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The Catalan Powder Keg: "Rajoy Or República"


category iberia | miscellaneous | opinion / analysis author Tuesday October 03, 2017 05:46author by José Luis Carretero Miramarauthor email giocganarkismo at riseup dot net Report this post to the editors

We entered a decisive week for the future development of the so-called "Catalan conflict". This Sunday will be the referendum called by the Generalitat, with a more or less plausible and guarantor result depending on the repression that the Spanish government decides against. We have been through weeks of tension, in which the massiveness and social rooting of Catalan protest, as well as the overtly authoritarian and repressive drift of the Spanish State, have become evident.

featured image In order to understand this intricate moment of peninsular politics, it is necessary to have clear certain previous concepts, relative to the very structure of the Spanish State, as well as to the genesis of the Catalan independence project.

In the first place we should mention the evolution of the so-called "Regime of the 78" in Spain towards an involutive and authoritarian way more and more evident. We need concepts: the "Regime of 78", so named for being born with the current Constitution of 1978, has been the historical product of the so-called "Spanish transition from Franco to democracy." This Transition, despite the mythical narrative that accompanied it in the international scene and in the media of the establishment, was nothing more than a reform of Franco's own dictatorial regime, which established, in fact, a regime that secured a shift peaceful exercise of power between two parties that eventually became almost indistinguishable in their political practice. This almost perfect "bipartisanship", because it only sometimes required recourse to the pact with Catalan or Basque nationalist forces to generate stable majorities, was justified by the generation of a social culture (the so-called "Culture of Transition" based on the idea of ​​consensus and reconciliation, obviating any possibility of resuming the previous republican experience or claiming the historic memory of the genocide carried out by the Franco regime after the Spanish Civil War.

In addition, the Transition, which incorporated as head of state for life and hereditary the king who had appointed Franco for that position, renounced the possibility of demanding any responsibility for the serious crimes or for the robberies carried out during the dictatorship. In short, the "Regime of 78" left untouched the oligarchy that has always led the Spanish economic and political life, which would then continue to lead the nation, although already with the mark of membership of the European Union.

A Spanish oligarchy that has kept the country, over the last forty years, based on a productive model based increasingly on precarious and cheap work, which underpins a monoculture of mass tourism, as well as the expansion of financed real estate bubbles for debt from Europe. Any coherent industrial policy is abandoned in the process of entry into the EU. This economic model, in turn, is seriously decomposed when, in the context of the global crisis of 2007, the real estate market collapses, in the context of a particularly tough legal order with mortgage debtors, catching hundreds of thousands of proletarian families who will be condemned to eviction and debt bondage in the face of a "systemic" financial institution sustained by a European-financed bailout, which entailed a strong process of neoliberal reforms and cuts in public services as conditionalities. such as hugely harsh labor reforms.

In addition, we must bear in mind that both bipartisanship and the real estate bubble have been generating a strong incidence of the phenomenon of political corruption in the Spanish state. In order to feed the real estate industry and the big tourist businesses, a "friendly" policy was necessary for public officials, who belonged mainly to the big parties. These, in turn, demanded, both to finance their organizations and to carry a luxury life train, the corresponding illegal commissions or favors of all types of real estate, financial entities and other economic actors. All this has caused that the representative function of the State was seen by the political class as a profession that gave right to squeeze the budgets of municipalities and state for personal enrichment itself, with almost no limits. So it is that the president of the government (of the Popular Party, conservative) has had to testify before the courts as a witness to these ubiquitous plots of corruption that would have affected the financing of his own organization.

Following the eruption of a strong cycle of popular struggles initiated on May 15, 2011 (the so-called 15-M), which indicated strong resistance to the social cuts imposed by Europe, and expressed for the first time coherent criticisms of the political architecture of the "regime of 78", the government was implemented increasingly repressive measures, such as the approval of the so-called "Gag Law", against more frequent activities in popular protests, reform of the Penal Code, or imprisonment and prosecution hundreds of trade union activists and social movements. Finally, this cycle of struggles, already in full reflux phase, was channeled into the electoral leadership, both by sectors of the previous left and by activists of the movements, through the creation of the Partido Podemos political party, as well as other related, regional spaces or municipal elections, which achieved some limited electoral success, while emptying the streets. We can, in turn, and until the last weeks, has been having an increasingly normalizing evolution within the political class of the regime, within which would accept a subordinate role, abandoning the criticism to the Transition (to put a and many demands that were fundamental keys of the 15m Movement, as well as tending to an increasingly hierarchical and monolithic internal organization.

It is here that we find the genesis of the enormous expansion of independence, or of the defense of the right to decide (not exactly the same, the first openly defend independence, the second only the need for a referendum on the subject) in Catalonia. Within the framework of the authoritarian drift of the last decade in the Spanish State, two powerful events took place in Catalonia: the rejection by the Spanish Constitutional Court, at the request of the Popular Party, of a draft Regional Statute approved by the Catalan courts, and by a referendum on citizenship; and the enormous power of the 15M movement, which came to besiege the Catalan Parliament, creating an enormous sense of danger in the local political class.

From there, two parallel processes that lead to the current situation unfold: the independentista movement, until then quite frankly minority, is becoming massive, and expanding between the popular classes and the social movements, before the failure to bring about effective changes of the 15m cycle; and a very important part of the political class (including the bourgeois regionalist forces that had historically underpinned the regime of 78, through its pacts with central governments) bet on the sovereignty process, given the impossibility of interlocution with the central government and the strong pressure that suffers from its bases.

Hence the strong ambiguity and ambivalence of the so-called "process" of independence: together with the power of the popular network formed by organizations for the right to decide or for independence, which embraces people from all social sectors, and in which it has a strong presence a parliamentary party, but declared anti-capitalist, such as CUP (Popular Unity Candidatures); we find that the direction of the process (still under enormous pressure from below) is in the hands of elements of the political class linked to the traditional Catalan bourgeoisie, who have repeatedly shown their neoliberal soul and their will to reach a negotiated agreement with the State Spanish (which essentially remains totally deaf to its offers). This ambivalence is expressed, for example, in the Law of Transiency approved by the Parliament of Catalonia next to the call of the referendum, which would accompany an eventual declaration of independence, which establishes a regime strongly presidentialist, and with no appreciable social content, for the interregnum of the Transition to the new Catalan State.

Faced with this growing powder, after the call for referendum by the Catalan regional government unilaterally, the Spanish government has responded with a huge wave of repression: arrests of political leaders, searches and seizures to get the material that could be used to celebrate the referendum (such as ballot papers or ballot boxes), the transfer of thousands of police and civil guards to Catalonia, the opening of criminal proceedings against more than 700 mayors for crimes they have not yet committed (to help with the referendum) and, above all, the application, in possible fraud of the law, of a policy designed to maintain budgetary stability to meet the requirements of the EU, to take economic control of the Generalitat of Catalonia. That is to say, application of the measures that allow the constitutional state of exception (including the placement of the Catalan autonomous police under the orders of a single command appointed by Madrid), without declaring legally such a state of emergency.

The response of the Catalan population to this merciless repressive wave has been to leave massively to the streets. Universities and schools have stopped classes, demonstrations have taken place, combative unions point to the possibility of calling a general strike after the referendum, dockers at the ports of Barcelona and Tarragona refuse to operate in support of ships in which come thousands of police every day. The conflict, in all its extension, is served.

Before him, social and popular movements could pose a number of key issues:

In the first place, it is illusory to think that the authoritarian and repressive drift of the Spanish State will only be maintained within the borders of Catalonia or will be linked only to the repression of independence. We are facing a strong "erdoganización" of the government Rajoy. The "Regime of 78", harassed, takes up in depth its strong Francoist heritage. It is clear that the entire ruling class (from the economic oligarchy, the political class and the judiciary, or even its cultural "mariachis") see the repressive escalation as legitimate, and the appeals to democracy of the Catalan population as an extremist slogan. The drive to a dictatorship not declared as such, with a strong component of exception and loss of civil rights, is increasingly accused throughout the State.

Secondly, much of the power of Catalan independence comes from its discursive capacity to generate the greater process of delegitimization of the "Regime of 78" in the last 40 years. Moreover, criticism of this regime has even become a reiterated mantra of the Catalan political class. Like We can abandon the anti-regime discourse to dedicate itself to other things, Catalanism does not stop to recover it. To recover it, in addition, affirming against him another motto endowed with a strong emotionality: the Republic. It matters little whether Catalan or Spanish, the fact is that the slogan of the Republic has specific components in the Iberian peninsula, which go beyond the institution of the Head of State. The Spanish republican regimes that have been in history gave rise to profound revolutionary processes and were drowned in blood by the oligarchy. It is a myth of difficult translation abroad, but with a clear power. "Rajoy or Republic", the last slogan of the Catalan independence, expresses definitively that what is at stake is the democracy before the dictatorship, the popular cravings of participation, against the traditional guardianship of the oligarchic sectors on the Spanish society.

This has implications for a consequent anti-capitalism: obviously a republic (whether Spanish or Catalan) is not necessarily an anti-capitalist regime or even advanced from the social point of view. But it is also true that in the power vacuum and the instability of the consolidation of the new regime, the popular movements could have possibilities of intervention and progress, if they are organized and are able to converge around common demands.

In third place. The popular movements have to have a territorial proposal for the Iberian peninsula. Territorial tensions are enormous in the Spanish state and not having a discourse on them, or resorting to the simplistic and primary visions, leaves the movements out of the political game.

This territorial proposal must combine two parallel concepts: respect for the right to decide of the people and the widest democracy, and the defense of a federal or confederal Iberian perspective that emphasizes the ties of solidarity and common work among the popular classes, in the search for a proper and autonomous discursive framework for them. The dialectic of free association must replace the dialectic of states and that of centralist imposition. The recovery of the federalist, municipalist and socialist discourse of republicanism and the libertarian movement prior to the Civil War is a necessity of the day.

In the fourth and last place: in the absence of a regionalist solution negotiated between the Catalan and Spanish political classes (an eventuality that can not be totally discarded for the post-referendum situation), the alternative that is currently being raised in the Spanish State is the following: authoritarian derivation of the "Regime of 78" or democratic deepening. The Social Revolution, at the moment, is out of the discussion and popular demands. However, the beginning of a new cycle of popular struggles through a process of democratic openness may favor the reinforcement and organization of working class organizations if it is used by it to establish its own claims and make them appear in the light of the day.

In the alternative "Regime of the 78th Republic", or "Authoritarianism or Democracy", which expresses much of the current struggles (including Catalan), the defense of civil rights, solidarity against repression, and "Right to decide" all aspects of social life (also the labor and economic) can open roads for popular empowerment.

José Luis Carretero Miramar.

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