Letter from Catalonia

  • Posted on: 11 October 2017
  • By: thecollective

Via Gods&Radicals

Gods&Radicals is pleased to host this communique from a comrade in Catalonia. [Any errors are due to editorial translation]

There’s a lot of talking about Catalonia these days; a country that, not so long ago, few would have been able to place on a map.

Now this will be a long writing, for the Catalan struggle has been going on for quite a long time.

Catalonia is a small territory, but nevertheless has its own language, culture and traditions. A heritage that has been way too often threatened by Spanish authoritarianism.

Spain is a country that has had a deep legacy of fascism, that these days had resurfaced and awakened. It may be odd, that, while acknowledging it, many have not fully realized it until now. Fascists are not a minority in Spain, though in many cases it’s a kind of disguised and sweetened fascism, one that only shows its true face in anger and rage when the unity of the empire was at stake.

That would be why we are seeing such a huge amount of Spaniards these days who are justifying the riot Police strikes that left almost 900 injured.

Now, would you for a second be able to imagine the German Nazi party having a voice and a vote in the process of writing the German democratic Constitution after WWII? Unthinkable?

Well, that’s precisely what happened in Spain.

In Spain, over a million people went to pay homage to Franco when he passed, forming long queues to salute his dead body in a final tribute effort. In Spain, the ruling party is the heir of Francoist Association “Alianza Popular”, which barely changed its name to “Partido Popular.” The largest Spanish monument, ordered by Franco and built by slaved Republican prisoners, is still standing.

This is the Spain that is now willing, quite literally, to crush the Catalan Revolution, yet it is also the very same Spain that caused it.

Now it’s worth noting that the Catalan people have historically been, who knows if because of their geographic location, remarkably open minded and defenders of freedom, so much that even on 1719, De Vayrach was writing about them:

“Their active and whimsical condition (that from the Catalans) leads them to being so zealous of their freedom that, in order to keep it, they do insolently disregard all law, being those divine or human”.

So much, that even with a centre-right ruling party, they passed laws in order to protect basics rights of all citizens, challenging the market laws. Unfortunately those laws have been void under the name of the Constitution.

The Spanish Constitution doesn’t seem to like equal rights for men and women; doesn’t like that helpless people have their water, electricity and gas supplies warranted, nor that they can keep their homes; doesn’t like the people to be entitled to decide via referendums; doesn’t like that nuclear energy pays for the risk it generates; doesn’t like fracking or torturing bulls being banned.

The will of the Catalan people is not to the taste of reactionary Spain, and the Constitutional Court has become the arm the structural Francoism uses in order to repress it, even disregarding separation of powers when necessary.

And so it has been, that without even realizing it, with their repression they managed only to increase the angriness of the Catalans, and with it, the number of independence supporters. Should a self-determination have been held a decade ago, no to independence would have probably wo,. Nowadays, those in favour of the status quo are, in worst case scenario, barely 35%. Mind you, ten years ago not even the party now promoting the referendum was pro-independence; they had to become so due to the popular pressure for that.

We even reached the point where anarchists not only went to vote, but they did so in favour of a new country. Unthinkable, isn’t it? Well maybe not, because what the Spanish government has achieved in doing, by systematically trampling on us, is to turn struggle for national rights into one for civil rights.

I was not myself able to understand how the Spanish government could possibly behave the way they did. I was looking for some kind of rational reasons and background to their strategy.

And I was wrong.

That’s something I eventually understood on October 1st, when I realized they attacked with specific ferocity and rage the polling stations where Catalan government members where expected to cast their vote, even if they knew that would never escape the eyes of the world. The cause for that behaviour is to be found in an attitude, a way of being, not in reasoning but simply in despotism. They want the Catalan people to be submissive and on their knees. Humiliated. Defeated.

Should they have any knowledge of history, they would have been aware that these people are the very same who, in the XVIII century, used to swear loyalty to their kings with this particular formulae:

We who are worthy as Thy, we swore in front of Thy who are not better than us, that together we are worth more than Thy, and that we accept Thy as King and Sovereign provided that Thy respect our laws and freedoms, but otherwise, NOT.

And as NOT came to be, so insurrection was born. A joking, peaceful and tolerant insurrection, but with an indisputable will. A revolt from virtually the entire Catalan society, that united fire-fighters, teachers, elders, youth, stevedores, anarchists, administration and civil society, parties, athenaeums and associations… all kinds of people aiming for one goal only. The people getting their government to obey.

From its organization to its compulsory defence, the Referendum included people of all origins and social conditions. Ballot boxes were dropped in France and hidden by private citizens in a completely clandestine way. Following a plan from which none of the people taking part were entirely aware of all the information. Avoiding use of telematics. In many cases not even the closest relatives of those people knew what they were up to.

All this, in order to avoid the State intelligence to intercept the ballots. And the ballots reached the polling stations without one being intercepted.

People’s ingenuity presented us with hilarious pictures of civil disobedience. Ballot boxes hidden, during Spanish Police raids, on roofs, graveyard tombs, or hanging from threes. In Campins, a single access village, citizens blocked it by turning down a few pine trees after Police entered the town. They had to leave on ungraded roads and ended up lost in the hills, until at 5 a.m. the following morning the “mossos d’esquadra” (Catalan Police), came to their rescue. Still in another town, they counted the votes in church, during the holy mass, so that it went unnoticed by the Police.

Sadly though, it wasn’t all fun. Spanish Police forced their way into the polling stations charging against anyone or anything in their path. They used tear gas, they tried to run over people with their armored vans, they dragged our grandmothers on the floor, they threw voters onto a man being taken care of after a heart attack… All this against peacefully resisting people.

They injured almost 900 of them. Caused over 300.000€ wreckage, smashing glasses, doors, furniture and all sorts of equipment, mostly without any reason to justify it, if there could ever be any. Anyone willing to go in depth into it can find hundreds of images with a quick search.

It could well be that Catalans should not feel that special, as those are probably aspects which are common to all popular revolts, it’s just that technology nowadays allow us to record and share them. However, watching the people organizing themselves in order to challenge the State is a picture worth praising. And remembering.

Remember, yes, and do not forget that many of the people now taking part in this revolution are the very same who endorsed or took part in repression to reclamation movements in Catalonia not so long ago. People who justified using Police in full riot gear, and brute force, in order to stop the protests. That Catalan media who now show themselves to be surprised and incensed by the Spanish media manipulation, did act in a very similar way on a number of occasions in the past. It might be that for many of them, what we are seeing these days led to some inner change and that it has taken them to the left-minded path, but it’s also certain that many were just dragged away by the tide, and as soon as things get back to normal they will quickly forget the times when they used to shout “the street will always be ours” and “Police tortures and murders”. That’s why those of us who have always been in the anti-establishment struggle, are having mixed feelings these days.

But amid all this mess of feelings and emotions for us Catalans, particularly for those of a libertarian mind, there is a clear certainty leading our path.

This revolution is to be triumphant, for if it wasn’t, the message for all world leaders, and all those having any ambitions to become one, would be that no matter how strong and just the will of the people might be, it can be bent with force and deception. And that is why the struggle for Catalan people’s self-determination must be that of all people fighting for freedom, no matter where they come from.

From Catalunya, we beg you have our story told, and let it be known, helping us wherever and whenever you can; for only the people can save the people!



A stupid shit piece -- beginning with its fractured syntax:

1. Catalonia doesn't have a language and a culture -- some people who live there do.

2. Use of the Catalan language and Catalan national identity have historically been the hallmark of the Catalan middle class. The working class in Catalonia have historically not even been Catalans, but predominantly people from poorer regions of Spain, like Andalucia. This is akin to the way that the working class in Northern Italy have tended to come from the south, not from Piedmont or Lombardy. And now, as everywhere in the industrialized regions of the world, there are many immigrants from elsewhere in the world, who don't have anything to gain from the Catalan bourgeoisie gaining its own nation state.

3. The author's use of the word 'Freedom' in this sounds like a sunblock ad.

The Catalan population of Spain are hardly an oppressed nationality. The fact is that the Catalan working-classes (broadly defined) are indeed oppressed, but not on account of their ethnicity, but because of their place in relation to capitalism, because of their class. In this respect the majority Castilian working-classes are every bit as oppressed as are the Catalan workers. It's hard to see how an independent Catalonia is going to in anyway substantially improve the lot of the working-classes in the region of Catalonia? If anything, the breakaway of Catalonia from Spain will only serve to provoke nationalist rivalries among the working-classes and to isolate the workers of the Iberian peninsula even further therefore making their class solidarity ever more difficult.

Along with all solidarity. Workers are individuals and individuals have non unifiable preferences. Some do not see work and their work as a problem in itself. Class oppression is the OG in terms of being an abstract conception of domination.

is the key thing for a person to figure out.

Lots of class analysis is poorly conceived, but it's not a spook, it's a strategic lens.

You don't do shit so you don't have a use for it.

I spent hours one night patiently explaining this strategic use of identity to that belligerent halfwit (ziggy) and he finally conceded that it made some sense but went right back to insisting that everyone else is a "leftard who believes in spooks" because he's fucked in the head. Fuck him.

Exactly. Good points.

I posted "Exactly. Good points" in reference to the post that begins with "The Catalan population of Spain are hardly an oppressed nationality..." Not in response to the troll "SirEinzige." All of his posts stink.

Don't cry for me Catalonia: https://anticapital0.wordpress.com/dont-cry-for-me-catalonia/

No support to the policies and programs of the Regional Government of Catalonia, for the same reasons that the ANC could not have been supported in 1994, and after; for the same reasons that Allende’s Unidad Popular government could not have been supported in 1970, 71, 72, 73; for the same reasons that Syriza could not be supported in 2015, 2016, 2017.

the struggle for Catalan people’s self-determination

is a bad joke, considering these "selves" are to be determined by the ruling class of Catalonia, the nation-state and by the misery of the economy. Woodrow Wilson, at the end of WW1 talked about "the rights of nations to self-determination", and now phoney "anarchists", determined to do nothing other than submit to the ideology of their rulers, talk positively about the same thing. Self-determi nation .

All four dismiss the independence movement as a distraction from more pressing social issues, claiming it has proved a useful smokescreen for the Catalan government’s spending cuts. “What’s happening now is that everyone has been told that Spain is the origin of our problems,” says Salas. “They are being fed a version of Catalan history that has nothing to do with reality and this has radicalised young people around independence.” “There’s been a sort of mantra, that Spain is robbing us, and there’s a lot of confusion, as though the Spanish government and the Spanish people were one and the same,”...“All of us here are immigrants but we’re all Catalans, too,” says Martínez, who is dismissive of the case for Catalan independence. “It’s about class. I don’t have a problem with the person standing next to me, it’s the one above me who’s the problem.

- https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/30/red-belt-catalonia-labour-...

The economic reality is Catalonia is more socialist than other regions in Spain. The culture is also more libertarian. Recall Catalonia was a great center of relative strength for the CNT and FAI in 1936. Perhaps it is not a mistake that this is also the most industrial region of the Iberian Peninsula. Therefore it is not shocking that it is here that a great conflict is being unleashed between the aspirations of a people against the right-wing-acutely-capitalist ruling party and the central powers of Madrid. Revolutions, revolts, and leftist insurgencies (be they in Catalonia or Rojva) are rarely ideologically pure. And even those few in history that may lean that way (Spain 1936, Paris 1871) did not start of that way (Spain was a reaction against a military coup, and Paris in part was a reaction against the national government surrendering to Germany). Successful revolution in Catalonia, at worst, will deliver a more socialist economic system for those that labor in that region. At best the revolution will expand internally to also demand a more libertarian social and political structure. Both these levels of victory represent an improvement to the lives of millions of working families, and both strike a blow against capitalist homogeny. I stand in solidarity with the people (and anarchists) of Catalonia and encourage all enemies of contemporary capitalism and authoritarianism to do the same.

you do know the name of this site is "anarchistnews," right? not left-nationalistnews or progressivismnews?

This is bullshit. You don't know what you're talking about. Catalan nationalism, like all nationalism, is bourgeois garbage.

Homage to Catalonia?
More like Homage to Catatonia.
The fact that in this epoch "anarchists" support the growth of Stalinism (disguised as Bookchinism) in Rojava, the growth of petit-bourgeois nationalism in Catalonia, the collaborators in state and capital in France (see this: http://dialectical-delinquents.com/france-the-cgt-sheepdogs-in-wolves-cl... ), is indicative of a world in which the basic communities of struggle that used to exist have been crushed, and far too many "anarchists" have fallen into a catatonic coma - grasping at straws and submitting to the immediately available false choices presented by political factions utterly outside of their control. They seem to have no desire to engage in the very difficult task to renew these communities of struggle, to renew the only hope of a genuine sense of community rejecting the hierarchical pseudo-communities, preferring the easy illusion than face the hard truth.

Sweet wordplay bruh!

This comment was supposed to be placed after the pro-Catalan nationalism stuff above, not after the comment by boles.

From the Comments section of the UK Guardian piece, linked to above:

n 2011 the town and city squares in Spain were taken over by young people protesting against unemployment, lack of affordable housing and corrupt politicians. This movement was particularly strong in Barcelona and the repression there was the worse in the whole of Spain. Young people were viciously attacked by the heavilly militarised and notoriously homophobic and anti-immigrant local police force. These young people were the heirs of the people mentioned in Burgen's article.
During those protests young people surrounded the Catalan Parliament and were then attacked by riot police. Many were arrested and roughed up. Eight people served three years in prison for "disrupting democracy", ie protesting.
Now we have pictutres of those local police being contrasted against the National police and being portrayed as gentle heroes. The same gentle heroes who fired a rubber bullet into the face of Ester Quintana (causing her to lose an eye) on 14th November 2012 and then as a force tried to deny and cover up their actions.
And those politicians who were jeered are now being portrayed as heroes, despite having the same anti-poor / pro rich policies as the PP (despite supporting the same party in various governments for over 30 years).
Yes, condemn the police violence but don't fall in the trap being set by both groups of corrupt politicians.
There were no arrests by the Guardia Civil on Sunday because they had no jurisdiction to do so (this in law is the jurisdiction of the of the local militarised police). The National Police only had their batons and bodies to carry out Rajoy's orders ( I hate to say it of such thugs - but they had been put in a vulnerable position). They did not have the luxury of beating somebody up and then having the courts put somebody in prison for three years, for "disrupting democracy". A beating is one thing - three years in prison is another (and so is a rubber bullet in your face)

More 'Guardian' comments:

For those outside Spain, who might not have closely followed how events have unfolded in recent years, please note that Catalan independists are indeed racist. They live in one of the best places in the World: Incomparable standards of living, outstanding weather...Still, they persistently complain about several matters because these independists think they are the chosen ones and always deserve more. Nationalism = Racism. Thanks.

PS: "Among friends I know in Catalonia, the first time I heard them talk about independence was with respect to the comparative wealth of Catalan to the rest of Spain. I felt they took umbrage to the fact that their wealth was effectively supporting the poor south. I don’t know how much truth there is in this attitude. But it’s a bit like California asking for secession from the USA, because they don’t want to send more money to Washington."

"That's exactly what it is. That and they view the Spanish people as peasants."

Interesting info although it's anecdotal and convenient to the narrative of the Spanish state. Doubt there's many sympathizers with the local police here and it's safe to say any populist movement has lots of perspectives.

Yeah, right. The Spanish state sympathizes with a combative class-centered perspective -- on which third season episode of 'Star Trek'?

states are not 'real things-in-themselves' as they are being talked about here.

the banner 'Catalonia is not Spain' juxtaposes STC against STC ( STC = secularized theological concept)

There are lots of provinces of 'states' such as Quebec in Canada that want to 'secede' or 'separate'. if all 194 states on the surface of the earth had one province 'separate', we would have 194 newborn states for a total of 388 states. would we need to extend the surface area of the earth? no, there would be zero new physical material.

the only thing that would be changed is the way people think about themselves and others. relations among people would be transformed and their loyalties would shift. same people in a material sense but given 'new relations-based identities'. one day a spaniard, next day a catalonian, ... one day a canadian, next day a quebecois even if one were a recently arrived syrian refugee.

nationhood is a mind-game, a secularized theological concept that stands or falls on the basis of having a quorum who believe in it. it is important for a group who aspire to creating a new state to get the global collective of state leaders to 'recognize' your new state. if they instead continue to recognize the mother state that you are trying to separate from and see it as including you, you are screwed unless you have a bigger army than the mother state and its allies..

what happens to the identity of 'canada' if quebec separates? nothing! it doesn't fucking matter, it's just a fucking mind-game. there is nothing real about a 'state'. if you lopped off all the provinces around the province that holds the nucleus or capital, the capital would just get pissed off like the black knight in monty python's 'holy grail', and after having all his limbs lopped off, would lie there as a bleeding torso' screaming, ..."it's only a scratch', come back here you cowards and i'll show you what for!'

catalonians want relational change as in their view that leadership SHOULD BE SYMBOLIC rather than authoritarian;

We who are worthy as Thy, we swore in front of Thy who are not better than us, that together we are worth more than Thy, and that we accept Thy as King and Sovereign provided that Thy respect our laws and freedoms, but otherwise, NOT.

the proponents of non-authoritarian social relational structure realize that their catalonian tail is not going to wag the Spanish dog. so the strategy to reduce the size of the dog while keeping the same size tail, as is about the only practical option, is not a bad idea.

i wish them well in their project.

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