Catalunya’s Struggle for Independence: The pseudo-leftists case against the Catalan’s struggle for independence as a supposed uproar of a privileged province




Some pseudo-“Marxists” denounce the Catalan struggle for independence as the uproar of a privileged province. They claim that this struggle is primarily motivated by their desire to pay fewer taxes to the central Spanish government  as well as by the Catalan people’s disdain for poor provinces like Andalusia. As a result, such critics equate the Catalan independence movement with the Lega Nord in Italy’s Lombardy and Veneto.


Here are a few examples. Dimitris Bellantis, an ex-member of the Central Committee of SYRIZA in Greece, recently published an article at the website of the left-wing US magazine CounterPunch. He reminds his readers of the supposedly reactionary secessionist movement of the Kosovars against the Serbian state – in fact he is only reminding us of his Greek chauvinist adaption to the Serbian oppressor state which brutally subjugated the Kosovo Albanians for nearly a century. Concerning the Catalans’ desire for independence he writes:


Without the misuse and usurpation of that radical Catalan tradition of the past how different and how much more radical would the Catalan independence cause look than the cause of the Lega Lombarda’s “free Lombardy” in Italy or the cause of “free Flanders” in Belgium? How much more supportable? Isn’t it a case of the living wearing the dresses of the dead, as Marx formulated it in his classic work ‘The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte ‘?[1]


The British pseudo-Trotskyist grouplet “Socialist Fight” is blowing into the same horn. Remaining faithful to its social-imperialist disdain for revolutionary democratic uprisings of oppressed peoples, like those in Syria, SF goes even further. Quoting approvingly a prominent representative of the neoliberal chauvinist Spanish Ciudadanos party, which supports the Rajoys coup, and with the help of the notorious Article 155, they unconvincingly suggest that we compare the Catalan independence movement with the semi-fascist EuroMaidan movement in the Ukraine in the spring of 2014!


Win or lose, separatists could still take to the streets, warned Francesc de Carreras, a constitutional lawyer who helped launch Ciudadanos, a party firmly opposed to independence. “We should at least be ready for a Catalan version of Maidan,” he said, referring to the square in Kiev that became the centre of the Ukrainian ‘revolution’ in February 2014. “It could create an even more unpredictable and tense situation,” he said. “But the right to protest must also be respected in a democracy.” And there you have the rightist essence of the movement, as in the Maidan, a few foolish leftists were swept along with that movement in February 2014, as they were in the “revolution” against Morsi in Egypt a year earlier. When all those right-wing mass movements went so horribly wrong, in fact revealed their essence in the outcomes they produced, our “Marxists” were totally unable to explain and refused to examine their own errors.[2]


It is certainly true that those Catalan capitalists and their compatriots of the upper-middle class who support the call for independence have not only national self-determination but also their own economic advantage in mind, like hoping to pay fewer taxes. This is, however, true for every capitalist and upper-middle class in all countries of the world where people who are discriminated against desire independence! The Chinese capitalists, the Irish middle class or the African businessmen who gave tacit support for the anti-colonial struggle in the 20th century certainly did this for similar selfish reasons! It is only the foolish Stalinists and petty-bourgeois nationalists who believe in the selfless motives of the bourgeoisie and the upper-middle class (in order to justify their own illusions), which in turn leads to the political subordination of the working class to these privileged classes.


In other words, for Marxists, the support of sectors of the capitalists and the upper-middle class for an independence movement is in itself neither an argument for nor against support by us. The decisive issue is whether a given movement for national self-determination represents or does not represent the desire of an oppressed or “dependent and underprivileged nation” (Lenin). [3].


[1] Dimitris Bellantis: On Catalonia: Debates in the Greek Left, October 18, 2017, A similar point is made by an US academic, Benjamin Studebaker: “But this isn’t really about Catalonia versus Madrid–it’s about Catalonia versus Andalusia. (...) In the Catalan case, an independent Catalonia would mean that the Spanish government would have less tax revenue to redistribute to poor and working people in places like Andalusia.” (The Left-Wing Case Against Catalan Independence, 22.9.2017,

[2] Socialist Fight: The Rights of Nations to Self-determination: Catalonia’s Referendum and the Spanish State, 06/10/2017,

[3] V. I. Lenin: Draft Theses on National and Colonial Questions for the Second Congress of the Communist International (1920), in: Lenin’s Collected Works (LCW), Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Vol. 31, p. 148,