Catalan referendum

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Catalan referendum
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What do people think of the Catalan referendum on the 1st October. Does the occupations reflect any positive content? Also the actions by dock workers and firemen can they be supported?

more details

can you send more details dave?

I would say that under present conditions where nationalism is really being pushed any independent class action is going to be very difficult. There is a new article on our Spanish web page which we would like to translate.

I have been told this is a good service but I havent tried it out yet. But it can give you an idea of the contents if you dont speak Spanish


Hi Alf Found this on World

Hi Alf

Found this on World News and although these actions are being carried out by unions they do point to the way workers can intervene in this referendum. Unfortunately at the present time workers are still trapped omn the terrain of the bourgeosie. They will still have to go through more traumatic episodes before they break from capitalist perspective.

Sorry heres the link for the

Sorry heres the link for the firefighters

Nothing to support here

Hello, I'm writing from Spain and the social climate is right now totally poisoned by nationalism from either side, it's the main topic of conversation.
The occupations by the citizens (not only workers, but petit-bourgeoisie as well) of the places designated to vote don't have anything else than nationalism and democratism.

Workers have been again trapped, fooled and used as cannon fodder against the police of the Spanish State, which has charged in a brutal way.
I think, from my POV, that is important to understand that the Catalan bourgeoisie doesn't want independence. As a comrade I know pointed out, the Catalan bourgeoisie is pulling the rope for more competences, power and privileges to the Generalitat (and, thus, to them), and using the masses for that purpose. It's a dangerous game because they could end getting the opposite, but it's highly unlikely. The point I'm trying to make is that the bourgeoisie from Madrid and Barcelona aren't enemies but rivals. They are only enemies of the working class.

Now, the situation is tense but I think it's quite controlled and more of a show. All leftist unions (including the "radical" CNT) have called for a "general" strike in Catalonia tomorrow (each one with a slightly different pretext), a strike in which the autonomical police (Mossos d' Esquadra) are going to participate as well. Rajoy is menacing about using article 155 of the Constitution which would enable the central government to get direct control of Catalonia but, again, I think is very unlikely.

So, as a summary, this is bourgeois arm-wrestling in which the biceps is, sadly, the working class. Provocations and street performances are going to continue for a while and, after the central government and the Generalitat reach an agreement, are going to stop, leaving tens of thousands of poisoned and/or demoralized workers in Spain and maybe even some outside.

I'm personally hoping this ends as soon as possible, it's sickening, disgusting and sad. Where I live is full of Spanish flags, something that is unusual in Spain and used to be limited to the Corpus Christi day, and there are leftists everywhere handling what can be called printed shit.

Great report from Comunero

Great report from Comunero and in light of Puigdemont announcement today just shows that the working class needs to fight on our class terrain. The main organisational rhetoric in the referendum is the citizen not the collective class conscious worker.

No Terrain for the Working Class

Agree with the comments above: there is every danger that the workers will be drawn into inter-bourgeois faction fights, mobilised off their own class terrain. Of course, workers under direct atack by the forces of repression - the police and the army - must defend themselves. But this defence is first and foremost a political question: a difficult question of asking just what the workers, not as a class but as atomised individuals, are doing at the polling booths of the bourgeoisie in the first place?

One further element: while the bourgeois factions in Madrid and Catalonia may be rivals rather than mortal enemies, as is correctly stated above, it is the very tendency towards a loss of control, of centrifugal forces, of the deepening clashing between cliques regardless of the consequences for the national capital - in short, the appearance of decomposition - that is generating the current situation. In this regard there is no 'cunning plan' of the bourgeoisie and therefore no certainty that the game of bluff will not spiral out of control. To a certain degree, it already has. There is unfolding a major political crisis within Spain with serious ramifications for the 'European project'.

Below are the first few paragraphs of the article by the Spanish section of the ICC, dealing with the immediate situation, as translated by Goggle.

It was written late September and goes on to look at the historic dimensions of the 'Spanish crisis and of the 'Catalan issue'.

....The immediate causes of this situation are the intensification of the struggles between fractions of the bourgeoisie and the tendency to irresponsibility to put private interests ahead of the global interests of the state and national capital; and the crisis of the so far main party of the State since the transition: the PSOE. The historical causes are the aggravation of the crisis and the decomposition of capitalism...

In the absence at the moment of a proletarian alternative to the situation, the workers have nothing to gain and much to lose. The mobilizations in Catalonia, the siege of the Ministry of Economy and the confrontations with the civil guard after the arrests of several positions of the institutions of the Generalitat, or the boycott of stevedores regarding the police boats, do not express the force of the workers, who, on the contrary, are pushed:

- by openly pro-independence parties, by the defense of prominent members of the autonomous government (the same who cuts wages and attacks their living conditions) and leaders of parties such as the PdCat or ERC, which are declared parties of the bourgeoisie; by the fact of being Catalans are not better for our interests than their rivals of the PP or of Citizens;

- and by Podemos or the "Commons" of Colau, to the "defense of the democratic state", against the repression of the PP.

That is to say, there is a danger that workers will be dragged out of our class environment into a confrontation with the bourgeoisie on the rotten terrain of confrontations between fractions of the bourgeoisie, and chained to the defense of the democratic state, which is the expression of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie; that is exploitation, moral barbarism, ecological destruction, wars. This isn't going to change whether democracy is seen from the Spanish rojigualda or Catalan star....

major issue....

Very good to hear from Comunero, maxium solidarity with him and the other comrades facing this situation head on...and an excellent post by KT as well. 


I think this will spark another debate among the anarchists, since the CNT is doing what it did in 1936, this time with the focus on 'self-determination'. I have done a few posts here

Tomorrow we'll see how far is

Tomorrow we'll see how far is the Catalan bourgeoisie willing to play this or/and if this is getting out of control, as KT pointed could happen.
My guess is Puigdemont is going to do some kind of symbolic declaration as Colau, the major of Barcelona and de facto member of Podemos, is asking for. It is not predictable, though.
I hope all of this ends asap because this level of active involvement of the workers in nationalism here has not been seen in decades.
I'd say the CNT is continuing what it did in 1936, it has never been in a proletarian ground ever since.
Also there's a trick: in Catalonia there are two CNT: The CNT-AIT (IWA) which is the "historical" CNT and the one which is supporting the independence, and a split which is an "independent" CNT which has pronounced itself against both nationalisms in somewhat confusing terms (which doesn't really matter because they're just yet another "radical" leftist union with revolutionary phraseology and at the same time "fighting" against this or that law, or for public health and non-religious education). The fact that both CNTs have exactly the same name and don't make any reference to the other makes this very confusing for most

Puigdemont has just declared

Puigdemont has just declared the independence but "proposed to leave the declaration without effect for some weeks" to have dialogue to satisfy "the demands of the Catalan people". I think this is a clever way to do a simbolic declaration without doing a simbolic declaration, but I doubt this is going to be satisfactory for many except maybe for Podemos.
The worst news is that this is going to last even longer.

Just listened to an American

Just listened to an American leftist breakdown the Catlonian situation and supposedly it should be every progressive person's duty to support the movement for "self-determination" (Assange said the same thing today claiming this was an extremely important moment for the West). But it was odd how this was justified: supposedly Catalonia is Spain's economic powerhouse that is dragged down by a ungrateful, resentful and backward "rest of Spain." Some how this is supposed to make Catalonia sympathetic for the left? Richer areas shouldn't have to subsidize pooer ones? I have heard that narrative before and usually isn't from what passes as the "left."

Obviously, there is an attempt to force the US dynamic on this situation where a supposedly economically and socially dynamic North and the coasts subsidize a reactionary "rest of the country." But as one observer put it, "there are no blue or red states, there are only blue and red counties," something which shows the futility of attempting to find "good" or "bad" political subdivisions in global capitalism. Why stop at counties? How about the local precinct level? Clearly, these kinds of geographic virtue narratives don't do much justice to the complexity of politics. Nevertheless, Assange's comments might be more serious, perhaps there is something beyond mere Iberian or even European importance about these events? Perhaps they preview a certain future reality that will affect the West itself as governments and states attempt to control the increasingly centrifugal forces of decomposition? In other news, Justin Trudeau recently declared Canada the world's first "post-national state." I wonder how that will go over in Quebec?

Amidst the solemnity...

"I wonder how that will go over in Quebec?" Cracked me up JK. Very funny.

Unintended Consequences

KT wrote:

"I wonder how that will go over in Quebec?" Cracked me up JK. Very funny.

You're welcome. smiley

it is interesting that the government in Madrid has denoucned the Catalonian separatists for their "nationalism." In other words, the same complaint the left has about Trump, Brexit, etc. One person's progressive self-determination is another's ugly nationalism in the world of bourgeois politics, I guess.

But I think it is somewhat problematic to hope that the situation just goes away. It may be the case that the immediate crisis passes, but the posion of nationalism will not go away--it is something that the proletariat will have to confront, work through and transcend. It is indeed somewhat disheartening to see large sectors of the working class caught up in the wash today, but this is likely a reflection of the ongoing ebb in class consciousness and the decline of the various social movements in the period 2010-2012 and the subsequent rise of populism. But independence will not solve the working class's problems even in propserous Catalonia (or Enlightened Scotland or progressive Quebec or wherever else). In fact, independence may even hasten the arrival of the class question again and one wonders if there is a certain need for the ruling class to keep such controversies going, even when they threaten unintended consequences? 

On Nationalism

As Comunero indicates, the immediate pace of the Madrid-Catalonia fandango has slowed through the swerve of the suspended declaration of independence, but the dance will continue.

On a wider, more general level, as JK asserts, the poison of nationalism will not go away, until and unless destroyed by the conscious international action of the working class.

The nation state is the definitive framework of capitalist social relations, the geographic, semi-porous skin which this system thickens as it decays, and within which all factions of the ruling class define their own interests, even the contradictory ones.

Decomposition may tend towards a clash of rival cliques which challenge the direction of 'the national interest', even to the point of posing the creation of new nation states. Such creations are difficult though not impossible in the decadence of the capitalist system – Pakistan, Bangladesh, and more recently Kosovo, Eritrea and South Sudan, are examples – but in general the viable, pre-existing nation states persist outside post-war periods of world market re-division.

In their self-critical review of the class struggle and their analyses of it for the organisation’s 21st ICC Congress, the ICC said (and repeated several times in the text: “Most of our errors over the past 40 years seem to be in the direction of underestimating the bourgeoisie, the capacity of this class to maintain its rotting system, and thus the enormity of the obstacles facing the working class in assuming its revolutionary tasks.” (Report of the Class Struggle International Review 156,

Yet nowhere in this self-critical text did the under-estimation by revolutionaries of nationalism in and of itself appear.

The bourgeoisie exists in a miasma of nationalism, personifies it, excretes it. If the nation state is the geographic and military framework of capitalism, then nationalism is inevitably the false consciousness underlying everyday life, the basis of the domination of one class, it’s view of history, morals and culture, over another. That’s why all factions of the ruling class can claim to be defending the national interest, even by accusing rivals of being ‘nationalists’!

It encompasses many forms, takes on numerous aspects. But the assumptions made by consciousness bounded by the national framework are as ingrained in society as the notions of eternal wage labour and the mechanisms of the market. They are of course utterly intertwined.

This is hardly news to Marxists but often so obvious as to be overlooked in concrete intervention or analysis. Too often, through immediatism, revolutionaries declared that this or that struggle had ‘seen through’ the lies of the bourgeoisie, of nationalism. But herein lies one major ‘under-estimation of the bourgeoisie’ – not merely its conscious deception and manoeuvring, but the unconscious 'norms' of bourgeois society.

Nation or Class? Two opposing ways of viewing and acting upon the world. And the former is the dominant ideology, as we know.

Finally, in this particular period, I don’t think that the bourgeoisie generally, or specifically in the Spanish situation, deliberately promotes or maintains regional rivalries even if it profits from them at the level of further obfuscating proletarian class consciousness. That’s a by-product, not mainly an aim. My opinion.

"Finally, in this particular

"Finally, in this particular period, I don’t think that the bourgeoisie generally, or specifically in the Spanish situation, deliberately promotes or maintains regional rivalries even if it profits from them at the level of further obfuscating proletarian class consciousness. That’s a by-product, not mainly an aim"
What do you mean? Is it a byproduct of an strategy against the working class? I don't disagree in that there's a strong maneuver against the working class here, but I don't think that's the main factor in what's happening in Spain now. But there might be an evolution or dynamic situation between rivalry, anti-worker campaign and other factors. If you could develop a little bit further what you mean I would be thankful! I'm interested

Not a Planned Attack by the Bourgoisie

I'll try to be more concise. In #13, JK1921 writes much I agree with about nationalism but ends by asking a question: "one wonders if there is a certain need for the ruling class to keep such controversies going, even when they threaten unintended consequences?"

This question seems to imply that, in this period, the bourgeoisie deliberately maintains 'controversies' such as the Madrid-Catalonia clash we have been discussing.

I don't agree: I think such 'controversies' (unlike, perhaps, the time of the Quebecois campaign of the Seventies and Eighties) are the product of decomposition and, like populism, illustrate a certain weakening of the bourgeoisie's mastery over its own political process. It is not the result of a conscious manoeuvre of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat.

However, this is evidently not a situation which is of benefit to the proletariat. On the contrary. As long as it is not posing its own demands and perspectives, the decomposition of bourgeois political life with its very real disagreements and alternative 'solutions' serves to daze and confuse the working class.

This situation is what I term a by-product of decomposition and not, in the first instance, a conscious attack by the bourgeoisie against the workers. I hope my confusions are clearer :)

I don't think the depths that

I don't think the depths that the crisis around Catalonian independence has reached in recent weeks were some kind of deliberate maneover by the bourgeoisie to take on the working class, but I do think there may have been a certain interest--coming out of the Indignados movement--in bringing this issue to the foreforont as a way of blunting a tendency to raise the class terrain that was underway in the period 2010-2012 (approximately), which reached its height in Europe in Spain. But as is characteristic of decomposition, it seems that this has gotten out of control and has led to a situation where the integrity of the Spanish state is now in question in a way that has possible repercussions for the European order itself.

Of course, the current situation in Spain is only a continuation of a more general process towards the calling into question of nation-state integrity--the Scottish independence referendum being the most prominent up to now. Although it seems Scottish nationalism has taken a step backwards in the wake of the last general election, it is obviously something that could rear its head again, as nationalism/separatism more generally could in other places--Belgium, Northern Italy, etc.

it is interesting though that the situation has reached such a severe level in Spain, whereas in the UK it was dispensed with by an electoral campaign and in Quebec the indpendence question appears for now be suprassed by other issues related to so-called "globalization" (immigration, terrorism, the symbolic politics of religion and culture, etc.) Part of this has to do with the specific histories of the states in question, i.e. in the case of Spain the repressive legacy of Francoism which tried to stamp out Catalonian identity, in the UK--the Act of Union, which ostensibly made Scotland a co-equal partner in a union of the crowns, etc. However, part of it also appears to be a different strategy, competency, etc. of the respective bourgeoisie's today.


I think that the question of

I think that the question of "devolution" in the UK some years ago was a definite manoeuvre against the class and its struggle. It was a move taken by a bourgeoisie that was showing its political strength and intelligence, particularly after a wave of struggles in which certain positive working class tendencies were developing. It's fairly obvious really, the trade unions, particularly the strongest, were already organised around confederations, Scotland and Wales, that, time and time again, were instrumental in carving up the class struggle and dividing workers from each other. That the bourgeoisie should consolodate this was sensible from its point of view. But that's not the case today with the growing expression of centrifugal tendencies which are essentially developing from the deepening of the economic crisis and the stalemate between the classes.


Certain cliques and rivalries would, particularly in the weaker capitals, attempt to "keep the crisis going" for their own ends but this itself represents an element of decomposition. This tendency also affects the major capitals: Trump in the US and the present governmental shambles in Britain over Brexit which is entirely against the interest of the national capital, as well as threatening the break-up of the "Union". The bourgeoisie will use all this against the working class but it's not its primary source. And KT's example of South Sudan as a new member to the "family of nations" is a good one showing that even within the enormous backing that it's got from the major powers and powerful international institutions, it has immediately fallen into and become a prime example of, decomposition.

There is, I think, a reflection in the current situation that exists within the working class and the population in general that, even when draped in the flags of nationalism, democracy and separatism, that really, there is no party, no politicians who can lead us out of the crisis. There's a sense that the future is going to be bad - not the "no future" of nilhism but a real underlying sense of disquiet about where society is going. I wouldn't want to exaggerate this and it can be dangerous but it is also an essential prerequisite for the development of class consciousness, I.e., "things cannot continue like this".

A last point on jk's earlier questions about populism affecting the left of capital. I don't think it's sufficient to say it's immune from it because it has a programme for government. I think that the left must be affected by it and we've seen elements of that in the Labour Party/Corbyn bandwagon.