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Communiqué on the Situation in Spain and Catalonia (October 13th 2017)

How far can the nationalist conflict between Madrid and Barcelona lead? Up to a new 1936? What are the stakes and the risks for the proletariat in Spain and Catalonia? And for the international proletariat? The article of the Internationalist Communist Tendency ( that we reproduce hereafter states the position that the working class must adopt in this circumstance by reaffirming the communist principle according to which “ workers have no country ”. The proletariat in Catalonia must not let itself be dragged and divided between Catalan and Spanish nationalisms. The proletariat in Spain must not let itself be dragged into the defence of “the indissoluble unity of Spain”; nor even behind the banner, these days often waved in the streets of Madrid, of a Spanish Republic whose hands are not less stained of workers’ blood, the 3000 miners murdered in the Asturias in 1934 being its highest accomplishment, than the present democratic monarchy. Don’t forget that the current democratic monarchy was directly set up by Franco. Once more, as in 1936-1939, it would be the proletarians who would pay the highest price.

The present situation can result in a new farce of the Catalan petit-bourgeois nationalism after that of October 6th 1934, when the President of the Generalitat de Catalunya Lluis Companys declared, already then, the independence of a Catalan Republic against “the Monarchist and Fascist forces” (see El País, October 7th 2017). This Republic lasted only ten hours. Or rather, more seriously, it could lead in time to a genuine bloody confrontation like precisely 1936. “Technically” if so we can say, the nationalist and democratic forces are already lined up on either side for such an outcome. Now, it is not sure that in such a case, the other European and international ruling classes – whether they are conscious or not is secondary – would not let the situation worsens. Given the present situation of the capitalist world, that is its present economic (like the ICT recalls) and historical contradictions, the necessity and the perspective of a confrontation with the international proletariat to inflict it a series of historical defeats, become increasingly pressing so as to open up the path towards the generalized war in a manner that suits the interests of the ruling classes. And we can’t exclude that some fractions of the bourgeoisie among the most enlightened of the present historical stakes do not consider a “remake” of the 1936 Spanish bloodbath and the proletarian ideological, political and physical defeat of that time, which definitively cleared the road to the 2nd World War.

That is why the apparently relative massive participation of the workers to the October 3rd general strike in Catalonia “against the Spanish repression” called by the whole unions, including the leftist and Anarchist CGT and CNT, is a bad sign. That is why the active presence and the nationalist radicalism of the leftist Catalanist group CUP is dangerous, as is the apparently “mediator” position of the leftist Spanish group Podemos, which calls for a new referendum and to the dismissal of Rajoy’s government “to safeguard the homeland unity”. In Spain and Catalonia, the workers have no illusion on Mariano Rajoy’s class policy, nor on the King who “went off his reservation” to support the first one, and they don’t forget their direct filiation with Francoism. Both are unable to convince them to engage for the defence of nationalism and republican democracy. But actually once more the left forces called “radical” can do it : Podemos, CUP, Catalunya en Comú of the Barcelona Mayoress, the unions CGT, CNT, CCOO, etc.

If this workers participation would be confirmed as it has been October 3rd, it would enable the whole Spanish (including the Catalan) ruling class to engage even more in the nationalist confrontation. Moreover, since this conflict does not develop in a “peripheral” country such as the Kurdistan, where the Kurdish nationalists supported by a great part of the international leftism and Anarchism are for sure going to suffer a bloody massacre, a new “Spanish war” would mean a first historic defeat of an important fraction of the European proletariat. It would mean that the international bourgeoisie absolutely wants to open now the path towards the generalized imperialist war. In this sense, Catalonia today would be a kind of 1936 “remake”, with the difference that it would be the first defeat and not the last of a series. The alternative Revolution or generalized War would not be resolved by this single event, but the capitalist option, war, would score a first point in the massive confrontations between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat which are opening up at the international level.

The IGCL, October 13th 2017.

Catalonia: Competing Nationalisms against the Working Class (Internationalist Communist Tendency)

The conflict between the factions defending the existing Spanish state and those seeking a separate Catalonian state continues to accelerate. Whatever the outcome or the detailed twists and turns it is clear that class-conscious workers need to be equally independent from those arguing for either a separate Catalan state or the preservation of the existing state order – both represent the façade behind which the bosses’ class exercise their control.

Nationalist Manoeuvring

The latest stage in the ratcheting up of the competing nationalist projects began at the beginning of September when the Catalan parliament approved a motion calling for a referendum on independence to be held on 1 October. The Spanish government declared the decision unconstitutional, based on the Spanish Constitution of 1978 which upholds ‘the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation’ – a settlement that aimed at firmly controlling any echoes of local separatism that appeared during the Civil War in the 1930s. However, the Catalan Government decided to press on with their proposal hoping to cash in on years of fostering Catalan separatism.

On 20 September the Spanish state launched Operation Anubis – an attempt to prevent the referendum from taking place which included the raiding of Catalan government offices, arresting officials and confiscating ballot papers. This culminated in open state violence by the Spanish State forces around the day that the referendum was held. Protests against this violence took place in Catalonia but at this stage we have no information of any major protests elsewhere in Spain. Instead we have seen massive demonstrations of Spanish nationalism in Madrid and elsewhere – an obvious illustration of nationalism cutting across working class unity.

The events of 1 October galvanised nationalist tendencies on both sides. According to the Catalan regional authorities, 91.96% voted yes to an independent Catalan republic, but overall turnout was low at 42.58%. The day of the vote was marred by turmoil, as the Policia Nacional and the Guardia Civil attempted to close down polling stations. 893 injured civilians revealed the violence inherent within the democratic state – some commentators, among them, ironically, Nicolás Maduro, drew comparisons between the actions of Mariano Rajoy’s government and Francoist Spain. Afterwards, the European Commission declared that "under the Spanish Constitution, the 1 October vote in Catalonia was not legal" and that they trust "the leadership of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to manage this difficult process". [1]

Following the September crackdown by the Spanish state, the CGT, followed by the CNT and other small unions, seized the opportunity and called a general strike for 3 October. After the events of 1 October, Spain’s biggest unions, the UGT and CCOO, as well as the Catalan independence association (ANC) instead announced what may be best described as a citizen’s walkout – their statement read: ’We call on all of society, on employers’ organisations, business owners, unions, workers, self-employed workers, institutions and all the citizens of Catalonia to stop the ’country’ on Tuesday, October 3’. The strike on 3 October hit public transport, two major ports, and the agrarian sector [2]. Whether as part of the citizen’s walkout or the general strike call-out, whether motivated by nationalism or anger at the police, workers reacted to the events. It remains unclear how far the reports of local assemblies reflect sparks of working class self-organisation or whether they were creations of the local bourgeois establishment to act as a “stage army” favouring the separatists’ agenda.

Since the beginning of the October both the state machines based in Madrid and Barcelona have justified their own positions claiming that their respective constitutional positions outweigh the others. It would be a fatal mistake if workers in Catalonia or the rest of Spain are dragooned behind either of the competing arguments. Behind the lawyers’ debates about “angels on pinheads” lies the reality of ruling class factions seeking to extend their own ability to exploit the working class – totally irrespective of accidents of birth, nationality or heritage.

The Internationalist Response

The events in Catalonia have to be understood within the context of capitalism’s long term economic crisis which culminated in a financial crash in 2007 from which there has been no real recovery. This has increasingly led local sections of the capitalist class to think they could manage the economy better than the central state. This in turn has produced a global shift towards nationalism and populism. In an economy which still has not recovered ten years after the bubble of speculation burst, the ruling class is running out of ideas and is divided on how to get out of it. The attempt to shift the blame onto the central Spanish government by the Catalan government, to rally workers behind the separatist programme, is supposed to conceal the fact that certain sections of the Catalan ruling class (which is also split on the issue) has been just as responsible for enacting austerity measures as the government in Madrid.

As we have said many times, national liberation does nothing but divide the working class and leaves workers at the mercy of their own national bourgeoisie. Where the various national factions have spread nationalist delusions we argue for the local working class to stand against both sides of the argument around these projects. The examples of this are countless (including recent ones like Ukraine [3], Scotland [4] or Kurdistan [5]). Even as we write, the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan is being used to prepare the next chapter of death and suffering around struggle for resources in the Turkey/Syria/Iraq cauldron.

As internationalists, we argue that the only alternative to the social and environmental devastation offered by capitalism is that workers unite across borders for a common goal: a world without classes and states, where ‘the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all’. For this we need an international organisation, a party, which can effectively intervene in events such as the strike in Catalonia – to push the struggle beyond the control of unions and institutional parties, and declare independence from all strata of the ruling class, whatever their nationality.

If and when there are movements towards neighbourhood or workplace assemblies then the arguments must be made to separate them totally from factions of the state, Spanish or Catalan, and from the participation of local employers. Binding decisions must come from the mass meetings with delegates being accountable and recallable. The spreading and networking of such working-class organisations is the alternative to the bloody cul-de-sac of competing nationalisms that the bourgeoisie is preparing. In the absence of an existing effective internationalist organisation we offer our solidarity and assistance to communist nuclei and individuals struggling for this necessary proletarian response.

(ICT) KT/Dyjbas, 6 October 2017-10-07



[1Statement on the events in Catalonia

[2Catalonia stages general strike following Spanish police’s ’brutal’ response to independence referendum

[3Ukraine - A Nationalist Dead End

[4The Scottish Independence Referendum: The Great Diversion

[5In Rojava: People’s War is not Class War