Three Marxist Student Federation and Socialist Appeal supporters attended a rally in support of the Catalan independence referendum on Thursday 27 September along with around thirty workers and youth from Spain, Catalonia and Britain. Standing in the shadow of the Spanish embassy, a fighting mood was on show, with speakers railing against the anti-democratic actions of the Spanish state and linking the struggle to a fight against austerity.
One young worker, Laura, who has family in Catalonia, told me how the Spanish state is banning certain websites, have evicted people from places where the referendum was being debated and arrested Catalan politicians for ‘disobedience’. However, this has not subdued people; instead, locals are organising at a grass-roots level in order to overcome these obstacles. She explained how her mother, who is usually not particularly computer-savvy, has been using proxy sites in order to bypass these government restrictions. “Everyone is a hacker now!”, she told me. Laura described how she believed the mood on the streets was such that, even despite the Spanish state ruling the referendum illegal, there would be a concerted effort among many to make it happen anyway. This is just one inspiring example of how working-class people organise when they feel they have something to fight for. Each time a leader of the labour movement claims they are unable to act due to the fearsome power of the state, we should remember the bravery of ordinary working-class people. There is no power on earth that can oppose the working class when they decide to move.
A man named Carlos, from the Castilian region of Spain, told me that he hoped the movement would lead to “an explosion.” “Things need to break,” he said, and added that he thought this movement would be a “turning point, not just for Catalonia, but for the whole of Spain”. He saw an opportunity to spark off a wider movement against the whole Spanish state, which he viewed as the same old fascist regime in democratic clothing.
Many of those I spoke to were going to go back to Catalonia in order to vote and there was a real determination to ensure that this vote will take place, regardless of the obstacles put in the way. As the speeches finished, everyone turned defiantly to face the embassy to sing Els segadors, the Catalan national anthem, and then finished by chanting “we will vote!” The determination and enthusiasm on show at this small demonstration in London must only be a taste of what is going on in Catalonia.
by Jack Halinski-Fitzpatrick, Harrow Momentum