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Accueil du site > 04 - Livre Quatre : HISTOIRE CONTEMPORAINE > 11- Portugal 1974-1975 > Portugal 1974-1975 : Revoluçao dos cravos ou La révolution des (...)

Portugal 1974-1975 : Revoluçao dos cravos ou La révolution des oeillets

vendredi 8 février 2008, par Robert Paris

Un commentaire complètement à côté de la réalité de la part du journal bourgeois Le Figaro

Article du site : MATIERE ET REVOLUTION

www.matierevolution.fr

Pour nous écrire, cliquez sur "répondre à cet article" qui se trouve en bas du texte.

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Rappel des faits

Après le deuxième guerre mondiale, la dictature d’extrême droite s’est maintenue au Portugal, écrasant la classe ouvrière et toute la population et imposant un régime arriéré et une grande misère à la population, contrainte à l’émigration. La perspective de s’inscrire dans une Europe bourgeoise en pleine expansion n’a pas suffi à la bourgeoisie pour franchir le cap. Il y avait un hic : qu’allait faire la classe ouvrière une fois que serait lancée la lutte pour renverser le régime ? Ce n’est pas la bourgeoisie ni même sa fraction de gauche, dont les représentants politiques étaient le parti socialiste et le parti communiste, qui a pris le risque de se lancer dans le changement. Le mouvement est venu des colonies d’Afrique où la lutte des peuples de Guinée Bissau, du Mozambique, d’Angola, Sao Tomé et Principe et du Cap Vert a déstabilisé l’armée, premier pilier du régime de dictature du Portugal. Les échecs militaires cuisants dans la guerre coloniale ont entraîné un climat de crise au Portugal, mettant en mouvement la jeunesse, la classe ouvrière et la base de l’armée. Au lieu de laisser ces mouvements prendre la tête d’un soulèvement révolutionnaire capable de renverser le régime de dictature, la hiérarchie de l’armée a préféré prendre la tête du mouvement. C’est l’origine du Mouvement des Forces Armées. Du coup, un climat d’unité nationale et d’unité de classe a prévalu au début de ma "révolution des œillets" puisque toutes les forces sociales semblaient considérer que le régime était mort. En fait, il n’en était rien. la classe ouvrière offrait bien d’autres perspectives que la hiérarchie militaire ou que la bourgeoisie soi-disant démocratique. C’est le parti socialiste, influent dans les couches petites bourgeoises des villes, et le parti communiste, influent dans la classe ouvrière et chez les paysans pauvres, qui ont joué le rôle de frein pour empêcher les prolétaires de prendre conscience de leur rôle indispensable dans le cours des événements.

CHRONOLOGIE

1926 : Régime autoritaire de l’ « Estado novo », dictature conservatrice et nationaliste qui s’appuie sur l’armée, sur l’Église catholique et sur la police secrète et militaire (la PIDE).

1930 : Mise en place de la dictature fasciste de Salazar au Portugal

1968 : Echec militaire du Portugal dans ses colonies d’Afrique, notamment d’Angola et du Mozambique

1970 : Remplacement à la tête du pouvoir de Salazar par Caetano et maintien du type de régime, avec un poids particulier de la police politique, la PIDE, qui torture et terrorise. Le pouvoir, même en changeant de mains, est incapable de faire rentrer le Portugal dans la modernité de l’Europe de l’ouest et incapable en particulier de sortir le pays de sa sale guerre coloniale qui n’est qu’un poids mort pour l’économie et pour le climat social et politique, ne pouvant mener qu’à des défaites.

1973 : Début de la révolte des soldats portugais de l’armée d’Afrique, en grande partie des conscrits.

Une opposition d’officiers, d’abord plus d’ordre corporatiste que politique, s’organise autour du rejet par des officiers de carrière de deux décrets-lois (nos 353/73 et 409/73) censés faciliter le recrutement d’officiers nécessaires sur le front africain en y incluant des civils ayant déjà fait leur service.

De novembre 1973 à avril 1974 : il y a au Portugal 54 grèves d’usines, dures, souvent avec occupations, toutes organisées en dehors des syndicats et du PCP stalinien.

1974 : Constitution d’une direction militaire du soulèvement : le Mouvement des Forces Armées ou MFA. Son programme : tout le pouvoir à une junte militaire qui impose la fin de la guerre coloniale et un développement moderne du Portugal.

25 avril 1974 : Le coup d’état militaire, dirigé par le général réactionnaire Spinola ex-gouverneur colonial de la Guinée, détourne à son profit le mécontentement explosif de l’armée portugaise, renverse la dictature fasciste de Marcelo Caetano, la remplaçant par la Junte militaire dite « de Salut national », en espérant ainsi préserver les fondements du fascisme déstabilisé par l’énorme défaite des guerres coloniales en Afrique (Angola, Mozambique, Guinée, Cap Vert).

Le Mouvement des Forces Armées annonce le renversement du régime et appelle la population à ne pas bouger et à garder son calme.

Malgré les appels réguliers des « capitaines d’avril » du MFA à la radio incitant la population à rester chez elle, des milliers de Portugais descendent dans la rue, se mêlant aux militaires insurgés.

Caetano accepte de remettre le pouvoir au général Spinola, pour éviter qu’il ne tombe aux mains des révoltés. Spinola constitue immédiatement un nouveau pouvoir avec à sa tête une junte militaire, dite "junte de salut national", pour éviter tout vide du pouvoir bourgeois. Loin d’accorder immédiatement l’indépendance aux colonies d’Afrique, le MFA et la junte négocient durement avec les nationalistes. Ces pouvoirs militaires essaient de mettre en place toutes les barrières aux revendications et aux débordements populaires et de trouver les relais civils de cette politique. PC et PS vont les y aider de toutes leurs forces.

Spinola, loin d’affirmer immédiatement qu’il ira jusqu’à l’indépendance des colonies d’Afrique, déclare qu’il est trop tôt « pour que les peuples puissent eux-mêmes se prononcer sur leur avenir ». Il n’envisage pas l’indépendance mais un cheminement progressif vers… « l’autodétermination ».

Spinola ne représente en rien les immenses aspirations du peuple portugais à la paix, à la terre, à la démocratie, au bien-être, à la fin de l’exploitation et de l’oppression, et même pas les aspirations des soldats portugais. Les chars sont dans les rues mais ils n’empêchent pas les masses d’attaquer les casernes de la PIDE, la police politique tortionnaire, mortellement haïe du peuple portugais. Dès le premier jour du coup d’état, les masses vont prendre l’iniative d’actions qui démontrent qu’elles vont largement déborder les espoirs de l’état-major militaire et de toutes les forces bourgeoise, celles qui croient encore à un replâtrage du fascisme et même celles qui se croient démocratiques. Les ouvriers de la Mague (Alverca) déclenchent la première grève ouvrière avec occupation qui lance tout un mouvement. Les soldats n’attendent pas les ordres et commencent à quitter les casernes, à fraterniser avec le peuple travailleur, descendent avec lui dans les rues. Les partis démocratiques et de gauche (notamment PCP et PS, et aussi SEDES et CDE) soutiennent Spinola.

Création du Mouvement des Forces Armées MFA qui prétend unifier les chefs militaires qui essaient de dortir le Portugal de la guerre coloniale sans issue. C’est une institution contradictoire, alliant des hauts cadres réactionnaires à des capitaines radicaux et aux aspirations petites bourgeoises démocratiques sans pouvoir réel, incapable de développer une réelle perspective mais seulement de semer des illusions, tromperie soutenue à fond par le parti stalinien et certains éléments de l’extrême gauche. Le MFA, en polarisant sur son nom les apsirations démocratiques, vise en fait à les encaserner, à les brider, à leur imposer sa domination militaire. Le « Pacte MFA-partis » donne la domination au MFA, autoproclamé « Guide la Révolution ». Le parti le plus attaché au MFA est le parti stalinien PCP.

1er mai 1974 : Grande manifestation de masse. C’est la fête C’est l’apparente unanimité pour la démocratie… Les affrontements viendront plus tard. Les partis de gauche (PCP, CDE, PS…) font de la manifestation populaire le drapeau de l’alliance de toutes les classes, de l’alliance peuple-armée et de l’unité nationale. Ils soutiennent à fond le MFA et même Spinola. Cependant, l’extrême gauche manifeste indépendamment des forces bourgeoises et petites bourgeoises « démocratiques ».

5 mai 1974 : Alvaro Cunhal, dirigeant du PC portugais, explique au journal "L’Humanité" que « L’alliance des forces populaires et du mouvement des militaires est la condition fondamentale de la victoire de la démocratie. » Le principal parti ouvrier du pays dresse donc une perspective parfaitement bourgeoise : sauvegarde de l’appareil d’Etat, de l’armée, du pouvoir de classe et, en récompense de cette sagesse, seulement "la démocratie".

6 mai 1974 : Revenant d’un voyage en Angola, tout ce que propose le général Gomes est un cessez-le-feu en Angola, au Mozambique et à la Guinée. M. Soares est choisi comme négociateur en chef de la bourgeoisie portugaise.

Mai à septembre 1974 : des mouvements de grève ouvrière parcourent tout le pays (aciéries de Barreiro, ouvriers du groupe CUF, ouvriers de la Lisnave, etc...), grèves qui se développent malgré la loi anti-grèves, malgré l’opposition aux grèves de la part du parti stalinien et des syndicats qui le suivent. Le PCP œuvre en briseur de grèves sous prétexte de « sauvegarde de l’économie nationale ». Des mouvements de soldats et des manifestations de masse ont lieu contre les tentatives de l’armée de continuer à embarquer les soldats portugais pour l’Angola.

20 juin 1974 : A la Mutualité, Georges Marchais et Vitoriano accusent les groupes gauchistes de menacer le retour à la démocratie par des actions irresponsables.

21 juin 1974 : Un décret-loi du gouvernement limite la liberté de la presse.

12 juillet 1974 : Création du COPCON dirigé par Otello de Carvalho. Créé en tant que « force militaire pour la défense du MFA », il sera présenté par nombre de gauchistes comme un instrument révolutionnaire aux côtés du prolétariat !

Juin-juillet 1974 : Deuxième vague de grèves (ouvriers boulangers, pêcheurs, Carris, etc...) Irruption du mouvement de révolte des paysans pauvres.

15 juillet 1974 : Vasco Gonçalves dirige le nouveau gouvernement.

Juillet-Août 1974 : des journaux sont suspendus pour avoir rapporté des manifestations d’extrême gauche de soutien aux indépendantistes africains. Aucun soutien du PCP ni de la gauche aux journaux attaqués ni aux manifestants d’extrême gauche menacés ou arrêtés.

12 août 1974 : L’armée réprime violemment une manifestation populaire contre la police politique, la PIDE et en soutien aux prisonniers mutinés de la prison de Caxias..

15 août 1974 : La police tire sur une manifestation pacifique de soutien au MPLA et à l’indépendance des colonies. Un mort.

28 août 1974 : Le gouvernement réquisitionne les salariés de la TAP pour casser leur grève. Les ouvriers passent outre et poursuivent la grève.

Septembre 1974 : Deux régiments manifestent, s’organisent et annulent leur embarquement pour les colonies. Dans la classe ouvrière, le mouvement de masse impose aux partis et syndicats réformistes des coordinations de Commissions de Travailleurs. C’est contraint et forcé que le Parti communiste portugais (stalinien) va s’y associer mais il ne va cesser, ainsi que l’Intersyndicale, de militer contre elles, de chercher à les isoler, à les discréditer. Cependant, jusqu’au 28 septembre 1975, ce sont les Commissions de Travailleurs qui vont diriger les batailles pour les augmentations de salaires, déjà un point fondamental qui les oppose à l’Intersyndicale et au PCP. Elles se mobilisent pour chasser les fascistes des usines, deuxième point de divergence avec eux. Elles vont se mobiliser contre les opérations du pouvoir militaire, notamment en se mobilisant le 28 septembre 1974 contre la prétendue « manifestation silencieuse » du général Spinola. Ou encore le 11 mars 1975 contre les paras émeutiers de Lisbonne. Mais les Commissions de Travailleurs pâtissent de l’absence d’une perspective politique de classe. La spontanéité ne fait pas tout… Il fallait que l’organisation de masse du prolétariat devienne une dualité de pouvoir, contestant le pouvoir d’Etat bourgeois et militaire. Aucun parti politique révolutionnaire, ni aucun groupe d’extrême gauche, n’a mené, au sein des Commissions de Travailleurs, une telle politique. La question du caractère du pouvoir d’Etat que veulent les travailleurs n’a pas été posée au sein des Commissions de Travailleurs.

10 septembre 1974 : Indépendance de la Guinée Bissau. Le général Spinola lance un appel à la contre-révolution.

12 septembre 1974 : Manifestation des ouvriers de la Lisnave.

28 septembre 1974 : Barricades révolutionnaires à Lisbonne.

C’est le commencement de la fin des illusions sur le nouveau pouvoir. Une nouvelle épreuve de force a lieu : des barricades sont dressées dans la nuit du 27 au 28 septembre aux abords de Lisbonne par le peuple travailleur soutenus par les révolutionnaires. L’armée n’interviendra qu’au matin du 28. Spinola est intervenu directement en prenant les pleins pouvoirs. Il a fallu aussi annuler une « manifestation de la minorité silencieuse » qui était programmée !

Le général Spinola démissionne et cède le pouvoir au général Costa Gomes.

6 octobre 1974 : Le dirigeant stalinien Alvaro Cunhal affirme que le rôle des militaires du MFA ne s’arrêtera pas aux élections. Le PCP se présente ainsi comme le principal défenseur du rôle politique des forces armées. Sur le rôle de l’action autonome des travailleurs, il ne dit bien sûr pas un mot ! Pour le PCP n’existent que les forces armées, les institutions d’Etat comme les élections bourgeoises et les appareils syndicaux ! Pas de trace de la conception soviétique des conseils de Lénine chez Cunhal !!!

29 octobre 1974 : Le MFA se dote d’une direction politique, le « Haut Conseil ».

Novembre 1974 : De nombreuses grèves ont lieu dans les entreprises pour en purger les fascistes. Le PCP et l’Intersyndicale (rappelons qu’elle regroupe des syndicats prostaliniens, des syndicats démocratiques et les anciens syndicats fascistes) tentent de s’y opposer.

14 janvier 1975 : PCP, MDP et MES manifestent en faveur du « syndicat unique » qui devient pour eux un objectif essentiel afin d’encadrer efficacement le prolétariat en mouvement. Ce drapeau de l’ « unité prolétarienne » permet au PCP de placer la division au sein des forces dites progressistes entre lui et le PS, revendiquant seul le contrôle des syndicats. Désormais, la lutte entre PCP et PS est présentée par eux deux comme le point central de la lutte !!!

19 janvier 1975 : Le MFA se prononce officiellement pour le syndicat unique exigé par le parti stalinien. La loi sera votée trois jours plus tard. Elle n’est pas seulement nécessaire à la mainmise des staliniens sur le mouvement ouvrier organisé mais au pouvoir pour éviter des mouvements radicaux dans la classe ouvrière et la paysannerie pauvre.

Janvier 1975 : Le gouvernement envoie des forces armées parachutistes défendre les partis de droite et d’extrême droite attaqués par l’extrême gauche. Le MFA interdit les manifestations et PCP ainsi que PS obtempèrent, pas l’extrême gauche qui manifeste le 25 janvier, le 31 janvier et le 7 février contre l’OTAN.

7 février 1975 : Vingt à trente mille manifestants défilent à Lisbonne à l’initiative des Commissions de Travailleurs de 38 usines de la région, à la fois contre le chômage et contre l’OTAN. La manifestation est dénoncée par le Parti communiste portugais (stalinien). L’extrême gauche dénonce « Le PCP qui envahit l’intersyndicale pour mettre sous contrôle la classe ouvrière ».

26 février 1975 : Une commission MFA-Partis politique étudie les modalités d’un processus d’institutionnalisation du MFA.

5 mars 1975 : Alavaro Cunhal s’en prend aux révolutionnaires traités de « gauchistes, qui se disent révolutionnaires, et ne peuvent que renforcer la position de la réaction aux élections. » Il dénonce les « actions réactionnaires, destinées à détériorer la situation économique » par… des grèves ouvrières !!!

7-8 mars 1975 : La police tire sur l’extrême gauche qui manifeste contre un meeting du PPD à Setubal. L’armée et des unités du COPCON appuient la police, faisant deux morts et vingt blessés.

11 mars 1975 : Tentative avortée de coup d’Etat de droite pro-Spinola. Mobilisation populaire contre une tentative de putsch. Création d’un organe militaire, le Conseil de la Révolution, qui prend la totalité du pouvoir. Le Mouvement des Forces Armées signe un accord avec les partis dits démocratiques. Il tente de tromper la classe ouvrière en lançant des nationalisations.

Alvaro Cunhal déclare : « Le secteur nationalisé est déjà libéré de l’exploitation capitaliste, et il a été mis au service d’une dynamique économique en faveur du peuple et du socialisme. » Le PCP infiltre aussitôt ses hommes dans les organismes de direction des entreprises nationalisées. La classe ouvrière, par contre, n’a aucun contrôle sur la direction de ces entreprises. En fait, PCP et MDP-CDE se partagent le pouvoir réel dans les localités et dans les entreprises.

12 mars 1975 : Le MFA se constitue en organe supérieur du pouvoir qu’il appelle bien sûr « organe de la révolution ». Il proclame : « Tout le pouvoir au MFA » ! Il faut "faire la révolution" pour éviter que le peuple travailleur la fasse et lui donne un tout autre sens. Spinola et 18 officiers supérieurs se réfugient en Espagne.

13 mars 1975 : Nationalisation des banques.

15 mars 1975 : Nationalisation des assurances. Des militants d’extrême gauche sont arrêtés pour « avoir distribué des tracts injurieux contre le MFA ».

18 mars 1975 : Le MRPP maoïste et l’AOC (extrême gauche) sont interdits d’activité politique durant toute la campagne électorale des élections du 25 avril.

26 mars 1975 : Le gouvernement décrète l’interdiction de toute activité politique publique contre le MRPP. Le PCP soutient cette mesure. Le lendemain, Cunhal (PCP) déclare que « Les partis qui conspirent contre la liberté doivent être interdits et leurs dirigeants sévèrement punis » !!!

27 mars 1975 : Généralisation des occupations de maisons vides.

2 avril 1975 : Une plateforme d’entente MFA-partis politiques est signée par PCP, PS, CDS, FSP, MDP et PPD.

22 avril 1975 : Le PCP annonce que le PS est le centre caché de Spinola ! Bousculé par l’extrême gauche, se mettant entièrement ssous la dépendance du MFA, il cherche, pour faire croire qu’il serait l’aile radicale du mouvement populaire, à présenter l’opposition PCP-PS comme le point central de la lutte politique…

25 avril 1975 : Campagne électorale organisée par les militaires, pour canaliser l’éruption dans un cadre institutionnel bourgeois. Les élections ne favorisent pas le PCP (PS 38%, PPD 26%, PCP 13%).

29 avril 1975 : Costa Martins, ministre du travail proche du Parti communiste portugais, déclare : « Dans les moments difficiles que connaît le Portugal, on peut considérer, en général, la grève comme contre-révolutionnaire. » Et il rajoute que, tant que les syndicats ne seront pas bien implantés il sera « difficile de s’opposer à un certain courant politique qui pousse à l’occupation des usines. »

Fin avril 1975 : Menaces de Vasco Gonçalves contre la classe ouvrière, si elle ne se lance pas dans la « bataille de la production » pour la reconstruction de l’économie nationale. Le PCP continue cependant à affirmer que « Le MFA est une avant-garde, aux côtés des autres forces démocratiques ».

1er mai 1975 : PCP et Intersyndicale organisent un premier mai progouvernemental dans lequel Mario Soares se voit interdire d’intervenir à la tribune. Le seul « radicalisme » du PCP se fait contre le PS !

15 mai 1975 : Le MRPP met en évidence l’existence de putschistes d’extrême droite au sein du MFA.

19 mai 1975 : Le PCP accuse le PS de « polariser les forces réactionnaires et conservatrices, à commencer par les groupes gauchistes pseudo-révolutionnaires ».

25 mai 1975 : La Pravda russe dénonce l’extrême gauche portugaise et appuie le MFA avec lequel l’Etat russe a entrepris des accords militaires et commerciaux.

3 juin 1975 : Le COPCON ouvre le feu sur des manifestants d’extrême gauche devant la prison de Caxias contre la détention de militants d’extrême gauche et antifascistes.

5 juin 1975 : Cunhal déclare : « Un gouvernement militaire ne signifie pas nécessairement la dictature. Ce peut être un gouvernement protégeant les libertés menacées. »

Le MFA nomme un responsable militaire, chargé de s’interdire les « purges sauvages » contre les fascistes, putschistes, CIA et autres extrêmes droites mis en cause par l’extrême gauche.

6 juin 1975 : Nationalisation des transports de Lisbonne.

8 juin 1975 : Mutinerie d’une soixantaine de soldats refusant d’embarquer pour l’Angola.

17 juin 1975 : Manifestation ouvrière de l’extrême-gauche pour des Conseils révolutionnaires des travailleurs, soldats et marins, avec 2000 travailleurs de la Lisnave.

Radio-Renaissance est occupée par les travailleurs.

28 juin 1975 : Le MFA accentue le contrôle militaire sur le pouvoir d’Etat.

29 juin 1975 : 89 tortionnaires de l’ex-PIDE s’enfuient de leur prison…

3 juillet 1975 : Le « Conseil de la Révolution » décide de mettre sous sa coupe le contrôle des centraux téléphoniques et des stations de radio. L’armée est prête à occuper les centres de tri postal.

5 juillet 1975 : L’armée place Radio-Renaissance sous son contrôle.

11 juillet 1975 : Les ministres socialistes se retirent du gouvernement. Six jours plus tard, les ministres du PPD s’en retirent également. La coalition MFA-Partis bourgeois est rompue.

Juillet 1975 : 200 000 manifestants derrière le PS puis… plus rien ! Le PS a des scores électoraux et sème des illusions passives mais ce n’est pas une force active et militante. Et sa conception de la démocratie bourgeoise lui interdit tout dépassement de l’ordre bourgeois. Le PS ne vise qu’à évincer le PCP du gouvernement et à se charger, lui, des relations avec les forces armées.

18 juillet 1975 : Face au meeting du PS à Porto, le PCP organise des barrages pour l’interdire !

19 juillet 1975 : Face à un rassemblement du PS, le PCP et l’Intersyndicale organisent des barrages pour l’interdire !

26 juillet 1975 : Un triumvirat militaire prend le pouvoir (Costa Gomes, Vasco Gonçalves et Otello de Carvalho).

Juillet-août 1975 : irruption massive des paysans dans le mouvement du peuple travailleur. C’est un mouvement prolétarien qui va pourtant être exploité par les fascistes et tous les anticommunistes, en particulier dans le nord du pays. Les paysans les plus mobilisés sont ceux des régions de Famalicao, Povoa de Lanhoso, Braga, Santo Tirso et d’Aveiro et Bombarral. Les militants du PCP et du MDP-CDE sont violemment pris à parti. En cause, la politique menée par le gouvernement soutenu par ces partis qui ne s’est nullement attaqué à la misère paysanne. Les paysans n’ayant plus d’argent pour acheter de quoi nourrir les bêtes sont contraints de les abattre et de les vendre. Au lieu de dissoudre les anciennes organisations des exploiteurs fascistes, ces partis y ont positionné leurs militants. Le communisme, aux yeux des paysans du Nord du Portugal, est apparu comme une force armée dictatoriale qui s’impose par la force et accroit la misère du peuple.

1er août 1975 : Grande manifestation de Commissions de Travailleurs, de quartiers, d’étudiants mettant en avant l’alliance ouvriers-paysans.

Le 4 août, le siège du PCP de Povoa de Lanhoso est pris d’assaut et saccagé par 300 paysans. Le 6 août, les sièges du PCP, du MDP et du CDE sont dévastés à Santo Tirso. Le caractère de cette révolte n’est pas foncièrement anticommuniste. Les paysans et les autres manifestants font la différence entre le PCP et les révolutionnaires, n’attaquant généralement pas ces derniers. Les paysans révoltés ne se reconnaissent dans aucun parti politique et ne mettent en avant aucun programme social et politique clair. Ils ne sont manipulés réellement par l’extrême droite fasciste qu’à la marge et non durablement. Les grands bénéficiaires sont quelques grands propriétaires latifundiaires qui ont réussi à profiter du refus du MFA de réaliser une réforme agraire radicale profitant aux paysans pauvres. PCP et une partie de l’extrême gauche diffusent la thèse d’une région nord livrée aux paysans fascistes ! La politique du gouvernement à l’égard des paysans pauvres, en particulier ceux du nord, ne change absolument pas ! Jamais le PCP ne défendra une politique du type « la terre à celui qui la travaille » ! Cela aurait signifié l’expropriation des grands propriétaires latifundiaires, augmentation massive des salaires agricoles, suppression des formes féodales à la campagne, restitution aux paysans des communaux occupés depuis le fascisme par les grands propriétaires, aides d’état aux travaux d’irrigation, aux engrais, aux machines agricoles, suppressions des dettes des petits paysans, suppressions d’impôts, etc.

Le programme du MFA, soutenu par le PCP, ne prévoit que la « dynamisation de l’agriculture » et une réforme graduelle de la structure agricole qui n’est encore même pas appliquée…

La réforme radicale et rapide aura lieu… dans le sud où elle est mise en place par la force par les paysans qui, sans attendre le gouvernement, le MFA ou le PCP, occupent la totalité des terres des grands domaines. Le PCP va se contenter, dans des régions qui, elles contrairement au nord, lui sont favorables, de revendiquer la légalisation par le MFA des occupations de terres. Il s’est surtout mobilisé pour éviter que le mouvement spontané d’occupation ne mène à l’organisation autonome des paysans, en les faisant encadrer par les syndicats IRA et CRRA et que ces derniers se contentent de demander des aides d’Etat. Et surtout, la politique du PCP isole les paysans pauvres du nord, où ils sont proportionnellement beaucoup plus nombreux.

10-11 août 1975 : Nationalisation des brasseries et des chantiers navals.

19 août 1975 : La grève anti-paysanne de l’Intersyndicale, soi-disant contre la réaction, et du PCP est boycottée par les ouvriers et combattue par une manifestation des Commissions de Travailleurs à Lisbonne.

En août 1975, dans de nombreuses entreprises, des listes syndicales révolutionnaires battent les listes du PCP et de l’Intersyndicale.

24 août 1975 : Constitution d’un « Front Unitaire Révolutionnaire » (FUR) entre le PCP et certains groupes trotskystes (PRP, BR, LCI, LUAR) en soutien à Gonçalves, combattu au sein du pouvoir militaire par Melo Antunes et Carvalho. Cinq jours plus tard, Gonçalves sera nommé chef du Conseil de la Révolution. Un grand merci aux staliniens et aux pseudo-révolutionnaires et pseudo-trotskystes !

6 septembre 1975 : Gonçalves est évincé du nouveau Conseil de la Révolution.

9 septembre 1975 : Une opposition militaire nommée « Soldats Unis vaincront » ou SUV, organisé parmi les officiers pro-COPCON, forme un front de tendance soutenu par des prétendus « trotskystes » pour défendre Corvacho (PCP).

De septembre à novembre 1975, le PCP instrumentalise les FUR et les SUV pour encadrer les mouvements de masse et les soumettre à sa propre dépendance du pouvoir militaire et bourgeois. L’extrême gauche qui a semé des illusions sur ces organisations a été entièrement manipulée par le PCP.

17 septembre 1975 : Trois cent entreprises sont occupées par les travailleurs.

19 septembre 1975 : Sixième gouvernement provisoire dirigé par le PS et le PPD.

30 septembre 1975 : Les forces armées occupent les stations de radio et de télé de Lisbonne.

1er octobre 1975 : Soares soutient l’occupation militaire des radios et de la télé « qui a pour but de libérer les organes d’information » !

3 octobre 1975 : Le PS appelle à manifester « contre le complot d’extrême gauche » et pour défendre le gouvernement.

Les SUV occupent les casernes de Porto contre la dissolution d’un régiment.

16 octobre 1975 : Le Conseil de la Révolution prend des mesures pour « rétablir la discipline » dans l’armée.

22 octobre 1975 : La Commission des Travailleurs reprend le contrôle de Radio-Renaissance qui était occupé par l’armée. Manifestation des SUV à Lisbonne.

29 octobre 1975 : Carvalho déclare que « Ce qui serait dangereux, c’est qu’une extrême-gauche se livre à un coup de type aventuriste, qui serait immédiatement utilisé par les forces de droite ».

13 novembre 1975 : Manifestation des ouvriers du Bâtiment qui sonne la réapparition du mouvement ouvrier révolutionnaire sur le devant de la scène politique. Le PCP va tenter de profiter des craintes que cette montée ouvrière va susciter pour valoriser sont propre rôle d’encadrement des masses ouvrières et pour renforcer son alliance avec une partie de l’armée… mais, même s’il met en avant la crainte des militaires putschistes et fascistes et pro-capitalistes, cela se fait fondamentalement contre le prolétariat.

PCP et MDP défendent, comme perspective contre le PS, contre la droite, contre l’extrême droite, contre les militaires putschistes de maintenir les forces armées au pouvoir ! Ils continuent à affirmer que l’armée est la principale force démocratique et progressiste du pays !!! Bien entendu, jamais, au grand jamais, même au plus fort des menaces putschistes de l’armée, ces partis dits démocratiques ne revendiqueront que la base des soldats s’organise indépendamment de la hiérarchie et cesse d’obéir à l’encadrement en cas de putsch…

16 novembre 1975 : Manifestation de 100 000 personnes organisée par le secrétariat des Commissions de travailleurs de la ceinture ouvrière de Lisbonne et soutenue par PCP, SUV et FUR.

23 novembre 1975 : Manifestations du PS contre le PCP.

24-25 novembre 1975 : Les grands propriétaires terriens barrent les routes à Rio Major pour protester contre des « occupations illégales » des paysans pauvres.

25 novembre 1975 : Échec d’une tentative de coup d’État des militaires se présentant comme d’extrême gauche. Nombreux mouvements en tous sens dans les forces armées. Notamment, les parachutistes de Tancos occupent des bases militaires. Costa Gomes décrète l’état d’urgence. La RTV est occupée par l’armée. Le syndicat des métallurgistes appelle à une paralysie de l’économie et à se rassembler devant les casernes. L’état de siège est proclamé.

26 novembre 1975 : Appel des syndicats à la grève générale. Le PS appelle au clame et au soutien à Costa Gomes.

27 novembre 1975 : Loi martiale. Perquisitions. Censure. Arrestations. Couvre-feu. Arrestation des officiers liés au coup de Tancos. Le PCP déclare : « Il faut chercher une solution politique et négociée à la crise »….

2 avril 1976 : Promulgation d’une nouvelle constitution prévoyant un président de la République élu au suffrage universel mais ne disposant que de pouvoirs limités.

25 avril 1976 : Élections législatives : 35 % des voix aux socialistes, 24 % au PPD, 16 % au CDS de centre-droit, 14,4 % au PC. Mario Soares devient chef du gouvernement.

Le point de vue de Charles Reeve :

L’expérience oubliée, la "révolution des œillets" (1974 - 1975) au Portugal

par Charles Reeve

Au petit matin du 25 avril 1974, un pan de l’armée portugaise, sous le commandement des officiers du Mouvement des Forces Armées (MFA) (1), lance une opération destinée à renverser le gouvernement post-salazariste de Caetano.

Depuis treize ans, le régime fasciste portugais était empêtré dans une guerre dans les colonies africaines (Guinée-Bissau, Angola et Mozambique). Il paraissait incapable de se réformer (2).

Les dépenses militaires représentaient une charge écrasante pour l’économie, et pénalisaient la nécessaire modernisation de l’État. Menacés par quatre longues années de service militaire, beaucoup de jeunes prolétaires préféraient émigrer et fuir la pauvreté et l’uniforme. Pourtant, et en dépit de la forte répression policière, les luttes ouvrières n’avaient pas connu d’accalmie depuis le milieu des années soixante et les secteurs capitalistes modernes aspiraient ouvertement à une transition vers un régime démocratique parlementaire. La guerre coloniale ne pouvait plus être gagnée et elle apparaissait aux yeux de la population comme un facteur d’immobilisme. Il fallait absolument tourner la page.

Une fois le putsch déclenché, le peuple de Lisbonne et de Porto descend en masse dans les rues, défiant les consignes militaires qui demandent à la population de rester chez elle à écouter la radio et à regarder les événements sur le petit écran. Partout, des petites villes jusqu’aux bourgades oubliées du pays profond, le rejet du régime honni s’accompagne d’une vague de contestation sociale qui n’avait pas été prévue par les comploteurs galonnés. C’est ainsi que deux ans d’intense agitation sociale et politique transformeront un coup d’État militaire dans la " révolution des œillets " (3).

Dès les premiers jours, les militaires sont pris de court par la suite des événements.

En particulier, l’exigence populaire de l’arrêt de l’envoi de nouvelles troupes en Afrique et le retour immédiat du contingent précipitent la recherche d’une solution politique à la question coloniale.

Les manifestations pour la fin de la guerre se succèdent, des mutineries empêchent l’embarquement de troupes, alors qu’en Afrique les soldats se révoltent, déposent les armes et demandent à rentrer. Deux mois plus tard, en juillet 74, les chefs militaires parlent de la nécessité de transférer le pouvoir aux organisations nationalistes africaines qui mènent la lutte armée dans les colonies. Ce qui sera fait un an plus tard. La mobilisation populaire contre la guerre, impose de fait la fin du colonialisme ; fait historique marquant et irréversible de la " révolution des œillets ". Les concessions faites en toute hâte aux organisations nationalistes - expertes dans la guerre de guérilla mais pas préparées à assumer le nouveau pouvoir d’État post colonial - ne furent que la réponse bourgeoise à cette accélération de l’histoire. La gauche patriote contre les grèves.

Passés les premiers jours de fête de rue, l’agitation se déplace vers les lieux de travail.

La fin de l’ancien régime signifie, avant tout, la possibilité de se réunir et de discuter librement, en un mot, la fin de la peur. Pour les exploités, l’arrogance patronale, la dureté des rapports de travail et les brimades du salariat étaient assimilés au fascisme. Des assemblées s’organisent et on tente les premières occupations. Inquiète, la Junte militaire condamne les grèves et les réunions, les attaques contre la hiérarchie dans les entreprises.

Une fois de plus, les consignes sont ignorées et le mouvement fait tâche d’huile.

On réclame des augmentations de salaires, les congés payés, la réduction des horaires de travail et la fin du travail aux pièces. On chasse les mouchards, les petits chefs, les chefs du personnel, très souvent liés à l’ancienne police politique.

Le Parti communiste se positionne lui, contre ces actions : "Nous vivons en régime capitaliste et non en régime socialiste. Les entreprises ont des propriétaires. Ce n’est pas aux travailleurs de décider qui doit ou non y travailler." (4)

Parfois, les revendications sont peu précises et non-négociables, signe que quelque chose de profond est en train de naître : un désir de changer la vie. L’agitation gagne la rue et les quartiers où l’occupation des logements vides se généralise, sous les regards des militaires complices de l’enthousiasme populaire.

Il n’en fallait pas tant pour que la bourgeoisie s’affole. Dans un premier temps, elle colle au pouvoir militaire et au premier gouvernement provisoire -à participation communiste et socialiste- qui fait des concessions, institue le salaire minimum afin de calmer la situation. Mais des patrons commencent à licencier et à fermer les entreprises ; d’autres, liés à l’ancien régime, prennent la fuite.

La peur avait changé de camp.

Aussitôt, une nouvelle vague de grèves contre les licenciements gagne tous les secteurs, des services publiques à la métallurgie. Lors des premières grèves, les militaires étaient intervenus comme médiateurs, s’étaient présentés comme alliés des travailleurs face aux patrons, tentant de désamorcer les conflits.

La grève des postes, en juillet 74, et surtout la grève de la compagnie aérienne TAP, en septembre 74, marquent un tournant dans les rapports entre les travailleurs, les militaires et la gauche.

Pour la première fois après le 25 avril, les grévistes découvrent qu’il y a des limites à ne pas dépasser, ceux de l’intérêt général du système. En juin, l’armée démocratique tire sur les détenus des prisons de Lisbonne qui se sont mutinés pour demander une amnistie élargie et, quelques jours plus tard, les travailleurs au sol de la TAP sont soumis au règlement de discipline militaire. Les "meneurs" sont arrêtés et interrogés, les photos des manifestations sont saisies à fins d’identification et le quadrillage policier des bidonvilles remise au goût du jour.

Des soldats qui refusent les ordres sont arrêtés.

Sans hésitation, le Parti communiste se place du côté du manche : "En aucun pays, même ceux de vieille démocratie, on peut permettre des appels ouverts à la désertion et à l’agitation au sein de l’armée (5)". En Août 1974, la loi élaborée par la gauche rétabli le droit de grève, tout en interdisant les grèves politiques. C’est le moment choisi par le Parti communiste pour lancer une féroce campagne antigrève : "Non à l’anarchie économique", "Non à la grève pour la grève", "Non aux grèves irresponsables".

Et le chef communiste Cunhal de répéter : "La grève générale mène au chaos" (6).

Conscient du vide laissé par l’effondrement des anciens syndicats fascistes, le Parti saisit l’occasion pour créer un nouveau syndicat unique (7), la Confédération générale des travailleurs portugais (CGTP).

Les coordinations

L’affrontement avec les nouvelles forces de l’État, l’armée et les partis de gauche radicalise les luttes ouvrières. Les revendications deviennent politiques, critiquent explicitement l’idée de l’"intérêt général", que la gauche impose comme limite des luttes. L’ampleur de la contestation à l’ordre capitaliste déborde les murs des entreprises, casse les séparations entre les divers champs d’agitation. À ce moment précis, les staliniens portugais se montrent incapables d’enfermer la contestation dans les entreprises et la séparation entre lieux de travail et la société civile tend à disparaître.

Aux manipulations politiques, les travailleurs répondent avec l’auto-organisation et la démocratie de base. Le recours aux assemblées se généralise, on forme des commissions de travailleurs, dépassant les divisions corporatistes des nouveaux syndicats, composés de délégués élus et révocables.

Le grand problème concret, immédiat, est celui de la coordination des divers organismes de lutte.

Le pas fut franchi : deux coordinations sont créées. Celle de Lisbonne, la commission Interentreprises, regroupe la gauche syndicale. Mais la volonté de quelques militants ne pouvait pas combler la passivité de la majorité des exploités. Ainsi, en avance sur les conditions du moment, ces formes d’organisation vont fonctionner contre le but d’autonomie recherché. Fortement influencées par les courants maoïstes et autres formations avant-gardistes, elles deviennes des arènes d’affrontements bureaucratiques, se vidant progressivement de la participation de la base ouvrière. Malgré le caractère arriéré du Portugal et son isolement, qui empêchèrent qu’un processus révolutionnaire puisse s’y développer jusqu’au bout, ces organisations autonomes restent l’expression de la radicalité du mouvement. Sa courte vie empêcha qu’elles puissent avoir une résonance internationale. Mais leur activité marqua définitivement les mois les plus chauds de la " révolution des œillets ".

Début 1975, la situation économique continue de se dégrader : les petites entreprises ferment, le grand capital privé national s’exile et les multinationales sont en attente. Le pays vit dans une atmosphère de contestation générale, alors que l’État est affaibli par l’existence de plusieurs centres de pouvoir.

Les travailleurs militants sont divisés. Les "réalistes", qui suivent les consignes des syndicats contrôlés par le Parti communiste, font face à ceux tentés par le radicalisme révolutionnaire, organisés dans quelques commissions de travailleurs. Le succès de la grande manifestation du 7 février 1975, à Lisbonne, organisée par la commission Interentreprises, contre les licenciements et la répression capitaliste, la solidarité manifestée à son encontre par les soldats censés protéger le ministère du travail communiste (contrôlé par les communistes) et l’ambassade américaine, montrent que ce courant accroît son influence. Plus que la présence des communistes dans l’appareil d’État, c’est désormais la radicalisation de l’agitation sociale qui inquiète la bourgeoisie ainsi que les politiques et militaires, garants des intérêts capitalistes du bloc occidental.

Le Parti communiste, de par sa capacité de contrôle et de répression du mouvement gréviste, s’était imposé dans les institutions. De son côté, le Parti socialiste n’a pas les moyens de peser sur l’affrontement social et se place sous la protection de la hiérarchie militaire. Avec la tentative de putsch de mars 75, les courants conservateurs essayent de renverser la tendance du moment. Mais l’engagement populaire, la haine du fascisme, sont tels que les droitiers sont balayés. Cet échec -et le conséquent renforcement des courants à gauche du Parti communiste- ouvre la deuxième phase de "la révolution des œillets ; avec la constitution d’un gouvernement proche des positions du Parti communiste.

Lisbonne 1975

La réforme agraire contre les collectivisations

Jusqu’au début de 1975, le prolétariat agricole des latifundia de l’Alentejo -dans la moitié sud du pays- était resté dans l’attente, tout en manifestant son soutien politique au Parti communiste (8). Le premier gouvernement provisoire s’était d’ailleurs empressé de légaliser les premiers syndicats d’ouvriers agricoles.

Pendant des siècles, ces ouvriers avaient survécu par un système de travail saisonnier, qui symbolisait pour eux l’exploitation et la misère capitaliste.

Malgré les intentions affichées par les nouveaux dirigeants sur la nécessité d’une Réforme agraire, les grands propriétaires ne montrent aucun changement d’attitude. Comme d’habitude, dans l’hiver de 74-75, les ouvriers agricoles se trouvent privés de travail. Dans un premier temps, le mécontentement s’exprime par des actions directes : incendies de récoltes et de biens appartenant aux latifundistes, des grands propriétaires sont la cible d’attentats.

Début de 1975, les premières occupations de propriétés se font spontanément, en dehors de toute initiative du Parti communiste et des ses cadres syndicaux. Mais les ouvriers agricoles ne manquent pas de faire appel à l’armée pour cautionner leurs actions.

Deux événements politiques -traduisant un changement dans les rapports de force sociaux- vont accélérer le mouvement d’occupation des propriétés.

Le succès, en février 1975, de la manifestation d’extrême gauche ouvrière à Lisbonne, et, le mois suivant, l’échec du putsch conservateur. Pendant les premiers six mois de 1975, le mouvement d’occupations s’étend à toute la moitié sud du pays, à l’exception de l’Algarve, région de petite propriété. Si la lutte du prolétariat rural ne prenait pas une forme explicitement politique, de contestation anticapitaliste, son but était clairement de renverser les conditions de propriété existantes. Pour se donner les moyens de vivre, ils exproprient les latifundia. Les occupants ne partagent pas les terres en lopins privés, ils organisent collectivement le travail et la production. Ici et là, des coopératives se créent mais, en général la nouvelle forme de propriété qui se met en place reste floue.

Ce n’est qu’au cours de l’été de 1975, que les syndicats agricoles et le Parti communiste vont réellement reprendre le contrôle du mouvement. En juillet, le pouvoir politique intervient pour lui donner un cadre légal. La "Loi de l’expropriation des terres" transforme le mouvement d’occupation et de gestion collective des terres en réforme agraire. L’esprit collectiviste des ouvriers agricoles, lesquels n’avaient pas partagé les latifundia, facilite la tâche de l’État. Mais, à partir de ce moment, le Parti communiste et les militaires répriment les "occupations sauvages, opportunistes et même anti-révolutionnaires". Car, sur l’ensemble des propriétés déjà occupées, un bon quart se trouve en dehors du champ de d’application de la nouvelle loi... Pour le Parti communiste la Réforme agraire avait toujours été conçue comme une action de l’État. Dans ce cas, la nationalisation des latifundia est la réponse de l’État à la collectivisation spontanée de la propriété privée par les ouvriers agricoles.

Qui plus est, pour le Parti la Réforme agraire est un point essentiel du projet de socialisme d’État, dont le but était la réorganisation de la production agricole et l’augmentation de la productivité. Les propriétés occupées, coopératives ou collectifs de production, deviennent des Unités collectives de production (UCP), gérées par des cadres communistes selon des critères de rentabilité économique, liées financièrement à l’État.

Le Parti communiste prend ainsi le contrôle économique et politique de cette région, correspondant à la moitié sud du pays. Mais, du fait même que le prolétariat agricole continue à voir la Réforme agraire comme une réappropriation des moyens de vie, l’augmentation de la productivité et des rendements agricoles programmés par les communistes, rencontrent une forte résistance. Les ouvriers agricoles avaient accepté sans heurts la nationalisation des terres collectivisées, ils ne sont pas pour autant décidés à se soumettre à des critères de rentabilité capitalistes, à se plier à l’augmentation de la productivité du travail par la réduction de la force de travail (2).

L’État contre le " pouvoir populaire "

L’institutionnalisation de la réforme agraire ne fut pas un cas isolé. De mars à août 1975, le gouvernement Gonçalves - qui menait une politique dirigiste d’intervention dans l’économie conforme à son orientation communiste - tente de normaliser la situation sociale. Pour répondre aux inquiétudes populaires face au chômage, et sous la pression du Parti communiste qui trouve là un moyen de renforcer son implantation dans l’État, le gouvernement accélère le processus de nationalisation des entreprises. Il réglemente à tout va, réprime mouvements, actions ou initiatives indépendantes, tout en cherchant un accord avec les forces politiques de la droite, l’église catholique en particulier. Par le biais des financements, et comme il l’avait fait avec la réforme agraire, l’État étouffe les expériences d’autogestion dans l’industrie. En effet, depuis l’été 1974, et suite à l’occupation de nombreuses usines abandonnées par les patrons, un réseau d’entreprises en "autogestion" s’était mis sur pied, surtout dans le textile. Ces entreprises continuèrent à fonctionner selon les lois du marché, même s’il y eut des tentatives pour instaurer une plus grande égalité de salaires et la rotation des tâches, mettre en question la hiérarchie. Finalement, les travailleuses et travailleurs se limitaient à vendre directement au public les marchandises produites et ne trouvaient salut que grâce au surtravail et à l’endettement auprès de l’État. Au-delà d’une expérience limitée d’autogouvernement d’entreprise, et en absence d’une rupture avec la logique capitaliste, l’autogestion s’était transformée en auto-exploitation. En un an, le Parti communiste est passé du stade d’un groupe clandestin à celui d’une force politique dominante dans l’État, force sans commune mesure avec son implantation sociale. Dans les administrations publiques et grandes entreprises, dans les ministères, ses militants, ou compagnons de route sont aux postes de responsabilité.

Ils ont le contrôle des médias.

Cette ascension rapide, cet appétit de pouvoir, cristallisent des peurs anciennes, font naître une nouvelle hostilité. Naturellement, le Parti est rejeté par les secteurs conservateurs de la population, soumis à l’emprise des notables, caciques locaux et l’Église qui conspirent ouvertement. Mais son attitude arrogante dans l’appareil d’État et dans les syndicats ; ses campagnes productivistes de pur style stalinien (10) et son opposition aux mouvements de grève, braquent contre lui les travailleurs les plus combatifs. Un nouveau courant s’organise, dit de "pouvoir populaire". Revendiquant une alternative au pouvoir grandissant du Parti communiste, il est implanté dans les zones urbaines de Lisbonne, Sétubal et Porto, autour de quelques commissions de travailleurs, des commissions d’habitants des quartiers pauvres et des comités de soldats, apparus en l’été de 1975. Si les conceptions avant-gardistes du maoïsme dominent, les idées d’un socialisme non-autoritaire, commence également à s’exprimer. En avril 1975, a lieu à Lisbonne le Congrès des Conseils révolutionnaires, à l’initiative d’un petit parti qui prône le renforcement des liens horizontaux entre les organisations unitaires de base. Cible des forces réactionnaires qui l’attaquent, le Parti cherche momentanément une alliance avec l’extrême gauche et les organisations du "pouvoir populaire". Pour se raviser ensuite et se ranger du côté des militaires conservateurs qui préparaient le putsch du 25 novembre 1975 (11). La position de la direction du Parti se veut responsable. En réalité l’écrasement des courants gauchistes par l’armée ne peut que combler les desseins tactiques des communistes. "L’attitude ferme du Parti vis-à-vis d’une solution politique et contre des actions aventurières a beaucoup contribué à ce que le soulèvement militaire du 25 novembre 1975 n’ait pas débouché sur les soulèvements de masse que quelques aventuriers pseudo-révolutionnaires voulaient provoquer et qui auraient eu de tragiques conséquences pour le mouvement ouvrier et populaire." (12)

Avec ce recentrage de dernière minute, le Parti négocie sa survie politique dans le nouvelle situation. Dans la langue de bois marxiste-léniniste, " sauver le mouvement ouvrier et populaire ", signifie sauver le Parti.

L’absence de " double pouvoir "

Les limites de l’expérience portugaise étaient surtout données par l’isolement de cette agitation sociale et politique dans une Europe capitaliste qui suivait avec appréhension les événements, craignant une possible contagion à l’Espagne voisine. Or la transition du régime franquiste vers une démocratie parlementaire se poursuit sans danger pour les forces du capitalisme privé. Et le projet d’un socialisme d’État "lusitanien" ne pouvait trouver le moindre appui dans un bloc soviétique, à l’époque déjà bien enfoncé dans sa crise mortelle crise. Lorsque une agitation sociale généralisée s’accompagne de la naissance d’organisations indépendantes, le tout dans un cadre d’affaiblissement du pouvoir d’État, la question du double pouvoir peut se poser. Au Portugal, après la chute de l’ancien régime, quelques corps de l’État, les administrations locales, les organes répressifs, semblent frappés de paralysie. Mais ces institutions ne furent pas démantelées, à l’exception de quelques services trop connotés avec l’ancien régime et finalement superflus à la démocratie parlementaire. Le pouvoir politique était éclaté, fractionné en plusieurs centres parfois en conflit les uns avec les autres. Mais, jamais, le pouvoir ne fut vacant (13). Et jamais il n’y eut de double pouvoir.

La structure putschiste de l’armée -le Mouvement des forces armées- a, tout au long de cette période confuse, assuré la continuité de l’État. Le Parti communiste et le Parti socialiste, furent cooptées dans l’appareil d’État afin de mieux faire appliquer la loi et l’ordre. Pour bien assumer ce rôle, la gauche a sans cesse joué avec la peur, invoquant les dangers d’" extrémisme ", d’" aventurisme ", enfin, la menace d’un retour du fascisme.

De leur côté, les travailleurs qui avaient découvert leur force collective, ne voyaient pas moins dans l’armée et dans la gauche, les garants de leurs intérêts. Et les organisations du " pouvoir populaire ", lorsqu’elles se sont affrontées au Parti communiste et à l’État, ont toujours cherché un soutien dans une des fractions de l’armée. Comme si chacun attendait des luttes à l’intérieur de l’armée l’issue du combat décisif. Soit on respectait les institutions légitimées par les partis de gauche, soit on respectait la fraction de gauche de l’armée (14).

Les derniers feux de l’agitation sociale

Le 25 novembre 1975, un deuxième coup militaire, restaure l’autorité centrale de l’État, neutralise les centres du pouvoir de la gauche militaire. La facilité de l’opération prouve que ces forces militaires qu’on disait aux mains de comités de soldats ainsi que les groupes d’extrême gauche formés à l’activisme et possédant des armes, n’étaient que bluff.

Les organisations du " pouvoir populaire " se révèlent impuissantes. Les luttes politiques incessantes, les divisions, avaient fini par user les militants, vidant ces organisations de toute initiative et l’imagination. Dans un mouvement social essoufflé, les auto-proclamées structures de pouvoir militaire révolutionnaire n’étaient plus que des coquilles vides. Il importe de démêler, ce qui, au cours de ces deux années, fut le produit des pratiques rigides d’avant-gardisme et ce qui fut le fruit de l’action autonome des luttes, les expériences d’auto-gouvernement. Les actions directes, les occupations d’usines, la coordination des organisations autonomes, les expropriations de terres et de logements, les tentatives de gestion collective de la production et d’échange de biens, la libération de la parole et de la pensée critique, tout cela rattache la " révolution des œillets " aux courants modernes de l’émancipation sociale. Cherchant des réponses aux problèmes du moment, les travailleurs les plus combatifs se sont affrontés au Parti communiste et comprirent la nécessité de construire un contenu nouveau à l’idée de socialisme. Le concept nouveau née au cours de ce mouvement : Apartidaire , symbolise bien cette démarche subversive. L’échec de la "révolution des œillets" signifie la victoire de la transition démocratique.

La classe dirigeante portugaise va pouvoir liquider les archaïsmes du salazarisme et jeter les bases d’un nouveau cycle d’exploitation du travail.

Le Portugal est mur pour apporter sa pierre a l’édifice européen. Finis sont les jours où "la poésie est dans la rue" pour reprendre l’expression du peintre Vieira da Silva. Désormais ce sera le quotidien de la grisaille et la nausée de la politique insignifiante, avec son cortège de médiocrités, corruptions, lâchetés et opportunismes et la violence ordinaire des conditions de vie, de travail et de non-travail.

Charles Reeve

1 Le MFA fut clandestinement créé en mars 1974, par des officiers de métier, opposés à la politique coloniale du régime. Il y avait dans le MFA diverses tendances, allant des officiers proches du Parti communiste et de l’extrême-gauche aux officiers démocrates conservateurs.

2 De 1926 à 1974, le Portugal a subit la plus longue dictature de l’époque moderne en Europe occidentale

3 Dès les premiers jours, le peuple met des œillets aux fusils des soldats insurgés. D’où l’expression reprise par les médias.

4 Déclaration d’un dirigeant du Parti communiste, 5 décembre 1974.

5 Interview d’un dirigeant du Parti communiste , Expresso, 22 juin 1974.

6 Alvaro Cunhal, 25 mai 1974.

7 Par la suite la CGTP s’est trouvée en concurrence avec un syndicat d’obéissance social-démocrate, l’Union Générale des travailleurs (UGT).

8 Dans cette région, où les grands propriétaires sont en majorité absentéistes, plus de 1000 latifundia possédaient plus de 500 hectares, correspondant à un tiers de toute la terre cultivée dans le pays.

9 Les UCP emploient pratiquement tout le prolétariat rural du sud. Les propriétés qui employaient, avant l’occupation, 20 000 ouvriers, en ont 70 000 en 1976 et la production par travailleur chute de moitié entre ces deux périodes.

10 À l’initiative du Parti communiste, le gouvernement a organisé plusieurs " campagnes patriotiques " , qui furent, bien entendu, des échecs : " Effort national pour sauver l’économie " , " Travaillons plus et mieux ", " Plus de travail, c’est plus de richesse à distribuer avec justice ", ou encore " La bataille de la production ".

11 On sait aujourd’hui que la direction du Parti communiste a été informé par les militaires de la préparation du putsch de novembre 75.

12 Alvaro Cunhal, interview, O Jornal, Lisbonne, 5 décembre 1975.

13 Le 25 avril 1974, lors de sa réédition aux militaires putschistes, le premier ministre Caetano avait souhaité que le pouvoir ne tombe pas "dans la rue".

14 Le COPCON, organisme militaire de police intérieur, créé en juillet 1974 pendant la vague de grèves et dans le but de " maintenir et rétablir l’ordre publique ", est devenu - après la tentative du coup de droite de mars 1975, et sous le commandement de Otelo de Carvalho - proche des thèses d’extrême-gauche et du " pouvoir populaire ".


Revolution and Counter Revolution in Portugal (Part II)

By Nahuel Moreno

The Masses Defeat the Spínolist Counterrevolution

1. The Government of ‘National Unity’

The military “putsch” brought to power the first “revolutionary” government, that of General Spínola. He tried to set up a government of “national unity,” in which there would be room for those ranging from the big bourgeoisie to the reformist workers parties. And all of the sectors were in agreement on giving full power to the general with the monocle—the MFA, just formed and just stepping into public view, did not dare nominate itself for government ; for their part, the traditional working-class parties placed all their bets on a regime of national unity. Thus, Spínola became the dominant figure in the government. He surrounded himself with his friends as ministers, and handed over—as one who throws a bone to a dog—some ministries to the MFA, SP, and CP. Palma Carlos, one of his unconditional supporters, was named prime minister.

The fact that the MFA began to become consolidated as a political organization of the lower officers reflected in its own way the revolutionary crisis among the army rank and file. It is totally “abnormal” for a public organization of young officers to codirect a bourgeois army, since the essence of a bourgeois army is its absolute hierarchical discipline and submission to higher commands. If Spínola had to accept this “abnormality” and incorporate it into the government, it was because of the fact that the rise of the mass movement imposed it upon him. In addition, he thought that in this way he could channel the rebelliousness among the young commissioned and noncommissioned officers toward normal strict military discipline, indispensable to the maintenance of the government they had brought into being. But the MFA—and we should bear this very much in mind — was not the same as the higher ranks of officers. And it resisted submitting to the discipline of the top officials. It thus reflected within the army the modern middle class, whose expectations were not identical to those of Spínola and the Portuguese oligarchy.

The participation of the Communist Party in the government was a new phenomenon in European politics of the past twenty-five years, since the last postwar period. If we except Chile, this holds true for the Western world. The formation of this popular-frontist government of class collaboration constitutes recognition by imperialism and the Portuguese bourgeoisie, that it is a developing proletarian revolution that they have to deal with. Precisely because of this, they were obliged, although unwillingly, to accept the flattering, collaborationist solicitations of the Socialist and Communist parties.

From within the government the CP met the expectations of its dazzling bourgeois and imperialist allies. It did so by replacing the demand for a minimum wage of 6,000 escudos with one for 3,500, and by beginning, to “condemn certain workers struggles as ‘irresponsible’ or ‘promoted by fascism’ as occurred, for example, with the national strike of the postal workers in June of 1974.” (Aldo Romero, Portugal, Reconstruction or Revolution ? Revista de América, No.1.)

Despite this policy, and the equally traitorous policy of the Socialist Party—we stress the former because it has much more influence over the trade-union activists, and not because the latter has been less collaborationist-the working class movement continued to advance. It began to overcome the atomization of the craft unions inherited from fascism—and from the old anarcho-syndicalist tradition — and began to organize workers commissions in the big factories (Stalinism encouraged the development of industrial unions, and at the same time used them to create a centralized organization of industrial unions, the Intersindical, on which it imposed a hand-picked leadership). Against the recommendations of the Stalinists, the workers continued to engage in wildcat strikes, although sporadically, within the context of a slight lull in the working class movement as a whole provoked by the calls for passivity from the reformist parties.

2. The Spínola Government In Crisis : The MFA Shares Power and a Constituent Assembly Is Set Up

In spite of the goodwill of the reformist workers parties, Spínola government went from crisis to crisis, until the mass movement kicked it out. The laws of the class struggle are always more powerful than the reformist plans. The big bourgeoisie, divided at the end of the Caetano government over the advisability or otherwise of terminating the colonial war and “democratizing” the fascist regime, again united behind Spínola after April 25, 1974. To slow down the movement of the workers and the masses, it put to good use the petty-bourgeois representatives of the working class (the reformist parties) and the modern middle class within the army (the MFA). But precisely the success obtained, that is, the slowing down of the workers movement with its consequent weakening, began to make petty-bourgeois democracy unnecessary to the bourgeoisie. And it was because of this that it attempted, through Spínola, to reverse not only the developing proletarian revolution but also the democratic conquests already gained or that were being demanded.

This scheme, if it had succeeded, would have meant the transformation of the government into a Bonapartist regime, since the workers movement and its democratic conquests cannot be decisively crushed by a popular-front government, nor can a popular-front government survive when the workers movement has been defeated. It is no accident, therefore, that an important part of the bourgeois efforts to drive back the revolution was accompanied, on the one hand, by a strong anticommunist campaign, and on the other, by sharp clashes with the MFA. The bourgeoisie, therefore, after having used it to place a brake on the movement of the workers and the masses, entered into conflict with the petty-bourgeois democrats, who wanted to collaborate with the Spínola government but within a bourgeois-democratic regime that respected the reformist parties and the MFA.

This dispute between the two sectors of the government became concretized around the question of whether to call for presidential elections or for elections to the Constituent Assembly. Spínola and the big bourgeoisie held that a strong, authoritarian government was required. They therefore considered it imperative to immediately impose a Bonapartist regime by means of a presidential election, which in reality would simply mean a plebiscite in favor of Spínola. They were thinking of ending the braking process, and, if necessary, crushing the workers movement, at the same time ridding themselves of the captains of the MFA and of the workers parties, most particularly the CP, the bothersome agent of Moscow in a government that sought to remain in NATO and the Iberian Pact, and enter the European Common Market. The petty-bourgeois democrats were opposed to this plan and advocated, at that time in a united way, the Constituent Assembly.

The other cause of dispute was the colonial question. The revolution in Portuguese Africa was greatly helped by the process opened up in the metropolis. The Black soldiers in the Portuguese army began to desert, and the white soldiers, officers, and noncommissioned officers began to insist on going back home. At the same time, a Portuguese Trotskyist soldier interviewed by Gerry Foley said, “In the period after April 25, 1974, when struggles were still taking place with the Spínolistas, who were opposed to decolonization and wanted a clearer form of neocolonialism, when massive shipments of troops were still being made to the colonies, struggles did occur. Some groups of soldiers even refused to go.” (Intercontinental Press, May 5, 1975, p. 588.) Faced with this situation, the big bourgeoisie and its representative, Spínola, hoped to negotiate an end to the war from a position of strength, in order to impose on the colonies their transformation into provinces or states associated with the empire. The petty-bourgeois democrats, for their part, wanted to negotiate independence with the national liberation movements ; a conditional independence favoring the empire, but independence in the final count.

In July 1974, this crisis became public when Palma Carlos declared that to prevent anarchy it was necessary to call for presidential, not Constituent Assembly, elections. Even though the workers movement had been demobilized, the combination of the rise of the colonial revolution, the crisis in the army, and the desperation of the petty-bourgeois democrats compelled Spínola to rid himself of his prime minister and name in his place, Vasco Goncalves. In this way, he accepted the full participation of the MFA in the government. The policies of the petty-bourgeois democrats thus triumphed—constituent elections would be called, and the independence of the colonies would be negotiated. It was a partial defeat for the Spínolist bourgeois counterrevolution, which, in the short period of time between August and September, would reveal itself through recognition of the independence of Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique.

3. The Masses Liquidate Spínola Government

But, after blundering, Spínola prepared to counterattack, aided indirectly by the freezing of the workers and popular struggles for which the MFA and the reformist parties were responsible. In agreement with them, he began to attack freedom of the press by banning a Maoist daily. He followed up by proclaiming a law against the right to strike and by organizing a new military region in Lisbon, the COPCON (Comando Operacional do Continente), the clear counterrevolutionary purpose of which was “to intervene directly, in support of civilian authorities and at their command, to maintain and reestablish order.” Immediately, the COPCON went into action to “break strikes and small leftist demonstrations.” (Gus Horowitz, op. cit., p.18.)

As Romero points out in the article already mentioned from Revista de América, No.1, “repressive and anti working class measures were committed by the most reactionary sectors : the violent repression of a demonstration in support of the MPLA, resulting in one death and several wounded by gunshot, prohibition of working-class demonstrations, military intervention against the strike of the workers from Transportes Aereos Portugueses [Portuguese Air Transport] Once again, the big bourgeoisie and Spínola began to feel strong, to the point of publicly announcing their opposition to the independence of Angola and openly coming out against the MFA and Vasco Goncalves. The tension mounted as the presidency and other sectors of government began to launch clear anticommunist and anti-worker allegations. On September 10, Spínola personally called upon a supposedly ‘silent majority’ to put an end to anarchy, and on the twenty-eighth of the same month, a provocation was engaged in, probably with the intent of its serving as a cover or pretext for a phony coup that would facilitate declaring a state of siege and the assumption of full powers by Spínola.

The budding counterrevolutionary coup obliged the Communist Party, the most threatened, to desperately defend itself, and it called upon the masses to fight. They responded with an audacity and decisiveness that crushed the first counterrevolutionary attempt of the Portuguese bourgeoisie (which, by the way, objectively closed the sociological debate over whether the bourgeoisie was reactionary or included “progressive” sectors). According to what Romero reports in Intercontinental Press (quoted by Horowitz in the article we have published here), the workers “acted both in advance of and independently of the MFA and the provisional government, and paid more attention to the instructions of the CP and the Intersindical than to those of the military.” (Intercontinental Press, October 28, 1974, p.1395.) In plain language, despite the fact that the MFA was also threatened by the coup, its behavior was pitiful. The mobilization of the people and the workers mobilizations thus stopped the counter-revolutionary coup, and saved and raised to power the petty-bourgeois democrats, mainly the MFA, which had sought for months to dismantle this same mobilization.

4. The MFA-CP-SP Government Slows Down the Masses

The great victory of the movement of the workers and the masses—and of the CP itself, which participated fully in the mobilization against Spínola—compelled the bourgeoisie to change its policies and its government. The tough, old-fashioned general, who wanted to impose on the entire country the discipline of the barracks, was replaced by his “civilized friend,” who makes a custom of “talking, not giving orders,” General Costa Gomes. The bourgeoisie had become convinced, for the moment, that it could not regiment and defeat the movement of the working class and the masses. For that reason it looked over its following for a great negotiator capable of using petty-bourgeois democracy to decelerate it, stop it, and finally defeat it.

The new bourgeois policy momentarily abandoned all Bonapartist capriciousness and turned toward the parliamentary forms of rule—it accepted the Constituent Assembly.

The bourgeois schemers had at their disposition three first-class instruments, all of them petty-bourgeois. The MFA would be in charge of appeasing the soldiers, noncommissioned officers, and radicalized officers in order to restore discipline in the armed forces. The Communist Party, willing as usual to collaborate with a bourgeois government in office, would avoid mobilizations and control the trade unions. The Socialist Party, which according to all the reports would win any election, would guarantee the innocuousness of the Constituent Assembly and any other electoral and parliamentary variant that might appear.

Under the new government, the class struggle repeated, but on a higher plane, the same sequence as under Spínola. First, the collaborationist policy of the leaderships induced a slight retreat of the workers movement. Then, it rose again in an impetuous mobilization.

In the government, the MFA, through Vasco Goncalves, called for “Sunday workdays,” and began to insist that the big battle was the battle for production. This “battle” was part of an emergency economic plan proclaimed on February 21, the essence of which was totally and absolutely capitalist : try to save the capitalist economy through greater exploitation of the workers. Assured of the support of the working-class parties for this plan, the MFA went further and tried political conciliation with the big bourgeoisie and its representatives. A careful campaign in favor of Spínola was begun, freeing him of any responsibility in the former attempted coup because of having been drawn in through “deceit.” It did not publish the results of the investigation of those responsible for the attempt. It did not take any measures against the oligarchy guilty of involvement in it. It hardly carried out any purge of the officers in the army. And, as a proof of affection for the friends of the oligarchy beyond the borders, in February the Portuguese customs guards handed over a Spanish left-wing militant to the Francoist political police.

Meanwhile, the economic situation worsened by leaps and bounds. Unemployment already affected more than 200,000 people—more than 7 percent of the working population. Capital began to take flight abroad. Some enterprises were abandoned by their owners. Imperialism began to blockade the revolution economically.

5. A New Rise In the Movement of the Workers and The Masses Begins

Toward the end of last year and the beginning of this year, the movement of the workers and masses began to confront these calamities.‘The fall of Spínola ,” says Romero in the article quoted in Revista de América, No.1, “was followed by a relative impasse in the workers struggles, but since the beginning of 1975, popular resistance has intensified in a spectacular way [...]” And he continues : “Another area of struggle has naturally involved improving conditions, particularly in the factories. Innumerable demands have been made along these lines (rate of work, safety and hygiene, shifts, dining rooms, etc.). The most extensive demands are, at present, job security and wage boosts.” The revolution was taking its first steps in the countryside : Agricultural workers and poor peasants began to organize and fight against unemployment. Objectives in the mobilizations were not limited to “security and wage boosts‘ ; they included more general and revolutionary slogans : “countless workers assemblies in the factories in struggle have voted for motions in favor of nationalizing businesses that threaten layoffs, or more generally, nationalizing the monopolies.” Parallel to the strikes, other methods of struggle were becoming generalized. The first occupation of any importance was described as follows by Le Monde Diplomatique (June 1975) : “February 7 was a significant date : On that day, seven thousand workers from the workers commissions of Lisnave, for the first time in the history of Portugal, cast doubt on the right of ownership of the means of production—without yet venturing into the field of self-management.” The method of occupation would be extended, starting from there, not only to establishments, but also to the homes of fascists, the bourgeoisie, or simply homes that were not being used. Control of production also began to be attempted. In some enterprises, “the bosses income is withheld.‘

At the same time, the organization of the workers movement was spreading on a massive scale and acquiring a more and more direct character. The revolutionary upsurge coupled the organization of craft unions inherited from fascism with the rise of industrial unions, with the federation that attempted to assemble them—the Intersindical — and with the rank-and-file factory committees (the workers commissions), neighborhood committees, and all other types. The spectacular leap that has shaken Portuguese social and political life since the fall of Caetano has thus led to the simultaneous existence of craft unions, typical of the beginning of the trade-union movement ; the industrial unions and their federation, belonging to the capitalist era ; and the rank-and-file committees, characteristic of this period of capitalist decay and the transition to socialism. The rise of the industrial unions and the rank-and-file committees—the latter being a field in which the working class has taken the lead over the other sectors (tenants, soldiers, etc.), inasmuch as they have been established in the majority of the important factories since March 11 — points to the liquidation of the craft unions. The two forms of organization (industrial unions and rank-and-file committees) coincide in needing a single industrial organization at all levels—factory, company, country—but, at the same time, they are profoundly different. The first, institutionalized for more than half a century by capitalism, lends itself much more to bureaucratization than the committees, intimately linked to the rank and file, which represent them better than the unions and which arise only during periods of intense worker mobilization such as Portugal is undergoing. This difference was to be seen in the fact that within a few days of each other two demonstrations took place : One of them, on January 14, convoked by the Intersindical and led to demand its official recognition, brought out between 100,000 and 200,000 people under the leadership of the CP ; the other, very militant demonstration, convoked on February 7 by the “intercompany commissions,” which was led by the Maoist ultraleft, gathered in front of the Ministry of Labor to protest against layoffs, maneuvers by the bosses, and the presence of NATO in Portugal. On January 20, six days after the first demonstration, the government proclaimed a law favoring a single federation that in reality transformed the Intersindical into its initial nucleus. The Intersindical is a great gain of the workers movement, but it was deformed by the Stalinists, who bureaucratized it from the beginning and hand-picked its leadership to place it at the service of the bourgeois government. In any case, the process of struggle could not help but be reflected in the search for “combative and class leaderships,” Romero tells us in Revista de América, No.1. “Recently the union slates backed by the PCP suffered spectacular defeats in the postal workers and bank workers unions in Oporto.‘

The army, for its part, was not immune to the upsurge of the mass movement. The triumph led the MFA to foster discussions about indoctrination in the barracks. But these did not go beyond the limits of discipline. In the already quoted interview by Gerry Foley, the case is mentioned of a soldier being punished because he dared to direct a barbed question at his commander during one of these discussions. All in all, they represented important progress, since they introduced political discussion into the barracks.

Beginning last January, everything began to change. “A climate of ‘deliberations’ spread through the ranks, and along with the rejection of arbitrary disciplinary measures, collective demands and protests are not uncommon. Let us also point to facts such as the recent one [February 8] when COPCON forces were deployed in order to contain a workers demonstration that had not been authorized :

Confronted by the demonstrators, the soldiers made a half turn. Pointing their arms in another direction and raising their fists, they shouted, ‘Soldiers and sailors are also exploited.’ (Romero, Revista de América, No.1.)

6. The Spínolist Counter-revolutionists Think the Hour Has Come for a New ‘Putsch’

The general upsurge of the workers and the people induced a new division within the Portuguese bourgeoisie. A minority, represented by Costa Gomes, continued to bet on the Constituent Assembly, on the betrayal of the Socialist and Communist parties, and on the use of the MFA. In short, on a popular front. The majority, becoming desperate, lost patience and gathered behind Spínola in preparations for a coup d’état, in a renewed Bonapartist attempt.

The fact that the fright of the bourgeoisie was also reflected among the army officers helped the plan for a new coup. The New York Times commented at the time that the officers were leaning toward the right. A symptomatic fact proved this to be correct : The elections to the Councils of Arms convoked by the MFA were won by the most reactionary officers, sworn enemies of the MFA itself. The MFA proved incapable of repudiating the outcome, despite the injury dealt the MFA, and despite the fact that the gains made by the reactionaries formed part of the preparation of the projected coup.

The MFA began to have doubts as to the best way to slow down and defeat the revolution. Two options were open to it : on one hand, the one that leaned—with the Constituent Assembly—toward a parliamentary regime ; on the other hand, the perspective of a directly dictatorial, Bonapartist regime. The urgent need to overcome the crisis of its regime inclined it to try to suppress its contradictions along the Bonapartist road.

The general crisis and the profound differences within the MFA caused by the upsurge were also expressed in the struggle between the Communist and the Socialist parties. This struggle became more and more acute, reaching such a degree that two opposing demonstrations, set for December 30, came close to a confrontation. The reasons for this dispute lie in the fact that although neither of the two defends the interests of the working class (and in this they are the same), both of them have different specific interests.

The rightist course of the officers, the electoral defeat of the MFA within the army along with the resulting “impasse,” the fight between the two big working-class parties, the doubts over the call for a Constituent Assembly—all of these elements made the ultra-reactionary, desperate wing of the big bourgeoisie and officers believe that the time had come for revenge. Led by Spínola, the counterrevolutionary coup was finally launched. The equation was almost complete, but an unknown was missing, the reaction of the working class, the movement of the masses and the soldiers. It was terrific, the workers and soldiers began to occupy factories and barracks. The failure of the putsch was so resounding that the imperialist press affirmed it had been a provocation. This wasn’t so ; it had a great deal of support among the officers and had been carefully planned. What conspired against its success was the speed and combativity of the popular reply in relation to Spínola previous putsch. If the Intersindical and the demonstrations and barricades characterized the response to the first “putsch,” the committees of workers and soldiers, with their occupations, characterized the response to the second Spínolist attempt.

IV. The March 11 ‘Putsch’ Opens a Revolutionary Stage 1. Four New Decisive Facts

Spínola defeat by the mass movement touched off a new series of events that, combined among themselves, opened a new stage of the Portuguese revolution. Four of them are the most decisive :

First : The bourgeoisie melts away politically and physically as a class. Spínola flight was not an insignificant event, but one of enormous symptomatic and political importance. Along with him, thousands upon thousands of members of the bourgeoisie fled Portugal, terrified over the strength of the mass movement. Some of the biggest families of the oligarchy and all the banks were expropriated. Important bourgeois figures, such as the Champalimauds, were imprisoned. A very hard blow was dealt the counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie, one that will take time and effort to recuperate from. Physically and politically it has vanished for a while from the political and economic scene. Only its shadow remains.

Second : The economic and social crisis, already very acute, is reaching intolerable limits. The bourgeoisie, upon leaving, abandoned many enterprises. When it has been able to, it has withdrawn its capital ; when it has not it has ceased to invest. Unemployment, which was already serious—around 7 percent—has climbed up to 8 percent and it continues to rise, affecting 800,000 persons at present. Production has been declining. Added to this is the return of the colons from the former African possessions, making unemployment worse and reinforcing the counterrevolutionary sectors. In face of this situation, tourism has declined and the crisis of the balance of payments has been deepening. The situation has been further aggravated because the big imperialist powers are not investing a single dollar in Portugal.

Third : Occupations of factories, stores, and houses are becoming more generalized, and land seizures are beginning to take place ; workers and tenants commissions are developing and some peasant commissions are beginning to appear. All commentators have described how, after Spínola “putsch,‘ the banks were occupied. Romero, in his different articles published in Revista de América up to No.4, mentions the factory occupations and workers commissions, but does not grant them any symptomatic importance. Horowitz, in his only reference to them in the article reproduced in this edition, says in passing that “occupations of factories and offices also spread.‘ Livio Maitan, for his part, also gives little importance to the question, although he says something (very little) about it : “The scope and dynamism of these mobilizations in recent months-the multiplication of strikes and factory occupations, the spread of revolutionary democratic bodies growing up from below, and political demonstrations such as ... February 7 ... by the Workers Committee” (Livio Maitan, The Role of the Armed Forces Movement in Portugal, Intercontinental Press, June 2, 1975, p.728.) Besides this, the author points out that the demonstration was led by the Maoists.

Gerry Foley, for his part, states : “Factory committees do not yet exist everywhere, but they fulfil an important function in the big plants ... The Workers Committee elected by an assembly of all the workers in the plant is much better able to represent the work force effectively than the fragmented unions. It is also considerably more democratic.” Later he reports how, in Oporto, “on the night of March 11, these committees organized vigilance pickets.” These committees and pickets from the above-mentioned factory kept on functioning, “rooting out rightists from the administration and the shop.” (Gerry Foley, Portuguese Trotskyists Call for National Workers Assembly, Intercontinental Press, April 21, 1975, p.527.) Combate Socialista, in one of its issues, without giving it any importance, informs us of the deep trend toward centralization of these workers commit tees, when it reports the existence of a “coordinating committee of the CUF commissions (the most important monopolist group in Portugal). And it confirms Livio Maitan in relation to the February 7 demonstration (which it characterizes as an example of combativity), called for by an “interfactory committee.” Finally, whether the lucid commentator of Le Monde Diplomatique (June 1975) exaggerates, he is close to the truth when he states : “The occupations of factories, land, palaces, and buildings-the latter rapidly transformed into popular clinics, centers for mutual aid, child-care centers, recreation or resting places or into headquarters of popular organizations-have taken the parties in the coalition by surprise ... nevertheless, the PCP and Intersindical were losing speed, while the rank-and-file organizations and committees consolidated their counter-power.‘

Fourth : The crisis in the army acquires a new magnitude with the flight of the reactionary officers, the spread of committees and assemblies of the soldiers and noncommissioned officers, which begin to put into question the military hierarchy. Of all the new developments, the most important is the one beginning to take place in the armed forces, described to Gerry Foley by a soldier as follows : “After March 11, a general assembly of soldiers was held. Not only the commander and deputy commander were purged, but all the Spínolista officers down to the level of sergeants. A cousin of Gen. Galvão de Melo, who was a junior sergeant, was also purged.

The comrades felt a need to move forward and take control of the barracks. They decided in the general assembly to form various committees ...

“After the purge,” he says further on, “the military hierarchy was broken, since the ousted commanders were replaced with lower-ranking officers.‘

In Coimbra, the “the rank and file threw out two officers assigned to the barracks by the Council of the Revolution.‘

In the same article by Gerry Foley, the soldier points out that “in the navy, where the political consciousness of the rank and file is higher, there exists a committee of sailors which discusses the orders given by the officers, and which can accept or reject them.” [3] And Romero (Revista de América, No.4) confirms it : “On May 1, several hundred sailors of all ranks participated in the demonstration, in accordance with what had been decided on in the general assemblies of their bases and some ships—later a ‘higher order’ ratified the decision arrived at democratically.” All these facts indicate the dynamic that the situation within the bourgeois armed forces has taken. But these are just the beginning ; they still have not become generalized nor has the qualitative point been reached at which the army begins the plunge toward total and definite collapse : the appointment of officers by the soldiers through the promotion of noncommissioned officers. Together with this process taking place at the level of the rank and file, the defeat of the “putsch” gave the timid MFA enough encouragement to annul the outcome of the elections to the Councils of Arms, which, as we have already seen, had been unfavorable to the MFA.

2. The Transitional Program Defines This Situation

In relation to both the occupations as well as the factory and enterprise commissions, the Transitional Program is categorical :

Sit-down strikes, the latest expression of this kind of initiative, go beyond the limits of ‘normal’ capitalist procedure. Independently of the demands of the strikers, the temporary seizure of factories deals a blow to the idol, capitalist property. Every sit-down strike poses in a practical manner the question of who is the boss of the factory : the capitalist or the workers ?

If the sit-down strike raises the question episodically, the factory committee gives it organized expression. From the moment that the committee makes its appearance, a factual dual power is established in the factory. By its very essence it represents the transitional state, because it includes in itself two irreconcilable regimes : the capitalist and the proletarian. The fundamental significance of factory committees is precisely contained in the fact that they open the doors if not to a direct revolutionary, then to a pre-Revolutionary period-between the bourgeois and the proletarian regimes. (Trotsky, The Transitional Program [New York : Pathfinder Press, Inc., 1973], pp.79-80. Emphasis in original.)

As we have already seen, in Portugal we have not only occupations and workers commissions everywhere, but something much more important : a crisis in the armed forces and the germs of dual power within them.

3. A Revolutionary Situation

For some Marxists, the Portuguese situation “is evolving or maturing toward a pre-Revolutionary situation.” We think this definition is erroneous. Up to March 11, there was a pre-Revolutionary situation, and, since that date, a revolutionary situation has begun to mature, if we are not already fully in it. We choose Trotsky’s definition : factory committees are a symptom that, at least, “a pre-revolutionary, if not a direct revolutionary period” has been opened.

We think that if to the occupations and committees we add the crisis in the army, with its soldiers committees and assemblies and the purges of reactionary officers, we are already in a direct revolutionary situation. And, with even greater reason, if we take into account the situation of the Portuguese bourgeoisie and economy. Referring to events of far less magnitude in the French army in 1936, Trotsky assigned very great importance to them : “The protest of the soldiers against the rabiot (the increase in the service term) signified the most dangerous form of direct mass action against bourgeois power.” (Leon Trotsky, Whither France ? [New York : Pioneer Publishers], p. 144.) Now, Trotsky considered the direct action of the masses to be the cause of the revolutionary situation : “The working masses are now creating a revolutionary situation by resorting to direct action.” (Op. cit., p.140.)With still more reason, then, “the most dangerous form” of that action.

Two shortcomings can be pointed out in our definition : the absence of soviets and of a revolutionary party with mass influence.

We think the first objection gives an absolute character to the importance of soviets. There are comrades who hold the opinion that, if they do not exist, there is no dual power nor a revolutionary situation. We agree that in Portugal only miserable buds of soviets exist, we have already stated that ; but there is a dual power concretized in the occupations and the workers commissions. This dual power is molecular, spontaneous to a large degree, but it exists and appears in a generalized way throughout the country. It is a form of dual power more primitive than soviets, but dual power anyway. The same can be said about the situation in the armed forces : No soviets have been organized, but the process is one of the development of a powerful dual power, which is just in its very beginnings, but which is sufficient to disturb the structure of the fundamental pillar of the capitalist regime.

The second objection, referring to the absence of a revolutionary party, can very well be based on Trotsky’s definition, repeated several times, of the four basic conditions for the triumph of the revolution : confusion and division in the ruling class, a turn toward revolutionary solutions by the middle class, revolutionary disposition of the working class, existence of a strong Marxist party that poses the seizure of power. The first three conditions are clearly given in Portugal ; but the last one, the strong revolutionary party, is not.

For the classic Trotskyist analysis, the absence of the subjective factor, the party, in the framework of the other three conditions, characterizes pre-Revolutionary situations. From a formal point of view, the Portuguese situation would fit, then, in this category. This is what those who define the Portuguese situation as maturing toward a pre-Revolutionary one have probably taken into account.

Now, if we reason that way, we would find pre-revolutionary situations, different only in intensity, quantitatively, on the one hand in Bolivia in 1952 (when the bourgeois state apparatus had collapsed, the army had been defeated by the working class, and only the armed militias of workers and peasants existed), in Spain during the civil war, or in China after Chiang Kai-shek ; and, on the other hand, situations like the one in Argentina after the Cordobazo and the one in France before 1936, in which there was no arming of the proletariat, nor the appearance of organisms of dual power, nor the destruction of the bourgeois army or a crisis within it. It is obvious however, that between the first three and the last two there are profound, qualitative differences, which become obscured if we group all these situations under the common denominator of pre-Revolutionary. Argentina after the Cordobazo and France before 1936 were, to us, pre-revolutionary situations. Bolivia in 1952, Spain during the civil war, and China after Chiang Kai-shek went much further : They were revolutionary situations. Not classic revolutionary, because the revolutionary Marxist party was missing in them, but revolutionary “sui generis.‘

Trotsky, on several occasions, pointed out that “abnormal‘ revolutionary situations could arise which do not conform to classical conditions. In a premonitory article, entitled “What Is a Revolutionary Situation ?” he says : “It is not excluded that the general revolutionary transformation of the proletariat and the middle class and the political disintegration of the ruling class will develop more quickly than the maturing of the Communist Party. This means that a genuine revolutionary situation could develop without an adequate revolutionary party. It would be a repetition to some degree of the situation in Germany in 1923.” (Writings of Leon Trotsky-1930-31 [New York : Pathfinder Press, Inc., 1973], p.354. Emphasis added.)

This means, according to Trotsky, that when the weight of objective factors takes very acute form, a revolutionary situation may appear even though the revolutionary party is absent. Later, in a elliptical way, without referring directly to the subject, he again gave a new hypothetical definition of an “abnormal” revolutionary situation. In referring to the historical possibility of the installation of workers and peasants governments formed by petty-bourgeois reformist parties, he pointed out that this could occur as a consequence of “war, defeat, financial crash, mass revolutionary pressure, etc.” (The Transitional Program, op. cit., p.95.) These conditions and others not mentioned could, then, give rise to a situation leading to the formation of a revolutionary, workers and peasants government, the anteroom of a dictatorship of the proletariat, without the precondition of a revolutionary Marxist party.

In Portugal we see assembled to overflowing, the conditions for a revolutionary situation, “sui generis” as we see it, just as predicted by Trotsky. There was “war” and “defeat‘ ; there is an economic crisis and a “revolutionary offensive of the masses,” as well as a “general revolutionary transformation of the proletariat and the middle class and the political disintegration of the ruling class.‘

4. The Organically Counterrevolutionary Role of the MFA-CP-SP Bars Any Possibility of Portugal Becoming a China or Cuba

This possibility of forming workers and peasants governments, which Trotsky considered very remote—let us clarify, in passing, that this was because he believed, among other things, that revolutions would occur in the Western countries immediately following the war—became common in the second postwar period. The Chinese, Indochinese, Korean and Cuban revolutions followed that pattern. That led us to maintain that we were dealing with “sui generis‘ revolutionary situations that did not follow the classical schema. We made an effort to define this new revolutionary situation and we pointed out that it was characterized by the fact that the objective factors indicated by Trotsky had acquired a permanent, chronic character. In our opinion, the revolutionary situations we have seen in this postwar period have been caused by the enormous weight of the objective situation. Fundamentally, by an economic and social crisis of a chronic character that impelled the petty-bourgeois masses into a very acute revolutionary upsurge and forced their parties to break with imperialism and the landowners, turning to guerrilla warfare, which destroyed the repressive apparatus of the bourgeois regime. It is an approach completely opposite to that of the Guevarist guerrillas, to whom a revolutionary situation is unleashed essentially by the subjective factor, the guerrilla group of the armed vanguard that sets heroic examples for the masses.

The international situation helped or facilitated the guerrilla warfare of the petty-bourgeois parties. The inter-imperialist war, the crisis and reconversion of imperialism during the immediate postwar period, and the “cold war” enabled these parties to count on a wide margin of maneuver and confronted them with a weakened counterrevolution, unable to meet the petty-bourgeois colonial revolution with a solid united front. The cold war had, in its way, the same effect : It divided the counter-revolutionary bloc of the United States and the Soviet bureaucracy.

Another element of considerable weight, which has not received the recognition it deserves, is the subjective factor of the counterrevolution.

With good reason, we Trotskyists have emphasized the importance the politics and leadership of the parties claiming to represent the working class have on the development of the revolutionary process. It is otherwise with our attitude toward the politics and tactics of the leaders and parties of the exploiters : We do not analyze them with the same amount of interest. Nevertheless, in a revolutionary situation, these are elements of prime importance. The disastrous—from the point of view of their own interests—politics of Chiang Kai-shek, of the French and Yankee imperialists, and of Batiste and Washington had a decisive influence in the triumph of the Chinese, Indochinese, and Cuban revolutions. A much more careful and refined political line followed by the French and Yankee imperialists in Bolivia and Algeria, respectively, was able to block revolutionary victories in those countries.

But the international and subjective situation of counterrevolution has radically altered the possibility of new “sui generis‘ revolutionary triumphs, like those seen in the last thirty years. The crisis in the counterrevolutionary front has abated and the divisions are being closed. The bloc of the imperialist countries and the bureaucracies of the USSR and China aimed at sidetracking the revolution is today quite solid, without great fissures. And all of them have learned from the new “revolutionary situations.” Nothing demonstrates this better than the change in the policies followed by French imperialism from Indochina to Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Except for the recent outcome of the Vietnam War, it has been more than fifteen years (and it is not by chance) since “sui generis‘ revolutionary victories, giving rise to workers and peasants government, have taken place. And the victory in Indochina is the product of the combination of the heritage of more than thirty years of guerrilla war, from the period of the cold war, with the mass movement in the United States and Europe against the imperialist war.

We do not say that these victories will not again be repeated in the colonial and the semicolonial countries. But, for that to occur, they will have to count on a new factor, much more powerful than the interimperialist crisis alone or the cold war : the rise of the mass movement in the metropolitan countries. Such is the case with the victory in Vietnam. But the counterrevolutionary united front between the United States, the USSR, and China is also functioning here to try to obtain what French imperialism succeeded in obtaining in Algeria : driving the workers and farmers government back into a capitalist regime.

All these factors are of prime importance in preventing a “sui generis” revolutionary triumph from taking place in Portugal, so that we do not come near to even a variant of a workers and peasant government. But, even though they are of prime importance, that does not mean that they are the decisive factor making that variant impossible. The essential factor making impossible a Chinese or Cuban variant in Portugal is the character of the Portuguese petty bourgeoisie and its parties.

The prognosis made by Trotsky in the Transitional Program (Ibid., p.94) : “the experience of Russia demonstrated, and the experience of Spain and France once again confirms, that even under very favorable conditions the parties of petty-bourgeois democracy (S.R.’s, Social Democrats, Stalinists, Anarchists) are incapable of creating a government of workers and peasants, that is, a government independent of the bourgeoisie,” is still valid. And more valid than ever for the imperialist countries, even if it turned out to be mistaken for the colonial countries. The reason is simple, even though Trotsky did not take it into account. It can be found in a class difference : that which exists between the petty-bourgeoisie of an imperialist country and the petty-bourgeoisie of a colonial or semi-colonial country. The former enjoys a privileged situation thanks to the exploitation of the backward countries ; the latter, including the peasantry, lives in a chronic and insoluble crisis because of the exploitation of imperialism and its agents, the national exploiters. That is why the imperialist petty bourgeoisie and its parties and organizations—the Communist and Socialist parties included—are organically counter-revolutionary, agents of imperialism. Stated in another way :

Because their privileged existence depends on the existence of their own imperialism, they are organically incapable of confronting it. That is the situation in Portugal today, where the MFA, the CP, and the SP compete with each other to find the most ingenious and quickest way of saving crisis-ridden Portuguese imperialism. This is the reason why there is no possibility that they will break with their imperialism and form a workers and peasants government. The slightest error or theoretical confusion on this question of principle will inevitably make us fall into the abyss of concessions to opportunism, capitulation to Portuguese imperialism and its agent : the MFA government. The MFA Government 1. Classical Bonapartism : An Unfortunate Definition

In other words, the Portuguese ruling class is compelled to have in power a sort of judge-arbiter, appearing to stand above the classes and capable of acting with decisiveness both to regulate the internal affairs of the capitalist class and to contain and repress the workers movement—acting in the last analysis as the representative of the capitalist class as a whole. In Marxist terminology this phenomenon is sometimes called ‘Bonapartism,’ after Napoleon Bonaparte, who fulfilled a similar function, although in a much stronger way than the MFA can.

That is how Gus Horowitz defines, in the previously mentioned article, the current Portuguese government : as “classical Bonapartism.” In this paragraph there are theoretical and political novelties by the wholesale that have astonished and worried us. But let us proceed step by step. Before considering the novelties, let us see what Trotsky had to say about classical Bonapartism :

In order that the Little Corsican might lift himself above a young bourgeois nation, it was necessary that the revolution should already have accomplished its fundamental task—the transfer of land to the peasants—and that a victorious army should have been created on the new social foundation. In the 18th century a revolution had no farther to go : it could only from that point recoil and go backward. In this recoil, however, its fundamental conquests were in danger. They must be defended at any cost. The deepening but still very immature antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat kept the nation, shaken as it was to its foundations, in a state of extreme tension. A national ‘judge’ was in those conditions indispensable. Napoleon guaranteed to the big bourgeois the possibility to get rich, to the peasants their pieces of land, to the sons of peasants and the hoboes a chance for looting in the wars. The judge held a sword in his hand and himself also fulfilled the duties of bailiff. The Bonapartism of the first Bonaparte was solidly founded. (Leon Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution, Vol.2 [New York : Simon and Schuster, 1936] pp.154-55.)

We have only to read the two quotations to see that there is a great difference between them. For Horowitz, Napoleon Bonaparte “fulfilled a function,” that of “containing and repressing the workers movement” ; for Trotsky the function he fulfilled was that of “defending at any cost” the “fundamental conquest” of the revolution : “the transfer of land to the peasants and that a victorious army should have been created on the new social foundation,” and, in fulfilling that function, he “guaranteed to the peasants their pieces of land” and created his victorious army with the “sons of peasants” and the “hoboes.” In fulfilling that same function, he “contained and repressed” the feudal reaction of all Europe, which aspired to suffocate the bourgeois nation and restore the “old regime.”

We must add that Trotsky’s definition of Napoleon’s regime has nothing to do with the current Portuguese reality, in which there are no victorious armies (in fact, there is a defeated army), no transfer of land to the peasants, nor anything else like that.

Let us go back to Horowitz. His definition poses a question of method that is really alarming. As we have already seen, he considers that Napoleon “fulfilled a similar function” to that of the MFA “although in a much stronger way than the MFA can.” Putting the pieces together, this would mean that Napoleon Bonaparte fulfilled, in a much stronger way than the MFA, the function of “repressing the workers movement” (!). But let us leave this aside. What is certain is that, for Horowitz, the differences between Napoleon I and the current Portuguese regime are differences of degree, quantitative, not qualitative, differences. Following the logic of his way of thinking, the MFA and its government are weak Napoleon Bonapartes ; Napoleon Bonaparte was, then, a strong MFA.

We do not know by what method Horowitz is led to suppose that there can exist in 1975 a regime substantially similar to one at the beginning of the nineteenth century. All the circumstances have changed : Then, capitalism was rising powerfully ; today it is in decadence. Then the antagonism between the proletariat and bourgeoisie had “not yet matured” ; today it is fully developed ; etc., etc., etc. It is precisely these “small” differences between two eras that makes Trotsky distinguish very sharply between the Bonapartism of the rising stage of capitalism and that of its decadence.

We always strictly differentiated between this Bonapartism of decay and the young, advancing Bonapartism that was not only the gravedigger of the political principles of the bourgeois revolution but also the defender of its social conquest. (Writings of Leon Trotsky—1934-35 [New York : Pathfinder Press, Inc., 1974], p.181.)

Historically, Bonapartism was and remains the government of the bourgeoisie during periods of crisis in bourgeois society. It is possible and it is necessary to distinguish between the ‘progressive’ Bonapartism that consolidates the purely capitalistic conquest of bourgeois revolution and the Bonapartism of the decay of capitalist society, the convulsive Bonapartism of our epoch (von Papen, Schleicher, Dollfuss, and the candidate for Dutch Bonapartism, Colijn, etc.). (Writings of Leon Trotsky—1933-34 [New York : Pathfinder Press, Inc., 1972], p.107.)

Napoleon I’s Bonapartism was progressive, because it defended capitalist progress against the feudal reaction. Up until the end of last century, Bonapartist governments retained progressive elements (Bismarck succeeded in the national unification of Germany, Napoleon III gave a great push forward to capitalist development in France). But, in this century, with capitalism in full decadence and putrefaction, no Bonapartism in an imperialist country can be “progressive” ; it is—and it can not be anything else — counterrevolutionary, regressive, and opposed to historical progress.

No regime, of any type, can be defined outside of the concrete social conditions in which it originates and develops. In the case of Bonapartism, this means that in our epoch a Bonapartist regime fundamentally the same as those in the epoch of the rise of capitalism cannot be repeated.

Furthermore, if Horowitz was right in his definition, this would go against what he wants to demonstrate. In fact, in that case, the MFA government would be a relatively “progressive” government.

We will say no more about Horowitz’s unfortunate definition.

2. More Confusion : Bonapartism ‘Sui generis’ ?

But there is still another aspect to the question of Bonapartism. Trotsky analyzed a type of Bonapartism typical of semi-colonial and neocolonial countries. The weakness of the national bourgeoisie in these countries, where the main exploiter is imperialism, gives rise to governments that act as arbiters between the movement of the workers and the masses and the dominant imperialism. Insofar as the national bourgeoisie is unable to directly impose its own government, an arbiter appears and imposes itself between the two most powerful forces in the national scene.

These governments can operate either as agents of imperialism, in which case they have an accentuated reactionary character, or they can base themselves on the worker and peasant masses to resist the pressure of the metropolis. In the latter case, they have a relatively progressive character, which, despite the historical distance, repeats some of the positive features of the Bonapartism of the last century. That relatively progressive character has its counterpart in the role these “sui generis” Bonapartisms play in preventing the working class from advancing along an independent path toward its revolution and in maintaining a resistance to imperialism within the limits of bourgeois property. Càrdenas, Nasser, and Peròn are some examples of this “sui generis” Bonapartism : bourgeois governments through and through, which defend their countries from imperialism by basing themselves on the exploited masses.

Some MFA ideologists proclaim themselves to be adherents of the “third world” and compare their movement with those of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples, trying in this way to take advantage of the prestige and attraction the national liberation movements have on the European left, especially the younger layers.

Unfortunately, they have found an echo within our movement. On the basis of purely formal terminology and comparisons, the MFA is presented as similar to the military regimes of the “third world.” Livio Maitan tells us, in his article, The Role of the Armed Forces Movement in Portugal (op. cit., p.728) :

The process we are seeing today in Portugal shows clear analogies with those that have already occurred in neocolonial, or economically and socially underdeveloped countries.

What are those “clear analogies” ? Here is what Maitan holds :

In situations where the bourgeoisie finds itself unable to exercise its political hegemony by the normal means—the bourgeois-democratic parliamentary or presidential mechanisms, the formal or de facto dictatorship of a bourgeois party, and so on—in periods of deep political crisis, the military apparatus may emerge as the only force capable of running the state. More precisely, the army can play the role of a ruling party with the capacity to maintain the functioning of the essential mechanisms of the system. This need not necessarily take the form of a reactionary military dictatorship but can occur under the leadership of reformist or populist tendencies in the military (obviously the Brazilian dictatorship falls into the former category, while the Peruvian regime comes under the latter, to mention only the two most prominent examples in Latin America).

We confess that the author’s method astonishes us. It leaves aside the fact that it is impossible to understand a government of any kind, outside the framework of the deep, structural, class characteristics of the country and of the situation it faces. Portugal is an imperialist country ; Peru and Brazil are semi-colonial countries exploited by imperialism. This is a decisive demarcation. No matter what type of bourgeois government may appear in Portugal, it will constitute above all an imperialist government. Any government of any type in Peru and Brazil must in some way reflect the great contradiction that puts the country as a whole into opposition to imperialist domination. The Brazilian regime has served as a direct agent of imperialism and an enemy of its own country. The Peruvian regime offers a timid defense of the country in face of imperialism.

In Portugal no government of this kind could arise because the main exploiter is Portuguese capitalism. Naturally, the “third world” ideology of sectors of the MFA contains an element of truth. Portuguese capitalism is weak and backward, which arouses fears of colonization by its more powerful competitors. The strengthening of the state points in that direction : to have available a strong instrument to better negotiate with the other imperialisms and with the working class and the colonial movement.

While the most important by far, this is not the only difference between Portugal, on one hand, and Brazil and Peru, on the other. Portugal is undergoing the development of a working-class revolution and a crisis of the capitalist regime. There has been no pre-revolutionary, let alone revolutionary, situation in Peru in the last ten years. The Brazilian regime is the product of a counterrevolutionary stage.

While Portugal is being shaken by an instability reaching a paroxysm, the two Latin American countries cited have enjoyed years of bourgeois stability (eleven in the case of Brazil : seven in Peru).

Again, we find that the only similarity between the three cases is that power is in the hands of the military. But, even considering the question from this formal point of view, Maitan’s analogy is wrong. Let us see what our commentator says :

The only solid apparatus, the only relatively cohesive force, remains the armed forces, and precisely for this reason they are emerging as the dominant political force. The MFA, which arose and developed in this context, has thus become the real political leadership of the country. (Ibid., p.729.)

Now, let us take a look at the reality. Between the Portuguese army, on the one hand, and the Peruvian or Brazilian, on the other, the only thing in common is that in both cases they are armies, and therefore, the final and decisive guarantor of the bourgeois regime. The armies of Peru and Brazil are normal armies in normal bourgeois situations ; they are cohesive and within them hierarchical discipline rules. The Portuguese army is completely anarchic, because it is immersed in the process of a revolution. All of its hierarchies have been thrown off balance. It has little about it that is “solid” ; it is split ; there is a group within it—a minority among the officers — that is trying in its own way and within the framework of the conditions imposed by reality, to save the bourgeois and imperialist order, even if it has to go against the “natural command structure.”

That is the MFA in the government. It is there not because it is military, but because the mass movement trusts it ; not because it is part of the “solid” apparatus of the army, but because that apparatus is going through such a deep crisis that it is unable to rule without basing itself on the captains.

Comrade Maitan makes another comparison in the same article as unfortunate as the one we have just considered. According to him, the Portuguese situation is characterized “precisely by the growing inadequacy of the traditional political apparatus and the absence of a bourgeois party with a mass base sufficiently broad to allow it to exercise hegemony, say, in the manner of the Italian Christian Democracy or the English Conservative party.”

Livio Maitan has not considered the fact that, in a revolutionary period, bourgeois parties never have sufficient support from the masses to exercise hegemony, precisely because it is a revolutionary period, in which the masses do not trust the bourgeoisie and fight against it. One of the symptoms of the progress of the revolutionary crisis in Italy is precisely the growing impossibility of the Christian Democrats continuing to exercise hegemony. The same will happen to the British Conservatives as soon as the British proletariat goes beyond the stage of episodical outbursts—of which the miners strike of 1974 was a notable example—to engage in more militant and generalized struggles. Both parties have been able to rule in normal periods, without generalized workers and popular struggles, but they will not be able to do so in a revolutionary stage. That is why the situation in Portugal is not defined, as our commentator affirms, merely by “a deep political crisis,” but by a violent social and economic crisis.

Perhaps Comrade Maitan will reply that he never intended to mix up the Portuguese government with the “third world” military regimes and that he simply was trying to point out some formal similarities. If he does this, the explanation would be a weak one. For Marxists, the governmental forms always express a particular relation between the classes. A comparison between mere forms, abstracting them from their class content, has no validity or usefulness. We accept analogies when they help to point out more precisely the class definition of a phenomenon ; if they do not help in this, they are a journalistic exercise and carry the danger, at a minimum, of creating confusion.

3. A Government of the Armed Forces or of a Popular Front ?

Liberal thinkers and politicians have coined a superficial classification of bourgeois governments ; civilian and military. We Marxists, in contrast, define governments not according to the clothes their officials wear, but according to the function they fulfill in the relations between classes. Archbishop Makarios, even though he wears a robe, does not head a medieval ecclesiastical government, but one that is the product of the current imperialist stage and a struggle of a British colony for independence. Nevertheless, the uniforms of the Portuguese rulers are making it difficult for many comrades to perceive, behind them, the real relations that have been established between the classes and that have given rise to the present MFA government.

It is sufficient to recall that, in its time, a similar difficulty gave rise to very peculiar definitions of the Peruvian military regime and of its ephemeral Bolivian emulators (Ovando and Torres) : The label “military reformism” was assigned to them, without taking into account the class relations. In this way, a vulgar journalistic description was adopted, which defined the phenomenon by its outer appearance : the uniforms worn by the rulers and the “reforms” (whether real or phony, important or significant, did not matter) they carried out.

The curious thing is that from looking so much at the uniforms of the Lusitanian rulers, a really very crucial fact has been overlooked : It is the first bourgeois government in Western Europe in the last twenty-seven years in which the Communist Party has participated. And it is doing it not alone but with the Socialist Party.

This participation of the workers parties (Socialist and Communist), and especially of Stalinism, in the Portuguese government, is the decisive feature of the MFA regime. Much more important than the epaulets of General Costa Gomes.

The participation in the government of the two large workers parties is a consequence of the revolutionary upsurge, which has compelled the Portuguese bourgeoisie to accept a government shared with these organizations as the only way to paralyze and defeat the workers. A class-collaborationist government has thus been formed to help maintain the bourgeois regime in a very difficult moment. Very difficult among other things because the crisis of its armed forces makes it unable to do so through the use of force. The collaboration became necessary from the moment when, without the support of the workers or their pacification, the bourgeois government could not stay in power one minute ; such was the magnitude of the revolutionary upsurge.

If we leave aside the uniforms, the current Portuguese government is a typical popular-front government, a bloc between the bourgeois government and the workers parties. The Torres government in Bolivia was military and popular-frontist, one of collaboration and participation of the leadership recognized by the workers movement. That of Kerensky and of the Kuomintang were also governments of class collaboration, popular-frontist, even though they were not parliamentary either.

In this respect, then, there can be no doubt : The government of Costa Gomes, the armed forces, and the reformist parties is a typical class-collaborationist government in a revolutionary period. If there is anything new it is that it is a doubly popular-frontist government, because having to confront not only the revolutionary upsurge of the workers movement but also the revolutionary mobilization of the colonial masses, it collaborates or conciliates also with these colonial masses to save the empire. The convergence of the colonial and workers revolutions has given rise to a twice collaborationist government, a double popular-front. This really is a genuine novelty with regard to the relationship between the revolutionary classes and movements and their exploiters ; although there is the precedent of the Kerenskyist demagogy toward the nationalities oppressed by the great Russian imperialism.

The form, technique, and mechanisms through which this collaboration between the representatives of the imperialist bourgeoisie and the petty-bourgeois leaderships of the workers and colonial movements takes place are important. But they are not determinant ; they do not modify this definition of the current Portuguese regime.

For the representatives of the bourgeoisie and of the working class to collaborate, a hinge is necessary, and intermediary. In the case of Portugal, that intermediary is the MFA.

VI. A Classical Kerenskyist Government 1. The Different Types of imperialist Governments

Whether we accept or do not accept the preceding definitions by Horowitz and Maitan of the MFA government, we must emphasize the importance of their attempt. The authors we have cited have hit the right spot : To define the stage of the class struggle and its probable dynamics is a prerequisite for formulating a correct revolutionary policy, but it is not enough. It is necessary to define the character of the regime and government the masses have to confront.

Revolutionists will not follow the same policies with different types of governments. There is a policy for a pre-revolutionary situation under a bourgeois-democratic, parliamentary regime and government, as in the cases of France, Belgium, and Spain in the 1930s. There is another policy for a pre-revolutionary situation (or one close to it) under a post-fascist Bonapartist government, as in Spain today. During the revolutionary situation that opened in 1905, the Bolsheviks advanced slogans (Down with the Tsar ! Republic !) that resulted from their having to confront a semi-feudal regime. In a similar situation in Germany in 1919, there was no reason at all to advance these slogans, since the communists had to confront a republic and not a semi-feudal monarch.

In responding to this necessity, comrades in the metropolitan countries run into an obstacle : the theoretical inertia caused by reality. During the last 30 years, Western Europe has lived under the same bourgeois-democratic regime (200 years in the case of the United States). The European reality has not compelled our movement to face other types of bourgeois governments, with the exception of Portugal and Spain (which could easily be considered as “fossils” inherited from a previous period), and for some years, Greece. We should note, in passing, that these are “peripheral” countries in the European theater. This long period of political monotony caused our movement to lose its theoretical reflexes in reacting to new phenomena like the present Portuguese regime.

That is, new in relation to the period Western Europe has just completed, but not new for revolutionary Marxists, who already had occasion to study similar regimes during the almost three decades from 1917 to 1945. At that time, regimes and governments that were not bourgeois-democratic proliferated in Western Europe. Thus we have only to resort to the theoretical arsenal inherited from our teachers to find definitions fundamental for our attempts to characterize the MFA government and the future regimes that will make their appearance on the European continent as the revolution continues to advance.

Starting from the chronic crisis of imperialism (which has not led to a revolutionary outcome because of the betrayal of the Social Democracy and Stalinism), Trotsky studied and defined four types of imperialist governments and regimes : fascist, Bonapartist, bourgeois-democratic, and Kerenskyist. For the countries dominated by imperialism, he defined a particular kind of Bonapartism : “sui generis” Bonapartism, which we have already dealt with. And, in its time, he advanced the definition of Bonapartist for Stalin’s government, although with an essentially different social base : It was the organ of a workers state.

2. Bourgeois Democracy and Fascism

At the end of the last century, Engels noted the trend of bourgeois regimes toward Bonapartism, toward leaving the government in the hands of the bureaucracy and the military apparatus. It is true that this trend was and continues to be a constant. Nevertheless, the bourgeois-democratic type of regime flourished and spread in the imperialist countries up until the First World War.

In the typical democratic regime, the problems of the bourgeoisie are settled through electoral competition between the different sectors that seek support among the middle class and the workers. Beyond their electoral character, these bourgeois-democratic regimes base themselves on an agreement with the middle class to maintain a democratic-electoral mechanism.

The colossal development of capitalism and imperialism in the past century and the first years of the present one was the necessary precondition for the flourishing of bourgeois-democratic regimes in the imperialist countries, as it made possible a certain improvement in the situation of the workers. Thus assurance was provided that granting the people the right to vote would not turn against the bourgeoisie, since the workers would vote for the bourgeois or reformist parties. In that period, and in consequence of these conditions, the reformist ideology arose that equates capitalism with democracy.

Since the end of the Second World War, a similar phenomenon took place in the imperialist countries (and a similar ideology arose) in consequence of the spectacular boom of the capitalist economy in the last twenty-five years.

But in the period between the two world wars, the capitalist economy, far from a boom, experienced a deep and prolonged crisis. We only need to recall the great world crisis of 1929-32 and the one that Germany and the countries of central Europe underwent for entire years.

Beginning with 1914, the imperialist world began to suffer a social and economic crisis. As the situation of capitalism became more and more critical, the bourgeois-democratic regime burned out its electoral fuses. It was no longer possible for it to assure the middle class and the labor aristocracy their privileges. The disputes between the different wings of the bourgeoisie sharpened. The different classes no longer accepted waiting for elections and demanded immediate solutions. If in Russia bourgeois-democracy (after a short life of a few months) was replaced by the dictatorship of the proletariat, in Italy it gave way to a new type of bourgeois government : fascism. The “eternal” democratic regime of “eternal” capitalism thus revealed its true transitional character, of a period in the life of capitalism. Its real role, that of a station house on the line leading to two opposite terminals : fascism or communism, was exposed.

It was Trotsky who made a precise analysis of the new fascist phenomenon. Faced with an economic crisis and the danger of a workers revolution, finance capital saw itself compelled to mobilize the petty-bourgeoisie and the declassed layers to crush the working class and its organizations with the methods of civil war and to install a totalitarian state, which not only suppressed workers democracy, but also all democratic rights.

3. Imperialist Bonapartism

But fascism is only a last resort, costly and full of risks. The bourgeoisie does not always find itself compelled to mobilize the petty-bourgeoisie. In many cases, it could count on a less convulsive instrument : The reformist workers parties guaranteed its survival. This allowed the bourgeoisie on occasions to limit or directly suppress a democratic regime without resorting to fascism (many times, as anticipatory steps in the march toward such a regime). This intermediate regime, born out of the advances of the bourgeois counterrevolution and defeats of the masses, based itself on the bureaucracy and fundamentally on the armed forces, which is what gives it a Bonapartist character.

Trotsky was meticulous in his study of these regimes, typical of Europe in the 1920s and the 1930s. “The decline of capitalist society places Bonapartism—side by side with fascism and coupled with it — again on the order of the day.” (Leon Trotsky, The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany, [New York : Pathfinder Press, Inc., 1971] p.329.)

And pointing to the relationship between these distinct forms of bourgeois rule, he said : between parliamentary democracy and the fascist regime [there is] a series of transitional forms ...

On the basis of the German experience, the Bolshevik-Leninists recorded for the first time the transitional governmental form ... which we called Bonapartism (Ibid., p.438.)

These governmental forms are an indirect result of the advance of the fascists :

The determinism of this transitional form has become patent, naturally not in the fatalistic but in the dialectical sense, that is, for the countries and periods where fascism, with growing success, without encountering a victorious resistance of the proletariat, attacked the positions of parliamentary democracy in order thereupon to strangle the proletariat. (Ibid., p.438.)

And Trotsky again emphasizes that Bonapartism bases itself on the retreat of the masses and in the victories of the counterrevolution, not on the proximity of the revolution.

“Without this basic condition, that is, without a preceding exhaustion of the mass energies in battles, the Bonapartist regime is in no position to develop.” (Ibid., p. 278.)

These regimes, precisely because of their character of intermediate stations on the passageway from parliamentary democracy to fascism, were less stable than post-fascist Bonapartism. The later arises when fascism in power gets rid of (sometimes, with the same civil-war methods that it used previously against the proletariat) its petty-bourgeois wing and begins to rule on the basis of the military police apparatus.

Trotsky thus distinguished three types of “normal” bourgeois regimes in this epoch of crisis : parliamentary democracy, pre-fascist and post-fascist Bonapartism, and fascism. In saying “normal” we refer to the fact that we are dealing with regimes in which the stability of the bourgeoisie is guaranteed.

4. Kerenskyism

But what happened in the opposite case, when the movement of the workers and the masses was advancing toward a socialist revolution ? Trotsky recognized in those cases a new type of regime and government : Kerenskyist or popular-frontist. It is an extremely unstable form, sunk in a chronic crisis, of very limited duration, constituting the last or next to the last type of bourgeois government before a workers revolution or a turn backwards toward fascism, Bonapartism, or bourgeois democracy.

“The regime existing in Spain today,” said Trotsky in November 1931 in relation to the liberal-socialist government, “corresponds best to the conception of a Kerensky, that is, the last (or next-to-last) ‘left’ government, which the bourgeoisie can only set up in its struggle against the revolution.” (Leon Trotsky, The Spanish Revolution—1931-39, [New York : Pathfinder Press, Inc., 1973], p.169.)

And in face of the criticisms made of this concept : (“You say that the present regime in Spain can be compared to ‘Kerenskyism’ ... I do not think so. ‘Kerenskyism’ was the bourgeoisie’s last card. It was the announcement for October. Azana announces Lerroux, that is, Miliukov, the big bourgeoisie.”) (Ibid., p.380), Trotsky responds by criticizing the mechanical conception of Nin, who believed that Kerenskyism would inevitably lead to a proletarian revolution, pointing out that to the contrary the possibility was great that it would move backwards toward more reactionary bourgeois regimes. Here is the quote : “Everything depends on the manner in which ‘Kerenskyism’ is seen : as the last bourgeois government after which the bourgeoisie must perish, or as the last left government, the furthest left which the bourgeoisie can advance in the struggle for its regime, and which must enable the bourgeoisie to save itself (and hardly perish) or yield its place to a fascist government.” (Ibid., p.397.)

In a Kerenskyist regime, the bourgeois counterrevolution, unable to crush the workers revolution but still able to prevent its victory, sees itself compelled to conciliate with the workers movement to stop its advance. Let me stress an example : If we take bourgeois democracy as the midway station of a railway line, if we move toward the right we pass by the station of Bonapartism ; the end of the line is fascism. But, if we go in the opposite direction, we will pass by the station of Kerenskyism, and crossing the class frontier, we will arrive at the other end of the line, a workers state.

Kerenskyism is a combination of a workers revolution and bourgeois counterrevolution. But a combination in which the dynamic and decisive element continues to be a workers revolution on the rise. This is exactly opposite to a Bonapartist regime, in which the dynamic factor is the bourgeois counterrevolution, and the workers movement is on the defensive.

We are amazed at the resistance of the majority of contemporary Marxists to accepting this definition, which we have recently applied to the governments of Torres in Bolivia and Allende in Chile. A resistance which is all the more serious, since the present crisis of capitalism makes inevitable the emergence of governments of this type. Above all, our attention is called to the fact that the comrades of the Militant , who very correctly compare the Russian and Portuguese revolutions, do not notice the similarity between the governments produced by both of those processes.

It is possible that the confusion originates in the fact that Kerenskyist governments just like parliamentary ones) tend to move toward Bonapartism. Another fact that can create confusion is that both Bonapartism as well as Kerenskyism are characteristic of periods of capitalist crisis, in opposition to parliamentary democratic governments.

5. Kerenskyism and Bonapartism

But the big difference between these two regimes lies in the form in which the bourgeoisie goes about solving the crisis. When it bases itself directly on the armed forces without resorting to conciliation with the movement of the workers and the masses, when it attempts to overcome a crisis with a government of the “right”, of “law and order,” and of “strength,” with an “incontestable arbiter,” we are facing a typical Bonapartist government.

When it tries to “conciliate,” to obtain the “collaboration of the working class through its representatives” to install a “left” or “socialist” government, we face a class collaborationist, a Kerenskyist, government.

We could summarize by saying that the difference between a Bonapartist and Kerenskyist government is the same as that between a judge or arbiter, who hands down his sentences with the weight of disciplined armed forces behind him, and a conciliator, who does not have reliable armed forces with which to impose his decisions or “advice.”

Logically, this conciliator or intermediary between the contending classes tries with all his might to attain the power that would give his decisions a compulsory and incontestable character. But, as long as he does not succeed (and to succeed he must defeat the working class), he will continue to be Kerenskyist and not Bonapartist.

This combination of traits of one type of regime and another is not unusual. On the contrary, it is the rule in reality, where pure types are a rare exception. Thus, we have Bonapartisms and Kerenskyisms with parliamentary forms, parliamentary-democratic regimes with strong Bonapartist tendencies, etc.

In the case of Kerenskyism, its unstable character requires it to try to become Bonapartist, in order to reestablish the lost bourgeois social equilibrium. Trotsky, in narrating the history of the Russian revolution, points to this trait in the Kerensky government. He speaks of “elements of Bonapartism” in defining Kerensky and Kornilov. This is how we must understand the references that Lenin and Trotsky himself made to the “Bonapartist” character of Kerensky, in the midst of the struggle against him. In the History of the Russian Revolution, but also in other works of his, Trotsky makes this very clear :

The misfortune of the Russian candidates for Bonaparte lay not at all in their dissimilarity to the first Napoleon, or even to Bismarck. History knows how to make use of substitutes. But they were confronted by a great revolution which had not yet solved its problems or exhausted its force. [...] The revolution was still full-blooded. No wonder Bonapartism prove anemic. (Op.cit., Vol.2, pp. 155-56.)

There is no one better than the class enemy at summarizing the difference between a Kerensky with Bonapartist tendencies and the directly Bonapartist Kornilov. Trotsky quotes one of the big Russian industrialists complaining about the Kerenskyist government : “They would summon representatives of the workers to Petrograd and in the Marble Palace scold them and try to persuade and reconcile them with the industrialists and engineers.” (Ibid., Vol.2, p.267.)

This big capitalist was anxious to have the “conciliator” government replaced by another one (Bonapartist) which, as supreme arbiter, would give orders and have the rebellious Russian workers comply with them.

As Trotsky narrates, according to the testimony of Miliukov, the most important Russian bourgeois politician, “this installing of a strong man ... [Kornilov] was ‘thought of in different terms from those of negotiation and compromise.’” The same was said by another commentator to explain the support of Kornilov by the Kadet party : “Hopes of democracy, of the will of the people, of the Constituent Assembly [...] were already thrown overboard. The municipal elections throughout all Russia had given an overwhelming majority to the socialists ... and there were beginning to be convulsive reachings out for a power which should not persuade [like that of Kerensky, we add] but only command.” (Ibid., Vol.2, p.142. Emphasis added.)

There can be no doubt about it : For Trotskyism, a conciliatory regime is different from that of an arbiter. The first is Kerenskyism ; the other, Bonapartism.

6. A Government of the ‘Left,’ a Class-Collaborationist, Popular-Frontist, or Kerenskyist Government Are All the Same

Originally, Kerenskyism got its name from A. Kerensky, who governed Russia in the last months of the bourgeois regime before the October revolution.

Later, Trotsky used the term to refer to all those class-collaborationist governments in which the reformist parties of the workers movement participated. In this way, the definition of Kerenskyism covered not only those left coalition governments of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat during revolutionary periods, but also those that arose during pre-revolutionary situations, as in the case of the French Popular Front government in 1936 and several similar cases in other countries in the 1920s.

An epoch of Kerenskyism is clearly approaching in your country [France] ; the regime of the Radical-socialist Bloc is the first confused rebound from the war epoch. (The First 5 Years of the Communist International , Vol.1, 2nd ed. [New York : Monad Press, 1972] p.163.)

But the most likely candidate at the present time is Herriot who is preparing the background and the conditions for a new policy, for French Kerenskyism, because the assumption of power by the ‘Left Bloc’ signifies a government of Radicals and Socialists, who will undoubtedly enter the Bloc. (Ibid., Vol.2, p.212.)

The appearance of the working class in power will place the entire responsibility for the government’s actions upon the Labor Party ; and will give rise to an epoch of English Kerenskyism in the era of parliamentarism ... (Ibid., Vol.2, p.211.)

But there are too many indications that the bourgeoisie will be driven to resort to a reformist and pacifist orientation, before the proletariat feels itself prepared for the decisive assault. This would signify an epoch of European Kerenskyism. (Ibid., Vol.2, p.262)

... in Spain Kerenskyism-the coalition of the liberals and the ‘socialists’ ... (Writings of Leon Trotsky-1930-31 , op. cit., p.355.)

As we can see, Trotsky includes within the category of Kerenskyism all “left” governments in which workers parties participate : from the “leftist” project in France in 1922, to the liberal-socialist coalition of Spain in 1931, including the probable Labour government in England in a pre-revolutionary period. A demagogic-leftist orientation (“reformist and pacifist”) of the European bourgeoisie leads him to predict a period of Kerenskyism on a continental scale.

He defines in this way a Kerenskyism we could call “not classic,” since, in distinction from the Kerensky regime, it does not arise in a revolutionary stage and in a situation of dual power, but in a pre-revolutionary one ; and it is not put into power directly by the mass movement, but indirectly, through electoral and parliamentary means.

Later, after seeing and studying the popular-front governments of Blum, Largo Caballero, and Negdn, Trotsky went the other way : He extended the name of “popular front” to Kerensky’s government, thus indicating that they were synonymous.

From February to October, the Mensheviks and the Social Revolutionaries, who represent a very good parallel to the ‘Communists’ and the Social Democrats, were in the closest alliance and in a permanent coalition with the bourgeois party of the Cadets, together with whom they formed a series of coalition governments. Under the sign of this Popular Front (The Spanish Revolution , op. cit., p.220.)

For it is often forgotten that the greatest historical example of the Popular Front is the February 1917 revolution. (Ibid., p.220.)

1. A Classical Kerenskylst Government

Let us use Trotsky’s method to define the MFA government, by observing its relationship to the revolution and the counterrevolution. Is this government the product of counterrevolutionary victories or advances, or contrariwise, of great revolutionary victories of the masses ? Is it a consequence of the latter having “exhausted their energies in battles” or on the contrary, of their having won these battles, against fascism and then two times against Spínola ?

The MFA government is the result of transitional stages that are opposite to those that give rise to Bonapartist governments. It is the result of the fall of the post-fascist Bonapartist government and of the rising curve of a workers revolution ; it reflects the transitional stages in the advance of that revolution and the successive ways in which the bourgeoisie, the modern middle class, and the reformist parties that act as representatives of the proletariat accommodate to that advance in order to block it.

Horowitz himself helps demolish the definition of Bonapartist with his description of the situation of the mass movement. Again and again, he points to the occurrence of big strikes, demonstrations, factory occupations, etc. In the reaction’s latest coup attempt on March 11, the masses won, the coup was defeated, and the oligarchy received a hard blow with the nationalization of the banks and the insurance companies. Since the fall of the fascist regime, workers have made gain after gain. Horowitz admits this in his article when he poses the need to “defend the gains the workers have made.” Everything fits : Mobilizations are on a rising curve. We are very far, then, from the “basic condition” that Trotsky indicated as decisive for a Bonapartist regime to develop : that the energies of the masses “have been exhausted.”

As has been said, we do not deny that the MFA has Bonapartist traits, that it tends toward Bonapartism. But the predominant trend since the fall of fascism and the appearance of the government of the MFA has been the opposite : more and more advances and gains of the masses.

The Bonapartist traits oppose this tendency ; this is the main danger confronting the Portuguese mass movement today. But a danger is precisely that : a probable evil ; not a present evil. The danger could become a reality only after a defeat of the masses, or after they have worn out their forces on partial and disorganized struggles, or after battles that were necessary but not engaged in. Again we see that Horowitz empties a political formula of its class content and applies it to a regime that can only base itself on victories of the counterrevolution, whereas the situation is that the workers movement has been winning positions and acquiring a more and more favorable relationship of forces with respect to the bourgeoisie.

The definition of the Portuguese government as Bonapartist has another serious shortcoming. The emergence of a Bonapartist (or democratic, or fascist, or Kerenskyist) regime can only take place in the midst of commotion, since it implies moving from one stage of class struggle to another. That is why Trotsky says : “the passage from one system to another signifies the political crisis.” (The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany, op. cit., p.440. Trotsky’s emphasis.) Thus the comrades who maintain that the MFA is a Bonapartist government must define precisely what political crisis opened the Bonapartist stage. Caetano’s fall ? Spínola’s fall ? The defeat of the Spínolist putsch in March ? These three political crises constituted victories of the revolution, not of the reaction. On the other hand, Caetano’s regime was post-fascist Bonapartist, and Spínola was a candidate for the role of Bonaparte. Does the MFA mean only a changing of the guard in a Bonapartist regime that is but the continuation of those of Caetano and Spínola ? In that case, the defenders of this thesis should, to be consistent, state that nothing has changed politically in Portugal since April 25, 1974 (except, perhaps, the “strength” of Bonapartism, which would now be weaker).

There is, on the other hand, a definition that fits the characteristics of the MFA regime perfectly. Except for the fact that, up to now, it has not produced a Kerensky, the Portuguese government has all the traits of Kerenskyism or a popular-front government. It is a typical class-collaborationist government, weak, unstable, which covers up its bourgeois character with leftist rhetoric and a profuse demagogy around measures (undoubtedly progressive) that it has found itself compelled to carry out : nationalization of the banks and monopolistic companies. Finally it is structured as a popular-front government, in which a bourgeois party participates with the opportunist and reformist parties of the workers movement (the SP and CP) and a politico-military organization that establishes the relationship between the former and the latter.

Because of the fact that it is not the product of a parliamentary combination, but of an advancing workers revolution, and because it finds itself in a situation containing important seeds of dual power, the Kerenskyist government of the MFA is very similar to that of Kerensky himself.

The adoption of this definition and the rejection of the Bonapartist definition do not alter the principled position that we as revolutionary Marxists must take toward this government. It has not ceased to be a bourgeois government, and thus we must not place the least bit of confidence in it, we must not give it any political support, and we must not participate in it under any circumstance. It is our class enemy and our aim must be to defeat it by means of the workers revolution.

But it is of decisive importance in determining the policies that revolutionary Marxists must follow toward it. Let us recall the example of the railway line with two terminals (fascism and a workers state) : If the government is Bonapartist, the country is moving to the right, and thus it is urgent to put the brakes on this trend and try to reverse it. If it is Kerenskyist, we must step on the accelerator to speed the march toward the socialist revolution and free ourselves from the counterrevolutionary government (which does not mean that we will move at the same speed at all times, but we will have to make adjustments according to the circumstances with which we are faced during the journey).

Another trait of Bonapartism is that, being a reactionary government in almost pure form, which does not base itself on any popular sector, it reveals itself as an almost direct government of finance capital. That is, in the case of Portugal, a government of the seven families. This would have undoubtedly been true in the event of a victory by Spínola. But, of course, that is not so in the case of the MFA government, which has partially expropriated the financial oligarchy.

Bonapartism is also a government of law and order, par excellence. And it is so, precisely because it bases itself not on parliament, but on the bureaucracy, the police, and the army. But, to be able to base itself on them, it needs a solid, disciplined police and army, ready to carry out the repressive orders of the regime. In Portugal, we have exactly the opposite. The former political police is practically dismantled. An openly deliberative atmosphere predominates in the army. The very existence of the MFA (a public political faction) contributes objectively to divide it. In some units, the soldiers are removing their commanders and they control the appointment of their replacements. In others, assemblies take place in which officers, noncommissioned officers, and soldiers participate on an equal footing. There have been cases of troops refusing to repress demonstrations.

Under such conditions, Bonapartism is not possible. And the crisis and disintegration of the army deepens day by day. The only way a Bonapartist regime might be established is through the previous restoration of military discipline. This is the aim of the Bonapartist tendencies within the MFA ; the soldiers and the mass movement are marching in the opposite direction. Once more : Until the Bonapartist tendencies defeat the mass movement, there can be no Bonapartism in Portugal.

We do not think it is necessary to go on. The definition of the Portuguese government as Bonapartist does not withstand the least analysis. There is no doubt about it, it is a Kerenskyist government with elements of dual power, that is, a classical Kerenskyist government.

The Armed Forces Movement 1. Institutionalized Kerenskyism

All Kerenskyist or popular-frontist regimes are made up of three elements : on one hand, the bourgeoisie ; on the other, the petty-bourgeois or bureaucratic representatives of the workers movement ; and in the middle, the mediator or conciliator.

This is the role that Kerensky played in the Russian revolution.

Half Kadet and half Social Revolutionary, Kerensky was not a representative of the soviets in the government, like Tseretelli or Chernov, but a living tie between the bourgeoisie and the democracy. Tseretelli and Chernov formed one side of the Coalition. Kerensky was a personal incarnation of the Coalition itself. (History of the Russian Revolution, op. cit., Vol.2, p.139.)

It is true that there is no Kerensky in the Portuguese government. It lacks this personal trait that Kerenskyism shares with Bonapartism. This circumstance does not stand in the way of the preciseness of the definition that we have formulated. When the Trotskyists defined the Hindenburg government as Bonapartist, the objection was raised that this old marshal was the very negation of Napoleon, psychologically as well as socially. Trotsky quickly disposed of the question : He made it clear that the definition did not refer to the individual, but to the sociopolitical role that he played. Hindenburg’s Bonapartism was an institution, not an individual. Going beyond his personal characteristics, he was a symbol of the historic role played by Bonapartism in Germany.

We can apply the same criterion to the government of the MFA. Kerensky arose from the great petty-bourgeois Russian party, the Social Revolutionary party ; but, at the same time, it had always been tied to the liberal bourgeoisie. And it was only from this party that a“conciliator” could emerge able to mediate between the bourgeois counterrevolution and the proletarian revolution. Almost fifty years of apoliticalness in Portugal prevented the rise and consolidation of a petty-bourgeois party (and within it, figures closely linked to the bourgeoisie) : This is the vacuum that the MFA fills, willy-nilly. And in this way makes up for the nonexistent conciliator.

The parallel between Kerensky and the MFA is note worthy. The discussion of Bonapartism in the preceding pages could have taken place, in almost identical terms, in 1917. Trotsky points out the strong Bonapartist tendencies of Kerensky, tendencies that cannot be imposed owing to the victorious rise of the mass movement, which culminates in the taking of power. And, precisely because of this, because the Bonapartist tendencies are not able to impose themselves, the government is not Bonapartist, but another type of government : Kerenskyist, as we have already mentioned.

Another trait Kerensky and the MFA have in common is the lack of sympathy and confidence the respective bourgeoisies feel for their “saviors” : “Their understanding that the régime of Kerensky was the inevitable form of bourgeois rulership for the given period, did not prevent the bourgeois politicians from being extremely dissatisfied with Kerensky, nor from preparing to get rid of him as quickly as possible. There was no disagreement among the possessing classes that the national arbiter put forward by the petty bourgeois democracy must be opposed by a figure from their own ranks.” (Ibid., Vol.2, p.157.)

It is the decline of the workers and mass movement that elevates and keeps the Bonapartist government in power. The exact opposite occurs with Kerenskyism—each advance of the workers and mass movement elevates it more and more :

The dialectic of the compromise régime, and its malicious irony, lie in the fact that the masses had to lift Kerensky to the very highest height before they could topple him over. (Ibid., Vol.2, p.140.)

This is exactly what is occurring with the MFA. After the fall of Caetano, it obtained only a few secondary ministries in the first provisional government. In a short time, the colonial movement and the mass struggles in Portugal confronted Spínola because of the delay in granting independence to the colonies and in calling a Constituent Assembly, causing the fall of the prime minister Palma Carlos. The MFA then imposed one of its men (Col. Vasco Goncalves) as prime minister. When the mass mobilizations caused the fall of Spínola, the MFA was able to gain total control of the cabinet. The defeat of the March 11 “putsch” enabled the MFA to get the big workers parties and the most important bourgeois party to sign the “Pact-Program,” which recognized the right of the MFA to control the government for a period of three to five years. It is along these same lines that Trotsky says, “The July government of Kerensky had been endowed with unlimited powers.” (Ibid., Vol.2, p.153.) But as in the case of Kerensky, this elevation above the classes and the different parties has little practical value, since the MFA does not have the power necessary to impose its decisions. Trotsky says that “without Kerensky compromisism would have been like a church steeple without a cross.” (Ibid., Vol.2, p.140.) The MFA also crowns the building of the impossible conciliation of classes in the midst of the revolutionary storm.

Finally, let’s take a look at another trait that the MFA has in common with Kerensky : his disorganizing, anarchist role. Everything it wants to put in order it puts in disorder, everything it wants to construct, it destroys. This is just the opposite to Bonapartism, the regime of law and order par excellence although everyone (except the revolutionists) would like to see the MFA achieve this goal. In spite of this desire shared by all of the bourgeoisie, the petty-bourgeoisie, and the reformist working-class parties, and the efforts they make along these lines, their objective is far beyond their reach. Order can only be the product of the triumph of the workers revolution or the bourgeois counterrevolution, and Kerenskyism is an intermediary between these two gigantic forces, and at the same time, their prisoner.

2. Political and Class Character

When the Militant draws its analogy between the Russian and Portuguese revolutions, it forgets that in the former the Social Revolutionary party and Kerensky existed, representing the petty bourgeoisie and fulfilling the role of intermediaries between the masses and the imperialist bourgeoisie. What parties and organisms in Portugal reflect the petty bourgeoisie, mainly the modern middle class, the way the Russian Social Revolutionaries did ? Or is the Portuguese revolution the first in which the petty bourgeoisie has no representation ? And is the present government a class-collaborationist government without an intermediary or conciliator like Kerensky ?

If we observe the Portuguese political panorama, we find that the bourgeoisie as well as the working class are clearly represented. The bourgeoisie, in its various wings, by the reactionary officers, Spínola, Costa Gomes, and the bourgeois political parties. The working class has two petty-bourgeois, or bureaucratic, representatives : Socialism and Stalinism. On the other hand, the petty bourgeoisie apparently has no specific organization that represents it. This is no accident : All the Portuguese parties are, in a certain sense, new because fifty years of fascism gave them no opportunity to test their cadres and leaderships. This is doubly so in the camp of the “people.” The CP and the SP based their ideology and apparatus on external factors : first, Moscow and European Stalinism ; second, the European Social Democracy. It is not in vain that they are representatives of an international class—and of its deformations. But the Portuguese petty bourgeoisie is not an international class. And its petty-bourgeois representatives are—they are obliged to be—the most genuine, most backward national product, with no ties to international apparatuses. These, too, were the characteristics of the Russian Social Revolutionaries.

It seems to us that the Portuguese petty bourgeoisie, for lack of historical time, had to improvise its political representation, dividing it among various organizations, not specifically. This division of its representation fell to the Socialist Party and to a lesser degree to parties in the orbit of Stalinism. This vacuum forced a specific political organization to be improvised within the army, fundamentally to represent the modern middle class, the MFA. In Russia, the “progressive” low-ranking officers joined or responded to a big petty-bourgeois party, the Social Revolutionaries, organizing themselves in the army in cells or branches of this party. In Portugal, the absence of such a big party of the middle class fragmented the representation of that class into two or three political sectors, but obliged it to organize itself in a united form within the army.

In view of the fact that the Portuguese government is supported on two bases : the officers and structure of some armed forces in crisis, and the agreement and support of the reformist parties, a division of tasks has developed between these forces and the MFA. It is the same division that occurred in Russia between the Mensheviks and the Social Revolutionaries on the one hand, and Kerensky on the other. The Portuguese reformist parties placate the masses and try to demobilize them, as did the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries in Russia. The MFA-Kerensky acts as a conciliator-bridge between them and the political and bourgeois-military organs (parties, high commands and officer corps).

The MFA plays this role because of the lack of “traditional” political personalities or organisms that could do it and because of the peculiar characteristics of the Portuguese “February.” It is no accident that Kerensky came from the right wing of the Social Revolutionaries, practically from the border between them and the liberal bourgeoisie. He was the man whose political practice formed a bridge between the revolutionary masses—represented in their time by the various nuances within their party—and the liberal bourgeois Kadets. But in Portugal fascism brought about a “February” without the existence of big historic parties representing the different classes. This is one of the reasons why April 25, the Portuguese February, did not find its expression through the Portuguese “Social Revolutionaries” and “Kadets,” but through its military substitutes. If the April 25 “putsch” was basically military, its personalities and organisms should likewise be military. And, if the lower-ranking officers who organized the MFA played the role of the Social Revolutionaries and Spínola that of the Kadets, Vasco Goncalves, along with the MFA itself, replaced Kerensky. It is no accident that Vasco Goncalves is a lieutenant colonel, and not a member of the lower officer class. His function as a bridge between it and the generals, his location on the border, the limit, between one and the other placed him in a position that could not be improved on to play the role of intermediary. And as intermediary in the sector in which the crisis broke out, the armed forces, just like Kerensky in the broadest framework of the relationship between the parties of the Russian revolution when the social crisis broke out. From there to rising to the position of a Kerensky among the Portuguese parties, classes, and military factions as a whole, required only a single step. A step that was taken by the MFA and its leader Vasco Goncalves. As a result of this role as intermediary, the MFA itself became an echo chamber for its speakers, thus becoming polarized in different tendencies and living from crisis to crisis as a result of these antagonisms.

This class character and function is the only coherent explanation of the history, ideology, and politics of the MFA. The other definition, upheld by many comrades, that the MFA is the direct organ or representative of the imperialist bourgeoisie, is wrecked by insoluble contradictions. How do you explain the frictions and struggle between Spínola, who gathered around him the bourgeoisie after the April 25 coup, and the MFA, which represented that same bourgeoisie ? Are there two wings of the same bourgeoisie that confront each other in attempts at civil war, that hit at each other with “putschs,” that battle each other, that persecute each other, and, while one flees the country, the other “carries on demagogy” ? It all looks like a game of chess played by a single person : the imperialist bourgeoisie. But these insoluble contradictions are resolved (and the character of the MFA, its history of oscillations between the bourgeoisie and the revolution, with clashes in both directions, becomes crystal clear as soon as we consider it as the political representation of the modern middle class within the army, elevated so as to have to play the role of conciliator between the ongoing workers and colonial revolution and the Portuguese bourgeoisie and its political and military representatives.

This class definition does not in the least mean that we place any confidence whatsoever in the MFA. On the contrary, the analogy with Kerensky is all the more useful. Like him, the MFA is the representative of the imperialist middle class, which has thrived upon and will continue to thrive upon the exploitation of the colonies, just as the Russian Social Revolutionaries wanted to continue the predatory war of Russian imperialism “up until the final victory.” They have likewise thrived upon and want to continue to thrive upon the exploitation of the working class ; they are, thus, doubly reactionary.

The contradictions shaking the MFA simply express the contradictory character of the class it represents : With its plebeian, “socializing” methods, it is the most formidable tool that the Portuguese imperialist bourgeoisie has now. If it fulfills such an outstanding role in the bourgeois strategy, this is owing to the extreme weakness of the bourgeoisie and of the empire it is defending. This weakness, which caused the crisis in the army, has left the imperialist middle class as the only obstacle facing the revolution, not only in Portugal, but also in the empire. The imperialist bourgeoisie will have no better instrument until it is able to discipline the army and develop a fascist movement.

3. Two Dangerous Interpretations of the MFA and the Crisis of the Armed Forces

Many are the interpretations that have been given of the MFA phenomena, some of them extremely dangerous.

There are those who maintain that it is “a new phenomenon.” It is true that the MFA, like any phenomenon, has something new about it, but it is very grave to assert that something is new simply to evade making a class analysis. It is precisely from the angle of the relationship between the classes that the MFA is not essentially new : It must be explained by the revolutionary impact and the dynamic of the three main classes of society within the armed forces. These comrades become confused in face of the real crisis and the dual power in the Portuguese armed forces, and they ascribe this situation to the MFA, when in reality, the MFA is the expression of the situation. Just as many “leftists” were in favor of a republican Spain and its government, or of the “February revolution in Russia” and its government, going onto ecstasies over the revolution as a whole, including dual power, some comrades do the same with the Portuguese revolution, placing an equal sign between the MFA and the gains of the masses. In this way they hide the clear and precise functions of the MFA : to be the conciliating agent of the imperialist counterrevolution. In the certain fact that without a workers revolution and dual power in the army there would be no MFA, they dissolve the equally certain fact that the MFA is the petty-bourgeois counter revolutionary instrument of the imperialist bourgeoisie to block the revolution inside and outside the army.

But there is an opposite interpretation, also incorrect and dangerous : the one given by those who state that the MFA and imperialism are one and the same, that is, that the MFA is the expression within the army of the Portuguese imperialist bourgeoisie. This definition has one merit : It is a class analysis. But it has one defect ; contrary and symmetrical to the former one : It also begins with the true fact that the MFA is part of the officer caste of a bourgeois and imperialist army and that its government is imperialist, but it dissolves this generality into the equally true fact that it is not the imperialist bourgeoisie but a petty-bourgeois agent and that it is part of a class collaborationist government in which it acts as an intermediary between its bosses and the workers and colonial movements.

Trotsky has pointed out repeatedly that the armed forces express in an extremely succinct form the character of the society in which they exist. Portugal does not escape this rule. The Spínola wing of the army represented, without a doubt, the Portuguese bourgeoisie. Today, the reactionary officers who continue to be the majority and who — according to the Trotskyist soldier—are organized and distributing leaflets in the barracks ; continue to represent it. They will continue to exist and respond to the imperialist bourgeoisie. Another wing of the bourgeoisie has accepted collaboration with the MFA and the workers parties to halt the revolution. We believe that the person who best reflects this very weak wing, formed more by ideologists than by big bourgeois figures as such, a true “shadow of the bourgeoisie,” is Costa Gomes, Spínola’s friend. It is Costa Gomes himself who is in charge of establishing the connection between this sector and the MFA. Maybe there are some officers who respond to Costa Gomes. If this is so, we have not heard that they constitute an important sector nor that they are organized. They would be something like the “military shadow” of the “shadow of the bourgeoisie” represented by the present president of Portugal.

The MFA is distinct from the officers who are openly Spínolists, reactionaries, and representatives of the bourgeoisie, and it is distinct from the Costa Gomes wing. Horowitz, in the article already referred to, recognizes this when he tells us : “Despite the MFA’s policy differences with the dictatorship, and despite a vaguely populist or radical ideology on the part of some MFA officers, the MFA was not a genuinely independent formation. The officers of the MFA comprised one wing of the Portuguese imperialist army. They did not even have the goal of breaking completely with the reactionary senior officers.” (Emphasis added.) It is a good portrait or description, but it does not make a profound analysis. It does not say what class interests the different wings represent, including the MFA.

In our opinion, nothing can be understood if we do not begin from the fact that the MFA is a product and at the same time the detonator and accelerator of the crisis of the imperialist army defeated in a colonial war, that is, a manifestation of the class struggle. Starting from this point we can advance. Everyone agrees that it is an organization of the lower-ranking officers (with a few senior officers), and that there are three tendencies within it : the pro-Stalinists, the pro-Socialists, and the independent Socialists. Despite this, some insist that it is a mere agent or direct representative of the high command or of the imperialist bourgeoisie. But this definition does not explain, among other things, why they fight with the Spínola wing, which also represents the imperialist bourgeoisie. We believe that Trotsky gives us the answer when he describes the impact of the Russian revolution on the army :

... the Petrograd garrison followed the workers. After the victory it found itself summoned to hold elections for the Soviet. The soldiers trustfully elected those who had been for the revolution against the monarchist officers, and who knew how to say this out loud : these were volunteers, clerks, assistant-surgeons, young war-time officers from the intelligentsia, petty military officials—that is, the lowest layers of that new middle caste. All of them almost to the last man inscribed themselves, beginning in March, in the party of the Social Revolutionaries, which with its intellectual formlessness perfectly expressed their intermediate social situation and their limited political outlook. (The History of the Russian Revolution, Vol.I, p.167. Emphasis in original.)

For Trotsky, then, the entire lower officer class reflected “the lowest layers of that new middle caste ...,” and it inscribed itself in the petty-bourgeois party par excellence, the “Social Revolutionaries,” in which some high-ranking officers of the staff also inscribed themselves. We believe that this definition is adapted very well to the MFA phenomenon. It is an organ of the lower-ranking officers, composed of “petty military officials” and—in this respect the similarity is notable—by “young war-time officers.” The big difference, as we have already seen, lies in that, because of the absence of a big party of its class, they organized themselves in a faction within the army. But this “socializing” faction also corresponds through its “intellectual formlessness” to an “intermediate social situation” and the “limited political outlook” of those comprised in it.

Those who insist on comparing the MFA to the high commands and the imperialist bourgeoisie do not carry this definition to its ultimate consequences : They should say that the MFA is similar to the Kadets of the Russian army during the revolution. But they do not dare go so far and chose instead a more ingenious comparison : They compare it with the republican officers in the Spanish civil war. Despite the fact that this case involved building a bourgeois army and in Portugal of reconstructing it, the comparison seems to us to be accurate. If it is meant to refer to the improvised officer structure of the militia, the comparison is correct. The officers of the Fifth Regiment, of the POUM, of the SP, made an effort to impose a military discipline that would enable them to reorganize a viable bourgeois army. Meanwhile, the parties to which they belonged were dedicated to halting the revolution outside of the army. But these officers could fulfill the function of convincing, organizing, disciplining the militia because they were Stalinists, Socialists, or POUMists ; that is, because they were not directly bourgeois officials, but the petty-bourgeois representatives of the working class.

They represented popular frontism, class collaborationism in its pure form within the army. The officers belonging to the working-class parties disciplined the militia so they would submit to the military shadow of the Spanish bourgeoisie that had remained in the republican camp : Miaja and company. The MFA is playing the same role, except that as we have already seen, it shares this task with the reformist parties : The latter act on the mass movement, the former on the army.

But we do not believe that the comparison refers to the officers of the Spanish militia. Nobody can maintain that the POUMist, Socialist, and Stalinist officers were the same as the high command of the Spanish army or the Spanish bourgeoisie. Without doubt the reference is to the officers of the Spanish army who remained on the side of the republic. If this is so, the analogy is absolutely false. The republican officers were not politically organized nor were they part of an army in crisis. They were segregated from the Spanish army, which, under Franco’s command and with no internal crisis, fought the republic. The republican officers were not a sociopolitical phenomenon, nor are their counterparts in Portugal, those who might agree with Costa Gomes. They were individual exceptions : the military shadow of the political shadow of the bourgeoisie that existed in the republican camp. The MFA, on the other hand, like the militia officers, is trying to reconstruct the bourgeois army to put it under discipline to the bourgeois government, and within the army, to the high command.

VII. The Crisis of the Regime and the Bonapartist Plan of the MFA 1. A Regime in Permanent Crisis

Those who defend the characterization of the Portuguese regime as Bonapartist run into an insoluble contradiction. Bonapartism is, by definition, a regime of law and order, capable of playing the role of arbiter between the different social sectors and enforcing its decisions. Nothing can appear further from this than the MFA, which lives in a state of permanent crisis, and which in little more than a year has undergone four or five crises. In general, our authors have given up characterizing the political significance of these crises, limiting themselves to saying that they existed and were overcome. Trotsky’s law, which states that changing from one regime to another provokes a political crisis, was not taken into account by these comrades. They did not ask themselves this simple question : What kind of regime or projected regimes entered into conflict, provoking these crises ? Some are still more curious, since they are of the opinion that Spínola’s attempted coups were ... Bonapartist. If we go by the laws of logic, we should arrive at the conclusion that they were Bonapartist coups intended to topple one Bonapartist government to replace it with another, likewise Bonapartist government.

We cannot avoid an embarrassing comparison. Third Period Stalinism defined all governments and bourgeois parties as fascist. Trotsky pointed out again and again the absurdity of the Stalinist portrait of fascist governments fighting against the attempted coups of fascists.

It would have been farcical if it had not been tragic : The Communist militants could not understand what it was all about ; and as a result, they were incapable of combating genuine fascism, which they could not even distinguish from the other bourgeois parties and the Social Democracy. Unfortunately, this method which was responsible for the big defeats suffered by the workers movement forty years ago, is in vogue again within our ranks. Everything is Bonapartism : Spínola’s coup attempt as well as the government against which he directed this attempt. Thus, our parties and militants are disarmed when it comes to confronting the real danger : in his time, Spínola ; today, the course the MFA government is following.

The chronic crisis of the MFA government and its increasingly acute crises clearly demonstrate that this is not a Bonapartist government. And, in addition, they point without ambiguity in the right direction. There is only one form of bourgeois regime that has this characteristic as an essential trait (not episodic) : Kerenskyism.

This is so because Kerenskyism is a form of “abnormal” bourgeois government, a result of the rise of the proletarian revolution and its own impotence. In every normal capitalist regime, the mobilized masses play no role whatever. In a parliamentary-democratic regime, they intervene only indirectly, through the vote they register from time to time. The first thing the more democratic bourgeois constitutions lay down is that the people govern only though their “representatives.” In Bonaparatist and fascist regimes in general they even do without the fiction of the government being “representative,” and the government rules directly through the bureaucracy. In both cases a passive role is reserved for the masses : The Peronist “sui generis” Bonapartism coined a very illustrative phrase : “From home to work and from work to home.”

The revolutionary tide turns this upside down. The masses take to the streets and intervene fully in the political life of the country, creating with their mobilizations a de facto power parallel to that of the bourgeois state. This working-class power has not yet been able to give rise in Portugal to soviet-type organisms, but despite this, as spontaneous and molecular as it still is it keeps the bourgeois power constantly in check.

Two powers confronting each other cancel each other out (at least, to a large degree). The result is a political vacuum that the bourgeoisie cannot tolerate. Kerenskyism is a regime whose normal state of being is disorder : That is why it cannot last very long. A new bourgeois order must replace it (parliamentary, Bonapartist, or fascist) or the socialist order of the proletarian revolution.

This explains the concern and the urgency displayed by the bourgeoisie in its efforts to reconstruct a normal bourgeois regime. The crises of the Portuguese government are the result of these attempts. We have already quoted Trotsky : “The passage from one system to another signifies the political crisis.” Each crisis of the Portuguese regime was an expression of the counterrevolutionary attempt to change “from one system to another,” which the masses were able to prevent and which, contradictorily, strengthened the revolution and weakened the counterrevolution, sharpening the Kerenskyist characteristics of the government. It is no accident that the most serious crises, up to now, were those of September and March, when Spínola tried to impose a change of regime.

The crisis detonated by the internal struggle that is developing today between the MFA and the PCP on one hand, and the SP and PPD [Partido Popular Democràtico—Democratic People’s Party] on the other, is the result of another similar attempt : the attempt of the Bonapartist wing of the MFA (with the support of the CP) to overcome Kerenskyism through the imposition of a Bonapartist regime.

2. Spínola Versus the MFA-CP-SP Bloc

We have already pointed out how the first attempts by the Portuguese bourgeoisie in the proper sense of the term, to rapidly overcome the Kerenskyist regime were Spínola’s three attempts to impose a strong government. Even if his political project was Bonapartist, it is quite probable that it was oriented objectively toward fascism, in that it sought a counterrevolutionary mobilization of the petty bourgeoisie, appealing to the famous “silent majority.”

The disaster suffered by this plan through the defeat of Spínola and the flight from the country of a large number of capitalists has taken the plan from the eminently political arena — there is nobody with enough strength to execute it—and shifted it to the economic arena. It is a matter of economic sabotage by means of the disorganization of the economy, the flight of capital, the closing of factories, layoffs, rising prices, etc. All of this, combined with the economic isolation to which Portugal has been subjected by imperialism, has created a chaotic and unbearable situation, which, in turn, creates the conditions for the rise of fascism, to the extent that it begins to foster desperation in the ranks of the petty bourgeoisie. At the same time, the return of the colons who are fleeing the revolution in the African territories will add new contingents to the possible mass base of fascism, and this can occur to a smaller degree with the unemployed workers.

This does not mean that fascism is inevitable, although it will become more probable with prolongation of the crisis because of the lack of a revolutionary alternative for the working class. The MFA, as we already saw, opposed the Spínolist attempt, and for the present, it has not embarked on a fascist-type course. But the possibility cannot be discarded that like all petty-bourgeois movements, a wing of it will arise that will orient in that direction, reflecting precisely the turn toward the fascist counterrevolution by sectors of the middle class, in the event this should occur. In any case, this is not the perspective for the immediate future.

Spínola was confronted not only by the masses, but also by the governmental MFA-CP-SP bloc. This bloc of the democratic petty bourgeoisie was opposed to Spínola’s attempts to prevent the Constituent Assembly and the negotiation of political independence for the colonies. But, in opposing the candidate for dictator, each of the components of this bloc defended its own specific interests and from different points of view :

The Communist Party, main opponent of Spínola, had no possibility at all of continuing to participate in a government based on the defeat of the workers movement. On the other hand, Spínola’s policies of immediate negotiations with the European Common Market made the possibility of participating in his cabinet even more remote. But there was also another profound reason, perhaps even more weighty than the loss of posts in the ministries. Had Spínola triumphed, Cunhal’s retirement from the cabinet would not have been as placid as the retirement of Thorez and Togliatti from the French and Italian cabinets after the war. Cunhal would not have been able to play the role of “opposition to His Majesty” in a tranquil parliamentary regime. On the contrary, Spínola’s victory would almost certainly have given the green light to the “silent majority” — that is, the reactionary petty bourgeoisie—to launch a “witch-hunt,” especially against the Communists, which would have meant a regime with at least fascist traits.

The Socialist Party for its part needed—and needs—a parliament and elections just as much as lungs need air in order to breathe. The SP is nothing without a parliamentary regime. Because of this, despite agreeing with Spínola with regard to speedy admission to the European Common Market, it did have a tactical difference with him—the parliament—which, for a reformist party, is a matter of principle.

Finally, the MFA—although a majority under the leadership of Vasco Goncalves—accepted an agreement with the reformist parties, it had within it a Spínolist tendency of a certain importance. Once again, the similarity with Kerensky stands out. It is well known that Kerensky, up to a certain point, played Kornilov’s game. The same thing occurred with the MFA and Spínola. These doubts and oscillations of the MFA between the reformist parties and Spínola are part of its nature. They are doubts over the bourgeois-democratic or Bonapartist variants of putting a brake on and defeating the revolution. Spínola’s “putschs” and the colossal mass mobilizations that were unleashed against them, turned the MFA toward a united front with the reformist parties, but without abandoning its pursuit of a Bonapartist plan to bring the mass movement under control once and for all.

During this entire period of unity in the petty-bourgeois MFA-CP-SP bloc, the common program and ideology were bourgeois-democratic. The objective was to achieve a parliamentary system, beginning with the Constituent Assembly, which would channel the rise of the mass movement into the blind alley of bourgeois democracy. Bourgeois-democratic institutions are not progressive, taken as absolutes. They are progressive so long as the mass mobilizations have not reached a revolutionary level nor created organs of power. They cease being so, and become relatively counterrevolutionary or relatively progressive, when the class struggle has gone beyond the bourgeois-democratic limits. This is the case in Portugal today, with its organs of dual power : the workers and soldiers commissions.

This counterrevolutionary parliamentary plan is supported, as Horowitz correctly points out, by the most lucid sectors of the bourgeoisie, which see it as the best possibility for freezing the mass movement without resorting to bloody methods, which, in addition, they are in no condition to apply and whose results would be unforeseeable, a game of take all or lose all. It is a plan similar to the one applied to block the revolution in Western Europe after the war. But it is incomparably weaker despite the fact that those parties that are strongest in the electoral arena, the SP and the PPD, have given it unconditional support.

The weaknesses of this plan lie in various factors. One of these is that unlike Western Europe after the war, the Portuguese bourgeoisie does not have the guarantee that the presence of Allied occupation troops signified, especially the U.S. army, which was victorious, disciplined, and without the slightest trace of an internal crisis, exactly the opposite to the present Portuguese army. Also lacking in Portugal is the strong parliamentary tradition of Western Europe. But these are not the only elements of weakness in the parliamentary plan. There are others.

In the first place, there is the strength of the revolutionary upsurge of the movement of the workers and the mass movement. In the second place, there is the absence of strong bureaucratic organisms of the workers movement like the ones that existed in France and Italy, in which Stalinism was able to exercise iron control. In the third place, the fact of being the major working-class parties in those countries made the CPs favor parliamentarism ; the opposite is occurring in Portugal today. Finally, there are two more factors that weaken still further the plan for a parliamentary counterrevolution. These are, on the one hand, that any bourgeois-democratic regime would weaken still more the already weak Portuguese bourgeoisie in face of a sudden attack by the big imperialist powers, and, on the other hand, that the general crisis of imperialism makes less and less viable these types of regimes, which in order to maintain themselves need a minimum of social and economic stability.

Because of all these factors, a parliamentary counterrevolution could place the bourgeoisie itself in jeopardy : The movement of the workers and masses, impelled by a dizzying revolutionary upsurge, could utilize for its own purposes the democratic-parliamentary opening, escaping all electoral control thanks precisely to the weakness of the bourgeoisie and its own bureaucratic apparatuses.

3. The Revolutionary Upsurge Turns the MFA Toward a Counterrevolutionary Policy and Ideology

Faced with the weakness of the bourgeois-democratic plan and the intensification of the workers and colonial revolutions, the MFA has begun to turn toward a counterrevolutionary Bonapartist policy. It is thus at tempting to impose a Bonapartist government whose fundamental objectives are the following : to eliminate all the germs of dual power ; take away from the masses the democratic rights they have won and block the conquest of new rights ; continue to control the empire under a neocolonial form (especially Angola) ; guarantee an upward trend in capitalist production ; and negotiate from a position of strength their partnership with the senior imperialist powers.

The fundamental reason for this change in the MFA resides in the extremely acute contradictions that reign in Portugal, which make it even more imperative for the MFA to transform itself into a strong government able to “rise” above them. In government, the MFA has to contend with a colossal upsurge in the movement of the workers and soldiers crystallized in embryonic forms of dual power, and with the Angolan colonial revolution. In addition, because it is a senile, backward imperialist power, Portugal has to face and negotiate with stronger imperialist powers, which try to utilize its crisis and decadence to become its senior partners. These contradictions—at one pole the workers and colonial revolutions, and at the other the pressure of the big imperialist powers—have divided the Portuguese bourgeoisie and its petty-bourgeois agent, the MFA, into different sectors, troubled by different problems. How to stop the workers and colonial revolutions ? How to keep losses to a minimum in the negotiations with the big imperialist powers ?

This turn toward a Bonapattist policy manifests itself in a clear counterrevolutionary ideology. The MFA has ceased making any statements in favor of democracy and pluralism of parties, characteristic of the past year when it confronted Spínola, and has begun to speak of “direct democracy” and of the organs of power that emerged from the mass movement against formal parliamentarism. All of this is seasoned with the “march toward socialism.”

The goal is obvious : Unable to come out against the democratic rights of the movement of the workers and the masses, the MFA is attempting to pit proletarian democracy against them, utilizing for this purpose criticisms of bourgeois democracy taken from the arsenal of Marxism. They have not invented anything new : Bonapartism and fascism have always opposed bourgeois democracy, and have demagogically used our criticisms of it to justify their counterrevolutionary and antidemocratic politics. Part of this demagogic maneuver is the attack on the Socialist Party and the reactionary bourgeois parties which are demanding democratic rights. A Marxist truth is thrown against them : All of them are agents of the counterrevolution. But this truth, separated from another, much more important one—the main counterrevolutionary agent at present is the government of the MFA with its Bonapartist plan—is transformed into a demagogic lie, designed to restrict democratic rights.

The other campaign is the so-called battle for production. According to the ideologists of the MFA, the problem is to increase production in order to build socialism, or come closer to it, not in favor of the bourgeoisie, but in favor of the working class. As part of this demagogic campaign, the better to deceive them, the masses are told that the progressive measures adopted under pressure of the struggles of the movement of the workers and the masses—the nationalizations for example—are also measures in the march toward socialism.

Combining the two most urgent needs (to deceive the working anci colonial masses in order to put a brake on the revolution and to resist the European Common Market so as to strengthen the indigenous imperialism), the Bonapartist wing of the MFA raises as its dominant ideology “anti-imperialist nationalism,” attempting to copy the forms of the nationalist movements of the colonial and the semicolonial countries. By doing this, Portuguese imperialism, through its petty-bourgeois agents of the MFA, continues in the old imperialist tradition : masking its plundering with an attractive ideology, to mobilize in its behalf the opinion of the working class and the petty bourgeoisie.

Since it came into being, imperialism has hidden the genuinely bandit character of its colonialization under guise of “civilizing” the backward countries. Later on, when England, France, and the U.S.A. were enjoying to the full their colonies and power, they raised the slogan of “defense of democracy” against their rivals who came late to the division of the booty. These countries—Germany, Italy, Japan — promoted in turn the ideology of the “superior race” and other such stupidities in order to deceive the masses and lead them to the slaughter. They were expanding imperialisms that wanted to take the colonies away from the old empires, surfeited with subjugated countries.

But Portugal is not even a shadow of the old imperialisms, nor was Nazi Germany or Japan. It cannot raise the banner of democracy, because it is used by its enemy-partners of the European Common Market. Nor can it utilize the slogan of the “superior race,” because it is not expanding, but decaying and crisis-ridden, and its economic power would not enable it to conquer even the Republic of Andorra. It has to be content with saving whatever it can of its old empire from the colonial revolution and from the attack of the big imperialist powers. To do that it has had to invent a new ideology. What is better than disguising itself as nationalist, as anti-imperialist ? If the masses believe it, then their main enemy is not their own imperialism but other, stronger imperialisms.

The ideology of the MFA is like the counterrevolutionary nationalist ideologies of other small or decadent imperialisms. When the tsarist empire was falling, the Russian Social Revolutionaries discovered that it was necessary to continue the imperialist war so that “revolutionary” Russia would not be subjugated by the Prussian imperialist barbarism. It is similar to the anti-American Canadian nationalism and to the sector of the British bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie who voted against entering the European Common Market.

Like those nationalisms, the nationalism of the MFA is not in the least progressive ; it is reactionary no matter how you look at it. To avoid confusion, it is requisite that we resort to the clear distinction that Marxism makes between the nationalism of colonial and semicolonial countries and that of imperialist countries. The former is progressive ; it weakens imperialism. The latter is counter revolutionary ; it favors imperialism precisely because it is the nationalism of an imperialist country. For this reason we Trotskyists defend backward countries against attack by an imperialist country, but favor defeat of the imperialist country in a war with another country, whether that country is imperialist or not. For a consistent Marxist the best is always “defeat of the imperialist country,” no matter whether it is backward, senile, young, or surfeited with riches and colonies.

Logically, as the weak imperialism that it is, the MFA’s imperialism will be very careful not to touch the property of other imperialisms. It will be content with nationalizing the businesses of the Portuguese oligarchy and the property of those who abandoned the country, but in order to place them at the service of the bourgeois imperialist state, to remove them from workers control. Thus they can use them as their trump card in negotiating with the colonies and other imperialisms, in the interests of Portuguese imperialism. Because of this, if a financial and commercial war breaks out between the imperialist bandits of the MFA and European imperialism over control of the Portuguese colonies, our mission would not be to come out in favor of the poor imperialism against the rich one. We should wash our hands, “the lesser evil is the defeat of your own country.”

In its counterrevolutionary politics, the MFA’s best ally, or better said, its ally come what may, has turned out to be the Communist Party.

4. The MFA-CP : New Counterrevolutionary Front Provoked by the Upsurge

We have stressed the relatively progressive role that the Communist Party, and to a lesser degree the MFA and the SP, played in calling upon the workers to oppose the demonstration prepared by Spínola in attempting his first frustrated coup. We have pointed out that this was one face, the positive one, of the contradictory politics of the petty-bourgeois democrats : to stop the Spínolist counter-revolution. We also said that the CP as well as the SP and MFA fully presented the other face, the negative one : to likewise stop the workers revolution by demobilizing the masses. Finally, we maintained that this policy of the petty-bourgeois democrats began to change, provoking internal divisions as the workers upsurge intensified and the immediate danger of a bourgeois counterrevolution subsided : The MFA and the CP turned toward a Bonapartist counterrevolution ; the SP and its ally the PPD remained in the camp of bourgeois democracy. Let us examine the reasons.

Already before Spínola’s coup, this wing of the petty-bourgeois democracy, the MFA-CP, in face of the deepening workers upsurge, began to orient toward the counter-revolution. It attempted to halt and smash the mass movement, taking away from it the big concessions already obtained, especially the Constituent Assembly, through the famous “Pact,” and trying to bar the conquests placed on the agenda by the factory occupations and the development of workers commissions. It was then that the CP and the MFA came closer together, agreeing to impose on the rising workers movement a Bonapartist government based on the MFA-CP-Intersindical combination. The correspondent of Le Monde Diplomatique, already mentioned above, testifies : “No one has been able to control successive waves of the social movement during this period except the Portuguese Communist Party, which, changing its strategy en route, has made an effort to contain and control the occupations in Alentejo, a region traditionally considered Communist or Communistic.”

From that moment on, the MFA government reinforced the agreement reached with the CP at the opening of the year when the workers upsurge began. The more advanced and profound character taken by the upsurge since the frustrated “putsch” explains why, according to the same correspondent, “March 11 brought about a temporary improvement in PCP-MFA relations.

In combination with sectors of the MFA, the CP has become the transmission belt within the workers movement for a new Bonapartist plan ; such is the character of the political counterattack of the petty bourgeoisie that we pointed out.

This counterrevolutionary plan is not the same as Spínola’s plan of delivering a single definitive blow to the revolution. The extraordinary strength of the movement of the workers and the masses compels them to use other methods : to proceed by dealing blows a little at a time and smashing the movement by sectors. Also, instead of openly doing away with their gains, they recognize some of them in order to transform them into counterrevolutionary weapons with which to attack other gains. To rule, one must divide.

If the SP-PPD bloc has severed relations with the Bonapartist wing of the MFA-CP, it has not done so logically, out of concern for the democratic rights of the workers movement. It has been and still is a counterrevolutionary bloc, a mortal enemy of the factory occupations, of the seeds of dual power, of the nationalizations, and of the workers revolution. It is the continuer of the counterrevolutionary plan of the MFA-CP-SP prior to March 11, of the Constituent Assembly and parliamentary plan to ward off the revolution. The present opposition of the SP-PPD to the MFA-CP stems from their differences over which is the best counterrevolutionary tactic. But this alone does not explain why the rupturing of the previous front was so violent. We believe there are two weighty reasons that made this break or clash inevitable. The first is that, as we pointed out above, for the SP (and possibly also for the PPD) the existence of a parliament is a matter of life or death, because without a parliament it ceases to be what it is, an electoral party. The second reason stems from its role as an agent of European imperialism and of the strongest sectors of Portuguese imperialism that believe their only way out is through association with the European Common Market.

5. The Communist Party : Agent of the Kremlin and the MFA

We have seen that the MFA has become divided over and is oscillating between two plans : Bonapartism and parliamentarism. Its big ally in backing the first plan is the Portuguese Communist Party.

Horowitz explains this alliance of the CP and the MFA as resulting from the MFA’s need of the CP to control the workers movement. He forgets that the CP is also almost indispensable for the MFA’s neocolonial maneuver because of the influence of world Stalinism over the nationalist movements and especially that of the Portuguese colonies. In other words, the MFA needs the CP to halt the workers revolution in Portugal and the colonial revolution in the empire. But if this explains the MFA’s policy toward the CP, it does not explain why the CP does not accept the parliamentary game nor why the CP clashes with the SP. There must be profound reasons for this Stalinist game.

Bourgeois journalists counterpose the policy of the Italian and French Stalinists to that of the Portuguese Stalinists. However, although they are formally different, they are not so in terms of content. All world Stalinism, and particularly European Stalinism, has a common feature : They are agents of the Soviet bureaucracy. They are tied to it not only ideologically but—and this is the essence—as appendages of an extremely powerful apparatus. They faithfully serve the diplomatic needs of the Kremlin, that is, they adjust their politics to the concrete circumstances of each country the better to defend the bureaucratic apparatus of which they are a part, and whose head and heart is to be found in Moscow.

That is the key to the question. Stalinism does not at present carry out everywhere in the world the popular frontist policy it applied between 1935 and 1947 of total and absolute subordination to “democratic” imperialism against fascism. Today the Soviet Union is the second world power, and it defends this situation with a policy of maintaining the “status quo.” This policy has two sides :

One is to stop the world revolution, and the Kremlin agrees with imperialism on this point ; the other is to try to impede the strengthening of imperialism, which it does by trying to add to the “neutral countries,” that is, those relatively independent of the big imperialist powers within the capitalist world. This second aspect of the Kremlin’s policy manifests itself essentially through diplomatic maneuvers of support, plus the support of local Communist parties, to the regimes in semicolonial countries that take relatively independent positions in relation to imperialism. Such is the case with India, Peru, Egypt, Bolivia under Torres, Chile under Allende. This neutrality, in the final analysis, winds up benefiting U.S. imperialism by halting the revolution. Examples : Chile, Egypt, Bolivia.

Portugal is not a semicolonial, but an imperialist, country. However, it is an imperialist country that, although weak, is for the time being autarchical, relatively independent of the big imperialist powers. And the Kremlin wants this to continue as long as possible, since Portugal’s “neutrality” strengthens its policy of negotiating with imperialism in containing the world revolution, but from a position of strength, not of complete subordination as during the period from 1935 to 1947. (This does not reject the hypothesis that, in the final analysis, the Kremlin and the Portuguese CP are playing a game in behalf of the United States. Alvaro Cunhal’s statements are extremely friendly and suspicious when he refers to U.S. imperialism ; so are Kissinger’s statements, when he refers to Portuguese imperialism.)

These basic considerations should be the framework of our interpretation of the political “differences” between Portuguese, French, and Italian Stalinism. All three serve the Kremlin but must adapt their politics to their respective national realities. The CPs of France and Italy are the reformist parties that receive the highest vote in a relatively stable parliamentary regime. The Portuguese CP finds itself under heavy pressure in a revolutionary situation of dual power, in which it is a minority in the electoral arena. Electorally, the Portuguese Stalinists cannot pressure the bourgeoisie to accede power to them and thereby safeguard capitalism and strengthen the Kremlin’s diplomacy.

That is, the CP does not in a major way serve the plan of the parliamentary wing of the MFA, linked to the European Common Market. But, because of its centralism and its cadres, the Portuguese Stalinists have the only organization that can collaborate with the counterrevolutionary Bonapartist plan of the MFA. The CP is, in fact, the only party that can control the unions and maybe, with time, the organs of dual power.

The different structure and technique of the CP, its “Bolshevik” inheritance, its daily work in the mass movement (although with a reformist or counterrevolutionary policy), the creation among the masses of specific organizations, cells or fractions under iron centralism, all make it, unlike the SP, indispensable to the MFA. The SP, with an exclusively electoral organization, lacking a base structure and discipline, formed as an electoral movement rather than a centralized party, is not indispensable to the MFA. It is because of this that the CP, rather than the SP, is considered an essential ingredient in counterrevolutionary politics as a whole at this stage of dual power.

In principle, we can point out that this tendency of Stalinism to collaborate with Bonapartism or Bonapartist projects is not an isolated phenomenon limited to Portugal. It has been repeated in other countries where the CPs were in a minority in the electoral arena as, for example, in Peru. But although their electoral weakness may be the immediate explanation for such policies, we believe that it is a more generalized phenomenon than may appear. In Uruguay, it continually urged the “Peruvianist” military figures to take power by means of a coup d’état, and it does not appear to us to be accidental that General Seregni was the head of the electoral coalition, the Frente Ampho.

Even in countries where Stalinism is a real electoral power, it has shown a tendency toward Bonapartism. In postwar France it was the champion of the reorganization of the bourgeois army, and, in the beginning, it decidedly supported de Gaulle. In Italy during the same period, Togliatti, faced in a referendum with deciding between a monarchy and a republic, came out in favor of the former, and only repudiation by the Stalinist rank and file obliged him to change his mind.

In the case of Portugal there are two very significant historic examples that can serve to illustrate this permanent trait in Stalinist politics in revolutionary situations. In Chile under Allende, the CP argued for the participation of the military in the cabinet and for a rightist bourgeois policy against the proposals of the Socialist Party.

In republican Spain, this extreme-right policy was applied to the bitter end. The Stalinist CP imported the counterrevolutionary police methods of the GPU to Spanish soil to help implant the semi-Bonapartist regime headed by Negrin, which clashed not only with the POUMist and anarchist currents, but also with the SP of Largo Caballero.

There must be a Marxist interpretation of these phenomena, a law to explain them. Our hypothesis—and we stress that it is a hypothesis, a line of investigation not a conclusive opinion—is that the Bonapartist tendencies of the CP have a fundamental reason : They are part of the Soviet bureaucracy’s apparatus ; this factor exerts its influence in a dual way. In the first place, the Communist parties do not have a direct relation with the proletariat and the masses of the countries in which they operate, but do have a direct relation with the Kremlin’s apparatus, which permits them—unlike the Socialist parties—to operate much more independently of the feelings and desires of the broad masses.

In the second place, the apparatus on which they depend is Bonapartist, it is the Bonapartist dictatorship of the Soviet bureaucracy that “infects” all of the Communist parties.

The CPs are, in their own way, “Bonapartist,” totalitarian to an extreme degree. The reason for their discipline and politics comes from the bureaucracy, from their own international and national “apparatus.” This explains their bureaucratic or “Bonapartist” centralism. This gives them the ability to collaborate with the bourgeois Bonapartism of this or that apparatus.

The Socialist parties are a different case. These can exist only under the conditions of bourgeois democracy. To this should be added their better connection with the masses—which obliges them to reflect more directly the needs and aspirations of the masses ; the lesser weight of the party’s bureaucratic apparatus ; and on an international level, the fact that they do not form part of a great world apparatus whose axis is the bureaucracy ruling the Russian workers state, the second world power.

All of these objective aspects should not lead us to forget the content of Stalinist politics. Stalinism, as a current in the workers movement, is a result of the counterrevolutionary influence of the subsidence of the first triumphant workers revolution. It is not the same as the Social Democracy, which arose from the upsurge of the workers movement under the bourgeoisie in the highly favorable circumstances of bourgeois democracy. This makes the Stalinists much more alert and responsive to the needs of counterrevolutionary Bonapartism, which will use it as an agent, than the Socialist parties, which are tied a little more closely to the needs of its rank and file, and above all, to bourgeois-democratic rights.

6. The Socialist Party and Its Alliance With the PPD and Costa Gomes

If the CP is the great ally of the MFA in its counterrevolutionary Bonapartist plan, the SP is the ally of the PPD and Costa Gomes in the equally counterrevolutionary semiparliamentary plan.

According to Livio Maitan, “... a large part, perhaps the majority, of the working class has seen the PSP as the instrument of its struggle. This may be regarded—and correctly—as a result of the insufficient experience of the Portuguese workers with Social Democratic reformism and a lack of clarity about the roles actually played by the various formations in the workers movement. But, at the same time, it must be understood that the PSP has been able to take advantage of the revulsion of sections of the proletariat against the PCP’s bureaucratic methods, its open opposition to a series of struggles, and its seizing the leading positions in the unions by maneuvers at the top. Moreover, the PSP has been able to take advantage of the general demand for the right of democratic expression, which, after all, is natural in a working class that has emerged from nearly a half century of dictatorship. Certainly at least some of the strata of the proletariat did not take favorably to the famous pact imposed by the MFA, which made the Constituent Assembly virtually a dead letter.” (Livio Maitan, The MFA or Revolutionary Workers Democracy, Intercontinental Press, June 9, 1975, p.759.)

As an explanation of the way in which the PSP came to be the largest current—without a “perhaps”—in the workers movement, it is totally correct. But this does not exhaust the analysis of the PSP, since it does not take into account its leadership nor its program.

For his part, Horowitz makes different mistakes. The first is that in his entire article he mentions this party only once, despite its being the majority party in the working class. The second is that, like Maitan, he does not denounce the SP as an agent of European imperialism. This is surprising, since this characteristic is blatantly proclaimed by its top leader. “My party,” says Màrio Soares in Le Monde Diplomatique, “is democratic. It is the largest Portuguese party. I do not deny that it had a democratic parliamentary and reformist plan that would have enabled it to avoid the great commotion that broke out over the linking of Portugal to the Europe of the Common Market.” Horowitz’s third mistake juts out when he says that “the Communist Party’s policy can lead the Portuguese working class into a terrible tragedy, for it can disarm the workers in face of the future danger of a major violent repressive attack by the ruling class.” (Emphasis added.) And doesn’t the Socialist Party have any responsibility in “disarming the workers” in face of the “ruling class,” inasmuch as it is the majority working-class party ? Not to denounce the SP’s politics, not to clearly and unmistakably point out the “division of labor” with the CP in “disarming the workers,” is to unconsciously play the game of reformism. In justifiable eagerness to defend the democratic rights of the SP from the attacks of the MFA-CP, some underline its character as the majority working class party. But, when the time comes to assign responsibilities for disarming the revolution, this characteristic seems to vanish. However, the SP has been the permanent ally of the MFA-CP in the struggle against the workers revolution. It is not accidental that it remains intimately linked to Costa Gomes, that it signed the antidemocratic “Pact,” and is opposed to the nationalizations and factory occupations.

Summarizing then, there is an acute contradiction within the SP, which is all the worse because, with the exception of its leadership cadres, who were educated by European Social Democracy, it is a new party in the process of being built, lacking older cadres. It is more a movement than a solidly structured party. Its strong rivalry with the MFA and CP stems from its dual character : an ambiguous and unclear expression of the highly positive feelings of the movement of the workers and the masses toward winning and defending democratic rights ; a transmission belt of European imperialism (it is necessary to study whether this last aspect has been reinforced by a certain sympathy toward the European Common Market by a part of the large sector of the populace that benefits from money sent by workers who have emigrated to some of the countries within it).

6 Messages de forum

  • Salut, il y a des fautes dans les années de ta chronologie (tout semble se passer en 75...). Merci sinon pour l’extrait.
    Quelques questions :
    - Est-ce qu’il n’y a pas une contradiction dans l’extrait entre 1. le climat de revendications avant la révolution et le fait que la population passe outre le commandement des militaires de rester chez eux et 2. la prétendue passivité des exploités qui ne permettrait pas aux tentatives de coordinations des révolutionnaires d’être autre chose que des lieux d’affrontement bureaucratique (et alors d’où vient le succès de la manifestation de février 75, organisée par la commission interentreprises) ?
    - C. Reeve est d’après Wikipédia un conseilliste. Il est donc contre la construction d’un parti et le militantisme dans les syndicats. Cependant n’était-il pas possible pour des révolutionnaires, voire plus pertinent, d’avoir une action à l’intérieur du PCP stalinien qui avait quand même une certaine implantation et le prestige de la résistance à la dictature, ainsi qu’à l’intérieur de la CGTP nouvellement instituée ? Sinon pourquoi, et est-ce qu’il existe une bonne histoire du PCP ?

    Merci pour ton site et ta réponse,
    ML

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