The Social War in Portugal

28 September 1974 to 11 March 1975

“(…) initial political intentions are greatly modified in the course of war, and can at the end become totally different, precisely because they are in part determined by success and the probable results.”

Clausewitz, On War

The six-month period between the hasty coup of 28 September 1974 and the belated putsch of 11 March 1975 mark the definitive separation between the political struggle of the different programs for the disarmament of the masses and the autonomous movement of the masses themselves. While anti-fascist ideology, extremely impoverished along with its enemy, occupied the surface of information, which was more and more controlled by the new managers of power (the AFM and the Stalinists), the revolution penetrated to the depths of social life. And there, where it discovered its real tasks, it was necessary for it to learn to formulate them in its own language.

What had been the historical ruse of the proletariat during the first period – anti-fascism taken to the letter and led to its final practical consequences – could no longer serve it when it had to recognize and name its new enemies, those that it itself had produced, the massive and powerful Stalinist-military counter-revolution that it caused to rise up against it. During this rapid phase of clarification, the absence of an organized radical current that knew how (at each decisive moment of the process) to concentrate into several hypotheses and several objective practices what was in everyone’s heads and already on everyone’s lips was painfully felt.

In its superior aspect, social war does not consist in an infinite quantity of small events that are analogous despite their diversity and that one can dominate more or less well according to a method that is more or less good, but in a certain number of singular events of great and decisive scope than one must approach separately. A thousand particular examples could demonstrate the repressive work of the Stalinists, but such an exposition would not be fundamentally useful, because these examples could not explain (just as Leftist or ultra-Leftist lamentations could not explain) how such repressive efforts are different from what the Stalinists have always and everywhere done for a long time. If what is taking place today in Portugal, and the manner in which it is taking place, can strongly influence the future of the social revolution in Europe and in the world, this is because, for the first time in a non-bureaucratic country,[1] the Stalinists have not played a role in organizing the defeat of the proletariat and been defeated along with it (militarily in Spain in 1936 and politically in France in 1968), but have themselves been directly defeated by the proletariat.

The collapse of the Right on 28 September obligated the Stalinists and their allies in the AFM to do on their own what they had preferred to do with the Right, but which the Right had wanted to do without them. The masses were in fact the only victors on 28 September, but they failed to truly know how to use that victory. This wasn’t a victory of the Left over the Right, but a retreat by power to a new line of defense.

The events of 28 September had only been another error by the dominant class in Portugal; it didn’t reveal but simply confirmed a powerlessness that was already contained in the compromise of 25 April. Financial capitalism, which (through Salazarism) had only possessed Portugal in order to continue to possess its colonies, had known for a while that its only prospect for the future was to abandon the colonies to begin the in-depth market-colonization of the homeland. But financial capitalism believed that it would be able to attenuate the consequences and risks of such a choice by stretching the changeover out over time and, hesitating between parties, chose the worst one, which was the choice to take something from both: Spinola to save the colonies and the captains in the AFM (plus the Left) to save the homeland. Since it had not wanted to choose between two great inconveniences, it received both of them at the same time: Spinola wasn’t able to save the colonies, nor even himself. The AFM and the Left have so far been able to save the homeland, but, finally, have not been able to save the capitalists.

During the crisis of September, the right-wing of the bourgeoisie showed that it could neither choose nor accept, neither live nor die, neither support nor overthrow the new Republic, neither collaborate with the Stalinists nor get rid of them. What did it expect the solution to all these contradictions to be? The calendar; the march of events. The right-wing ceased to attribute to itself a power over events, thus obligating them to do violence to it, and consequently provoking the power to which the right-wing had (in its struggle against the proletariat) abandoned all the attributes of power, until it appeared completely powerless. The bourgeoisie had only possessed in Spinola the anachronistic and ineffective dream of a “Bonapartism” that is today required to support modern Stalinist-military reality.

If the property-owning classes were obligated (despite themselves) to place themselves completely in the hands of the AFM (as a substitute dominant class) in order to save and revive the market economy, the AFM had, for its part, to put itself in the hands of the Stalinists (as owners of an ideology appropriate for such a task). Though they weren’t Leninists, because they hadn’t seized power in the name of a class, but had gathered power together in the name of all of them, the captains became Stalinists to the extent that they had to defend and reinforce the power of the State against all the classes. Beyond its normal work as a subordinate repressive agent, the PCP thus came to assume the role of the new power’s thinker, producing and transmitting the illusion that this power must share itself. Neither able nor wanting to appropriate power for itself in a totalitarian fashion, the PCP joyfully accepted the opportunity to be the ideological tutor for the newly rich in politics, that is to say, the captains.

By emphasizing the tracks it had taken, the second period of the Portuguese revolution seemed to repeat the twists and turns that had only been sketched out during the first one, as if to confirm its conclusion. The political protagonists replayed their respective cards, but this time with full awareness of the stakes involved. If they had all been surprised by the movement of the masses during the first period, and had to withdraw in the disorder, it was now a matter of working from the new defensive equilibrium that had been instaurated at the end of September. In agreement that this equilibrium should not be disrupted, they were not in agreement about the manner in which they should regain the terrain they had lost and settle the social crisis that the proletariat had installed in the very heart of Portuguese society. Such an agreement became more and more urgent, especially in January [1975], when the new coalition had, in its turn, to break up in favor of forming a more coherent program of repression.

After 28 September, once the situation was resolved in its favor, the Left – whose cowardice had given the risky collusion between Spinola and the Right its only chances for success – suddenly confessed what it had always known: that the “fascist danger” was within the coalition. The Left accepted the victory that the masses offered it, quite happy that Spinola and the least presentable parts of the Right were the only losers, in order to be able to work with the most realistic parts of it. And the Left was really the victor on the “Sunday of Work,” held on 6 October, which was a veritable call for bids from these loyal managers to domestic and international capitalists.

During this period, in which everything seemed to begin again like a bureaucratically controlled 25 April, Spinola and the extreme Right lost out by warning about the specter of a revolution that they didn’t understand, while the Left that was in power were deluded that this revolution, which they understood all too well, could be channeled. And the truth benefited from these two errors by following its irreversible course within the heart of the masses. “The truth is like oil,” one could read on the walls of the occupied factories, and, in fact, despite all the diversionary shaking, it always rises to the surface. This is a modern revolution, whose real content overflows the tragic-comic alarm of the Right as well as the democratic appeasement of the Left.

The events of 28 September had informed the soldiers and the workers, as well as Spinola, that the AFM and the parties of the Right and the Left were all agreed upon lying and hiding the real situation from them until the end. And while the Stalinists lingered upon treating Spinola like he was a traitor, the workers began to only rely on themselves: one is only betrayed by someone in whom one has trust. This why that very night, when Cunhal demanded that the roadblocks be dismantled, he had no more success than Spinola did when he made the same order over the radio.

The lies that had currency the day before were brutally denied by the facts: the Stalinists had to rid themselves of cadres that were compromised by the attempted coup d’état, after having used calumnies and repression to defend them against the strikers who demanded their removal. Before they had lied to themselves, the bureaucrats had used their lies and credit on behalf of Spinola. Thus, in a country in which the lie had been monopolized by the State for a half-century, the first objective of the revolutionary movement of the Portuguese workers and soldiers – even before the coherent formulation of its tasks and the creation of liaisons between the democratic base-committees elected in the factories and barracks (now in progress) – was the urgent practice of truth and non-falsification. Everyone who had falsified began to be discredited, boycotted and treated like crooks. Dialogue broke out everywhere, in the factories and the streets, like the weapon that contains the instructions for the use of all the others.

Spinola and his band were gone, but the most directly oppressive forces remained in place and gave no sign of wanting to resign. The immense concrete problems that existed could not wait for the chimerical projects of the economists, the good will of the capitalists, or the elections, which were still far off. To have society function, the Stalinists and the AFM had to fill the emptiness in political and economic power that had been created by purges, the collapse of the Right and the prudent caution of the bourgeoisie. But since the bureaucrats occupied the summit of society and this process was the product of the autonomous development of the masses, the later began to appropriate the terrain of their revolution for themselves. If they had only confronted the enemies of their false friends on the political terrain, now they had to combat their enemies of their own social terrain, because on that terrain everyone else were their enemies, separately or together.

The Portuguese revolution rightly made the men of power and all the powers of the world despair because it obviously showed that the workers were not pushed to the subversion of this social organization by some passing enthusiasm for extremist slogans, but by the enduring powerlessness of all that exists outside of them, which gives them the opportunity and the need to take charge of the material organization of their lives. It would be useless to review here all the events like those at “Lip”[2] (there have been hundreds of them), which have for months taken place in the concrete lives of thousands and thousands of workers. It suffices to say that a large part of Portugal lives thanks to the self-organizing abilities of the workers and only survives thanks to those of the soldiers. And when a country can no longer be governed against the workers, it will soon be governed by them or in their name. But at the rate things are going (or, rather, leaping along), there must be overt repression for representation to take the place of class.

The class that concentrates in itself the revolutionary interests of society immediately finds in its own situation the content and materials of its revolutionary activity, which is to combat its enemies and to take the measures imposed by the necessities of the struggle, and it is the consequences of its actions that push it even further. It does not engage in any theoretical research into its own tasks. The need for truth, which is its first practical exigency, leads it directly to know the truth of its needs, that is to say, to the awareness of the necessity that must put the economy at its service, instead of the false Stalinist consciousness that wants to put the working class at the service of the economy. On 27 October [1974], after the “Sunday of Work” for “the national economy,” the workers at the post office wrote: “The economic difficulties of those who exploit [us] do not interest the workers. If the capitalist economy doesn’t tolerate the demands of the workers, that is one more reason to struggle for a new society, one in which we ourselves have the power of decision concerning the entire economy and social life.”

Starting in January [1975], the constitution of the real camps in the class war took place. The AFM supported the law that made the Stalinist Interunion [organization] the only [legal] union, and the government adopted it, despite the opposition of the Socialists. As before and afterwards, the Socialists, pathetically, had to hold back their program of democratic normalization and, grumbling, follow the downward slope of bureaucratization, because – based upon counter-revolutionary premises shared by all the parties, and in such an uncertain situation – each new measure was the logical consequence of preceding choices and rendered the prospects for the return to law and order through the sole means of elections even more unrealistic.

If the Socialists were wrong from the State’s point of view, they had nothing that could interest the workers. They [the Socialists] could only be seriously opposed to the Stalinists if they appealed to the masses and worker democracy, but they wanted these things less than anything else. Thus, like the Right, they had to wait for the elections to give them the legal authority that had been carried off in advance by the agreements that they had made with the Left. The least stupid, seeing the broomstick coming, already put themselves on the side of the handle: this is what the press called a “split of the Left from the Socialist Party.”

For its part, the workers’ movement, which, through a thousand particular crimes, already spontaneously aimed at the surpassing of the economy, began in January to give itself – [along] with the means of its practical unification – the possibility of acquiring its unified critical truth and overtly proclaiming it against all the governmental solutions still in contention. If the subversion that disrupted all of the sectors of Portuguese society had only disrupted them as separated sectors, this is because the proletariat (here as elsewhere) had to construct from scratch its autonomous communications in order to make total use of the terrain of the totality that it had already imposed as the terrain of battle. Succeeding in this, the proletariat demonstrated that it had not wasted time since 28 September. Appearing under its own colors, and no longer defending those of the Left, it gave all the powers of the world the most severe warning that it had received since the wildcat general strike of May 1968 [in France].

On 7 February 1975, answering an appeal from a committee that brought together delegates from 38 large companies and that originated in the liaisons established during the post office workers’ strike, more than 50,000 workers and unemployed people demonstrated in the streets of Lisbon. Their methods clearly expressed that it is the order of workers’ autonomy that advances to challenge bureaucratic and military order: the demonstration was silent; placards carried slogans, which were decided upon by the Inter-Enterprises Committee; the self-defense of the demonstration was perfectly organized. And the Leftists, obviously hastening to believe that they sensed a good bargain from the available workers, were put into their proper place: in the cortege line, outside the [protection of the] marshals.

The workers – demonstrating against unemployment and the presence in Portugal of troops from NATO, but especially overtly scorning the PCP, the Interunion [organization] and the government, which had prohibited all demonstrations during NATO’s maneuvers – immediately (and in a brutal, striking, violent and trenchant fashion) proclaimed their opposition to the existing society. Their offensive began where the workers’ struggles in Europe had ended: the awareness of what the essence of the proletariat is; its rediscovery of itself as the class that is the total enemy of all representation that has become autonomous and all specialized power. The very organization of the demonstration had a superior character. While all the other movements were only directed against the bosses (the visible enemy), this movement immediately and explicitly also pivoted against the bureaucrats (the hidden enemy).

“The Communist Party was accused of ‘taking over Interunion to increase its control of the working class.’ The law concerning union associations was denounced by the speakers as ‘contrary to the interests of the workers.’ The delegates from the companies were not elected, but were appointed by the union leaders, and thus, the speakers declared, functioned as agents of a ‘bureaucratic structure that defends the interests of the bourgeoisie.’ The soldiers who were guarding the Ministry of Labor took part in the demonstration. Fists raised, they chanted along with the [other] demonstrators: ‘Expel NATO! Long live the working class!’ and ‘Soldiers and sailors are also among the exploited!’” (Le Monde, 9-10 February 1975).

In passing, let us laugh at the discomfort of this official newspaper for all the powers, which at the moment of their general rout must mention such troublesome details, but on the fourth page and in a meager article of only two columns. In addition to publishing a thousand other pieces of hokum, Le Monde interviewed at great length a member of a Portuguese managerial confederation who declared, “at the risk of surprising” the interviewer (who no doubt merited being treated like an imbecile), that he entirely approved both 25 April and 28 September. He repeated Soares’ words, affirming (not in answer to a question from the interviewer, of course, but in reference to something that was completely out of the question)[3] that he had convinced the Americans that their interests lay in consolidating the new Portuguese democracy. Finally, he went on and on about the illusory hopes and shameful lies of both, and then even expressed his desire for free information by welcoming the subtle analyses of someone like Lourau.[4]

Nevertheless, when revolutionary reality (which continued to follow its subterranean and obvious road, despite all the prattle and the ignorance of people like Niedergang[5]) returned in broad daylight to seriously threaten all these ridiculous exegetes, Le Monde (which perhaps believed it could save itself by burying the story, lacking any better means) had to allow a small place in order to deny all of its lies, past and future, about the situation in Portugal. Such is the sad fate of an “objective” newspaper in an era in which objective reality begins to express the real subjectivity of individuals and speak to them so well. If Le Monde continues in the logic of its tendency to grant to a place to news in inverse proportion to their historical importance, it will no doubt devote a two-sentence paragraph to the announcement that Cunhal has been hanged by several angry workers. At least that would give a modern meaning and new interest to the “Trivia” section.

If the events of 7 February made the naïve admirers of the new Portuguese power despair, this was also because (in the aftermath of the troubles at Mafra in December) they showed more clearly than ever that the rank-and-file of the army was not controlled by the AFM. The soldiers in the helicopters that surveyed the crowd from a low altitude saluted the demonstration with raised fists. And even better: when the crowd approached the Ministry of Labor and advanced towards it, the COPCON soldiers raised their rifle butts in the air and turned towards the building, their fists raised. “The International” that everyone there sang hasn’t ceased troubling the sleep of the leaders of the MFA and the political parties, or that of the strategists in the Pentagon and the Kremlin.

Hastily announcing that the date for the elections would be two days later, Costa Gomes declared that the AFM and the “authentically democratic forces” would be the “motor of the revolution and the guarantee of social peace.” This unvarnished and self-contradictory expression of the complete incoherence of the governmental program emphasized the uncertainty and confusion of all the factions of power after 7 February. But they were all in agreement on the sole, precise objective of not having one, and on expecting everything from the elections and the new legal framework that would come out of it. For their expectations to be met, the proletariat would only have to allow them time, not make any use of it, not go on the offensive. Everyone knew that their fate hung upon disenfranchisement [incapacité], and none dared to hope that they could last. The only ones with a coherent repressive program were the Stalinists, but if the others wanted to apply it to the workers, they didn’t want to accept the consequences for themselves and [work] against the bourgeoisie. Thus, they were in violent opposition to the workers, but without having the support of the bourgeoisie, whom they left to prepare for Spinola’s legal return.

In such stagnation, in which the maintenance of the status quo demands that the Stalinists fight against the workers, the Socialists fight against the Stalinists, the Right fight against the entire Left, and the AFM struggle to maintain equilibrium among them all, the institutionalization of the AFM was (like all of Portuguese politics since 25 April) only a legalization of what already existed. Presented as a victory of the progressives over the moderates, the institutionalization of the AFM showed the weakness of all the other solutions. And, within the AFM, the election of officers who supported Spinola, which was presented as a victory of the moderates over the progressives, showed the weakness of that particular solution.

On the eve of 11 March, power learned the power of the workers and that it could no longer continue to exist in the powerless position of choosing between the available models of repression. For power, there would be no utility in trying to untangle the imbroglio of the multiple intrigues and conspiracies that interpenetrated it in every direction. To understand the coup of 11 March, it suffices to see that, at that moment, none of the political forces had any interest in further delaying the decision, but that all of them tried to do so definitively.

When one sees the unbelievable and noisy confusion of [the various processes of] institutionalization, coalition-making, constitution-writing, elections, provocations, and reaction and revolution, one easily understands why everyone within the State and outside it who were partisans of law and order, but not in support of the bureaucratic solution, cried out in anger: “Let there be a terrifying end instead of an endless terror!” Spinola and the Right heard this appeal, but they believed that they would be the only ones in power to respond to it and that, as a result, they would be victorious. They didn’t see that it was too late for a simple pronunciamiento and that no one wanted to take the risk of triggering a civil war, especially not those on whom they counted, those who were hesitant and preferred to celebrate their defeat in the State than having to struggle for their victory against it. As for the foreign supporters upon whom Spinola no doubt counted, they felt the same way, especially after the international scandal of the riots in Porto and Setubal: they were ready to support him by all means after his victory. (The Americans sent 6,000 marines to La Rota in Spain, not Lisbon.)

As always with those who have long waited in the fear of not succeeding, Spinola and his determined partisans, victims of the traces of that fear, did the opposite [they failed] during their haste at the decisive moment. Because they only saw vague desires for order, which were prudently wrapped in the vaporous clouds of the inconsistent official ideology, they believed that a decree would be enough for them to succeed. But their ridiculous rout was already contained in the fact that they could not openly proclaim this decree, but had to lie crudely to the paratroopers to make them march against the Left and [to do so] in the confusion of a confrontation in which everyone identified with the AFM.

The failure of the coup of 11 March, and its results, which were its true victory, were the necessary and unavoidable consequences of all of the prior developments. The majority of the leaders had been allowed to leave (Costa Gomes admitted as such shortly afterwards when he said that the investigation into the coup would not hesitate to “go back to 28 September”), so as to administer to themselves in vivo the proof that they could no longer return. This repetition (as farce) of the comedy of 28 September was necessary for the bureaucratic-military State to completely separate itself from its past and to actively become what it had already essentially been.

The masses did not celebrate 11 March the way they celebrated 25 April, and they didn’t participate in it the way that they’d participated in [the events of] 28 September. With the agreement of the soldiers, who didn’t lose their cool despite the psychological preparation of aerial bombardment for three hours, they only intervened at the barracks of the First Regiment of Light Artillery, which had been attacked by the paratroopers, to neutralize the provocation and prevent the first shots from being fired. By proposing to speak with the paratroopers, they immediately demonstrated their superiority, and, by agreeing, the paratroopers accepted their inferiority. The soldiers and all those who ran [to protect them] were aware that, above all, it was necessary for them to prevent the development of a pretext for the suffocation of the social war during the confusion of a political war between the Right and the Left. Their interests lay in the fact that the coup failed very quickly, just as the interests of the Leftists of the State lay in having it fail slowly, so that it caused some damage. There was a double advantage [for the Left in the Right’s attempt] to strike a regiment that was particularly advanced in the contestation movement, one which the Left didn’t dare repress on its own, and that gave a little weight to the anti-fascist ideology that would be necessary to cover for the subsequent repression.

In this respect, one didn’t have to wait long for the effects of 11 March to be felt. “The incidents that take place during political meetings,[6] the increase in the number of strikes, the nearly generalized climate of contestation: all this shows a well-defined orchestration,” Commander Correia Jesuino, Minister of “Social Communication,” declared the next day. (This was a Minister who, as his title indicates to those who know something of bureaucratic power, was charged with fighting against social communication with propaganda and the control of information.) Until then, power had only a vague desire for repression; now it had a pretext, and it was necessary for it to have the economic and political means for it to be carried out. It began immediately with the concentration of legislative and executive powers in the hands of the Leftist soldiers who called themselves the “Council of the Revolution.” And the measures that followed were at the level of a just-beginning totalitarianism. In addition to the dismissal of the last-remaining, nostalgic reactionaries and the prohibition of the “Democratic Christians,” they called for the nationalization of the banks and insurance policies (to fight against occupations and strikes); the prohibition of two Leftist groups and the arrest of militants (to sound out the reactions of the workers and get people used to repression in the name of anti-fascist unity); and repression in the army and prohibition of communiqués being distributed in the barracks. The speech of Vasco Gonçalves on 26 March – “The hard truth is that we are living beyond our means. Total austerity is an urgent necessity” – revealed the “combat strategy” of the new government. The real goal and only combat to be fought by this fourth Provisional Government: get the workers back to work by all available means.

The nationalizations, which were presented as the construction of a “socialist economy,” and which were seriously seen as such by all the suckers who, citing the example of De Gaulle’s actions in 1944, had more illusions than Vasco Gonçalves himself would have believed, were only “socialist” in the sense given to the word by Ebert’s famous definition (“Work a lot”)[7] and were not even properly economic. Because when the laws (autonomous from the economy) do not work, because they are detached from their basis, [in] the pure madness of those who have a part in it, there is no economic question that isn’t directly social or even military, in the sense of class war.

Thus, one must see in these measures taken by a bureaucratic State in the process of accelerated formation the preparation of its terrain, which was its first act of combat against the proletariat. If it attacked the bourgeoisie, which did not resist at all, this was only done to better fight against the proletariat, which all indications showed would resist with determination.

And while the disconcerted servility of the commentators (who no longer knew what State rationality [raison d’État] to dedicate themselves to) sounded out the differences between the soldiers – prudently investigating the “neutral” intentions of some and the “Castroism” of others, or speculating on the “Third Worldism” of still others – the Portuguese working class, who hold the outcome in its hands (it alone will determine the scope of the struggle and the nature of the new class power), can, in the full awareness of its historical grandeur, scorn the distraught reversals of the bureaucrats and the discomforted shillyshallying of the Leftist soldiers. This working class is the resolved enigma of all the mysteries of the current situation, and its revolutionary organization will teach it that it is that solution.

Society, nothing has been reestablished!

If ever an event has projected its shadow long before its appearance, it was the decisive confrontation between the Portuguese proletarians and all their enemies in coalition. And everything that worked within that shadow, the maneuvers and counter-maneuvers of the leaders, only added the obscurity of their clumsy justifications and their attempts at appeasement. To the comedy of the Socialists – defenders of democracy and followers of the bureaucracy, champions of elections that they have already accepted as ineffectual, future dominators of a Constituent [Assembly] that will only record the Constitution that they have already docilely ratified – responded the comedy of the Stalinists, heartily approving the nationalizations that they condemned the day before, who denounced the PPD as a bunch of “fascist provocateurs” and then collaborated with it in the government, and who ceaselessly both approved and feared the AFM.

All this was only the comedy of a situation in which an irreversible process led each to do the contrary of what it wanted to do. All had to accept the rapid organization of a State capitalism as the only solution, and they only disagreed on the legal-ideological modalities of its property, which could lead from bureaucratic monopoly to a mitigated version of the Scandinavian type, by way of Yugoslavian-style self-management. As for the AFM, which had furnished the governmental-hierarchical framework for this supplementary edition of the dominant class, it could utilize them all according to its needs without ever being utilized by them. The constitution (under its authority) of a unique party from parts of the PCP, the MDP,[8] and a new split-off group from the Socialists, is one of the possibilities for political aggiornamento, by way of the elimination of the most moderate Socialist leaders, whose anti-bureaucratic chatter could serve to make them responsible for agitation and thus opportunely constitute a new right-wing enemy.

But nothing was risked, neither in details nor in the essential aspects, because these are the weapons that the Portuguese State will have to employ against the proletariat, which will create the new power, and they are weapons, which this State has had to employ until now, that have created it and made it what it is: a political monster worthy of being set next to Peronism in the museum of the horrors of modern history; a supernatural freak born from the coupling of two old syphilitics (the bureaucracy and the bourgeoisie); an aberration whose shameful deformity must be carefully hidden by the world-wide spectacle, which feigns to take its democratic-bourgeois appearance seriously.

The soldiers must support the elections, the nullity of which they have decreed in advance, not to hide the reality of bureaucratic power from the other States, which know about it perfectly well, but instead so that these States can hide from the working classes of all countries this repugnant truth, which reveals all too well the nature of the status quo that exists everywhere and especially in Italy: their collective support for a bureaucratic power in Europe, which the threat of the proletariat obligates them to accept as the costly but indispensible price for the [continued] exploitation of the Portuguese workers. The final solution (even most costly and risky) is to make an example of Portugal at the moment that Portugal is already an example for the proletarians of Europe.

Today, the result of the elections shows that, if power believes that it can gain time, it is in fact the working class that has known how to utilize it better in order to give itself the time [needed] to win. The bitter failure of the Stalinists, to which the failure of the Right gives all of its meaning, is also (beyond Cunhal) an affront to the AFM. After months of propaganda and control of the means of information, the PCP no doubt has fewer partisans that it did on 25 April 1974: a year of revolution has weakened it more than a half-century of repression. But this collapse cannot benefit anyone. The victory of the Socialists, which was certainly regrettable for the other political parties, had to remain totally useless for them, because they knew (as one of them declared) that “it isn’t dictatorship that threatens [Portugal] but anarchy” (Le Monde, 6-7 April 1975). Thus they could only aspire to the place of the Stalinists in the AFM and, to obtain it, do what the Stalinists have done.

By voting for the Socialists, the workers have, above all, voted against the Stalinists. But the ruse of their reason was, at the same time, to impose the results that complicate the task of the State and that, bringing its contradictions to their height and opening up a new phase of struggles and secret political negotiations, give them new more time to pursue their autonomous organization on the social terrain. This on-going struggle cannot be compared to an ordinary war between antagonistic forces of the same type: if power has already had to put all of its forces into play, and has seen them get worn-out over time, the forces of the proletariat resemble an army that regroups during battle: it must increase its strength during battle.

Yet, as in any war, if one side has an interest in waiting, the other has an interest in acting and precipitating the [final] decision. For all the property-owning class in the world, the Portuguese revolution is a scandal and an abomination that has already lasted too long: Europe is trembling, especially Spain, where Franco has been reduced to congratulating Costa Gomes on the anniversary of 25 April, and all the other States, worried about an event like 25 April taking place within their borders, watch the unfolding of the nightmare in terror, above all fearing not being the only ones to be awoken by the conclusion. The historic initiative of their Portuguese comrades has brought the struggles of Spanish workers into a new phase, and everything allows one to think that a decisive battle in Lisbon would act like an electrical discharge on the masses, awakening their great memories and their revolutionary passions.

The on-going struggles [in Portugal, Spain and elsewhere] are the second offensive in the revolutionary era that began in 1968, and, just as the first offensive had made ridiculous all the illusions of the preceding era (all of the illusions about the stability of the existing order), this second one makes ridiculous all the illusions about the subsequent instability (all the illusions about revolution). The Portuguese proletarians have affected the course of modern history. They can affect it even more, and even win. But whatever the outcome of their struggles, the world-wide proletariat has obtained a new point of departure that is of universal historical importance.

[1] That is to say, the bourgeois West. (It seems to us that the division of the world into bureaucratic and non-bureaucratic halves is not very sensible: the bourgeois West is certainly bureaucratic.)

[2] LIP was a France watch and clock factory that was managed by the workers themselves between 1973 and 1974.

[3] The French here is affirmant tout à fait à côté de la question, non pas celle du journaliste bien sûr, mais celle de la réalité.

[4] René Lourau (1933-2000), author, among other works, of L’analyseur Lip, UGL, “10/18,” 1974.

[5] I have been unable to figure out which Niedergang is referred to here.

[6] English in original.

[7] Friedrich Ebert (1871-1925), German Social Democrat. Cf. Thesis 97, Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle.

[8] The Portuguese Democratic Movement.

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