Catalonia's Independence and Interpretation

APTOPIX Spain Catalonia

Catalonia's struggle for Independence is a far too belated venture, if anything. Having escaped the grips of fascism after Franco in the 1970's, they traded one obvious tyranny for a far more surreptitious one. 


“If somebody tries to declare the independence of part of the territory — something that cannot be done — we will have to do everything possible to apply the law,” Mr. Catalá said on national television on Monday. 

Perhaps people will soon realize that an 'illegal referendum' is as ridiculous as the notion of an 'illegal war.' 

Mr. Puigdemont called on Madrid to remove its police forces, which Catalans criticized as having overreacted on Sunday, and said that he would open an investigation into their actions.
The United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, issued a statement Monday saying he was “very disturbed” by the violence. “I urge the Spanish authorities to ensure thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all acts of violence,” he said.
Mr. Zoido said the police had intervened only to withdraw election-related equipment, but had been confronted by major obstacles, including voters forming a human chain to stop police officers from leaving polling stations.
“The resistance was passive in some cases, but also active in others,” he told the Spanish broadcaster Antena 3. The clashes, he said, mostly started after police officers were stranded inside polling stations.
The police used rubber bullets, he said, “to avoid something even worse.”
That version of events, however, was firmly rejected by Catalan leaders, who accused Mr. Rajoy of returning Spain to authoritarianism.
The vote also set off a debate in Madrid over the loyalty of security forces, after the Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalonia’s autonomous police force, failed to follow Madrid’s orders and close down polling stations early Sunday. Catalan television stations later showed some Mossos and Catalan firefighters confronting the national police as tensions mounted at polling stations.
On Tuesday, Catalans plan to stage a general strike, although it is unclear how widely it will be supported. Spain’s two main labor unions have called on their members in Catalonia not to take part.
Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Podemos, Spain’s far-left party, said the country was “in a state of crisis,” showcased by the images that were broadcast around the world on Sunday of “policemen who scuffle with firemen and in some cases even with other security forces.”
Albert Rivera, the leader of Ciudadanos, a party fiercely opposed to secessionism, called on Monday for Mr. Puigdemont “to stop this folly” and abandon his plans to declare independence. Otherwise, he said, Mr. Rajoy’s government would have no alternative than to take full charge of Catalonia.

Catalonia is not experiencing the slow-burn of globalism in the same way as most other western countries. The history of authoritarianism is, for them, much closer at hand: 

He [Franco] believed that Castilian culture and language should be central to economic, political, and social institutions in all regions. He promised "to enforce a brand of traditionalist and authoritarian Spanish nationalism that harbored no expression of the distinct 'minority cultures',? such as Catalan. Franco prohibited the use of Catalan names. Castilian equivalents had to be used, during his regime, religious services were held in Castilian, and Castilian was the only language permitted to be used in public. Schools were banned from teaching Catalan. Few books were published in Catalan and any that were published were not popularly read because most Catalans could not read Catalan. Images of popular Catalan culture like the sardanes, a traditional Catalan dance, were also banned. Popular symbols of Catalan nationalism, such as statues, portraits, the flag, were all removed from public view.Even the names of streets that were in Catalan were changed to a Castilian name. Franco's effort to suppress this culture was pervasive.

And yet, when we go further back, to the Spanish Revolution before Franco came to power, we get yet another layer of Spain and Catolonia's tortured history; one which the official narrative tends to want to gloss over at best, and at worst, assign to a place of victory for the good guys. One can read between the lines in Albert Weisbord's personal account of revolutionary Catolonia:

At this juncture, the trade unions, which had been severely repressed in the days of reaction under Lerroux, from 1934 to 1936, found themselves with tremendous new forces at their disposal. The unionized workers began to possess themselves of the factories and to operate them. We can say here that only such as step enabled the Spanish Republic to survive and to supply its army with the necessary material for the struggle. in October, 1936, the Government of Catalonia, slowly reviving as a separate institution but now dominated by workers' organizations, with the non-working class elements in the State trying hard to get back into favor with the people again, legalized the de facto seizure of the shops and factories by its famous Decree of Collectivization. 
This decree classified industrial enterprises into two categories: those which were to remain collectivized in which the responsibility for the administration and direction of the plants pertained to the workers represented by an Enterprise Committee: and those which were to remain private concerns, the direction of which was to be left to the owner or administrator operating under workers' control. All enterprises employed over one hundred workers and those whose owners were Fascists were collectivized, as well as certain other plants of an exceptional character even though having less than one hundred employed therein.
The new enterprises were to take on all the assets and liabilities of the old. The former owners or directors were to kept in place in administrative or technical posts where their collaboration was needed. The direction would be under a Council of the Enterprise elected by a general assembly of the workers and answerable for all their acts both to the workers of the plant and to a General Council of the Industry. In each collectivized enterprise there was to be an inspector named by the government in agreement with the workers there. In the council of the Enterprise the various central trade union bodies, C.N.T. and U.G.T., were to be proportionally represented. This Council was to name a director for the plant.
 The General Council of the Industry, presided over by a member of the Economic Council of Catalonia, was to be composed of four representatives of the Councils of the Enterprises, eight representatives of the trade union centers (C.N.T. and U.G.T.) and four technicians. The functions of this General Council were to regulate the total production of the industry in question, to unify sale prices, to study the consumption of the different wares, to increase or diminish the number of factories as necessary, to administer the purchase of raw materials, to create sales centers, to carry on credit operations, and so forth. Above the General Council of the Industry was the Economic Council of Catalonia.
The decree of October 24th, 1936, also provided for those enterprises still in private hands. There committees of control were to be formed by the workers, employees and technicians in each concern. These committees of control had to watch the conditions of work and rigorously to check all income and outgo. They were to work in close contact with the owners so that the processes of production might be perfected and a steady stream of goods insured.
On the questions of whether property taken from former employers was to be compensated for or confiscated outright, or whether the legal title of the property actually belonged to the workers, the decree is not very clear. There is a provision that a careful accounting be made of the business of each enterprise and that under some circumstances certain former owners might be paid back the value of the capital taken from them.

Globalism benefited enormously from the friction between fascism and other socialisms in the first part of the twentieth century, and no where is this more evident than it is in Spain. Marxist communists, syndicalists and anarchists alike, to this day,  sing the praises of the Spanish Revolution, in which farms and factories were delivered over to that perennial abstraction, 'the people.' Having suffered the dictatorship of the proletariat under the revolution and the dictatorship of Franco under his regime, globalism, the dictatorship of western hegemony, would prove more initially friendly to 'the people,' but it would utilize the same method which worked for the French Revolution and which would prove useful around the world: democracy and the values of the Enlightenment.

  The violence one sees today in Catalonia is only a first major step. The separatists carry out their actions in the name of 'true democracy' when in fact,  they are actually exposing true democracy for what it is. The Spanish police and their authorities who are trying to seize the voting process are only carrying democracy to its ultimate conclusions: it can only exist as a vehicle for coercive rulers to play off of the antagonism between opposing value systems within its own framework.

  The two most common interpretations of the situation further reveal democracy's true face: people say a), that Catalonia's secession is a threat to democracy and b) a perfect example of it. Leftists consider it a nationalistic precursor to another Francoesque rule, while Rightists consider it a bold break from the deathgrip of globalism. It is hard to tell now how this will ultimately pan out, as it could go either of those directions. One thing, however, is certain. An entire order is collapsing from within. The fact that Catolonia is willing to secede and isolate itself, surrounded on all sides by the neoliberal network of western powers, shows just how much and in precisely which areas the system has decayed the most.

  As of now, the west, Catolonia especially, is still enamored with the very spirit which made them susceptible to so much coercion in the first place. The coming challenge, of which we have yet to see so much as a sliver, will be whether or not any people or nation can reject the passive position we have been offered in the form of modern politics, or if we will transcend politics altogether and create self-generating systems which encourage the harmony of all people with their respective environments.