Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Occitany - 8 Centuries Later - A Revolutionary perspective for National and Social Liberation

                                                                  Map of Occitania

Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr is pleased to publish this contribution from an Occitane Comrade of Servir le Peuple not only you inform you about the struggle of the Occitane People over the  last 800 years but also for you to study and debate the theoretical conclusions.

Our Welsh struggle against the British State and the Occitane struggle against the French State has well has current national struggles against the Spanish State can inform one another, there is rich potential of learning from each other experiences has there are universal has well as specifics lessons in struggles against the British State, French State and Spanish State.

In February 1972 revolutionaries from nations trapped inside the British, French and Spanish States issued the Brest Charter in Brittany for Independent Socialist Republics in Western Europe, we need to revive that spirit of the Brest Charter in the 21st Century and we believe publication of this study will assist that process.

This document is not the exact translation of the French one, but it follows the main ideas of these. All apologizes to comrades, but translating a text like this ever means remove its force]
Exactly 800 years ago, on September 12th of 1213, the battle of Muret (near Toulouse) was the begining of the end for our just-born Occitan nation. Began then the political liquidation of our Nation and People, under the rule of royal intendants and later napoleonians and ‘republicans’ prefects until, under the sinister Third ‘Republic’ of monopolies born in the blood of the Communes repression (1871) and ended in the shame of Pétain’s full powers (1940), the attempt to negate us even as a People.
Since 1180, Capetian King of FRANKS Philip II August launched himself to conquer the western part of present French ‘Hexagon’, which was under the rule of Plantagenets (also kings of England), from Normandy to the Pyrenees including so the western part of our Occitany, the duchy of Aquitaine and Gascony : so he became king OF FRANCE. But in the central and eastern part of our Nation (Languedoc and Provence), which was under the rule of Earls of Toulouse and/or Kings of Aragon-Catalonia, the conquest took the form of a bloody CRUSADE, on the pretext to extirpate the Cathare heresy (a kind of christian communist-mystic current) that our aristocracy protected, as it was also tolerant to Jews, Muslims from Spain and so on. Just like today, imperialism launch its plundering wars on the pretext to ‘eradicate terrorists’ and other twaddles. This Crusade was led by a small baron of the Paris region, Simon of Montfort (who also owned lands near Leicester, his son is known in Britain for his role in the Magna Carta of 1215). Those hordes of ‘crusaders’ attacked so our country and people, perpetrating horrendous massacres like in Beziers (1209) : ‘Kill them all, God will recognize his ones

Hymne à la Liberté en Occitan
Resisted first, to the invasion, the People, the cities and the small nobility. The Earl of Toulouse (Raymond) was hesitant and even, first, joined the crusaders (!), before changing side facing their horrors. The King Pedro II of Aragon did so, as he needed Pope’s support to his conquering plans in Spain, against Andalus muslim states (battle of Navas de Tolosa, 1212). So was 1213 a turning point, with Pedro of Aragon pacting with Raymond of Toulouse and deciding to stop the invasion. Unfortunately, they were like ‘punished’ for their initial indecision, and their Occitan-catalan-aragonian armies were crushed on the battle field.

Some years later, Philip August’s successors (Louis VIII, ‘Saint’ Louis IX) intervened directly and achieved the conquest beating the last resistances. Languedoc, a kind of ‘confederation’ of fiefs and cities republics, ‘aristocratic republic’ as would later write Engels, was submitted and annexed to the Crown in 1270. Aquitaine and Gascony would be disputed some centuries more between France and England (Hundred-Years War) and definitely submitted after Wars of Religion (16th century), when Henry IV (of Albret and Navarre) became King of France ; Provence  was given to a brother of ‘Saint’ Louis IX (the Duke of Anjou), as ‘autonomic’ fief of the Crown, but definitely annexed in 1480.
So, as often in a mode of production in crisis (at this time, feudality), the ruling class of a Nation had submitted the ruling class of another to appropriate its working and productive forces : that’s what we use, then, to call IMPERIALISM. Capetian Kingdom of France, State of the French aristocracy and upper bourgeoisie, to-be monopolies ‘one and indivisible Republic’, was born.
This ruling class was made of, on one part, declining aristocracy surrounding the Capetian monarchy and eating in its hand (some of those making themselves gentlemen farmers, agrarian capitalists), and on the other, of the BOURGEOISIE of Paris region, seeing there a way to supplant and subordinate the others bourgeoisies of others regions and nations.

Some people can say this tragedy took place 800 years ago, ‘an eternity’ ; just as some people (the same) slander ‘repentance’ for African’s slavery, indigenous genocide of Americas or Australia, colonial conquests and massacres : "that was sooooo many years agooooo" ! Just as if present could be something else that the fruit of the past.

But anyway, this bloody Conquista remind us the present fierce exploitation of whole continents (Asia, Africa, and Americas), the criminal occupations of Palestine or Iraq, Afghanistan or Kurdistan, and the people’s resistances to it, with its most advanced form of People’s War in India, Philippines, Turkish State or Peru… It remind us, and dialectical materialism doesn’t know coincidence.

There’s two kinds of ‘barbaric’ mode of production and political system : a nascent one, accumulating with greed its first big fortunes ; and an agonizing one which, to preserve the privileges it accumulated, doesn’t step back in front of any crime. The Modern State, like the French one, between the 13th and 18th century, blended both. And now, monopoly capitalism is in terminal crisis but, also, ‘replaying’ again and again the throes of primitive accumulation, in some backwarded part of the World (like central or south/southeast Asia or deep Africa or Amazonia).

And imperialist States are the direct products of these ancient Modern States. The Conquista of our People gave birth to the French State, the Kingdom of France, political, military and ideological apparatus of a declining Frank aristocracy and an emerging and greedy Paris-and-around upper bourgeoisie ; and the present French monopolist state, built by 1789 bourgeois revolutionaries, Napoleon and others (until the ‘republicans’ of Jules Ferry and Clemenceau and De Gaulle) is the direct product of it. The string form past to present is absolutely continuous.
French State, as any Modern State, is born from a CENTER, headquarter of the allied monarchy and upper bourgeoisie ; conquering by steel and then gunpowder lands and peoples (Brittany, Corsica, Artois and Flanders, Lorraine an so on) becoming PERIPHERIES, exploited lands and peoples. It extent then these peripheries in concentric circles, even overseas, becoming an Empire. Just as the Castellan/Spanish State, born from conquering Andalus and then subordinate Aragon, Catalonia, Navarra and Basque Country ; or the British State, born from conquering Wales and Scotland and Ireland ; or later (by and for the lone bourgeoisie, allied with a ‘liberal’ monarchy), the Italian State conquering the Kingdom of Naples, the Mezzogiorno
In a reference work about our ‘Southern France’, Engels correctly says the conquest achieved in the late 15th century (we could even say early 17th, with Henry IV), and then our country resisted… 300 years, so until 1789. And, can we even say, Engels (who was also… a capitalist and ever had a positive vision of bourgeois and industrial ‘revolutions’) stops history when it’s convenient for him, because the ‘democrat-socialist’ massive vote of 1848-49, the resistance to the bonapartist coup of December 1851 (bonapartism was known for its ultra centralism, with almighty prefects appointing mayors), the Communes of 1871 or the Great Wine Revolt of 1907, were still Occitan resistance, even if there wasn’t separatist intention (but there neither was during Wars of Religion nor any revolt under Absolute Monarchy, nor in 1831 Welsh Merthyr Rising against the British Crown !).
That’s only after World War 2, in the forests of cranes and buildings of the ‘Glorious Thirties’ (1945-75), that our Occitany could seem disappeared forever. But only seemed. Because at this same time, the great anti-imperialist struggles shaking the World, from Vietnam to Angola, pushed a part of our People to hold the head high again, after centuries of political suppression and even, since the late 19th century, three generations of national and cultural suppression as a People (ethnocide). However, this movement remained prisoner of strong theoretical limits. It never really seized the sword of Revolutionary Marxism (which yet led the Third World struggles inspiring it) as a TOOL to understand the Occitan Problem under its light. It saw all these events we have exposed and claimed proudly about this ‘tragedy of Occitan people’, but never understood their materialist and logical string, and never understood the tremendous revolutionary ferment contained in their own claims. Cause if the Conquista of Occitany was the birth act of French capitalist-imperialist State, our People’s Liberation can only mean its death !

So this movement failed, all the more since there’s in Occitany no autonomist nor independentist bourgeoisie as in Catalonia or Basque Country or Quebec. For historical reasons, Occitan bourgeoisie is politically and ideologically ‘French’, the system it’s part of implies it in subordinate position – French State is not polycentric like Spain or Canada or Germany. Upper bourgeoisie resisted a little under monarchy but since the bourgeois revolution has done well of the French State, and the middle and petty bourgeoisie too, even if it sometimes protest against Paris centralism and ‘bureaucracy’, like in the 1950’s Poujade movement. For 8 centuries, all Occitan bourgeoisie and other ‘elites’ have sold themselves or disappeared ! The ‘heart’ and ‘key’ of Occitan Question is clearly, totally and only in the working and people classes, there’s no other way from south of Pyrenees to follow.
Thinking about and understanding all of this finally led some of us, ‘occitanist’, to seize Marxist theory and its wonderful power, and some others, ‘Marxists’, to look at and understand the Occitan Question and how it was at the heart of existence and, so, continuity of this French capitalist State we fight.
This led us to two main conclusions :
1°/ The capitalist World we know is built from CENTRES (concentrating through the centuries political, economical and ideological/cultural power), dominating PERIPHERIES concentrating poverty and exploitation. These Peripheries are spread in concentric circles around the Centres (and ‘relay-centres’), from the suburban ghettos of big cities to the most starved ‘Third World’. That’s the way capitalism, for the moment it equipped itself with (modern and then bourgeois) State, negate former social and political organizations. So, it’s absolutely logical that Revolutionary Proletarian Struggle, negation of capitalism by communism, DEPLOYS ITSELF from Peripheries to the Centres.

Peripheries are the ‘countrysides’ of each country and the World, this is the real universality of Mao’s Protracted People’s War. Inside each capitalist State, revolutionaries have to identify where are the ‘countrysides’/Peripheries and where are the ‘cities’/Centres, to deploy their struggle from the ones to the others.
This, without any doubt about sincerity and class struggler’s generosity (letting besides some openly and violently Jacobins groups), has often been misunderstood by many revolutionary persons and groups in our State. Sometimes because of their geographic ‘central’ position (Paris or ‘relay-centres’ like Lyon, Nice, Nantes), and because of misunderstanding and (so) not calling into question the linked privileges of it ; sometimes because of their SOCIAL ‘central’ position, seen (rightly or wrongly) as LINKED to the State’s existence (public officers or workers, working aristocracy, workers of companies with State orders) ; and sometimes, because of pure alienation (under the two others influence). They want to TRANSFORM this old French State in a ‘socialist republic’ (possibly with a recognizing of ‘cultural-and-democratic-rights-of-minorities)… but not DESTROY it, as it’s to be done, to built something completely new, something that, to be clear, can be only the work of masses in revolution, not of ‘political engineers’ in a bureau.

2°/ All the misery of ‘occitanism’ since WW2 comes from remaining, for 90% of its already skinny troops, in a REFORMIST perspective : autonomist, regionalist, ‘decentralist’ – but even independentist like in Catalonia, not breaking with capitalism, for us communists it remains reformism. Or, sometimes, in an utopian socialist perspective, which lead exactly to the same : as said Lenin, "No revolutionary theory, no revolutionary movement". They didn’t consider Occitan Question in the only frame allowing its solution : World Proletarian Revolution whose new wave is grewing up all over the World ; and they never considered Occitany, in the French State, as obviously the first ‘countryside’ of revolutionary struggle : the biggest and most peopled one, and above all, the older and FOUNDING one – as it’s precisely from its conquest that French State’s born. To not place their struggle in this perspective, to not giving it this dimension, ‘occitanists’ were doomed to fail.
For not being Marxists (or so few), most of them misunderstood dialectical and historical materialism : History as a negation of negation process. That means that any economical & political system in history is negated by another ‘superior’ (in the sense of ‘historically necessary’), and then this one is negated by another ‘superior’ (which negate the negation) and so on. With Modern State negating the old duchies, counties, baronies, abbeys, countryside peasants communities and cities bourgeois ‘republics’, ‘aristocratic republics’ as was, according to Engels, a big part of medieval Occitany, capitalism negate feudality. And capitalism was an often dolorous, but necessary historical stage for humanity : nobody can deny the huge scientific and technical progress it brought to humanity. Above all, capitalism allowed emergence of HUMANISM, by making human being the only owner of his labour strength (under feudality that wasn't clear : feudal lord still was eminent owner of the lands and people living in, this contradiction was the principal one of this production mode). That was the historical task of capitalism and its political expression, the Modern State.
But, doing so, capitalism also DESTROYED, CRUSHED with never-seen violence the ancient traditional communities and ways of live, to put every 'free' worker in the slavery chains of selling every day his labour strength to capitalist employer (overseas, capitalism also practiced genuine slavery !). Actually, capitalism is obliged to produce humanism, but, to develop itself, it must every time trample this humanism it just produced.
Now, all these people are proletarians or semi proletarians, parked in their peripheries ; capitalism has reached to its terminal crisis, and people wants COMMUNISM. And the basic cell of the future socialist society we’re fighting for, the People’s Commune, is actually nothing but the medieval urban, countryside or mountain ‘republic’, on an higher level ; as could say José Carlos Mariátegui for Peru’s pre-colonial peasant community (ayllu)[1] or John MacLean for Scottish clan community[2], or even… Marx, on his later years of life, about Russian mir[3]. French Modern State, for the historical necessities of capitalism, negate medieval Occitany and its social system ; but now, it’s to be negate in its turn by this Occitany on an higher stage, Free an Socialist Occitany, revolutionary Occitany which would be a little stone of the Communist Universal City.
So, we reached to the conclusion that in the French State, the Occitan Question (asked in a reformist way for half a century by the ‘occitanists’) has no answer out of the general frame of Proletarian Revolution ; of People’s War deploying itself from the Peripheries of bourgeois political-military and social-economic construction to the Centre ; our Occitany not only being one of the most oppressed peripheries (in terms of poverty, unemployment, lack of services etc.) but also the FOUNDING one, on which French State is born as a WORLDWIDE exploitation and oppression capitalist project. And it has no other possible solution out of the tool for our revolutionary Liberation : the Communist Party of Occitany.
Consequently, this 8th centennial of Muret’s bloody battle, sealing our people’s conquest and, giving birth to French State, the fate of so many other peoples on Earth, is the moment to announce the formation of a Building Committee for Occitany’s Revolutionary Communist Party ; tool of revolutionary struggle in our Occitan periphery/’countryside’, tied to all genuine revolutionary forces in the French State to overthrow it, and overthrow capitalism whose it’s the political, military and ideological instrument.

[3] http://bataillesocialiste.wordpress.com/documents-historiques/1881-03-projet-de-reponse-a-vera-zassoulitch-marx/  Lenin didn't agree with it, saying that at this time (around 1900) the ancient mir had disappeared for more than two centuries, and the land was owned by the landlords, the monks and so on. But that was absolutely the same in Mariategui's Peru and MacLean's Scotland ! And this absolutely doesn't mean that the remembrance of this traditional collectivist community doesn't live in people's hearts and guide them to their emancipation.

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