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Catalan Independence: debates and polemics among anarcho-syndicalists

The question of the independence of Catalonia raises lively debates within libertarian unions. This is the case with the CGT anarcho-syndicalist union, which has 60,000 members, almost a third of whom are based in Catalonia.

Originally published by Union Communiste Libertaire. Translated by Enough 14.

In a 2017 interview, Thomas Lanssens gave the union’s position at “state”(federal/spanish NDLR level) : “We are in favour of self-determination of peoples, even if it is true that the referendum does not offer all the necessary guarantees. The CGT does not have a final position with regard to independence because its objective, as a trade union, is the defense of the rights of all workers. […] We do not support the Catalan government against the Madrid government. » [1].”

In Catalonia, within the CGT, we have been able to observe different positions that seem to be partly conditioned by the social and cultural backgrounds of the activists. While all of them agree in defending the right to self-determination of peoples and condemn the repression of the independentists, some of them do not consider the militant energy devoted to the movement to be justified.

Independence and social regression

In Sabadell, a working-class town in the northern suburbs of Barcelona, there are 600 members of the cégétistes (CGT activists, Enough 14), and the red and black centre is present in precarious sectors: cleaning, homecare, etc. In the outlying districts of Sabadell, where both internal Spanish and external immigration is high, Catalan independence does not seem to be a popular concern. Thus, a CGT activist from Sabadell explains his position.

In his opinion, the reticence regarding the independence issue is clearly in the majority in Barcelona and its suburbs; the relationship is opposite in the rest of Catalonia. he thinks that mobilizing and calling for a strike on independence issues keeps workers away from the social question.

For example, the fight against the Aragonès law [2] on the privatization of public services takes a back seat to the events of October.

He highlights the fact that defending exiled and imprisoned Catalan political figures seems inconsistent to him, as most of them have implemented liberal, repressive and antisocial policies for years. Finally, the Catalan question has become so polarized in society that it complicates the unity of employees against employers in companies.

At the level of the Catalan CGT (where trade unions throughout Catalonia are grouped together), the union’s position is more in favour of strengthening the independence movement in which anarcho-syndicalist activists promote self-management ideas based on the aspirations and practices of the Catalan people in struggle.

Some of them assume that it is useful to unite against the repression of a Spanish state with Franco’s sentiments, even if it means having to fight against an independent Catalan state later on. These two positions have their logic and their relevance, but unfortunately they give rise to fears of deep rifts within the CGT at both Catalan and federal level.

Medrik (UCL Montpellier, French territory)

[1] “Referendum and repression in Catalonia: The CGT calls for a general strike“, October 1, 2017, on Rapportsdeforce.fr.

[2] Pere Aragonès, vice-president of the Catalan government, Minister of Economy, vice-president of the political party of the Republican Left of Catalonia after Oriol Junqueras (Who is the president, Enough 14).


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