Introduction: by oppressing the other. It is
Introduction: How ‘political power’ can be defined.In this essay, it is going to be explained to what extent the Marxist understanding of political power can be applied in Spain. The social movements and political parties created after financial crisis of 2008 will be taken into account. To fulfil this objective different academic articles and my own criteria will be used. Before starting, it is imperative to define the main concept of this work, which is ‘political power’.
This is an idea used in politics to name the organised power held by a social group; the purpose of this authority is to maintain the life quality of this class by oppressing the other. It is related to a well-known Marxist theory: the struggle of class. The conflict lived by the social groups is expressed through this theory.
These are the bourgeoisie, possessors of this power, and the proletariat, the ones who suffer its yoke. The Marxist approach argues that the classes elimination would lead to the end of political power and therefore, to the end of oppression. Therefore we would be leaded to a kind of state where all citizens are equal. And, although, the end of political power was a concept thought for industrialized nations like the United Kingdom, it triumphed in Russia after the October Revolution, in 1917. This did not make sense at all since that, from an economical point of view, the Russian industrialization was weak and concentrated in certain points of the territory. The main issue that cannot be forgotten is that the political power in this nation was on aristocratic hands.
After the revolution and with the nobility assassinated, it can be said that there were no social classes at all until Stalin’s mandate. Leaving this particular case on one side, the question is: which was the Spanish social condition during the Marxist decisive point 19th century and the 20th century?Diachronical perspective: By the end of the 19th century, Spain was considered an industrialized country, though its industrialization was late. It took more time if we compare it with the ones lived in other places of the continent. There is a particular fact that reveals to what extend the Spanish case was different: The train gauge. In 1847, and under the reign of Isabel II, the first railway line was inaugurated with an issue that was not considered a problem at the first moment.
The train gauge was bigger, 1668 mm, than the one used in Europe, 1435 mm. As a consequence, the new revolution that had been taking place in the neighbour nations was delayed in an average of twenty years. This backwardness was also suffered in cultural terms, therefore, the new philosophies and ideologies that had emerged, would be received around 1880 but accepted and developed around 1895 and 1898. The Marxist ideas were not welcomed at all. They wouldn’t triumph due to losing the last colonies, Cuba and the Philippines in 1898. This period is known as ‘the Disaster of 1898’.
The Spanish society fell into a despondency that can be compared with the one suffered by Germany after the Great War. The political sphere moved into a kind of democratic system named Turnism. Here, the king was the head of the state and the government would circulate between the hands of the two main parties: The Conservative Party and The Liberal Party. Besides, there was no conception of social classes, even though they clearly existed.
The political power was not only held by the bourgeoisie but also by the royalty. Two social groups that had been confronted in other parts of the world, were united to strangle the proletariat, but the masses did not move. What is more, Cánovas, the Conservative Party’ spokesperson claimed and stablished an idea that was kept in the Spanish political sphere until Franco’s dictatorship: The neutral mass. This refers to the main part of the society, and therefore, of the proletariat, that does not want the revolution proposed by the Marxist ideology. They do not even mind about the political posture of the ruling party.
Their aim is to be governed by an executive power able to guarantee them an accurate quality of life. But, as Virginia Woolf stated, ‘the world changed in 1910’. And surprising the rest of the world, it changed a year before in Spain, by an episode known as ‘the Tragic Week’.
It took place in Barcelona, where, on the 26th of July, a group conformed by anarchists, republicans and socialists went out to the streets, burning convents, profaning graves and destroying religious sculptures. They were protesting against the government and the Church. They were repressed by the Spanish army. The revolutionary germ had awakened, though it would be frozen by the Great World. It woke up from its lethargy during the Rif War, 1920-1926, where almost all the Spanish men over 18 were recruited. The issue here was that you could avoid going to Morocco by doing a payment.
This gave strength to the class struggle theory and showed that the political power held by the bourgeoisie was making the proletariat to go on a war that did not even belong to them. The disaster it turned out to be and the big quantity of lost lives faded the king’s credibility. His power was also weaken by allowing Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship. Therefore, after the municipal elections that took place in 1931, Alfonso XIII abdicated and exiled to Italy.
Those elections were interpreted as a plebiscite between monarchy and republic. The first regime had been defeated; it seemed that there were a new opportunity to save Spain from the darkness and the dumpsite it had become. The Second Republic was implanted and it brought great discussions as the one that took place between Victoria Kent and Clara Campoamor. Both defended the women’s right of voting, but Kent stated that they first had to be educated, while Campoamor declared that the only way of exercising freedom was being free. For the luck of all Spaniard women, Campoamor won the debate and they were given the right to vote on the 1st of October in 1931. It seems appropriate to argue that the posture adopted by the second politician is closer to the Marxist idea of destroying political power.
The unique way of doing it is giving voice to those who are silent; therefore they will be able to fight too. But this new democratic system did not last. The tension between the left and the right was scaling rapidly. José Antonio Primo de Rivera, spokesman of the right party was assassinated and it is said that this leaded to the coup d’état that ended in a destroying civil war.
The war was maintain during three years, from 1936 to 1939, and ended up with a right dictatorship directed by General Franco. For forty years Spain was governed under a regime of no freedom of expression. Those who thought different were killed or exiled. Besides, the experience of creating new elite made the classes struggle something notable, adding the ideological factor. Only the proletarian group could access to the wills by a ration card. But Franco died, and this created a new hope for the left through the democracy.
Both parts had to made concessions and year after year, the Marxist ideas were faded into the Spanish memory. A more central left gain weight and the social fight was kept in a no moving point, until 2008.Current situation: The necessity of a political change after the global crisis.In 2008, the world faced a global financial crisis considered as one of the most devastating of history.
We contemplated how the capitalist system that controlled our lives was breaking into pieces. Spain was a country that had invested its money and, therefore, its stability, in the construction sector. It seemed unstoppable and unbreakable. But the bubble exploded and thousands of jobs were lost. The social situation became unsustainable. The main consequence that directly hit the Spanish society was the incapability of paying their mortgage. People were being evicted. Besides, the socialist government ruled by José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero claimed that the working class had been living over their possibilities.
Thus, those results was their fault. The problem here is that, while the political class was making social cuttings, they were rescuing those banks which had pulled out their citizens. To fight against this situation, two social movements were created: Stop Deshaucios and Movimiento 15-M. The first group was in charge of stopping the evictions ordered by the judges. They were protecting the proletariat against the political power’s claws. Two important figures of this movements decided to run for the municipal elections of 2015. These are Ada Colau and Mónica Oltra, who became major of Barcelona and vice president of the Valencian Community, respectively. The second group was formed in 2011, after a protest that took place in Madrid.
It was formed by people of all ages and they kept protesting in La Plaza Mayor against the government cuttings for a year. It was breeding ground for the political party Podemos. This new project was created by professors who claimed themselves as the new left, though they were not completely new. Their ideological concepts contained ideas from all the important left movements. Nevertheless, they gained people’s heart by proclaiming that they would try to defeat political power and bring equality to every part of the nation.
They entered into the Spanish parliament after the national election in 2015. Although they have defended many social causes, they seem to have left the struggle class on one side, forgetting about it. In addition, with their 67 MPs, they have not even ruffle the monarchy. This is something that their voters have complained about.
It is too early to predict what will happen or what they will do in relation this concept, but the reality is that they seem to belong now to the old politics. Even, the party’s spokesman, Pablo Iglesias, stated at the beginning of this year that fighting in the streets is nonsense and leads you to no place. They entered into the system to defeat it, but it creates the impression that the system has absorbed them.Marxism vs. Feminism: Same goal, different paths.
In this whole essay, the concept of ending political power has been addressed, but one of the main critics made to this idea has come from the feminist voices. It is clear that the bourgeoisie is maintained by the patriarchy, as well as, this social group is the patriarchy’s protector. Thus, it is not irrational to suggest that destroying political power would lead to the end of patriarchy.
The problem is found when those who want to fight against this organized power forget about women. When they state that the feminist issues have to be delayed in favour to the class struggle. There cannot be an end for this situation if the Marxists do not take into account the oppression that half of the proletariat is suffering because of their gender.
If the goal is a revolution, it has to be feminist or it will not be. In Spain, this critic has been raised by journalists like Rosa Montero and Irantzu Varela through their articles or by creating online sections like El Tornillo and La Faktoria LilaConclusion.This work has gone through Spanish socio-historical facts that were originated by the Marxist understanding of political power.
They have been developed under tumultuous situations that awoke the class consciousness of the Spanish proletariat, but they did not achieve the destruction of this concept. This is a difficult objective to carry out, since it is needed a long period of time to make it grow and prosper. But the Spanish society has no patience and has not been able to wait at certain moments. The bourgeoisie has known how to maintain its political power, even when the people has revolted. Therefore, I am not stating that the end of this idea cannot take place in Spain, but that the Spanish society has to evolve and be aware of the class struggle that they are suffering.
This is the only hope that is left.