ETA’s declaration of permanent ceasefire: For a genuine socialist programme to resolve the national question

Last week's ceasefire declaration by ETA will be of great significance for the coming months and years. Here we publish the statement of the revolutionary Marxists of the Basque country and Spain gathered in Ezker Marxista and El Militante.

1. On Wednesday March 22, 2006, ETA released a statement in which it declared a permanent ceasefire. This announcement was preceded by nearly three years of armed activity of ETA, which saw no casualties, and by repeated public demonstrations of the leaders of the Abertzale Left (Left Basque nationalists) in favour of a “negotiated solution” for the pacification of Euskal Herria (Basque Country). In this regard, the most prominent element was the so-called Anoeta proposal, in which the Abertzale Left proposed the creation of two committees to resolve the conflict, one composed of ETA and the Spanish government to deal exclusively with questions of arms, prisoners and victims, and the other composed of all the political organisations of the Basque Country that would allow the establishment of a new political framework to approach the overcoming of violence. It is an obvious fact that ETA’s declaration constitutes an event of great significance which will mark the political situation of the next few months and years. For the revolutionary Marxists of Euskal Herria and Spain around Ezker Marxista and El Militante, the renunciation of armed activity on the part of ETA is good news, which without doubt, was determined by the movement of the masses across Spain over the last six years.

2. The text of ETA’s declaration, very briefly, was probably agreed upon by consensus after long and careful consideration, by which we can believe that it is a serious and credible proposal, despite the hysterical reaction of the PP (The Popular Party) media who know that the advance of this process with electorally strengthen the PSOE (The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) and the Abertzale Left. The announcement of the permanent ceasefire was released after weeks of enormous tension after the death of two prisoners and the Ertzantza’s (Basque National Police) tremendous repression of the last few demonstrations in the Basque Country; the absolutely reactionary judicial measures against the leaders of the Abertzale Left, which could still lead Arnaldo Oteguí to jail, and after an offensive of the right on the streets, in parliament and in all forms of communication, insisting on the supposed capitulation of the PSOE government to “terrorism”.

These facts clearly demonstrate the existence of enormous pressures from the right wing and wide sectors of the state apparatus to sabotage any negotiations that could end positively. Equally, as the facts prove, the Basque bourgeois, through the PNV (Basque National Party) is not willing to let go of its role of protagonist, a role that it has enjoyed over the last few years, when in the most demagogic manner it has claimed to defend the democratic rights of the Basque Country, while in practice it applied each and every repressive measure decided by the PP and the state apparatus.

3. In its declaration ETA affirms that the “overcoming of the conflict, here and now, is possible.” To achieve this, ETA makes “ a call to all agents to act responsibly and in line with steps already taken (…) It is time for compromises. Everyone must assume responsibilities in order to construct the democratic solution that the people need.”

The communication of ETA reproduces exactly the political language used by the IRA in 1995, when they called the truce that finally led to the abandoning of arms and the negotiations of the Stormont Treaty.

In the two statements made public by ETA there is not the slightest explicit reference to the right of self-determination, except the recognition of the necessity of “constructing the democratic framework for the Basque Country, recognising the rights they are entitled to, and assuring for the future the possibility of developing all political options.” There is also no mention of socialism, except a call “to all Basque citizens in general and the militants of the Abertzale Left in particular to involve themselves in this process.”

The statement of ETA was received in the Basque Country with the expectation of a long awaited new situation, and the scepticism that the aims for which they have long struggled, such as the right to self-determination and territorial unity, which were key to the initiation of the process, could actually be achieved.

The same contradictory environment seems to have appeared amongst the Basque prisoners, amongst whom there is a feeling of euphoria for a possible return home, along with the feeling a wide sector that will be more cautious towards the possible outcome. All of this, after four decades of armed struggle which provoked a profound rejection in the majority of society and a gradual weakening of ETA and its base of support.

In any case this declaration of permanent ceasefire has also unleashed illusions and hopes, especially amongst sectors of the militants of the Abertzale Left that consider this a decisive step in the resolution of the problem of the prisoners and the Basque refugees. Also amongst the Basque working class and as a whole and in Spain itself the declaration of permanent ceasefire creates, despite the initial doubts, enormous expectations.

4. The ETA declaration is an explicit recognition of the fact that only the action of the masses, based on genuine socialist policies, can achieve the securing of democratic rights of the historical nationalities. This is the great lesson. Years of armed struggle have only served to strengthen the repressive apparatus of the state, and became the perfect excuse for massive attacks on democratic rights; basing themselves for years on the methods of individual terrorism has allowed the PP-UPN to grow and extend the most reactionary “españolismo” (Spanish nationalism and support for the central government in Madrid) to wide layers of the population.

The experience of the last six years, in which we have seen the biggest movement of the masses against the right wing, from the student mobilisations against the LOU (The Organic Law on Universities) and the LOCE (Organic Law on the Quality of Education), the massive demonstrations against the disaster of the Prestige and the National Hydro Plan, the successful general strike of June 20, 2002, and above all, the marvellous movement of millions of workers and youth against the imperialist war, show the way forward. In fact, this whole process crystalised during March 11-14, 2004, after the fundamentalist attacks that took the lives of 190 workers and youth of the working class neighbourhoods of Madrid. The criminal policies of the PP, its support for the imperialist intervention in Iraq, its embarrassing lies attempting to blame ETA for the massacre in order to obtain an electoral dividend, exhausted the patience of millions. The PP was swept away in the polls on March 14 thanks to the greatest social mobilisation since the 1970s, during the struggle to the death against the Franco dictatorship. It was precisely the movement of the masses that forced Zapatero to withdraw the troops from Iraq, despite the pressure of imperialism against this move. These are the methods that can change the balance of forces in favour of the democratic rights of the Basque Country.

Unfortunately the policies of the leaders of ETA mean that the defeat of the armed struggle will give way to other strategies no less negative; the achievement, one way or another, a common front with the Basque bourgeois in the PNV-EA (Basque Nationalist Party- Eusko Alkartasuna). Whoever thinks that the Basque bourgeois want to resolve the problems affecting workers and youth, or that they are interested in undertaking the struggle for national democratic rights in the Basque Country, including the right of self-determination, has not understood anything from the history of the last 70 years. Only the working class with independent socialist and internationalist class policies can satisfy the democratic aspirations of the Basque Country.

The crimes of the Spanish bourgeoisie

5. The repression of the national democratic rights of the Basque Country and those of the other historical nationalities has been one of the fundamental characteristics of the policies of the Spanish bourgeoisie throughout history. Basing themselves of the most reactionary principles, using the threat of “separatism” to the “sacred unity of the fatherland”, the Spanish ruling class and its state apparatus systematically denied the most basic democratic rights of a considerable part of the population of these nationalities – from banning the use and the teaching of the native language to the denial of the right of self-determination. The predecessors of the PP under the Franco dictatorship – which ruled the whole of Spain for almost 40 years basing itself on the most savage repression of the working class – smashed the democratic rights of the nationalities without hesitation. In this way the Spanish bourgeois only postponed the problem, accumulating the explosive material of national oppression in the foundations of society. The Spanish bourgeoisie is ultimately responsible for what has taken place in the Basque Country over the last decades. Its inability to solve the national question accompanied a massive increase in repression in all fields. For years they have used the bloodiest methods to put an end to the national democratic aspirations of thousands of people in the Basque Country, including the systematic use of state terrorism during the 1970s. In this sense, the involvement of the leaders of the PSOE under Felipe González in the dirty war (GAL – Anti-terrorist Groups of Liberation), demonstrated how far they were prepared to go in their support for the state apparatus and the Spanish bourgeois in liquidating manu militari the Basque national question.

6. Under the PP government the offensive against the national democratic rights of the Basque Country in general, and against the Abertzale left in particular, intensified with force. The closing of newspapers and other organs of expression of the Abertzale Left; the persecution of the Basques in Navarra, the banning of Batasuna and the suppression of the candidates of the Abertzale Left in regional and municipal elections; the police violence against all types of demonstration in support of self-determination; the maintaining of the policy of the dispersion of prisoners; the use of the judicial apparatus to increase prison sentences and to violate its own existing penal code; the opening of judicial trials for the “crime” of demonstrating in favour of the independence of the Basque Country, etc…, are some of the most significant attacks that formed part of the arsenal used to criminalise all the Basques, simultaneously spreading the poison of Spanish chauvinism throughout wide layers of the population. All of these methods that the right wing put in motion, with the enthusiastic support of the leaders of the PSOE, was justified as part of the general struggle against terrorism. Individuals such as Fraga Iribarne, José María Aznar and all the leaders of the PP, never tire of appealing to “the right to life” as the central argument for the carrying out of their repressive policies. Even so, it must be stressed that the defence of this “right”, in the mouths of the right wing, is hypocritical and demagogic.

7. The leaders of the PP have no moral authority to raise the banner of the “right to life” or “democracy”. For 40 years these reactionaries have justified each and every one of the crimes of the Franco dictatorship. Every time they are reminded of their involvement and support for a regime which between 1939 and 1945 executed more than 200,000 workers and left-wing militants in political repression in every corner of Spain, they look the other way.

There has never been a condemnation of Francoism from the mouths of the recognised leaders of the PP. To do this would be to condemn themselves, and this they will never do. For years the PP has justified each and every crime of US imperialism. These “lovers of life and democracy” supported without reservation the coup d’etats of Pinochet in Chile and Videla in Argentina, which resulted in the terrible deaths, after cruel torture and humiliation, of tens of thousands of trade unionists and militants of the left.

They enthusiastically supported the imperialist aggression against the Iraqi people, which has meant the deaths of hundreds of thousands of men, women and innocent children, and the destruction of the basic infrastructure of the country, to the great delight of the big multinational corporations of the United States. They have never spoken of the right to life of these victims. In the same way they have supported the criminal policies of the Zionist governments of Israel and its policies of extermination against Palestinian activists who are struggling for the democratic rights of their people.

These “champions of the right to life and democracy”, who enriched themselves thanks to the crimes of the dictatorship, are the same people who passed laws under “democracy” protecting the maximum exploitation in factories and workplaces. They have never said anything about the more than 14,000 workers who died during the years the PP was in power in “work accidents”, always a result of the lack of safe working conditions and the brutal rhythm of work. The blood of the workers was generously spilled to fill the pockets of the bourgeoisie and the leaders of the PP, who justify it all in the name of free enterprise and the free market.

The policies of the right on the national question are nothing more than the continuation of the policies carried out in other fields. They have always maintained an intransigent class point of view: to defend and protect their economic interests and political power at any cost.

The hypocrisy of the Basque bourgeoisie

8. The Basque bourgeoisie, and the same goes for the Catalan bourgeoisie, have always competed with the Spanish bourgeoisie to increase its percentage of the exploitation of the working class of its nationality. The nationalism of the Basque bourgeois was always loaded with cynical calculations and selfishness for the benefit of their collective class interests. In its call for regional transfer payments, financial competition, and on matters relating to work, housing, health or education, the Basque bourgeois has never defended the Basque working class or their families. While demagogically using the national oppression of the Basque Country and the feeling of a good part of the Basque population, the Basque bourgeois has never had a problem doing business with the Spanish oligarchy.
History has clearly demonstrated that the nationalism of the Basque bourgeoisie only goes so far: to the point where their interests are threatened.

During the Civil War and the Spanish revolution in the 1930s, they preferred to sacrifice the territory of the Basque Country and to capitulate before Franco’s troops with the aim of safeguarding the ownership of their factories and enterprises. Franco’s brutal repression of any manifestation of Basque cultural identity and the denial of the elementary rights of the Basque working class was less important to them than losing the ownership of the mines, factories, the land, the banks and businesses, which would have happened if the revolution had been victorious after the formation of the workers’ militias. Many honest “gudaris” (fighters) died at the hands of fascism, along with members of the socialist, communist, and anarchist militias. Certainly, some of the political representatives of the PNV had to take the road of exile, but the majority of the Basque bourgeois was able to benefit from the Franco dictatorship thanks to the exploitation of the Basque workers, subjected to Franco’s laws of exception.

During the “transition”, the leadership of the PNV gave up the right to self-determination and accepted the “autonomous” framework that the Spanish bourgeois conceded in order to pacify the struggle in defence of the democratic rights of the historic nationalities, which was developing massively across the entire country.

In the first government of the Popular Party, the PNV supported the Aznar government by supporting several parliamentary initiatives and laws attacking the rights of the working class.

9. The interests of the Basque bourgeois and the working class of the Basque Country have nothing in common, just as the interests of the French and Spanish workers and the French and Spanish bourgeois have nothing in common. All of the policies of the autonomous governments of the PNV were carefully drawn up for the dismantling of the fundamental rights of the working class, at the same time guaranteeing big profits for the Basque bourgeois through all sorts of subsidies, tax breaks, and margins for speculation and the privatisation of strategic public enterprises and sectors of the economy. There is essentially no fundamental difference in the social policies that the Basque, Spanish, or French bourgeois have implemented over the last few years. They are all cast in the same mould.

However, for a long time the Basque bourgeois has had an echo in the defence of the democratic rights of the Basque Country. This is fundamentally due to two factors: the attitude of the reformist leaders of the left towards the national question, particularly the PSOE and the PCS (Communist Party of Spain), and the repression of the Spanish bourgeois. These elements, along with the inability the Abertzale Left to distance itself from the Basque bourgeois, has allowed the latter to play the role of protagonist, a role that it has never deserved and which allowed them obscure the genuine class interests that were the driving force of their fundamental decisions.

The responsibility of the reformist leaders of the left

10. In the middle of the 1970s the working class of Spain, and especially the workers of the Basque Country, played a leading role in a formidable movement against the dictatorship. At that moment the correlation of forces was overwhelmingly in favour of the working class, and the bourgeois were left with no other option but to give democratic concessions with the goal of preventing the revolutionary movement from overthrowing capitalism. The socialist transformation of society was on the order of the day.

In order to ensure the success of the dismantling of the dictatorship without a wholesale purge of the state apparatus and to avoid any political representatives facing judgement for their crimes, the bourgeois quickly gained the support of the reformist leadership of the workers’ movement – in the PCE, PSOE, and the trade unions - who accepted the role of “responsible” statesmen. In this way a shameful law, the most shameful that history has ever known, was accepted as the end of the road. This law was never written or approved by parliament but was explicitly accepted by all the representatives of left reformism. “National Reconciliation” was sealed, stealing with the stroke of the pen and in the most shameful way the historic memory of hundreds of thousands of victims of the dictatorship, and leaving unpunished the atrocities of 40 years of the Franco regime.

Consequently, the monarchy imposed by Franco was accepted and the bourgeoisie achieved consensus on other fundamental questions of the state, such as the compromise of the reformist leadership of the PCE, the PSOE and the trade unions to guarantee the market economy, or what is the same, that the bourgeois would continue to maintain firm control over the basic levers of the economy, and therefore the political institutions of the new “democratic” regime.

11. The ruling class, confident with its new “democratic” clothes, retook control of the political situation thanks to the policies of compromise and the demobilisation of the movement backed by the leaders of the reformist left, which occurred at the same time as a bitter retreat of the working class and the emptying out of militants from the workers’ organisations. The abandoning of socialist policies was spread to every field. In reference to the national question, the leadership of the traditional parties of the left shamefully gave up under the pressure of the bourgeois, frustrating the aspirations of millions of people, workers and youth of the historical nationalities. The renunciation of the right of self-determination, a basic democratic right, was replaced by the unconditional support for Spanish nationalism which assured the “sacred unity of Spain” through the medium of the army, as approved in Article 8 of the Constitution.

In these conditions, the frustration of thousands of workers and important sections of the Basque youth, who undertook magnificent efforts in the struggle against the dictatorship, found expression under the banner of independence and the methods of individual terrorism practiced by ETA. The Abertzale Left has achieved, since the general crisis of capitalism and the exponential growth of unemployment, and the absence of a revolutionary and internationalist class alternative, enormous influence amongst the masses in the Basque Country.

Perspectives for the negotiations

12. The negotiations, which for the first phase are to be propelled by the Zapatero government, will probably centre on the demand that ETA definitively abandon armed activity in exchange for the legalisation of Batasuna. In this way the Abertzale Left can present itself in the 2007 elections under its own name and stop the judicial offensive against it. In a second phase, to the extent that ETA’s ceasefire remains in place, the government will probably proceed to adopt favourable measures for prisoners. In regards to the call for talks between political parties - even though the leadership of the PSOE has broken with the policies of “tail-endism” that the PP followed for years, they will be absolutely conditioned by the right wing and the most reactionary elements in the state apparatus, which do not want any solution to the national question in the Basque Country. To the extent that the social democratic leaders of the PSOE abandoned socialist and class policies, they have supported for years the refusal to recognize the right of self-determination of the Basque Country, joining the position of Spanish nationalism. Obviously the leaders of the PSOE, including those of the PSE (Basque Socialist Party), did not accept negotiations on the right of the self-determination or the territorial unity of the Basque Country.

13. As for the Basque bourgeoisie they do not want to be left to one side. Taking advantage of this opportunity, the PNV will most probably attempt to re-negotiate the Basque Statute on more favourable terms for their interests, as the CiU (Convergence and Unity – conservative Catalan nationalists) did with the Catalan Statute - that is to say for the interests of the Basque bourgeoisie in exchange for some minor concessions to the Abertzale Left. What has been made clear by these facts is that the PNV will never lead a determined struggle for the right of self-determination. Its links and business with the Spanish bourgeoisie and with the Spanish market are much more important than the statements they make for the benefit of their supporters on Aberri Eguna (Basque National Day).

14. The leaders of the PP have reacted to the declaration of ceasefire with the usual provocations and hysteria. Their position represents in this moment in time the interests of the party apparatus, which sees their short-term prospects of returning to government diminishing. Their position also represents the voice of the most reactionary sector of the state apparatus, the so-called powers-that-be inside the General Staff of the Army, the Church hierarchy, the judiciary, and the most rabid right-wing media. For this section the disappearance of ETA is uncomfortable because in the past it gave them the excuse to criminalise everything Basque and to strengthen themselves. For the decisive sectors of the ruling class the end of the armed struggle of ETA is promising news, which they will try to take advantage of, and this will mean an increase in the tensions in the PP in the next period.

15. The fears of the Zapatero government, of the PNV, and the leadership of the Abertzale Left committed to this process, are that a section of the youngest activists will decide to continue the armed struggle. The massive repression, the 18/98 court case (a massive court case attempting to establish that the Abertzale Left and other social and political organisations work for ETA. Accused of terrorism, newspapers, businesses and other organisations have been shut down), the illegalisation of the Abertzale organisations, the lack of expectations under capitalism, etc, have provoked a growing hatred among sections of Basque youth towards the policies carried out by the right wing and a profound scepticism towards any negotiated solution. Nevertheless, a return to the armed struggle, although not ruled out, would be highly difficult. The possibility of overthrowing the capitalist state apparatus through the use of Goma 2 (explosives) and car bombs, has failed after 40 years of being put into practice. If they were thinking of resorting again to these methods the repressive apparatus of the state would come back with force, while at the same time they would become more socially and politically isolated. New armed actions in the future would confront the biggest of all problems: the reaction of the whole of the population who have already demonstrated their rejection of this method of struggle.

16. The experience in Northern Ireland, which the leadership of the Abertzale Left holds as a model, in reality will mean bogging themselves down in institutional and parliamentary activity.

Facts are stubborn things. In Northern Ireland, after three decades of intense armed struggle by the IRA and the brutal repression of the British army and the Northern Irish police, they are not nearer but further from the unification of the island. In reality, within the framework of the capitalist system, the British imperialists continue to decide, in alliance with the Irish bourgeoisie, the destiny of millions of workers and their families. The pressing problems of unemployment, the lack of housing, precarious and health and education infrastructure have not been solved. The leaders of Sinn Fein have exchanged their fiery rhetoric in favour of armed struggle for comfortable offices and press conferences in which they appear next to Blair, but they have no alternative to the capitalist system which is actually to blame for the centuries of British imperialist domination of the island.

In the case of the Basque Country, there are striking parallels. The Spanish and Basque bourgeois already have candidates to play the role of Gerry Adams. Oteguí, and Rafa Díaz Usabiaga (the leader of the LAB – Basque trade union linked to the Abertzale Left), present themselves as the right men to lead the negotiation process within the Abertzale Left.

The Basque bourgeoisie has a well-defined strategy for the peace process: to strengthen themselves at the expense of the Abertzale Left. The supposed “nation building” means for the Basque bourgeois putting their promises to one side in exchange for agreements and social peace in the factories and the streets of the Basque country in order to increase their profits through further social cuts against the working class and the youth. They have already given warnings about this. From now on they will be tougher against struggles which will inevitably unfold for democratic rights, precarious working conditions, the lack of housing, etc.

17. It is true that the newly opened process can resolve some pressing problems which weigh heavily on the morale of thousands of activists of the Abertzale Left. To return to legal activity would be an important step forward. Of course, to resolve the problem of the prisoners and exiles through an amnesty would be a great achievement, which would be received with enthusiasm by thousands of Basuqe families who see their children, brothers, and parents rotting in Spanish and French prisons, or compelled to find refuge in countries thousands of kilometres away.

Nevertheless, all of these clear conquests cannot hide the fact that the fundamental questions, such as the right to self-determination, or the territorial unity of the Basque Country will persist without a solution. These democratic rights will never be solved within the framework of capitalism. The Spanish and French bourgeois will never concede these rights unless the working class of the Basque Country, together with the labour movement of the whole of Spain and France, take them through the revolutionary struggle to establish the basis of a socialist society.

Learn from the past in order to prepare for the future!
For a revolutionary socialist alternative for the Basque Country!

18. Although the right wing affirms that the ceasefire of ETA is due to the illegalisation of the Abertzale Left, the repressive legislation, and police efficiency, the reality is that the only thing that the repression has achieved has been to feed the conflict for years. The PP government was incapable of solving the problem and although ETA has not carried out fatal attacks over the past three years, it has been capable of carrying out more than 100 armed actions. In the last weeks several bombs exploded, showing precisely that police action and repression will never destroy ETA, meaning that this spiral of violence is simply the expression of an unresolved political problem. That which could finally finish ETA after years of armed activity with no results, is the massive mobilisation of the working class and youth, who as the last events have shown, did not allow themselves to be manipulated by the right wing. We were strong to kick out the PP, we were able to stop ETA, and now we must continue the struggle to improve our lives and working conditions, to overturn the repressive laws of the PP, starting with the reactionary laws on political parties, and linking all the demands of the class with the defence of the right to self-determination of the historical nationalities in order to unite all the oppressed in the struggle for the socialist transformation of society.

19. The revolutionary Marxists have always opposed the methods of individual terrorism. It is absolutely impossible to defeat the capitalist system, the cause of national oppression, through the individual armed action of a few commandos, no matter how sophisticated their weaponry.

Capitalism is a social economic system that possesses a perfected state apparatus which bases itself on property relations. The only way to end the tyranny of the capitalist system is through the revolutionary action of the working class and the oppressed, on the basis of the methods of struggle which have proven their effectiveness: strikes, factory occupations, mass mobilisations, general strikes, and insurrection.

20. The new situation will provoke an internal debate in the Abertzale Left along class lines. Now more than ever, it is necessary to draw up a balance sheet of the 40 years of armed activity of ETA, and the Basque national question in general, from the point of view of the interests of the workers.

The national question has almost completely polarised political life for years. On many occasions the class questions have faded away behind a cascade of reactionary demagogy. Behind the chauvinistic agitation of Spanish nationalism, or the cynical propaganda of the Basque bourgeoisie, were hidden the reactionary plans of the ruling class for permanent aggression towards the rights of the workers and their living conditions. The exploitation in the factories has scandalously increased, the working day has been lengthened, precariousness has spread etc., while the wages and purchasing power of the workers and their families have fallen considerably not only in the Basque country but also in Spain and France, and the essential public services such as education and health are under permanent attack and subjected to plans of privatisation.

The French, Spanish and Basque bourgeois have always agreed on one thing: the three of them have collaborated without any major problem when the time came to implement all kinds of laws and measures which would allow them to exploit the workers all the more with the objective of increasing their profits. The bourgeoisie has increased their insulting profits on this basis.

It is therefore time for the working class and youth of the Basque Country, together with their class brothers and sisters of Spain and France, to put a stamp on the events by raising the banner of international socialism and independent class policies. Only with this programme, basing ourselves on the mass struggle, will it be possible to achieve the right of self-determination and put forward a viable alternative for the resolution of the national question in the Basque Country and the historical nationalities of the Spanish state: the socialist federation of Iberian nationalities.

21. The national question has shown itself to be insolvable for the bourgeoisie, both for the Spanish bourgeois as for that of the historical nationalities, but, for the working class and its organisations it can be a powerful motor force of change if all the energy that the national question is capable of unleashing is orientated, from a class point of view, to the struggle for the socialist transformation of society. For that, the main task of revolutionaries in the Basque Country, in Galicia and in Catalonia has to be to tear the banner out of the hands of the nationalist bourgeois, who demagogically use it to defend their class interests.

The liberation of the historical nationalities from the repression of the central government will be achieved by uniting the national democratic demands with the struggle of the working class of the whole country for the socialist transformation of society. For that purpose the organic union of the proletariat is vital, above any consideration of nationality, language, race or religion. Whoever is against this union does no favours for the labour movement or for the cause of national liberation itself.

The working class has no interest in oppressing any other people because its own liberation demands an end to the class division of society, which is the source of all kinds of oppression.

22. From the point of view Marxism there is no contradiction in defending the right of self-determination of the historical nationalities, including the right to independence if decided democratically by the majority of Catalans, Basques or Galicians, and defending at the same time the organic unity of the working class above national frontiers.

As Marxists we defend the widest possible autonomy of the historical nationalities within the framework of a socialist federation of the Iberian nationalities as a first step towards a socialist federation of Europe and a world socialist federation.

Today as yesterday, what the working class needs is a revolutionary leadership that will fight for socialism, for the nationalisation of the banks, the land and the big monopolies under workers’ control and without compensation, except in clear cases of need, and fight for the establishment of a democratically planned economy which will allow us to finish with capitalism.

23. The decision over what the future will look like for us and for the coming generations is in the hands of all those youth activists and class-conscious workers who are prepared to politically educate, participate and organise. This is the most important task around which all of our efforts should be centred: to create a leadership of the proletariat at an international and national level capable of putting an end to capitalism. Today as yesterday, the crisis of humanity, as Leon Trotsky explained, can be reduced in the last analysis to the lack of a revolutionary leadership of the proletariat. This is the fundamental task of our epoch.

A socialist revolution in Spain would have an immediate effect in neighbouring countries, causing the leaders of big capital to tremble. Socialist revolution is contagious. The French working class would carry out its task of abolishing capitalism and spread it to the rest of Europe. In this way the basis would be laid for the solution of the national question on the old continent: in the Basque Country, in Ireland, in the Balkans, etc. Within the framework of a socialist federation on a world scale, exploitation and national oppression would be a nightmare of the past.

The fate of the Basque, Catalan, and Galician people and that of the other oppressed nationalities, will be decided by the result of the struggle of the proletariat against the oligarchy. A regime of workers’ democracy would be a transition regime towards a classless society leading to the complete conquest of socialism, guaranteeing an unprecedented development of the productive forces. In this classless society the armies and the police would have no reason to exist and the utilisation of economic, scientific, and human resources which today are consumed in militarism and war would make it possible to fight poverty on a world scale and increase the well-being of humanity in an unprecedented manner. At the same time a stop would be put to the ecological imbalances introduced by the uneven and anarchic development of capitalism which has accelerated natural catastrophes and has put human existence on the planet in danger.

The goal of socialism is not the creation of new frontiers but the destruction of the old ones, the liquidation of all national oppression and therefore the creation of a united world with the integration of all people and races in a society in which there will be no division between exploiters and exploited, oppressors and oppressed, but simply free men and women.

In defence of the right of self-determination for the Basque Country and the historical nationalities!

For the Socialist Federation of the Iberian Nationalities!

For the Socialist Federation of Europe!

For proletarian socialism and internationalism!

Join the revolutionary Marxists in the fight for a revolutionary alternative!

Ezker Marxista-El Militante, Gasteiz 24 March 2006