UBU SAVED FROM DROWNING: WORKER INSURGENCY AND STATIST CONTAINMENT IN PORTUGAL AND SPAIN, 1974-1977
Preface: 1975 and the End of the Era of the "Progressive" State Civil Servant
Who, today, cares about the mid-1970's transitions in Portugal and Spain? And why, in the year 2000, publish two texts, each written shortly after the events they describe, that is (in terms of the practical demands of the new "globalized" conjuncture) in what seem like antediluvian times, and moreover with little revision or attention to subsequent developments? The text on Portugal (1976) was written as an immediate contribution to revolutionary strategy and tactics, with a wildly over-optimistic assessment of impending working-class prospects, at least in southern Europe. The text on Spain (1983) was written just after Felipe Gonzalez and the PSOE took power with an absolute parliamentary majority, in the flush of the "Euro-socialist Renaissance" (Mitterrand in France, Papandreou in Greece); over the next 13 years, it often seemed they had done so with the express purpose of demonstrating- once again- the inanity of the (mainly Trotskyist) characterization of contemporary Social Democracies as "workers' parties".
The text on Portugal, rather foolishly, calls the events of 1974-75, (at the very onset of the longest period of rollback in international working-class history), the "beginning of a new era of global revolution". The formulation was, to be fair, half right. It was the beginning of a new era. The end of the Salazar and Franco regimes on the Iberian peninsula was, in fact, a key moment in the beginning of a period in which literally dozens of dictatorships disappeared, a period in which the soft cop took over from the tough cop, and democracy, world-wide, sold austerity. Jeffrey Sachs and the Eastern bloc "dissidents" looked to post-Franco Spain, long before their hour struck in 1989, as the model for the transition out of dictatorship and autarchy, though they will be waiting a while for the kind of massive foreign investment (in the 1960's and early 1970's) which made Spain, for a time, the 10th industrial power in the world. In 1975, most of Latin America was under some form of military dictatorship, and by the end of the "lost decade" of the 1980's, most of these countries as well had had their democratic transition. The IMF teams seemed always to arrive on the same plane with the returning democratic exiles (the former had, of course, hardly been unwelcome with the earlier authoritarian regimes), and Western banks are still pestering Russia about Tsarist-era debts. After Iberia and Latin America, it was the turn of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. In Asia, in the 80's and 90's, Taiwan, South Korea, and even Indonesia saw the end of dictatorships. The individual and collective Ubus of the post-World War II era-Salazar, Franco, Trujillo, Duvalier, Somoza, the Argentine junta, Pinochet, Stroessner, the Brazilian generals, South African apartheid, Mobutu, Idi Amin Dada, Haile Selassie, Stalin, Ceausescu, the Shah of Iran, Suharto, Mao, Pol Pot, Chiang kai-shek, Park chung hee-have mainly disappeared, and slick teams of faceless neo-liberal technicians, chattering about "civil society", have mainly replaced them, including (long ago) in Portugal and Spain.
It is equally important to recall the world political conjuncture of the years 1973-1975, to understand how Portugal, a country of 10 million people, could, for a few months, become the lightning rod of global superpower rivalry. The postwar expansion-the fastest era of growth, on a world scale, in capitalist history- was ending, in runaway inflation, the oil crisis, and the deepest world recession since the 1930's. World accumulation was changing gears. Military dictatorship had checkmated the working class in Brazil, Chile and Uruguay (and was about to do so in Argentina), Israel won the Yom Kippur war, and the subsequent quadrupling of oil prices in the fall of 1973 had dealt a body blow to the oil-importing countries of the Third World, accelerating the debt crisis which has only deepened since.
But these realities faded, at least momentarily, into the backdrop of what seemed to be a series of grave setbacks for U.S. world hegemony: the threat of revolution in Portugal and Spain, the humiliating military debacle in Indochina, the imminent triumph of "anti-imperialist" national liberation fronts in the Portuguese ex-colonies (and the impact of that development on apartheid South Africa), the advance of "Euro-communism" in western Europe, and a pro-Soviet coup in Ethiopia and the subsequent crisis in the Horn of Africa. Civil war broke out in Lebanon. The U.S.-backed Greek junta was overthrown, and Greece and Turkey, both members of NATO, threatened to go to war over Cyprus. More diffusely, but also increasing the atmosphere of U.S. disarray in the midst of Watergate, was the emergence of the Third World "Group of 77" at the United Nations, pushing for debt, oil and food relief. Indira Ghandi imposed martial law in India and moved closer to the Soviet camp, and the Shah of Iran, beneficiary of decades of U.S. military aid, lectured the West about its decadent affluence. Nixon capitulated to Congress, Heath fell to the British miners' strike, Willy Brandt fell to the Guillaume spy scandal, and some fifteen other major countries, within a few months, changed governments in what seemed to many as a fatal disarray of Western world hegemony. Everywhere, including Iberia, state bureaucrats, mainly of Stalinist and Third Worldist hue, seemed to be on the march.
By the late 1970's, a sea change had occurred, routing the currents that seemed ascendant only a few years before, perhaps best embodied by the virtual military alliance between the U.S. and China against the Soviet Union and its allies. It was not merely a reversal of the statist trends of the post-World War II period; it was the end of the era of the 1875 Gotha Program of the German SPD, its "people's state" (Volkstaat), and its 20th century progeny, welfare-statist, Stalinist, or Third Worldist. It was, in a word, the end of the era of Ferdinand Lassalle, the (little-remembered) shadow of all "progressive" state bureaucrats of the 20th century. Not only were all the fires of 1975 put out, but the U.S.- centered counter-offensive did not stop short of the liquidation of the Soviet bloc, and an elaborate "engagement" over the terms of China's full-blown entry into the world market. A workers' movement with a heavy dose of clerical nationalism ruined Stalinism in Poland; Islamic fundamentalism replaced "socialism with an Islamic face" as the main form of "anti-imperialism" throughout the Moslem world; the right-wing populist revolt in the Anglo-American world produced Thatcher and Reagan, and 20 years later, the world working class is still attempting to regroup and return to the offensive.
The transition crises in Portugal and Spain were, further, the last major working class upsurges in the West in the era of the big factory. But their history, 25 years later, is also useful as a benchmark from which to better grasp the break represented by the subsequent period. In Portugal, in particular, the "disconnect" between all "working class political parties" and self-appointed vanguards, Social Democratic, Stalinist, Maoist or Trotskyist, and the social movement of the working class (both industrial and agrarian) and peasants was, by the late summer of 1975, total. This was itself was a new phenomenon of the first order. It is hardly the aim of these texts to herald the Iberian transitions as the first expressions of the loathsome "post-modern" ideology of "new social movements" that took hold in the post-1975 world Thermidor. But they do show the crisis of the "political" that opened the door to such ideologies. One must never forget the romance of the New Left middle classes in Berkeley, Paris, Berlin and Milan (and Lisbon and Madrid) in 1968 with Che, Mao, Ho and and countless lesser Third World "anti-imperialist" guerrillas and their bureaucratic-peasant state formations; only then can one fully grasp the depth of disillusionment that set in by 1978 when the front-line "anti-imperialists"-the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam and Cambodia- were all about to go to war...with each other.
The mid-1970's upsurges in Portugal and Spain were also the last worker revolts in the West which could be understood, and understood themselves, in terms of what might be called "Eurocentric" Marxism. Such a term, used advisedly, has nothing to do with the stupid idea, widely current today (above all in the U.S.), that because Karl Marx was a "white European male", his thought was necessarily "Eurocentric". Marx's own evolution was complex, and in particular the recent unearthing of the true "late Marx" of his final decade (not the sclerotic "scientific" phantom conjured up by Althusser) who became fascinated with the Russian peasant commune and who studied various "peoples without the state" lays to rest any question of his alleged "Eurocentrism".
The term "Eurocentrism" applies rather to the world hegemony, from 1875 to 1975, of the "Lassallean" "people's state", the national-populist bureaucratic development regime of progressive state civil servants that first consolidated itself in Bismarckian Germany and which was generalized to the world in different welfare statist, Stalinist and Third World nationalist regimes over the next century. It was in the German SPD, which co-evolved with and ultimately integrated itself into the German state, that the work of Marx was first transformed into an ideology of backward development regimes, recapitulating the linear progressive world outlook of the bourgeois Enlightenment of the 18th century, to promote industrialization in largely agrarian societies. These German beginnings were taken over and further refined by the early Russian "Marxists" (whom Marx himself attacked as apologists for capitalism), passed into the origins of Bolshevism, and acquired a world dimension through the triumph and defeat of the Russian Revolution after 1917. From Lassalle to Lenin to Stalin to Mao to Pol Pot there is degeneration, but also continuity.
The following two texts, therefore, are somewhat in contradiction with one another, because I only began to understand the thrust of the preceding paragraph in the early 1980's. There is, so to speak, an "epistemological break" between the Portugal and the Spain texts, which I have not taken the trouble to conceal or correct. This break can be summarized concisely as the reconceptualization of capitalist history, and hence of the workers' movement, in terms of the "extensive" and "intensive" phases of accumulation, based on the famous "Unpublished Sixth Chapter" of vol. 1 of Marx's Capital. When I wrote the text on Portugal, I had only partially broken with certain elements of Trotskyism, inherited from my Schactmanite beginnings, although I was already influenced by Luxemburg, Bordiga, council communism, the Situationists, and the French "neo-Bordigist" (and other) ultra-left currents: Camatte, Barrot-Dauvé, the early Castoriadis, the Negation group, and the International Communist Current. (I was, neverthless, unfortunately largely ignorant at the time of the Portuguese group Contra a Corriente and its newspaper Combate.) I felt (and feel) that the Portugal text suffered little or nothing from its willful bracketing of the question of whether the Soviet Union was a degenerated workers' state, state capitalist, bureaucratic collectivist, simply capitalist (in Bordiga's sense) or, (last but not least), Ticktin's Unnamable Object, none of the above.
The question here is obviously not the evolution of one individual's outlook. Useful as it may be for readers today (particularly those of a later generation who did not live through the period) to see the terms in which these questions were fought out in the mid-1970's, many people encountering this text may consider it odd to find an argument, at the culmination of the Portuguese crisis, for the application, more or less unvarnished, of a close approximation of Trotsky's "united front from below" strategy, aimed at superceding the left wing of the Socialist Party, the base of the Communist Party, and the extreme left groupings into soviet formations independent of, and against, the Armed Forces Movement (MFA) and the state. From a purely empirical viewpoint, had a civil war in fact erupted, these three forces would have found themselves on the same side, although hardly disentangled from the left MFA. Twenty five years later, with the benefit of hindsight and awareness of all that has happened, I still don't think it was a bad perspective for the time. No one in Portugal, to my knowledge, advocated it, because the virtual entirety of the "extreme left" (as the following text shows), including the Mandelite LCI (the most openly "Trotskyist" group active there), was in fact politically aligned with the Carvalho-COPCON wing of the MFA, and never dared openly question the populist demagogy of the "MFA-People" alliance. The only coherent ultra-left group on the scene, Contra a Corriente, which had no such illusions, would undoubtedly have considered such an intervention far too focused on the political sphere and far too "Bolshevik" for their tastes.
I am hardly so presumptuous to think that I, writing from some Olympian heights in the U.S., had the "right answer", "if only" it had been applied. An "answer", i.e. a strategy, no matter how appropriate, that does not emerge from the deep necessities of a real movement, is a meaningless formalism. The fact that such a perspective did not emerge in Portugal is a benchmark from which to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the movement there, nothing more or less. But the complex of questions raised here are, properly reformulated for today, hardly "ancient history". Since the mid-1970's, reality has nowhere tested any revolutionary current in a real mass movement moving rapidly leftward toward confrontation with the state, but that hardly means that such a test, and the strategic questions of how such a current relates to the broader movement, are permanently passé.
What does it means to say that the old schema of Social Democrat- Communist- Trotskyist- ultra-left , as used, in different ways, in the following texts, are rooted in "Eurocentric" Marxism, particularly since, in the mid-1970's, there were Communists, Maoists and Trotskyists throughout the Third World?
What is means is exactly that all these currents, however much they disagreed amonst themselves, were trapped, almost without exception, in a historical "timetable" fixed by, above all, the Russian Revolution, and therefore an "ontology" ultimately anchored in the early German SPD and the Bismarckian state, i.e. an ideology of Enlightened state civil servants industrializing backward sectors of the world economy.
Bordiga said somewhere that "just because one part of the world (by which he meant of course the West-LG) "has arrived at the next-to-the-last-stage does not mean that what goes on elsewhere is of no interest." By this he hardly meant that there was something "new" in China, North Korea, or North Vietnam, which he considered just as capitalist as the Soviet Union. All of these societies (or, by extension, at the extreme limit, Pol Pot's Cambodia in 1975) were on the same "timetable" and in the same "ontology" of completing the bourgeois revolution, and above all the agrarian revolution, within the framework of the nation-state.
The full ramifications of the "epistemological grid" shared by 99% of all would-be revolutionaries in 1975, in Portugal or anywhere else, cannot be dealt with seriously here. But what all such people (myself included) had in common was a belief that the "philosopher's stone" of world history was to be found in the events of the German-Polish-Russian corridor in the decade after World War I, however interpreted by Social Democrats, Stalinists, Trotskyists and ultra-leftists. World revolution had seemed possible then, and, in 1968-1977, world revolution seemed possible again. And perhaps, in both cases, it was in fact possible, within that part of the world then subsumed by capitalism. But almost no one, in the revolutionary milieu of 1975, gave much thought to the possibility that it would fail, as it had failed in 1917-1927, at least in part because capitalism still had large swaths of the world into which to expand, and because (in the latter case) "le capitalisme sauvage" (as the French call it), unbridled capitalism of the "Dickensian" variety, was about to expand into virtually every part of the world ruled in 1975 by "bureaucracy", whether Social Democratic, Stalinist, Maoist or Third World-Bonapartist. Almost no one in the revolutionary milieu in 1975 imagined, or would have considered possible, China growing through the 1990's, with market mechanisms, at 10-11% per year for years on end, South Korea and Taiwan emerging as mature industrial capitalisms, or other fallout from the "Asian miracle", before the crisis of 1997-98, seriously transforming Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, or finally the 1990's emergence of India and China as serious forces in the world software market. One part of the world had come to the next-to-the-last stage, and what happened elsewhere was (in that sense) of no particular interest. Virtually everyone, locked into the historical timetable of the Russian Revolution and therefore the modernizing "ontology" of the early SPD, however explicitly hostile to Social Democratic, Stalinist, or Third World-Bonapartist "bureaucracy", believed this "bureaucracy" to be something "beyond" private capitalism, whereas events after 1975 have shown it to be mainly something "before" private capitalism. A good swath of the extreme left or ultra-left, however anti-Stalinist, and trapped in fatuous variants of the "state capitalist" analysis of the Soviet phenomenon, thought that the Soviet Union held up the mirror, however primitive and distorted, to the future of capitalism as a whole ("the main tendency in capitalism today is toward state capitalism", as was so widely believed at the time) much as Britain had in the 19th century.
The underdeveloped countries accounted for 5% of world manufacture in 1963, and nearly 20% by 1994. Quite understandably, almost everyone in the revolutionary milieu, including myself (particularly in the 1973-75 atmosphere of world crisis) saw world accumulation, as it affected the Third World, much more in terms of what it had been 1963 than anything like what it would actually be in 1994, or later. It was almost universal common coin that the capitalist world market could never develop any part of the Third World, even if (as some believed) autarchic "state capitalism" could.
That, in sum, was the "Eurocentric" dimension of almost all Marxism, in 1975. We know, today, in contrast to all "Lassallean" statisms, that Enlightened state bureaucrats "laying the foundations of socialism" (i.e. developing the productive forces and abolishing pre-capitalist agriculture) are exactly involved in the tasks of capitalism and the bourgeois revolution. No one will ever write again, as Trotsky wrote in 1936, "that socialism confronts capitalism today in tons of steel and concrete", or, more up to date, of silicon chips and genetically-modified foods. Going beyond "Eurocentric" theories of statist modernization, or even the "anti-bureaucratic" soviets and workers' councils that nonetheless accepted the same historical "timetable" and "ontology", means reconnecting with the "material human community" (Gemeinwesen) that Marx sought in his studies of the Russian agrarian commune or of the Iroquois. In sum, we know today that productivism is not communism.
Obviously, I cannot settle the question here whether or not the post-1975 spread of capitalism, particularly in Asia, represents "merely" a long recomposition of the old capitalist deck of cards, as the remaining exponents of "the epoch of imperialist decay" would have it, or is in fact a new phase of real expansion of the world productive forces. I merely refer to that debate as the inevitable framework through which we look back at the last two working-class upsurges that took place when almost no one foresaw such a development. Whatever happens from now on, the Western working class, such as it existed in 1975 or as it exists today, is being "conjugated" with new working classes in different parts of the world that barely existed, or did not exist, 25 years ago. The Soviet bloc has collapsed, the former mass Stalinist parties in the West have shrunk to little more than large sects, and the large Social Democratic parties which benefited from their demise have, in France, Spain, and Italy come and gone from power without eliciting a yawn from any capitalist, anywhere. The capitalist state is still in place, and still consumes 40% or more of GDP, but it is generally much more involved in privatizing than in nationalizing.
Working-class revolution, obviously, was always conceived of in an internationalist framework. But Social Democracy and Stalinism, the two dominant deformations of worker emancipation in the 20th century, were strictly bound by the nation state. No ferment of the kind that occurred in Portugal and Spain in the mid-1970's will ever recur in a situation in which revolutionaries have to think about anything like the "united from from below" as presented in the Portugal text that follows. Social Democracy and Stalinism are dead as forces capable of mobilizing any working class, anywhere. Looking back to the end of the era in which, particularly in the case of Stalinism, they still seemed capable of doing so, allows us to take the measure of the continuities and discontinuities of where we are today.
One final word on the Spanish text. There was no "Winter Palace"-like situation in Spain (in contrast to mootings thereof in the more "classical" Portuguese crisis and quasi-dual power situation, at least in Lisbon). The transition from Franco to Felipe Gonzalez was more protracted and more diffuse, though hardly less explosive than the Portuguese transition. There is not the same "narrative", from early moderate euphoria to a polarized confrontation to defeat and regroupment. For that reason, and to deepen the conceptual formulation of the new world context discussed above, the Spain text, (unlike the Portugal text's nearly exclusive focus on 1974-75) takes a much longer view of the evolution of the Spanish working-class movement.
PART ONE: CLASS STRUGGLE AND THE MODERNIZATION OF CAPITAL IN PORTUGAL, 1974-1975
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
PCP Partido Comunista Portugues (Portuguese Communist Party)
MFA Movimento das Forças Armadas (Armed Forces Movement)
CIA Central Intelligence Agency
MPLA Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola
PAICG Independence Party of Guinea and Cape Verde
FRELIMO Frente de Liberacão de Mozambique
OECD Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development
PSP Partido Socialista Portugues
CDS Centro Democratico Social
TAP Transportes Aeronaves Portugues
PRP-BR Partido Revolucionario do Proletariado-Brigadas Revolucionarias
MES Movivento da Esquerda Socialista
ELP Ejercito da Liberacão Portugues
PIDE-DGS International State Defense Police (renamed 1969: General Security Department)
LUAR Liga de União de Accão Revolucionaria
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization
EEC European Economic Community
IMF International Monetary Fund
CGT Confederation Générale du Travail
PCI Partito Communista Italiano
CGIL Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro
FUR Frente Unido Revolucionario
PSU Parti Socialiste Unifie
COPCON Continental Operations Command
PCF Parti Communiste Français
MDP-CDE Movimento Democratico Portugues
CRTSM Revolutionary Workers, Soldiers and Sailors Councils
MRPP Movimento Reorganizativo do Partido do Proletariado
CUF Companhia União Fabril
LCI Liga Communista Internacionalista
FSP Frente Socialista Popular
SPD Sozialistische Partei Deutschlands
AOC Alianca Operario-Camponesa
UDP União Denocratica Popular
SUV Soldiers United for Victory
PPD Partido Popular Democratico
Extreme-Left Maoists Official Left Center-Right Extreme-Right
PRP-BR MRPP PCP PPD CDS ELP
MES AOC PSP
LUAR UDP MDP-CDE
1. The Beginning of a New Era of Global Revolution
What occured in Portugal between April, 1974, and November, 1975, was a cycle of revolutionary confrontation, aborted and intermittently resumed in the subsequent period, which is rich in lessons for the international revolutionary movement. A certain wing of the Portuguese bourgeoisie played the card of reformism, and found itself quickly standing over the abyss of proletarian revolution. A group of military officers, heavily influenced by the widely-debated "Peruvian model" of capitalist modernization, was the major vehicle for this reform effort, and itself later split between different versions of a military-technocratic modernization of capital and an important group which was committed to the Stalinist model of integral bureaucratic consolidation. But everyone making their calculations in the heady atmosphere of April, 1974, had omitted one factor which in turn destroyed the careful plans of the reformist bourgeoisie, forced the military to decisively re-define itself several times, and finally dealt Stalinism its hardest blow in the West since May 1968 in France. This factor was the revolutionary movement of the Portuguese working class. When, in November, 1975, a center-right coalition of the military had definitively mastered the situation, although not without passing through some harrowing moments, there was not a significant force in world politics which had not received an important foretaste of developments looming throughout the advanced capitalist sector for the duration of the decade.
It has become a banality to say it: what happened in Portugal in this nineteen-month period was a modern movement, in which every archaism from fascism to Third Period Stalinism reared its head and was then dispelled against the balance of forces of a new period of class struggle. This is not to say that fascism and Stalinism did not appear as potent forces in the course of the crisis, but merely that they, like all forces committed to preserving some aspect of existing reality, were constantly obliged to rush after that reality in order to master its new contours.
That an unashamedly Stalinist party-the last in Western Europe-could have passed through the metamorphoses undergone by the PCP between April, 1974 and November, 1975, already indicates that an era has passed. In that time, the PCP a) established itself as a legal party after 48 years of underground existence and moved into the offices of the Ministry of Labor, b) consolidated its organizational hegemony in the working class in the first months following the coup, c) revealed itself from the first moment as a party of strikebreakers policing the working class for the Armed Forces Movement (MFA) in the name of "national reconstruction", d) revived a vintage Third Period demagogy which horrified all but the most stoic inhabitants of the Kremlin and the headquarters of the Western European CPs, e) was forced to accept a united front with an array of extreme-left formations threatening to outflank it in the working class itself (without which threat such a united front, the first ever concluded with an extreme-left formation in Stalinist history, would have been unthinkable), f) was excluded from that same united front 72 hours later, g) constituted itself, after the fall of the last Vasco Gonçalves government, simultaneously as a minor government party and as the aspiring leader of the opposition to the government, h) permitted its spokesmen to call for an armed insurrection at 5:00 P.M. on Nov. 25, and i) issued a call urging everyone to return home at 10:00 P.M the same day. Taken by themselves, the elements which came into play in the revolutionary cycle in Portugal constituted nothing which had not emerged in different moments of the return of the revolutionary proletarian movement in the previous decade: May 1968 in France, the "hot autumn" of 1969 in Italy, the more dispersed but more ruthless eruptions of class warfare in Spain. What was new, however, was the configuration of these elements in their historical movement, and the fact that a pro-revolutionary current in the working class to the left of the PCP could emerge for a brief moment before the eyes of the entire world as the true gravedigger of capitalism in Portugal, ripping away in an instant the pretensions of the PCP and its international fellow travellers to lead this movement. It is true that the entirety of the organized extreme-left in Portugal succumbed to the game of opportunism, most notably in its abject capitulation to the left-Bonapartist Gen. Otelo Sareiva de Carvalho, and that in its desire to outflank the PCP it came close to falling into even worse illusions. But the ebb and flow of the fortunes of these organizations, far more attuned than the PCP to the realities of the social movement (even as they failed miserably to criticize the inadequacies of that movement) was far lighter on the scales of the counter-revolution than the maneuvers of the PCP as it attempted similtaneously to ingratiate itself with the pro-bureaucratic wing of the MFA and to propitiate its own pro-revolutionary base in the working class and in the agricultural proletariat. If, in the tense hours of Nov. 25-26, the extreme left and the working class currents from which it drew its support could be dispersed without a shot, revealing a certain moment of its earlier rhetoric to have been nothing but bluster and demagogy, the PCP committed far worse crimes, meeting that very night with elements of the MFA to negotiate the details of the repression that would follow, and to ensure that any bloodbath would fall on the extreme-left and not its own members. What Portugal proved to the international revolutionary movement is that the bureaucratic apparatuses of the official "Communist" parties could never again reconstitute themselves as the hegemonic force of pro-revolutionary sentiment in the working class. And that was already its historical achievement.
2. Archaic Corporatism and Its Modern Protagonists
The Portuguese capitalism in which this movement arose was distinguished, aside from the lowest living standards in Europe, only by the particularly decrepit corporatist state and ideology which oversaw its stagnation. Unlike the Franquist regime in Spain, Salazar's government had never seriously come to terms with the demands of "modernization" imposed by contemporary reality, and had allowed a disproportionate political and economic power within Portuguese society to be exercised by a reactionary group of latifundistas with no idea whatsoever of the necessities of running a modern capitalist economy, no matter how primitive. The government bureaucracy and statist economic mechanisms, combined with the unified power of landed interests and the banking oligopoly, kept the country in a state of lingering decay, increasingly colonized by foreign capital and squeezed by an enormous military budget necessary for the colonial wars in Africa. During the same period Spain, using the technocratic forces largely stalemated in Portugal, emerged as the tenth industrial power in the world. If the fascist demagogy and religious facade of the Salazarist regime at times was echoed by the zealots of Francoism across the border, that regime was nonetheless differentiated by a certain literalism of its neo-medieval or corporatist idyll which in Spain found its more realistic and contemporary outlet in the Catholic technocratic grouping Opus Dei. But there were, of course, in the real forces at work which permitted Salazarism an extended period of domination, forces which were ultimately working to destroy that insular state of affairs. The Portuguese economy was subsidized in no small way by invisibles: the remittances of the 1,000,000 Portuguese in emigration, both in flight from the particularly virulent conscription law (48 months required service) and in search of employment in the industrial zones of northern Europe. In addition, there was the cultivation of the small but highly lucrative tourist trade, focused in the south in the Algarve region and specialized, unlike the Spanish Costa Brava and Costa del Sol, in a more elite clientele. It has been noted in the past that if the Spanish revolution erupts once again in the month of July, it will find one to two million tourists present in the country, and similarly in the Portuguese revolution, tourism played its role in the drama. On the side of the counter-revolution, it was expressed in the flight of thousands of unsettled Germans, Britons and Swedes from the normally tranquil Algarve coast; and on the side of the revolutionary surge of the summer of 1975, in the presence of thousands of leftists of all sauces throughout the country, who at times constituted a force in their own right within various mass demonstrations.
In the global hierarchy of exploitation, Portugal was in 1974 a semi-developed country in an intermediary position between the Third World and the advanced capitalist sector, a colonial power itself a semi-colony. Precisely because of this intermediate position, the Portuguese crisis was from the beginning an international one. The country was the volatile mediation of the various contending forces of global power politics: its links to the advanced sector were expressed in the weight of Western European and American capital, NATO, the CIA and in the presence of 1,000,000 Portuguese workers in Northern Europe; the revolt of the colonized peoples of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau made the links to the Third World as a whole. A working class revolution in Portugal, combined with the triumph of the MPIA, PAIGC and FRELIMO in the former colonies would have had potentially explosive effects on the world balance of power, and even in the absence of such a revolution in Portugal, southern Africa was transformed in the space of a few months into a nexus of superpower confrontation.
The relative poverty of Portuguese capitalism, its position as an intermediary country in the international capitalist division of labor, is underlined by a few revealing statistics. It was the sole member country of the OECD whose population actually declined between 1962-72, due to the massive emigration of labor. With roughly one-third of the work force employed in each of the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors, Portugal's expenditure of labor power in agriculture was exceeded only by Greece and Yugoslavia among European countries. Private consumption per capita of $580 in 1971 was also among the lowest on the continent.
This tripartite division of the working population of Portugal had an immediate perceptible influence on political alignments. It is indispensable to note, for clarification of the denouement of the political crisis, that two-thirds of the Portuguese population lived in the northern part of the country, in which a large, impoverished peasantry eked out an existence on tiny plots of privately-owned land. It was in this priest-ridden, illiterate portion of the population, to which the revolutionary movement made no serious programmatic overtures, that the counter-revolution, led by the Church and the right and center parties and at moments assisted by the pathetic Maoists (who saw in this Papist regroupment a "peasant resistance to social fascism") recruited its most stable shock troops.
By contrast, it was in the very concentrated industrial zones -the suburban belt of Lisbon, in Setubal, and to a lesser extent in the northern city of Porto, that the Communist Party and the extreme left had their base of support. To this must be added the agricultural proletariat of the Alentejo region, in an area where the small landed property of the North was almost non-existent , where most cultivation was conducted on large latifundias., and where the apparatus of the PCP exercised hegemony well before 1974. It was no accident that well after Nov. 25, the center-right government made no effort to attack the seizures of the Alentejo latifundias or to dismantle on the agricultural cooperatives which were operating them.
If the Portuguese proletariat, concentrated essentially in two or three urban industrial areas of importance, was dominated in the first year of the crisis by the hegemonic PCP and the extreme-left, the important urban service sector was a far more complex and divided stratum. It was here, among shopkeepers, civil servants, white-collar workers and technicians that the PSP of Mario Soares and the right-wing PPD and CDS found their base of support, to the extent that they were not relying exclusively on Catholic and peasant sentiment. Even within this petty-bourgeois urban base of the PSP (by no means a uniform current of reaction, containing a number of white-collar trade unionists and employees of specialized, capital-intensive modern industries who were in fact pro-socialist) easy generalizations go astray. But in the last instance, excepting certain modern industrial sectors such as the TAP (the nationalized airlines in which the PRP and the MES had effective sway among employees, and which were the scene of important strikes) the real forces of revolution were the industrial working class and the agricultural workers of the Alentejo. It was they, above all, who carried out the land seizures, the factory occupations and the housing seizures without which nothing else of consequence would have occurred. It was additionally a result of this alignment of forces that the revolutionary left, above all concentrated in the Lisbon region, was systematically out of touch with the northern peasantry, who with a program for the cancellation of a heavy farm indebtedness and the transmission of cheap fertilizers could have possibly been won away from the Church hierarchy. Hence the revolutionary currents tended to mistake the balance of forces in Lisbon and the immediate surrounding regions for the balance of forces in the country as a whole, leading to certain periods of misguided euphoria and, at the decisive moment, a grave miscalculation which brought the movement to within an inch of a bloodbath.
Finally, as a demographically significant force which was not at all in evidence in the early months of the revolutionary process, one must cite the infamous retornados from Angola and Mozambique, who began arriving in serious numbers in the fall of 1975 with the impending independence of Angola on Nov. 11. There were, by the spring of 1976, roughly 500,000 retornados in Portugal, the vast majority of them forced onto the heavily burdened government dole, occupying in cramped conditions every available hotel room in Lisbon and producing a severe housing shortage in a country where such accommodations were already in short supply. The retornados, almost all of whom manifested the typical outlook of a dispossessed colon population, weighed heavily on the scales of reaction and made up the bulk of recruits to the underground fascist army, ELP, which was being supplied and directed in liaison with former PIDE elements and other reactionary groups operating across the border in Spain. The retornados whiled away their time on the vast Rossio plaza in the heart of downtown Lisbon, a volatile social force deeply antipathetic to the "forces of revolution" (in which most of them included the PSP of Mario Soares) which they felt had betrayed the ex-colonies. There was some evidence that certain elements of the retornados were being maintained on the dole with funds directly furnished by the U.S. government, which undoubtedly felt the need to maintain a reserve army of fascist cannon fodder.
There was, of course, a sensuous everyday side to the various forces which had shaped postwar Portuguese society and made it what it was, expressed in a thousand small realities which, as in every social process, make the movement of history visible in individual lives and give each movement its unmistakeable and inimitable popular quality. There were experiences engraved in thousands of working-class memories of cold and lonely treks through the Pyrenees with special guides hired, at outrageous fees, for the purpose of slipping them illegally into France, where they made the trip to a job contracted illegally at a Parisian suburban factory or construction site; there was the dramatic passage of the Portuguese border itself, rigorously patrolled by the notorious PIDE-DGS, crossed over the years by revolutionaries, intellectuals, draft dodgers and simply adventurers who found no room for themselves in the slumber of Portugal; finally, within the country itself, the activities of the hated PIDE-DGS, which was estimated to have had 200,000 Portuguese in its service at its height (this in a metropolitan population of 10 million) created a permanent ambiance in the streets, the cafes, and working class neighborhoods where every May 1 the revolutionary movement would attempt some furtive nocturnal manifestation of its presence and where the PIDE would just as ruthlessly swoop down to rip up posters and efface wall slogans before daybreak.
If ever modern history has presented a society in crisis in which all the repressed struggles of fifty years resurfaced under the sign of revolution, it was Portugal. For the first time since the French Communist Party's 1925 campaign against the Rif War, a Western European working class arrived at the rendez-vous with a colonial population in revolt, not under the senile "anti-imperialist" ideology bequeathed by forty years of Popular Frontism and Stalino-pacifist confusionism, but with the lucid intention of overthrowing the entire capitalist edifice. In its simultaneous call for the immediate, unconditional liquidation of the doddering Portuguese empire through the liquidation of capitalism in the metropolis, the Portuguese working class demonstrated the sensuous link between the revolutions of the advanced sector and the movements of the Third World, overturning at a stroke the masochistic and guilt-ridden ideologies of "support" to Third World peasant-bureaucratic formations which had warmed leftist hearts in Western Europe and the U.S. for the previous two decades. But it was not only the resurfacing of a real and not merely spectacular solidarity between sectors of the global movement which revealed the advance of the revolution in the Portuguese crisis. Within the array of capitalist currents themselves, a whole set of options was put into play and shown to be bankrupt. There was of course the archaism of the Salazarist regime, still surrounded by the "ultras" who, after denouncing Caetano for six years for betraying the spirit of the ancien regime , followed him just as quickly into oblivion. Then came various modernizers, their hour struck at last, who hoped to use the military, and later the mass movement, to push through in Portugal what more perspicacious groups such as Opus Dei had developed in Spain over fifteen years under Franquist sponsorship: a modern, technocratic dirigism under joint military control, which could finally propel Portugal into the EEC and win it the respectability which Salazarism could never achieve. Often of rather leftist persuasion, these individuals, having no base of their own, cropped up around the Melo Autunes "Group of the Nine", and were, like their European counter-parts, by no means hostile to trade unions, nationalizations or workers' councils, seeing them quite rightly as the sine qua non of a modern capitalism capable of containing the sole real threat of proletarian revolution. These people, from within the government planning agencies and the nationalized banks, consulting their well-thumbed studies of the Peruvian colonels' movement, understood perhaps better than anyone in the bourgeois camp how much would have to be jettisoned to save the essential, and that lucidity permitted them to play a role all out of proportion to their numbers and social base in the final denouement of the crisis. While this group could in no sense be confused with the Spinolists, they constituted the extreme left of a spectrum of opinion of which Spinola constituted the extreme right, but which agreed on the essential: modernize capital, or disappear.
Counter-revolutions undergo their own combined and uneven development; in the case of Portugal, an indispensable moment of the retooling of capitalism was the creation of a viable bureaucratic stratum within the working class capable of replacing the discredited corporatist unions bequeathed by the old regime. To this end, Socialists and Communists rushed home from exile to take their places. By the spring of 1975, and under the sponsorship of the military, the Stalinists had control of a unified trade union apparatus, the Intersindical, whose creation by military fiat had the Western press weeping for the demise of the corporatist hacks, a demise they had hailed mere months before. The entire left and extreme-left supported the creation of Intersindical precisely to liquidate the old Salazarist burlesque; the complete monopoly of its apparatus by the Stalinists later gave the extreme left pause. But by June, 1975, the whole question had been forgotten, as had Intersindical, for it was henceforth in the tidal wave of workers' councils which sprang up through the industrial belts of the country that everything was being decided.
3. Historical Development of Salazarism, 1945-1974
The stage, of course, had been set for this cast of characters by an entire previous epoch. It was really only from ignorance and the marginal role of Portugal international affairs throughout the postwar era that Salazarism could appear from the outside as a stable monolith; in fact, it had tottered a number of times throughout its existence, and had been obliged, with the exception of its brief halcyon period of 1939-1945, between the end of the civil war in Spain and the defeat of the Axis in Europe, to conduct a ruthless repression of an opposition which, however inept and trapped in a backwater, continually regrouped for new assaults on the regime. 1934, 1945, 1958 and 1961-62 all marked periods of upheaval in which the future of the regime was by no means certain, and particularly in the last three cases, it was probably the international situation more than anything else which saved Salazarism.
What was the nature of this regime which ruled Portugal for 48 years? As the second fascist regime to establish itself in Europe in the interwar period (following that of Mussolini in 1922), Salazarism nonetheless, for the first thirty years of its existence, was in reality more an elaboration of interwar corporatism, developing infrastructure (like the Primo de Rivera dictatorship in Spain) and preparing statist forms of management while exercising political hegemony and animated by a vision of a static medieval idyll almost lyrical in its absurdity. Unlike the more streamlined, industrial and expansionist qualities which characterized Italian fascism and German Nazism, the corporatist regime of Salazar was able to hold sway in this mode until the 1960's, when it was forced by converging circumstances, accelerated by the beginning of the colonial wars in 1961, to attempt a certain modernization and to open the door to foreign capital. Prior to 1960, Salazar managed the Portuguese economy with an eye to semi-autarchic industrial development, with retrograde consequences for the Portuguese working class and peasantry, to say nothing of the colonized populations. Salazar avoided the blustering demagogy of a Mussolini, often reiterating that "Portugal is a poor country and will remain so", while carefully maintaining a balanced budget and refusing to engage in any deficit spending or permit serious trade imbalances. He might have pursued a different policy if he had known that the most significant result of his efforts, following his demise, would be to place roughly $3.2 billion in reserves at the disposal of a government in rapid leftward motion, which made possible a remarkable stability of the escudo well into the revolutionary crisis and bankrolled to a certain extent the long political deadlock which, in addition to world economic pressures, seriously contracted production for more than a year.
The 1958-6l period constituted the definitive turning point for Salazarism. In the early phase of the Cold War, Salazar had remained loyal to a variant of the old fascist internationalism, refusing to participate in the Marshall Plan, (for which he was reviled by the democratic opposition at home and abroad). But the 1958-61 period presented Salazarism with a series of rude humiliations and setbacks. First, in 1958, the presidential campaign of the popular General Delgado engendered a wave of enthusiasm and mass demonstrations of support which took aback even the PIDE, which had every reason to believe itself well-informed on the contempt in which the regime was held by the populace, unlike the reclusive Salazar himself. May, 1959, saw the biggest illegal May Day demonstrations since the war. Then, in 1961, a series of episodes revealed the depths of the weakness of the regime: in January, the world was treated to the spectacle of the Santa Maria episode, in which a group of adventurers around one Captain Henrique Galvao seized a luxury liner and diverted it toward Brazil, using the incident to draw international attention to the ongoing existence of Salazarist rule in Portugal. This "Operation Dulcinea" of course had no immediate internal effects on the regime, but it achieved its publicity aims and was experienced by Salazar as another humiliation. But it was only the beginning. In March, the beginning of armed conflict in Angola noticeably increased the temperature. This was followed almost immediately by an attempted coup d'etat led by the then-Minister of Defense Botelho Moniz. In November, the limited legal opposition for elections to the powerless parliament timidly raised the issue of de-colonization for the first time. Finally, India overran the tiny colony of Goa without serious resistance, and on the last day of the year, another military coup was attempted in the town of Beja. Salazarism was shaken from its inward-looking stance by the pressures of the outside world, and it entered the web of entanglements, epitomized by the futile military effort in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau, from which it was never to extricate itself.
In the same 1958-61 period, the Portuguese economy entered the phase of attempted adaptation to the new historical circumstances, and began to acquire the contradictory appearances which characterized it at the time of the April 1974 coup. This process was undoubtedly accelerated by the necessity of financing the colonial wars, but it was in motion before they erupted. An initial five-year plan had been pushed through for 1953-58, concentrating on public investments in certain industrial infrastructure; a second five-year plan emphasized an expansion of private industry, particularly in the industrial belt across the Tagus from Lisbon and Setubal. Probably the most significant achievement of this combined state and private sponsorship was the creation of the world-class Lisnave and Setubal shipyards, which by 1973, because of their excellent geographic location at the entrance to the Mediterranean and low labor costs, became an important source of foreign revenue for the regime. The other notable achievement of these programs is summarized in a single, striking statistic: from 1900-1950, the Portuguese working class, as a percentage of the population, grew by 1/2%; from 1950-74, it expanded by 18%. For the first time, foreign capital and currency, long shunned because of bad memories of English domination of the Portuguese economy through the nineteenth century, were actively sought out, and names like IBM, Phillips, GM, ITT, Unilever and Nestle began to make their appearance in the industrial suburban belts of Lisbon, Porto and Setubal. Tourism, equally shunned by the regime as a corrosive moral influence that might upset the equilibrium of repression in which sensuality was confined for the populace, was finally recognized through the Spanish experience as the lucrative source of currency it was, and between 1961 and 1965 this alienation as well was introduced to the residents of the Algarve, although in a restricted fashion aimed above all at an elite stratum of tourists. The regime did not fail to accompany these major policy shifts with its usual brio: in 1965, for example, the walls of the country were plastered with a poster reminding the population that in spite of the ignominious collapse of British and French colonialism, Portugal was continuing its civilizing mission abroad. This quality of incongruity and archaism in the realm of ideology was a serious weakness of the Salazar regime throughout the period, and was one very clear sign of its brittle character; after 1974, propaganda shorts from the period were shown for comic relief between main features in movie theatres, to the universal derision of the audiences. It was also in 1958 that the Portuguese economy began the serious export of a new commodity: labor power, which meant that by 1974 no less than 1,000,000 Portuguese, the majority of them recruited from the countryside, were at work in Western Europe and North America, an extremely important source of remittances for the regime which covered the Portuguese trade deficit and helped to finance the African wars. The structural crisis of Portuguese capitalism in the last years of Salazar and under Caetano expressed the growing importance of the industrial sector of the economy at the expense of agriculture, and the complete inadequacy of the dominant institutional arrangements to accomodate that change. The deadlock between the industrial and latifundista bourgeoisie, which had been maintained in favor of the latter until roughly 1960, began to be broken thereafter in favor of intensified industrial development. The split between industry and agriculture in the metropolitan economy was reflected in a similar split, within the banking structure, in the financing of the two sectors. Hence the agrarian reform pushed through by the MFA in 1974-75, which destroyed the latifundista class and created havoc among the agricultural banks financing it, was greeted with equanimity, not to say promoted by the industrial bourgeoisie and the banks associated with it. It was generally recognized, particularly after 1973 and the shrinkage of export outlets for Portuguese goods, that a restructuring of agriculture to create an important domestic market for machinery would necessarily mean the liquidation of the archaisms of that sector. This restructuring, by increasing output, would also reverse the trend of the previous decade toward import dependency in foodstuffs.
The decline of the agricultural sector, due to the persistence of outmoded methods and social relations at a time of mass emigration and industrial development, meant that while still employing nearly one-third of the work force, agriculture was accounting for less than 20% of the gross domestic product. At the same time, due to the flight from the land, wages in agriculture had by 1970 risen 121.5% above their1963 levels, compared with a 75.6% rise in industry.
This drag on the economy by the primary sector also complicated the country's viability in the world market. By the early 1970's, Portugal became a net importer of foodstuffs for the first time, adding to its chronic deficit in industrial goods and becoming a real burden under the impact of world inflation after 1972. Whereas agricultural produce, along with woods and corks,had constituted 25 and 22% respectively of Portuguese exports in 1960-61, this had fallen off to 18 and 10% by 1969-70. Hence the industrial bourgeoisie and the banking sectors linked to it, which wanted to adapt the Portuguese economy to the realities of the world market, saw the writing on the wall by 1973.
This consciousness could only have been sharpened by the October, 1973 increase in oil prices. There was a growing recognition that the liquidation of the colonial wars, the imminent return of the emigre workers from Western Europe in the wake of deepening recession, increased import costs and reduced export possibilities (greatly enhanced by the imminent loss of the Escudo area made up of the various colonies) would all combine to destroy the balance of payments surpluses which had been possible in an earlier era. The only solution was an expansion of the internal market, and thus agricultural reform, combined with increased state ownership, seemed the only way forward. When, in late 1974, the EEC imposed tariff barriers on textile imports to the Common Market area, the Portuguese economy was dealt another blow in a sector that constituted 26.3% of all exports by 1970. At the end of a year in which production had already fallen 20%, and in which investment was down 17.5% from its 1973 level, the world production collapse of November 1974-March 1975 can almost certainly be seen as the backdrop to the structural reform, of a state capitalist nature, which were pushed through in the wake of the events of March 11.
4. Dissolution of Salazarist Hegemony and Left-Wing Regroupment, 1961-74
The serious insertion of the Portuguese economy, occurring in tandem with the growing burden of the African wars , into contemporary capitalism did not fail to have its repercussions among the liberal and leftist opposition to the regime. It was in the direct confrontation with the realities of Portuguese Africa that many people, and not the least of them certain strata of junior officers, began to assess the world-historical situation of Portugal in a new light. The French solution to the crisis of de-colonization, the creation of a streamlined neo-colonial sphere based on "cooperation" projects and a privileged trade relation, and where possible ongoing direct investment, was too much for Salazarism to either conceive or carry out, and it required 13 years of warfare before a tepid version of this solution could be publicly advocated in the metropolis in the book of Antonio Spinola which appeared shortly before the coup, Portugal and the Future. This disaffection of important parts of the professional military, to say nothing of the working class and peasant youth subjected to 48 months of compulsory service, drove an important wedge between the army and the regime for the first time since the army offered power to Salazar in 1926. Similarly, in 1962, with the ferment ensuing from the events of the previous year, and furthered by the important strike of the agricultural workers in the Alentejo region organized by the Communist Party, along with large student demonstrations at the University of Lisbon, the splintering process which was manifesting itself internationally in the "Communist" movement surfaced in Portugal in the first in a series of breakaways from the PCP. While the Sino-Soviet rift was internationally the pretext for these splits, the groups breaking away from the "revisionist" CP were above all animated by a desire for "direct action" against the regime and a break with the underground variety of Popular Frontism which the CP had been practicing since 1934. In the conditions of Salazarism, this generally correct appreciation of the bankruptcy of the CP (although, as articulated, often from equally bankrupt position, such as Maoism) led in the main, for the groups active within the country, to terrorism, the only imaginable "direct action" under police state conditions. These tactics, however sterile in advancing the real movement and invariably conducted in the name of the "people" with a rhetoric that has since come to characterize the terrorist formation of the advanced sector (Weathermen, the Japanese Red Army, or the RAF in West Germany) produced some spectacular bank robberies and other attacks on the regime. The Revolutionary Brigades, formed in 1971, managed in 1973 to steal the strategic plans of the Portuguese High Command for operations in Guinea-Bissau and present them to the liberation movement in that country. While these actions may have had a certain publicity effect in demonstrating the inability of the PIDE to snuff out underground activity in the country (an ability similarly underlined by the escape from prison of Alvaro Cunhal in 1961 or the escape from a Lisbon hospital of the political prisoner Herminio da Palma Inacio in 1969), the ideology in whose name they were carried out, with its inevitable "serve the people" thrust, was a noxious one, and one which in the forms it acquired after legal activity became possible in 1974, showed itself to be reactionary. Nonetheless, around the pseudo-issue of direct action, important groups of pro-revolutionary elements broke out of the corpus of the PCP and created the basis for the extreme left which was to haunt the parent body throughout the revolutionary crisis.
Three further events with ominous portents for the regime occurred in early 1974. The first was the appearance of Spinola's work calling for a neo-colonialist liquidation of the African wars, which immediately became the focus of widespread discussion. The second was an attempted coup carried out on March 16, by officers not immediately involved in the MFA, which foundered for various reasons of coordination and support. On April 9, the Revolutionary Brigades succeeded in blowing up a military transport ship in the Tagus, and the stage was set for the disappearance of Caetano's government.
One further development of interest, with certain implications for the question of the origins of the Armed Forces Movement, received little attention outside of Portugal. On April 24, a large fleet of NATO ships, en route to maneuvers, was anchored in Lisbon harbor. The ships sailed at dawn on April 25, and for those who enjoy such speculation, their timely departure was seen as an explicit refusal to defend the Caetano government and a "go-ahead" signal to at least the immediate group around Spinola. Speculations that NATO, and hence the US government and the CIA, were informed of the coup in advance, were stated most forcefully by a right-wing Spanish newspaper, the Gaceta Illustrada, which complained that NATO was losing confidence in the abilities of the Iberian "ultras" to successfully rule their respective countries, and even went as far as to link the coup in Portugal with the assassination of Spanish Prime Minister Carrero Blanco in December, 1973. It would in fact hardly be surprising that a coup carried out by the highest levels of the Portuguese military, which had had extensive contact with NATO and the CIA through the African wars, would have had the prior approval, or even promotion, of those organizations. The activities of Spinola after being forced into exile in March 1975 confirm that he was the center of a fascist regroupment. But these links in no way clarify the far more obscure connections and motives of the MFA figures who emerged later, particularly Melo Antunes, Vasco Gonçalves and Otelo Sareiva de Carvahlo, who played decisive roles in a much more extreme phase of the movement.
5. The Revolution of Illusions
The revolutionary process in Portugal passed through four principal phases: April 25-September 28, 1974, the period of the "revolution of the roses"; September 28, 1974-March 1975, in which the masks of cameraderie fell away in the wake of the aborted Spinola coup and in conjunction with international developments; March 11-August 27,1975, characterized simultaneously by the drive for power by the PCP and the pro-CP faction of the MFA around Gonçalves, and the offensive of the working class itself; August 27-November 25, 1975 in which the country polarized into a virtual civil war situation until the stalemate was broken by a center-right military coup which broke the back of the revolutionary working class movement without, however, resorting to the anticipated bloodbath. In each period, it was the leftward movement of the proletariat which determined everyone's attitude. After Nov.25, 1975, the situation in Portugal was characterized by the ongoing stagnation of the official left and the extreme-left, with the offensive passing definitively to the center and even more to the right, and a slow but concerted rollback of the gains, such as they were, of the pre-Nov. 25 period. The parliamentary elections of April 25 and the presidential elections of June 27 merely confirmed that the political balance of forces which had already been established in the streets and in the factories in November. Each of these four major periods was characterized by an important shift in the balance of forces between the major contenders for power: the four principal factions of the MFA, the PCP, the PSP, the principal right wing parties PPD and CDS and the various Maoist groups on one side; certain extreme-left currents closer to the realities of the movement (most notably the PRP-BR, the MES and the LUAR), a pro-revolutionary CP rank-and-file, and the autonomous organizations thrown up by the working class on the other.
The atmosphere which was created in the immediate aftermath of the coup was the familiar one which initiates every revolutionary process: the euphoria of illusions. The energies released by the fall of Caetano exploded into the transient "revolution of the roses" where crowds celebrated in the streets, children rode about astride military vehicles on patrol, and where only the rapid intervention of the MFA and the PCP prevented the lampposts of Lisbon from being decorated with the hated scum of the PIDE. The first week of euphoria culminated in the May Day celebrations, the largest in Europe, which were joined by thousands of revolutionaries returned from exile and from across the border in Spain. All but the most compromised "ultras" of Salazarism emerged to proclaim their devotion to democracy and to expound upon their long-felt (if previously unvoiced) hatred for the fallen dictatorship, but few could surpass the costume change of General Antonio Spinola, veteran of the Spanish counter-revolution and the Portuguese volunteer brigades which fought in Hitler's armies on the Eastern front, and who now appeared before the world as the resolute champion of democracy and perhaps even of "socialist revolution". Somewhat in the same genre was the recasting of General Costa Gomes, Commander-in-Chief of the Portuguese forces in Africa, who three weeks earlier had publicly praised the head of the PIDE in Angola, and who throughout the duration of the crisis acquired the nickname of "The Cork" because of his inexplicable survival in power and his ability to ride the most extreme shifts of political tides intact. But in this orgy of praise for democracy, freedom, revolution and socialism from those who understood the uses of such rhetoric, the forces of the real confrontations of tomorrow were already aligning themselves. The newly legalized Communist and Socialist parties and press set up a chorus of acclamation for the Armed Forces Movement and for its alliance with the "People" that would not be disabused by a year's events. The working class, which had already engaged in an impressive wave of strikes in the last five years of Caetano's rule, ran off the last of the bureaucrats from the corporatist unions and launched a new strike wave in May and June which aimed at, and in many cases achieved, an immediate 100% wage increase.
Capitalists large and small, in the face of this offensive, responded with the appropriate price increases, and the Communist Party, at the behest of the MFA, immediately dropped its long-standing call for a minimum monthly wage of $240 a month for a $132 level more in keeping with the exigencies of "national reconstruction"
The May-June strike wave was the explosion of a working class denied legal forms of struggle for five decades, (and undergoing 25% inflation in the year preceding the coup), to make up long-denied wage gains. The lightning quality of the strikes, plus a certain tendency by the MFA to view them with a certain favor after just having begun moves to create a more modern system of labor arbitration, made possible some significant short-term wage increases. It also brought to the fore the personnel of certain enterprises-TAP, Lisnave, Siderurgia, Messa, Timex and C.T.T. - who were to figure prominently in the eighteen months to come.
The official working class parties, for their part, returned from exile in triumph and immediately took up key posts in the cabinet, with the PCP occupying, as mentioned above, the key Ministry of Labor. They would serve it well. Soares and Cunhal, heads of the PSP and PCP respectively, appeared in public together on numerous occasions, warning against "another Chile" precisely as they began to implement the policies which had led directly to the Chilean massacre. It is also important to note that in this period, the PSP was permitting itself a wild-eyed left-wing rhetoric in order to stand it in good stead with the working-class base it sorely needed to win over. In an atmosphere which allowed Antonio Spinola to talk of "socialism" and "revolution", a Mario Soares could only excel at demagogy and revolutionary phrase-mongering.
Thus in the very first weeks of the rule of the MFA, the working class received an object lesson in the balance of forces between itself, the official working class parties who ostensibly "represented" it in the halls of power, and the military. The PCP in particular, took a page from the speeches of Maurice Thorez and Jacques Duclos from the 1944-47 period, put forward the PCP as the "party of the resistance", did not hesitate to denounce strikers as fascists, and called on the working class to join in with other "progressive forces", up to and including Antonio Spinola, to "rebuild the nation". This demagogy, which once again had the virulent ring of a certain strident Popular Front rhetoric that everyone presumed happily buried some thirty years before, was an almost universal language of the early phase of the movement, one to which even the extreme-left groups fell victim. Where Karl Marx some 120 years earlier had lucidly remarked that "when I hear the word 'people' I ask myself what the bourgeoisie is trying to put over on the proletariat" the virtual totality of the left and extreme-left forces in Portugal drowned the working class in this morass of populist sentimentality. The first phase of the revolutionary process, then, from April 25 through September 28, 1974, was characterized by the first head-on collision between the emerging tidal wave of working-class strikes and activity, and the large edifice of mystification which the military, the official left and most of the extreme-left (the shadow of the official left) had prepared for it. The shouting had barely died down from the May Day celebration when the PCP began denouncing strikers for "sabotaging the people's (sic) alliance with the MFA"
It was in this period, then, beyond the smokescreens of revolutionary rhetoric and posturing from the strangest quarters, that everyone began to jockey for position. Within the working class, the Communist Party had a virtual open field in the initial months. As a party which on April 25 had numbered roughly 3,000, it nonetheless had won a deserved reputation over the years as the one organized force which had maintained itself throughout the underground period in the face of a merciless repression. Its Central Committee had spent much of its collective adult life in the prisons of the PIDE, and its clandestine organizations, in the working class suburbs of Lisbon and in the agricultural proletariat of the Alentejo region, gave it an immense advantage over particularly the Socialist Party, which was by comparison a party of lawyers founded only in 1973 and just returned from Parisian and Swedish exile.
6. The International Impasse of Stalinism
The unique conditions of existence of the PCP over decades had produced a party whose monolithism, whose fierce allegiance to the finest vintage of Stalinism and whose tenacity had undergone the buffetings of the postwar era in relative isolation from the forces which had produced Marchais or a Berlinguer. This peculiarity of development, combined with the fact that the virtual entirety of the extreme-left tendencies and individuals in Portugal in 1974 had passed through the puberty rites of the PCP, created a situation in which few individuals or groups were capable of seeing their way clear to an autonomous, revolutionary perspective outside its shadow. The Maoists, of course, achieved this only by the virulent inversion of reality which their entire non-analysis of the degeneration of the international bureaucratic monolith implied, and the primacy of the struggle against "social fascism" and "social imperialism" led them directly into open alliances with right-wing formations. But they, in addition to following the letter of the immediate needs of Beijing's foreign policy, only denounced the Stalinism of the PCP from another Stalinist viewooint. There is precisely nothing in the arsenal of epithets hurled by Maoism at the Soviet Union and the pro-Soviet Communist Parties, which was not an accurate description of the Chinese regime itself and the foreign policy atrocities (Indonesia '65, Ceylon '71, Bangladesh '71, Angola '75, to cite only the most glaring) it had committed over the previous decade. As for the historical rupture which the Maoists wish to hallucinate in the death of Stalin, after which the Soviet regime ostensibly broke with his revolutionary policies, there is little that the current Soviet or Chinese regimes have done in the post-1953 period which Stalin himself did not do over the three decades prior to 1953. To the extent that the fortunes of world working class movement were debated in the terms of the Sino-Soviet conflict, the working class itself was buried in a barrage of abuse in which the indispensable question of bureaucracv, and its origins in the Stalinist counter-revolution set in motion in 1924, is carefully passed over in silence or attributed merely to one pseudo-origin or another. It is the entire edifice of this ideology, in its pro-Soviet or pro-Chinese versions, which had to be jettisoned before the revolutionary movement could recapture its historical consciousness, and hence its future perspective. One of the first signs of the weakness of the Portuguese movement was precisely that it could tolerate the posing of the debate in these terms for as long as it did.
The analysis, most commonly proliferated by contemporary Trotskyism, that insisted on seeing the Communist parties in the advanced capitalist sector as merely "reformist" parties in the style of the old Social Democracies was nothing but a fantasy, and one which had already cost the lives of thousands of revolutionaries wearing the blindfold of Trotskyism in Vietnam, Greece, Czeckoslavakia and elsewhere. There was nothing whatsoever about these parties which keeps them wedded, as is the case of Social Democratic parties, to the existence of private capitalism. Their ideologies and their configuration were predicated on the existence of the bureaucratic stratum which rules the so-called socialist countries, and given the opportunity, the leading strata of these parties would have been perfectly capable of moving to create such a power for themselves.
The maintenance of the guise of "proletarian internationalism" by these parties historically meant nothing other than their subordination to the foreign policy interests of the Soviet ruling stratum, either as a submissive prop or as a militant lever in Soviet negotiations with the Western bourgeoisie. To counterpose the post-1934 Popular Front phase of the international Stalinist parties to the heroic, or vestigially heroic "class against class" demagogy of the so-called Third Period (1928-1934) and to see the turn to the Popular Front as the definitive passage of these organizations to reformism is to ignore the reality that both in that in both full-blown Third Period super-militancy or as docile reformism these political parties represented national fractions of bureaucrats maneuvering for a form of political power separate from and antagonistic to working-class rule. Without going into the details and ambiguities of the early (1919-24) years of the Comintern, we can say without hesitation that after 1924 at the latest, no foreign policy maneuver of either the ruling bureaucracy in the Soviet Union, or of its aspirant fellow-travellers in the potential ruling bureaucracies of the official "Comimmist" parties of the West, had ever coincided with anything except the interests of these strata, however the bureaucracy chose to drape itself in the rhetoric of the working class movement and socialist revolution. The notion of a genuine working-class revolution, whether in the pseudo-socialist bloc or in Western Europe, haunted the international policy of the respective national "Communist" parties like a spectre. In the volatile social atmospheres of Italy, France, Spain and Portugal in the 1968-76 period, in particular, these parties have had ample occasion to prove their utility in heading off any independent activity by the working class.
It is clear, as it had been clear for fifty years, that these "Communist" parties could never come to power at the head of a genuine working-class revolution. Their very foundations, and conception of socialism as a bureaucratic rule over the working class, was a negation of the necessary content of such a revolution. The true communization of social relations and power, as briefly realized in the Russian soviets (1905, 1917-21) and in certain moments of the failed German revolution of the 1918-21 period, is simultaneously a negation of the bureaucratic vision which animated the CPs of Western Europe, the ruling strata of Eastern Europe and the rest of the so-called socialist bloc. More importantly, insofar as modern capitalism created the conditions for the merciless proliferation of bureacratism in every aspect of social life, the struggles of the working class to affirm itself as the social power necessarily run. up against bureaucratism within the working-class movement itself, as one of the first enemies to be laid to rest. The May, 1968 revolt in France, the "hot autumn" of 1969 in Italy, the often exemplary wildcat general strikes occurring in Spain in 1974-76, and finally the broad movement of the Portuguese working class in 1974-75 demonstrated again and again that whatever the official representation which the working class tolerates in periods of ebb and inactivity, the creation of class-wide, non-bureaucratic institutions of power is the first order of business which arises when a real struggle erupts. And, moreover, the official representatives of the working class (political parties, unions, or, in the case of Spain, the CP-dominated clandestine workers' commissions) reveal themselves as the first rampart of order against which the struggle has to defend itself. In May, 1968, in France, it was the Communist Party and its trade-union wing the CGT which alone, by the most systematic strike-breaking in history, was able to impose the pitiful Grenelle Accords on the working class and enforce, after a general strike of nearly six weeks, a resumption of production. In Italy, it was the PCI and the CGIL which had to break the backs of the FIAT strike committees. In strike after strike in Spain after 1968, but most notably after 1974, the most exemplary classwide actions, under the most difficult conditions of generalized repression, occurred with the creation of democratically elected strike coninittees and excellent organization, without and often against the clandestine CP and Socialist organizations. At best, these organizations were able to muster their forces only after the struggle, to claim credit for its victory or to lament its defeat (to which, often enough, their abstention or machinations contributed), to once again refurbish their image as the real representatives of working-class power in whatever milieus of governmental or industrial influence they were attempting to ingratiate themselves.
The historical significance of Portugal was multiple in that it revealed new variations in these relationships. These appeared first in the undeniable attempt of the PCP, through its monopoly of the trade union movement, its special relationship to the MFA (in which it could claim a certain real influence) and its systematic takeover of the channels of social power (civil service, mass media, police) to seize power between roughly March and August 1975. Secondly, and parallel but not in tandem to this unprecedented action by a Western European CP, there were constituted in the main industrial zones, and in certain agricultural regions such as the Alentejo, incipient organs of a potential working class power in which the CP was as often as not pushed aside or which it was forced to tolerate as some "new form of popular power", patiently awaiting the moment in which these formations could themselves be definitively contained or reduced to their proper "consultative" role. Finally, the CP was forced to publicly recognize this new balance of forces in the working class by concluding a united front, the first in history by a Stalinist party, with a number of extreme-left groups to defend the fallen Fifth Government on Aug.25, 1975. The Portuguese experience simultaneously showed both the potential of a Western European CP to move seriously for power, and the difficulties it encountered in so doing as the working class itself also moved seriously for power. For a brief but illuminating period, the Portuguese crisis appeared as a contest between the Communist Party, at times apparently congruent but in reality radically opposed to one another, to abolish private capitalism in that country.When, on Nov. 25, 1975, this struggle between the left and the extreme left for two different kinds of social power was revealed to be only a moment of a confrontation with the mounting forces of traditional counter-revolution, the CP and the pro-revolutionary currents once again revealed, in their respective responses to the threat of a right-wing coup, their divergent aims and methods. Whereas the historical experience of Portugal had allowed the PCP to maintain, as if in a forgotten time capsule, many of the markings of its decisive formation in the Stalinist era itself, the movement of modern history had brought the Western European CPs to a virtual impasse. These other, more "modern" currents, moreover, have not failed to surface within the PCP itself, particularly since November, 1975. In Italy, and later in France and in Spain, the Communist Parties were forced to confront the fact that the worldwide disintegration of the old bureaucratic monolith, combined with a new era of class struggle, meant that the Soviet model of socialism simply could not be marketed in the advanced capitalist sector. While these currents of opinion which have fractured the old bureaucratic mold have certain elements which situate them to the "right" of the old Stalinism, namely a virtual recapitulation of Social Democratic reformism, they in fact reflected a double movement within society and within the international working class movement itself: on one hand, the creation of a large "left Social Democratic" current, whether within Socialist or Communist Parties, in which anti-bureaucratic moments of critique mix inextricably with abjectly reformist and parliamentary illusions, attaching themselves to Social Democratic formations because of a certain room the latter permit for internal democracy which, as is well known, was harder to come by within the Stalinist parties; on the other hand, the creation, in every Western European country, of a vague "extreme left", both of"groupuscules" and a much larger current of unorganized sentiment which could nonetheless crystallize in a crisis, as happened in Portugal, to the left of the Communist Party. This double movement to the "right" and to the "left" of the traditional CPs reflected an irreversible historical process: the dissolution of the old ideological hegemony of Stalinism within the world movement, and most importantly, the drawing of actual lessons of the previous (1968-76) eight years of class struggle in Western Europe. Hence, when a Georges Marchais was forced to denounce the Soviet Union for the existence of forced labor camps, it was an entire era which had ended, and a new one which has opened, most notably an era in which the very rank-and-file of the Western European CPs could no longer swallow the grotesqueries of the bureaucratic pseudo-socialist bloc.
If various Trotskyist and other extreme-left currents in Portugal and elsewhere failed to grasp the dynamic of the PCP, the CIA, NATO and the frightened heads of state of Western Europe and the U.S. did not fail to do so. Particularly after March, 1975, with the nationalization of the Por'tuguese banking and insurance sector and the beginning of the massive flight abroad of elements of the financial, industrial and latifundista bourgeoisies, the utterances of Kissinger and Schlesinger (US Secretaries of State and Defense, respectively) on the subject of Portugal left no doubt that the U.S. would respond to an attempted CP takeover in Portugal with all means at its disposal, including a possible nuclear strike against the Soviet Union itself. This imperialist saber-rattling, which served the purpose of confusing working-class revolution in various countries with "CP takeovers", was not something indulged in lightly, but it did served to rechannel the boundaries of class warfare into the pseudo-categories of the Cold War era and preserve the reactionary equation of socialism and Stalinism.
The Western European CPs, for their part, experienced this loss of hegemony in the working class movement as an insoluble dilemma, one whose perameters were brought home by the Portuguese experience. The CPs, by the appeal of parliamentary "successes" tied to participation in capitalist austerity governments such as the one then seemingly in gestation in the Italian crisis, were pulled into a certain "de-Stalinization" of their rhetoric and their overt adaptation in ideology to what was already, for forty years with short exceptions, the established pattern in practice of constituting themselves as the "progressive" wing of a reforming capitalism. On the other hand, their working class base, in exchange for submitting to such a policy, demanded results in the short or medium term, and periodically (May 1968, Fall 1969) has gone into action in its own right to obtain them, coming up against the aspirations of the CPs and their unions to make them acceptable candidates for power. Hence the CPs of Western Europe labored under the fear of the great "debordement" (roughly, "outflanking") by the working class in motion, a fear confirmed again and again by real struggles through that period. Capable of re-establishing themselves as the "hegemonic" tendency in the class after the struggle has subsided (and usually ended in defeat) the CPs necessarily saw their credibility in the working class frayed by each successful "containment" of an explosion. The PCP realized through the summer and fall of 1975 that it was losing control of the Portuguese working class, and were that loss to become manifest, its credibility with the wing of the MFA whose sponsorship it enjoyed would plummet to zero. Thus, throughout the period of the Soares "Noske turn" in the PSP in the offensive against the Fifth (Vasco Gonçalves) Government, the PCP had to keep a constant vigil on its left, where it had already lost effective control of the vast movement in the factories and in the rank-and-file of the armed forces, and simultaneously continue its role as a party of the government. This zig-zag policy was accentuated by the expulsion of the PCP from the important government posts in August, 1975, when it began a new phase as a minor government party and the ostensible leader of the opposition. It was at the juncture between the Fifth and Sixth Government, between Aug.25 and 28, that the PCP momentarily accepted the humiliation of turning to six extreme-left groups to constitute the FUR, or Revolutionary United Front, whose sole program consisted of a return to the fallen Fifth Government, despite occasional pretensions to more ambitious aims by the extreme-left groups. Nonetheless, when it was revealed that the PCP was in secret negotiations with the Sixth Government in a new corridor maneuver for ministerial influence, the extreme left expelled the PCP from the FUR.
The Western European CPs, and particularly those of France, Italy and Spain, could not escape this dilemma. To the extent that they participated only in the Italian variety of "historical compromise", they were condemned to unmask themselves before the working class as partners of capitalist austerity. To the extent that they eschewed such a role and attempted to seize power in the style of Cunhal and the PCP in the March-August 1975 period, they were obliged to conjure up forces in the working class itself which consistently revealed themselves inimical to their own bureaucratic vision of power.
There were important strategic lessons for revolutionaries to draw from this situation. Contrary to Trotskyist and other orthodoxy, it was madness for revolutionaries to relate to the Western European CPs as though they were merely "reformist" Social Democracies who could be "unmasked" before the working class by their refusals to "seize power". This in no way implies that revolutionaries should not offer such united fronts to CPs, and to denounce them before their rank-and-file memberships when such fronts are refused. Similarly, situations will inevitably arise in which, on the eve of a civil war situation, revolutionary currents and the Communist Parties might form military alliances. (This is not to be confused with the patchwork attempt of the Portuguese extreme left in the FUR to ally with the CP if the latter agreed to give up its ministerial portfolios.) The extreme significance of the Portuguese crisis was that it presented a pre-revolutionary situation in which the hegemony of the CP in the working class began to crack, and in which the CP was forced to take account of that fact by a recognition of the extreme-left groups which in prior months it had been denouncing as fascists and wreckers. But through all of this, it was an extremely grave error for revolutionaries to commit themselves to a policy of "exposing" the CP as merely reformist by calling upon it to do precisely what, in certain circumstances, it was perfectly capable of doing, i.e. take over the state apparatus. The failure to understand the dual nature of the CPs as both prone to Popular Front reformism and to bureaucratic power-plays when conditions permit, as direct rivals of the revolutionary left and the working class organized in soviet formations, could only have catastrophic results for revolutionaries. Had the CP succeeded in seizing such bureaucratic power for itself, its first target, as in numerous cases in the past, would be precisely the revolutionary left which embodies the consciousness it must root out at all costs, the consciousness of the distinction between separate political power for a stratum of bureaucrats and the direct power of the working class organized in its own institutions of classwide power and democracy, the soviets.
The revolutionary current must therefore negotiate this perilous course between its constitution as the left-cover of Stalinist bureaucratism and a sterile abstentionism in which the real clash between the official CPs and private capital is regarded as a mere spectacular antagonism between "two wings of the bourgeoisie", with the CP as the embryo of a "state capitalist bourgeoisie" with whom all alliances or appeals to the rank-and-file place one on the terrain of counter-revolution.
7. The Nature of the MFA and Its Factional Situation
Contrary to the beliefs of the international Communist parties and the vast bulk of extreme leftists in Portugal and abroad who saw a "progressive force" in at least certain factions of the MFA, the movement was in no way qualitatively distinct from a whole array of similar military formations spawned by the twentieth century. Peronism in Argentina, the Young Turk movement, the "Islamic Socialism" of the Ba'ath Parties or Boumedienne's Algeria, the Peruvian colonels' movement, or finally the military junta which seized power in Ethiopia in 1974, were without exception, whatever their secondary distinctions and whatever phraseology they used to present themselves, movements whose aim was the modernization of capitalism, usually relying heavily on statist modes of gestion and in fact presenting the social formation closest to an actual state capitalism. These regimes, which have never hesitated to carry out repression against their indigenous working class and peasantry, substitute themselves for weak or non-existent national bourgeoisies and can even, in certain limited fashion (such as Nasser during his more militant "anti-imperialist" phase) escape the direct control of the Western bloc. But they cannot escape the control of the world market, and it is all the force of the world market which they impose upon the labor power at their disposal. For revolutionaries to have any illusions about such formations is to offer the working class nothing other than the prospect of supporting "its" local capitalist state in the "anti-imperialist" struggle for "national reconstruction" or similar formulations.
Modernizing military elites in the under-developed or semi-developed sector are contemporary capitalism's response to the crisis of bourgeois perspective outlined in Trotsky's theories of permanent revolution and combined and uneven development. In the decadent phase of capitalism, and even before the system had globally entered the phase of decadence, it was and is impossible for any national capital not already at a certain stage of development to advance without putting itself in the tow of the advanced capitalist sector, or risking working class revolution in the process. But it is possible to modify this problem by the creation of a Bonapartist state apparatus which, in the name of a nationalist ideology liberally served up with "socialism" (i.e. nationalization) can maneuver on the world market and, through unashamed labor-intensive development of the economy, finance a certain technological advance. In global terms, given the potential for such development through the socialist revolution which such regimes inevitably combat at home and abroad, these formations are thoroughly reactionary, imposing upon their respective working populations the burden of economic backwardness defined within the isolated national context.
While perfectly understandable after forty-eight years of the most retrograde of fascisms, the enthusiasm of the Portuguese left and an important part of the international left for the MFA in the first months after the April 25 coup was almost boundless. It is true that the MFA distinguished itself, at least in certain factions, by a certain commitment to the "moderate" path to national reconstruction, and in the case of at least figures such as Melo Antunes, Vasco Gonçalves and Carvalho understood the need to enlist the working class in this process, but the equation of such a paternalism with "socialism" was an ideological inversion of the first order. There is nothing socialist about a standing bourgeois army, whose dissolution and replacement by armed working class militias was the first task of every genuine socialist revolution of 20th century. While the PCP probably hoped to use its ties to the important Gonçalves faction of the MFA to negotiate its way to power somewhat in the style by which the Cuban Communist Party eased itself into Castro's government, the tailing of the military by the virtual entirety of the extreme left throughout the crisis was a primary weakness of the existing political organizations on the scene, and ultimately of the movement as a whole. It was only in the final months of confrontation, leading up to the fiasco of Nov. 25, that a serious process of dissolution of the army as a whole began to occur, and that certain advanced strata of workers began to denounce the MFA en bloc as a capitalist formation. But even after Nov. 25, groups such as the PRP-BR, which in other domains had lucidly denounced the machinations of various political groups in the mass working class organizations, tailed after Gen. Carvalho and the military police, COPCON.
The MFA, which was never a homogeneous formation, underwent a serious transformation during the period April 1974-November 1975. It was composed of 130 officers in an army of 300,000 men and 10,000 officers. One decisive factor in the Portuguese situation that must always be kept in mind when attempting to generalize its lessons was that, in the 1961-74 period, virtually the entire male population of the country between the ages of 20-40 during the revolutionary crisis received military training and fought in the African wars. Thus, as the country approached a civil war situation in Fall 1975, one very serious consideration in the minds of the center and the right was the unusually high military capacities of the forces in the working class and from the agricultural proletariat of Alentejo who would constitute the bulk of the armed forces of the left and extreme left. This factor completely distinguished Portugal from a country such as Spain, either in 1936-39 or in the mid-1970's.
The MFA, which initially claimed to be above all political parties, began and remained, as elaborated above, a group of officers ranging from the Spinolists to the pro-CP faction of Vasco Gonçalves, who were convinced of the necessity of liquidating Salazarism, ending the massive drain on the Portuguese economy constituted by the brush wars in Africa, and modernizing the metropolitan economy for entry into the Common Market sphere. Many of them felt this required some kind of "socialism", in every case a variant of state capitalism. They were unanimous in seeing the military as the main vehicle for this transformation, and all of them were knowledgeable about and impressed by the Peruvian experience. If the masses had never emerged in their own name on the historical arena, the Portuguese military would have inevitably guided the country in that direction. But they had not really reckoned with two decisive factors: the world economic crisis, which was not present for the early phase of the Peruvian development, and the rapidity with which the working class and the agricultural proletariat intervened, often unconsciously, but always in a way that forced the MFA further than it had planned to go.
The MFA was composed of four basic factions by the time of the culmination of the revolutionary process in November, 1975: the Azevedo-Fabiao right wing, or "classical right": roughly Christian Democratic, willing to tinker with parliamentary democracy if it could work in guiding the "modernization" process, desiring a definitive but careful break with Salazarism. This group, which was also distinguished by the absence of any serious leader, was the least effective of the four factions in the public arena. Its importance was mainly, as events came to a head, when all three center-left and left factions were on the verge of losing control of the situation in a swing of the pendulum to the right, one which could easily sweep aside the MFA as a whole and re-open the way for the mass of politically less adept but definitely proto-fascist and fascist military people who wanted a bloodbath in the style of Pinochet. It was the Azevedo faction which emerged on top on Nov. 25.
The second faction of the MFA was the Melo Antunes faction, associated with the so-called "Group of the Nine", whose manifesto in mid-summer 1975 became the rallying point for the counter-revolution attempting to reverse the inexorable move leftward in the military and the society as a whole. Melo Antunes himself was in no sense a figure of the right, but his current, and the solution it proposed (an unashamed technocratic "socialism" with mass participation in the Peruvian mode, i.e. mass participation in austerity) became pivotal because the center and the right seized onto it as the only real force, short of a new fascism, which could stop the left and the extreme left. If Melo Antunes, through the summer of 1975, appeared a likely candidate for a Noske-Scheidemann role in Portugal, this was a content his faction acquired due to the stop-gap role assigned it by others. Melo Antunes was a left Social Democrat, far and away the most theoretically formed and politically astute of the members of the MFA, and whose two most decisive political influences were the Rocard faction of the French PSU (technocratic state capitalism) and the Peruvian colonels (neo-corporatism). In the mid-1970's historical conjuncture, such currents seemed perfectly capable of merging into a streamlined kind of fascism, but Me1o Antunes distinguished himself markedly from such a perspective, and was decisive in preventing a bloodbath against the CP and the extreme left in November 1975.
The third faction of the MFA was the Vasco Gonçalves faction, in power through the period from March to August 1975, and essentially associated with the PCP. It was this faction which the hegemonic Me1o Antunes faction took seriously through the crisis of summer and fall 1975. Vasco Gonçalves was by formation an engineer, generally considered intellectually and strategically competent but not on the same level as Melo Antunes.
The fourth and final faction, which was considered within the MFA to be a phantom faction, arising very late with no real secondary leadership, was that of Gen. Otelo Sareivo de Carvalho, COPCON, and their allies in the extreme-left formations such as the PRP and the MES. Carvalho's faction, which contained no other officer of significance in the movement, was viewed by the forces of order through the crisis of summer and fall 1975 as a problem to be settled in a few hours of military confrontation, in contrast to the Vasco Gonçalves faction. This analysis proved to be amply correct in the events of Nov. 25 and thereafter, when the Carvaiho faction and the extreme left associated with him were immobilized in a matter of hours.
The factional situation inside the MFA was accelerated by each mass intervention into the social process going on in Portugal. When the "political truce" of the MFA was declared ended in March, 1975, the de facto situation was merely institutionalized: the Melo Antunes group, though having no formal ties to any party, became the main hope of the PSP, and the Vasco Gonçalves group aligned itself with the PCP. It was only at this time that Gen. Carvalho, (a personally honest figure who nonetheless had only a shallow political formation and whose first political alignment, after April 1974, appeared to be the PPD) began to emerge, in tandem with certain extreme-left currents.
8. The Demise of Spinola
The strike wave of May-June 1974, while subsiding somewhat during the summer, confirmed the worst fears of the Spinolist faction of the MFA and of the more timid factions of the financial and industrial bourgeoisie about the ability of the MFA and the official left parties to adequately contain the working class. Already a certain mass ferment had forced the regime to recognize the immediate and unconditional independence of Guinea-Bissau and was threatening to do the same for the much richer Angola and Mozambique. The neo-colonial system envisioned in Spinola's Portugal and the Future had already, after less than three months of MFA rule, been consigned to the past.
This deteriorating situation, undoubtedly spurred by the militancy of the strikes by employees of the TAP (the CP having sat silently by in late August when the government had passed a strike law outlawing factory occupations and providing a 30-day cooling off period) and of Lisnave, led the capitalist factions around Spinola to launch the first of two desperate coup attempts on Sept.28. The immediate response of the working class and the agricultural proletariat, who were already perfectly aware of the limits of the existing military government, was a mobilization that closed down bridges, roads and railways throughout the country and paralyzed any possible concerted troop movement. In the wake of this, Spinola was forced to resign as president, and retreated to "private" life where he set about plotting, together with a number of right-wing officers similarly purged from the army, the more dramatic coup attempt which spilled the movement into the revolutionary crisis after March 11.
While the atmosphere was heating up in Portugal through late fall, 1974, with the first rumblings of dissension between the PSP and the PCP, the next real increase in the temperature occurred in early January, 1975 when the MFA, together with the PCP and supported by the extreme left and the working class, announced the creation of the single trade union Intersindical as the supercession of the old corporatist unions. This move was supported by a mass demonstration of 100,000 workers in Lisbon, and for the first time, the international bourgeoisie and its press began to raise the specter of a "Prague coup" in Portugal. The passage of the trade union law creating Intersindical meant different things to different people. To the MFA and the PCP, it meant the installation of precisely the modern kind of trade union apparatus which would be the sine qua non of the "period of sacrifice" necessary for the Portuguese economy. To the extreme left, still very much in the shadow of the PCP and usually denouncing it solely for its hesitations in pushing through its own plans for consolidation, it signified the definitive rout of the hated Salazarist unions. By supporting a concept of trade union pluralism which would retain certain of these old corporatist structures as a bulwark against PCP hegemony, the PSP began to show itself, as it had increasingly since October, in its true colors as a Second International party of American and EEC capitalism. Nonetheless, the PCP had other reasons for pushing this law, and not the least of them being a wave of shop steward elections in which militants from the Socialist Party and from various extreme-left groups, including various Maoists, were winning on the basis of their refusal to knuckle under to the overall strike-breaking policy of the PCP. Whatever the political connections and lack of revolutionary perspectives of these militants, they were responding to, and drawing on the shop-floor resistance of the working class to the labor discipline of the MFA, the PCP and its Ministry of Labor, and the PCP's use of the MFA to snuff them out (and in certain cases, to annul or ignore the results of various factory elections) had, to put it mildly, nothing revolutionary about it. The extreme left, for its part, in the face of this development, later drew back from its uncritical support for Intersindical, although by that time the entire question had been superceded in the creation of workers' councils and other formations throughout the country.
The second Spinola coup, occurring on March 11, was even more pathetic and poorly organized than the first, and the working-class response to it even more overwhelming. Once again, nothing moved through the country without the clearance of roadblocks manned by industrial and agricultural workers. On March 12, the employees of all Portuguese banks occupied those institutions and demanded their immediate nationalization, which the MFA carried out. The reform strategy of the private factions of finance and industrial capital was apparently at a dead end, and the initiative strictly in the hands of the statist, military and technocratic forces. Their last board meetings broken up by units of the armed forces, the Espiritu Santos and Champalimauds began their trek to the Lisbon airport, where they grabbed the flights to Rio, in the hurried departure of important parts of the Portuguese capitalist class.
The radicalization of the situation between September, 1974 and March 1975, which set the stage for the revolutionary crisis of the next eight months, had immediate international repercussions and influences. In France, in October, 1974, the PCF and the Socialist Party all but tore up their electoral alliance, and the PCF leadership embarked on the beginnings of a new "hardline" period in which the Common Program, which had been the source of such euphoria earlier in the year, was renounced in all but name. The onset of the capitalist economic crisis, signaled by the severe inflation of the previous year and the quadrupling of oil prices in October, 1973, was finally beginning to make itself felt in the political alignments of the Western European official working class parties, and the reluctance of the PCF to "administer the crisis", and an additional faction fight with the Western European CPs on this question, forced a hardening of lines on all sides that was accelerated by the decomposition of the PCP-PSP swan song in Portugal. This situation, in which the internationalization of the Portuguese crisis, and behind it the crisis of succession in southern Africa, would ultimately involve a polarization of every major world and national political faction over the following period until November, 1975.
The first reaction of the international bourgeoisie and its press to the developments in Portugal after the aborted Spinola coup of March 11 was a double one. On one hand, it let forth a universal wail of tears for the failure of "democracy" among the "politically immature" Portuguese people. On the other hand, and more subtly, it carefully masked the important divergences which were beginning to manifest themselves between the rank-and-file movement and its various political "representatives" throughout the country. What was presented in the international press an an imminent "Prague coup" in the style of 1948 was in fact the beginning of a double movement toward power by the PCP and the Gonçalves faction of the MFA on one hand, and the open phase of a potentially proletarian movement on the other.
It was not, however, until the summer months that this divergence was admitted on the international level. It was also after March 11 that the factory occupations, often merely defensive responses to the bankruptcy of small firms forced to the wall or to the hasty departure abroad of an hysterical entrepreneur, began in earnest, together with the seizure of land and empty housing by various local committees. This phenomenon, called into being by no one and least of all by the MFA and the PCP, in turn began to force the hand of the various factions of the military and to accelerate the alignment which would last until the showdown in November.
9. Neo-Corporatist Restructuring or Socialist Revolution: Autogestão vs. Soviets
The true extent and detailed history of the social movement of the Portuguese masses, while being an all-determining force through the March-November 1975 period, is the most difficult to write and the most nebulous aspect of this social process. Since 1968 and throughout Western Europe, every major socia1 confrontation has brought to the fore contradictory and often purely recuperated forms of working class struggle, (although in the 1968-76 period the general direction had clearly been away from innovative forms of action by the working class and toward the channeling of that action into "democratic forms" perfectly acceptable to the capitalist class). This is only another way of saying that what was put on the scene in wildcat fashion in the 1960's had become managerial wisdom by the 1970's. There is no question that the concept of the factory council, marketed under the various names of Mitbestimmung, participation, autogestion (autogestão in Portuguese) and so forth were anything but a self-management of austerity, the working class manifestation of a new corporatism. But these forms of working-class containment were called into operation to confront an initial conception of the working-class control of production which stood at the center of the revolutionary upheavals of the 20th century and which resurfaced, particularly since 1960, with a vehemence in class conflict around the globe. Stalinism and Social Democracy each in their own way have laid to rest forever the old myth of socialism as the mere nationalization of industry combined with bureaucratic planning, and from the factories of British Leyland to the shipyards of Gdansk and Gdynia, the idea of the working class running the totality of production, not in isolated units but as a class-for-itself organized at the level of society as a whole, returned to haunt bureaucrats and managers everywhere. The Soviets developed in Russia in 1905 and in 1917-21 were nothing else than such class-for-itself institutions, as were the most advanced council formations developed during the successive revolutionary crises in Germany in 1917-21 or in Spain in 1936-37. The bourgeoisie has not remained blind to these developments, and has discovered that a modified form of this "control", limited to the reactionary capitalist unit of a single enterprise, can actually increase productivity and profitability while smoothing over labor relations. Hence, after the first revolutionary storm signals of 1968-69, and after a decade of bitter class warfare on the shop floors of Britain, the European bourgeoisie was in advance of even the unions in decentralizing every conceivable power to the employees of this or that enterprise. The Peruvian colonels' movement, which had explicit ideological origins in the corporatism of Mussolini, had similar success in creating this reactionary "community of labor" in Latin America. There is nothing that, failing to call into question the hegemony of value production over social reproduction, which cannot be integrated into capitalism.
Hence it was no surprise to see, after the floodgates of the mass movement of factory, land and housing occupations and the constitution of a multitude of workers', soldiers', sailors' and neighborhood councils had been opened by the mass mobilization of March 11, a similar flood of calls for precisely this kind of "autogestão" being circulated by everyone from Melo Antunes and the Group of the Nine, on one side, to the head of Security Forces (COPCON), Gen. Otelo Sareiva de Carvaiho on the other. It was more surprising, though only slightly, to see the bulk of the extreme-left groups being dragged into this mystification. Only the CP, which had no place in its scheme for this method of recuperation and hardly about to counterpose the constitution of genuine soviets to this populist potpourri, stood aloof. As protagonists of an older model of bureaucratic containment, the modernist smell of "autogestão" was too much for them. This is not to say that there was no consciousness of this problem among the extreme-left tendencies in Portugal. The CRTSMs (Councils of Revolutionary Workers, Soldiers and Sailors) held an initial congress on April 19, 1975, and were able to mobilize 40,000 workers for a demonstration in Lisbon on June 17, in which the national coordination of these councils was put forward as a strategy. But it was never clear that the CRTSMs ever represented anything but the creations and periphery of the PRP-BR which, while not opposed to a soviet conception of working class power, was all too vulnerable, both in its tailing of Gen. Carvalho and in its celebration of various other local forms of popular power, to a blurring of the distinction. There is also no question that the prospect of such a dual power formation in Portugal haunted the minds of every faction jockeying for power within the bourgeois state, and if Carvalho and COPCON were able to present themselves credibly through the late summer and into the fall as the protagonists of a "direct democratic" control of production (in tandem with the MFA, of course), it was because the movement forced them to do so.
An interesting example of how the international media attempted to twist the significance of what was occurring in Portugal was the whole spectacle of the Republica affair. Beginning in May, 1975. the attempt of a workers' council, well to the left of the PCP, to exercise editorial control over the paper's contents was opposed by the publisher, PSP member Raul Rego, and branded in Portugal and in the international media as a machination of the Communist Party. This public relations coup was maintained well into mid-summer, and constituted the usual method of falsification by which the actions of unaffiliated groups of workers were passed off as PCP interventions. The question of whether or not the staff of a newspaper should have the ultimate power of a newspaper's contents is one which is subject to discussion, but it is a discussion clearly posed in terms different from the situation presented to the readers of the international press.
It was similarly in May-June 1975, confronted with the imminent loss of control of the situation in Portugal and the irrepressible growth of mass intervention into every aspect of social life, that Kissinger, Schlesinger and the U.S. government began brandishing the specter of "Communism" in saber-rattling threats against the Eastern bloc. It was, however, not official Communism but working-class revolution which terrified them the most. Simultaneously, the PSP went into action, using the pretext of the Republica affair and the July occupation of the Papist Radio Renascensa to resign from the government on July 10, and to launch a general mobilization against the PCP, Gonçalves and the proletariat as a whole. The rhetoric of a year earlier, which had on occasion caused a Cunhal to blush at the histrionic excesses of the charlatan Soares, had completely given way to an almost open appeal to the proto-fascist regroupments that constituted the rank-and-file of the PPD and the CDS. The PPD followed Soares' lead and resigned from the government on July 17.
10. Three Documents Against the Revolution
With a wave of occupations manifesting itself throughout industry and indeed in every sphere of social life, and beginning to undermine discipline within the army, a de facto situation of dual power began to emerge in Portuguese society. It was a de facto situation because, aside from embryonic and for the most part stillborn attempts by marginal formations to create this power as a self-conscious force capable of confronting and replacing the bourgeois state and its armed forces, the vast majority of these popular institutions remained only dimly conscious of this necessity. It was thus, in the July-August power struggle, as the situation approached that point of no return in which alternative institutions of social power must either destroy the existing state or disappear, that the various factions of the MFA, with the respective political parties which supported them rallying behind, began to introduce various proposals for a long-term solution to the crisis. The most significant of these attempts at capitalist regroupment was the so-called Melo Antunes document, published by the Group of the Nine, and the COPCON document, published under the sponsorship of General Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho and drafted within the context of his peculiar relationship to the PRP-BR. Confronted with the possibility of a triumph of the Gonçalves-PCP alliance and a definitive bureaucratic solution to the problem of the integration of the working class, which would situate itself internationally in an orientation, to whatever extent possible, to the Soviet bloc, the Melo Antunes and Carvalho factions of the military, backed by the PSP and the extreme left respectively, attempted to introduce "independent" alternatives. What they introduced in reality were the "right" and "left" versions of the same Bonapartist solution. It was above all the Melo Antunes document which became the rallying point for the counter-revolution, and the PSP recognized in the astute Melo Antunes its major hope, even if Melo Antunes did not fully reciprocate this enthusiasm.
Thus by mid-August, the three major factions of the MFA had aligned themselves with the three major contending perspectives in Portuguese society as a whole, none of them in any way congruent with revolution. The Melo Antunes "Group of the Nine", a melange of military and civilian technocrats, proposed in its document a statist-technocratic development of the Portuguese economy, a sort of middle way between Peruvian neo-corporatist development and a dirigist Social Democracy; the Vasco Gonçalves faction, whatever its utterances, was understood to represent the integral bureaucratic (or Stalinist) solution, in tandem with the PCP; finally, the volatile if not negligeable forces around the figure of Gen. Otelo Sareiva de Carvalho, the Security Force COPCON, and certain extreme-left tendencies, of which the PRP-BR was the most important, favored the implementation of a "direct democratic" rule of the working class, unfortunately still in tandem with the "progressive wing of the MFA" and organized far more along corporatist and local lines of autogestão than anything that could be called soviet rule. The Carvalho tendency, which realized that if Portugal were to avoid relative submersion into one of the two major world power blocs proposed by Melo Antunes and Vasco Gonçalves respectively, a certain amount of footwork would be required, and hence it conjured up the specter of Portugal maneuvering in the world market in alliance with various unnamed "progressive forces of the Third World".
It was also in the Carvalho-extreme-left tendency that another, seamy neo-corporatist current was furthered. This was the so-called "apartidista" or "a-party" attitude, which the MFA as a whole had fostered in the first year of its rule and had abandoned in March 1975, when its absurdity became patent. At the rank-and-file level of the organization of "popular power", the anti-party attitude expressed two inseparable moments. On one hand, it expressed a revulsion at the attempts of the PCP and the PSP to use these formations for their own party ends in the government. On the other hand, it expressed a widespread anarcho-syndicalist illusion that the question of the political control of the state as such was irrelevant or secondary. The capitulation of the extreme-left groups, notably the PRP-BR and the LUAR, to such thinking was a complete abdication, and particularly in the case of the anarcho-Guevarist PRP, a fundamental masking of its own party proclivities. These groups, by tailing Carvalho's "left" Peruvian solution, failed the movement twice: in the realm of politics, to raise the question of the liquidation of the bourgeois state and its armed forces, and in the realm of the mass rank-and-file organizations, to raise the question of their status as the mass base of a Bonapartist or neo-corporatist restructuring of capital.
In reality, above and beyond the political arrangements that would oversee the process, all three factions of the MFA were proposing national plans for an intensified state capitalist development of the Portuguese economy, at least in the short and medium term. Of course, given the impossibility of the abolition of the capitalist market in one country, a revolutionary working class movement in power would be obliged, for a certain period, to oversee a kind of "state capitalism" as well. The fundamental question, and the one suppressed by all three contending factions, was that of the political control of the state by the working class. It is too often overlooked that, even prior to April 25, all of the major sectors of Portuguese industry were already controlled by the state through majority shareholdings , with the exception of metallurgy and the maritime transport industries. The accelerated statification of the economy, brought on the by revolutionary crisis and by the international depression, in fact realized structural reforms long sought by certain enlightened bourgeois elements but above all by the stifled technocracy. In addition to this neo-corporatist orgy of rationalization, the intensification of unpaid labor for "national reconstruction" began to surface as an important option. None other than Gen. Otelo Sareiva do Carvalho, in an interview at the end of 1974, called for an expanded use of the armed forces, as well as a civilian job corps, to precisely such ends.
11. The Fall of Vasco Gonçalves and the PCP
By mid-August, the government had been brought to total paralysis. The campaign of the PSP, beginning in June, had intersected-and appealed to-a groundswell of proto-fascist and overly fascist ferment from the two major right-wing parties, the PPD and the CDS. The destruction of PCP and extreme-left offices in a number of small northern towns, physical attacks on PCP members in the same areas, and a wave of forest fires which broke out throughout the North signaled a counter-revolutionary offensive of considerable proportion. By the time of the fall of the Fifth Government at the end of August, Soares was acting in an open alliance with this right-wing attack on the PCP and the extreme left.
Throughout the same period, the international capitalist community, alerted by the rapid leftward motion of March 1975 and thereafter, mobilized every means at its disposal short of direct military intervention (and such an intervention was, of course, never ruled out) to crush the Portuguese proletariat. The EEC made it clear that Portuguese membership in the Community depended on the establishment of "democracy"; foreign investment, which in 1971-74 had made up 30-40% of all investment in Portugal, dropped to zero. There were machinations with remittances being sent home from abroad by Portuguese emigres, and banks throughout Western Europe connived to help right-wing refugees get their money out of the country and generally to sabotage the escudo. The rapid spread of unemployment in France and Germany, finally, provoked the layoffs of tens of thousands of Portuguese workers, who returned home over the summer months with nothing to do but make the revolution; hence the invisibles which had kept Portugal's trade deficit under control through the last years of Caetano were seriously undercut.
Under these pressures and under the impact of day-to-day developments in the country as a whole, the Portuguese economy was descending into chaos. Unemployment passed the 10% mark, new investment was down 71% from 1974; the constant political mobilization of the working population, the flight abroad of managers and technicians, the shortage of essential materials and the bankruptcies of hundreds of small and middle-sized firms forced to the wall in the crisis had the cumulative effect of shrinking production by nearly l0%.
On August 27, the center-right coalition of Soares and the PSP with the PPD and the CDS, aligned within the MFA with the "classical right" of Azevedo and the Group of the Nine, forced the resignation of the Gonçalves government and opened the period in which civil war seemed almost inevitable. In dislodging the Vasco Gonçalves government, the forces of the center and right had achieved a tactical victory within the political sphere, but they had by no means achieved the essential, which was the demobilization of the mass movement in the streets, barracks and factories, to which the unknown factor of the PCP, for all intents and purposes out of the government for the first time since April, 1974, had been added. The PCP was given one ministerial portfolio of no consequence in the Sixth Government, and began its role as a pressure group with the goal of restoring the fallen Fifth. Similarly, on Aug. 25, the PCP concluded the short-lived "Revolutionary United Front" (FUR) with six extreme-left groups (the PRP-BR, MES, LUAR, LCI, FSP and MDP-CDE) whose essential program was also the return of the Fifth Government. The PCP, however, was unceremoniously expelled from the FUR on Aug. 28, after one joint demonstration, when it was revealed that it had engaged in closed-door negotiations for a better position in the new government. Throughout the month of August, Cunhal had even endorsed an Azevedo government as the best solution to prevent the situation from slipping to the right. The FUR, which never permitted itself this indiscretion, continued to exist through the denouement of the crisis in Nbvember, but really constituted nothing more than the collective constituencies of the six groups composing it.
12. The Left, the Extreme Left and the Political Crisis of the MFA
The revolutionary strategy appropriate to a situation such as that traversed in Portugal between March and November, 1975, was a united front policy aiming at the constitution of the class-for-itself in soviet formations, unifying the left-wing rank-and-file of Social Democracy, the rank-and- file of the Stalinist CP, and the viable forces of the extreme left.
After roughly 1928, but particularly after the Second World War, the Social Democratic parties which revolutionaries abandoned in droves in 1917-21 periodically become poles of attraction for certain strata of pro-socialist, but anti-Stalinist workers and intellectuals who sought, and in certain periods found room for maneuver within these parties which was not possible within the Stalinist formations. After the defeat of the Left Opposition in Russia and in the Comintern as a whole, but particularly after the debacle of Stalinist policy in Germany in 1933, Trotskyists and other extreme-left currents saw an orientation to these left-wing Social Democrats as an indispensable bridge to the splitting of Social Democracy in those countries where it was a preponderant force.
The PSP represented an interesting example of this problem. There is no question that the 38% of the vote obtained by the PSP in the April, 1975 elections included an important center-right force which saw the PSP as the major bulwark against revolution, Stalinist or otherwise. Because of its complete lack of organizational structure in April, 1974, (in contrast to the effective machine built up by the PCP over decades) the PSP had virtually no support in the industrial working class, which remained throughout the crisis the domain of the PCP and the extreme left. Nonetheless, certain white-collar trade unionists and other working class elements of the tertiary sector co-existed within the PSP rank-and-file with all of the petty-bourgeois riffraff who were the genuine social base of the Soares leadership. More importantly, between October 1974 and August 1975, the behaviour of the PCP, in its rapid and skillful self-insertion into the state apparatus, under the sole sponsorship of the military (and, when the lines were drawn, all out of proportion to its mass strength) drove large numbers of people into the arms of Soares, who was presenting himself in increasingly shrill terms as the guardian of "democracy". This behaviour by the PCP, complete with a resurrection of the old "Social Fascist" theme applied in blanket fashion to the PSP membership, gave Soares a base and a credibility which he would otherwise have been hard put to win on his own.
The "social fascist" analysis of Social Democracy is a classic of the hypostasis of the mind reified by Stalinist ideology. It takes the dynamic truth of a process confirmed again and again by historical experience and converts it into a static falsification. It is a banality that in a period of pre-revolutionary crisis, Social Democracy is the handmaiden of fascism through its political demobilization of the working class in the name of "anti-fascism" (as if the PCP had not made abundant use of the mystified "anti-fascist" rhetoric) up to the point when actual fascism can, with the appropriate small gratitude and contempt, sweep Social Democracy aside and institute its generalized solution to the social crisis. Nonetheless, to conclude from this historical caretaker role of the Noskes, Blums and Allendes spawned like the plague by the counter-revolution of the 20th century, that Social Democrats themselves are fascists is nothing but an enormous strategic and tactical blunder which, when implemented seriously as in Germany (1928-1933) or in a lesser fashion in Portugal, has had nothing but catastrophic consequences. And its most devastating consequences in situations like Portugal in this period. was preciselv its deliverv of left Social Democrats to the conscious organizers of capitalist stabilization, the Soareses and the Noskes. In a situation such as that which pertained in Portugal from roughly December 1974, but particularly from March through November 1975, where a Stalinist party is playing a role similar to that of the PCP and where a large Social Democracy, under a leadership well to the right of an important part of the rank-and-file, is emerging as the main rallying point of the counter-revolution, it is absolutely indispensable for revolutionaries to address themselves to that rank-and-file to force a split which can separate itself from the pro-capitalist leadership of such parties. Such a current must say quite plainly that it can defend the right to organize of such Social Democrats against Stalinist attacks only to the extent that a break is made with the people who tomorrow will be the gravediggers of the revolutionary process.
From August until November, 1975, it appeared likely that a civil war would have opposed both the Communist Party and the extreme-left to the rest of the Portuguese body politic. Such a development, given the inevitable military aid which NATO, the CIA and the Spanish government would have placed at the disposal of the PSP-PPD-CDS coalition, would have inevitably meant a massacre of the industrial and agricultural proletariat in relatively short order. Hence the "left Social Democratic" orientation of a revolutionary current in the pre-August period was an indispensable moment of a regroupment strategy.
There was, furthermore, no lack of basis for such a tactic. By October, 1975, the substantial left-wing base of the PSP could no longer be mobilized for Soares' more and more openly proto-fascist offensive, because large parts of it were in the street in the mass demonstrations of the PCP and the extreme-left.
Rank-and-file discontent with the Soares leadership in late summer and fall was no less vehement than the similar, virtually majoritarian left opposition to Allende which developed within the Chilean Socialist Party in the late summer of 1973. The Social Democratic-Communist-extreme left united front strategy does not aim at the occupation of the ministries of the bourgeois state by these currents. It is a strategy based on the constitution of the working class as a class-for-itself, organized programmatically around a perspective for the expanded reproduction of society, a perspective whose realization is possible only through the liquidation of commodity production and the constitution of a government of soviets. It is purely a regroupment strategy in the streets and factories, for use in a leftward-veering situation in which the working class is still nominally enlisted in Social Democratic or Stalinist parties. It is further a perspective which is possible only with the arming of the working class and the dissolution of the bourgeois state.
A program for the expanded reproduction of society is, from a revolutionary point of view, the only raison d'etre of such a formation. The very constitution of a government of soviets is the de facto dissolution of Social Democracy and Stalinism as political currents aiming at control of any separate state, and revolutionaries can have no illusions that such a formation could be realized with the current leaderships of the Western European Social Democracies or Communist Parties still in a position of power. Were this to be the case, then these united fronts could only be parliamentary farces in essence no different from a Popular Front coalition with the "progressive" wing of the bourgeoisie, a short-lived overseer government soon to be swept aside by right-wing or fascist rule, as was the result of the parliamentarv application of the united front strategy in Germany (in the state governments of Saxony and Thuringia) in Fall 1923. It was the extreme poverty of the bulk of the currents to the left of the PCP in Portugal in 1974-75 that such a policy, tied to a call for the formation of soviets to supercede the multitude of local organs of control, was never elaborated, let alone implemented. Of course, this absence only expressed the deep limits of the movement in Portugal, and its practical options in the crisis. What unified the virtual entirety of the extreme-left in Portugal was a false analysis of the Stalinist phenomenon (as well as of the related "MFA-People" alliance), and hence a total impotence in dealing with it practically. We need hardly mention in passing the majority of Maoists (typified at their worst in the proto-fascist MRPP and AOC, but true in less virulent forms of the edulcorated Maoism of the UDP or certain "Marxist-Leninist" factions) who saw the PCP as a "social fascist" agent of "Soviet imperialism" and in many cases as the "main enemy" to be combated in the context of allegedly rising Soviet world hegemony. This fairy tale of an ideology, which was nothing but the most transparent cover for the foreign policy needs of the Chinese bureaucracy in its mid-1970's rapprochement with U.S. imperialism (expressed, in its most extreme form, by support for NATO and the EEC against "social imperialism" and calls for the strengthening of Western European armies for "the legitimate self-defense of the fatherland by the people"!!!) was also nothing but a cover for an alliance with fascism, which materialized in Portugal in the open collaboration of the MRPP and the AOC with the PPD and the CDS. The soft-core, or disabused Maoism of the UDP, which attracted certain real working-class support in the industrial suburban belt of Lisbon because of militant discontent with the PCP role under the first five governments, was a diluted version of the same fantasy, at bottom nothing but a rehash of Popular Frontist "anti-fascist" ideology.
A more serious extreme left Portugal was constituted by those groups which formed the FUR at the end of August, 1975. These groups included the Fourth International pro-Mandel "Trotskyist" LCI, the broadly left-Social Democratic MES, the spontaneo-Guevarist PRP-BR and the anarcho-Marxist LUAR. These groups, which had at least the merit of recognizing Maoism as merely one more variant of Stalinism, were hence in a better position to realistically assess the aim of the PCP at the establishment, not of "social fascism" but of the bureaucratic mode of rule which has characterized Stalinist regimes, pro-Russian or pro-Chinese, since the consolidation of Stalinist hegemony in the 1924-28 period. While most of these groups erred in seeing only the "reformist" activity of the PCP, the ostensible "Popular Front" which it maintained through the fall of the Fifth Government, and not its perfectly serious pursuit of bureaucratic state power, their ability to see the PCP more realistically in its relationship to the other forces on the scene at least posed the question of a united front strategy, if only to lead to other illusions.
Unfortunately, the short-lived "united front", when it occurred, had nothing to do with the strategy outlined above. The FUR (Frente Unido Revolucionario) was nothing but a desperation measure by the PCP as an additional lobby for a more adequate distribution of ministerial portfolios in the Sixth Government, whose program, whatever its rhetoric, constituted nothing more or less than a call for the reconstitution of the (Fifth) Vasco Gonçalves government. The COPCON document, which the PCP had to tolerate as the manifesto of the FUR, explicitly called for the joint rule of the military with various institutions of "popular power", a sort of institutionalized dual power conception, again, strongly echoing its Peruvian inspiration. The reality of the situation, of course, did exceed the phrases of the COPCON document, since the first task of the MFA, once it had ousted Vasco Gonçalves, was the destruction of the embryonic dual power situation in the streets, factories, and in the countryside. Nonetheless, the specter of a new Vasco Gonçalves government would lurk just beneath the mobilizations of the extreme left through Nov.25, rendering it nothing more than a militant lobby in the streets for an untenable status quo ante and once again sowing illusions about the "left" MFA in the working class.
Portugal was therefore one more object lesson to the international revolutionary movement that the extreme left, or would-be revolutionary organizations to the left of the official Communist parties, cannot constitute themselves as mere shadows of those parties and define their policies in relationship to the presence or absence of such a party in the cabinet of the moment.
The extreme left's weight on the scales of counter-revolution throughout 1974 and 1975 in Portugal was precisely this valorization of the PCP, egging it on to do precisely what it was capable of doing, in order to "unmask" it, and more importantly and more criminally, the valorization of the MFA as a "progressive force" which could be pressured into making a socialist revolution and not merely modernizing the structure of exploitation, which is precisely what it accomplished. The disabusing of working-class consciousness about the MFA as a whole only emerged in the last weeks of the crisis, when it was already far too late, and even after Nov. 25 one could still read in the publications of the "extreme-left" PRP references to the "progressive" military and unashamed groveling before the populist demagogue Otelo Sareiva de Carvalho, former head of Psychological Warfare in Africa.
13. The Denouement of the Revolutionary Crisis
The political impasse which was institutionalized in the departure of the PSP and the PPD from the fifth government on July 10 and July 17, respectively, lasted for six interminable weeks of meetings of the Council of the Revolution, in which the "moderate" Melo Antunes faction had gained the ascendancy with the support of the right-wing group around Fabião and Azevedo. By the end of August, it was clear that Gonçalves was finished as Prime Minister, and in the course of a week-long meeting from Aug.29 through September 5, his departure was made definitive. Admiral Pinheiro de Azevedo replaced him as Prime Minister, and Gonçalves was transferred to the post of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, only to be forced out of that position as well. The center-right factions of the MFA had won contemporary control of the state. They were nonetheless confronted with a far more formidable task: to subdue the mass movement in the streets, factories and within the armed forces. The Gonçalves-PCP government had tried ruling the country alone in the face of a large proto-fascist counter-offensive led by Soares and his friends; the Sixth Government now had to see if it could avoid the same isolation in the heights of power.
The strategy of the PCP, seeing its hopes of edging into power under military sponsorship destroyed, was now to force a rerun of the very Gonçalves government which had collapsed beneath it over the summer. The use of the mass movement in the streets to this end, walking a careful line between an attempt to make itself respectable to the PSP-dominated cabinet and simultaneously to run with the mass movement in the streets, which was beginning to go seriously beyond such paltry maneuvers, characterized the actions of the PCP from the end of August. through Nov. 25.
If the "anarchism and populism that inevitably lead to the catastrophic dissolution of the state", which was the looming specter behind the Melo Antunes document, had been a problem for the Fifth Government in its final weeks, it was all the moreso throughout the first months of the Sixth. The PCP, returned to an oppositional role for the first time since April, 1974, the extreme left, and the multitude of factory, military and neighborhood councils expanded their activities to unprecedented levels that made the country virtually ungovernable. On Sept.16, the PCP led 20,000 people through downtown Lisbon in a demonstration calling for a return to the Gonçalves government. It was also at this time that the SUV, or Soldiers United for Victory, made its appearance in the North, and began to spread to the Lisbon region. This formation was never clearly tied to either the PCP or the extreme-left, and everyone on occasion praised its actions. But it marked the beginning of an actual dissolution of the standing bourgeois army and the first mooting of a formation of armed workers' militias which would have been an indispensable threshold for any revolutionary movement worthy of the name. In its best moments, it is unlikely that the PCP or the extreme-left in any case "controlled" the SUV; on Sept. 26, Gen. CarvaIho was compelled to state that "however well intentioned they may be ... (the soldiers' committees) appear as a counter-revolutionary activity. I watch with a certain preoccupation the appearance of such organizations which...increasingly disintegrate the armed forces." This reservation about the formations for whom he remained a mystified hero seemed nonetheless to be lost on Carvalho's camp followers in the PRP-BR and elsewhere. On the 29th, Carvalho ordered COPCON to take over Radio Renascensa in Lisbon, where it had been placed under workers' control by the staff in June; perhaps for the first time, he was booed in a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Information. In response to this order, the workers of Setnave, the Setubal shipyards, called for a general strike, and despite a PCP directive to stay home, thousands of workers entered Lisbon to participate in a mass demonstration for the radio station.
The situation which unfolded in Portugal through the three months leading to Nov.25 was one in which the extreme-left began to seriously undermine the base of the PCP in all the major social institutions. The zig-zag course of the party, torn between its ministerial aspirations and the revolutionary aspirations of its rank-and-file, disgusted increasing numbers of workers. In numerous cases, actions were initiated by CP members against the explicit orders of the party, and in certain cases, PCPers actually approached the extreme-left groups to ask them undertake such actions. This osmotic process of interplay between the PCP and the extreme-left was fought out above all in the industrial belt of Lisbon, where perhaps 50,000 workers moved back and forth between the two poles with the rhythm of developments. The PCP was so afraid of losing its base to forces to its left that it actually staged a demonstration on Sept. 18 posing as the FUR. Despite appearances, the obvious predominance of PCP slogans calling solely for the ouster of the PPD from the government (the relapse to a sub-Popular Frontism, in which the PSP ceased to be a "social fascist" formation and rejoined the panoply of "progressive forces" now completed) was a giveaway to the 50,000 people who attended. In this atmosphere, the revelation of Soares' CIA connection passed almost unnoticed.
Throughout October and into early November, the dissolution of power on every side, in the industrial and urban regions, continued apace. This dissolution was focused in three major arenas of confrontation. First, the activities of the SUV led repeatedly to mass demonstrations in Oporto, to the ousting of politically suspect officers and the occupation of a base just outside of Oporto demanding the reinstatement of the ousted leftist regional commander. Second, the Radio Renascensa affair prompted a march of 100,000 to the broadcasting tower outside of Lisbon where the defending troops gave in to the crowd and permitted the station to resume broadcasting. In the first week of November, a second government seizure was carried out by a commando unit which settled the question definitively by blowing up the transmitter. On Nov. 9, the CP-dominated construction workers' union struck in Lisbon, demanding a 40% wage increase; by the 14th, they, together with 100,000 demonstrators, had sequestered the Constituent Assembly and Prime Minister Azevedo in the government buildings. The 40% increase was granted. Nonetheless, once again Gen. Carvalho was booed by a crowd of workers, and forced to "choose sides" by leading a march on a government ministry. The next confrontation with the Azevedo government occurred precisely in response to its attempt to strip Carvalho of his COPCON command and to dissolve the unit, which had been functioning more or less on its own for months. Twenty five units in the Lisbon region immediately denounced this maneuver and declared their solidarity with Carvalho. A similar response met the call of the Azevedo regime for the return of some 30,000 firearms presumed to be in the hands of non-military personnel; the deadline date came and passed, with only a few slingshots being submitted in a few of the more remote villages.
On Nov.18, a monster demonstration of 200,000 people, called by the PCP with the participation of the FUR, marched through downtown Lisbon. It was eerily reminiscent of the similar mobilization of 150,000 people in Santiago one week before the overthrow of Allende in 1973. Nonetheless, even here the growing schism between the rank-and-file and the PCP leadership could not be masked, leading to the spectacle of PCPers on the platform attempting to lead the singing of the Portuguese national anthem from the platform while the crowd drowned them out in the singing of the Internationale.
The pressure point was reached on the morning of Nov. 25. Several divisions of paratroopers, under CP commanders, seized four air force bases in the Lisbon region . Thus began two to three days of tension in which the first shots of a civil war, and then merely a direct military repression, were awaited. In fact, the entire uprising was over by the evening of the 25th; all that remained was the state of emergency, including a complete blackout of media, which was in force for several days afterwards as air force jets buzzed Lisbon and Porto and as naval destroyers took up positions in Lisbon harbor. The paratroopers surrendered to a unit of commandos under the particularly reactionary Col. Jaime Neves, after it was clear that several other key units in the Lisbon region were not going to come out in support of their action. The action itself showed a very low level of organization, as dozens of air force pilots had been able to run to their planes and fly them to non-rebel bases in the North. There is no question that the PCP was involved in the first phase of the seizure of the bases. Its strategy was ostensibly to force a return to a Gonçalves or some similar government; the aims of the extreme leftists who involved themselves in the early phase of the action were more far-reaching. At 5:00 PM on the 25th, an official of the PCP-dominated steelworkers' union went on Lisbon radio and called for an armed insurrection; by 10:00 PM, PCP leaders were back on the air asking everyone to return home.
What had happened in the period between the seizure of the bases in the morning of Nov.25 and the demobilization order of the same evening is of course by no means undisputed. What seems clear is that the PCP leadership had made its calculations and realized that on a national level, they were militarily in no position to win, even with their limited objectives. The left and extreme-left forces had a military hegemony in the Lisbon region on the 25th, and could, with coordination, have won an immediate showdown there, but during the 25th a number of regiments known to be loyal to the government were brought to within the outer periphery of Lisbon awaiting further orders. They were never needed: it is likely that during the crucial hours of decision, large numbers of people in the streets did not know they were there. The CP, with its national intelligence apparatus, almost certainly did. Simultaneously, there is certain evidence that the PCP in the course of the day had entered secret negotiations with the Revolutionary Council and had secured the conditions of a graceful surrender, with any further repression to fall upon the extreme-left groups and their base of support in the Lisbon industrial belt. In any case, the surrender of the paratroopers and the decision of the PCP to demobilize its considerable national network (which had been put on alert and was prepared to blow up bridges and roads throughout the country to prevent troop movement into the Lisbon region), probably reflected an accurate reading of the immediate military balance of forces in Portugal, to say nothing of the international level. Nonetheless, the cynicism with which the CP had used the mass movement to which it still had access for such a ministerial maneuver was not lost on thousands of militants, and in the following days Cunhal and his friends had to face the catcalls of "treason" in many working-class milieus. If the PCP in addition did meet secretly with the Revolutionary Council to negotiation the repression, its criminal role was already established by its overt actions in launching the revolt and leaving the extreme left and the working class open to the bloodbath which might have occurred.
On the following day, forces on every side were treated to a few lessons in the reality' of the situation. Melo Antunes, the figure previously cut out for the Noske-Scheidemann role in Portugal, appeared on television and announced that the PCP had an indispensable role to play in the reconstruction of Portugal. It had, after all, performed creditably under five governments as the front-line police force of the MFA; now, under the sixth, it had shown itself willing to limit itself to the aspirations of a return to the cabinet, even if it had permitted itself a few flirtations with adventurism in attempting to be that kind of pressure group. Even more revealing, however, was the televised speech of Costa Gomes, still in the position of influence he assumed with the demise of Spinola in September, 1974, Costa Gomes, as everyone expected, denounced the coup attempt in no uncertain terms; what surprised a few, and not least of all the PRP, was the appearance at his side of Gen. Otelo Sareiva de Carvalho throughout the speech. This remarkable event did not prevent CarvaIho from being demoted to Major and placed under house arrest in short order. Nor did it sully the adulation he continued to receive from certain "extreme-left" quarters.
14. In the Aftermath of Nov. 25
In early September, the center-right military faction had captured the state; on Nov. 25, it extended its hegemony, still fragile, to Portuguese society as a whole. The PCP and the extreme-left forces in the working class had been isolated and defeated strategically; what remained to be implemented was a process of attrition by which the still untouched "gains" of the previous nineteen months could be rolled back in anticipation of the tasks of "national reconstruction", so long delayed. Hundreds of CP and extreme-left officers were purged from the military; and the process, already underway prior to Nov.25, of wholesale demobilization of unreliable regiments and the careful political screening of new draftees was accelerated. Many of these demobilized officers were arrested and imprisoned, where many remained until February or March, 1976. Some of the last street actions of the movement were emotional marches to the Cascias and Custoes prisons in Lisbon and Oporto respectively, and it was at the latter on Dec. 31 that the National Republican Guard fired on the crowd, killing three people and wounding dozens. The factory committees, now definitively trapped in the self-management of capitalism, began to disappear unevenly as the mass ferment which had animated them subsided. The working class, without a semblance of a political current which had not discredited itself in one fashion or another prior to Nov. 25, was very vulnerable to the renewed attack on its living standards, which became the first priority of the regime. Many entrepreneurs and managers who had fled their factories in the previous year, sensing the change in the wind, returned for their pound of flesh.
Only in the Alentejo, where the land seizure of large latifundias remained untouched, did the government adopt a circumspect attitude. Increasingly shrill cries from expropriated landowners and industrialists for "compensation" began to be heard, and tolerated, for the first time, and the rightward drift of the government could be measured in its increasing willingness to negotiate with these people. Meanwhile, the nationalizations remained for the most part intact. As was discussed above, they were in no way inimical to the enlightened perspectives of a wing of Portuguese capital. In a sense, the initial aims of the MFA, having opened the Pandora's box of proletarian revolution, were being implemented. The vast paralysis of the Portuguese economy throughout the crisis of 1975 had to be paid for, and a wave of price increases and new consumer taxes announced the first phase of the gouging of working-class living standards.
In the midst of the political mop-up operation being carried out by the government, the new constitution was issued in early April 1976. While it was still "progressive" in tone, no one had any illusions that it represented anything but a crystallization of forces in which the working class, the left and the extreme-left had clearly lost out. The insistence of the Revolutionary Council of the military, in the final days before the issuing of the constitution, on the right of the army to dissolve it at any time was an adequate sign of this reality. The elections merely consolidated the balance of forces which had been decided in the streets in November, and the populist demagogy of Carvalho in his presidential campaign (which won 17% of the vote, against 7.5% for the PCP candidate Octavio Pato) could hardly cover that up. That such a figure could still be prominent in the "extreme-left" milieu after his dubious role in the events of November was one more measure of the limits of the Portuguese movement, and of its ability to draw lessons from a provisional defeat.
15. Assessment and Limits of the Revolutionary Crisis
It can be said with some certainty that there was never a revolutionary situation as such in Portugal. Such a situation would have required not merely the virtual dissolution of bourgeois institutions, which occurred up to a point , but also the relative dispersion of the mass base of the counter-revolutionary forces. As the situation reached its climax, however, it was virtually the opposite that occurred. During the crucial week of August 29-Sept. 5, during the final deliberations for the forming of the Sixth Government, or in the two weeks preceding Nov. 25, which saw mass support for the construction workers' strike, the mobilization for Radio Renascensa and finally the failed putsch of the paratroopers, there was no question that the forces of the left and extreme-left possessed an immediate tactical advantage in Lisbon, in Setubal and in the Alentejo, with an important base of support in Oporto. But beyond that, the strength of the combined forces of the pro-government regiments outside of Lisbon, the underground army of retornados and the unreconstructed fascists in the ELP, and important rank-and-file segments of the PSP, PPD and CDS, to say nothing of the immediate armed backing these forces would have received from the US, NATO and perhaps most immediately from Spain, was formidable. Even the ease with which the commandos of Col. Jaime Neves disarmed the isolated rebel units in the Lisbon region did not speak well for the organization of the left and extreme left. If, in the final showdown, the country was polarized between the forces of the PCP, the extreme left and the breakaway rank-and-file on one side, and the right wing of the PSP, the PPD, the CDS and the ELP on the other, a coordinated uprising might have succeeded in Lisbon, Setubal and in the Alentejo. The proto-fascist peasant base of the North, and the important petty bourgeois strata of Oporto and the small towns, would have almost certainly delivered the rest of the country to the counter-revolution.
But the situation had evolved, by August 1975, to a point where even such an alignment of forces for a revolutionary seizure of power had been precluded. It had been precluded first of all by the actions of the PCP-MFA alignment, which had pushed certain strata, by no means proto-fascist or anti-socialist, into the arms of the PSP; it had been precluded by the orientation of the extreme left in its tailing of the PCP-MFA machinations of the March-August period, on one hand refusing to distinguish itself from these bureaucratic- military maneuvers by counter-posing a government of soviets to the state, and on the other hand by falling into the trap of the Carvalho-COPCON faction and its scheme for a "direct democratic" underwriting of military rule. By failing to grasp and denounce both the statist-bureaucratic machinations of the PCP-Gonçalves faction and, at other moments, tailing submissively after the attempts of the Gonçalves and Carvalho factions to come to terms with the PSP, the PPD and the center-right military, the extreme left offered nothing to the working-class currents which were tending, at certain moments, to break out of that double bind.
Such a strategy of course presupposes two things that were completely lacking in the Portuguese crisis: revolutionary program and a revolutionary organization. It was clear, throughout the crisis and particularly during Nov.25 and its aftermath, that the PCP was the only force in the country, aside from the military and the Catholic church, which possessed an apparatus for immediate, effective national mobilization. The PCP had correctly read the situation on the national level, and realized that it could not win (leaving aside, for the moment, the question of what it was seeking to win); the extreme-left, on the contrary, generally mistaking the immediate tactical superiority of the left and extreme-left in Lisbon for the situation throughout Portugal, was more prone to being dragged into putchist adventure. According to one story circulating in Lisbon after Nov. 25, the PRP, whose members had been guarding the largest armory in Lisbon in the days before Nov. 25, which had been the most vociferous advocates of immediate armed struggle and insurrection, and which had promised arms to any and all who would fight, managed to send a total of seven rifles to the Alentejo and one rifle to the Algarve in the midst of the Nov. 25 crisis. Those who had the apparatus to coordinate a revolutionary seizure of power on a national level were not revolutionary, and those who were vaguely pro-revolutionary, though lost in a swamp of illusions about the "left" MFA and Gen. Carvalho, did not have the semblance of national coordination on a meaningful level. If the working class did not allow itself to be drawn into a massacre on Nov.25, it was undoubtedly because it sensed this organizational vacuum of the extreme-left forces. But the question of organization is a pure formalism without the question of program. And this the extreme left lacked even more. The immediate economic and military state of siege with which the Western powers would have reacted to such a revolution meant that its first exigency would have been its extension, and first of all to Spain, in order to have any hope of survival. But beyond this banality, which everyone recognized, stood the whole question of the economic strategy of the revolution in power. A trade orientation to the Eastern European bloc or to various Third World countries (beginning with the FRELIMO government in Mozambique and the MPLA-dominated government in Angola which was to take power in early 1976) would have provided short-term relief, but would have only served to reinforce the currents which were moving for a bureaucratic integration of the economy. (The example of the fate of the proto-soviet forms of the Spanish revolution of 1936-1937 under the impact of Soviet "aid" is instructive here.)
The impasse of the Portuguese working class in the fall of 1975, aside from this lack of an organized force on the scene simultaneously capable of galvanizing the disparate forces dissolving the capitalist institutions into an alternate mode of power, liquidating the remnants of the state and standing army, taking the economic measures necessary to resume production and expand trade, was its entrapment in the national framework of Portugal itself. This, again, at however unconscious a level in the minds of people weighing the possibilities of revolution, was a powerful factor of discouragement.
16. Generality and Specificitv in the Constitution of the Class-for-Itself
Three inseparable strands stood forth in all their indispensable importance in the Portuguese experience. They were the three moments of the social movement, the anonymous tidal wave of mass intervention into history, the product of long decades of subterranean erosion and social development, the necessary but not sufficient condition for any truly revolutionary movement; the moment of revolutionary political organization, or the necessity of a communist organization which can express the social movement in its confrontation with the bourgeois state, and which can lead that movement to the destruction of the state and the creation of a new, transitional workers' state; and finally, on the most detailed daily level of strategy and tactics, the military question of the seizure of power by the armed working class and its allies. Portugal, while never reaching the heights of the Russian, German or Spanish revolutionary experiences, nonetheless provided one new object lesson in the tremendous power of the "anonymous social movement" cast up by history, and simultaneously, the specificity the condensed nature and indispensability of a political leadership which can give that movement its coherence, its self-consciousness and its military striking force . Every revolutionary process of the 20th century from 1905 to the present has seen the richness and incredible power of the tidal wave of the masses in motion; every one of these processes has been characterized at its origins by the apparent triviality of the incident which sparked it, and the tremendous historical burdens which in a matter of days, or hours, have been swept away by the "old mole"; every one of these processes has, finally, been decided by the presence or absence of an organized force, which has in the decisive situation been able to provide the political and military cohesion to that tidal wave. Portugal was no less a demonstration of this social law, even if at a lower level.
What is this "law"? It is precisely that history, and the communist revolution produced by the historical struggle of concrete men and women, is simultaneously a deep, anonymous process that works a society from within, and a process of specificity, of historical individuals with names and faces, who are thrown up by history and who, for however brief a moment, mold historical processes in a decisive way. These individuals, who come from the revolutionary intelligentsia and from the most advanced strata of workers, are a tiny minority of capitalist society under pre-revolutionary conditions, and may well remain a tiny minority in the immediate, political-military confrontation with the capitalist state. The tidal wave of the social movement can sweep away decades of dead historical weight (not the least of which includes the claims of the officIal working-class organizations to "represent" the class), but it can never, without this conscious intervention, in preparation well before the actual confrontation, destroy capitalist society.
This law has been banalized and trivialized by the reductionism of contemporary Trotskyism, for example, which maintains the mythology that the major obstacle to working class consciousness through a whole series of working-class defeats has been the "misleadership" of various reformist and Stalinist elements. The falsehood of such a voluntaristic and idealist theory of history is the mythology of "pure" working class consciousness constantly being "misled" into false solutions, as if, during long periods of ebb and counter-revolution, the large majority of workers did not "agree" with the bourgeois ideology of their "leadership". And how could it be otherwise, since the working class, in a special way but like everyone else in capitalist society, is immersed in the day-to-day social relations in which false consciousness is an integrated product of its alienated activity?
In such periods, the class-for-itself is reduced to the appearance of a mere "principle", a mere "idea" of the unity of the working class against the capitalist state, and this it remains until the working class, by the dynamic of the system, is compelled to act differently than it has ever acted before. It is only in periods of mass strike upsurge that such consciousness becomes a tangible force, immediately accessible to large masses of workers in motion. And it is then that the truth of the above-cited Trotskyist dictum on leadership is revealed in its dialectical form.
Again and again, from May 1974 through November 1975, the mass of Portuguese workers intervened in their own name, of necessity. It was these workers who occupied and ran individual factories; it was these workers who seized first state-owned and later private housing, distributed the space to needy families and established the neighborhood councils; it was they, finally, who distributed arms throughout important layers of the class (the Lisnave shipyard workers, the Alentejo agricultural workers) and who, for a few weeks in September and October, 1975, seemed on the verge of achieving the virtual dissolution of discipline in the standing army. Many of these workers and their allies were members, or supporters of political parties, and mostly the PCP. (Later, this came to include members and sympathizers of the extreme-left groups.) They did all this more often than not without, and against, the directives of the party leadership. They did it for the most part in a fragmented and localized fashion, hence leaving "coordination" to the machinations of political parties attempting to use these councils for their own ends. There was a heavy dose of "local control" capitalist ideology in these formations, and attempts at national coordination were miscarriages (cf. above). There was, as previously noted, a significant "Peruvian" influence in the movement, expressing itself in an "anti-party" or "a-party" (apartidario) mentality that was simultaneously a legitimate critique of the machinations of particularly the Communist Party within various councils, but also a deadly anti-political attitude capitalized upon by the whole ideology of the "progressive military" ,the "non-party " alignment of the MFA, and the Carvalho-COPCON faction and its extreme-left allies. The working class, acting in May-June 1974 under the pressure of lagging wages, and later in January-February 1975 under similar economic pressure and finally, after March 1975, under the pressure of political developments, did all these things, but it did nothing more, and on Nov. 25, 1975, it was defeated virtually without a fight. Here, as in Chile and everywhere else, the political struggle within and for the state, and its resolution, was decisive. This primacy of politics in the short run, and its dialectical relationship to the deeper, socio-economic moments of the class struggle, is the truth of the assertion of the need for a political vanguard. And it is politics, not some vaguer idea of a social movement or worse, the mythology of "autonomous" (and almost always local) struggle, which is the proper term. It has a strategic, and a tactical moment which are in the short run decisive.
This inter-relationship of the specific, organized political expression of the revolutionary movement with the indispensable social movement is not difficult to illustrate. The last six months of the Allende regime in Chile marked a deep radicalization of the class struggle in that country. Land seizures, the copper miners' strike of May, 1973, and most importantly the formation of soviet institutions, the cordones conimunales, were aspects of this radicalization. A week before Allende was overthrown, a monster demonstration, as mentioned above, of 150,000 people with red flags chanting anti-fascist slogans took place in Santiago, expressing its resolve that any fascist coup attempt would be defeated. And days later that coup occurred with only the most minimal resistance, more or less spontaneous and localized. All of this ferment, all of this movement, all the "autonomy" of workers managing this or that factory, or even whole regions, or mobilizing mass demonstrations of good intentions under the Popular Front slogans of "anti-fascism" and other incense, amounted to exactly nothing when the terrain was lost in the political and military arena; the failure of the revolutionary left, such as it was, to discredit the SP and CP leadership and subsequently, inevitably, its inability to seriously resist a right-wing coup.
In Portugal, the defeat was less dramatic, the forces who inflicted it less intent on a major bloodbath against the working class, and the social base of the center still more intact than was the case by September, 1973, in Chile. But the same fundamental lessons were once again repeated.
The Scylla and Charybdis of the modern revolutionary organization are the formal pretensions of the self-appointed "vanguard formations" and an impotent capitulation before the spontaneity of mass movements and forms of struggle evolved by such movements. The poverty of such organizations resides in the underestimation of the importance of the social movement, and the endless tendency to substitute themselves for such a movement, to pretend that a political party is or could constitute the social movement in its entirety. The failure of such an organization is that it does not recognize itself as a product of the movement it simultaneously shapes. Its criminal role, through such substitutionist illusions, is its tendency to distort the self-articulation of the movement and to force that movement onto an anti-political, anti-organizational terrain. This was clearly the role of the PCP in Portugal, by which we hardly mean to imply that the PCP was in any sense a revolutionary organization. The "apartidista" ideology which was so catastrophic, and which induced organizations which might have known better-were they not so intent on mass appeal at any cost-to capitulate before it was nothing but the inverse anarcho-syndicalist side of the machinations of the PCP within the state and within the various mass forms of organization.
The task of the revolutionary organization is to articulate the necessity which confronts a social movement, but in doing so to demonstrate the immanence of this necessity within the self-unfolding of the movement. This was the sense that Marx intended when he wrote to Ruge in 1843: "We do not present ourselves to the world as doctrinaires with a new principle; here is the truth.' down on your knees: We bring to the world the principles which the world itself has engendered. We do not say to it: cease your struggles, they are futile, we will give you real marching orders. We merely show the world why it struggles in this fashion, and knowledge of itself is something the world must acquire, even if it does not want to". To articulate what a social movement must become, "what it must possess in consciousness in order to possess in reality", may at times have the appearance of "bringing consciousness to the masses", in the impoverished 1902 formulation of Lenin. Revolutionaries do not shrink from the tasks of attacking the "apolitical" or reactionary illusions of the movements in which they intervene; would that a handful of revolutionaies had had the courage to denounce Carvalho and the MFA in the final months of the Portuguese crisis. What distinguishes a revolutionary organization from a mini-bureaucracy which is either sabotaging the development of a movement or preparing itself for future bureaucratic power over such a movement is precisely the absence of pretension of "bringing" to the movement that which is not alreadv there, if only there in the movement's immanent grasp of necessity. The revolutionary organization is not a pedagogical institution for the enlightenment of the masses in the historical truth; it is not a general staff aiming at the control of a separate state apparatus and viewing the mass movement as a legion of shock troops into which "it" injects consciousness. The revolutionary organization is that which articulates the historical truth as the necessities confronting the movement, and ruthlessly combats the failures of the movement to implement these necessities, nothing more or less. The revolutionary movement sees itself above all as the future hegemonic tendency within a government of soviets. For historical truth, as we have referred to it above, is not a mere set of "principles" or "ideas"; it is not a retrospective gloss of current or past events held up for the appropriate edification of the masses; is, least of all, "embodied" in some separate political organization. Historical truth is nothing more or less than the fluid, self-reflexive and strategic consciousness of the entirety of the revolutionary working class and its allies in confrontation with the state; the self-conscious activity of a social class which acts in an entirely new way in a struggle for new social relations, whose goals, forms of organization and activities are themselves new social relations, and whose actions flow not from choice or a moral vocation, but because the totality of its historical circumstances compel it to act.
If, in the course of our exposition, we have shown the virtual entirety of the organized movement styling itself revolutionary, in Portugal and elsewhere, as inadequate to these realities, we have done so only because the Portuguese crisis itself has already exposed that movement far more ruthlessly than we ever could. If it is true that the "proletarian revolutions constantly interrupt themselves in their own course, come back to what seems to have been accomplished... (and)...scorn the half-measures, the weaknesses and meanesses of their first attempts", then we can be sure that the further development of the revolutionary working class will only advance over the bulk of the organized movement that now claims to speak in its name. If the Portuguese working class had done nothing else, its contribution to that clarification is already assured. And that will not have been the least of its achievements.