By: Carlos Aznárez / Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / The Dawn News / January 9, 2018
A lucid internationalist, epitome of the critical thought and a man of answers without reservation, Iñaki Gil de San Vicente analized for Resumen Latinoamericano several aspects that concern the European left and specifically what is happening in Euskal Herria and Catalunya. An overwhelming critic to what he considers as “setbacks” or “involutions”, he never stops being optimist of a future possibility for the revolutionary left.
Regular columnist of Telesur, HispanTV and other local media from Euskal Herria, the opinions of Gil de San Vicente can be applied to many of the themes that are debated nowadays in Latin America and the rest of the Third World as well as to the current Europe.
-One hundred years after the Russian Revolution and the appearance of Lenin, what is left of those ideas in the European left?
-In the European left little was left of those ideas, but after 2007, Lenin’s central message of taking power was recovered. A central idea which becomes unpalatable for any bourgeoisie. Of course that while many try to reduce Marx to the role of economist or philosopher, Bakunin to an romantic ideologist or even diminish the legacy of Che Guevara, they couldn’t do so with Lenin. This happens due to several approaches made in many locations: first, that the Bourgeois democracy is the external way of the capital’s dictatorship, which is clearly noticeable in the European Union, and on the other hand, the rising of the old debate that revolutionary forces had in 1915 of a Socialist Europe before the current European Union. This is added to the power issue. Taking power is more imperative than ever. Above all if we look at a landscape where madman Trump, the Nazi Netanyahu, specimens like Rajoy or the proto fascist of Macrón coexist alongside nazi gangs like the ones of Austria or reactionary converts like Merkel’s case in Germany, without mentioning the defeat of South Africa, that is under the rule of a fierce capitalist. It is in this context is that we see that the matter of power is fundamental, and Lenin keeps becoming the only personality of the left that can’t be disguised or sweetened inside a bourgeois or even reformist screen.
– What is happening with the issue of power in Euskal Herria? In the light of the disarmament of ETA (“Basque Homeland and Liberty”) and the decision taken by the Abertzale left to take the political way?
-In Euskal Herria there is a root problem that happened in many other places; a general phase of class struggle has ended and capitalism has managed to develop with more momentum. It happened in Ireland with the IRA, in Colombia with the FARC or here with the ETA. That phase which happened in the 70s with the victory of neoliberalism, is happening once again and with an impressive brutality everywhere, in countries like Argentina and Brazil, in the Spanish and French States, in United States and in many other places. This toughening up is happening because despite all, neoliberalism was not able to disband the struggle of the people. The emergence of a revolutionary left before the concluded phase is costing quite a bit in Euskal Herria. This is due to, amongst other things, the softening or abandonment of theoretical debate and political education in the last years. There has been, and I say so with pain, recent steps given by Bildu, like the signatures of the PP and the PSOE of a document made in Congress by Madrid’s deputies from the attacks on Barcelona or congratulating Donald Trump when he won the elections. Both of them mark the end of an era and I say that they are a regretful event since they incline towards a tendency, in the state and international area, which nothing have to do with revolutionary politics. On the other hand, debates are happening in the core of Sortu that aim to recover a revolutionary nature, which shows certain effersevence in that sense.
– Is this capitalist offensive creating antibodies?
-Outside of the previously depicted scheme, inside the Abertzale left that some name as “official”, there is a lot of movement in youth sectors that have a very strong critical vision of what grown capitalism has done, like crushing the Basque youth, not only with political and penal repression but also with the economic, cultural, sexual, etc.
On the other hand, youth that have significant expressions in women’s struggles are interrupting, as well as generating a reflection that happens on the new kind of internationalism, or before the context of educational universitary idiotization, and debates against educational privatization and the impact of hegemonic Spanish culture. At the same time, there is a worrying divide between what is the adult power of the Abertzale left and what is the militant youth.
– Can the current moment be defined as a new transition period?
-It is clear that we are going through a transition period in which a new revolutionary left shall emerge and enlighten with the contributions of the youth (between 18 and 20 something). We, the ones that “accumulate youth” have gotten to a limit. On the other hand, in this year that just ended it was confirmed that for the first time the salaries that young people receive is lower than the one that their retired grandfathers or mothers get. Currently, all young Basques must wait until they are 28 or 30 years old in order to achieve independence from their family, while depending of the mortgage of their parents to rent or buy a floor, and that generates a lot of tensions. There is also a big issue of chemical drugs and alcohol and the left is being passive regarding this matter. It has not been stopped, there is no confrontation against the many structures of oppression as it used to be in another moment of the Abertzale left. In this complex landscape there are glimpses of the surfacing of a revolutionary perspective that will have difficulties to emerge but that will arrive nevertheless, and its expected capability of integrating everything good that has maintained these people for 60 years and addressing critical positions like the ones that arose in the documents signed by Bildu that I mentioned before.
-Both in Colombia and in Euskal Herria, after the disarmament of the insurgent organizations the matter of “pardon and reconciliation” was raised, two concepts extracted from previous processes like the one in South Africa and in a lesser way in Ireland. Do you think there are real margins for those proposals?
– I believe that there are two ethics and two morals, the ones of the oppressor, the torturer, the judge, and on the other hand, the ones of the tortured, the beaten woman, the unemployed or the one that has a salary that doesn’t allow him or her to get by the end of the month and feed his or her family. They are two irreconcilable morals and two irreconcilable ethics. Unfortunately, and while it is not the first time this happens, when a left party or movement feels self defeated or gives a turn to the center, it accepts the ethics of the dominant and showing different degrees of culpability it feels a complex for the damages done. This is also related with the collapse suffered in the theoretical debate. The acceptance of abstract thesis on human rights, the acceptance of the values of the oppressor, is a problem that always existed in the history of class struggle of the dominated peoples. Let’s hope that the re emergence of a revolutionary left overcomes all this and shows once and for all that there that there are two ethics confronted. A concrete example: the escalation of the most brutal machismo, or of certain degrees of patriarchal violence which we believed people were living behind, as it is the current case of 4 young men that sexually assaulted a child in the locality of Barakaldo. These are not new events but they allow us to show the decomposition of the bourgeois society which we thought we overcame in Euskal Herria. These heinous events that emerge from the same logic of capital are being reflected in that machista violence or in alcohol or drug consumption by younger people every day. This can’t be faced passively. We must ideologically arm the society and especially the youth once again from a revolutionary ethic, and vindicate the ethics of resistance and social justice.
-A theme that is talked frequently in some Latin American countries, like in Bolivia, is decolonization. How can you give the cultural battle against the continued incursion on behalf of the capitalism in that respect in Euskal Herria?
-In this country that fight is really difficult. We must bear in mind that Euskera, our tongue, doesn’t have the rights that Spanish and French have. In many places it even has less rights than other languages, like English, Chinese or German. Or there is directly a policy of prohibition or corralling. We have clear idea of what the media complex of the so called “Basque public television” is, it is an tool in the hands of a “multicultural” sector that reflects the international Bourgeois culture and the market of cultural industry. But we also have the same lack of clarity of certain sectors of the Abertzale left, as it is the dramatic case of what happened in Donostia-San Sebastían, which was designated as the “European cultural capital” for all of 2016 and there was little critical mobilization and scant denouncements. Only by the end of the year, trade unions like LAB started fighting this, or some popular movements emerged to conquer a space that was lost. There was total impunity and a clear path for multinational cultural capital to make Donostia a showcase of the Euro Imperialist culture.
Then, there is a third problem in this sense and it is that it is not only the left, but also by the hands of the institutional politics of the Nationalist Basque Party (PNV) or by the Castellan and unionist power of the UPN (Union of the Navarro People). We have the scandalous case of the remains found in Iruña-Beleia, which indicate that in the third century of the Christian era there were Euskera inscriptions which were silenced by these institutions.
On the other hand, it is notable how the cultural and media industry is currently moving at a different pace than 20 years ago, today is one of the most profitable branches of a capitalism that is in crisis, and it matches with the project that the PNV has in the Vascongadas provinces of doing a “tourism economy”, with an aperture of Donostia, Bilbao and Iruña (Pamplona) towards a “selective” cultural industry. All of this is demolishing and the left does not seem to be aware of it.
-So, where will we find the light at the end of the tunnel regarding this subject?
-There are a couple of things which I believe are important at an antibodies level: one of them is the content of Euskera as non commercialized tongue and on the other hand, the content of the Basque paganism. There is Basque pagan culture subjacent to the figure of Mari (Note: Mari or Maddi is the main numen of the pre Christian Basque mythology), of the Basque traditions, of resistance to all the Christian submissive mentalities, that we must reclaim, and in part, the introduction of so many young men and women to the liberation struggle has to do with this paganism, with figures and icons that existed before private property. A debate of recuperation of the Basque culture which doesn’t consider the connections previous to the medieval and capitalist property, will lead to nowhere, it will be a waste of time. It is about reconstructing a community-based culture that guides through the overcoming of private property and patriarchy, starting with primary spaces, with the gaztexes (juvenile social centers), with the liberated polisexual spaces, with the recuperation of the communes. For the daily struggle.
-What are your thoughts on Catalunya and about everything that has been happening there regarding struggle for independence and of open popular rebellion against the ruling of the Spanish Empire
-Starting from the fact that the whole Spanish State is busy trying to boycott the implementation of a Catalan government that responds to the Parliamentary majority on January 17 (Note: the date for the constitution of the new Catalan Parliament). The detention of members of parliament and the continuance of the exile of high members of the Catalan government has as the objective of preventing the Parliament from reflecting its real composition. Rajoy’s government is recurring to every possible method of pressure to achieve that. They are accusing through the Judicial system (as they do to young Basques and young people from the whole State) and use the Parliamentary system to cut off the Catalan Parliament. In this way, the Spanish power is unveiling its own myth of the Bourgeois democracy.
However, this is only the superfluous part of the problem, what Catalunya is currently highlighting is the impasse that arose through the maneuver of every political force, creating the party “Ciudadanos” (Citizens) and also to “Podemos”, immediately after 15M (March 15). “Ciudadanos” was created previously with an international project in where the secret services of the United States and other countries were involved, while “Podemos” arose in time to paralyze every struggle ascent that was after the 15M and to lead it towards the swamp of parliamentarism. However, this maneuver failed because the Spanish State is so rotten that this was dismounted. In these moments, there is a brutal socioeconomic situation, of profit for a minority and of impoverishment for the rest. And, above all, the 4 historical problems that the Spanish State have had since the XVI century: the international matter inside the State, the terrible corruption, the technocientifical and work productivity backlog, and finally, the tremendous control that the de facto powers have, like Church, the Armed Forces, the media and the banks. Catalunya is today the critical point of this impasse situation, but others will emerge.
Besides, we must remember that in Catalunya, despite the independentist Parliamentary majority, there is also a right-wing social majority. This reflects that a growing tension is building up inside the Spanish State, where the complexity of the workers’ movement is joining along the influence of a really harsh Spanish nationalism. A nationalism that stands by the right in “Ciudadanos” but also by the left with “Podemos” or United Left (Izquierda Unida), and among all of them they support this decrepit Spain. The passivity of the Spanish left to denounce the role of Rajoy’s government, of the monarchy, the army, the Church, the media, or the repressive and interventionist article N°155, or terrible events like the repression in Catalonia, Galicia, Andalucía and Euskal Herria, indicate that this left is retreating in the face of the rise of this Spanish nationalism.
-How do we get out of this juncture?
-I hope that we arrive to a situation of rebound and response after this impasse. When it becomes clear that there is no more terrain to lose, it is likely that we will go back again to confrontation. There is an electoral and parliamentary logic that hides a subterranean logic which precedes turns to the left, and which generally manifests in tedium, anger and similar gestures from the electorate before a cluster of injustices. This is what we can see today in Catalonia, the divergence between the electoral vote and subterranean movements. But if there isn’t a revolutionary left, a struggling unionism and strong popular movements that are inside this tendency towards discomfort and subterranean self organization and help from the inside to strengthen this tendency, a paralysis like the one of 15M may happen. We must avoid the repetition of this situation and work from the inside of this radicalization tendency so that it doesn’t end in a electoral formation.