05/11/2017 by socialistfight
These photos show demonstrators against the independence of Catalonia performing the fascist salute under the slogan “For the unity of Spain”.
Read more at: https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/misinformation-shared-catalonia/
All socialists, all workers’ organisations and principled democrats must defend Catalonia against the looming oppression of the Spanish state of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Rajoy secured the agreement of the Spanish Senate to implement article 155 on 27 October, imposing their own government, removing Carles Puigdemont as president and calling regional elections for December 21st. Many of thousand demonstrated outside the parliament demanding the release Jordi Sanchez of the Catalan National Assembly and Jordi Cuixart of Omnium Cultural, who were leaders of the separatist agitations. Rajoy has threatened to arrest the entire national and local leadership of the secessionist movement. his is not only a direct threat to the working class and poor in Catalonia but to workers in the whole of Spain. Obviously, given the heightened tensions caused by the vicious police action during the referendum vote on 1st October, violent confrontations are very possible in this period. The presence of explicit fascist Francoist forces wielding straight arm salutes mobilising in the anti-Catalan independence demonstrations is a dangerous sign of where the movement against Catalonian independence in Spain is going.
Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia are nations with the right to self-determination, although Marxists would fight against separation to maintain the unity of the Spanish working class. But if a majority want it, we must concede it. During the Franco Dictatorship from 1939 until his death in November 1975 all national expression of these culturally oppressed nations, in particular their languages, Catalan, Galician, and Bsque, were banned. Castilian Spanish was the only legal language. Camp Nou, the stadium of Barcelona FC, was one of the few places Catalonians could speak their own language.
The constitution which restored parliamentary democracy in 1978 was a compromise with the old Francoist state, dominated politically by Union of the Democratic Centre (Spanish: Unión de Centro Democrático, UCD, a coalition of rightist forces, many of whom were explicitly far right Francoists. Although the 3 nations were recognised as ‘autonomous nationalities’ all 15 regions in Spain, many of whom had no separate cultural identity, got regional autonomy, thus diluting the cultural autonomy of the nations. However, Catalonia did not some rights, like the right to collect 100 percent of taxes which the Basque Country and Navarre did get.
Disquiet over this lack of rights in Catalonia, the most revolutionary militant centre of the opposition to Franco during the Civil War of 1936-39, festered. In 2006 Catalonia succeeded in getting relatively full autonomic rights passed in the Spanish parliament and by referendum in Catalonia. But the Francoist state, in the form of the successor of the UCD, who had framed the constitution, the Popular Party, led by Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister now, went to the Constitutional Court to oppose the settlement and it ruled in 2010 that many parts of the Act were unconstitutional, most importantly denying Catalonia the right to raise taxation and decreeing that it could not refer to itself as a nation, which the settlement did.
This sparked the current crisis; for many Catalans the reactionary Francoist judges and state officials were absolutely hostile to Catalonia, denying them cultural rights that they had won in peaceful and democratic struggle. Then began the rank-and-file agitation of Jordi Sanchez of the Catalan National Assembly and Jordi Cuixart of Omnium Cultural. Right wing populists politicians, like Arturo Mas from 2010 and, from 2015, Carles Puigdemont have jumped on the bandwagon, seeing it as a cover for the growing class anger at the continued imposition of austerity on Spain. Spain was hailed as a “one of the brightest spots in the eurozone” by the Guardian on 16 September 2017 but its ‘brightness’ was achieved by Mariano Rajoy ‘reforms’ that abolished workers’ rights, like making it easier to fire workers, so more could be hired at lower wages, said the ‘experts’. Spain’s unemployment rate at 18% is the highest in Europe outside of Greece. 39% percent of young workers are jobless; they fail to see the ‘bright spot’. The Catalonian uprising is also a distorted reflected of that massive discontent.
Catalonia makes up only 6% of the country’s territory and 16% of its population, but it accounts for a fifth of economic output, a quarter of exports and over half of new start-up investment in 2016. On 22nd October there were two Italian referenda, in Veneto, which includes Venice, and Lombardy, which includes Milan were voters cast their ballots for greater autonomy voted by about 95%. Both regions are led by the far-right Northern Leagues and their main complaint is that they are subsidising the poor south of Italy, the Mezzogiorno; Lombardy sends 54 billion euros more in taxes to Rome than it gets back in public spending. Veneto’s net contribution is 15.5 billion euros. Between them they account for almost 30% of Italy’s GDP. They are demanding to half their contributions.
Kurdistan is another case of a historic nation with the right to self-determination. But Trotskyism make all political judgements from the standpoint of the strategy of the world proletariat. In none of the above cases do we positively advocate separation because this will weaken the ability of the Spanish and Italian workers to fight the Spanish and Italian states and in the case of Kurdistan, right now it would give support to the pro-imperialist Masoud Barzani, or his successor, (he resigned on 1 November), a stooge of the USA and Israel, and assist imperialist designs on Iraq, Syria and Iran.
Of course, Catalonian have a right to vote in a referendum on independence. Scotland voted in 2014 (Lost by 44.70% to 55.30%) on this and Quebec voted twice on independence, in 1980 (lost 60% to 40%) and 1995 (Lost 50.6% to 49.4%). Because these referenda were democratically conducted and politically argued through, we did not see the violence we saw in Spain on the run-up to the 1st October ‘illegal’ referendum.
Charges that the ghost of Franco still haunts Spain have substance in the action of Rajoy in getting the Constitutional Court to deny the 2006 settlement and to send in the national police in a violent attempt to physically deny the Catalans their rights to vote.
The answer of Marxists to this is not to call for the separation of Catalonia, Galicia, and the Basque country, and thereby the balkanisation of the Spanish working class, but the rejection of the 1978 constitution, for a Constituent Assembly to draw up a new constitution for a Hispanic Federation of workers’ republics.