Freedom for all means freedom for Catalonia

Words by Tom Auld

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The fight for Catalonian independence has brought forth brutal repression from the Spanish state. Throughout the last week, we have seen the Spanish government send in the riot police on Catalans trying to vote on their future, while the nation’s far right have mobilised to oppose independence whilst sieg heiling around the streets of Barcelona. This struggle for basic democratic rights has proved the need to take a side when it comes to the rights of oppressed people. The choice is pretty clear, do you support the thousands of workers and students demanding their right to vote, or the state cracking down on them, destroying ballot boxes and beating up civilians? The recent article published against the Independence movement miserably fails on this question.

The article argues that “the referendum which gave ‘legitimacy’ to the Catalan government’s actions was illegal and unconstitutional”. This is true but what does that say about the constitution and the law itself? One thing that it shows is that it’s undemocratic and counterpoised to any autonomy for the oppressed groups of Spain. The defence of the Spanish Constitution is particularly troublesome given that it is a result of a compromise with the fascist Franco regime that has left the police and military relatively unchanged to this day. To follow on from the point about picking sides, it really says something when you side with the Spanish constitution, over the much truer examples of democracy exercised by the Catalan people in recent weeks.

When addressing the police brutality exercised by the Spanish state recently, the article asserts that “This sort of thing goes on almost everywhere, including within stable democracies like the UK and Australia”, using the examples of Thatcher’s Britain and Bjelke-Peterson’s Queensland. The comparison is apt but for all the wrong reasons. If anything this just goes to show the lengths that these so called democracies will go to, to stop workers from asserting themselves in times of struggle. So instead emphasising the necessity for states to enforce order perhaps we should question what they mean by order. When the rule of law can only be enforced by a police baton, perhaps it’s the law itself which is at fault.

“Finally, the world needs stability more than ever. Mutual defence, political cooperation and economic integration are key in maintaining that stability.“ Effectively, what is being argued here is that we need to maintain the status quo. In reality, for anyone who believes in the civil liberties of ordinary people, opposes neoliberalism and authoritarian states, this is exactly what we don’t need. In the Spanish case, “stability” means acceptance of the harsh austerity imposed on working class people to pay for an economic crisis they didn’t create, the right wing government that most Catalans don’t support, and most recently, the police brutality that that enforces laws that deny them basic rights.

When the article claims that Catalan independence will be the catalyst for instability in Europe and further independence struggles, those of us who support the oppressed should welcome that with open arms!

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Adelaide University student magazine since 1932. Edited by Nicholas Birchall, Felix Eldridge, Taylor Fernandez and Larisa Forgac. Email us at onditmag@gmail.com

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