Spain- the mineworkers lead the fight against capitalist attacks; what are our tasks?


The coal miners from Asturias, Leon and other regions are leading the resistance against the attacks by capitalism-imperialism in Spain. These attacks are part of the world-wide onslaught by the handful of monopoly capitalists on the masses. From Spain to China to the USA, there are huge numbers of vacant buildings, built by the giant banks- they cannot get buyers for their speculatively over-priced dwellings. This is just part of the huge debt of the capitalist banks which they want to force onto the backs of the working class. The Spanish govt wants to cut 2/3 of its subsidy to the coal mines so that workers money can be diverted to bail out the banks. The Spanish miners, who to date, have been occupying the coal mines for over 50 days now, have led the resistance, making their own weapons from the explosives from the mines, setting up barricades and launching a mass march into the industrial centres, in a bid to mobilise the entire masses behind them. On the 18th July 2012 there was a 1-day national strike called by the UGT and CCOO (the main trade union federations).  8 million came out on strike in over 80 cities, with 800 000 taking to the streets of Madrid alone. Demonstrations spilled over into the next days. The question is now about how the struggle can be taken forward.


What are our tasks?

The central obstacle to resisting the ‘austerity’ measures is the opportunist and cowardly leadership within the workers’ movement. Clearly the working class is prepared to fight, but the workers leadership, corrupted by years of privileges from the tables from their capitalist masters, are unwilling to lead a decisive fight against the attacks. We need to draw the lessons from Greece to arm ourselves on developing a programme for the unfolding struggle in Spain.


The lessons from Greece

In Greece, the trade union leaders called more than 17 national one-day strikes, hoping that workers would get tired and eventually give up the fight. Strikes were of the form of stayaways from work and not occupation. When workers repeatedly surrounded parliament, the Communist Party and some of the trade union leaders prevented workers from storming it and occupying it; at times demonstrations were called the day before parliament passed further ‘austerity’ attacks, so that workers anger did not directly clash with the parliamentary representatives; the United Secretariat of the Fourth International (Usec) and Euro-communists politically supported a bourgeois ‘workers party’, Syriza, as if it could solve workers problems within the capitalist framework; when the working class started, in their millions to support Syriza as a means to stop the ‘austerity’ programme, the Communist Party and left groups like Antarsya and EEK (Worker Revolutionary Party) deliberately split the vote thereby denying the working class an opportunity to catapult Syriza into first place which would have deepened the revolutionary crisis in Greece- to explain: Syriza stood on a platform to nationalise the banks, halt all payments to the imperialist banks (although they were for postponing the debt payments, not scrapping them), closing of Nato bases, democratizing of all state institutions. Thus on paper, Syriza had an anti-austerity platform. The tasks of revolutionaries were to help, through a critical vote for Syriza (not political support for its programme), for its total and complete exposure in the eyes of the masses. We called for the raising of a revolutionary programme (expropriation of all banks and industry, without compensation, placing these under workers control, etc), saying that Syriza is not prepared to fight for it, the workers do not yet believe us, so we will stand together with them to help Syriza become the govt. Even the task of nationalising the banks would have been something that Syriza would have begun to move away from, but the masses would have been on the march, in the streets, putting pressure on them to carry out their word. The result would have been the explosion and splitting into pieces of Syriza, not only that, but the exposure of parliamentarism and along with it, the direct proof to the masses that they need to set up their own organs of power to disperse parliament once and for all. If Syriza had begun to take steps to nationalise the banks and if there was any threat of tossing it out of the EU, the workers could have appealed to the French and German workers to come to their aid, to oppose their own regimes, themselves responsible for the capitalist attacks on the working class there. (in fact even in the case of workers overthrowing a Syriza govt and taking power themselves, an appeal to the rest of the working class in Europe would also have a similar result). The prospect of an all-Europe uprising, a revolutionary general strike, leading to the overthrow of capitalist EU and the creation of a Socialist, worker’s controlled Europe, was on the agenda. As it is, after many months of 1-day strikes, and now a defeat at the elections, there has been temporary demobilization and demoralisation of the masses, while Syriza can still play the role of ‘opposition’ to the anti-austerity measures, maintaining some form of credibility. The new ND govt in Greece is now rapidly proceeding with wholescale privatization without so much as a mass protest outside parliament. The betrayal of the working class in Greece can be laid at the doors of the opportunist leadership of the left. Of course, empty vessels like the FLTI, had no position on the elections, no programme to march with the masses to expose Syriza, only to stand of the roof tops shouting that the workers had to form soviets and take power.


A draft programme for Spain

The first point is to recognize the opportunist nature of the leadership of the Spanish working class movement, not only of the leadership of the CGT and CCOO but also of the mineworkers unions. Why does the mineworkers union leaders limit their demands to implement the ‘coal plan’ (agreed to last year) which is nothing but a more gradual way of implementing the same attacks on miners?


Second, the same trend among the worker leaders of calling one-day stayaways is also present. Further, the strikes are not occupations but only stayaways- so they protect the bosses from workers posing the question of who the real owners are.


Third, the central demand of the mineworkers should be to extend the occupation to nationalising the mines, without compensation to any capitalists, under workers control. This also means seizing the books and taking control of all accounts. This leads to the call for all industries that are related to the mines also being nationalised without compensation, placing them under workers control. The call for nationalisation must go hand in hand for a mineworkers inspection of the books of all the banks that claim to be in debt and in need of bailout. This is part of the struggle for the expropriation of the banks, without compensation to the capitalists and for these to be centralised and brought under workers control. At the same time, the demand must be raised of a sliding scale of wages- wages should rise as prices rise- workers cannot be held responsible for any bankruptcy of any capitalist. Further the demand has to be raised of a sliding scale of hours- namely that hours of work must be reduced in line with the number of unemployed, whether local or immigrant, without reduction in wages.


The call for nationalization under workers control is not something that will fall from the sky, it has to be fought for and defended. The workers committees should be extended include all temporary and non-unionised workers. The current workers militias should be extended across all mines and related industries as part of the workers committees, and from here throughout all sectors of the economy and working class neighbourhoods. We should realize that the ‘indignados’ are dominated by the middle class and thus was unable to lead and go beyond occupation of the squares. The middle class domination of the ‘indignados’ was also the reason why they were so anti-party and limited.


Nationalisation of the mines under workers control, and expropriation of the banks will lead to the need for the books of the French, UK, German and US banks to be opened and inspected by worker-controlled committees. Thus the struggle to expropriate the Spanish banks leads to the unification of struggles in all the imperialist centres. Currently the Spanish banks and companies like Repsol parasite on workers in South America. The fight to expropriate the Spanish banks leads directly to a call for their expropriation, without compensation, under workers control in South America and other semi-colonies where they operate.


The occupation of the mines leads also directly to the question of who controls the food and thus the land. Thus there directly rises the question of the nationalising of all the land, expropriation without compensation of the commercial farms under workers control and support to the small peasantry through cheap finance and implements.


Further, there has to be raised the question of the right to self-determination of the Basque and Catalan masses. But the central oppressive regime which acts for the banks that also plunder these regions as well, is the same class enemy which oppresses and exploits the rest of the Spanish masses. Thus under the slogan of the right to self-determination of nations, all the masses in Spain should unite against our common enemy, the Spanish regime.


On the important question of the army: already in some demonstrations some of the riot police took off their helmets and stood with the demonstrators. This shows that there must be deep divisions within  the army, which the regime deliberately keeps off the streets. Workers should send delegates to all the army barracks, calling on the rank and file soldiers to elect delegates and to join the workers councils and the workers militias that should be spread throughout Spain.


The reformists are centralised and organised, the imperialists are centralised and organised. Workers have different levels of class consciousness. We need a brain that unites the working class fighters against the opportunists within the movement and against the capitalist class and its parties. We need a party, in Spain and internationally.


Once again, the Usec is calling for support for a bourgeois ‘left’ , the IU, wanting to turn the fight into elections; the Committee for a Workers International, CWI calls for 48 hour strikes, which will just tire out workers and protect big capital; the  empty vessels of the FLTI offer no programme for the working class- they cover the domination of the ‘indignados’ by the middle class, they call for all the ministers to leave, but offer no way to proceed from the current conditions to the creation of dual power by the working class.


The setting up of a revolutionary International will take place based on a struggle against the reformist, centrist, stalinist middle class tendencies within the working class movement.


This is the path to workers power in Spain, dispersing parliament, overthrowing the monarchy and the capitalist regime. This is inextricably linked to the struggle for a United, Socialist, worker-controlled Europe- an important part of the struggle for world Socialism.

27.7.2012 amended 1.8.2012