Elections in Catalonia.
“Nationalist” parties and “constitutionalist” parties with one single objective: to maintain electoral, democratic and legalistic illusions within the proletariat
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 15; Winter 2018)
After more than a month that officially began with the independentist farce of October 1st and after the famous declaration of independence, the supp osed government intervention into the Catalan Autonomy, the police repression, the arrest and the imprisonment of the Government of the Generalitat, the exile of Puigdemont ... we arrive at the pinnacle of the festivities: the elections of December 21st.
After the nationalist parties promised a referendum, the results of which would have had to be binding to declare independence, after a hundred thousand people on their way to vote unexpectedly found themselves under the flailing batons of the police forces stationed in the port of Barcelona, and finally, after the independence was declared and then immediately suspended, with zero time in office; after more than two months of theater and lies, the parties of the so-called independence bloc once again called on the proletarians of Catalonia to vote for them in elections almost identical to those held two years ago, to those of 7 years ago and all previous elections: what is at stake is not a supposed “independence” of Catalonia (the autonomous government had it in hand in October, but it did not go beyond a feast of little importance on the Sant Jaume square), but the maintenance of social peace and collaboration between classes in one of the regions of Spain where the crisis has hit the proletarians the hardest, whether they are of Catalan or Andalusian, sub-Saharan or Maghrebi origin.
3 years ago the Minister of Economy of the Generalitat, Santi Vila, who was arrested and who spent one night in prison for his participation in the “Declaration of Independence”, told the audience of the Europa Forum: “If Catalonia had not put forward a national-type narrative, how would it have been possible to make as great a sacrifice given the savings demanded? How could it have been done without putting a dream project on the other side of the scale?” Thus he explained, according to the Vanguardia of October 12/14, how it had been possible to make savings of 6 billion euros in Catalonia. As we know, these economies scrutinized the living conditions of the working class: they “slashed” health care, education, welfare, etc., coming down hard on the proletarian strata that were already suffering from a vertiginous increase in unemployment, a vertical fall in wages, the drastic reduction of social shock absorbers, etc. To impose all this and preserve the social peace in a region that has seen the disappearance of a good part of the industry which employed a considerable part of its working population, which saw the center of its capital, Barcelona, be reduced to a deluxe tourist destination whose poor classes were driven out, the Catalan bourgeoisie kicked off the famous procès (process): it is nothing more than a mobilization of the petty bourgeois masses of the region (bearing the most retrograde and reactionary illusions synthesized in the slogan “Independent Catalonia”) in defense of an alleged Catalan homeland attacked by Spain, accompanying it with the parliamentary circus where the señera (Catalan flag) was waved to support the politics of the autonomous government. This mobilization served to channel the social malaise created by the reforms imposed by the Generalitat towards a supposed goal of independence that would have made it possible to escape the growing pressure exerted on the proletariat by bourgeois politics: nationalism was presented as a common objective to all social classes, from the bourgeois represented by the party of Artur Mas (the former president of the Generalitat, godfather of Puigdemont condemned for corruption in 2017) and the Omnium Cultural (created in the 1960s to promote the Catalan language and spread Catalan culture), to proletarians plunged into passivity by their political representatives and trade unions, passing through the petty bourgeois CUP (People’s Unity Nominations) and the Catalan National Assembly.
Three years after the statements of Santi Vila and six years after the beginning of the procès, the results are visible to the naked eye: Catalonia was one of the regions where the capitalist crisis hit the hardest proletariat and where the recovery of social consumption was the weakest and yet the proletariat remained inert, without any direct participation in the chauvinistic, patriotic and anti-working mobilization that filled the streets, but also with no strength to oppose the so-called “far-left” currents such as the CUP ( representing in fact small traders, small entrepreneurs and “social cooperativism”, these ones have been able to have a certain control of all manifestations of social discontent in order to divert them to nationalism and parliamentarism). The road to the revival of the class struggle of the proletariat for the exclusive defense of its interests has been completely blocked by the bourgeois forces of localism, particularism and, ultimately, the defense of the interests of the bourgeois ruling class.
Such was the great result of the procès; and it is now, when the sovereignist show ends with sterile declarations of independence and the manifestation of the extreme right in the streets of Barcelona, that the reality of this farce emerges clearly: the same ones who hoisted the flag of Catalonia, which has allowed the central government to intervene against autonomy without posing any resistance, continue to call for the continuation of the procès ... by voting again! As we have said, their real objective is not an independence that they have already proclaimed and that they have delivered fresh to the Guardia Civil (Spanish cops) and the Minister of the Interior, but simply that the democratic mechanism of conciliation between classes whose supreme expression is the electoral farce, continues to function in full. The watchword of the first of October was: we will vote, that of the 21st of December; vote again: that is to say, that the proletarians continue to collaborate, that they continue to not struggle unless it is for new elections intended to revive parliamentary illusions.
Faced with the mobilization of parties linked to the procès, are those who claim to be defenders of the Spanish Constitution and the unity of the country against the “sovereignty challenge”. For them the value of the elections is exactly the same as for the defenders of “independence”: to obtain the complicity of the proletariat in the defense of democracy, of the legality, of the unity of the country ... Which means simply to obtain the renunciation of the proletarian class in the defense of its interests, the renunciation of any initiative which would be contrary to the defense of the Spanish nation.
In reality there is no fundamental opposition between bourgeois and petty bourgeois who launched the Catalan process and their “opponents”, the so-called constitutionalists who defend the unity of Spain and the system of regional autonomies as guarantor of social coexistence in the country. In fact, Catalan nationalism exists to the extent that the Spanish bourgeoisie, during the Transition period (from Franco’s regime to democracy), set up a system of territorial management in which the various national bourgeoisies took charge of the government with regard to their specific region. It is for this reason that the linguistic policy that is now criticized in Catalonia has been copied from that applied by the Popular Party (the great defender of Spanish unity now in power in Madrid) in Galicia; and that is why the development of a certain autonomy in the field of security, education and taxation has been the basis of the state configuration that has allowed the Spanish bourgeoisie to maintain the submission of the proletariat in a country historically impossible to centralize.
The so-called “constitutionalist bloc” waves in front of the proletarians the flag of “equality” and “solidarity” between the various Spanish regions, thus seeking to win to the democratic cause – through trust in state and autonomous institutions – a largely non-Catalan proletariat which has maintained close links with the areas of origin, in particular Andalusia and Extremadura – the two poorest regions of Spain against which come all the allegations of Catalan nationalism. But it would be kept in mind that it is precisely the Spanish bourgeoisie of Andalusia, Extremadura, Castile and Madrid that has developed territorial exception regimes all over the country, managing to maintain the stability of the autonomous system in Catalonia even when the situation pushed it to apply Article 155 of the Constitution (which suspended the regime of autonomy), and moreover at the very moment of the renewal of the tax agreement with the Basque Country, a real territorial privilege in favor of the Basque bourgeoisie to the detriment of the proletarians of the rest of the country!
Calls for national unity, even beyond the manifestations of extreme right-wing bands that the state police use to terrorize the population, are only the defense in the current situation of the Autonomous regimes, the only bourgeois form by which it is possible to govern Spain today.
The proletarian class can expect nothing good from either the “sovereignist” or the “constitutionalist” front. For the proletarians their programs are identical: the maintenance of social peace through democratic and parliamentary deception, which they used to mobilize the masses in defense of one or the other faction or the general interest which concerns the two fronts, through collaboration between classes.
The years that have elapsed since the beginning of the procès have shown the true intentions of the Catalan bourgeoisie behind the sovereignist project: to neutralize the social tensions engendered by its political and economic demands imposed on the proletariat and, if possible, to channel them towards supporting its specific demands vis-à-vis the central government.
In the same way, what the bourgeois “unionist” or “constitutionalist” wants has become obvious: to soften the asperities generated by the Autonomous regimes, to eliminate the “excesses” of the regional particularism engendered by them by using the climate of exasperation provoked by the mobilizations for independence to impose a much stronger level of social control and repression under the pretext of the “exceptional” nature of the situation.
The proletariat must see in both fronts its class enemies.
To be able to get out of the political and organizational crisis in which it has been plunged for decades, the proletarian class, international in its constitution and internationalist by the historical force with which it is endowed, must break with all the bourgeois programs, be it the exaltation of localism and the nationalist exacerbation of regional peculiarities, or the call to defend the homeland and Spanish national unity. The proletariat will be able to revive its class struggle, in the immediate field of the defense of its economic and social needs as on the political field, only by making a clean sweep of all the influences of the nationalist type, of all the links with the bourgeoisie, national or local, of all democratic and electoral illusions.
By following this path, which is the only one that will allow it to end its situation as a pariah of the world, it will find by his side the proletarians of all regions and all countries. But it will also find arrayed against it the bourgeois enemy of any nationality, armed with all the strength that its social domination gives it. It must respond to the struggle that the bourgeois class is constantly waging against it, through its struggle against the bourgeoisie and all its factions, unifying above all the corporatisms, all the divisions, the proletarians of all regions, of all nationality, from all countries.
For the renaissance of the class struggle in exclusive defense of proletarian interests, against bourgeois national demands!
For the break with any bourgeois program of defense of the fatherland, whether Catalan or Spanish!
For the reconstitution of the communist party, international and internationalist!
December 16th 2017
International Communist Party