The Spanish State threatens to remove the elected Catalan government
by Matthew Jacobson PhD.
If it were a cartoon it would be great slapstick. Yet as a reality it makes for unsettling entertainment. Today Catalan’s brace in anticipation watching as the Spanish State continues to arrest Catalan leaders exposing its ugly and violent face.
The recent arrests this week of two leaders of political organizations in Catalunya which supported the Independence referendum on October 1st has once again exposed the façade and realities of the Spanish State. The conflict has escalated and another show down has been set up this week by its central government lead by Mariano Rajoy as it demands that the Catalan government agree to not declare independence as a condition for negotiations with the threat that the State will exercise a constitutional article that gives it the right (Article 155) to remove the Catalan government from power and possibly force new elections. With national police anchored near the port of Barcelona threatening to enter the city and forcibly remove the elected Catalan government the real face of the States power is exposed and visible.
The independence movement in Catalunya has threatened the one area that the modern capitalist State will not tolerate: potential loses for its financial institutions. In contrast to its identity as a democratic and socialist State, the facade of the Spanish state is exposed and we can see clearly where its power lies, in its servitude to the corporate base of its power. When threatened with a potential loss in control over Catalunya’s economy, its two mechanisms are set into motion, the threatened economic consequences of moving financial institutions from the Catalan region and removing the elected Catalan government by military force. Rather than negotiate the emergence of a democratic shift in the region, the State demonstrates its intolerance and limits in relation to democracy and liberty when it comes to any negative economic impacts on its financial corporate base. When the national and civil police march down the streets of Barcelona with clubs and rubber bullets to break up peaceful demonstrations for the democratic right to vote we see the true face of the State. When Catalan’s politican representatives are arrested and put in jail for supporting the peoples right to vote in elections the ugly underbelly of the State is exposed for the entire world to see.
The violent and exploitative nature of modern capitalist power attempts to keep a peaceful and complacent body of citizens in its core to run the machines that keep it profitable and presentable. Capitalism runs on a competitive system of exploitation in terms of its resources and people. The violent nature of European and North American corporate capitalism tries to keep its effects limited to countries and people outside of Europe and the United States, to maintain its presentable nature to its own public that receives a certain proportion of its benefits and protection. The brutal edges of capitalism are easily seen and felt in the areas of the world that are less protected, whether that be on the African continent, Asia, the Middle East or Latin America. Massive poverty and environmental devastation are ugly and violent and the capitalist State works to keep these effects outside of the perception or sense of responsibility of its own populations. The reality that European wealth and privilege comes off the backs of the poor in other parts of the world doesn’t make for happy mealtime conversations. What is clear in the five hundred plus years of the modern state is that it must pretend its power is democratic to please and pacify its public.
Regional independence movements in Europe threaten the existing power base of its multinational and national economy. If an independence movement desires more economic control over its region then the national or multinational base of its corporate economy is threatened. The desire for independence can be to keep money in more regional financial institutions or private interests, yet that is secondary to the fact that at any given point European financial sectors rely on a certain arrangement of national State control. As the neoliberal State has taken over and now serves the corporate multinational system, financial institutions dominate the regions economic and political development.
The independence movement in Catalunya has exposed the two ugly facts of modern power: its national and multinational corporate base of domination and its reliance on violent enforcement of its power by its police and military. The reality and hypocrisy of the façade of democracy and the Common Good in Spain can be seen as the Spanish State readies to send its police into Barcelona and arrest or remove the Catalan government. There will be massive resistance in the streets and the power of the State will be demonstrated through the clubs and arrests that for Catalan’s is a reminder that Franco’s legacy shifted facades, but never really died.