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 , managed in 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 or the escape from a Lisbon hospital of the political prisoner Herminio da Palma Inacio in , 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 , 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 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. 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, 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 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 Goncalves and Otelo Sareiva de Carvahlo, who played decisive roles in a much more extreme phase of the movement.
The revolutionary process in Portugal passed through four principal phases: April September 28, , the period of the "revolution of the roses"; September 28, lMarch , in which the masks of cameraderie fell away in the wake of the aborted Spinola coup and in conjunction with international developments; March August 27,, characterized simultaneously by the drive for power by the PCP and the pro-CP faction of the MFA around Goncalves, and the offensive of the working class itself; August November 25, 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. 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. 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.
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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 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.
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 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 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, , 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.
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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,, 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 and just returned from Parisian and Swedish exile.
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 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 period which Stalin himself did not do over the three decades prior to 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 , 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 Popular Front phase of the international Stalinist parties to the heroic, or vestigially heroic "class against class" demagogy of the so-called Third Period 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 years of the Comintern, we can say without hesitation that after 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.
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In the volatile social atmospheres of Italy, France, Spain and Portugal in the l 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 , and in certain moments of the failed German revolution of the 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. The May, revolt in France, the "hot autumn" of in Italy, the often exemplary wildcat general strikes occurring in Spain in , and finally the broad movement of the Portuguese working class in 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, , 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 strike after strike in Spain after , but most notably after , 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 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. 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. 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, 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.
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 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.
Particularly after March, , 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. 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.
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