Catalonia: debates in the CUP

By Rubén Tzanoff

Some left-wing organizations took part in the opinion exchange and formulated proposals.

The Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) is holding a debate on the strategy for the process towards a Catalan Republic and the circumstantial tactic for the next autonomous elections on the 14 of February. We once again thank the comrades of the CUP for allowing us to fraternally participate in the debate in different stages: in the assemblies of the CUP L’ Hospitalet (the municipal list of which we took part in 2019), in the plenary held in Sabadell and the telematic meeting “Nodes; Debats d’unitat popular” among others. Continuing the opinion exchange, we will outline some points of views.

After the implementation of the 155, the repression of the 1978 regime has not stopped; there are political prisoners and exiles. The refusal of acknowledging the third degree to the unjustly imprisoned Catalan leaders, the removal of the President Quim Torra for hanging up a sign in the balcony of the Palau de la Generalitat, the persistent persecution and punishment to the activists that demand democratic rights categorically show the intention of revenge of the Spaniard institutionalism and the goal of crushing through all means the way to self-determination.

For their part, the formations of ERC, JxCat and PdeCat keep an independentism speech in general but have not proposed a consequent struggle for the rupture and the realization of the Republic. From the Govern and the Parlament, they are oriented towards a recovery of a limited autonomy, starting from an intended dialogue with the bourgeois government PSOE-UP, from which derives the holding of a consensual referendum with the oppressors.

Despite the repressive oppression of some and the inconsistency of others, the last word is yet to be spoken. The Catalan people have not been crushed. Beyond the circumstance that diminishes the intensity of the mobilizations, at its core there is a majority that stands firmly to complete the mandate expressed in the referendum of the 1-O.

Distant from both, the Popular Unity Candidacy criticizes the Catalan majority parties, thus it denounces then, summons them, and sets forth favorable democratic and social proposals for the workers and the people. That is how it has won the sympathy of a wide social sector and the respect of many activists that see it with sympathy. From our point of view, the CUP has the great chance to become a strong alternative, with the condition of overcoming the contradictions that cause tension within it by adopting a policy strongly independent from the bourgeois parties, with an anti-capitalist program, an orientation that surpasses the electoral framework to install itself in the struggles and at the core of the working class.

The documents presented by the leadership of the CUP allow an open debate and raise some important issues we agree with, for example, the need to prepare a new attack against the government and the defense of self-determination. However, they are not crossed by the axis of unilateral rupture, with the necessary tasks for the CUP to be hegemonic in a process of this kind. The “strategic unity” and the “expansion of the base” must not be taken to practice with the organizations that directly defend the interests of the Catalan bourgeoisie, nor with those who act as its transmission cord. The motives are of balance and perspective.

In regards to the recent past and present, ERC, PdeCat and JxCat have squandered the impressive power of the mobilizations. Locked in their electoral and apparatus fights, they caused divisions, generated confusion on the independentism project and demoralized many freedom fighters. They are responsible for the Aragonés Law, for carrying out an administration centered on sustaining capitalist profits without favoring employment, since they did not pass from the “displays of concern” with the layoffs of Nissan and other companies. They do nothing against job insecurity nor do they improve the living conditions of the majority. In regards to the pandemic, they did a poor job that has not favored the investment in public healthcare or the respect towards doctors and nurses by eliminating the precariousness in which they risk their lives every day. Thus, in the wake of the second wave of Covid-19, they are replacing the lack of public resources with the new limitations to democratic rights, like the militarization of healthcare that implies a curfew, the persistence in focusing the responsibility on the population, like the CUP rightly remarks. We cannot trust one bit in the bourgeois variants, let alone share government responsibilities with them. 

In regards to the future of the struggle against the oppression of the government of Spain, at this moment, the way to achieving independence is intimately linked to the struggle against capitalism, exploitation, precariousness, austerity, poverty and social inequality.  Precisely, all the issues that the bourgeois causes, sustains and reproduces. In this there are no national differences. The Catalan bourgeoisie will not be consistent until the end in its demand for independence, since it will make its class interests prevail. The Catalan Republic will be possible in a process led by the working class, with students, feminist organizations, immigrants and other popular sectors, mobilized, going on strike and building their own bodies of power. The road to independence cannot be dissociated from the road to socialism, nor can it be planned in stages.

The strategic unity must be with the working class and the mobilized people, in the perspective of installing an alternative of real power, forged in the struggles, in every work establishment, factory, hospital, CAP, university and school, in every municipality of the Catalan towns and cities, promoting democratic and independent organization in the CDRs, in Popular Assemblies or in the form that the mobilized people themselves decide, with the necessary disposition for: popular self-defense against repressive attacks, coordination of the struggles, encouragement of civil disobedience, a general strike, and a unilateral break. This does not imply denying the unity of action with the organizations with which there is some point of agreement to promote the mobilization, for amnesty for political prisoners and exiles, the end to persecution, repression and other causes.

The government refuses to grant a consensual referendum and no gap appears to indicate a change. The monarchic-parliamentary regime is weakened and is going through an unprecedented crisis: Juan Carlos I is on the run because of corruption, the justice system is severely questioned because of its dependence on political power and with government institutions whose administrative offices are in the “sewers of the State”. But, at the same time, his defenders reaffirm the unity of Spain, using the garrotte (PP) and the carrot (PSOE-UP) alternately with the same objective: to defeat the Catalan people. They will not give in out of democratic conviction nor out of a call from the European imperialist bloc, since they support the established order. If at some point, in the face of the force of the mobilization for the rupture or an abrupt turn of the situation, the possibility of an agreed referendum opens up, it could be an option to be evaluated. Meanwhile, proposing the Referendum as an axis of politics leads to a dead end.

We consider it wrong to contrast the democratic program for self-determination with the anti-capitalist program of class independence. It is necessary to elaborate a transitional program that responds to both democratic and social aspirations, something that capitalism cannot guarantee, much less with an oppressive regime forged under Franco’s ideology. Faced with a crisis of the world economy that is unprecedented, exacerbated by the health crisis caused by the pandemic, the businessmen want to safeguard their profits at the cost of greater exploitation. They want the crisis to be paid by the workers and the people. Capitalism cannot be fixed, nor can it be humanized, as the reformists want us to believe; that is why half measures, or patches, are not useful; fundamental proposals are needed.  A “socialist, feminist and ecological government” can only favor the great popular majorities if capitalism is defeated and a model of socialism with democracy is constructed. 

We do not underestimate the international aspects, since the authoritarian restrictions imposed with the excuse of the Covid-19 pandemic do not stop the popular rebellions, such as that of black people in the United States, as well as in Lebanon, Indonesia, Belarus or Chile, which mark the way forward. We believe that the battle for the Catalan Republic will not be defined only in Catalonia, nor by placing expectations on the imperialist bloc of the EU to accept that the breakdown of the status quo that they themselves designed and maintain. The essential thing is to achieve the support of the workers and the peoples of the Spanish State and Europe, for which it is necessary to actively support the just struggles that they are carrying out. Furthermore, we point out that we have no confidence in the progressive international, because of who it is made up of and its reformist policies, which are embedded in the frameworks of the capitalist regimes and system.

Having raised the fundamental questions, which we consider to be in debate, we reaffirm a proposal to intervene jointly, both in the struggles and in the elections, the formation of a front of the radical left. It would have been very useful, for example, in the struggle against the closure of Nissan, to put forward a policy independent of the bosses, the union bureaucracy and the governments, for nationalization under workers’ control and, fundamentally, to carry out a big campaign of support throughout Catalonia, something that was not promoted, beyond the solidarity expressed. The crisis of the capitalist economy, aggravated by the pandemic, has extended unemployment, has deepened the precariousness of labor, poverty and inequality, so a front is needed to turn everything around, as well as to confront the pandemic with a single, universal and free healthcare system. An alliance equipped with a program to support the struggles, of breaking with the monarchic-parliamentary regime, with the EU and clearly anti-capitalist, that confronts the government of the so-called “progressive coalition” PSOE-UP and a struggle without quarter against the right and the far-right represented by the PP, Ciudadanos and Vox and that does not allow itself to be influenced by the “siren songs” of the parties of the Catalan bourgeoisie; that promotes the emergence of new union leaders, combative and democratic, in view of the betrayals by the bureaucracy of the UGT and CC.OO. A formation of this type could be very attractive for workers, feminist organizations, the youth and immigrant organizations, and for independent and really progressive left-wing personalities who do not integrate parties.

The CUP holds open debates, on many occasions calls for unitary actions and calls the progressive and left-wing sectors. It has the strength and the roots to put on its feet the formation of a radical left front of class independence. It would be a great step forward if it made a call to make it concrete. It would give a clear and unambiguous message about the strategy to be established and it would also give a signal to the conflict for the next regional elections. Of course, it would be more forceful if the anti-capitalists and the Revolutionary Left were part of it, as would the participation of organizations like the CRT, LI, Corriente Roja and SOL. We need a front that does not stand in the middle of their proposals for change, as is the case with the reformists. That variant is what is lacking so that it is not the bourgeois options of the regime, nor the far-right that are nourished by the growing disappointment and dissatisfaction of the people. We consider that the debate in the CUP is not over. Agreements, differences and nuances are still being discussed, but we will keep on participating. At the same time, we consider it very important to begin laying the ground for a political regrouping of principles and action of those of us that consider ourselves revolutionary and internationalist socialists, respecting the our different origins and our own identities. Ultimately, we prioritize the coincidences while we patiently debate the differences for which we integrate different organizations.