For Catalan independence

October 3, 2017

MARXISTS ARE internationalists, not nationalists. The classic revolutionary socialist position on nationalism is to defend the right of nations to self-determination while simultaneously encouraging solidarity among working people of all nations.

This means that socialists support mass independence movements that legitimately aim to throw off imperial subjugation and repression. But it also means discouraging identification by the working majority with the national bosses, who often use nationalism as a means for increasing their own share of capitalist profit, without regard for substantially improving the economic condition of workers.

Lenin clarified that the right to self-determination and the call for national independence are political demands--not economic or cultural demands. Marxist internationalists stand for economic equality among all citizens and therefore do not sympathize with the nationalist bosses' cries for more profit to flow into their privately owned capitalist enterprises or to line their personal pockets.

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Marxist internationalists also stand for human culture, one that comprises a diversity of local and regional customs and practices, and which does not champion one culture over another simply because it is "French," "Sunni" or "Deep South."

While it is not my place as a North American revolutionary socialist to tell Catalans how to vote on the independence question--my place is to defend their right to self-determination--I believe that revolutionary socialists should not only support Catalunya's right to self-determination, but that we should also favor a vote for Catalan independence.

If I were a Catalan socialist, therefore, I would argue for a pro-independence vote--not because I want to see Catalan capitalists get richer or because I prize Catalan culture over Andalusian or Basque cultures, but because the Spanish state has systematically restricted Catalan autonomy and forcibly repressed its main institutions of self-government, including the Generalitat.

In a word, the Spanish state--materially embodied in the post-Franco Constitution of 1978--refuses Catalunya its historic right to self-determination. And if such were not enough, that same Spanish state is today using violence in an attempt to crush the legitimate exercise of that right.

Readers’ Views welcomes our readers' contributions to discussion and debate about articles we've published and questions facing the left. Opinions expressed in these contributions don't necessarily reflect those of SW.

For more on the Marxist position on nations and the right of self-determination, people can read "Marxism and Nationalism" in the International Socialist Review.
Tom Lewis, Orlando, Florida

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