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Nigel Farage: Catalonia Demonstrates EU Democratic Failure.

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Catalan officers stand in front of protesters as they gesture at Spanish police a day after the referendum.

Main unions’ statement, “CC OO and UGT are not calling the general strike for October 3,” said the country’s top two unions in a joint release. “Our organisations in Catalonia are encouraging participation in protests against the excesses committed on October 1. In no way are we going to support positions that provide backing for the unilateral declaration of independence”

“The regional government and Barcelona City Hall are allowing their employees to strike today without docking them the corresponding day’s pay, as would usually be the case for a stoppage.”

“All three production lines at the Seat carmaking plant in Martorell (Barcelona) are working at full speed. The factory has not been affected by the general strike and only a reduced number of employees have decided to stay home, said the works council.”

El Pais.

The  repression in Catalonia continues to have a wide international fall-out.

“Right-wing British politician Nigel Farage expressed support for the Catalan separatists’ cause inside the European Parliament, where he strongly criticized the Spanish government over the events of last Sunday. Esteban González Pons, leader of the Spanish delegation in the European People’s Party group, said that it is the far right that supports independence in Catalonia.”

In Catalonia we have seen how the EU does ‘democracy’. Why can’t Remainers see it too?

Telegraph.

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Written by Andrew Coates

October 3, 2017 at 10:23 am

Against Madrid’s Repression, Against Middle-Class Catalan Breakaway State.

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Catalan Independence Supporters to Oversee Polling Booths in Break-away Election.

Grupos de activistas pro referéndum toman las escuelas para garantizar su apertura el domingo)

From the Statement of the International Committee of the Fourth International (Northite).

Rarely do we agree with this group, but here they say some important truths which most of the English speaking left seems unable to articulate.

We would add that it is astonishing that anybody who claims to be socialist or left, in the case of the Catalan ERC  Republican Left of Catalonia (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, ERC; IPA:  and the smaller  pro-nationalist ‘radical’ left outside, can justify an alliance of the Catalan nationalist left with a corruption riddled (and much larger) pro-business party, the Partit Demòcrata Europeu Català, PDeCAT), also known as the Catalan Democratic Party (CatalanPartit Demòcrata Català). It was founded in Barcelona on 10 July 2016, as the successor to  the now-defunct Democratic Convergence of Catalonia. Why the name change from its former incarnation, the Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya   ? There is one family name that sums the reasons up, Jordi Pujol, a byword for sleaze and insider backhander, something that marks out modern Catalan nationalism.

The strategy of this alliance, which won 47% of the regional vote in 2015,and 71 out of 135 seats in the devolved parliament, has been to blame ‘Madrid’ – with overtones of the profligate, lazy ‘Southerners’- for all their economic and political problems.

Appararently this is ‘civic nationalism’.

But then there are people who can convince themselves that the SNP is ‘left-wing’.

 

30 September 2011

Oppose the state crackdown on the Catalan independence referendum!

For working class unity! No to separatism in Spain!

 

Catalonia is Spain’s richest region, representing a fifth of the country’s GDP. The separatist parties aim to create a new mini-state, through which they can claw back taxes presently paid to central government, while establishing direct relations with the global banks, transnational corporations and the European Union. They hope to transform Catalonia into a low tax, free trade area based on stepped-up exploitation of the working class.

The Catalan nationalists and their pseudo-left backers dress themselves up as progressives. However, nothing fundamental distinguishes Catalan separatism from similar separatist formations across Europe—the Scottish Nationalist Party in the UK, or those of an explicitly right-wing character such as Italy’s Northern League and Belgium’s Vlaams Belang. In all these instances, separatism has emerged in regions enjoying some economic advantage over the rest of the country, which the local bourgeoisie seeks to exploit to its own benefit.

An “independent” Catalan republic, were it established, would be nothing of the sort. It would be even more dependent on the major powers, in Europe and internationally. In alliance with the EU, it would continue the policies the Catalan separatist parties pursued in their alliance with Madrid: brutal austerity, slashing funding for education, health care and other social needs and using police to smash strikes and protests. It would be a dead end for workers.

 

Against capitalist Spain and the creation of a capitalist Catalonia, the ICFI calls for building the United Socialist States of Europe!

Written by Andrew Coates

September 30, 2017 at 8:56 am

Labour’s Great Leap Forward.

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Image result for labour conference

 

Labour’s Great Leap Forward.

The 2017 Labour Party Conference was a success. Above all a series of policy decisions, on ending PFI, re-establishing public ownership of key sectors, rail and utilities, represents the first serious challenge to the regulative stand that has dominated European social democracy since the 1980s. It strikes at the neoliberal principle that as far as possible the functions of the national and local state should be hived off to private enterprise. Decisions in favour of union rights replace the idea that the workplace is a place of creative energy with only accidental conflict that can be sorted out with a minimum of legislation. Government intervention in the economy has been re-established as a principle. Taxation will be rebalanced in favour of the less-well off. The Health Service will be regenerated, free of the burden of hived-off services.

Labour has taken the first steps towards refounding social democracy and democratic socialism within a common framework. That is to bring together the aspiration for Crossland’s more just form of distribution (The Future of Socialism. 1956) with the long-standing socialist commitment to public ownership and an end to the “automatism of the competitive capitalist economy” that Aneurin Bevan advocated (In Place of Fear. 1952) One can only hope that new policies for social security, afflicted by the disaster that is Universal Credit, at present a site under construction, will receive the same attention.

The New Synthesis and its Limits.

Labour has not resolved its divisions on Europe, making claims about a new consensus – after a vote on the issue, including Free Movement – was avoided. Ideas that the EU would forbid public ownership, even that the presence of migrant workers – whether used by employers or not – is a problem were floated by the leadership.

The claim that competition regulations automatically rule out all forms of public ownership is clearly false, as this article indicates, Nationalisation Is Not Against EU Law. The associated theory, that a sovereign Parliament under Labour control will be freer to make its own economic policies under Brexit, remains. The view that ‘market forces”, in the shape of holders of government bonds, pounds, banks and financial institutions, will weaken in a country outside the EU is not widely held. It is unlikely that the “deep state” of international capitalism is kinder, or more open to influence, than the pooled sovereignty of the European Union.

The other element in Labour’s ‘synthesis’ between different strands of left thinking, human rights, is represented in the stand taken against anti-Semitism. Its persistence on the fringes has to be confronted. Controversy will continue on international issues, with a small, but entrenched, section of the party convinced of the merits of backing any enemy of the West.

The regeneration of the party has been accompanied by the growth of Momentum, a significant influence of Labour delegates. This has brought to the fore newer ideas, which some trace to the ‘alter-globalisation’ movements of the 21st century’s first decade. Perhaps some Momentum activists are influenced by “intersectionality” (drawing together a variety of fights against oppression) and a leading figure from that time, invited to their Conference event, Naomi Klein and her commitment to the Leap Manifesto, a  call for “energy democracy”, “Caring for the Earth”and restoration, in Canada, to the “original caretakers of this land” (No is not enough. 2017). Others on the European left make a more general point. For Christophe Aguiton the network has helped Labour regenerate, capturing within its own structures the kind of social discontent about austerity and radical politics associated with Podemos in Spain. (La Gauche du 21e Siècle .2017)

Labour’s mind will now turn to electoral strategy. Some will be concerned with gaining support amongst those, often Northern and working class, who backed Brexit. Influenced by David Goodhart’s distinction between “anywheres” and “somewheres” Labour should now concentrate on winning over the rooted, provincial electorate, disaffected with both austerity and cultural change, the ‘left behinds’ who reject the “metropolitan elite”. (The Road to Somewhere. The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics 2017). To some left-wingers this tallies with a version of identity politics, in which working class culture, embodying virtue, resists cosmopolitan liberalism – the EU. This electorate is “more real” than, say, the Canterbury students who helped get a Labour MP into Parliament in a Tory safe seat. That layers of the Somewheres have cast their ballots for UKIP may perhaps explain the Conference declarations against migrant workers.

Left blocs. 

Bruno Amable and Stefano Palombarini deal with dilemmas for the French left many of which echo these issues, L’illusion du Bloc bourgeois (2017). Written in the run up this year’s Presidential election the authors race the steady erosion of the social ‘bloc’ which tied together the electorate of the French left, public sector workers and the working class.

Amable and Palombarini trace how the interests of this bloc, in workers’ rights, social protection, raising living standards, all enveloped in policies of state intervention, were eroded by successive ‘Socialist’ (that is, Parti Socialiste) led governments since the mid-1980s. The 1983-4 ‘turn’ to market driven policies, under the Mitterrand Presidency, was marked by the ideology “modernisation” which projected onto the construction of Europe the domestic priority for liberalising the economy. It weakened their base, undoing the assent for the party.

This modernising turn shook up workplace relations, gave priority to ‘flexibility’, greater power to financial markets, and has had a direct impact on people’s lives, their career paths, their job security, and sapped their ability to negotiate better terms and conditions. Rather than cultural shock at the ‘new’ – reactions to greater social liberalisation, and to immigration – has eaten away at left support. In other words, it’s not that the ‘Somewheres’ (known in French as ‘la France périphérique). are reactionary, they cannot recognise themselves in a political party – or electoral alliance – which does not meet their goals. The fate of the PS, reduced to dust in this year’s elections, is the result of a long process in which their leadership has failed to listen to their voice, and objective needs. 

Modernisers.

That British ‘modernisers’ around Tony Blair appealed to ‘globalisation’ rather than the European Project illustrates that the EU is not the convenient target for all the faults of neoliberalism that some suggest. Blair’s own strategists, less worried about left-wing competitors than the French PS, and keenly aware of Labour’s monopoly of the left-voting working class, found their own worker figure. This was the “aspirational” worker discussed by Philip Gould, as well as by Roger Liddle and Peter Mandelson (The Unfinished Revolution. 1998, The Blair Revolution. 1996).Labour could only secure of a majority for its own ‘left bloc’ by reaching beyond its traditionally organised workers, public and private, to this electoral pool. Seemingly unconcerned with the less attractive effects of flexibilisation and marketisation, these figure were to be equipped with new skills to compete on the “global market”. The welfare state was resigned to be a ‘launch pad’ for employment, not a ‘safe home’ for the causalities of capitalism, or for those in need, the basic right for all for a decent life. That we now see people in absolute poverty living on our streets shows the way this has turned out. 

Yet the result appears the same. After the 2008 Banking Crash the appeal of unfettered markets waned; the ‘bloc’ behind Third Way modernisation cracked. There was not enough money, apparently, around to shore up the remaining public and organised union base, while the ‘aspirational’ workers looked to those who embraced austerity wholeheartedly. Not surprisingly, as Amable and Palombarini, argue for France, a real problem is that the section of the base which has been shaped by the opportunities which better social protection, the welfare state, social security, abstains.

In France there have been efforts to rebuild the ‘left bloc’ around the ‘Sovereigntist’ (reasserting French national state power over the EU) or ‘Left Populist’ line of federating the People against the Oligarchs. The nature and the future of this attempt, around the figure of Jan-Luc Mélenchon, is not our concern here, except to note that half-hearted populist efforts by Labour leaders to evoke populist themes, which draw on “resentment” at oligarchical – business and financial – power have not been met with success.

Labour’s Path.

Labour’s strategy sets out a different path. It is already a movement, with trade union, large constituency parties, and deep roots in civil society. It is not an appeal to an abstract ‘construction’ the people, or heavily dependent on a Web network. It is policies that are developed for, and by these constituencies that Labour needs to win. Two themes stand out: social ownership and equality. They are shaping into a framework that could take them up. That is to expresses both the social democratic goal of “society protecting itself” (Karl Polanyi), and the radical aspiration for democratic ownership, and that the workplace becomes a place where people have rights and are not the objects of flexible markets. Both point, it hardly needs saying, to far more radical changes to come.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 28, 2017 at 12:53 pm

Back Free Movement at Labour Conference, Make Sure it Gets Prioritised!

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Labour can’t accept a Brexit deal that ends free movement, says pro-Corbyn union

A pro-Corbyn trade union leader has submitted an emergency motion to Labour conference that would commit the party to opposing any Brexit deal that would end free movement.

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA, said: “This motion will ensure Labour resist this pernicious attack on working people’s liberty by ensuring the Tory attempt to ban free movement is opposed at every opportunity.”

Cortes was one of Jeremy Corbyn’s earliest backers and his union is affiliated to Momentum. The motion is likely to be controversial, however, as it would lock the Labour leadership’s hands on a Brexit deal.

Whilst the frontbench position on Brexit has softened recently, to favouring an extended transitional arrangement in the single market, Keir Starmer has ruled out staying in the bloc indefinitely unless a new deal on free movement could be struck.

Cortes added: “Theresa May is about to further embarrass our country abroad today when she attempts to lay out the terms of her Tory Brexit in Florence. Whose crazy idea was it to lay out terms of British decline in a city that is the symbol of the European renaissance?.

“Do the Tories not get that Europe will get along just fine without us? But British workers are already being burned on the alter of Tory Brexit with rising costs and falling real wages and the by the loss of our EU workers which is exacerbating problems in our public services and food and agricultural industries. If the Tories get away with ending free movement they will turn Britain into a jail for British workers because the terms of Tory Brexit won’t just lock EU workers out, they’ll jail British workers in.

A shock poll released today suggests that if the EU referendum rerun, Remain would win. 

The full emergency motion tabled to conference states:

Conference notes:
1) The publication of Boris Johnson’s Telegraph article on 15th September exposing Tory chaos over Brexit;
2) William Hague accusing government ministers of “lacking coordination” over Brexit on the 19th September;
3) The lack of a coherent Tory plan for Brexit and continuing differences over the nature of talks with our European Union (EU) partners;
4) Chaos within the Brexit department as another senior civil servant departs whilst the Brexit minister has been sidelined.

Conference believes:
1) Tory Brexit shambles is hurting our economy and livelihoods and is likely to lead to deregulation in areas like workers’ rights;
2) A ‘no deal’ outcome looms large due to Tory Brexit plans;
3) Retaining tariff-free trade access to the EU’s Single Market is vital for our industries, our jobs and our livelihoods;

Conference strongly condemns those who blame migrant workers for low wages. It’s unscrupulous bosses and our Westminister engineered deregulated Labour market who are at fault – not migrants.

Conference resolves that Labour will:
• Leave all options open on our future relationship with the EU;
• Re-regulate our labour market including implementing a real living wage and ending bogus self-employment;
• Install sectoral collective bargaining so there is a rate for every job and a trade union in every workplace whilst also ensuring greater workforce planning with more apprenticeships in place to close our yawning skills gap;
• Oppose any deal which doesn’t allow the continuation of freedom of movement between the European Economic Area and the UK and vice verse.

Word reaches us that the CDLP and Momentum are not prioritising this motion and that elements within the Labour leadership, some of whom are anti-EU, wish the issues to be buried.

If this is true a clue to the thinking behind this can be seen on the site run by Momentum chief Jon Lansman  who is close to the CLDP, Left Futures.

This article by David Pavett virulently attacks Free Movement, from the standpoint that it would interfere with the “control” of capital, and labour, that a planned economy would require.

A Spectacular Own Goal?

A new group called the Labour Campaign for Free Movement has been launched. It says that thousands have already signed up to its campaign statement. It is also clearly hoping that the model resolution it has circulated will make it through to annual conference.

The truly astonishing thing is that the people signing the statement would appear to see no connection between this (generously motivated) liberalism and the doctrines of neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism is only interested in national government insofar as it facilitates the freedom of big capital to operate just as it wants to across national borders and entering into every sphere of social life. That is the basis of the EU’s four freedoms. Behind the free movement of people lies the free movement of capital which is its determinant. There is not the slightest hint of a recognition of this in the Campaign Statement.

..

Not only Labour but even Maynard Keynes opposed the free movement of capital on the grounds that it would undermine national economic planning. Let me say that word again because it is so important: “planning”. Without overall control of resources the economy and therefore social development cannot be safely planned. How much do we need to argue that after 2008? This is the elephant in the socialist room.

Currently many on the left want to oppose racist anti-immigration with its opposite: absolutely free immigration. But just as the proper opposition to white minority rule in South Africa was never properly “black majority rule” (a phrase never used by the ANC) but “majority rule” (a point never understood by many on the left), the proper opposite of uncontrolled immigration is not no immigration but “controlled immigration”.

To those on the Labour left attracted by free movement rhetoric I think we should say “Just where do you put national democratic economic planning for social purpose in all this?”. My guess is that the triumph of neo-liberal ideology has meant that many of them have long since ceased to believe in the possibility of such a rationally and democratically organised socialist society. All that remains is managing capitalism and fire-fighting its crises.

..

If this isn’t a drive towards a spectacular own goal then I don’t know what is. That it should be advanced with such astonishingly poor arguments speaks volumes about the current state of debate within the Labour Party. I hope that people who take this issue seriously will acquaint themselves with the case made and will be ready to respond to it wherever comes up e.g. at LP branch and GC meetings.

Apart from comrade Jim Denham’s excellent reply on the site, there is also this by Don Flynn, a comrade from Chartist, who was the director of the Migrants’ Rights Network.

Don Flynn

You clearly haven’t got a clue as to what is involved in the business of managing migration. Your statement that “The vast majority of migrant workers in a controlled migration system would be here by agreement and would therefore have a clear status and a clear reason for being here” is breathtakingly naive.

The essence of being a migrant is that your residence rights are conditional on remaining compliant with the terms of your entry. This means that every migrant has to be kept under surveillance in order to ensure that they haven’t broken any rules. Since the rules themselves are constantly changing – 40,000 changes during T. May’s period in the Home Office – and run into volumes that cover not just the migrant herself but also just everyone who comes into contact with her – then this surveillance operation functions a machine that creates the conditions for breach of the rules and illegality.

Employers, landlords, university tutors, bank staff, social services departments, housing officials, hospitals and doctors’ surgeries, Jobcentre staff, teaching staff at schooks- the list goes on.

To justify a policing opelation of this scale politicians have to ramp up public anxiety about the migration system being abased and too many of the ‘wrong’ sort of immigrants are getting into the country. The public is appealed to to be vigilant and use Home Office hotlines to report suspicions about ‘illegal’ immigrants moving into their neighbourhood. To show that officials are taking these anxieties seriously periodic campaigns have to be mounted, with street level ID checks and raids on
businesses that are run by migrants.

The outcome of all this action has to show up in government statistics that show more people are being arrested and detained – currently around 30,000 people a year go through detention centres – and more people are deported from the country. To ensure that challenges to this level of state action are kept to the minimum rights to legal aid are taken away and the opportunity to appeal reduced to the barest minimum. Civil society organisations that attempt to stand up for the rights of migrants also get caught in the net- accused of aiding and abetting illegality.

You think this climate of each treated hostility is one in which migrants can look forward to their eventual integration into British society? Dream on. Look at what managed migration has come to mean in any of the destination countries of the world – state thuggery and the ramping up of racism. Wake up and check out what is really going on out there!

More on Shiraz Socialist Labour conference: prioritise Brexit; vote for free movement, The Clarion and the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.

And this: Labour could support free movement if single market was reformed, says John McDonnell.

Independent.

 

Labour would be in favour of keeping a form of free movement after Brexit if a “changed single market” could be formed, John McDonnell has said.

The shadow chancellor hinted at a softening in his party’s position on the single market after the EU withdrawal, suggesting European leaders might agree to reforms which retained some of the benefits of the existing deal.

Mr McDonnell said it would be “difficult to see” how Britain could stay in the existing agreement due to “exploitative” freedom of movement rules that allow employers to undercut wages.

This outrageous generalisation was followed by,

It comes as Jeremy Corbyn said he was prepared to listen to Labour members who want to remain within the EU trade agreement as he acknowledged there would be “a lot of movement” by EU workers after Brexit.

Speaking on the first day of Labour’s annual conference, Mr McDonnell told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: “In that way, we think we can achieve all the benefits of the single market, overcome some of the disbenefits that were perceived in the referendum and in that way achieve a close and collaborative relationship with Europe in all our interests.

Asked if he would remain in the single market if suitable changes were made to freedom of movement, he said: “It wouldn’t be the single market as we now know it, based on the four freedoms (of movement of goods, services, capital and labour). Those four freedoms would be adjusted.

“We believe we can reform freedom of movement of people on the basis of protecting wages. That would be a changed single market.”

He called for “a relationship which is based on tariff-free access, the structures renegotiated but the objectives are the same” after Britain leaves the bloc.

Clear?

I thought not.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 24, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Catalan Crisis: Between Opposing Repression and Opposing Nationalist Separatism.

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Left-Wingers in Spain who Call for a Boycott of the Catalan Referendum.

Spain’s Guardia Civil police have detained 14 Catalan officials and raided regional government ministries involved in organising a banned independence vote.

Tensions were already high before Josep Maria Jové, number two in the Catalan vice-presidency, and others were held.

Thousands of Catalans took to the streets in protest and the regional leader complained of a power grab.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the state had been forced to act.

Catalonia’s separatist government is defying a Constitutional Court order to halt the planned 1 October vote, which has been condemned by the Madrid government as illegal.

BBC.

Some on the Spanish left wholeheartedly support Catalan Independence, others, the right the hold the referendum.

In reaction to this clamp down it is unlikely that we will hear in the left media much about those who, while disagreeing with the Spanish government’s tactics, refuse to participate in the vote or those who are simply opposed to the break away of one of the most prosperous parts of the Iberian peninsula.

Here is a link to the former group, which includes  figures on the left: ‘1-O Estafa antidemocrática. ¡No participes! ¡No votes!’.

El Periódico notes two names of interest, the anti-corruption investigator activist and  (see below) Carlos Jiménez Villarejo  and the former coordinator of the Izquierda Unida (United Left) Paco Frutos.

The around 1,000 people behind this statement describe themselves are left wing figures, or a variety of ideological, cultural and political backgrounds, who have fought for freedom against Francism, against terrorism and against war, for the rights of women and social minorities, and today against cuts and austerity, the corruption and who oppose the policies of the Rajoy governments. The signatories seek a common future, freely chosen, in a pluralist Spain in which all the different people’s identities are recognised.

.. personas de izquierdas, de variada adscripción ideológica y de distintas culturas políticas, que hemos luchado por las libertades contra el franquismo, contra el terrorismo y contra la guerra, por los derechos de las mujeres y de las minorías sociales, y ahora contra los recortes, la corrupción y que rechazamos las políticas del gobierno de Rajoy, y con el convencimiento de que es posible un futuro común, libremente elegido, en el marco de un España plural donde estén reconocidas todas las identidades de los pueblos que la integran:

They charge the Referendum process with a lack of democratic transparency, with no proper rules, such as a minimum level of participation, and with having been launched “unilaterally” without the agreement of the opposition forces in Catalonia – all of which are indeed true.

It is also more widely the case that forming a breakaway state, that is to oppose the Catalan ‘people’ against the diverse People of Spain, rather cuts against the Podemos Laclau-Mouffe inflected self-declared aim of ‘federating the people’. It could be said to be a case of what Chantal Mouffe calls the “constitutive Other”, making the rest of Spain, lined up behind the ‘State’, the Enemy in the constitution of this new sovereign ‘People’.

This is a different view: Solidaridad con Cataluña! Viento Sur.

Solidaritat amb Catalunya! Kataluniarekin bat! Solidariedade con Catalunya! ¡Solidaridá con Catalunya! ¡Solidaridad con Catalunya!

La suspensión del autogobierno de Catalunya y la escalada represiva que están emprendiendo el gobierno y el poder judicial suponen la instauración de un estado de excepción permanente frente a la voluntad mayoritaria del pueblo catalán de decidir su futuro a través del referéndum el 1 de octubre.

In English from the Fourth International.

 

It is of interest to those Trotskyists in the UK now supporting the alliance between the right of centre Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, the representative of  regional capitalist interests, and various left nationalists, including apparently some on the ‘far left’  in their fight for a breakaway from Spain to read Trotsky himself on the past of the issue. 

In the 1930s Trotsky did not back the creation of another bourgeois state in Catalonia.

Leon Trotsky The National Question in Catalonia

(July 1931)

  • Maurín, the “leader” of the Workers and Peasants Bloc, shares the point of view of separatism. After certain hesitation, he has resolved himself with the left wing of petty bourgeois nationalism. I have already written that Catalan petty bourgeois nationalism at the present stage is progressive. But on one condition: that it develops its activity outside the ranks of Communism and that it is always under the blows of communist criticism. To permit petty-bourgeois nationalism to manifest itself under the Communist mask means at the same time to deliver a perfidious blow to the proletarian vanguard and to kill the progressive significance of petty bourgeois nationalism.
  • What does the program of separatism mean? The economic and political dismemberment of Spain, or in other words, the transformation of the Iberian Peninsula into a sort of Balkanic Peninsula, with independent states, divided by, customs barriers, and with independent armies conducting independent Hispanic wars. Of course, the sage Maurin will say that he does not want this. But programs have their own logic, something Maurin hasn’t got.
  • Are the workers and peasants of the various parties of Spain interested in the economic dismemberment of Spain? In no case. That is why, to identify the decisive struggle for the right to self-determination with propaganda for separatism, means to accomplish a fatal work. Our program is for Hispanic Federation with the indispensable maintenance of economic unity. We have no intention of imposing this program upon the oppressed nationalities of the peninsula with the aid of the arms of the bourgeoisie. In this sense, we are sincerely for the right to self-determination. If Catalonia separates, the Communist minority of Catalonia, as well as of Spain, will have to conduct a struggle for Federation.

Background,

During the first part of the 20th century, the main nationalist party was the conservative Lliga Regionalista, headed by Francesc Cambó. For the nationalists, the main achievement in this period was the Commonwealth of Catalonia a grouping of the four Catalan provinces, with limited administrative power. The Commonwealth developed an important infraestructure (like roads and phones) and promoted the culture (professional education, libraries, regulation of Catalan language, study of sciences) in order to modernize Catalonia. The failure in being granted an Estatute of autonomy in 1919 within the Restoration regime, led to radicalisation of the moderate nationalist parties in Catalonia, leading in turn to the creation of Acció Catalana (Catalan Action) and also Estat Català (Catalan State),[12] drifting apart from the Lliga. Among the leaders of Acció Catalana founded in 1922 and chiefly supportive of liberal-democratic catalanism and a catalanisation process were Jaume Bofill, Antoni Rovira i Virgili and Lluís Nicolau d’Olwer.[13] It also featured an internal elitist faction, moved by the thinking of Charles Maurras and Action française of which Josep Vicenç Foix and Josep Carbonell were representatives,[14] while Jaume Bofill was ambivalent to the extreme right French thinker.[15] Estat Català, somewhat more attached to the idea of downright independence, was founded right after the creation of Acció Catalana by Francesc Macià.

Currently, the main political parties which define themselves as being Catalan nationalists are Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya, Unió Democràtica de Catalunya. The Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, although deriving from nationalism, refuses the term “nationalism” and prefers to describe itself as pro-independence; so does Soldaritat Catalana

The most prominent figure in the Catalan politics in  the post-Franco years was Jordi Pujol President of the Generalitat de Catalunya from 1980 to 2003.

Pujol, and Catalan nationalism, have been associated with the massive corruption scandals he was involved with.

In July 2014, Jordi Pujol released a note explaining that for 34 years, including 23 as the President of Catalonia, he had maintained secret foreign bank accounts inherited from his father. The note apologized for his actions and explained that the millions had been declared and taxes paid. The scandal erupted in the Spanish media as it involves allegations against many family members, including trafficking of influence, bribery, money laundering and public corruption. At this time, his sons Jordi and Oleguer Pujol Ferrusola are being investigated by tax authorities. Another son Oriol Pujol resigned from his leadership position in CiU earlier in the month to face charges of public corruption as well. As a direct result of Pujol’s admission on 29 July, Judge Pablo Ruz issued an indictment against Jordi Pujol Ferrusola and his wife for money laundering and tax evasion. [10][11][12][13][14]

On 29 July Catalan president Mas, after a meeting with Pujol i Soley, announced that Pujol renounced both his salary and the office that he had been assigned as ex-president, as well as the honorary title of founding chairman of CDC and CiU.[15] The opposition parties from both left and right, nationalist and non-nationalist, have demanded he testify before the parliament. The main government allies in the Catalan parliament, Esquerra Republicana, have declared that they support stripping Pujol of all his honors.[16] The Catalan government has declared this a “private matter” that will have no impact on the movement for Catalan independence and the referendum scheduled for 9 November 2014.[17] In announcing his resignation from all party offices, President Mas initially stated that Pujol would keep the right to be called “The Right Honorable” as a former president of Catalonia.[18] Hours later the party spokesperson Francesc Homs stated that Pujol must “forfeit everything,” including the Medalla de Oro of Catalunya and all honorifics previously awarded to him.[19] Indicative of the conflicted reaction of many Catalan nationalists, his personal friend Xavier Trias, the Mayor of Barcelona, lamented on Catalonia Radio “He must disappear…He failed us. It is a disaster that has taken place and the shadowy times of Pujol are finished while a new era begins.”[20] Perhaps no one is more deeply conflicted than current President Mas who has acknowledged that Pujol is his “political father” and has stated that “he does not know the details and he is not interested in them either.” [21] The impact of the Pujol family scandals on the Catalan independence movement, the CIU party and Mas’ political future remain to be seen.[22]

Pujol and his family have been suspected for many years of cashing in on the political power he amassed as a 23-year president of Catalonia. In 1984 his family’s bank went bankrupt and was taken over by the Spanish government. His children have amassed a fortune in private businesses that frequently did business and received contracts from the Catalan government. Pujol’s wife and children have investments in the tens of millions of dollars in Mexico, Panama and Argentina. Financial records show the movement of money between foreign banks in Andorra, Switzerland, Jersey, Cayman Islands and other tax havens in excess of €100 million. Critics, including Jordi Pujol Ferrusola’s former girlfriend, charge that this family wealth could not be accumulated from a family inheritance or successful business practices.[23][24] Ever since the 1984 bankruptcy of Banca Catalana, as well as in subsequent years, whenever corruption allegations were made against Pujol, his supporters claimed that the charges were politically motivated against Catalonia.[25][26]

The matter is still under Investigation in 2017.[27][28]

While parts of the left in Spain support Catalan Independence, others charge them with wishing to free the wealthiest part of the country from the ‘burden’ of the poor South and compare them to the Italian  Lega Nord.

The Socialist Party, the PSOE, itself not stranger to corruption and other scandals, sides with the government against the Referendum.

Ahead of planned Catalan poll, main opposition Socialist Party sides with government. El País

SOE leader Pedro Sánchez shows support for PP’s attempts to deal with secessionist challenge.

In these conditions to reject the heavy-handed approach of Rajoy, and to call for a return to democratic norms, should not be confused with backing for the middle class separatist aspirations of Catalan nationalism.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 20, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Cable Street and Anti Fascism in the US Today.

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https://i1.wp.com/www.socialist.net/images/new-stories/History/CableStreet/cable_streetthe-daily-worker.gif

No, Antifa, This is Not the 1930s and We Don’t Need to Punch a Nazi

It is not often, indeed it has not been never, when I commend an article in Counterpunch, but this is important, if contentious, contribution to what is a very divisive debate in the US today.

The author draws on Daniel Tilles, “The Myth of Cable Street.” History Today, and does not refer to other critical sources well-known to the British and Irish left such as Out of the Ghetto  by Joe Jacobs. His account of his involvement in the famous defence of the East End against an attempted march by Mosley’s fascists is important and a different version to that published by Communist leading figure on the day, Phil Piratin (Our Flag Stays Red, 1948).

Joe describes events leading up to the march, including the changes in the CP leadership’s tactics as they finally realised their calls for a peaceful demonstration elsewhere would be ignored. His account “corrects false impressions later created by official Communist versions of the events”. The Battle of Cable St, 1936 – Joe Jacobs.

The “Battle of Cable Street” is a key event in the “creation myth” of the anti-fascist movement. It goes like this:

On Sunday, October 4, 1936, about 5,000 members of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), led by Sir Oswald Mosley, planned to march in full Blackshirt regalia through several Jewish neighborhoods in London’s East End. Six thousand police were assigned to protect them from about 100,000 anti-fascist protesters. The anti-fascists fought the police and erected barricades to block the marchers. When the fascists saw there was no possibility of moving beyond the barricades, they abandoned the march and dispersed. [1]

Some accounts of the battle claim that the fascists and anti-fascists fought hand-to-hand, but Reg Weston, a journalist who was in his early twenties when he actually participated in the battle, makes it clear that the two sides never clashed. The police and barricades kept them apart. It’s a myth, Weston says, “that the ‘battle’ was between the protesters and the Blackshirts. It was not — it was a battle with the police.” [2]

Nevertheless, the crowd celebrated that day. The “Battle of Cable Street” went down in history as a victory for anti-fascist forces and to this day is part of the heroic mythology of the ultra-left: “For many members of contemporary anti-Fascist groups, the incident remains central to their mythology, a kind of North Star in the fight against Fascism and white supremacy across Europe and, increasingly, the United States.” [3]

I am less than sure that European leftists outside of the Isles are aware if Cable Street (see this very small Wikipedia reference in French. The German Wiki entry signals the passing of the Public Order Act as the main result). Anybody familiar with the violent clashes that took place in France in the 1930s, which led to dissolution in 1936 of the far-right, Croix de Feu, Ligue d’Action française, Parti Franciste, and the Camelots du roi, would be tempted to  consider it a sideshow, above all since those groups would be part of the reigning power a few years later under Vichy.  If “white supremacy” enters into accounts of the Battle against Nazism and Fascism, in the shape of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), I have only just heard of it. Finally, if the British Left considers Cable Street, for all its importance, does not generally consider it something of a significance on a par with, say, the International Brigades, or the Resistance.

Yet Contursi asks a relevant question.

But was it really a victory?

After the battle the fascists grew stronger 

Unfortunately, the anti-fascists celebrating their victory in 1936 couldn’t have known that their actions would ultimately do nothing to stop either the Nazi juggernaut that descended upon Europe three years later, or the immediate popularity of the BUF. In fact, the BUF benefitted from the violence and became even stronger over the next four years, until 1940, when it was banned by the government.

What the anti-fascist forces did achieve at Cable Street was a singular victory in stopping a single march. But at what price? In the aftermath of that action, membership in the BUF grew. Rather than smashing fascism, the battle turned out to be a recruitment tool for the BUF. The organization gained an additional 2,000 members immediately, and its membership continued to climb steadily. Seven months before the battle, BUF membership was around 10,000; one month after the battle, it rose to 15,500. It continued to rise until, by 1939, the BUF had about 22,500 members. [4]

The anti-fascist actions didn’t dampen the peoples’ enthusiasm for Mosely’s message. In the weeks after the battle, pro-fascist crowds in the thousands turned out for BUF meetings, listened to Mosley’s fascist proselytizing, and marched through London without much opposition. [1] An intelligence report on the battle noted that afterwards, “A definite pro-Fascist feeling has manifested itself. The alleged Fascist defeat is in reality a Fascist advance.” [1]

Violence, it seems, provided free publicity for the fascists. The BUF “thrived off the publicity that violent opposition produced. The national media, under pressure from the government, largely avoided reporting on Fascist activity other than when disorder occurred. A leading Mosleyite lamented the ‘total silence’ in the press when BUF events passed without incident, complaining that only after disruption by opponents did newspapers show any interest.” [1]

So,

The lesson from Cable Street is clear—the anti-fascists succeeded in shutting down one march. But in the aftermath of that action, fascist membership grew and, within a few weeks, the BUF was marching again—with little or no opposition.

It is a long piece and the rest has to be read in full.

There is discussion of  the experience of Nazism, but no reference is made to early battles with Mussolini’s squadristi, (we used to call street fighting antifafs ‘squadists’) of the importance, in the context of Cable Street of the start of the defence of the Spanish Republic.

We learn that the 1930s were a different time……where Nazism and Fascism were in power  in Europe.

That said, it is easy to sympathise with those making a stand against the ‘anti-fascist’  hysteria which apparently has gripped sections of the US left.

Whether ” Nonviolent direct action” is the answer is open for them to answer.

Janet Contursi makes her case clear:

1) Violence is not an effective long-term tactic against Nazi hate groups. When Mosley’s fascists were perceived to be the victims of violence, their membership grew; but when they were perceived to be the perpetrators of violence, it dropped.

2) What does work, but is more difficult for peace groups to achieve, is applying economic pressure to the fascists’ financial base and swamping their propaganda with truth. This requires a long-term organizing strategy beyond the occasional demonstration or peace march (a good example of a long-term nonviolent strategy is the BDS movement).

To repeat, it is hard to disagree with the view that the US far-right, fragmented and marginalised, is not about to be a major threat that needs the kind of violent tactics that some indicate.

But others believe that they must be confronted. 

Nevertheless, since Contursi  draws parallels between our very different societies and politics (to say the least: there is no equivalent of the Labour Party or the socialist inclined trade unions in the US), can one say that mass street action has always been ineffective against the British far-right?

What of the conflicts between the British far-right and left  in the 1970s and later?

Contursi neglects any discussion of the British experience of fighting the National Front in the 1970s, not to mention subsequent battles withe British Movement, the BNP and, more recently, the English Defence League.

There is a good case that the street activism of the 1970s, which was centred on the goal of confronting the far-right,  helped, in the context of a much wider cultural anti-fascism and a grass-roots movement, the ANL, local anti-racist and anti-racist committees,  and Rock Against Racism, had it place in preventing a ‘break through’ of the far-right into national politics at the time, for all that people will cite Thatcher as the ultimate benefactor of the racist undercurrents at work.

Since that time European far-right groups have grown in a number of countries.

Nobody could have prevented the rise of UKIP – which is clearly far-right – by street battles, nor would this have been desirable for democratic socialists intent on challenging their ideas, not physically standing up to their  members.

It would equally be ridiculous to imagine that any large-scale street fighting could have defeated the French Front National.

When their first electoral successes happened in the mid-1980s I was met with laughter by my French left-wing comrades when I suggested similar tactics to the ANL and anti-fascists, anti-racist street campaigning groups. In fact what happened in France was SOS-racisme which – with something like Rock Against Racism’s cultural approach, moblised people against racialist ideology.

The legacy of SOS racisme has been contested, involving a whole series of cultural issues which we, and others, have taken up (La Fabrique du Musulman. Nedjib Sidi Moussa: ‘Manufacturing Muslims’.).

Clearly the very  the possibility of the far-right winning substantive political power in France, and elsewhere in Continental Europe, is of a different degree and nature to the problems US anti-fascists face.

But anybody interested in more than “myths” about the extreme right and their opponents should be more concerned with looking at these developments than backwards to the 1930s.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 19, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Dennis Skinner Votes with Tories for Repeal Bill (EU).

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Image result for dennis skinner votes with tories

 As we vote on the it was a pleasure to see Dennis Skinner joining us in the Aye lobby.

The Telegraph reports,

Dennis Skinner rebels against Jeremy Corbyn as he votes with Tories for Repeal Bill

Dennis Skinner MP, who has previously flicked the V-sign at Labour rebels and claimed to never have contemplated doing “cross-party stuff”  shocked many as he voted against Jeremy Corbyn and Labour for the Repeal Bill on Monday night.

He has also said in the past he refuses to be friends or work with Tories — so his vote may surprise those who count on him as a Jeremy Corbyn supporter.

Mr Skinner, who is usually on the side of Jeremy Corbyn, voted for the Tory bill along with Ronnie Campbell, Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins, John Mann, and Graham Stringer.

14 Labour MPs, including Caroline Flint, abstained on the bill.

Corbyn supporters have said that MPs who voted against the whip should “find new jobs”.

Dennis Skinner is the MP for Bolsover – which voted for Brexit by a large margin. 70.8 per cent voted Leave, while 29.2 per cent voted to Remain.

He also was a staunch supporter of Brexit during the referendum, saying it was because he wanted to escape the capitalism of the EU and protect the future of the NHS.

 

The Telegraph notes that Labour supporters have called for those who backed the Tory bill to be deselected, and asks if this applies to Skinner.

This is how one Tory reacted:

The best the Telegraph could find to explain Skinner’s vote was an (unsourced) article in the Morning Star, from which this quote is taken.

Mr Skinner said at the time: “In the old days they could argue you might get a socialist government in Germany, but there’s not been one for donkeys’ years. At one time there was Italy, the Benelux countries, France and Germany, Portugal, Spain and us. Now there’s just one in France and it’s hanging on by the skin of its teeth.”

Here is the original, Morning Star, Friday 10th of June 2017.

Speaking to the Morning Star yesterday, he confirmed he was backing a break with Brussels because he did not believe progressive reform of the EU could be achieved.

He said: “My opposition from the very beginning has been on the lines that fighting capitalism state-by-state is hard enough. It’s even harder when you’re fighting it on the basis of eight states, 10 states and now 28.

“In the old days they could argue you might get a socialist government in Germany, but there’s not been one for donkeys’ years.

“At one time there was Italy, the Benelux countries, France and Germany, Portugal, Spain and us.

“Now there’s just one in France and it’s hanging on by the skin of its teeth.”

Even some on the pro-Brexit left argued against the Tory Repeal Bill.

Counterfire published this: A very British coup: May’s power grab Josh Holmes September the 11th.

If Theresa May carries off her coup, the Government will be given a majority on committees, even though it doesn’t have a majority in the House. This may sound merely technical and a little arcane, but it has the most serious consequences for democracy. It means that the Tories will win every single vote between now and the next election – which may well be in five years’ time.

May says she needs these powers because, without them, it will be hard for her to pass the Brexit legislation. She is right: it will be hard, and the legislation probably won’t end up looking like what she wants. It will be subject to proper scrutiny, and Labour, the SNP and every other party in Parliamentwill have a real say in shaping its final form. Britain’s post-Brexit future will not be written by the Tory party alone.

Skinner has many good points, and many weaknesses, which are well known in the labour movement.

I shall not go and see this soon to be released film for a start:

Dennis Skinner film director on Nature of the Beast

A film director has been given rare access to follow Dennis Skinner for two years to make a documentary.

Daniel Draper, who has made Nature of the Beast, told Daily Politics presenter Jo Coburn it was “fair criticism” for some who claimed he was guilty of hero-worshipping the Bolsover MP.

Image result for dennis skinner the nature of the beast

Update:

This is the  Skinner’s ‘explanation’ for voting with the Tories, “With all the treaties, Maastricht and the others, I don’t decide who’s in the lobby – some rag tag and bobtail of Tories plus a few unionists.”

Written by Andrew Coates

September 12, 2017 at 12:09 pm