Andrew Dowling, Senior Lecturer in Catalan History at Cardiff, writes:
"the desire for independence is a relatively late development. Until the late 1930s and the onset of Civil War, the Catalan labour movement – which has always been especially strong in Catalonia because of the region's industrialisation – was unique in Europe because of its attachment to anarcho-syndicalism. No city in human history has ever experienced the dominance of anarchism as much as Barcelona. The anarchist movement, unlike Leninist-Marxism, never sought to create an ideology sympathetic to nationalism and remained highly committed to internationalism. The pro-independence movement, therefore, was unable to obtain either the support of the labour movement or the bourgeoisie. As such, the movement for independence was fragmented and weak and continued to be so well into the 1970s. ...
"Today, the struggle for Catalan independence can be considered a middle class revolt. Middle class radicalism rarely occurs, but it is most likely to manifest at times of political alienation. This is exactly what has happened in Catalan society over the course of the 2000s. ... Both before the economic crisis and since, middle-class sectors in Catalan society have seen the erosion of their elevated position as a rich region of Spain. This has challenged the self-perception of middle-class Catalans. With the arrival of the economic crisis in 2008, Catalans became greatly discontented at the financial contribution they made to Madrid, while businesses closed and employment opportunities dwindled. These economic grievances have led to the intensification of alienation from Spain."