A hot autumn of deepening crisis and instability and a rising tide of struggle is well underway in the Spanish state. The last few weeks have witnessed an intense period of mobilizations, with numerous protests of tens of thousands, including a national trade union-led demonstration on 15 September of up to one million people, which we have previously reported on. This was quickly followed up by two tens of thousands-strong demonstrations surrounding parliament on 25 and 29 September, - which featured brutal police repression, provoking a massive public backlash – and a series of important sectorial strikes and struggle, in transport, education etc. An opinion poll this week showed that an astounding 77% of Spaniards “agreed with the motives” of those who protested around parliament, against the austerity policies of the government and the corruption of the political establishment. The leaders of the main trade unions look set to call a 24 hour general strike for 14 November, the same day as the general strike of the Portuguese workers. This is sure to be an immense show of potential strength, despite the fact that in order to “strike while the iron is hot” and avoid losing time and momentum, having an earlier date would have probably made such a call more powerful and lessen the danger that the trade union leaders will seek to use it as a “safety value” to allow workers to let off steam rather than a further step in serious struggle. Despite this delay the build up to this will see a whole string of further mobilizations, starting with a university students’ strike on 11 October, and further student walkouts next week.
The situation is marked by a profound radicalization on all levels, with all which was previously held as sacred and stable being put into question. In the few weeks since the massive pro-independence demonstration of “la Diada” in Catalunya (see previous article here), the national question has been to the forefront, with early elections called for Catalunya on 25 November and the threat of a referendum on self-determination being hung over the head of the Rajoy government, adding to its ample store of problems. It is set to receive a hammering in regional elections in the Basque country on 21 October, where rising national tensions will also be reflected in the results.
Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Spain) has been fully participating in this latest wave of struggle, putting forward a programme to unify and escalate the fight back, with a 48 hour general strike as the next step in a struggle which intensifies until the fall of the PP government. After a 48 hour strike, the struggle would have to continue and deepen, in order to build a movement capable to challenge the government, and ultimately, the capitalist system as a whole. Such a programme of struggle, on a state-wide level, could unite the working class around a programme to do away with austerity and for a socialist alternative, and cut across the potential for a dangerous polarization to take place along national lines, or a development of extreme right forces like Golden Dawn in Greece. We defend a way forward based on a united struggle around a programme for a government of the working class, as the only way to break from the current spiral. Such a programme, which we propose to all of the genuine left forces especially the United Left (IU), has to include the defense of the full right to self-determination for all of the Spanish state’s nationalities, up to and including the right to independence, opposing the PP government’s denial of the right of the Catalan people to decide.
Below we publish an English translation of a leaflet produced by Socialismo Revolucionario for the demonstrations which took place on Saturday 13 October, organised by the 15-M “indignados” movement, in opposition to the payment of the debt.
We won’t pay the debt! Make the rich pay for the crisis
The struggle must be intensified and spread internationally! For a coordinated general strike of Southern Europe! Towards an all-European general strike!
Down with the governments of the markets and the Troika!
We are witnessing the sinking of the economy, here and internationally, under the pressure of the savage austerity policies of capitalist governments. And despite this, they continue to plough ahead, deepening these policies, drawing more and more blood from the workers, youth, unemployed and pensioners, further depressing the economy at the same time. But at the same time, we are also witnessing, both here and internationally, a new wave of struggles and mobilizations, a great social attempt to avoid the disaster which capitalism is preparing for us.
The time has come to expose their lies. They told us that bailing out the banks would save the economy, but all it did was burden the state and public sector with a mountain of debt generated by private speculators. Then they told us that to combat this, we had to make cuts and that this would help bring down the deficit and the debt, and make the economy grow, but again the opposite happened: the cuts destroy whatever capacity the economy has to grow, and deepen the recession, pushing up the debt and not resolving the deficit. And now, they are carrying us towards a bailout from the Troika, towards the club of disastrous “bailed out” countries, where impoverishment, and forced emigration of the youth are now the norm. But we have the power to stop this spiral and impose our own path.
Beneath all of these lies, there has always been one great truth: this debt is not ours! We did not generate it, or drive it sky-high! This is why Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Spain) has always said that we cannot pay it. There is no justification, economic or political or otherwise, for continuing to do so.
The commitment of the PP, as well as PSOE and other capitalist parties, to pay this debt at any cost, is one of the best signs of where their loyalties lie. They prefer to base their policies on paying billions to the super rich in “the markets” than base them on the needs of the working people of this state who are living through a nightmare. In 2012, the payment of the INTEREST alone on this debt will be almost 29 billion, more than the savage total of cuts proposed in Rajoy’s latest budget! They are throwing unthinkable amounts of money into the black hole of an illegitimate and unpayable debt, rather than investing it in society’s fundamental problems. At the same time, there are trillions of euros in the savings accounts of the super-rich and reserves of the big companies, which are not even touched. These policies, in which the interests of the rich rule, represent the essence of capitalism. To confront them, we have to challenge capitalism fundamentally, starting from a refusal to pay the debt, linked to a programme to make the rich pay for the crisis and put the resources of society at the service of the working class.
We must intensify and internationalize the struggle!
To emerge from this situation, it is clear that we have to bring down this government of the rich. Therefore, the strategy that is adopted for the struggles of the coming weeks and months, must be based on a serious and powerful plan of struggle, which escalates until the government is brought down and its looting policies are done away with. We cannot go through another episode of struggles of a merely symbolic character, such as the general strikes of 29 September 2010 and 29 March 2012, which the right-wing union leaders made sure were the end of the process rather than the beginning. We must fight through the mass mobilizations, and an organised campaign among the trade union rank and file, and by the more combative unions, for the next stage of the struggle to be different. Democratic assemblies and strike committees in workplaces, universities, schools and communities should be formed and coordinated to debate and decide a new calendar of struggle. Socialismo Revolucionario supports the calling of a 48 hour general strike as the appropriate next step to intensify the struggle and increase the pressure on this government. Such a strike, organised throughout the Spanish state, would be a show of class unity and strength which the ruling class could not ignore.
The example of the struggle of the Portuguese workers, who achieved the withdrawal of the government’s wage cut shows the potential of the class struggle to win victories. We must unite with our class in struggle on an all-European level, where we suffer the same attacks, imposed on us by national governments, as well as the Troika and EU capitalism. The possibility of a coordinated strike on the Iberian peninsula on November 14 is a great step forward but it will also be necessary to go further, extending such a strike to Greece and Italy. Also, the current resurgence of struggle is not confined to southern Europe alone. In countries of the North such as Ireland and the UK, there is a new cycle of struggle beginning. There is the basis to set ourselves the horizon of an all-European general strike.
An all-European coordinated struggle would show that in Europe, there is not only the failed project of capitalist unity of the EU and Euro, but also an international force with common interests and an unanswerable potential power, in the working class. It is on the basis of this force that an alternative to the capitalist Euro and EU instruments of blackmail can be built – a democratic, voluntary confederation of Socialist states.
· No payment of the debt! Use the wealth to create jobs and strengthen public services, and rebuild the productive economy!
· Place heavy taxes on the wealth of the millionaires and big companies to pay for massive public investment! Nationalize the banks under democratic control. Impose capital controls to prevent a “flight of capital”.
· Nationalize the key sectors of the economy under democratic workers’ control and management, to recuperate and restructure the economy under a plan for real development, instead of market chaos.
· For a united general strike of 48 hours throughout the Spanish state as the next step in a sustained plan of struggle! Unite the struggles in Europe with an international day of struggle including a coordinated general strike in Southern Europe! Towards an all-European general strike!
· For the building of an united, democratic mass Left, to struggle for a workers’ government as an alternative to the rule of capital.