STATEMENT OF THE TROTSKYIST FRACTION – FOURTH INTERNATIONAL
Support the Rebellion of the Catalan People and Their Right to Self-Determination
For an independent and socialist Catalan Republic. For a free Federation of Iberian Socialist Republics.
October 11, 2017
1. On October 1, the majority of the Catalan people expressed their determination to be independent.
On October 1, more than two million people voted in the referendum for the independence of Catalonia, defeating attempts by the Conservative Government of the PP and the 1978 Regime to prevent it by brutal repression. On that day, tens of thousands of people occupied schools and voting places, resisting against more than 10,000 police and civil guards who had been transferred to Catalonia to effectively play the role of occupation troops. On October 3, that will was again expressed in a large general strike, with 50 roadblocks and massive mobilizations. Despite the boycott by the union bureaucracy leadership of the CCOO and UGT, the massive adherence to the strike was undeniable. The Catalan government’s attempts to turn it into a "civic strike" alongside the bosses and the leadership of the largest unions did not prevent the working class from appearing on the political scene.
The harsh repression of October 1 also strengthened the widespread democratic sentiment in the rest of the Spanish State in support of the Catalan people, as shown by the mobilizations held in Madrid, Zaragoza, Bilbao and dozens of other cities, as well as by their rejection of the repression and support for the right to decide, although this has not yet resulted in massive actions.
As internationalist socialist revolutionaries, we believe it is essential to express international solidarity with the Catalan people, against the repression and in defense of their right to self-determination, which includes their right to separate, defeating the reactionary offensive of the monarchy, the government, and the regime.
The organizations that have signed this declaration have always defended the Catalan people’s right to self-determination unconditionally, as well as that of all the historic nationalities of the Spanish State. We have done so without being independentists. We do not consider secession to be the project for which the Catalan working class should fight, but believe the struggle for this right should be a part of the struggle of the united working class of the Spanish State towards a federation of Iberian workers’ republics. A people that oppresses another can never be free, and it is only by fighting against the entire capitalist class that an end to oppression and exploitation can be achieved.
After October 1 and 3, given the decision of the great majority of the Catalan people in favor of independence, we defend their right to establish their independence with the methods of class struggle and from the clear perspective of an independent and socialist Catalonia, against the project of the bourgeois and petty bourgeois leaderships of the movement, and call on the entire working class of the Spanish State to confront the 1978 Regime and defend the right of the Catalan people as the necessary condition to forge the unity of the working class and lay the foundations for a struggle for a free federation of Iberian socialist republics.
2. The Spanish capitalist regime is in the midst of its most profound crisis since its inception in 1978
The "Catalan question" intensifies the deep-seated crisis of the 1978 Regime, which emerged from the Transition agreed with the Francoist dictatorship. It is a regime based on the restoration of the monarchy, the defense of Spain’s "indivisible unity" - denying the right to self-determination of the nations of which the Spanish State is composed - and the capitalist attack against the working class.
The capitalist crisis and the emergence of 15M have led to a profound crisis of representation for the large Spanish capitalist parties, the bipartisan regime of PP and the PSOE, as well as the emergence of new political forces on the right (Ciudadanos) and the reformist left (Podemos). But the crisis of the Regime has also resulted in the expansion of independentist sentiment in Catalonia, which was not shared by a majority of the Catalan people a few years ago. This sentiment was reinforced first by the PP and the State in its refusal to discuss its autonomy, proposing instead a plan for recentralization. But it was also fueled by sectors of the Catalan bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie, to channel the discontent created by the austerity and anti-civil rights policies of budget cuts and precarious working conditions that they themselves had imposed at the Generalitat (Catalan government).
The path for the "restoration" of the political regime, through an amendment of the 1978 pact without questioning its foundations, which is promoted by the new reformist left like Podemos, comes up against an insurmountable obstacle in Catalonia. There are now strong divisions in the political regime that will be difficult to overcome. We are witnessing an "organic crisis" that is intensifying and has opened the doors to possible solutions imposed by force and Bonapartist alternatives of greater repression, but has also resulted in the emergence of a movement of the masses and working class, with the possibility of greater radicalization.
Despite the statements made by the European Commission and different governments such as the German government, the "Catalan crisis" is not just an internal crisis of the Spanish State. On the contrary, the possible independence of Catalonia would substantially intensify the European crisis and fuel other national movements throughout Europe, especially if it occurs in the context of mass mobilizations. For this reason, the European Commission and the German government - with the support not only of the conservatives but also of the German social democrats and union bureaucracy - are all behind the Spanish government led by Rajoy, who was their main ally in imposing their austerity policies in the Spanish State.
3. The monarchy is preparing for a more Bonapartist and repressive response
Felipe VI’s speech on the night of the general strike was a vigorous appeal to the unity of all the agents of the Regime for an unprecedented escalation of the repression against Catalan institutions and the emerging democratic mass movement. It expressed the monarchy’s full support of the Regime and Rajoy’s government, which was significantly weakened by the referendum, justifying the repression and endorsing new "exceptional" measures, such as the application of Section 155, with actions that could include the dissolution of the Generalitat and the Parliament, including the arrest of members of the Govern, the illegalization of the independence parties, etc. Two days later, the Spanish Constitutional Court suspended a session of the Catalan Parliament to prevent a possible unilateral declaration of independence (DUI) by the Catalan Government. This was a measure requested by the PSC (Catalan Socialist Party), which along with the PSOE is acting in direct support for the Regime and its repression. New exceptional measures can be expected in the coming days as the political regime steers clearly towards more authoritarian policies.
As internationalist revolutionary socialists, we demand an immediate stop to all repressive actions and the withdrawal of all occupation troops (Civil Guard and National Police), and we reject all measures that violate democratic freedoms and disregard the will of the Catalan people as expressed last Sunday.
4. The reformist parties and their calls for a political "dialogue" that essentially resolves nothing
The reformist left of Unidos Podemos (composed of Podemos and Izquierda Unida), which governs the main cities of the State, such as Barcelona or Madrid, and has a force of 70 representatives in the Congress, has taken a stance from the constitutionalist political "center," calling for "dialogue" and "understanding," and proposing the mediation of the Pope and the European Union. In the face of the hard line taken by the king and Rajoy, these calls have been futile so far. The reformists did not support or acknowledge the legitimacy of the October 1 referendum, arguing that they want a "negotiated" referendum "with guarantees," which is to say, one that respects the framework established by the 1978 regime. But how can a referendum be negotiated with a regime that denies the right to self-determination in principle? Unidos Podemos creates illusions regarding an impossible "negotiated referendum," while refusing to use all of its strength and political influence to effectively defend the right to decide and the will expressed by the Catalan people. They are acting as the left wing of the 1978 Regime and its "legality," defending a utopian strategy of democratic regeneration of the reactionary Spanish imperialist regime. Unidos Podemos should immediately break with this policy and call for massive social mobilization, in Catalonia and throughout the Spanish State, against the repression, for the right to decide, and in support of the will of the Catalan people.
5. The bourgeois and petty-bourgeois leadership of the Catalan procés
The leadership of the procés (pro-independence push), the PdeCat and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (which have joined forces in Junts pel Sí), represents the historical parties of the Catalan bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie, which for decades imposed fierce austerity measures against the working people, promoting precarious working conditions, unemployment, cuts to social security, and repression against the working class and youth, using Mossos d’Esquadra as a repressive force.
The big Catalan bourgeoisie, which includes the main capitalist groups, banks and corporations, has always been, and continues to be, in favor of the unity of imperialist Spain (and of its business with it) and against Catalonia’s independence. The pro-independence shift by a sector of the political arm of the Catalan bourgeoisie, supported by sectors of the middle and petty bourgeoisie, was the byproduct of a rearrangement of forces in the face of the emergence of an enormous democratic movement and the need to avoid disrepute among the masses. This gave rise to a new balance within the pro-sovereignty bloc, with the growing influence of political and social organizations of the pro-independence petty bourgeoisie, such as the ERC and the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), as well as the significant influence of the CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy) based on its representation in the parliament, despite being a minority with respect to the other forces. The CUP, which claims to be "anti-capitalist," has been a key player in supporting the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois pro-independence roadmap.
The strategy of the procés’ leadership is to channel all the energy of the movement of the masses and workers towards a bourgeois solution, either by proclaiming an independent capitalist republic or, given the difficulties in implementing such a project, by a renegotiation of the Status of the Autonomies with the Regime. In this context, they fuel the illusion that the European Union will support the Catalan independence, the same imperialist EU that did not hesitate to crush the people of Greece and that has tirelessly repeated, through the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, that Catalonia’s independence would mean its exit from the euro and the EU and that if it wishes to return, it must be admitted unanimously, that is, it would have to overcome the inevitable Spanish veto.
In order to attempt to establish such an independent bourgeois Republic, the masses would have to face the Spanish State’s forces of repression, in the midst of the categorical refusal by the main world powers to recognize an independent Catalonian State.
But the leadership of the procés will try once again (as the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois nationalist parties in Catalonia have done several times in history) to use the mass mobilizations to push for a negotiation in favor of their own interests, that is, to gain greater political and economic autonomy based on the Catalan people’s genuine demand for self-determination, in order to increase their profits. So while banks and companies such as Sabadell, La Caixa, or Gas Natural have started announcing their relocation outside of Catalonia in what constitutes the start of the capitalists’ economic war against the referendum results, voices inside the Catalan Government are already calling for a compromise and negotiation, including those of the former president of the Generalitat and PdeCat leader, Artur Mas. Meanwhile, sectors such as the CUP and sovereign entities like ANC and Omnium continue to push for independence, indicating an emerging crisis within the pro-independence bloc.
The possibility of a mediation or negotiation in extremis that would postpone the declaration of independence may buy the leaders of the procés time, but it will merely be a way of postponing a crisis that cannot be resolved by the strategy of the Catalan bourgeoisie or by the reactionary 1978 regime.
As internationalist socialist revolutionaries, we believe that the working class of Catalonia must act boldly in defense of its right to self-determination, but with its own "road map," without relying on the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois leadership of the Generalitat Govern. Progress in this direction is only possible through the methods of class struggle. The referendum defense committees that are still active in the districts must be reinforced and extended to universities, neighborhoods, and workplaces, which must take on the task of defending their result through mobilizations against the threat of the central State, developing new bodies of direct democracy of the struggling masses, as well as self-defense organizations to protect themselves against the inevitable escalation of the repression.
6. For free and sovereign constituent assemblies to decide on all matters
The intensity of this movement raises the need for increased class struggle to open the doors to free and sovereign constituent processes in Catalonia and among all the historic nationalities of the Spanish State. These processes should lead to the establishment of constituent assemblies elected proportionally by universal suffrage of all of those over the age of 16, to decide on all matters, from the self-determination of all peoples, to the end of the monarchy and the implementation of basic measures in defense of the workers and masses, such as the nationalization of utilities and the banking system, under workers’ control. This is an elementary measure of defense in Catalonia, where large banks such as Sabadell and La Caixa are announcing the relocation of their headquarters, which may be imitated by other companies to promote a "market coup." The struggle for these constituent assemblies, with recallable representatives and salaries that would not exceed those earned by teachers, elected proportionally among the entire population over 16 years of age, would mean confronting this 1978 Regime and its parties and institutions head-on, while unifying the struggles of the entire working class in the Spanish State against its common enemy: the monarchy and the 1978 Regime and its parties.
This unit must be forged now. The working class of the entire Spanish State must overcome the obstacles created by the union bureaucracies of the CCOO and UGT, whose role in this crisis has been to support the 1978 Regime, and raise the banner of the right to self-determination. It must struggle with the Catalan working class for the expulsion of the troops of occupation and against any judicial intervention of the Spanish State in Catalonia, calling for solidarity strikes throughout the State towards a movement for a general strike.
7. For the unity of the working class of the entire Spanish State. For an independent workers’ and socialist Catalan Republic and a free Federation of Iberian Socialist Republics
Given that the will of the majority of the Catalan people is to secede and create a republic, as internationalist revolutionaries, we unconditionally support their right to self-determination. However, we do so by fighting for an independent Catalan Republic that is both pro-working class and socialist. We do not support policies that would have the workers, among whom the repression will inevitably claim new victims, channel all their energy and sacrifice in support of a future capitalist Republic, such as those defended by Puigdemont along with corporate sectors that support the procés. We support the struggle for an independent socialist Republic as part of the struggle to unite the entire working class of the Spanish State in a Federation of Iberian Socialist Republics, in the path to establishing the Socialist United States of Europe against the Europe of capitalists and monopolies.
8. For a revolutionary party in the Spanish State
The struggle for a revolutionary class program and strategy in the Catalan question and the crisis of the 1978 Regime is completely erased from the program of the main forces of the left in the Spanish State and Catalonia. The main political phenomenon that emerged on the left in recent years, Podemos, is in a position that is increasingly favorable to a reform of the 1978 Regime. It seeks to promote a "third way," along with IU and sectors of the PSOE, one which could be a better fit for Catalonia, within a more decentralized territorial model, while refusing to acknowledge the results of October 1. In Catalunya, the "Commons" replicate this policy and the pro-independence left that claims to be anti-capitalist, the CUP, has undergone a five-year process of subordination and integration into the pro-sovereignty bloc led by the bourgeoisie, supporting its road map for the establishment of a "Catalan republic," relying on international mediation and not on class struggle, the bourgeois top-down constituent process under the Law of Transition and the bourgeois and capitalist content of the Puigdemont’s republic.
Faced with these political leaderships, we have the urgent historical task of preventing the struggle of the Catalan people from failing, and of promoting its unity in a common revolutionary struggle against the capitalist Spanish State. On the basis of the lessons learned from the Spanish Revolution of 1936-37 and the great betrayal of the Stalinist and Reformist workers’ leaderships during the Transition, we at CRT, the FT group in the Spanish State, are struggling to build a revolutionary workers’ party throughout the Spanish State to fight for the political leadership of this struggle for Catalan independence and against the 1978 Regime, against the reformist leaderships that promote class conciliation, which can only lead to its defeat, and on the path towards a great anti-capitalist struggle for socialism.
9. For broad international solidarity and mobilization in support of the Catalan people
The battle of the Catalan people for self-determination is not only being waged in Catalonia and the Spanish State, but especially in Europe and the world. We thus call on all democratic workers’ and people’s organizations to set up a broad campaign of solidarity for the defense of the Catalan people’s sovereign decision and against any attempted repression by the central State.
This is our fundamental duty in the face of a mass rebellion that is an exemplary struggle against the policies of a capitalist Europe in decline and its barbarism, racism, and xenophobia. At a time when the capitalist offensive in Europe involves fierce attacks against workers’ democratic rights, the rebellion taking place in the southern Mediterranean shows a path that can raise workers’ morale and confidence in their own strength and in the class struggle of the exploited and oppressed of the entire continent.
Trotskyist Fraction for the Fourth International
Corriente Revolucionaria de Trabajadores y Trabajadoras (CRT) - Spanish State
Members of the FT-CI within the Courant Communiste Révolutionnaire (CCR) in the NPA - France
Revolutionäre Internationalistische Organisation (RIO) - Germany
Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas (PTS) - Argentina; Movimento Revolucionário de Trabalhadores (MRT) - Brazil
Partido de Trabajadores Revolucionario (PTR) - Chile
Movimiento de Trabajadores Socialistas (MTS) - Mexico
Liga de Trabajadores por el Socialismo (LTS) - Venezuela
Liga Obrera Revolucionaria por la Cuarta Internacional (LOR-CI) - Bolivia
Juventud Revolucionaria Internacionalista (JRI) - Uruguay
Frazione Internazionalista Rivoluzionaria (FIR) - Italy
Colectivo Resistencia Sur - Peru
Organización Socialista - Costa Rica
Translation by Marisela Trevin