Catalunya’s Struggle for Independence: Introduction

 

Without any doubt, the focus of Europe’s class struggle currently lies in Catalunya (we use here the Catalan name for Catalonia). This is a struggle for national self-determination and freedom against the most obvious and blatant violation of fundamental democratic rights at the hands of the Spanish State.

The RCIT has always supported the right of national self-determination for the Catalan people, as well as that of the Basque people, including the right to form their own state. When, through mass mobilizations of no less than one million people, it became clear that the majority of the Catalans and Basques desire separation from the Spanish oppressor state and wish to create their own republics, the RCIT unequivocally supported their demand for independence. [1]

During the recent escalation we have unconditionally supported the Catalans’ struggle for independence and combined this with a revolutionary perspective of class struggle for a Catalan Workers’ Republic, in contrast and as opposed to bourgeois nationalism. [2]

Such an approach is not only the sole way to satisfy the wishes of the Catalan people, but also to create a fraternal unity of the Catalan and the Spanish working class based on freedom and equality and without any discrimination and mistrust.

Our program in support of the national liberation struggle of the Catalan people is based on the communist tradition. Lenin elaborated the Marxist position on the right of national self-determination in his writings:

Victorious socialism must necessarily establish a full democracy and, consequently, not only introduce full equality of nations but also realise the right of the oppressed nations to self-determination, i.e., the right to free political separation.[3]

Later, this approach was included in the official program of the Bolshevik Party in 1919:

In order to remove mistrust felt on the part of the working class masses of the oppressed countries towards the proletariat of those states which oppressed them, it is necessary to abolish all privileges of any national group, to proclaim the full equality of nations and to recognize the rights of colonies and dependent nations to state separation.” [4]

In the following essay, we want to elaborate some thoughts on the meaning of the national liberation struggle of the Catalan people. In particular, we will debate some arguments which have been raised by “Marxist” opponents or half-heartedly supporters of the Catalan’s struggle for independence.

 



[1] For example, in 2014 we wrote: “Against the backdrop of the deepening economic and political crisis of capitalism, the national question in Europe takes on greater significance. As in all other democratic issues, Marxists have to differentiate between the aspirations of an oppressed, discriminated against, or non-equal nation and those of oppressor or privileged nation. Therefore the RCIT supports the legitimate struggles of the former and vehemently opposes those of the latter. We support the right of national self-determination for the discriminated nations. This means that we call for equality in terms language rights, access to the state resources, etc. In those cases where the majority of a non-equal nation wishes an independent state, Marxists have to support this. Thus they call for an independent workers’ republic for the given nation and combine this with the slogan of United Socialist States of Europe. Furthermore, they have to launch vehement agitation against nationalism and for the international unity of the working class. In other cases, Marxists will support the call for autonomy and forms of self-government of the respective territories. Such support for national and democratic rights has to be applied to all non-equal nations, irrespective of whether they are situated within imperialist or semi-colonial states, and regardless of whether they would, after secession, find themselves within another imperialist or a semi-colonial state (if the working class cannot take power in time). This is only logical since all democratic demands against discrimination – like equal rights for women, youth, lesbian and gays, etc – apply not only to the working class members of these groups but also those of the middle class and the bourgeoisie.

Based on this methodological approach, the RCIT supports the desire of the Basque and the Catalan people to leave the oppressive Spanish state and to form their own republics. We say: “For an independent Workers Republic of Catalonia and of the Basque Country!” The harsh long-time suppression of the Basque nationalists by the Spanish state and the recent decision of Madrid to ban the planned referendum on independence in Catalonia demonstrate that the national question in Spain has an explosive democratic character. The Spanish workers’ movement must mobilize against the reactionary Spanish state and at the same time advocate the joint workers’ struggle against the austerity offensive of the PP government. On the other hand, there are also reactionary separatist movements like the Venetian one. This is reactionary campaign of a privileged non-nation which must be resolutely opposed by the workers’ movement.” (RCIT: Theses on Recent Major Developments in the World Situation. Escalation of Inner-Imperialist Rivalry Marks the Opening of a New Phase of World Politics, April 2014, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 22, pp. 44-45, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-situation-april-2014/)

[2] On this, see the various RCIT documents on the recent crisis in Catalonia cited at the end of this article.

[3] V. I. Lenin: The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination (1916); in: LCW 22, p. 143

[4] Program of the RKP(B): adopted March 22, 1919 at the Eighth Congress of the Russian Communist Party; in: Robert H. McNeal and Richard Gregor: Resolutions and decisions of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Vol.2, The Early Soviet Period: 1917-1929, University of Toronto Press, Toronto 1974, p.61