Category: Spain
Far-right demonstrators give Nazi salute at Madrid march (VIDEO)
worker | November 18, 2017 | 8:48 pm | Spain, struggle against fascism | 1 Comment

Far-right demonstrators give Nazi salute at Madrid march (VIDEO)

Far-right demonstrators give Nazi salute at Madrid march (VIDEO)
Hundreds of people joined a march held by the far-right Spanish Falangist movement. Some demonstrators were spotted giving Nazi salutes and singing fascist anthems as they marched through the streets of Madrid.

On Friday, crowds took part in the march to commemorate Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of Falange Espanola, who was executed by the Spanish Republican government on November 20, 1936. Created in 1933, Falange Espanola was a nationalist party inspired by Italian fascism.

People were seen lighting torches, holding their right arms aloft in far-right salutes and singing the Falangist anthem ‘Cara al Sol’ (Facing the Sun). The demonstrators marched holding banners belonging to the Falangist party and Spanish flags, and took a route from Genoa Street in Madrid to the Valley of the Fallen, to the northwest of the city.

READ MORE: Fascist salutes seen at pro-Spanish unity demos in Madrid, Barcelona (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

In October, protesters rallying for Spanish unity following the Catalan independence referendum were spotted giving fascist salutes both in Barcelona and Madrid. Back then, the participants also held banners linked to the Falangist party.

Catalan Independence Is Not Worth Dying For
worker | November 1, 2017 | 9:01 pm | Analysis, political struggle, Spain | Comments closed
People celebrate after the Catalan regional parliament declares the independence from Spain in Barcelona, Spain, October 27, 2017.

Catalan Independence Is Not Worth Dying For

© REUTERS/ Juan Medina

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John Wight

Catalan independence is not worth dying for. The region is not suffering oppression nor is it colonized. The Catalan independence movement is being driven by nothing more than cultural nationalism and economic self-interest. It is the self-determination of fools.

Yet, regardless, with the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona declaring UDI (unilateral independence from Spain), and with the Spanish government in Madrid imposing direct rule on the region, the stage is set for a violent clampdown by a Spanish state that has already demonstrated its willingness to mete out violence during the course of this crisis. The outcome, unless sanity prevails, may well be bloody and brutal.

A woman reacts while the Catalan regional parliament votes for independence of Catalonia from Spain in Barcelona
© REUTERS/ Yves Herman
A woman reacts while the Catalan regional parliament votes for independence of Catalonia from Spain in Barcelona

The possibility of such a scenario when it comes to the cause of Catalan independence is especially mind-boggling, because arrive in Barcelona and you are confronted not by a downtrodden city where a heavy atmosphere of oppression lingers — such as Belfast in the 1960s and 1970s, for example, or the occupied territories of Palestine today — but by one of the most modern and affluent cities in Europe, located in one of the richest regions of Europe.

Barcelona is a truly international city, one that is alive with tourists. The shops, cafes, restaurants and cantinas are bustling. Culturally, it boasts an abundance of riches, while its infrastructure and transport network — bus, rail and underground — is first rate. Yet here we are, witnessing a crisis that appears more compatible with the Barcelona of 1936 than 2017..

Protesters hold fake handcuffs as they take part a rally outside the Catalan parliament in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Oct. 27, 2017.
© AP Photo/ Santi Palacios
Protesters hold fake handcuffs as they take part a rally outside the Catalan parliament in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Oct. 27, 2017.

I say “appears” because it would be a mistake to depict the current crisis as a re-run of the Spanish Civil War, despite the efforts of some to draw such a connection. The Catalan independence movement, as mentioned, is being driven not by anti-fascism or anti-colonialism, but by cultural nationalism and economic self-interest, during which both have been elevated to the status of political principle.

Spain today is a liberal democracy with a democratic constitution voted on and supported by the vast majority of Spaniards, including Catalans, when established in 1978. This being said, the alacrity with which Madrid deployed massed ranks of Guardia Civil riot police against unarmed civilians in Barcelona and elsewhere in the region on October 1, in an attempt to disrupt a referendum it deemed illegal, suggests that the germ of authoritarianism planted within the country’s political culture by its fascist dictator, Franco, is yet to be completely eradicated 42 years after his death.

In fact with every action he has taken during the present crisis, Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has only bolstered support for Catalan independence rather than minimize it. If politics is an art it is one he has failed to master to any meaningful extent. Because regardless of its provisions, the moment that a constitution is used as justification for unleashing violence against unarmed civilians as a first rather than last resort in any given crisis it loses legitimacy, as does the government acting in its name.

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy leaves his seat during a debate at the upper house Senate in Madrid, Spain, October 27, 2017
© REUTERS/ Susana Vera
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy leaves his seat during a debate at the upper house Senate in Madrid, Spain, October 27, 2017

On the other side of the crisis, meanwhile, Carles Puigdemont and his separatist supporters have embarked on a kamikaze reach for independence regardless of the balance of forces arrayed against them. With the EU, Washington, indeed the entire international community, failing to register anything other than fulsome support for Spanish unity up to this point, one can only hope they have a plan B up their sleeves when it comes to facing down the wrath of a Spanish government that has, as said, proved it is prepared to batter, bludgeon and brutalize civilians who dare challenge or defy its writ. If not — if Puigdemont and his supporters do not have a plan B, given that plan A of appealing to Brussels for intercession and mediation has failed — they have merely exposed their supporters and people to more violence.

In politics, as in war, knowing when to retreat is as important as knowing when to advance. Indeed the former is often more difficult and requiring of more courage than the latter, due to the challenge it brings of managing the unrealistic expectations and demands of some within your own ranks; those for whom any backward step is tantamount to betrayal. With this in mind, it is clear that Puigdemont, faced with the choice of acting sensibly in the face of the aforementioned balance of forces militating against UDI, or succumbing to the pressure exerted against his leadership from within his own movement, opted to succumb.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont sings the Catalan anthem inside the parliament after a vote on independence in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Oct. 27, 2017.
© AP Photo/ Manu Fernandez
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont sings the Catalan anthem inside the parliament after a vote on independence in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Oct. 27, 2017.

It is a decision that may well mark his political epitaph.

What also cannot be gainsaid is that Catalan opponents of independence have had their democratic rights subverted by their separatist counterparts’ declaration of UDI. Having boycotted the October 1 referendum in protest over its legality, they now find themselves confronted with the prospect of being ripped out of Spain against their will. How can such a state of affairs possibly be acceptable to those who believe in democracy?

The wider point is that neither side in this crisis is without blame when it comes to bringing it to the point of no return. It proves that stability, cohesion and unity can never be taken for granted — even within supposed Western bastions of democracy, such as Spain — and that the principle of self-determination can either be a shield risen in response to oppression, or a sword wielded in service to opportunism and self interest.

It bears repeating — the underlying cause of the crisis that has engulfed Spain is the same one that has fueled support for Scottish independence in recent years; the same one that drove Brexit and which is behind the emergence and traction of anti-EU parties across Europe. It is an economic model, neoliberalism, whose sustainability was shattered irrevocably by the global financial crash and ensuing recession, starting in 2008.

Yet instead of burying the corpse of neoliberalism, as they should have by now, political elites have for purely ideological reasons extended themselves in trying to breathe life back into it with the imposition of austerity programs that have sown even more misery and dislocation in the lives of millions of their own citizens.

Thus they are the authors of their own demise.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

Check out John’s Sputnik radio show, Hard Facts.

Condemn Spain’s Repression of Catalonia – Defend the National Right to Self-Determination

Oct. 6, 2017

The Communist Party of Canada condemns the savage violence of the Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy exercised against the Catalan population, in order to prevent voting in a referendum on October 1, 2017 to decide on their future as a nation.

According to the Catalan authorities, more than 800 people were wounded by police forces, including nearly 100 more severely.

While Rajoy rejoiced that the Spanish state had succeeded in preventing the referendum “with all its strength”, the Catalan regional government announced that more than 90% of the 2.2 million ballots that could be counted supported the independence option. The police did manage to close 319 polling stations and seize the ballot boxes, so that approximately 770,000 ballots could not be counted. In total about 56% of the 5.3 million registered voters cast a ballot, or were prevented from voting by the repression.

This situation follows the Catalan regional parliament’s decision on September 6 to hold the Oct. 1 referendum on self-determination. After the referendum was declared illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court, the Spanish government announced three days later that it would not recognise the result. About a million Catalan people went into the streets of Barcelona to demand the right of self-determination, that is, the right to decide for themselves.

On September 20, the Spanish police stormed the Catalan government, conducting searches and arresting a dozen senior officials, including the Minister of Finance, under the pretext of “disobedience”, “prevarication” and “misappropriation of funds” in connection with the organisation of the referendum. Again, thousands went into the streets of Barcelona to protest the arrests.

When the central government announced its intention to use force to prevent voting, thousands of people occupied the voting places. Although opinion polls initially did not give the majority of votes to the independence option, ironically, the authoritarian acts of the central government eventually seem to have rallied more and more people.

Following the vote, the Catalan authorities considered that a majority had clearly expressed themselves in favour of secession. They met behind closed doors to discuss the next steps in their plan to declare independence and separation from Spain, defying the Rajoy government. Forty-four Catalan organisations, including the main Catalan trade unions and two pro-independence associations, called for a one-day general strike and mobilisation on Tuesday October 3.

The authoritarian drift of the Spanish government, according to the Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain, is a qualitative leap in the process of liquidating freedoms during recent years. Today, this attack by the Rajoy government is launched against the right of the people of Catalonia, and imposes the de facto liquidation of the Generalitat (the political organization of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia). Tomorrow, it will be the rights of assembly and protest, and thus step by step, to the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike, etc., always justified by “defence of the law”.

The Communist Party of Spain (PCE) also supported the mobilizations to defend democratic freedoms and the right of national self-determination, calling for steps to restore normal democratic life, and for “an agreement between the [Spanish and Catalan] administrations that gives the Catalan people the right to vote peacefully with the full guarantee of being able to decide on the different ways of organizing themselves as a nation”, and to guarantee the social and labour rights that the two governments have undermined since 2010. Following the repression of Oct. 1, the PCE called for the resignation of President Rajoy, and for mobilization of the social and democratic forces of the whole country to find a way out of the crisis and avoid any unilateral action that would deepen it.

Silence of foreign governments

The European Commission considers the referendum illegal, and therefore supports the Spanish Government, declaring that this is an internal matter which must be settled in accordance with the constitutional order of Spain. The Commission says that “in today’s times we need unity and stability, not division and fragmentation.”

Most countries in Europe have also avoided pronouncing on this crisis. The French and U.S. presidents openly supported the Rajoy government, urging a united Spain.

Amnesty International has been content to deplore the use of excessive force employed by some police officers in the performance of their duties. According to AI, “the tensions are very strong, it is essential that Spanish legislation such as international human rights law be respected.”

The Canadian government said that “the question of [Catalonia] is a matter for the internal affairs of Spain.” Canada wants “a solution to the country’s internal debates to be found in harmony and respect for its constitutional framework,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Strangely, that is not what the Canadian government has said in the case of Venezuela. Minister Freeland has happily interfered in the internal affairs of that country, especially when she openly attacked the Constituent Assembly election, which is provided for in the the Venezuelan Constitution, and by adopting economic sanctions against its political leaders.

On the other hand, in the Quebec National Assembly, the Couillard government first observed the same silence and invoked non-interference in the affairs of Spain. Premier Couillard has even maliciously tried to oppose the right to self-determination of Aboriginal nations to that of Quebec. But on October 4, fearing the public opinion very sensitive to the violence committed by the Spanish government at one year of the next election in Quebec, a motion was unanimously adopted denouncing that violence and calling for a recovery of the political dialogue between Catalonia and Spain with international mediation if both parties consented.

The real reason for this silence is that the Canadian state does not recognize the right of self-determination for the nations that make up this country, up to and including the right to secede. By not criticising the force used by Spain against Catalonia, it actually reserves the possibility of doing the same thing here.

While the Canadian state tolerated the holding of referendums in Quebec in 1980 and 1995, it subsequently passed the “Clarity Act”, which gives the federal government authority over the question, and the interpretation of the voting result. This is a complete denial of the right to self-determination, and it is imperative that the Canadian working class reject this form of national oppression.

Among the various components of the working class in this country, the Communist Party of Canada defends the idea of mutual recognition of the right to national self-determination, up to and including secession. Our aim is to promote unity and solidarity of the multinational working class in its struggle for socialism, and to reduce distrust and barriers which can divide workers along national lines, under the leadership of their respective bourgeoisies.

Central Executive Committee, CPC

PCPE: The right of self-determination is unviable within the Spanish capitalist framework
worker | October 17, 2017 | 9:14 pm | Analysis, Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain (PCPE), Spain | Comments closed

Monday, October 16, 2017

PCPE: The right of self-determination is unviable within the Spanish capitalist framework

The Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain (PCPE) issued a statement on the last events in Catalonia.
The statment of the Political Secretariat of the PCPE discussed the last events in Catalonia and decisions of the Council of Ministers. It  reminded that since the beginning of these events the Party had been “warning for months about the invalidity of the independentist process in Catalonia“. The Party underlined the reasons “why the exercise of the right of self-determination is unviable within the Spanish capitalist framework”.
The statement said “Capitalism has nothing to do with democracy, but with the monopoly of violence, which is today exclusively in the hands of the Spanish Government. The statement made yesterday (October 10, 2017) by the President of the Generalitat proves that the direction of the independentist process does not count, nor can count, on the strength to impose indenpendence. Large sectors of the Catalan people have been lead to a dead-end road which will generate a huge feeling of frustration.
It was observed that the contribution of some sectors of the Catalan nationalist left was “remarkable“. The Party assessed that this is due to the wrong strategy to struggle under the flag of those who “brutally repressed the workers’ struggle and approved ruthless capitalist policies together with the Socialist Party and the Popular Party in the past.” It stated that the independentist process which has suffered a harsh political defeat is represented by the Catalan bourgeoisie as part of the “Spanish dominant class clear since October 1“.
The PCPE criticized the supporters of the independence movement of not understanding “the class structure in current Spain” and warned that “the division among workers has alarmingly grown, the reaction has increased and fascist hate demonstrations have multiplied“. The statement underlined that “The Spanish bourgeoisie has been given the perfect excuse to keep going on the reorganisation of the State, currently in process, under a deeply reactionary sense.” The Spanish State is forcing the Government of Catalonia to submit, rejecting any mediation or negotiation which means that bourgeois politics on both sides “dwells on the popular feelings and the lives of millions of workers.”
The Communist Party called all workers and the popular strata, especially women workers and the youth “to defend their common interests beyond any nationalist division”. The call included to stop the advance of reaction and fascism, to stop the repression on the Catalan people, to defend the popular and workers unity beyond any national difference and to join together under the common goal of defeating the Spanish Capitalism, “in order to open the path to the proclamation of the Socialist Republic“.
The call added that in the Socialist Republic of Spain the power would be in the hands of the working class, finding its “territorial basis in the union of free peoples, democraticly exerting their right to self-determination.” The statement concluded with the slogan, “For the independence and unity of the popular and working class!
The Role of Neoliberalism in Spain’s Constitutional Crisis
worker | October 11, 2017 | 8:33 pm | Analysis, Spain | 1 Comment
A Spanish flag hangs over the face of a figure representing one of the four realms of Spain on the statue to Columbus in Barcelona, Spain, October 11, 2017.

The Role of Neoliberalism in Spain’s Constitutional Crisis

© REUTERS/ Gonzalo Fuentes

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John Wight
Catalonia’s Independence Referendum (101)

With Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont stepping back from the brink in the midst of rising tensions in Spain over the region’s bid for independence, signing a declaration of independence but deciding to suspend its implementation, millions will have breathed a collective sigh of relief given the prospect of a severe response from Madrid.

Though tensions may have ratcheted down — at least temporarily — the underlying issue fueling this crisis, along with the various other crises that have been and are still unfolding around the world, has by no means been resolved. That issue is neoliberalism.

When Karl Marx wrote in his Communist Manifesto that modern “bourgeois society is the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells,” he could have been describing today’s crisis within neoliberalism, one that evinces no sign of abating anytime soon.

In fact, far from abating it is a crisis that has merely been intensified by the actions of the economic elites and various governments which rule in their interests throughout the West and wherever Western liberal democratic ideas predominate. The current and escalating crisis engulfing Spain over Catalan independence is a case in point.

Having attended the mass opposition march and rally to Catalan independence in Barcelona on October 8, I was struck by the fact that were it not for this enveloping crisis of neoliberalism — involving the introduction of draconian austerity by the Spanish government in Madrid over the past few years — the eruption of separatist movements, growth of nationalism, xenophobia as the new normal within the political mainstream, would likely not be happening.

Pro independence trade union worker holds up ''esteleda'' or Catalan pro independence flags, in support of the Catalonia's secession referendum, and against to alleged brutality by police during a referendum on the region's secession from Spain that left hundreds of people injured, in Pamplona, northern Spain
© AP Photo/ Alvaro Barrientos
Pro independence trade union worker holds up ”esteleda” or Catalan pro independence flags, in support of the Catalonia’s secession referendum, and against to alleged brutality by police during a referendum on the region’s secession from Spain that left hundreds of people injured, in Pamplona, northern Spain

The fact it is happening is an indictment of the aforementioned economic elites and their political bag carriers; evidence that not only have they failed to learn the lessons of this monstrosity of an economic system — one that sits as a tyrant over the lives of the vast majority living under it, rather than serve their needs — but that their only response to global economic recession that erupted in 2008 due to the contradictions and irrationality embedded within it, has been to impose more neoliberalism in the form of draconian austerity programs. The result has been a deepening of the very crisis they have asserted that austerity would overcome.

In the case of Catalan separatism, it is no coincidence that this crisis has arrived on the back of the swingeing cuts in public spending introduced by Madrid in 2010, responsible for pushing millions of across the country, including Catalonia, into poverty and unemployment. Add the ingredients of cultural nationalism, national identity, and in the case of Spain unresolved issues surrounding the civil war and General Franco’s dictatorship, and you have yourself a perfect storm.

General strike in Barcelona in support of Catalan independence referendum
© Sputnik/ Javier Luengo

The situation is similar when it comes to the emergence of the movement for Scottish independence from the UK in recent years. Then we have Brexit, the spread and growth in support for nationalist and anti-EU parties across Europe, the election of Trump in the US, and going further back, the 2011 Arab Spring, prior to its transmogrification into an Arab Winter of Salafi-jihadism — all of them are symptoms of the same crisis of neoliberalism.

Fundamentally, this is an economic system and doctrine that can only ever exist in a state of conflict with national sovereignty, identity, and cultural pluralism. It is a one-size fits all economic system which carries with it a particular set of liberal values that are no respecter of borders, cultures or specific national identities, diminishing the ability of states to take economic measures in the interests of their own people rather than the multinational banks and corporations that in truth are in command.

The instability and wreckage wrought in the name of this economic system, and its accompanying liberal values, have not only fueled separatist and nationalist movements in the West, they have also been a major factor in the neo-imperialist assault unleashed by Washington and its allies beginning from the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

As Perry Anderson writes of this world-historical event and its implications:

“Communism was dead, but capitalism had not yet found its accomplished form, as a planetary universal under a singular hegemon. The free market was not yet worldwide… In the hierarchy of states, nations did not always know their place.”

The Russian people felt the whip hand of neoliberal economics during the 1990s, the same decade that saw the destruction of Yugoslavia, followed the next decade by the destruction of Iraq as Washington reached to assert full spectrum dominance, using the atrocity of 9/11 as a pretext. Afghanistan, Libya, the conflict in Syria, sanctions on Cuba, North Korea — what each of the aforementioned states has had or has in common, regardless of their specific characteristics, is that they refused to be dominated by the neoliberal Washington consensus.

Understanding the nature of this monster requires that we resist the easy option of treating all of the various conflicts and crises around the world in isolation. They are not isolated, they are inextricably linked — linked to an economic system that is without a shadow of any doubt the common enemy of humanity in our time.

People walk behind a banner during a pro-union demonstration organised by the Catalan Civil Society organisation in Barcelona, Spain October 8, 2017
© REUTERS/ Gonzalo Fuentes
People walk behind a banner during a pro-union demonstration organised by the Catalan Civil Society organisation in Barcelona, Spain October 8, 2017

Whatever happens in Catalonia, the needs of the region’s people will not be met by merely changing the national flag flying over the municipal buildings. You can’t eat a flag — a flag does not put food on the table, heat a home, or educate children. This necessitates the assertion of not only political sovereignty but also economic sovereignty.

Irish rebel leader James Connolly, executed by the British for his part in the Easter Rising in Dublin of 1916, prior to leading his men out to fight and die for Ireland’s national liberation, left no doubt of the folly in believing that independence in itself would be enough:

“If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.”

The people of Catalonia should take note.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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Catalonian Independence and the Ghosts of the Spanish Civil War
worker | October 2, 2017 | 8:31 pm | Analysis, Spain | Comments closed
People try to offer flowers to a civil guard at the entrance of a sports center, assigned to be a referendum polling station by the Catalan government in Sant Julia de Ramis, near Girona, Spain, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. Scuffles have erupted as voters protested while dozens of anti-rioting police broke into a polling station where the regional leader was expected to show up for voting on Sunday.

Catalonian Independence and the Ghosts of the Spanish Civil War

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John Wight
Catalonia’s Independence Referendum (51)

Arriving in Barcelona in 1938 during the Spanish Civil War, Ernst Toller wrote, “The most striking experience a foreigner has in Barcelona is that of the functioning of democracy.” In 2017 something akin to history repeating is unfolding in the Catalonian capital, where democracy has again been raised aloft as a cause worth fighting for.

The scenes of Spanish riot police marching through the streets of Barcelona and other Catalonian towns and cities, attacking civilians with batons and rubber bullets outside polling stations for the crime of attempting to cast a democratic vote on their future, of ballot boxes being seized and elected politicians being arrested — all at the behest of the government of an EU member state — you might think are incongruous and incompatible with the EU’s self-declared status as a pillar of democratic values in the 21st century, a status enshrined in Article 2 of its very own constitution, the Lisbon Treaty, which reads:

“The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.”

However Brussels’ position of pristine indifference in the face of the grotesque and disgraceful scenes that unfolded in Catalonia should be no surprise, given the anti-democratic character of its institutions.

It should also not go un-noted that just as the EU has essentially washed its hands of the crisis in Catalonia, taking the position that it is an internal matter for the Spanish government and authorities, so the so-called democratic powers in the 1930s stood by as democracy in Spain was extinguished back then, holding to the supine position of “non-intervention.”

While in 2017 no one would seriously suggest that the Spanish government, led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, is akin to the Franco regime that was adorned in the black tunics and knee length boots of fascism, the hardline position Madrid has taken against Catalonian separatism lies much closer to fascist than democratic on the spectrum of response both in form and content.

It is why Mr. Rajoy is now the best friend that Catalonian separatism and independence could have, while at the same time the worst enemy Spanish unity has got. It is why he has now surely made Catalonian independence a question of when not if.

Regardless of the whys and wherefores of constitutional legality, does the Rajoy government in Madrid really believe that the sight of armed riot police attacking civilians outside polling stations in order to stop them casting a vote is one that would enhance its reputation and democratic credentials in the eyes of the world?

Is his government really so blind to Spain’s tortured history that it would dare come even this close to resurrecting it? As for those who would claim such historical comparisons are overblown, the chilling sight of protestors giving the fascist salute and singing a pro-Franco anthem at a mass anti-Catalan separatist rally in Madrid in the run-up to the contested referendum in Catalonia is your answer.

Separatism carries within it both the seeds of progress and regress, of dignity and despair, depending on how the potency of its passions are handled by the contending parties involved. To treat separatism as a zero sum game instead of an idea that can only be defeated by another idea, never force, is an invitation to catastrophe. It is why the Rajoy government in Madrid should be under no illusion that it has set Spain on a path towards ruinous consequences with the unleashing of state violence to try and prevent the people of Catalonia from casting a vote on their constitutional future.

Even though the Spanish Prime Minister may have legality on his side, as soon as the first riot police officer put his hands on the first woman and dragged her away from the front of a polling station in Barcelona, he lost the moral argument, transforming the Spanish constitution from a shield guaranteeing the protection of democracy and human rights into a sword being wielded to justify their suppression.

​​​The Spain that found itself engulfed in civil war in the 1930s was home to the best and worst of humanity. It is a conflict that still today invokes the Arcadian dreams of a world in which the common man is the author of history rather than its victim. Thousands traveled to the country from all over the world to fight and die for that dream. Many of them were the sons and daughters of poverty, but all were rich with the belief and faith in a future defined by the unbounded liberation of human solidarity, relegating cold-hearted capitalism and its bastard child, fascism, to a footnote in history. Yet as recent events not only in Spain, but across Europe with the rise of the right and far right have shown, they were unsuccessful.

There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come, the French novelist Victor Hugo famously opined — and he was right. But all the same it would be dangerous folly to consider that the “idea” whose time has come must automatically carry with it the promise of a better tomorrow. Fascism in the 1930s was also an idea whose time had come, nourishing the dark side of the human condition to produce a monster whose ferocity and capacity for death proved every bit as unbounded as the liberation promised by human solidarity.

The ugly scenes being played out in Barcelona in our today are but a chilling reminder that yesterday can, unless we are vigilant, also be our tomorrow.

As for the rule of law by which Mr. Rajoy justified unleashing police violence on such a scale as took place in Barcelona on October 1, the sentiments of Rosa Luxemburg, delivered in response to the 1919 crushing of the Spartacist uprising in Berlin by a German state that had just begin its descent into the swamp of fascism, retain their resonance a hundred years later: “Order prevails in Berlin! You foolish lackeys! Your ‘order’ is built on sand.”

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

Check out John’s Sputnik radio show, Hard Facts.

Catalan referendum: Statement by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE)
worker | October 2, 2017 | 8:18 pm | Analysis, class struggle, Communist Party Greece (KKE), socialism, Spain | Comments closed

Monday, October 2, 2017

Catalan referendum: Statement by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE)

On the occasion of the referendum in Catalonia, the Press Office of the CC of the KKE issued the following statement:
“The KKE condemns the barbaric state violence and repression exercised by the spanish government during yesterday’s referendum in Catalonia. This policy sharpens nationalist and divisive viewpoints from both sides, while it feeds the intra-bourgeois- strange to workers-people’s rights- antagonisms within Spain.
Besides, the decision also of the catalan government for the referendum does not aim to solve the problems of the people of Catalonia and serve its interests, independently from the acceptable that this decision may have to widespread popular strata. It serves parts of the capital, which think that, at this stage, their interests are better served through a more extended autonomy or, even, through Catalonia’s independence from the rest of Spain. This assumption comes as a result of other similar referendums, such as the ones that took place in Scotland, in Britain regarding the country’s exit from the EU or the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan with the interference of powerful imperialist powers.
Such actions, which set border change issue, open dangerous ways and disguise the subjective fact that the contradiction between capital-labor is sharpening even more in all countries. 
Class contrasts, class exploitation and oppression not only will remain, but they will be intensified, either in Spain with its current formation or in a more autonomous or even independent Catalonia, as long as the power of the capital remains intact.
The strengthening of the anticapitalist struggle, of the struggle for socialism is the only road which gives a way out to today’s sharpened problems and deadlocks, it addresses the policies which divide the people. Only in a socialist Spain the popular needs can be satisfied and the issues of respect of the national, historical and cultural traditions can be solved.”
Source: / Translation: In Defense of Communism.