The second World Conference of the Organizing Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International met in Paris from 1 to 3 November. Among the urgent items on its agenda was the struggle for the Republic in Catalonia. The Conference sent these greetings to the workers of Catalonia:
We, delegates from 30 countries, meeting in the Conference of the Organising Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International (OCRFI), salute the movement through which the workers, youth and people of Catalonia have opened up a new situation both in the Spanish State and across the continent.
Despite the repression, despite the ransacking of the ballot-boxes, despite the police violence, on 1 October 2017, hundreds of thousands of people mobilised, and through their mobilisation imposed a vote – the majority character of which is indisputable – to establish the Republic.
What does the Republic mean?
The Republic means the end of the monarchy, the end of all the institutions of oppression used against the peoples of the Spanish State, the end of the institutions of oppression established by Franco’s dictatorship over the course of 40 years and continued by the Francoist monarchy for 40 years more.
The Republic in Catalonia means the door having been opened to the constituent process by which the people – and especially the majority made up of the workers of the towns and countryside and the youth – would have the power to decide on what should be the social content and the political forms of the Republic.
For the workers of Catalonia and the whole of the Spanish State, the Republic should mean the possibility of breaking with the programmes of the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, the possibility of breaking with the programmes of the Troika that were rejected by millions upon millions of people on strike and on demonstrations in 2012, and again in 2014. It means the opening of the possibility to move towards a Republic, the social content of which can be that of a Workers’ Republic.
The Republic in Catalonia means a breach having been opened up for Republics in every region of Spain, a breach having been opened up for the free union of free Republics of the whole of the Spanish State.
Workers, we know very well that the social class that has the greatest interest in the proclamation of the Republic and the fall of the monarchy is the working class.
On 1 October, the people expressed its will
Here is what one of the Committees for the Defence of the Referendum and the Republic said in a statement in the days following the referendum: “On 1 October, the people of Catalonia decided in a referendum to express their wish to establish an independent Republic, and they did so in conditions of brutal repression by the Spanish national police and the Civil Guard. In many polling centres in this neighbourhood, local inhabitants had to defend their right to vote with their own bodies, being direct victims of the police violence but also direct actors in the exercise of their democratic determination which has been witnessed around the world. Two days later, on 3 October, a general strike against repression and for rights paralysed the country and mobilised Catalan society on a massive scale; in the course of this general strike – because it could not be otherwise – the working class became the most active and the most decisive social force. In the Committee for the Defence of the Republic, we believe that ten general strikes must be continued, because it is an important tool of struggle in the days and weeks to come, not only for defending ourselves against the oppressive measures of the State but also for defending the nascent Republic and fighting for the release of the two Jordis being held hostage by the Spanish State. (…) Following the slogan we launched on 1 October, which said: “Let’s organise for a class-based ‘Yes’”, we propose to contact the working men and women of our neighbourhood to involve them on the defence of the Republic and to support their work-based struggles and demands. In the end, the new Republic must be born in order to solve the serious social problems from which we are suffering and to be able to build a fairer society.”
Since 28 October, there has been brutal repression, ordered by the Rajoy government and in keeping with the nature of the monarchy’s institutions. This brutal repression has been supported and encouraged by Trump, the European Union and every government of the big powers.
The European Union against the Catalan Republic
The European Union and the capitalists have clearly expressed their hostility to the Catalan Republic. They understood full well that their class interests were threatened by the upsurge and mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of people to bring down the monarchy. They understood this full well, along with the whole of the unholy alliance of the leaders of the different governments of the countries of Europe and the European Union.
Workers of Catalonia, we send you the greetings of the Organising Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International. We affirm that it is shameful to see the leaders of organisations which claim to represent the working class and the labour movement lined up against the proclamation of the Catalan Republic, going as far as to vote against it when they were represented in Parliament; in some cases, going so far as to organise jointly with the monarchy and Rajoy the triggering of Article 155, suspending Catalonia’s rights; in some other cases, going so far as to legitimise new elections which, being held under the heel of the forces of repression, have no significance other than seeking to erase the result of 1 October; for others still, even going so far as to cynically call for fighting against the Republic proclaimed on 1 October in the name of a hypothetical Republic sometime in the future.
Shame on all those whose responsibility it should have been to call workers’ mass meetings throughout Spain on the slogans, “Let’s forge unity between the workers of the towns and countryside in every region of the Spanish State and put an end to the anti-worker programmes dictated by the IMF and the European Union, and for a constituent process that will allow us to bring down the Francoist monarchy and establish Republics in every region and establish the Free Union of the Free Republics of the whole Spanish State”; and who not only have refused to organise such meetings, but on the contrary have campaigned to set the workers of Andalusia, the Basque Country, Castile and the other regions against the Catalan workers.
Shame on those in every country in Europe, who, as leaders of the labour organisations, have turned their backs on the duty of class solidarity with the Catalan people.
Shame on those who continue to do everything in their power to isolate the Catalan workers from the whole of the working class of the Spanish State and from all of the countries of Europe.
We salute the workers of Catalonia
We salute the workers of Catalonia. We know that the situation is difficult and that they can expect nothing from their leaders who, having organised the referendum, then reaffirmed their allegiance to the European Union and finance capital. But we also know that through mobilisation, Committees for the Defence of the Referendum and the Republic were set up. We know that some of these Committees have decided to continue to take action, at whatever cost, to organise the mobilisation in order to protect the gains of 1 October. Yesterday, 2 November, demonstrators in their tens of thousands in every town and city of Catalonia shouted out their outrage against the arrests and the repression, and chanted slogans condemning the role of the European Union and calling for a general strike.
Hands off the Catalan people
We are confident of the fact that the result of 1 October, which affirmed the reality of the Republic in Catalonia, will – regardless of events – continue to represent a first step that will be followed by others.
We are confident of the capacity of the workers and youth, in Catalonia and in every region of Spain, to find the path to organising, which will allow them to assert their rights.
Rest assured that the OCRFI, an integral part of the struggles by the workers and peoples for their emancipation throughout the world, will be – as it has always been – at your side in this decisive struggle. And in particular, throughout the world its organisations and its militant activists are participating and will participate in every act of mobilisation to demand: “Hands off the Catalan people! Release the political prisoners! Stop the legal prosecutions! Long live the Catalan Republic!”
1.30 p.m., 3 November 2017
The statement is available as a printable PDF file, here: OCRFI Greetings to the workers of Catalonia