“In Catalunya, in the first three decades of the twentieth century, there rapidly arose three rival projects – Catalan nationalism, Spanish nationalism and a revolutionary working-class movement – all seeking control of the territory. ” Discuss the above statement. Word Count: 1,572 J. B. Guardiola wrote in Libro de la Democracia (1851) that ‘Spain is not, in the strict and true meaning of the word, a nation but a collection of nations’1.
The above quote shows us that Spain was deemed to not be a complete nation but one that was made up of autonomous or semi – autonomous states. This is perhaps one the major reasons for the on going rise of Nationalist movements such as Catalan and Spanish Nationalism along with the rise of the working class movement. Spain had the ongoing conflict of the central government in Madrid wanting to have control over the autonomous states, such as Catalonia, whereas the Catalonian middle class population believed they had the right to control themselves due to their previous history.
The working class movement rose in notoriety during the first three decades of the 20th Century due to the lower classes lack of inclusion into either Nationalist movement, thus wanting total reform for the country – in order for the redistribution of power throughout all the territories. Catalan Nationalism arose to prominence between the years of 1828 and 1923. Catalonia, to an extent had its own nationalism, for quite some time, prior to rise of Spanish Nationalism. Catalonia had a culture, language and economy that was centuries old.
Spain on the other hand, had the aid of the lawyer, Alejandro Lerroux – who was in fact a republican leader, who was later to set himself apart for his anti – Catalan opinions. He stated on the 31st March 1904 in La Publicidad that the Catalans were ‘a people that has its own history, language, literature and art, and a personality of its own with all the ethnic characteristics of a distinct race. ‘2Spanish Nationalism on the other hand was a return to the grass – roots Spain, a Spain of the working class, which Lerroux attempted to install.
The working class movement on the other hand, had the ideology of the destruction of political structure, the redistribution of power, it was a particularly strong movement in Catalonia. The statement refers to a ‘territory’, but one must query, as to whether or not the declaration refers to the ‘territory’ of Catalonia or the ‘territory’ of Spain as a whole. The whole first decade of the 20th Century made the territory of Catalonia one of instability and an area in social turmoil.
The birth of Catalan nationalism had been at the base of Catalonia for a long period, prior to the real emergence of it into the public eye. Catalonia was highly nationalistic; it was a different society – in many ways, through the language, culture and, perhaps, its greatest advantage over the other Spanish territories, its industrial wealth and productivity. Catalonia was perhaps an exception to the rule – on its rise to nationalism – as it had witnessed a period of industrialisation, of which the consequence was an extremely high powered bourgeoisie.
There is a widening gap in the social basis of Catalanism – as the ideal attracts the urban middle class and lower class – which in turn results in federalism. The fact that two major classes are excluded from these middle class elite – the economic and social elite along with the working class; this to some extent leads to foundations of the working class movement, due to their lack of absorption by the federalist groups, and the rise of Spanish nationalism – due somewhat to the same cause along with other contributing factors.