oktober 16, 2017

Tomás Ibáñez on #Catalonia: About Storms and Compasses

Tomás Ibáñez on #Catalonia: About Storms and Compasses. Statement from October 11.
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Originally published by A Las Barricadas. Translated by comrades from Barcelona.

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

Read all Enough Is Enough reports about Catalonia; here.

Tomás Ibáñez on Catalonia: About Storms and Compasses

It is in the convulsive, complex, and stormy moments when it becomes more pressing to consult the compasses to avoid straying. However, it is also in the thunder of the storm that it is more difficult to rely on its indications. That is why it is necessary not to be dragged by the maelstrom of events that happen extremely fast and demand prompt responses. That is why it is necessary, if only for a moment, to “look up” beyond the immediate context, to take some distance from the storm, and try to glimpse to what horizon we are pushed by the acts to which the situation seems to place us.

From the sympathy, appreciation, and understanding, which I feel for many of the libertarians who are involved in the current mobilizations in Catalonia, I can not escape, however, that they are favoring, totally involuntarily, the process designed by the Catalan Government and by the nationalist formations to create “a new State”.

It is clear that this is not their goal, the very opposite, and that this is not the reason why they expose their bodies in a paradoxical “defense of the ballot box”, or call to a general strike in practical contiguity temporary with the referendum aiming the creation of the new State.

Its objectives range from contributing to “destroying the Spanish State” (hopefully that is achieved), to moving towards a situation where “everything can be decided”, and not only the political form of the territory, through the perspective of radicalizing the current conflict encouraging the creativity and the sparks of self-organization that appear in the population. Some even cherish the dream of an (improbable) popular insurrection that opens the way to an authentic “autonomy”, in the strong sense of that term that goes far beyond the self-determination of peoples.

These objectives, as well as the unavoidable commitment to the fight against the repression exerted by the State on those who defy its laws, deserve the most absolute respect. However, it is also obvious that the performance of these partners brings their grain of sand to the development of the pro-independence project, or rather, nationalist, which is as it should be called, since it does not pretend to “make independent” anything, but, “nation”.

If this contribution concerns me, it is not because it leads to the creation of a new state, in the end we will continue to struggle within it as we are doing within the current one, without the change of the state framework implying a qualitative difference that deserves special mention. Living in a new state brings us without care, however, the main negative impact that will emerge from our participation in the current conflict is that it will be up to us and the workers involved to paying the consecuences of the confrontation between the state instituted and the nascent state, as will happen, for example, to the twenty Greek anarchists arrested for occupying the embassy of Spain in solidarity “with Catalunya”.

What worries me, and it is precisely at this point that what I said before about the need to “look up”, is that the contribution to the current confrontations is giving wings to the “boom of nationalisms”, as it happens in all clashes between nationalisms, and it augurs a confrontation between workers both within Catalonia and between workers in Catalonia and elsewhere. Not to mention the corresponding “extreme right-wing” boom that has already been observed in a disturbing way in different parts of Spain. It is not that we have to give up fighting in order not to provoke the rise of the extreme right, of course, but what we should not do is fight in a scenario defined in nationalist codes because that does guarantee that boom.

At the moment, the respective actions of a Puigdemont that yesterday left in limbo the proclamation of the new State, and of a Rajoy that today sets in motion, without formalizing it, the suspension of the Catalan autonomy, reveal the concern not to harm the interests of large corporations, companies or financial institutions, and points out the limits that the two governments faced are not willing to transgress. That is being translated by an undercut of tension, by the staging of a spectacle of poses and deceptions, adorned with blank shots. So far the only blood that has already been spilled, and which should be avoided, is that of “the people below” who allowed themselves to be dragged into an orchestrated party and arbitrated by the political class according to their interests. Let us fight, yes, but not in battlefields where our enemies call us to side with them.

Tomás Ibáñez Barcelona, October 11, 2017

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oktober 11, 2017

Statement by #Rouvikonas About the Occupation of the Spanish Embassy in #Athens


oktober 11, 2017

Dr. Bones: #Catalonia Is A Weapon

We reblog an interesting read by Dr. Bones; Catalonia Is A Weapon.

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Original image by ₵Ɽł₥ł₦₳Ⱡ ⱤɆ₲ł₴₮Ɽ₳₮łØ₦ ₦Ʉ₥฿ɆⱤ 66116

Originally published by Gods and Masters. Written by Dr. Bones.

Note: Enough is Presence Counta is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

Read all reports about Catalonia; here.

Dr. Bones: Catalonia Is A Weapon

We do not only participate in insurrections led by anarchists but also in all the other insurrections that have the characteristics of the people in revolt, even if for some reason it is our future enemies, the Stalinists, that are leading them….

The revolutionary struggle is like a stormy sea against which to struggle would be vain folly, it is necessary to adapt ourselves to the direction of the waves, to swim sometimes strongly and sometimes lightly, to grasp the impetus of life which the sea hides within it to reach the desired goal.” – Alfredo M. Bonanno, “Why Insurrection”

The hour is 12:00am on a warm and windless Florida night, as I pace the room and chew on toothpicks. 4,636 miles away in Catalonia an uneasy calm hangs in the balance. Catalonia, rather than declare independence, has asked Spain to give it to her. Spain, ever prideful, calls this blackmail and “will not allow it.” The fight is far from over and now we wait, a spaceship with an unknown trajectory hurtling towards a future as yet undecided; swirling tendrils of quantum possibility slowly solidifying into manifested reality even as I type these words. Is nobody else kept up by standing hairs as the spirits whisper of chaos and madness?No, perhaps it’s just me…perhaps the only way to truly understand the potential of Catalonia is with a Wizard’s eye.

History Doesn’t Repeat Itself But It Does Tend to Rhyme

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The Occultist views time very differently from your average meat-popsicle, and tends to drift to an alien, perhaps even cosmic, view on the nearby effects of distant actions. Take the time I’d lit a candle to soothe red-hot tensions between my wife and her mother, swaying and chanting as I felt “something” literally crawl down the air and hit the fire like an atom bomb.

“Dear GOD!” I shouted, falling over and shaking with sweat, unsure how but knowing on a cellular level the spell had already worked. The candle was barely lit, I had planned two more rounds of prayers, but none of that seemed to matter; out there in the distance of the future, a place right next-door if it wasn’t for my three-dimensional limitations, I could feel the success leak back to me.

A few moments later things begin to crack. Viscous words, slammed doors. Had I been wrong? After an hour of war they sit down and talk, the earlier screams forcing long ignored issues to the surface. Discussion, agreement, peace. The spell had worked far beyond my expectations.

I knew it would I just didn’t know the how. I keep my eye on the big picture and let reality design the details. Catalonia yearning for a boss in Barcelona is a finger pointing at the bigger picture.

A common mistake observers have made is believing Catalonia has been seeking independence only recently, that autonomy is nothing more than a shiny new prize for the drooling bourgeois in Barcelona. While there is no doubt independence offers lucrative financial opportunities Catalonia has been hungry for self-rule since 1640, when the region first revolted against Spain and placed itself under the protection of Louis XIII of France. Since then Catalonia has long desired to be under its own command and militantly rebelled. This historic trend will continue regardless of how the events in Spain play out.

Let us be clear however: this is by no means a leftist or Anarchist revolution. Whileanarchist unionstook a leading role in theGeneral Strike on Oct 3rdand the Catalan parliament seems intent on passing progressive laws, this is far from a radical movement. Catalonia desires a republic, a dog-and-pony show where the local wealthy can fully call the shots without an honest-to-god King butting in. If anything this is a move to a more comfortable status quo: people will be free from the police of Madrid so long as they swear to obey the ones in Barcelona.

Even if Catalan elections were swept by the ghost of Marx no elected power could challenge the Masters of the Eurozone. Have we forgotten the horrible horsewhippingthat was Syriza?

“In a nationwide referendum just last Sunday, nearly 62 per cent of voters rejected an austerity deal that had been offered by the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank.

There were scenes of wild jubilation across the country…

Fast forward just a few days, however, and Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister, did the unthinkable…They will now have to accept a package that is even harsher than the one that was rejected in the referendum, to the tune of about €4 billion…

‘I feel like a slave. They do what they want, and we can’t participate.’”

Nothing Says “Democracy” Quite Like Riot Cops

So the “freedom” of Catalonia is out. What then? Is there anything here Anarchists can support or decry?

The massive police response to the vote for independence should be duly noted and filtered into propaganda without delay: Spanish cops beat more than 900 prospective voters for daring to voice an opinion. Does this not prove that the edicts of the government are more important to the dogs in uniform than the will of the people? Is there anything quite as vile as declaring an opinion “illegal” while invoking “the Law” to dropkick women and children?

When I see cops beating workers I don’t need to wonder which side I’m on; like an armadillo and a six-lane highway any cop and I are keenly opposed to one another. The entire policing institution is the most brutal expression of state-enforced dehumanization.Everything about it reeks of slavery.Again this is what States do regardless of size or shape; if the Catalan Republic decides it’s interests are at stake there is no question they’d do the same. The borders of nationhood are merely a fence for the human cattle who exist at the whim of capital and the politicians that represent them.

What of the EU, the enlightened and rational government that everyone insists must not be dissolved? Have they stopped the violence? Do they support the “popular will” or vision of the actual human beings the Spanish state claims to represent? If there were any lingering questions to how thoroughly un-democratic the EU actually is just remember they are siding with a monarch who fails to see the irony in calling the independence vote“a mockery of democracy.”

Not to mention that the same “union” that can’t imagine instituting the death penalty never batted an eyewhen Pablo Casado, the head of Spain’s ruling partysaid “We hope that tomorrow nothing will be declared, because perhaps the one who declares it will end up like the one who declared it 83 years ago.”

Confused? Let me make it clear: Casado was referring to Lluis Companys, who proclaimed a short-lived Catalan state in 1934. He was arrested, kept in solitary confinement, tortured, and beaten while senior figures of the Spanish State routinely visited his cell to insult and mock him. Six years later, refusing a blindfold and bravely facing his executioners, he was mowed down by a firing squad.

But what does that matter? After all the Lisbon treaty makes it clear that the EU will respect the “right” of members to carry out “essential state functions” which include “ensuring the territorial integrity of the state.”

“The EU is just a centralized version of the same violent mafia that have been running all the various nation-states of Europe for hundreds of years,” writes The Acorn. “It is not condemning the Spanish state because all the states that it represents reserve the right to behave in exactly the same, violent, way, wherever their authority is challenged.”

Craig Murray, a former UK ambassador who was staunchly in favor of the EU,echoes the same sentiments:

“The EU reacted as if no such abuse had ever happened at all, and the world had not seen it.  The institution has in fact been overrun by the right wing cronyism of the neo-liberal political class, and no longer serves the principles for which it ostensibly stands. It is become simply an instrument of elite power against the people.”

Hmm, that last bit came through a bit unclear. You mean to tell me the economic project of a bunch of wealthy Europeans has become “an instrument of elite power against the people?” SWEET GODS MAN, ALERT THE PRESS! What a strange and unnerving twist in human history! Gahhh, if only we had known! If only there had been grotesque and horrible lessons that had cost millions of lives that we could point to, things so dark and terrible that people might question the VERY IDEA that small groups of people could have all the right answers; oh we lost and foolish children of the future, if only we’d KNOWN, if only we’d been WARNED that no matter how kind the master HE WILL ALWAYS OWN YOU!

No…must be all the alchohol making me cynical. Surely the next time around we’ll elect the incorruptible in a universe marked by entropy. Surely!

Independence Is the Infection And We Are The Disease

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Image: March, 1921, Spanish Prime Minister Eduardo Dato was gunned down by three Catalan anarchists, the second Spanish Prime Minister to be slain by anarchists within a decade. Pictured above is Dato’s car, riddled with bullet holes. Source: http://health-is-in-you.tumblr.com/Catalonia’s potential independence is not revolutionary in and of itself. What it does have is revolutionary implications.The independence of Catalonia, if it gets it, will have psychographical ramifications. Spain is the dusty and riddled corpse of Empire, a place who once claimed to rule the world, and has existed in its current cartographic form since the completion of the Reconquista in 1492. While Spain has lost everything, every colony, every claim to its imperial past it still has those borders, is still the country Hernán Cortés killed for. Statehood for Catalonia will be the final nail in the coffin; in one fell swoop that Spain will cease to exist. This is the literal unmaking of the world, and sages would be wise to note the omenry in the falling of Spain as they did Austro-Hungary almost 100 years ago.From this new reality every other separatist will be emboldened. If the Catalans have the right why not the Basques, or for that matter the Black Belt in the Southern US? Are the current borders of Spain no less imaginary than those of France, England, or the US? Are they not held up to be just as sacred as the King of Spain himself? Lawyers will argue precedents, politicians will cite examples, and ne’er-do-wells everywhere will begin to ask “if they can do it, why can’t we?” This is a mental door that once opened won’t be easily shut, and the governments of the world know it.

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(Source: Public Domain)

So what will the Spanish state do? There is a religious myth that’s been handed down to people that power tends to dissolve rather than crystallize, that left to its own devices Those Who Rule will eventually acquiesce to popular opinion.This of course is a lie.The governments of the world understand, on a reptilian level, that signs of weakness lead to greater hunger and bravery in the enemy. The smell of blood naturally excites the senses. Why ask for an eight-hour day when you can get four? $10 an hour when you can get $12? No need to negotiate if it looks like you’re going to win.

To stave this off the Spanish state will have no other option but to increase hostilities against Catalonia, to beat and maim the people until they break. Each violent outburst will only fuel outrage, causing protesters to be emboldened, causing more violence and again, and again, and again, until finally somebody gets killed.

And when they do Europe will be very, very happy they bar the citizenry from owning firearms. But that alone won’t save them.

If the EU continues to ignore the problem they will look bad. If they side with Spain they will reveal their authoritarian leanings. If they side with Catalonia every nation in the EU will view it as an outrage and betrayal. This is why Anarchists must stand with Catalonia.

The “right” to Statehood and legitimacy of an independence vote are nothing to us. We instead must stand with Catalonia because it is a weapon against all we seek to destroy, a complicated and intricate bomb dropped at the vampiric tomb of European imperialism; it is a trap, filled with shit-covered rusty hooks, that will bleed and damage the organs and skin of the European Capitalist project no matter where it grasps it; it is an occult altar where enough chaos and strife might summon alternative systems to wage war against the mighty.

This isn’t some theoretical bullshit. The obscene police presence in Catalonia means comrades are free elsewhere to do as they wish. One would be wise to seize the opportunity. Every act of brutality committed by the Spanish state is another opportunity to fan the flames of vengeance and inspire the exploited to rise in righteous fury.

Catalan independence is not revolutionary, but like an alien creature bursting from its host’s chest it can be the womb for something far more dangerous.

The crisis is Catalonia is but one in a long list of potential pitfalls faced by global Capitalism, and almost always precipitate change. Lacking the organization for revolutionaries to create such dangerous events for the world powers we must latch on to them wherever they arise; if we cannot boil the water we should always stir the pot. Spontaneous or cyclical, every rebellion should be seized and pushed further into full-blown insurrection capable of destroying the State and Capital.

Uncertainty favors the Anarchist, instability is our friend. Call out to the gods of your choice and seek ye the eye of the hurricane.

Yesterday Rojava, today Catalan, tomorrow where ever the dice may land, The Creator of Plots will forever unleash a Pandora’s box of powers to upset the established order. Some of them, surprise surprise, won’t be Anarchist in nature. Rather than arguing over how we feel about that far better to begin conspiring about what we can get away with….

Dr. Bones, October 2017.

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Dr. Bones is a Hoodoo-slingin’ Florida native and Egoist-Communist spitting pure vitriol and sorcerous wisdom at a world gone mad. He lives with his loving wife, a herd of cats, and a house full of spirits.

His poltergasmic politics and gonzo journalism can be found at Gods & Radicals and The Conjure House. He can be reached by emailtwitter, or facebook. Want to do him a favor? Help keep him alive for as little as $4.99 a month.

 

oktober 9, 2017

#Catalonia: Fascist Salutes and Attacks in #Barcelona

On Sunday 350.000 Spanish nationalists and fascists marched in Barcelona. Fascists showed fascists salutes, attacked people and showed the ugly face of the francoist part of Spanish society.

Image: Spanish nationalists and fascists marched in Barcelona on Sunday. 

 

Originally published by

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

Read all  reports about Catalonia; here.

About two and a half hours before the demo of Spanish nationalists and fascists started, we saw the first small groups with Spanish national flags in the El Carmel district.

We took a subway to Plaza de Catalunya and couldn’t believe our eyes and ears; big groups celebrating the Spanish state, the paramilitary Guardia Civil and the Spanish Policia Nacional.

Image: Spanish nationalists and fascists in the subway station at Plaza de Catalunya on Sunday.

We didn’t know that at that moment but it was just a preface of things to come. At that moment it looked like a strange mix between Spanish nationalists, fascists and people that consider themselves as part of the so-called “silent majority”.

When we came out of the subway station on Plaza de Catalunya we saw a sea of Spanish flags, but we also saw the first organized neo-fascists. This was about 90 minutes before the official demo started.

Image: A sea of flags around Plaza de Catalunya about 90 minutes before the start of the Fascist demo on Sunday. 

We decided to check out the route of the demo. In front of Policia Nacional headquarters people were applauding the Spanish cops to thank them for the violent and Fascist police action against people who wanted to vote on October 1. The so-called “silent majority” was applauding, the neo-fascists were applauding, the francoist fascists were applauding. Together they chanted: “Viva la Guardia Civil! Viva Policia Nacional!” Many people raised there arm for fascist salutes and we didn’t see anybody of the so-called “silent majority” that interfered.

Image: One of the many fascist salutes in front of Policia Nacional headquarters.

That was the point that this demo is a fascist demo. Just like the Pegida demos in Dresden, Germany are fascist demos. Even when parts of mainstream media and parts of the political class like to call these people “concerned citizens” (Dresden) or in this case “silent majority”, these kind of demos have a fascist agenda and people who support this agenda should be called fascists.

After we left Policia Nacional headquarters we walked into a scene where fascists were threatening and offended Catalan cops (Mossos, also not our friends). We documented this scene (We will release a video in the coming days), but had to leave after some organized fascists spotted us.

We had lunch and witnessed an attack by fascists against a taxi driver. Another group that passed by greeted the attackers with fascist salutes. At 04:00pm fascists attacked 3 Moroccan men at Portal Nou (Image below).

Image: Fascists attacking 3 Moroccan men at Portal Nou on Sunday.

As anarchists we are not in favor of any state. But after the police violence on October 1 and yesterday’s fascist horror show, it should be clear that the Spanish state already lost the hearts and minds of most people in Catalonia and even beyond

An other aspect is that the fascist Spanish state could be significantly  weakened when Catalonia breaks away and we think that might open new fields for anarchist interventions. This doesn’t mean that people should support the independence movement, that’s a decision people have to take themselves. To be honest, personally we wouldn’t. But it means we could all support anarchists in Catalonia to intensify the emancipatory and social struggle after a possible declaration of independence. At the moment we also should be aware that anarchists in Catalonia could be attacked and could face repression by both states. The new one and/or the old one.

In solidarity, some of the Enough is Enough Team, October 9, 2017.

Image: Antifa gathering at the UAB University in Barcelona earlier today. Anti-fascist comrades explained which organizations were behind yesterdays fascist demo in Barcelona.

 

oktober 7, 2017

#Catalonia: Waiting For The Storm?

In this week full of tension and police violence, Barcelona looked pretty calm to me when we arrived last night. But during conversations with anarchist comrades here it became clear that the city is far from calm.

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Originally published by

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

Read all  reports about Catalonia; here.

At Barcelona  airport there were no extra controls. Actually we didn’t see any cops at all at the airport.

We left the airport and went to comrades who organised a place to sleep for us. The situation in Catalonia  is very difficult for many anarchist comrades in Catalonia. Many people have a similar position as we have on the independence issue. They went on the streets on October 1, trying to protect people against the repression by the paramilitary Guardia Civil and the Spanish Policia Nacional and supported the General strike on October 3. But somehow they are caught in the middle.

 

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Caught in the middle between people who want to stay in the Spanish state and people who are fighting for a Catalonian state. The anarchist comrades that we spoke with don’t believe in any state and for them it just doesn’t make sense to fight for a new state. But they also told us that there are other anarchists who fight for a Catalonian state. These comrades are convinced that a Catalonian state would bring new possibilities for a social revolution.

In long discussions we had last night we came to the conclusion that the ruling Catalan parties probably will start a new wave of repression against emancipartory factions of the independence movement as soon as the Catalan political class don’t need them anymore.

The comrades we spoke with are also convinced that the pacific resistance that the independent movement is so proud of is a dangerous strategy. They are convinced that the Spanish state is capable of sending in the army if they have to. The Spanish government is not going to give up on Catalonia that easy and our comrades think that the things we saw on the first of October could be just a first sign.

Will there be a civil war in Spain? Not necessarily, today there were first signs that the Spanish and Catalan government might even already negotiate behind closed doors. Shortly after the Spanish government apologized to those who got injured from police violence today, Catalan prime Minister Puigmont told reporters there would be a parliamentary session on Tuesday to talk about “the political situation”. Yesterday he was talking about an unilateral declaration of independence. So the tone somehow softened… A dirty deal in the making or just a coincidence?

Tonight Fascists were driving around with Spanish flags and insulting and provoking people. This was in the El Carmel neighborhood, the district where we are staying. There were also a lot of cops in the area. The appearance of fascists is becoming a daily routine in the last couple of days.

On Sunday Spanish nationalists and fascists of the Falange and HSM movements are mobilizing to Barcelona. The Spanish governing Partido Popular (PP) is also mobilizing to Barcelona. Antifa counter protests are also announced. In this tense political climate the fascist mobilization could easily be used to create chaos. That could (but not necessarily must) the moment for the Spanish government to repress the independence movement, but also the anarchist movement even harder.

We will tweet live from the fascist demo and the counter protests on Sunday with our Twitter account @enough14.

Help to maintain our site and support our independent reporting from the ground. You can donate on our PayPal account: enough14@gmx.net

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oktober 5, 2017

The Hotwire #7: October 4, 2017

 

https://crimethinc.com/podcast/hotwire-7

This week we go on a bunch of rants. We rant about why no state is better than a new state in Catalonia. We rant about why anti-fascists should not allow the state to position itself as the principal force protecting people from Nazi violence. We rant about how mutual aid and community relief must mean opposition to capitalism and a redistribution of wealth. Rant rant rant! Rah rah rah! {October 4, 2017}

Notes and Links

oktober 5, 2017

Democracy, Red in Tooth and Claw: On the Catalan Referendum–The Old State, a New State, or No State at All?

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Originally published by CrimethInc.

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

Read all our reports about Catalonia; here.

On October 1, during a referendum on Catalan independence, Spanish police attacked crowds of voters, smashed out the windows of schools hosting polling stations, and beat senior citizens at random. In response, a massive general strike took place in Barcelona on October 3. By setting up this opposition between the violence of the Spanish police and the self-organization of Catalan voters, proponents of independence have created the impression that nationalism and democracy offer a solution to state oppression and police violence. In the process, they’ve invested Catalan police and politicians with renewed legitimacy. Yet what if democracy, nationalism, and police violence are not opposing phenomena, but three aspects of the same thing? Here, we argue that the way to achieve self-determination is not to create a new state, but to abolish the state as a model for human relations.

Don’t take our word for it, though. Let’s back up and see if there’s any coherent way to resolve this conflict over state sovereignty besides the anarchist approach.

The ones who put out the fires.

Which Side Is Democratic?

Both sides claim to be fighting for democracy. The Spanish police present themselves as the defenders of law and order, while the proponents of Catalan independence say they seek self-determination through elections. These are two different visions of what democracy entails.

Or are they? Let’s look closer.

If democracy simply means being assaulted by police in the name of constitutions ratified before you were born, there isn’t much to distinguish it from dictatorship. The fact that the salaries of the officers who beat you are paid with tax money they extort from you just adds insult to injury. The Spanish state needs to legitimize those laws, police, and taxes with democratic elections or else it will be obvious to everyone that their rule rests on force alone. This explains some of the innuendo about how the majority of Catalan people don’t actually want independence.

But the partisans of Catalan independence face a version of this same paradox. What weight will their referendum carry if the result is not implemented via laws, police, and taxes? In calling for an independent Catalan state, they are calling to replicate everything they currently object to in Spanish rule. Catalunya already has its own police and tax collectors who treat those who resist them just as violently as the Spanish police treated aspiring voters on Sunday.

So it’s not a question of which side is democratic. They both are. The question, rather, is which elections, laws, and police should hold sway—the Spanish ones or the Catalan ones? To answer that question, we have to confront a deeper problem, the question of sovereignty.

The defenders of democracy.

What Makes Elections Legitimate?

Was the referendum on October 1 legitimate? The Catalan government asserts that it was. Meanwhile, Spanish President Rajoy maintains that “a self-determination referendum in Catalonia didn’t happen,” in the longstanding tradition of politicians like Donald Trump who proclaim reality by fiat.

What does it take to make a referendum legitimate? Is it a question of what proportion of the population participates? Or is the important thing whether the vote adheres to an established protocol?

According to the Catalan government, 90 percent of the ballots cast on Sunday were for independence. On the other hand, only 42 percent of registered voters participated in the referendum—2.2 million people out of 5.3 million registered voters. That still seems like a pretty good turnout, considering that 12,000 Spanish police were violently attacking voters all over Catalunya, inflicting nearly 900 documented injuries and surely a great deal more that went unreported. But it still accounts for less than half of the registered voters and considerably less than half the population.

Opponents of Catalan independence boycotted the election. Even if they hadn’t boycotted it, most of them probably wouldn’t have risked being beaten by Spanish police in order to vote for those police to continue to wield authority. It’s entirely possible that the majority of the residents of Catalunya don’t want independence, regardless of the results of the referendum.

For reference, no Presidential election in US history has ever included more than 43% of the total population. Countless people have boycotted US elections, but this has never discouraged those who rule from Washington, DC from assuming that they hold rightful authority. If we decide the Catalan referendum wasn’t representative enough, we should probably reject the legitimacy of every US Presidential election as well.

Others argue that what makes an election legitimate is not what proportion of the population participates, but whether it takes place according to proper protocol. This argument is most popular with the extreme center, the sort of people who are sticklers for the rules regardless of what the rules are or who wrote them. Before we buy into this argument, let’s recall that it was protocol that kept women and people of color from participating in elections for the first century and a half of US democracy, just as the current rules still serve to prevent many people of color from voting today. Adherence to protocol does not guarantee inclusion or egalitarianism.

But the real problem with relying on protocol is that it returns us to the problem of sovereignty. If two different governments establish two different sets of rules, how do we determine which is legitimate? Every existing government came to power by rejecting the authority of its predecessor. We can’t simply do whatever the authorities tell us; we have to make our own decisions about what is right.

Catalan demonstrators—and Catalan police.

The Problem of Sovereignty—Democracy, Nationalism, and War

What should determine which polity people belong to? Nations generally make this determination according to place of birth or parentage. The former approach perpetuates the feudal system; the latter makes nationality a kind of caste system. Neither of these models is “democratic” in the sense of guaranteeing everyone equal rights and participation in society. They also don’t offer any guidance as to what we should do when competing polities demand our fealty, as will occur in Catalunya if this conflict intensifies.

Should the answer to this question be determined by majority rule? There are many problems with this approach. For example, it doesn’t address the question of scale. Partisans of independence may comprise the majority of the population of Barcelona—does that mean they should be able to force their agenda on the minority that opposes it? Catalans comprise a minority within the Spanish state—does that mean Spain should be able to force them to remain Spanish subjects? Spain comprises a minority within the European Union, which itself is a minority within the United Nations. Should world politics simply be a matter of ever bigger majorities forcing decisions on minorities?

Nationalism has developed as a response to this quandary. Understanding the question of sovereignty as a competition to amass majorities at all costs, people form blocs on the basis of superficial similarities such as ethnicity, language, religion, and citizenship. These blocs contend for control within each state and in conflicts between states. This struggle takes place nonviolently as democracy and violently as war—wherever you find democracy, war is never far away.

There are two grievous problems with this approach. First, it exacerbates internal hierarchies; second, it imposes conformity and the struggle to dominate others as the dual basis of all relations. In practice, nationalism means being oppressed and exploited by people of your own ethnicity, language, religion, or citizenship. To defend ourselves against those who aim to rule us, we have to join forces across the boundaries of identity, forming common cause on the basis of shared aspirations for freedom and peaceful coexistence. Nationalists promise to deliver self-determination on the basis of shared identities, but true self-determination demands symbiotic relationships that transcend identity.

The principle of majority rule itself is the problem. On the one hand, the theory of majority rule suggests that we are obligated to accept whatever the majority desires, prescribing a complete abdication of ethical responsibility. On the other hand, the practice of majority rule tacitly implements the principle that might makes right, reducing all relations to cutthroat competition.

Because majority rule is the foundation of democracy, we should not be surprised when democracy serves to legitimize and mobilize the violence of the state, provoking rival states to do the same thing in response. This is the dual risk posed by the independence movement in Catalunya: it could establish a new state just as oppressive as the previous one, but more difficult to question on account of appearing more representative—and it could trigger open hostilities between entrenched state actors who become incapable of imagining each other as anything other than enemies. The latter scenario appears very unlikely for now, but we are not the only ones to speculate that as economic and ecological crises intensify, the Syrian civil war will become a more common template for the politics of the future than the social democracies of the 20th century.

Beware the tides of nationalism.

Anarchist Alternatives

Anarchists have long sought a way out of the traps of nationalism and democracy.

In place of citizenship, a holdover of feudalism and the caste system, we propose voluntary associations that do not claim exclusive control of populations or regions. In place of nationalism, we propose mutual aid across all lines of identity. In place of the state, we propose true self-determination on a decentralized basis. In place of democracy, the principle of majority rule, we propose the principles of horizontality and autonomy. In place of the wars that nationalism and democracy always foment, we propose solidarity and transformative justice.

What could this mean in Catalunya today, where partisans of Spanish sovereignty clash with partisans of Catalan independence? Our answer is utopian, but it offers a point of departure to imagine what we could aim to accomplish in our social movements besides setting up new state structures.

Let Spain be a voluntary association comprised of everyone in every land who identifies with it, and let Catalunya be another such voluntary association among a thousand more. Let all of these associations coexist on the condition that none seeks to rule the others or deprive them of resources. Let each association set out to create commons rather than to amass private wealth, and let all join forces to defend themselves whenever anything threatens these commons or the liberty of the participants.

In this vision, each person could participate in as many different associations as she saw fit. Each association would function as an experiment in collective creativity, shaped alternately by consensus-based decision-making and by the spontaneous interplay of the participants’ self-directed activities. In place of the cutthroat competition of capitalism and statecraft, each of these associations would strive to offer the most fulfilling model for cooperative human relations. A process of natural selection would reward the most generous and nourishing projects rather than the most selfish and brutal, without reducing them to a lowest common denominator or imposing competition as a winner-take-all zero-sum game.

This vision predates the anarchist movement; it has antecedents in a variety of indigenous societies and federations. It is already the model by which anarchists in Barcelona and elsewhere around the world organize themselves in networks of assemblies, social centers, organizations, and affinity groups. Even if we can’t implement this vision on the scale of a region or a continent yet, we can act according to its logic, building networks of mutual aid and standing up to tyranny wherever we encounter it.

From this vantage point, we can see that when police attack people attempting to utilize voting booths, anarchists should intercede—not to defend the voting booths, but to protect people from police. We should make it clear that winning referendums will not bring us closer to the world of our dreams—the important thing is to develop the capacity to create the relations we desire on an immediate basis, in a way that can spread rhizomatically throughout society.

At the same time, we have to make clear everything that the Catalan police have in common with the Spanish police and other police the whole world over. We’ve seen the Catalan police attack demonstrations over and over just as the Spanish police did on Sunday. If they provoke less outrage when they attack migrants, workers, and anarchists than when they attack voters, that only shows us how far we have to go.

oktober 4, 2017

Digital Repression and Resistance During the #CatalanReferendum

In 10 days more than 140 websites were blocked in Catalonia.

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Image by @Makrakas in Gràcia, Barcelona.

Originally published by Xnet under Creative Commons license BY-SA 3.0

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

Read all our reports about Catalonia; here.

Digital Repression and Resistance During the #CatalanReferendum

Successes and failures in the use of digital tools in Catalonia’s rebellion

The battle presently being fought in the streets and polling stations in towns and cities throughout Catalonia before, during and after October 1, in which a diverse civil society has come together in huge numbers, putting their bodies and knowledge in the service of the shared goal of defending what is considered to be real democracy, has also had a crucial battleground in the case of the Internet.

September 7, 2017

On September 7, 2017, the Constitutional Court declared the referendum in Catalonia illegal. Thenceforth, the Spanish government embarked on legal, police, and administrative persecution of any “device or instrument that is to be used for preparing or holding the referendum”, including ballot boxes and papers which were now criminal objects. Websites, apps and tools related with the referendum were closed on the Internet.

Independently of whether one agrees or disagrees with the decision of the Spanish courts to ban the referendum, the closing of many regular Internet spaces can be viewed, in a great number of cases, as a grave violation of freedom of expression —and especially freedom of political opinion— which is protected in international treaties and by Article 11 of the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights on “Freedom of expression and information”. While some websites, apps and domains belong to the Generalitat (Government) of Catalonia and were tools directly linked with organizing the referendum, many others were of private individuals or associations, and basically reflect political opinions. It is clear that one thing —arguable or not— is banning a referendum and quite another is blocking, while they were at it, the right to express one’s political opinion that the referendum should be held.

In the last few days, Catalonia has been the testing ground of what we have always denounced or, in other words, the fact that the space of the Internet has yet again been subjected to a state of exception which “democratic” governments wouldn’t dare to apply to physical space because this violation of rights would immediately be visible. Proof of this is that many of the shut-down websites belong to associations with physical premises but no authority has risked ordering that these centers should be closed.

Internet access is essential for the exercise of our freedoms and should be considered in itself a fundamental right [#KeepItOn].

If we let the space of the Internet become the first casualty in the curtailment of basic rights, we can be sure that the next step will be to limit those rights in other spaces as well.

September 13, 2017

On September 13 a court order shut down the web page referendum.cat. Thus began a game of cat-and-mouse between the Spanish government (with its state repression) and the Catalan government.

Some citizens published the referendum web code in Github. After this, clones of the website began to appear, created by volunteer citizens in domains with names like piolin.cat (where piolin refers to Tweetie Pie, painted on the boat accommodating Spanish police), referendum.ninja o marianorajoy.cat, while alternative sites were also made available by the Generalitat itself. The police operation continues with domains being shut down and access blocked to all these sites as well as many other web pages with opinions about the referendum, including those of associations, sports clubs and private sites. All of this was occurring against a background of politicians being arrested and presidents of civil society associations being charged with sedition.

In ten days more than 140 websites were blocked. The project OONI by Tor includes a non-exhaustive list of affected domains and information on the type of block.

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As part of this state operation, the Guardia Civil raided the headquarters of Top Level Domain .cat, confiscating IT equipment and data, and detaining one of its IT staff. This disproportionate measure, which is unprecedented in the European Union, implies the possibility of opening the way for something we have been struggling against for years, namely domain managers being held responsible for content.

The UN Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Internet Society, the Electronic Founder Foundation, and many other organizations like our own have condemned this blocking of websites and the inordinate digital repression carried out by the Spanish government just days before the referendum was held, which meant that there was no chance to establish their validity, suitability and legality because they left no time to do so.

In this situation of persecution and very serious violation of rights, many people, moved by their convictions and without proper legal advice, have exposed themselves to risks which could have been avoided in some cases, and have left their identities at the mercy of a repressive apparatus that needs scapegoats to justify its actions. The open use of names among the alleged authors of the first mirror sites has meant that the authorities are now boasting that they have rounded up the young perpetrators (hasta 14). Some of them face very serious charges like “heading a seditious organization” which, as everyone knows, makes no sense at all in a free, open space like the Internet. These are definitely measures that aim to inflict disproportionate punishment so as to bully and intimidate citizens in an attempt to discourage their intense online activity.

One of the most common errors made by citizens has been their frequent use of servers with few and poor legal guarantees for the client. A case in point is the insistent use of .cat domains. These come under the control of .es, and therefore the Spanish state, which shows no concern for civil rights, in contrast with other generic domains (.net, .org, .com…) with are overseen by ICANN and other organizations that do respect basic rights.

We believe that it is important to stress that we shouldn’t need martyrs to prove that our struggles are just. We must make every possible effort to ensure that the people who are struggling for their rights don’t suffer reprisals. In this regard, Xnet has tried to give an overall explanation of how to avoid this and other useful information in a Guide that seeks to protect people who work with the Internet from unjust repression. This initiative is part of a set of actions designed by the lawyers and organizations of #SomDefensores to defend basic rights.

Net Democracy: Distributed Government

We have seen a Generalitat that is competent and farsighted in its online activity but, in particular, we also note that the acceleration of events in Catalonia has catalyzed the population into a massive use of digital tools in defense of their basic rights. Unlike similar situations, such as that in Turkey for example, the Catalan institutions have agreed in recent days to cede and share, in a widely distributed manner, responsibility for safeguarding freedoms, thus regularizing what we see as the embryo of what could be a truly transversal democracy worthy of the digital age, as some of us have already proposed in our discussion of the methodology of the device Red Ciudadana Partido X.

The president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont—thanks also to help from international experts who have actively and continually been engaged in providing advice for the defense of rights (people like Julian Assange and Peter Sunde)—have recommended the use of proxies in social networks in order to gain access to blocked websites. He subsequently announced that IPFS had also been used as a distributed tool for housing the website giving citizens information about where they should go to vote.

September 23, 2017

On September 23, the High Court of Justice of Catalonia ordered the “blocking of websites and domains [giving this information] which are publicized in any account or official social network of any kind” (). This was not just a matter of a specific list of sites but a general order giving a free hand to forces of security in ordering Internet providers to shut down websites.

With these new powers, the Guardia Civil blocked the domain gateway.ipfs.io and thereby cut off connection, not only to the referendum website, but also to all content from the Spanish state hosted in IPFS through this gateway. The shutdown extended to websites of nongovernmental organizations and movements like empaperem.cat, assemblea.cat and webdelsi.cat which are in favor of the referendum. This carrying out of the court order also extended to GooglePlay, which was forced to withdraw the app allowing people to find information about where to vote.

Nevertheless, at all times the whole population of Catalonia has been able to keep informed about polling stations thanks to continuous replication and massive use of VPN and anonymous browsing in order to access sites that were blocked from Spain. This capacity for action distributed between the government and organized citizens has been the trend throughout the electoral process, with large-scale use of chats, networks and other tools that have allowed swift circulation of information circulated on the micro-scale and among strangers who are working together to deal with hoaxes, leaks and infiltrations.

This networked action by means of which people have, for example, organized themselves, polling station by polling station, has also been manifest in physical spaces, for example with regard to protecting the ballot boxes from police seizure. For a month, the state security forces and their secret services have been searching all over Catalonia for the ballot boxes and voting papers. Although they have raided printers, media offices and headquarters of political parties and other organizations —sometimes without a court order— the ballot boxes were never found, yet they magically appeared in the polling stations. The ballot boxes and papers were there—they were everywhere—guarded by small groups, autonomous nodes, and spread all around Catalonia.

October 1, referendum day

Finally, even as the referendum was taking place on October 1, the Spanish government tried to block, by every means it could, the possibility of accessing the “universal census” app of the entire electoral register.

The domain registremeses.com where the app was hosted was immediately blocked. The Generalitat quickly supplied the more than 1,000 polling stations throughout Catalonia with alternative IPs for access. We believe that, in this case, it probably would have been better to work with Hidden Service in order to avoid police harassment and DDoS attacks by groups opposing the referendum.
Internet connection was also interrupted and it is not yet known who is responsible. Could it have been Internet suppliers obeying state orders (although they deny it)?

However, the polling stations still managed to function, almost all of them routing the smartphones of the volunteers in order to access the Internet. In the street, people were chorusing “airplane mode” so as to save network bandwidth for people working inside the polling stations. The operation lasted from 5 a.m.—which is when citizens began filling the streets to protect the polling stations—until midnight when the vote count ended. All this was achieved in the midst of violent charges by National Police with a toll of more than 800 wounded. Despite everything, more than 2,200,000 people came out to vote.

Order is the people, equal to equal: disorder is this state and its violence

The citizens and government of Catalonia have learned and are witnesses to the fact that in the front line of defense of our democracy, digital resistance depends on our use of technological tools which allow us to protect our rights autonomously and in a well distributed manner.

We hope that the Catalan government will never forget this and that its administration will always resist the temptation of the usual kind of discourse that criminalizes tools protecting privacy, encryption and decentralization of the Internet.

Moreover, when repression was massively unleashed in streets and villages of Catalonia, the social networks and their intelligent use by citizens were once again used to put an end to the blocking and manipulation of information by the mainstream media in Spain, and to let the international media outlets know what was really happening. Perhaps in 2017, many people were already used to this, but it is also highly possible that there have never been so many published videos and photographs documenting police violence as there have been this time (https://twitter.com/joncstone/status/914450692416397312). Without the widespread use of social networks to testify and inform, the people of Catalonia would have been totally isolated and crushed with absolute impunity.

From this point of view, what has been happening in the last few days is historic. This acceleration towards a greater degree of democracy and more power in civil society is happening spontaneously but the ignorance of most people about some aspects of the digital milieu is exposing them to risks and, in this regard, this is what we must make and what we are putting evey effort into to achieve.

October 1, 2017 as a beginning

On October 1, 2017 the politicians were nowhere to be seen. Only Unidos Podemos could be heard now-and-then, trying to capitalize on our wounded for its own ends. Apart this, there were only grassroots people organizing and acting, including some members of parliament and councilors who are people like anyone else. Over 24 hours, civil society came together to work for a day in which people could vote and vote on a huge scale and, furthermore, it didn’t fall into the temptation of responding to the state’s provocation in the form of violence, even though hundreds of injured people needed medical attention. There was happiness, anger and fraternity among the most different people. It was incredibly moving. There were no slogans, no shouting, so that people could vote without being coerced in this display of a valiant, stirring capacity for organization and desire for democracy.

On October 1, 2017 we proved that order is the people and disorder is this state.

El día 1 de Octubre de 2017 los políticos habían desaparecido. Solo de vez en cuando se oía Unidos Podemos intentando capitalizar nuestros heridos para su chiringuito. A parte de esto, no hubo más que gente de a pie organizándose y actuando – entre ellxs aquellxs diputadxs y regidores que son personas, como las demás. Durante 24 horas, la sociedad civil ha llevado a cabo la jornada consiguiendo no solo votar y permitir el voto masivamente, sino también no caer en ninguna provocación de la violencia del Estado, aún debiendo cuidar de centenares de heridos. Hubo alegría, rabia y fraternidad entre las personas más diversas. Increíblemente emotivo. No hubieron eslogan ni gritos para que cada uno pudiera votar sin coacción en una muestra de valiente y conmovedora capacidad de organización y deseo de democracia.

El 1 de octubre de 2017 hemos demostrado que el orden somos la gente y el desorden este Estado.
Xnet

Under Creative Commons license BY-SA 3.0


More info provided by the Xnet network:

Association for Progressive Communications (APC) press release:
https://www.apc.org/en/pubs/apc-calls-end-restrictions-freedom-expression-catalonia

Netcommons.eu press release:
https://netcommons.eu/?q=content/internet-censorship-and-blockade-catalonia-self-sovereign-internet-infrastructures

ISOC (Frederic Donc from Brussels) declaration:
https://www.internetsociety.org/news/statements/2017/internet-society-statement-internet-blocking-measures-catalonia-spain/

Wikipedia article that describes the operation from the Spanish government:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Anubis

Official web site of the High Court of Justice of Catalonia:
http://www.poderjudicial.es/cgpj/es/Poder-Judicial/Tribunales-Superiores-de-Justicia/TSJ-Cataluna/

The legal basis in Catalonia comes from the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliament_of_Catalonia and several laws approved such as: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_on_the_Referendum_on_Self-determination_of_Catalonia and the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_juridical_transition_and_foundation_of_the_Republic.

The informative web site http://www.referendum.cat (Sept 13) was blocked by police with a judicial order to suspend the DNS domain:
https://blog.cdmon.com/ca/comunicat-oficial-referendum-cat/

Replicas of this web site were hosted in Cloudflare, but then ISPs were ordered filters or redirections.

The site was published in a code repository and replicated in the P2P file system IPFS. A IPFS gateway was blocked in some ISPs, but content was accessible from IPFS clients.

Some people cloned the sites and were detained and interrogated, in some cases forced to give passwords (even for personal email and social media). For instance the magistrate (public prosecutor or judge) also ordered to block “websites or domains that appear in any official account or social network of the members of the Government through which directly and indirectly, even referring to other accounts, was informed, through links, of how to access domains whose contents they keep in relation to which they are now blocked.”

About the DNS (.cat TLD intervention and domain blockade) mentioned in the netcommons article, an external discussion:
http://www.internetgovernance.org/2017/09/20/puntcat-under-fire-internet-vs-political-identities/

Among many others (more than 140) sites, such as assemblea.cat, blocked (different ways depending the ISP) and moved to assemblea.eu.

The day of the election many schools and poll stations found their Internet connection down. Police closed several poll stations, in several cases with violence, and a small portion of votes were seized by the police.

Citizens deployed their own mobile and wifi point-to-point links, even batteries for power to allow access to the census application to provide guarantees to the process, such as avoid double voting. VPNs, indirection mechanisms such as Onion routing and alternative ISPs were used to circumvent the traffic filters.

The census service itself, was stopped the day before with a judicial order, among nearly 30 databases, controlled from the data center of the Catalan government. Replicas were created. These servers were actively blocked and attacked during the day, and some of the interruptions and delays of the voting process were the result of that, and required moving the servers to new IP addressed. People in poll stations were using a web application to use that service for voter validation, and social media was used to share news about changes and events. Many people resorted to Whatsapp, Telegram, Signal groups, Twitter, etc.

Many, diverse, and powerful DDOS attacks have happened to many web sites related to the process in the last weeks.

This is still ongoing. Today there is a general strike in Catalonia.

– Xnet has published a very good “Basic guide to preseve fundamental rights on the Internet”:
https://xnet-x.net/en/how-to-guide-for-preserving-fundamental-rights-internet/#how-to-guide

– Softcatala has also published a guide “autodefensa digital”:
https://autodefensa.softcatala.cat/

oktober 4, 2017

The Catalan crisis is a reminder of Europe’s instability

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The turn to authoritarian methods is a response to popular democratic feeling for radical change from the failed neoliberal model across Europe, writes KEVIN OVENDEN


Originally published by Morning Star.

Note: Presence Counts is not organizing any of  these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

PARAMILITARY riot police deployed by the central state. Rubber-coated bullets and percussion grenades. Over 900 injured. Blood-splattered elderly women. Ballot boxes seized and polling places stormed.

The Catalonian independence referendum last Sunday is a watershed in Europe.

The repression ordered by right-wing Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy immediately summoned up memories of the brutality of the years of the Francisco Franco dictatorship, which ended following his death in 1975 and a transition to parliamentary democracy.

Designed to brutalise the core of the Catalan independence movement and to intimidate others from voting — whether yes or no — Rajoy’s repression has transformed a contested question of regional secession into a deeper clash between authoritarianism and democracy.

Some 2.3 million — or 42 per cent of the electorate — did manage to vote, and over 90 per cent of them said yes to the Catalan regional government declaring independence from Spain.

Strikes, stay-aways and a retail shutdown spread across Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia on Tuesday in protest at Sunday’s brutality, and with left-wing activists raising calls for popular assemblies and radical change.

The response from Rajoy’s minority government in Madrid was contemptuous. He dismissed the referendum, a remarkable organisational feat, as a “mere dramatisation” and praised the Guardia Civil national police for acting “serenely.”

President of of the Generalitat of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont hinted at taking the referendum result to the regional parliament, with its pro-independence majority, to act upon this week.

He also appealed for mediation with Madrid, through the European Union as interlocutors. But the European Commission on Monday threw its support wholly behind the Spanish government, saying: “Under the Spanish constitution, yesterday’s vote in Catalonia was not legal.

“For the European Commission, as President [Jean-Claude] Juncker has reiterated repeatedly, this is an internal matter for Spain that has to be dealt with in line with the constitutional order of Spain.”

It went on to declare for the “unity and stability” of the Spanish state and, rather than condemning the repression, voiced abstract pieties about violence in general.

That was more than the British Foreign Office. It made no reference to violence but affirmed that it sees the Rajoy government as a strong ally.

It was in marked contrast to Jeremy Corbyn and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who both condemned the repression on Sunday.

The contrasting political responses are a reflection of how the Catalan independence issue is now bound up with the much wider clash between popular democratic sentiment and increasing authoritarianism across Europe.

It is precisely because the Rajoy government refused to allow a referendum legally under Spanish law that the Catalan regional government was forced to organise its own.

And it has been on account of the refusal of right-wing governments, and of the centre-left Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), in Madrid to accommodate calls for greater autonomous powers for the Catalan administration that demands for independence have grown.

A 2006 law to extend those powers was partially struck down and then not implemented. On taking office in 2011, in the depths of the eurozone crisis, Rajoy spurned any move to compromise with Catalan aspirations.

Public opinion in Catalonia is divided on actually declaring independence. But there is overwhelming opposition to the repression and for the right to self-determination, which means being allowed to vote on it.

The hard line taken by Rajoy, leading to dramatic escalation, is deeply rooted. The constitution he and his EU backers appeal to is from 1978.

It is less than democratic and made major concessions to the old Francoist right as a price for a transition to democracy that would leave their power and wealthy interests as little touched as possible.

One feature was to grant some autonomy for minority nations in the Spanish state but to declare the inviolable unity of Spain and make it impossible, in practice, to have a legal referendum on secession.

Another was to keep the monarchy that Franco had re-established as a focus for continuity of reactionary, militarist and monarchist forces that had run Spain since the end of the civil war in 1939.

The arrangement held for decades. The centre-left PSOE provided an incorporating mechanism bringing the militant labour movement of the 1970s under control.

The right-wing People’s Party (PP) held together the descendants of Francoism with modern neoliberal business interests. The two parties dominated — with alliances with regional parties — and entry into the EU and Nato was meant to copper-fasten a “normal” European twin-party system.

Then came the Great Recession of 2008 and with it the eruption of movements against austerity.

One casualty — as in Greece, which also underwent a similar transition to truncated democracy in the 1970s — was the apparently stable two-party system.

Both the PP and PSOE lost huge support with the rise of the anti-system Podemos party, its imitation on the right, Ciudidanos, and radical regional parties, such as those powering the independence movement in Catalonia.

A second was the unravelling of the constitutional settlement of 1978. A massive corruption scandal surrounding the royal family four years ago peeled away the constitutional gilding to reveal something of the corrupt vested interests it protected.

This is what lies behind the repressive line taken by Rajoy, with all its risks and escalation of the conflict.

If he were instead to seek a new relationship with a more autonomous Catalonia — through the talks that some centrist European figures are calling for — it would threaten to unpick the whole post-Franco settlement.

And that was meant to contain not only national frictions in Spain, but the clashes of class and mass political forces that shaped Spanish history in the 1930s and mid-1970s.

It was also designed to keep the historic far-right within the bounds of the parliamentarist PP. Rajoy’s repression — also meted out to those elsewhere in Spain who support the right of the Catalans to hold a vote — has already given licence to hard-right Spanish chauvinists, and even fascists, to organise.

The crisis is not going away, whether or not Puigdemont opts for a declaration of independence or some process of mediation emerges this week.

It is symptomatic of processes across Europe. For two years we have had rhetoric from Brussels about the anti-democratic outrages of the right-wing governments in Poland and Hungary.

The implication was that this was an Eastern European problem.

But France is still under a state of emergency. Emmanuel Macron will this month try to incorporate those authoritarian measures into ordinary French law. And legislation by presidential decree, not National Assembly vote, has become normalised in Paris.

The turn to authoritarian methods is a response to popular democratic feeling for radical change from the failed neoliberal model of across Europe.

That brought an elected left government in Greece and a massive rejection of austerity in another national referendum two years ago.

Both were crushed and overturned by undemocratic concentrations of power.

That is what is at stake over Catalonia for any on the left, of the labour movement or just plain consistent democrats.

There are people on the left in Spain, including Catalonia, who are for independence and others against. That is a matter of debate on the left.

But what cannot be is defending democracy, the right to vote on self-determination and the principle that a nation that oppresses another — as Spanish police have done in Barcelona — cannot itself be free.

Following Corbyn’s intervention on Sunday, the British labour movement can be a powerful voice in this crisis, demanding that Theresa May break off support for Rajoy’s repression.

It can send a message — yes we are leaving the EU after our own referendum, but we do so the better to stand up for popular democracy at home and in Europe.

The Catalan crisis is a brutal reminder of the instability across the continent as established political systems come under strain.

Contrary to obsessively pro-EU commentators in Britain, the Brexit talks do not pitch a weak and divided Tory government against an iron-clad EU27.

Both parties to the negotiations are wracked by crises. And it is against both that a genuine internationalism may be forged by working-class and progressive movements across Europe – one which does not mistake the unity of capitalist states for the unity of working people, based on popular democracy and opposition to national repression.

oktober 3, 2017

Live Blog #3Oct : General Strike in #Catalonia

Enough is Enough!

Good morning! Today we will report live from the genral strike against the repression by the Spanish Guardia Civil and Police Nacional on October 1. You can read the call for the general strike; here. You can send your pictures, videos, reports and analysis toenoughisenough@gmx.net. Click at the refresh button of your browser to get the latest information. You will find the updates at the bottom of the page.

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Link to Blog: EnoughIsEnough

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