There has been an upsurge in protests in Catalonia since the draconian sentencing of its nationalist political leaders for instituting an unauthorised referendum ballot. Humiliating them and turning them into martyrs for the cause of Catalan independence was always only going to make matters worse. There is no doubt that there exists a demand for full independence rather than the regional self-government the Catalans possess now. However, the World Socialist Movement does not support nor sympathise with these nationalist aspirations. Recent events in Catalonia and the SNP's renewed campaign for another independence referendum demand a restatement of a basic socialist principle.
Are the Catalans an oppressed people? No. they have wide liberties concerning their culture and language. Is the Catalonia an economically depressed region of Spain. No. It is one of the more prosperous parts of Spain.
Scottish and Catalan independence appeals to various injustices of the past, representing its nation or territory solely as a victim.
As in Scotland there exists a movement of the local elite which seeks exclusive control over the economic and financial assets and infrastructure of the region. Both regions are reluctant to sacrifice any of their local resources or wealth to prop up the poorer parts the country elsewhere. Why should North Sea oil subsidise poverty-stricken Liverpool? Similarly, why should the industrial successful Barcelona maintain impoverished Andalusians? Both independence movements argue that they pay a disportionately large share of tax revenues into the central state's coffers. Part of the Catalan capitalist's case is that an independent Catalan state so they will be able to pay less in taxation.
The nationalist separatism is fragmentation and a rejection of class solidarity. It substitutes national and ethnic values for class interests. It may promote a sense of “community” for people, but ensures it is narrowed down in size by excluding many others from this imaginary family. Catalan and Scottish nationalism in no less damaging for the working class cause than any other nationalism.
If our aim is to bring about a class-free society of equals then our attention should be on the real antagonistic relation between the classes not the fake illusions put forward by nationalists. We have to find and create new forms of egalitarian organisation that can supersede the nation-state and capitalism, not help the local capitalist class in the creation of new and ever smaller states. The Socialist Party is implacably opposed to Catalan and Scottish separatism as to all other nationalisms. The interests of the workers would not be served either by Catalan nationalism. Independence or no independence it would just be capitalist business as usual.
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