Spain: Colau, Podemos and the impossibility of reforming capitalism

Ada Colau was elected mayor of Barcelona in 2015 primarily due to support from the Podemos movement. She has been hailed by much of the fake left, including many revolutionary in words but reformist in practice groups as the best thing since sliced bread, as a “radical” candidate who “challenges capitalism”. Described by the bourgeois media as “far-left”, she was a co-founder of the PAH movement, which fought against evictions spawned by the capitalist crisis, which rendered many homeless and unemployed, peaking at an average of 500 evictions per day.

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Ada Colau arrested by the police in a 2013 anti-eviction process.

We think anti-eviction activism is great, but precisely her example shows why you can’t reform capitalism away. Just some days after she was elected mayor, some passers-by caught a homeless family occupying an abandoned house in Barcelona to live there. The owner of the house never complained, but as soon as she received the information, she evicted the family and made them homeless again. Is this not the best example of how reformism is flawed, of how being part of the bourgeois system inevitably leads to betrayal of any principles? Clearly she wasn’t trying very hard to keep them (which shows how easily any bourgeois politician’s personality can be corrupted), but even if she was, eventually she would be forced by capitalism to do so.

For years she denounced the “corrupt” representatives of the Spanish government as a mafia which have to be kicked out, tirelessly complaining about how they evict people, bringing a hundred arguments to the table about how these evictions are unethical, then as soon as she got in power, as soon as she became just another bourgeois politician in the government, though elected by what some ostensibly leftist people are calling “radical” rhetoric, she evicted a family.

And while there are a thousand examples of why Colau is just another gear in the capitalist butchering machine, we’ll focus on just two more. One of these is, she initiated massive police witch-hunting operations against extremely low-income immigrants who have to survive off selling things in the streets, making sure their only way to survive is eliminated.

And the other example we’re going to detail here happened just recently. There’s this company, called TMB. It operates part of the transport network in Barcelona. Colau used to hate it, tweeting all about how it’s so greedy in 2014. 26 May 2014, to be exact, was the date of one of these tweets. This company has over 500 executives, many of whom have been put there by so-called “left-wing” political parties. Three of them had an annual income of over 200,000€. In an article criticizing Colau in general, the CGT trade union complains that these executives have been increasing their incomes by 15%, while the workers were treated horribly. More than 60 of the executives have a higher income than Colau herself, as mayor. And in fact, TMB might be breaking the law by not releasing key information on just what’s going on financially.

But Colau doesn’t care. Because while she hated TMB, she now loves it. In fact, in 2016 she said she’ll never negotiate with TMB workers while they’re on strike, because strikes are a bad pressuring tactic, she says. Supposedly workers just have to beg for things nicely, without taking any action.

This beloved idol of certain groups which falsely claim to be “Marxist” obviously is confessing herself to be the biggest enemy of the workers. Now, what’s the difference between this and what any other bourgeois politician would say? In fact, we think there’s a few of them who wouldn’t go as far as admitting they viewed strikes in that way, admitting just how anti-worker they are.

But we’re not surprised, and we continue to oppose Colau as we continue to oppose the capitalist system in general, understanding that only a social revolution brought about by the working class independently organizing in a revolutionary party can overthrow capitalism, by establishing a workers’ state and then an international planned socialist economy. Nothing short of or other than that will accomplish the long-overdue task of sweeping away capitalism. Workers have to fight for reforms as part of their revolutionary struggle. But you don’t win these reforms by praising bourgeois candidates and then begging them to go a little less hard on people. So we oppose reformism, which aims to achieve these reforms through a corruption of revolutionary principles, tactics and strategies.

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