Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Debate Over the New Autonomy Statute for Catalonia: Perspectives From the Marxist Left

I last wrote about the new Autonomy Statute for Catalonia from the perspectives of the left, progressive and green parties, all of which favored the revisions to the relationships between Catalonia and the central government. Today I write, with a certain degree of mirth, about the position of the Spanish and Catalan Communist Parties in the debate.

As it turns out, these parties strongly oppose the new Autonomy Statute precisely for the reasons their more moderate progressive sometimes-fellow-traveler allies support the Autonomy Statute--it produces a greater independence of Catalonia from the Spanish central government. For Spanish and Catalan Marxist, this position privileges the state over the workers and on that basis must be rejected. In a sense, the Spanish and Catalan Communist Parties are right. A consequence of the Autonomy Statute revisions will be to divest the central government of a significant amount of political authority with respect to the regulation of labor. As a consequence, the power of labor is also diffused. Rather than deal with the central government on behalf of the unbreakable alliance of all workers (in their view of things), the Statute fractures worker power even as it fractures the power of the centralized state. Workers suffer. Consolidation of political power makes the consolidation of labor power that much easier, and, in a sense, follows from basic understanding of Marxist economic determinism.

There is an element of irony in this basic discourse from the Marxist Left. To some extent, it tends to parallel the arguments that one would expect from the Right, especially those who adhere to a belief in the value of economic globalization based on the free movement of capital. Both the Marxist Left--with respect to labor--and the proponents of market oriented economic globalization--with respect to capital-- fear the creation of impediments to free movement. The rise of petite states works, from a Marxist perspective, like the rise of the petite bourgeoisie, as an often parochial and reactionary force that is unaware of the conceptual shackles under which it labors for the benefit of others. Small states can as effectively impede transparent and free flowing capital markets like they can impede the creation of global markets (or in Marxist terms alliances) among labor. In this respect, at least, the free market right and the Marxist Left have made themselves strange, but quite compatible, bedfellows. For both, an autonomous Catalonia must fail so that the process of economic globalization, on the one hand, or the triumph of the laboring class, on the other, may move one step closer to fulfillment. . . .or at least one step closer to the time that international capital and international labor will, at last be able to meet on the field of competition for dominance and the right to shape the global economic/political shape of the future.

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