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EUROPE / Communists confront the black hole of Spanish nationalism
Date of publication at Tlaxcala: 23/11/2017
Original: Los comunistas ante el agujero negro del nacionalismo español
Translations available: Português/Galego 

Communists confront the black hole of Spanish nationalism

Ángeles Maestro

Translated by  Michael Otto  -  John Catalinotto

 

What the oligarchy of the Spanish State fears most is that the working class rediscovers that the political representatives of those who destroy their lives on a daily basis are the same ones who, disguised as patriots, crush the national rights of the peoples. Fully aware of their class interests in the Catalonian conflict, they are using certain individuals of the Spanish Left in and publicizing them in media that serves their interests, trying to prevent class consciousness and the the right of self-determination to unite as it did during the struggle against the [Franco] dictatorship.

For this they are counting on Alberto Garzón, coordinator of the United Left party (IU) and Paco Frutos, former Secretary General of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE), whose support is beyond payment – or not. These two are reformulating the role of fire extinguisher that both organizations have been playing since the [1978] Transition in situations that would make control by the ruling classes difficult.

http://tlaxcala-int.org/upload/gal_17471.jpg

"Today is National Day: who do we beat up now?"-Cartoon by El Roto, Oct.12, 2007 (October 12, "Columbus Day" was in Spain "The Day of the Race", now just "National Day")

 

 

That function was precisely identified by none other than an ABC [right-wing daily newspaper] editorial that reflected upon the dangers that could arise should the IU disappear after its electoral failure in 2004. ABC perfectly recognized its class interests, saying: "The Spanish democratic landscape historically offers a clear space to the left of the PSOE [Social-democratic party that has alternated running the government with the Peoples Party – editor’s note], where a formation must be established that reinforces the political centrality of social democracy and at the same time serves as a wall preventing temptations to build an anti-system opposition. 

Since its refoundation based on the old PCE, the IU has played its role as a factor of stability that has taken the weight of different impulses from the alternative left, that have taken shape after the crisis of traditional Marxism, and thereby preventing the temptations to escape and break away outside the channels of parliamentary democracy.1

The obsession of the ruling classes, from Franco until now, is to try to prevent the working class from rediscovering the intimate link in the Spanish State between the struggle against [class] exploitation and the struggle of the peoples for their national rights. 

As the above two individuals who call themselves Communists know, the great history of the PCE, the one before the Transition, is replete with programs and discourses that identify Spanish nationalism with everything retrograde and reactionary and identify progress with the struggle of the working class for its emancipation and the struggles for the freedom of the various peoples living in the Spanish state.

A special landmark event was the rally on June 2, 1935, in the Monumental Cinema of Madrid, in which José Díaz, Secretary General of the PCE, identified the liberation of oppressed peoples from Spanish imperialism among the four basic pillars that must sustain the future Popular Front. This explicitly grants the right to freely govern their destinies to Catalonia, to Euskadi [the Basque Country], to Galicia and to all nationalities that are oppressed by Spanish imperialism.2

In another discourse with the meaningful title, "Who are the patriots?" the same PCE leader affirmed on Feb. 9, 1936, a few days before the Popular Front won the elections: “We want the nationalities of our country -- Catalonia, Euskadi and Galicia, to be able to freely control their own destinies. Why shouldn’t they? And to have cordial and friendly relations with all of peoples’ Spain. If they want to get rid of the yoke of Spanish imperialism, represented by the Central Power, they will have our help. A people that oppresses other peoples can not consider itself free. And we want a free Spain.”3

"The flags I like best are those that change colors in the fall"- Cartoon by El Roto, Nov. 18, 2017

This tradition remained intact during the entire struggle against the Dictatorship until the long period building to the Transition. The abandonment of the Right of Self-determination formed part of the self immolation of the PCE -- and, by the way, of the powerful workers' movement that was forged in the struggle against the dictatorship - before the regime of 1978, which, as we now see, maintained the legacy of the Franco period.

The defense of the right of self-determination of peoples by communist organizations is neither an exception nor an anomaly. It constitutes one of the most important contributions of the Bolshevik party, and especially of [its leader V.I.] Lenin to the political history of the workers' movement. Its denial by leaders who call themselves communists in a state historically torn apart by demands for national rights is either an unforgivable ignorance, or more than likely, an act of class collaboration.

The first affirmation of Lenin, categorical, beyond appeal, made in his document, "The Right of Nations to Self-Determination" (which I strongly recommend to anyone who wants to learn precisely the communist position on this matter) is that such a right means nothing less than the right of a community to form an independent national state.4 

This recognition on the part of communists requires that there exists a people who claim this right, who -- of course -- are the agents making the decision in this regard. It is unquestionable that in Catalonia a large portion of its people claims this right and whether or not they constitutes a majority is precisely what they tried to verify on Oct. 1 [with the referendum]. 

The statements of Cayo Lara, former general coordinator of IU, denying the right of the Catalan people to decide their future "unilaterally because they are part of the State and the rest of Spaniards also have an opinion" stem from a political destitution that shames him in the eyes of others. 

Second, the Right of Self-Determination is precisely a democratic political right, that neither excludes the relations of exploitation internal to itself, nor the hypothetical oppression towards other nations.

The alignment of Alberto Garzón with Spanish nationalism, which he never spelled out, has reached very high levels, as when he characterizes [Catalonia’s] declaration of independence as a "provocation" (to whom?) or when, while speaking for communist positions (?), he disqualified the referendum as "illegal" or disqualified the DUI [unilateral declaration of independence] because it "lacked legal value."

It is so self-evident that these statements could just as well have come from the [right-wing Peoples Party] (PP) or the PSOE. At the same time, the call to respect the established order is so incompatible with minimally revolutionary positions that it’s not worth stopping to comment on them.

Yes, I would like to point out his disqualification of the whole Catalan process using as his reason the role played in it by the Catalan bourgeoisie. First because it has been shown very clearly, how the Catalan big bourgeoisie, that of the IBEX 35 (Spain's principal stock market) went on the offensive against independence using Article 155 and above all because faced with a strictly democratic demand like this one for self-determination, whether or not the bourgeoisie has hegemony over the demand should play no role in convincing working-class organizations not to support it. 

That is to say, that the support of the communist organizations for such a right means support for the oppressed nation against the oppressor nation. Nothing more, nothing less!

One of the central aspects of this supposedly anti-nationalist political position is its denial of the existence of Spanish nationalism and all this in spite of the harsh exhibitions of the most rancid stone age politics and of its communications media which previously had no use for the IU and has now turned them into heroes.

Lenin's words leave no room for doubt: "The real class significance of liberal hostility to the principle of political self-determination of the nations is one, and only one: national-liberalism, protector of the state privileges of the bourgeoisie of the oppressor nation."5 

Placing the analysis in the concrete experience of our history, it's undeniable that the working class -- whose struggle implicitly raised the right of self-determination -- got to the Transition with a clear hegemony that allowed it to articulate and put its stamp on the rest of the struggles.

The fact that instead of producing the Rupture [with bourgeois society] there was the great tango called Transition -- which had the decisive participation of the main party of the working class, the PCE, and which led to the slow but inexorable destruction of the accumulated force achieved and of class independence -- had as its consequence that nationalist demands among the historic nationalities were put forward with a very weak expression of class perspective.

Thus, it is even more striking that there are representatives of the organization that did the biggest favor to the ruling classes who argue, right now, the class position to discredit a claim that, as I explained in a recent article6, has the enormous virtue that it weakens the Transition mechanism, which is an enemy of both the working class and of the national rights of the peoples.

In an analogous situation, that of Ireland, Marx gives a brilliant lesson in class coherence. As it is well known, both he and Engels had identified the English working class as the most advanced, the one called upon to make the first workers revolution. According to this analysis, the national-democratic demand for the independence of Ireland had a very secondary importance, since it would be resolved in that process. 

But, says Marx, events unfolded in a different way. The English working class had fallen under the influence of the liberals, decapitating itself with a liberal policy. In contrast the bourgeois movement (as defined by Marx) for the liberation of Ireland had been sharpened and had acquired revolutionary forms. And the wise Marx corrected his position and wrote: "The working class of England can not be liberated, as long as Ireland does not free herself from the English yoke. The subjugation of Ireland strengthens and feeds reaction in England."

Lenin highlights the exemplary value of this position of Marx and Engels and he indicates that it is "A warning against the lackey fallout by which the petty bourgeois of all countries, languages and colors rush to declare ‘utopian’ the modification of the borders of the States that were created by violence and the privileges of the landlords and the national bourgeoisie.”7

Finally it is necessary to differentiate working-class politics from that of the bourgeoisie regarding the national question, because in no way should the first be subordinated to the second. 

First of all, the paramount interest from which to evaluate every national claim and every national separation is the class struggle, that of the unity of the working class of all countries.

So against simplistic polemics that cry out "internationalism" to justify positions which, like it or not, strengthen the most retrograde nationalism of the oppressor nation, unity and class solidarity demand practical demonstrations, especially when repression rages.

It is imperative that it is made absolutely clear to the people of the oppressed nations that the political organizations of the working class do not in any way compromise or get infected with Spanish nationalism, which constitutes the cornerstone of the ideology of the victors of the Spanish Civil War. 

The strategy of Spanish nationalism that is based in the regime of 1978, the PP and PSOE has been and is to promote the confrontation between peoples, using the most crude media intoxication and using sources from the left to serve its interests.

Precisely for the sake of the superior objective of the unity of the working class of all countries, of internationalism, it is necessary to place oneself clearly and firmly on the side of the oppressed nation and the repressed people, against Spanish nationalism.

In 1902, in the debates of the Bolshevik party on the subject that Lenin reclaims, he said: "This demand, which is not obligatory for the bourgeois democrats, is obligatory for the Social Democrats [meaning his party]. If we forget about it or if we decide not to advocate for it, fearing to wound the national prejudices of our Russian compatriots, it would convert on our lips the battle cry -- Proletarians of all countries, unite!” into an odious lie.”

Historical communist tradition, theory and practice is clear about it. The crude arguments used by Garzón, Frutos and Lara try to cover up the shame of a left that sold its revolutionary essence and its class coherence in the Transition. Its leaders continue to seek the ephemeral place in the sun that grants them power in return for services rendered, treating them then as “statesmen" or inviting them now to their gatherings. 

It's clear that there is no road forward in that direction. The future demands of us that today we open up avenues of political cooperation between the organizations of the peoples of the Spanish state, that we understand that the main task is the fight against the common enemy -- that regime of the Transition sustained mainly by PP and PSOE, that begins in the Monarchy, follows in the National Assembly, in the Constitutional Court and in all the repressive laws that fill the jails with men and women who are there fighting for the rights of the working class and for the freedom of the people.

I write this text thinking of  all the communist militants who gave their lives for the emancipation of their class and the freedom of the people and paying homage to them.

Notes

[1] http://www.abc.es/hemeroteca/historico-17-03-2004/abc/Opinion/iu-bajo-minimos_962492774850.html

[2] http://www.forocomunista.com/t26816-extractos-del-discurso-pronunciado-por-jose-diaz-secretario-general-del-pce-en-el-monumental-cinema-de-madrid-el-2-de-junio-de-1935

[3] https://www.marxists.org/espanol/diaz/1930s/tadl/04.htm

4] https://www.marxists.org/espanol/lenin/obras/1910s/derech.htm

[5] Op. Cit.

[6] http://blogs.publico.es/otrasmiradas/11307/la-necesaria-confluencia-politica-contra-el-muro-del-regimen-del-78/

[7] Op. cit in notes 4 and 5.

 





Courtesy of Workers World
Source: http://blogs.publico.es/otrasmiradas/11554/los-comunistas-ante-el-agujero-negro-del-nacionalismo-espanol/
Publication date of original article: 15/11/2017
URL of this page : http://www.tlaxcala-int.org/article.asp?reference=22099

 

Tags: Spanish nationalismSpanish LeftsSpanish communistsSpanish StateMarxism and national questionSpanish Republics
 

 
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