1. Either the secessionist wave mobilizing hundreds of thousands in Catalonia is being generated by the conflicts and antagonisms intrinsic to capitalism in general as expressed in the particular conflicts and antagonisms embedded in the capitalist relations of Catalonia with the rest of Spain, or…or nothing, because then the critique of capital, and historical materialism have nothing to say.
2. If that “or” is the case all the “debate” from the “left,” of all stripes, from “libertarian,” to “ultra-left,” to Leninist, to class-collaborationist pop-fronters is just lip-syncing to a song without lyrics.
3. The roots of Catalonia’s resistance to the rule of Spain can be traced back for centuries, and those roots have little, if anything, to do with current wave of secession. Catalonia has and maintained its own language for centuries, and that language has little, if anything to do, with the current wave of succession
4. First and foremost, Catalonia is the industrial center of Spain. Within the region itself, industry accounts for 65 percent of the gross value added in the economy. Within the greater Spain, industry centered in Catalonia accounts for 23 percent of the gross value added in the economy. Catalonia accounts for 50 percent of Spain’s production of pharmaceuticals; 45 percent of the output in chemicals and plastics; 30 percent of the production of electrical, electronic, and optical machinery; and 25 percent of the output of motor vehicles. Food, machinery, chemicals are the vertices of the Catalonia industrial triangle. The food, machinery, chemical plants are the extensions of multinational corporations.
5. Where industry is concentrated, population is sure to follow. Between 2001 and 2008, employment in manufacturing accounted for 26 percent of all employment. The population of the region expanded faster than any other region in Spain, fed by immigrants from other regions, and other countries. Foreign-born immigrants accounted for 85 percent of the population growth, and currently account for about 15 percent of the total population of Catalonia. The working class in Catalonia is truly international.
6. The “autonomy” afforded to Catalonia and other regions of Spain amounts to the central government “spinning off” functions, devolving responsibility and funding for the services of the police, judicial systems, health, education and welfare systems unto the regions without transferring resources– money- to offset the costs of the devolution.
7. Between 2010 and 2014, the central government of Spain increased tax rates and tax collections by 25 billion euros. It transferred none of that 25 billion to the autonomous region of Catalonia. It did cost the region 200 million euros to collect additional taxes on behalf of the central government.
8. The period from 2009-2013 was one of overall negative economic growth, extraordinarily high unemployment (exceeding 40 percent among young people) for the entire country as well as the region, although Catalonia indexes were slightly better than those for the rest of the country. However remittances to the regional government declined. Tax collections on real estate transfers, a mainstay for the government, plummeted with the implosion of the the construction and real estate sectors. The “autonomous” regional government “adjusted” to the economic contraction by reducing expenditures by 14 percent, and by increasing its indebtedness. Accumulated debt has tripled since 2009 as a percentage of the total economic output. The face amount outstanding exceeds 72 billion euros. Fitch and S&P have placed Catalonia on a “credit watch” for downgrade.
9. The resumption of some level of economic growth in Catalonia makes the accumulated conflicts all the more acute, reduces the measure of fear that has weighed upon, and immobilized the workers in Catalonia for years, and propels the regional petty bourgeoisie and it bureaucratic agents in the government to press forward their demands for securing exclusive claims to the revenues spun off by the surplus value extracted from the workers.
10. It is undeniably the case that the workers of Catalonia have zero interest in putting “local” regional, autonomous petty capitalists in the place of national and multinational capitalists. It is also undeniably the case that
a) the Spanish government has every interest in suppressing the regional independence movement and will use police and military forces to enforce its status as the primary and priority beneficiary of capitalist exploitation;
b) the would-be national capitalists of Catalonia have no economic power of their own. Any measure of separation from Spain depends upon this petty Catalan bourgeoisie being able to mobilize the workers, Catalan and non-Catalan, in the region against the national government;
c) that banks will be the first to attempt to flee Catalonia as so little value is rooted in territory, is fixed in the financial sector. It’s easier to move 1s and 0s than it is to move auto assembly plants;
d) with the flight of finance, a credit embargo that will follow; food, machinery and chemical production will be starved;
e) workers in Catalonia will be compelled to stop the capital flight forcibly, and seize the machinery of production.
11. It bears repeating: It is undeniably the case that the workers of Catalonia have zero interest in substituting local exploiters in the place of national and international ones. Advocating for support of the Generalitat de Catalunya in its conflict with the Spanish government is exactly like advocating support for Syriza in its conflict with the European Union. Arguing that the workers in Catalonia have any interest in remaining within the Spanish nation is exactly like arguing that the workers in Greece have any interest in, need for, remaining within that union of European capitalists, the EU.
12. It is equally undeniable that the workers in Spain have zero interest in enforcing, maintaining, preserving any of the structures of government, of exploitation, of the extraction of surplus value, including and particularly that of the nation, established by the bourgeoisie. Arguing against the movement in Catalonia in the name of some abstract “national working class unity” is exactly the same as arguing that the workers in Spain have an interest in, need for, maintaining the apparatus of repression that is the Spanish state; is exactly the same as arguing that the workers of Europe have any interest in, and need for, the subjugation of the workers in Greece to the policies of the Troika.
13. It bears repeating: No support to the policies and institutions of the Generalitat de Catalunya; all support for the workers in Catalonia against the policies and institutions of the Spanish government.
14. The fight in Catalonia will become the fight against capital or it will be nothing. Workers throughout Spain will have to embrace the actions of the workers in Catalonia against the Spanish state in order to win their own emancipation.
No support to the policies and programs of the Regional Government of Catalonia, for the same reasons that the ANC could not have been supported in 1994, and after; for the same reasons that Allende’s Unidad Popular government could not have been supported in 1970, 71, 72, 73; for the same reasons that Syriza could not be supported in 2015, 2016, 2017.
All efforts towards mobilizing workers opposition independently of the “popular front” in Catalonia, and independently throughout Spain, in order to repulse the efforts of the Spanish government to suppress the independence movement in Catalonia, for the same reasons that the actions of the apartheid state against the ANC were opposed; for the same reasons that Pinochet’s assault on the Unidad Popular government were opposed; for the same reasons that the Troika, the debt “repayment” schemes, the continuing assaults on the workers and poor of Greece, are opposed.
October 10, 2017