Catalonia: on 21 December rise up against Article 155 and the 1978 regime – Republic, Socialism, Internationalism

The following statement was produced by comrades from the Catalan section of the International Marxist Tendency, REVOLUCIÓ. It outlines comrades’ support for the CUP in the “illegitimate and imposed” 21 December Catalan regional election, to undermine the ‘78 regime, and also outlines the tasks for the movement for a Catalan Republic.

We face elections that, as we in the CUP say, are illegitimate and imposed within the repressive and authoritarian framework of [article] 155 [intervention by the Spanish state against Catalan institutions]. They take place after weeks of jailings and intimidation and after the unprecedented police violence on October 1 [during the independence referendum]. This repression has not only affected the leaders of JxSí [the Catalan ruling coalition United for Yes] and the ANC [Catalan National Assembly] and Òmnium, which represent the most visible and dramatic cases, but also the sovereignty camp in general and the institutions of the Generalitat [Catalan government].

RevolucioREVOLUCIÓ: Catalan Paper of the IMT

There has been an avalanche of charges and threats that seeks to create a climate of fear. The state has been relying on Spanish nationalist mobilization and hysteria in Catalonia and beyond, giving oxygen to fascist groups and creating an atmosphere of chauvinism. We are talking about the determined action of the entire 1978 regime, the government, the PSOE and Cs, the judiciary, the monarchy, the bourgeois mass media, the bosses’ organisations (Catalan and Spanish) and so on. In this situation, the sovereignty camp will face all sorts of obstacles and hurdles that will make these elections an unequal battle. The exceptionality of the moment is summed up in that the heads of the election lists of the two main pro-independence parties are in jail or in exile. Again, this shows the true nature of the 1978 regime and the Spanish constitution: repressive, hostile to the right to self-determination and to freedom in general, and at the service of corrupt and reactionary elites.

Like many comrades in the CUP, we think that it would have been better to boycott these elections, because they are absolutely illegitimate, they trample upon the October 1 mandate and they take place under conditions of repression. Above all, we think that a massive and well organized boycott would have undermined the authority of the state in Catalonia (and beyond) and reinforced the struggle for the republic on the only effective base it can be waged: disobedience. However, the decision of ERC and the PDeCAT to participate force us to get involved in this campaign. Thus, a victory of pro-independence lists would be a tough blow against reactionary Spanish chauvinism, against the PP government and against the entire regime. The aim is therefore a broad victory of the independence camp and within it, a strengthening of the only consistent force of consequence and that which stands further to the left: the CUP.

Catalonia CUP general strikeCatalonia CUP general strike / Image: CUP Vilafranca

However we have to caution that a victory of the pro-independence camp is not enough to achieve the republic that we want. The most important lesson in recent months is that the Spanish state will not relent in its determination to crush the right to self-determination, with the explicit and active support of the Spanish, Catalan and foreign big business, as well as that of the imperialist EU. The enemy is strong and ruthless. We can only combat it with revolutionary methods: with the mobilization in the streets and in the workplaces, with mass disobedience and with a bold struggle and a spirit of sacrifice, and the courage to break with the 1978 regime and the capitalist and imperialist system that backs it.

In the Spanish state, the right to self-determination is a revolutionary task. Indeed, the great victories of this autumn came not from the Generalitat, but from the mass struggles: on September 20, October 1 and 3, November 8, through strikes, occupations, direct action and boycott, mass pickets and organization from below with the CDRs [Committees for the Defence of the Republic]. That is the way forward. And it has to be said that a revolutionary task requires a revolutionary political leadership, one with deep roots in the most revolutionary class of society, the working class.

Catalan national day Image Ivan McClellanCatalan national day / Image: Ivan McClellan

The political hegemony of JxSí in the movement and, above all, that of PDeCAT, represents an obstacle to the Catalan Republic. Although we express our solidarity against the repression they have suffered, it must be said that they have shown inconsistency and indecision, which has weakened the mass movement. Now, they are standing in these elections without any strategy, stating that they will comply with article 155 and abandon the path of unilateralism. Can anyone really think, after all that has happened, that the Spanish State (or the EU) will sit down to negotiate with the pro-independence camp? The inconsistency of PDeCAT and ERC are not accidents or casual traits: they reflect their bourgeois and petty bourgeois character.

The CUP is the party that has been most firm and consistent these last months in the struggle for self-determination, correctly explaining that the republic could only be won through disobedience and linking it with the break with the 1978 regime and the struggle for social rights. The task of the CUP is to conquer the hegemony of the movement and give it the revolutionary character it needs to succeed. This objective was hampered by the temporising attitude that our leaders have shown. In the past, the CUP has not been consistent enough in distancing itself from JxSí (including the fact that it voted for their austerity budget), and in the critical moments it has not appeared clearly with alternative slogans that could offer a way forward. This also explains the relative stagnation of the CUP in the opinion polls: the lack of a coherent criticism of "processism" [the idea that this is a never ending process which never reaches a breaking point] legitimizes its logic, and gives strength to the parties that are most consistently defending this approach, the PDeCAT (now JuntsxCat) and, above all, the ERC, while in the eyes of many independence supporters, the CUP appears like an annoyance or an obstacle.

From our point of view, it is necessary to explain patiently that the PDeCAT, and the more cowardly sectors of ERC, are a break on the movement, and that by their class character they are incapable of waging the battle that is necessary to achieve independence. The results of the [CUP] Granollers assembly, where the membership rejected a joint list with ERC and the PDeCAT, are very positive. That line has to be concretised and deepened. What is needed is a broad bloc of the militant and rupturing left. The radicalization of the sectors of the old PODEM and ECP headed by Albano Dante, Marta Sibina and other comrades is very positive, as they represent our natural allies in order to widen the reach of the sovereignty left, which is to ready to break with the 1978 regime not only in words, but in facts.

Embed from Getty Images

While pushing the political axis of movement to the left, the social axis must pushed towards the working class. Wide sectors of the working class have been involved in the struggle for the republic and against repression, where the strikes and the action of the workers' movement have been factors in the key moments. It must be said, however, that while a sector of the working class is actively involved, another, perhaps a majority, has not been involved in a decisive way, and maintains an attitude of passivity or even hostility towards independence. This is not because of a reactionary outlook, at least not mainly, but comes from the lack of trust in the ERC nationalist leaders and, above all, those of the PDeCAT, a party committed to austerity and repression, which is tainted with corruption, and that even recently was carrying out brutal attacks against the workers. A socialist program is needed, one that can take root among the working people, enthuse and mobilize them decisively in the struggle for the republic. Only by giving the republic a clear social and progressive content can we widen its social basis among the working class. As Vidal Aragonés correctly explained, a republic based on austerity cuts and capitalism will never gain a majority support. The "decrees of the dignity" that the CUP demands contain very positive elements that we must develop and around which we must make our agitation and direct it to the big working-class centers of Catalonia.

Catalan independence demo in Barcelona Image Màrius MontónCatalan independence demo in Barcelona / Image: Màrius Montón

In addition, we can not forget the great mobilizations that in 2011-14 shook Madrid and other points of the Spanish State, which showed the deep indignation that exists in society throughout the peninsula. The natural allies of the movement for the Catalan Republic are the precarious youth of Vallecas, the Asturian miners, the residents of Murcia fighting against the AVE [high speed train] wall being built and Andalusian land laborers. To conquer their sympathy, to break the chauvinist wave and weaken the Spanish state, we need to give the fight for the Republic an internationalist content and consciously appeal to them, pointing out that we are fighting against a common enemy. Prior to October 1, the CUP and even ERC made a very active campaign in the rest of the Spanish State. The presence of the comrade Núria Gibert at the "Madrid for the right to decide" rally, which the PP wanted to ban, was very instructive of the message that must be transmitted. We need to resume this attitude with even more intensity and perseverance. The successful trip of Vidal Aragonés to Madrid, which he used to show publicly our solidarity and class links with Alfon [a youth jailed for his part in the 2011 general strike] and Coca-Cola strikers, set a very correct precedent. We can summarize: the less nationalistic the approach of our movement towards the Catalan and Spanish working class, the more possibilities we will have to influence them decisively.

With regard to 21-D, it can be said that the practical tasks of the CUP coincide with the programmatic tasks: to dispute the hegemony of the movement with ERC and the PDeCAT in order to wage a consistent battle for the republic based on disobedience and rupture; and to give the movement a social and progressive content that breaks with the logic of austerity cuts imposed on us by the capitalist crisis, one which can enthuse the working class and gain support in the rest of the State, and this can only be done if it has a clear left-wing leadership.

The fight for the Catalan Republic has been the most important challenge the 1978 regime has experienced in its entire history. A revolutionary rupture in Catalonia could arouse the active sympathy and solidarity of young people and workers from all over the State and beyond. After the Troika crushed the Greek people's attempt to throw off the chains of austerity, with the betrayal of Tsipras and the Syriza government, a victory in Catalonia would shake the European ruling class and would serve as an inspiration to the working class and the youth of the continent.

Bread, housing, work - Republic Now! Rise up against 155, against the regime of ‘78, freedom for political prisoners!

For a Catalan Socialist Republic, spark of the Iberian Revolution!Vote CUP!