 April general election, four of the Catalan politicians currently on trial were elected as deputies to the Spanish parliament while a fifth won a seat in the Senate. As they were sworn in, the Catalans were shouted down and abused by Spanish chauvinist deputies before being returned to prison and subsequently suspended from parliament.
Twelve leading Catalan independentistes are being dragged through a show trial in Spain’s Supreme Court by the bourgeois government of the social-democratic PSOE prime minister Pedro Sánchez. Their “crime”: having organised and carried out the October 2017 referendum on independence of the oppressed Catalan nation and having proclaimed a Catalan republic.
Former vice-president of the Catalan Generalitat [government], Oriol Junqueras of the Esquerra Republicana (ERC) — who faces a sentence of up to 74 years — and eight other Catalan nationalists have already endured more than one year in prison. Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, former heads of the Assemblea Nacional Catalana (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural (OC) pro-independence organisations, and Carme Forcadell, former speaker in the Catalan Parlament, are also behind bars. Others fled Spain to escape arrest, including former Generalitat president Carles Puigdemont of the Partit Demòcrata Europeu Català (PDeCAT). In March 2018, the German and Spanish police and intelligence services collaborated closely to detain Puigdemont on a European Union (EU)-wide arrest warrant later withdrawn by Spain.
The repression and humiliation of these Catalan bourgeois nationalists is a warning to any who would seek separation from Spain. As proletarian internationalists, we demand the immediate release of all Catalan independentistes. We also demand freedom now for all Basque nationalists languishing in Spanish and French dungeons. Drop all charges!
The charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds were originally filed by the previous Spanish government, headed by the neo-Francoist People’s Party (PP). The openly racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Catalan and anti-Basque Vox party — old school Francoists — joined the government in the prosecution as a “private accuser”. The social democrats, rabid españolistas [Spanish nationalists] and loyal subjects of “his majesty” King Felipe VI, have from the beginning fully supported the persecution of Catalan independentistes (including the suspension of Catalonia’s autonomy between October 2017 and June 2018). Since last year they have implemented it from their position in the government. The Catalan nationalist parties helped prop up the Sánchez government in Madrid but finally abandoned the government when it repeatedly refused to grant an independence referendum. When the Catalan parties recently voted against his budget, Sánchez was forced to call early general elections, which are to be held on 28 April.
The social democrats’ failed attempt at a deal with Catalan forces incensed the PP, Vox and Ciudadanos. This Francoist trinity organised a Castilian-chauvinist display of force in Madrid on 10 February, demanding the imprisonment of the independentistes and the fall of the Sánchez government. As a personification of the unity of Spanish and French anti-Catalan chauvinism, present in this orgy of backwardness was former French prime minister Manuel Valls, now a Ciudadanos candidate for mayor of Barcelona. Under François Hollande’s 2012-17 French Socialist Party government, Valls implemented one attack after another against the proletariat and did his best to make his name as the scourge of Arabs, the Roma [Gypsy] people and all the oppressed.
For independence from Spain and France!
There is a single Catalan nation and a single Basque nation, each of which is divided and oppressed by two capitalist states: Spain and France. In order to stabilise the Spanish state after the death of the dictator Francisco Franco, Catalonia, the Basque Country and other regions were granted fraudulent autonomy in the late 1970s. In France, on the other hand, the oppressed nations have no linguistic or legal rights whatsoever. Especially in the Basque Country, the population faces as much repression as in Spain. Due to the differences in the historical development of capitalism in Spain and France, the driving force of pro-independence movements in Catalonia and the Basque Country [Euskal Herria] comes from the portions of those nations forcibly retained within Spain. Thus, the fate of the Basques and Catalans in France strongly depends on what happens on the Spanish side of the border.
We call for the independence of Euskal Herria and Catalonia now, in the North and the South. We are also for the right of independence of Galicia and for the unconditional withdrawal of Spain from its enclaves in Morocco — Ceuta and Melilla. As for France, we are for the independence of the French colony of Kanaky [New Caledonia] and of the Corsican oppressed nation, and for the right to independence for all the French colonies.
We recognise in the struggle for national liberation a potential motor force for proletarian revolution. We seek to imbue the working class of France and Spain with the understanding that the fight against the national oppression of Basques and Catalans is an integral part of the fight for the emancipation of the proletariat itself. Down with the Spanish monarchy! For workers republics of Catalonia and Euskal Herria!
Down with the EU!
Catalonia has nothing resembling its own state, particularly armed forces. In the face of the Castilian onslaught and in the absence of a class-conscious proletariat, there is no hope of making Catalan independence a reality in the near future. The Catalan bourgeoisie has prostrated itself before the EU, pleading for its backing. The EU is no supranational state, but an imperialist consortium dominated by Germany. It is devoted to squeezing every possible euro of profit from the working class of Europe, including in Germany, while trampling on the national sovereignty of its poorer members like Greece, Portugal and Romania on behalf of the imperialist powers, mainly Germany and, to a lesser extent, France.
Contrary to the illusions spread by Catalan nationalists, the EU unequivocally backs the Spanish bourgeois state against Catalan independence. An independent Catalonia would threaten the break-up of Spain and would undermine French imperialism by fuelling the national aspirations of Galicians, Basques, Corsicans and all colonial peoples. It would also threaten the unravelling of the whole EU club of robber barons and their victims. Down with the EU! For a Socialist United States of Europe, united on a voluntary basis!
For proletarian political independence
The events of the past two years have demonstrated that independence will not come from parliamentary manoeuvres among the bourgeois independentistes who plead for agreements with Madrid. As we wrote last year: “There is a force capable of making national liberation a reality, defeating all these enemies of Catalonia’s freedom: it is the working class, through the mobilization of its enormous social power” (“National liberation struggle at impasse”, Workers Vanguard no 1126, 26 January 2018). The key to unleashing this power lies in the struggle for the political independence of the workers movement. In Catalonia, this includes combating illusions in the bourgeois nationalists of the PDeCAT, the ERC and of the Candidatura d’Unitat Popular (CUP), class enemies of the Catalan workers.
Acting hand in hand with Madrid, successive Catalan governments, headed either directly by the right-wing PDeCAT (and its predecessor, Convergència i Unió) or in collusion with the ERC and the CUP, have implemented anti-worker austerity and brutal anti-union attacks. Only last fall, the Catalan Generalitat, headed by PDeCAT’s Joaquim Torra, unleashed its cops against four days of strikes and demonstrations by public employees, teachers, students and doctors protesting budget cuts and tuition hikes.
Leninists in the Spanish and French heartlands need to struggle to break the working class from its class enemy by winning workers to the defence of Catalan and Basque independence. In Catalonia, the proletariat is divided, with a large section opposing independence. It is necessary to wage a relentless fight against the entrenched Castilian and French chauvinism of “España, una, grande y libre” [“Spain, one, great and free”] and “la France, une et indivisible” [“France, one and indivisible”]. Such bourgeois ideology is regurgitated by the social democrats and reformist “Marxists”, as well as by the misleaders of the working class at the head of the union federations. In Spain, the latter include the Comisiones Obreras and Unión General de Trabajadores (historically linked respectively to the Communist Party and the PSOE), and in France, the Confédération générale du travail (historically linked to the French Communist Party) and Force ouvrière. Only on the basis of such political struggle can Leninist-Trotskyist parties be forged, the revolutionary leadership needed to lead the working class to power throughout the region.
Pseudo-Trotskyists, popular frontism and chauvinism
Until the very eve of the 1 October 2017 independence referendum in Catalonia, Izquierda Revolucionaria (IR, affiliated with Peter Taaffe’s Committee for a Workers’ International) denounced the fight for independence for Catalonia and Euskal Herria as counterposed to “socialism”, which would supposedly arrive under the auspices of the “anti-establishment” (but no less chauvinist) bourgeois Podemos party. Now these opportunists call for a Catalan “socialist republic of workers and the people”, which will come out of a “united front” of working-class organisations and bourgeois forces such as the CUP and others (El Militante, February 2019). IR’s political perspective is that of the popular front, a coalition aimed at subordinating the proletariat to its bourgeois class enemy. In Spain in the 1930s, the popular front — a bourgeois government — was the instrument for the strangulation of the Spanish Revolution, opening the gates to Franco’s forces and his bloody reign of rightist reaction (see “Trotskyism vs. popular frontism in the Spanish Civil War”, Spartacist [English-language edition] no 61, Spring 2009).
As for IR’s newfound attachment to Catalan “independence”, it is worth noting that their maximum programme remains “For a socialist federal republic” of Spain, which would include the Catalans, Basques and Galicians with no regard to the will of these oppressed nations. Meanwhile, the French affiliate of IR, Gauche révolutionnaire, remains silent about Catalan and Basque oppression at the hands of its “own” French imperialism, contenting itself with occasionally reprinting articles by its Spanish comrades. It is no wonder that they are buried in the chauvinist and colonialist bourgeois party of Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
The neo-Morenoites of the CRT (Corriente Revolucionaria de Trabajadores y Trabajadoras, in France the Courant communiste révolutionnaire within the New Anti-Capitalist Party) called for abstaining in the 2017 independence referendum — a call which constituted a capitulation to Castilian chauvinism — all the while giving political support to the bourgeois CUP. Now they try to pass themselves off as the staunchest fighters for “Catalan self-determination” while continuing to spout Castilian chauvinism.
Referring to the December 2017 Catalan elections forced by Madrid, they write: “An important portion of the Catalan working class voted for Ciudadanos thinking of national unity . The idea of the ‘Balkanisation’ of the peninsula would obviously be grave and there is no left or working-class organisation that could seriously desire it” (izquierdadiario.es, 23 July 2018). Thus, while claiming that “revolutionaries are not for just any unity of the Spanish state”, the CRT opposes the separation of Catalonia, Euskal Herria and Galicia in the name of...the “national unity” of Spain! Not unlike IR, the CRT’s claims to support self-determination are conditional on a “free and voluntary” federation of Iberian republics, to which end they “have insisted on demanding that the [bourgeois] CUP break with the Catalan bourgeoisie”!
Contrary to the CRT’s chauvinist fearmongering over the “Balkanisation” of Spain, a victory in the struggle for independence for Catalonia would in fact represent a crippling blow to the very same capitalist repressive apparatus that keeps the entire proletariat enchained in wage slavery. But international proletarian victory is not the goal of the likes of the CRT and IR. In contrast, we in the ICL strive to follow the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky in order to fight for new October Revolutions around the world.