The Catalan quagmire shows the deepening decomposition of capitalism

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The escalation of the push towards Catalan independence and the difficulties of the Popular Party government, and more generally the whole of the state, in dealing with this problem through a framework of agreements and negotiations, represents an important political crisis for the Spanish bourgeoisie. It has thrown the “1978 consensus”[i] up in the air (i.e. the rules of the game that the state has followed since the democratic transition in 1975). And this is a state which has already been greatly weakened by the crisis of two party rule – the tandem of the PP and the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Party)  -  and the difficulty to provide an alternative through the formation of new parties (Podemos and Ciudadanos)[ii].

The immediate causes of this situation are the intensification of the struggles between factions of the bourgeoisie and the tendency towards irresponsibility which places particular interests before the global interests of the state and national capital. To these factors can be added the crisis of the principal state party since the transition: the PSOE. The underlying historic causes are the aggravation of the economic crisis and the decomposition of capitalism[iii]

In the absence, at the moment, of the proletarian alternative to the situation, the workers have nothing to gain and much to lose. The demonstrations in Catalonia, the encircling of the Conselleria de Economia and the confrontation with the Guardia Civil after the arrest of several heads of the Generalitat (the Catalan government), or the dockers’ boycott of police boats, do not express the strength of the workers. On the contrary, these actions are being pushed:

  • by the openly separatist parties to defend the arrested members of the autonomous government (the same one which cuts wages and attacks living conditions) and party leaders such as those of the PdCat or ERC parties that are openly bourgeois; the fact they are Catalan serves our interests no more than do their rivals, the PP or Ciudadanos;
  • and by Podemos or the “Comunes” of Barcelona’s radical mayor Ada Colau[iv], to  take up the “defence of the democratic state” against the repression directed by the PP.

In short, the danger exists that the workers will be pulled from their own class terrain, from the confrontation with the bourgeoisie, to the rotten terrain of confrontations between factions of the bourgeoisie; that they will be shackled to the defence of the democratic state, which is the expression of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Is exploitation, moral barbarity, ecological destruction, war, going to go away because democracy dresses itself up in the Spanish flag or the Catalonian?

The problem of separatism in Spain

In order to understand the Catalan conflict it is necessary to step back and understand the international and historical situation in which it is unfolding.

We will begin with the international context. The worsening of the Catalan conflict is taking place at the same time that the Kurdish referendum is pouring oil onto the fire of the tensions in the Middle East, and that the confrontation between two nuclear armed thugs -North Korea and the United States- further demonstrates the degradation of the imperialist situation. All this, as well, at a moment when the world economy is being darkened by storm clouds.

We now pass to the historic analysis. We have already presented before in our publications the marxist analysis that in Spain there is not the problem of a “prison-house of nations”[v] but the poor cohesion of the national capital[vi]. The development of capitalism in Spain was held back by the powerful disequilibrium between those regions more open to trade and industry - those on the coast- and the rest, who were trapped in isolation and backwardness. The country entered the decadence of capitalism (1914 and the First World War) without the bourgeoisie having found any solution to this problem. Rather, faced with the blows of the crisis, there was an aggravation of tensions, particularly between sectors of the bourgeoisie in Catalonia and the Basque Country on the one hand, and the central bourgeoisie on the other.

Each time that Spanish capital has posed the necessity to restructure its economic and political organisation, the separatist fractions have asserted their aspirations by all means at their disposal, including violence (ETA, or Terra Lliure), and the attempt to use the proletariat as cannon fodder.

Thus the publication of the Italian Communist Left, Bilan, wrote in relation to Catalan separatism and the events of 36:

The separatist movements, far from being an element of the bourgeois revolution, are expressions of the irresolvable contradictions and inheritances of the structure of Spanish capitalist society which carried out industrialization in the coastal regions whilst the central plateaus remained sunk in economic backwardness. Catalan separatism, instead of tending towards total independence, remains trapped by the structure of Spanish society. This means that the extreme forms in which it manifests itself serve to channel the proletarian movement”.[vii]

The relations between Catalan separatism and the proletariat, despite the present “left” discourse of the CUP, is not that of fellow travelers but class antagonists.

Maćia, founder of the ERC, originally came from reactionary Carlism (Spanish monarchism); but many years later, after taking up Basque nationalism, he integrated elements of Stalinist ideology into Catalan nationalism. During the 2nd Republic his party organized the Escamots, a militia that specialized in persecuting and torturing militant workers.

Cambó, leader of the Regionalist League, made a pact with the central bourgeoisie in order to confront the strikes in Spain that were part of the revolutionary wave of 1917-19, and supported the Primo de Rivera dictatorship.

Companys in 1936 made the independent Generalitat of Catalonia the bastion that saved the national state and mobilized the workers onto the front of the imperialist war against Franco, diverting them from the class front against the central state and the Generalitat[viii].

And Tarradellas, then leader of the ERC, made a pact in 1977 with the old Francoists to restore the Generalitat[ix].

The autonomous regions and the 1978 consensus

The way the democratic transition faced up to the problem of separatism was through the idea of autonomous regions, which, without leading to a federal state, conferred powers in relation to collection of taxes, health, education, security, etc to the different regions and particularly to Catalonia and the Basque Country.

The pillar of this policy was the PSOE. It set up a “federal” structure which maintained the discipline of the regional organizations. To this was added the PNV( the Basque Nationalist Party)  and the Catalan right-wing party, the CiU, who were conveniently bulldozered  into it [x]

The PNV as much as the CiU for a long time played the role of a tampon, channeling the demands of both the most moderate and the most anachronistic nationalist sectors towards the framework of negotiations, serving as a crutch mainly to the right wing governments, but also to the PSOE when they needed to be in government[xi].

This does not mean however that the stormy sea of nationalist conflicts was calmed. Behind the facade of the PNV’s parliamentary fairplay the intransigent separatism of the HB and ETA was growing. Equally with the CiU and the ERC in Catalonia. Likewise, in the PSOE, regional barons emerged who increasingly put centralized discipline into question.

The sectors of Basque nationalism used the ETA’s outrages in their negotiations in the same way that they have been pressured by HB and ETA to put into question the framework of autonomy and to move towards independence.

Not only that: because of the configuration of the problem of separatism in Spain, there is no solution, but instead it will continue to deepen. The worsening of the crisis and decomposition has lead to “a spiral of increasingly blatant challenges, which tend to lead Spanish capital into insurmountable dead ends”, where in addition “the most radical sectors (from Basque nationalism to more reactionary forms of Spanish nationalism) instead of losing relevance, have in reality become more predominant”[xii].

 

In the Basque Country, the Ibarretxe[xiii] Plan, a real declaration of independence, was the confirmation of this dynamic. The central state, however, knew how to deactivate this separatist challenge. Ibrarretxe believed it could be carried out with constitutional legality but when he took it to parliament, it was treated with contempt and rejected out of hand.

In Catalonia there has been the formation of the two three-party alliances (under Maragall and Montilla[xiv]) and the wearing out of the CiU and its involvement in cases of corruption, and this has stimulated the rise of the radical separatists. Faced with its noticeable loss of electoral support and the threat of its disappearance in the medium term due to the rise of the ERC and the impact of the decline of “Pujolism”, the CiU converted itself into the PdCat in order to hide its shameless corruption, and launched a take-over bid hostile to the separatism of the ERC. However the result has been the ERC gaining electoral ground, making the PdCat its hostage and indirectly the CUP.

On the other hand, the PSOE begun the manoeuvre of the “reform of the autonomous regions” which resulted in a resounding failure and ended up weakening its own cohesion. In the resolution on the national situation which we published in Accion Proletaria 179 we took account of this fiasco: “the fact is that the famous and talented Zapatero has not managed to reduce the pro-sovereignty claims of Basque nationalism, on the contrary, because Ibarretxe has renewed his gamble in the face of  Spanish nationalism. The same is true of the situation in Catalonia, where the attempt to control the most radical sectors of ERC through the tripartite government led by Maragall is leading to Maragall appearing (to what extent it is difficult to know) as a hostage to the ultra-nationalist Carod Rovira. The problems of the cohesion of Spanish capital are being aggravated, since Zapatero’s policy of 'gestures' is not satisfying the Basque and Catalan nationalists, who see his proposal of constitutional reform as a scam. Rather it is serving to encourage in other nationalisms the same feeling of "chauvinism", of "shared grievance", etc., which in turn leads to opening the Pandora’s Box of  Spanish nationalism that is not limited to the PP, but has important branches within the PSOE itself”.

The two Catalan “tripartites” did not serve to calm the pro-independence movements in Catalonia, nor have they subjugated the ERC, which, on the contrary, became radicalized in its claims for "sovereignty", and ended up dislocating the Catalan branch of the PSOE that lost a large part of its pro-Catalan fraction. In fact this laid the foundations of today's enormous radicalization.
 

The Catalan quagmire, product of decomposition
 

All this confirms what was said in the Theses on Decomposition “Amongst the major characteristics of capitalist society’s decomposition, we should emphasize the bourgeoisie’s growing difficulty in controlling the evolution of the political situation (...) …..The absence of any perspective (other than day-to-day stop-gap measures to prop up the economy) around which it could mobilize as a class, and at the same time the fact that the proletariat does not yet threaten its own survival, creates within the ruling class, and especially within its political apparatus, a growing tendency towards indiscipline and an attitude of ‘every man for himself’[xv]

This has led to the present situation in which the PP government and more generally the Spanish bourgeoisie has really underestimated the 1st October Referendum.

The impression is that they thought that the failure of the Ibarretxe Plan could be repeated faced with the challenge of Catalan separatism, and that after the fiasco of the 2014 referendum, the pro-independence sectors would be pushed back. But on the contrary, not only has their determination grown, but the Spanish bourgeoisie has not taken into account the impact of decomposition upon the political apparatus of the state, particularly:

  • The crisis of the PSOE, a party divided into regional fiefdoms and which has partly lost its capacity to take political initiatives and its role as an example of responsibility for all the parties of national capital[xvi]
  • The separatist drift of the CiU; the party has become increasingly controlled by a gang of ultra-nationalist Taliban, based in the most backward comarcas (counties) of Catalonia, which has led to a succession of purges of those suspected of “Spanish proclivities”.  First it was Duran i Lleida and then all those that preached the old nationalist politics and collaboration with the whole of Spanish capital.
  • The ERC, an old pro-independence party which, however, has given great service to Spanish capital (see above), has taken as its flag the immediate achievement of independence (before, it was an “historical” aim) and has developed a nationalist and xenophobic discourse[xvii]  all of which could turn it into  the central party of the Catalan political spectrum, displacing the old CiU, today the PdCat.
  • The irruption of the CUP, an indigestible mixture of Stalinists, former Catalan terrorists and anarchists, that practice a discourse of exclusionary, quasi-ethnic purity and xenophobic Catalanism, which speaks of independent and republican "Catalan Countries" and whose aim is to force the ERC-PdCat duo to go as far as possible in the challenge to the central Spanish bourgeoisie.

The Ibarretxe Plan was “resolved” and this appears to have re-established “tranquility”; the PNV has been turned into an “exemplary pupil” in the hands of Urkullu. This has made the central Spanish bourgeoisie believe that history will repeat itself faced with the Catalan challenge. Enter the Catalanists who have not made the same monumental error as Ibarretxe of going to the Spanish Parliament. They have followed the only possible route: a unilateral referendum which leaves the central Spanish bourgeoisie without room for manoeuvre since the constitution does not allow it “to tear up national sovereignty” in the 17 autonomous regions.

What we are living through is the crisis of the “1978 consensus”, the agreement that in 1977-8 all the political forces signed up to in order to assure a “democracy” whose axis has been until very recently, the two party system, the alternation of the PSOE and the PP, although the first of these parties has shown a much greater political capacity than the second.

All of this has been blown to pieces and the Spanish bourgeoisie is faced with the danger that the main economic region of Spain – which represents 19% of GDP- could escape its control. It has bet on a repressive response: the courts, arrests, de facto suspension of Catalan autonomy...

In other words, it is incapable of putting forward political alternatives that will allow it to control the situation. The supporters of this course (Podemos, Cola…) lack sufficient strengthen to put it into practice and are themselves divided by contradictory tendencies. The partner of Pedemos, IU[xviii], has roundly declared its rejection of the Catalan referendum and its unconditional defence of “Spanish Unity”. But on the other hand Iglesias is face by a rebellion of his Catalan constituents, who are inclined to “critically” support separatism. For its part, Colau plays the mediator and has been obliged to make an unlikely balance between one and the other, which has earned her the jocular name of the Catalan Cantinflas[xix].

The PSOE is incapable of a coherent policy. One day its supports the government, even defending article 155 of the Constitution that allows the suspension of Catalan autonomy. On another day, it proclaims that Spain is a “nation of nations”. It has proposed a “parliamentary commission in order to discuss the Catalan question” which has been rejected with disdain by its political adversaries[xx].

However, the main reason for the failure of the political system is not the clumsiness of this one or the other but the inflammation of the situation, the impossibility of finding a solution. And this can only be explained by the overall analysis that we have developed, the notion of the decomposition of capitalism.

It is now obvious that we are witnessing the general crisis of the Spanish political apparatus which, with the Catalan question, will end up being even more divided.

However it is necessary to underline another element of this very important analysis and that is equally linked to decomposition: political blockage.

Although the situation is very different, it is something that we also see in Venezuela: neither of the two teams  is capable of winning the game. We can also see this at the level of imperialist conflicts, where the authority of the United States, its role as world policeman is getting weaker, a process that has accelerated with the victory of Trump. This has led to an insoluble deadlock in numerous conflicts around the world.

The separatist gang has a “ceiling”: its powerbase is in the Catalan comarcas of the interior. However it is weaker in the large cities and, especially, in Barcelona’s industrial belt. The high Catalan bourgeoisie view it with reserve because it knows that its businesses are linked to the hated Spain. The petty bourgeoisie are divided, although, of course, the comarcas of “deep Catalonia” massively support “disconnecting from Spain”. But the enormous economic concentration of Barcelona – more than 5 million inhabitants- is inclined towards indifference. This concentration has much less “Catalan purity”; it is an enormous “melting pot” made up of people from more than 60 different nations.

We must complete the analysis by showing the importance of the centrifugal tendencies, the flight towards taking endogamic, identity-based refuge in "small closed communities", tendencies endlessly fed by capitalist decomposition. Capitalism’s decadence leads fatally “to the dislocation and disintegration of its components. The tendency of decadent capitalism is discord, chaos; this expresses the  essential necessity of socialism which seeks to build a world community[xxi] The mounting disarray, exacerbated by the crisis, “generates growing tendencies  to clutch onto all sorts of false communities such as the nation, which provides an illusory sense of security, of ‘collective support’”[xxii]

In the three Catalanist parties this is clear. Completely absurd propaganda that represents “free” Catalonia as an oasis of progress and economic growth because “we will have gotten rid of the weight of Madrid”; the CUP’s advocacy of the persecution of tourists because they " make life in Catalonia more expensive"; offensive allusions to immigrants and foreigners, all this shows a clearly xenophobic, identitarian tendency which is little different from the populist preaching of Trump or Alternative for Germany.

These tendencies towards exclusion have their root in society but they are blatantly and cynically used by the three parties of the JuntsXSi[xxiii], although the prize goes to the CUP.

But the Catalan separatists do not have a monopoly of this barbarity. Their Spanish rivals engage in double speak: the great leaders fill their mouths with the “constitution”, “democracy”, “solidarity between Spaniards” “co-existence” etc. At the same time they incite hatred of “the Catalans” and everything “Catalan”, propose boycotts of “Catalan” goods, call for “reinforcing the identity of the Spanish people”, while their anti-immigration politics are stock-full of racism.

The true face of the democratic state

In reality, the conflict between Spanish and Catalan nationalists demonstrates what Rosa Luxemburg said with great insight: “Violated, dishonored, wading in blood, dripping filth – there stands bourgeois society. This is it [in reality]. Not all spic and span and moral, with pretense to culture, philosophy, ethics, order, peace, and the rule of law – but the ravening beast, the witches’ sabbath of anarchy, a plague to culture and humanity. Thus it reveals itself in its true, its naked form.” (The Junius Pamphlet: The Crisis of German Social Democracy, chapter 1, 1915)

This situation shows the true face of the democratic state. All the political forces defend democracy, freedom, the rights they claim are in the tradition of the state. Some in the name of the “defense of the constitution” and “national sovereignty” (PP, Ciudadanos, PSOE). Others in the name of the “democratic freedom” to organise a referendum and equally the Constitution (Podemos, Comunes, Separatists).

But behind this official democratic discourse, what is really dealt are low blows, traps, corruption scandals that they expose when it serves their  interests.

Some deal in "blows" in the strictest sense of the term, sending in the civil guard and the police (even in ships painted with drawings from Warner Brothers [xxiv]); others deal in theatrical stunts. But the point is that what counts are not the ballot boxes nor the votes, but the relations of force, the blackmail, in the purest Mafioso style.

CUP’s “anti-system” stance does not fall far short of this, organizing demonstrations in front of private houses to intimidate their occupants, putting up posters denouncing the mayors who oppose the referendum.

This is the real functioning of the democratic state. It cogs are not driven by votes, rights, freedoms or other phrases, but by manoeuvres, lies, campaigns of harassment and discrediting…

The situation of the proletariat

The proletariat is disorientated. It has lost its sense of identity, its movement is in retreat, and it is very weak, but there have been pointers to the future, in particular the 15M[xxv], the “Indignados” movement, despite its many confusions and its difficulties in grasping its real class interests. The greatest danger is that the proletariat’s thinking remains trapped in the poisoned well that is the Catalonia-Spain conflict, forcing it to think and feel according to the dilemma “with Spain or Independence”.

These are feeling, thoughts, aspirations which are not centered around the struggle for our living conditions, the future for our children, the future of the world; thinking that expresses the proletarian terrain, even in an embryonic way. Rather this is a way of thinking polarized around ideas like “Madrid robs us” or “do we want to be part of Spain”, around the choice between the  Catalan star and the red and yellow of the Spanish flag; thinking entangled in a web of bourgeois concepts: democracy, national self-determination, sovereignty, the Constitution..

The thinking of the proletariat in the main workers’ concentrations in Spain is being kidnapped by conceptual garbage that only looks to the past, to reaction, to barbarity.

In these conditions the methods of repression that the central government adopted on the 20th September creates a series of martyrs, which will generate an irrational sense of victimisation and, in this way, ratchet up an already emotional situation to a higher pitch, probably on the nationalist side.

The main danger, however, is to diverted towards the defense of democracy.

The Spanish bourgeoisie has a long experience of confronting the proletariat by diverting it towards the defense of democracy then massacring it and violently strengthening exploitation.

We should recall how the initial struggle on 18th July 1936 faced with Franco’s uprising was on the class terrain, but was then diverted towards the defense of democracy against fascism, choosing between two enemies: the Republic and Franco, the result of which was ONE MILLION DEAD.

We should also recall how in 1981, faced with the threat posed by the latest threats of Francoism, with the ‘coup’ of the 23rd February, there was a large scale democratic mobilization of the “Spanish people”. In 1997, a decisive step in the isolation of ETA was the massive mobilizations around “the defense of democracy against terrorism”.

The Catalan imbroglio is a dead-end. With or without the referendum of the 1st October it can only lead to one conclusion: the radicalization of the confrontation between the separatists and Spanish nationalists, as in Goya’s Fight with cudgels, that will go on piteously exchanging blows, will dislocate society even more, accentuating increasingly irrational divisions and confrontations. What is most dangerous is that the proletariat will become trapped on this battlefield, above all because all the contenders will ceaselessly use the weapon of democracy in order to legitimize their proposals, to ask for new elections and new “rights to decide”.

We are conscious of this situation of weakness that threatens the proletariat. However, it cannot stop us recognizing that a solution can emerge only from autonomous class struggle. The contribution to this perspective today is to oppose the democratic mobilization, the choice between Spain and Catalonia, the national terrain. The proletarian struggle and the future of humanity can only emerge from outside and against these putrid terrains.

 

Acción Proletaria, (section of the ICC in Spain) 27 September 2017

 


[i] In other words, the rules of the game established by the state after the death of Franco in 1975 and the democratic transition

[ii]      On Podemos we have already written several articles, such as this one: http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201604/13907/podemos-new-clothes-service-capitalist-emperor. Ciudadanos is, along with Podemos, the other of the two parties which have recently arrived in force in the Spanish parliament. It’s on the centre-right, sometimes further to the right than the PP. On the PSOE, See ¿Qué le pasa al PSOE? http://es.internationalism.org/revista-internacional/201611/4182/que-le-pasa-al-psoe [18]  and the analysis developed in Referéndum catalán: la alternativa es Nación o lucha de clase del proletariado, http://es.internationalism.org/accion-proletaria/201708/4224/referendum-catalan-la-alternativa-es-nacion-o-lucha-de-clase-del-prole

[iii]     See the These on the decomposition of capitalism http://en.internationalism.org/ir/107_decomposition

[iv] Colau’s group is En Comú Podem. It is in coalition with Podemos, which is itself a coalition. All this often leads to dislocation....

[v]     This expression is used to refer to nations that, for imperialist interests, were artificially created, subsuming different nationalities: the former Yugoslavia being a main example

 

[vi]    See Acción Proletaria 145, ‘Ni nacionalismo vasco, ni nacionalismo español; autonomía política del proletariado’ , where we cited Marx: “how are we to account for the singular phenomenon that, after almost three centuries of a Habsburg dynasty, followed by a Bourbon dynasty — either of them quite sufficient to crush a people — the municipal liberties of Spain more or less survive? That in the very country where of all the feudal states absolute monarchy first arose in its most unmitigated form, centralization has never succeeded in taking root? The answer is not difficult. It was in the sixteenth century that were formed the great monarchies which established themselves everywhere on the downfall of the conflicting feudal classes — the aristocracy and the towns. But in the other great States of Europe absolute monarchy presents itself as a civilizing center, as the initiator of social unity...In Spain, on the contrary, while the aristocracy sunk into degradation without losing their worst privilege, the towns lost their medieval power without gaining modern importance.

                Since the establishment of absolute monarchy they have vegetated in a state of continuous decay. We have not here to state the circumstances, political or economical, which destroyed Spanish commerce, industry, navigation and agriculture. For the present purpose it is sufficient to simply recall the fact. As the commercial and industrial life of the towns declined, internal exchanges became rare, the mingling of the inhabitants of different provinces less frequent...And while the absolute monarchy found in Spain material in its very nature repulsive to centralization, it did all in its power to prevent the growth of common interests arising out of a national division of labor and the multiplicity of internal exchanges...Thus the absolute monarchy in Spain, bearing but a superficial resemblance to the absolute monarchies of Europe in general, is rather to be ranged in a class with Asiatic forms of government. Spain, like Turkey, remained an agglomeration of mismanaged republics with a nominal sovereign at their head. Despotism changed character in the different provinces with the arbitrary interpretation of the general laws by viceroys and governors; but despotic as was the government it did not prevent the provinces from subsisting with different laws and customs, different coins, military banners of different colours, and with their respective systems of taxation. The oriental despotism attacks municipal self-government only when opposed to its direct interests, but is very glad to allow those institutions to continue so long as they take off its shoulders the duty of doing something and spare it the trouble of regular administration” Karl Marx, Revolutionary Spain, 1854 https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1854/revolutionary-spain/ch01.htm

[vii]   Bilan «La lección de los acontecimientos en España», published in our pamphlet, «Franco y la República masacran al proletariado»

[viii]  See our pamphlet: Ver nuestro libro España 1936: Franco y la República masacran al proletariado. http://es.internationalism.org/cci/200602/539/espana-1936-franco-y-la-republica-masacran-al-proletariado

[ix]

A historical reminder about these three Catalan forces is needed: they are more or less the direct descendants of the parties which, through the Generalitat, organised (with the support of the PSOE and the central government of the Republic in Madrid, and the « retreat » of the official CNT) the unstinting repression of the workers who in May 1937 rose up against the criminal alternative of the Republic or the Fraancoist rebellion. At the time, the Generalitat was led by Companys, from the Catalanist petty bourgeois party (a bit like the ancestor of the the PdCat) ; the Minister of the Interior, Tarradellas, a member of what is today the ERC, worked hand in glove with the Stalinist thugs of the PSUC (of which the CUP can be considered the descendant) to suppress the proletarian uprising, the last gasp of proletarian resistance against the advancing counter-revolution. See the pamphlet cited in note 8. Furthermore, both the CUP and the EDC have taken on the heritage of the leftists and even the terrorist groups (the PSAN) of the 80s and 90s. Within the CUP, there are also « anarchists », « anti-globalists » and « New Left » types similar to Podemos  

[x] Between 1993 and 1996, the CIU, the part of Pujol which today is led by Puigdemont, supported the PSOE government and between 1996-2000 the PP government        

[xi]    It must be remembered that even if they tried to put themselves forward in a devious way or went too far in their  demands for “sovereignty”, the PSOE always managed to rein them in. For example, when the separatists of Pujol threw the scandal of Banca Catalana in their face it had to act, or with the PNV it used the scandal of the game machines to force them to pledge themselves to a coalition with the  PSOE

[xiii] Ibarretxe was the head of the Basque government at the beginning of the 2000s. In 2005 he presented to the Spanish parliament a project for the independence of the Basque Country, but it was rejected

[xiv] Both of them Socialist presidents of the Generalitat: Maragall (2003-2006) and Montilla (2006-2010), who ruled as part of a coalition of the left (ERC and ICV, old Stalinists, and the Greens)

[xv]   http://en.internationalism.org/ir/107_decomposition

[xvi]  See:  1) http://es.internationalism.org/accion-proletaria/201706/4214/primarias-y-congreso-del-psoe-el-engano-democratico-de-las-bases-decid  2) http://es.internationalism.org/revista-internacional/201611/4182/que-le-pasa-al-psoe

[xvii] The present bigwig of the ERC, Oriol Jonqueras, wrote “In the newspaper Avui a very serious article commenting on the differences, which he claims to know about, between the DNA of the Catalans from the forms of the helixes of deoxyribonucleic acid characteristic of the native homo sapiens from the rest of the  Iberian peninsula”. This article was titled with an old xenophobic Catalan saying “bon vent i barca nova” used to invite unwanted strangers to leave. One of his inspirations is the former president of the party, Heribert Barrera, who said that “Blacks have less intellectual co-efficient than whites” (Extracts from  http://www.elmundo.es/cataluna/2017/09/17/59bd6033e5fdea562a8b4643.html)

[xviii] Izquierda Unida (United Left) is the latest incarnation of the Spanish Communist party. It is in coalition with Podemos in “Unidos Podemos”

[xix]  A comical figure of the old Mexican cinema, still very popular in Spanish-speaking countries

[xx] This article was written in the week before the referendum of 1 October and the repression that took place in Catalonia. The parliamentary group of the PSOE wanted to vote a motion of “reprobation” against the vice-president of the government after his disastrous, repressive policy was carried out. But other voices in the PSOE, in particular the “old guard” from the days of Gonzales expressed their full support for the government and their contempt for the present leadership of the PSOE. There is a real cacophony at the heart of this party.

[xxi]  Internationalisme, (publication of the French Communist Left) “Report on the international situation

[xxii] ‘The East: Nationalist Barbarism’. International Review No 62, Third Quarter 1990  http://en.internationalism.org/node/3252

[xxiii] “Together for a Yes”, a coalition of the right (PdCat) and the left (ERC)

[xxiv]        The housing of national police officers in the port of Barcelona in a boat with gigantic drawings of Cayote and Roadrunner recalls Blake Edwards’ film “Operation Pacific” where an American submarine is painted red and launches womens’ underwear through the torpedo tubes in order to confuse the Japanese battleships; this shows the level of improvisation involved in the PP response as it understood that the Catalan challenge was getting out of hand.

[xxv] See  http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201611/14185/spain-indignados-movement-five-years