Portugal

Solidarity: For Workers’ Power, Vol. 8, No. 3 (December 1975), pp. 1-2

The bulk of this issue is devoted to the Portuguese events of 1974-75. Several features, in our opinion, need stressing:

a) The tremendous upsurge of urban and rural the overthrow of the Caetano regime in April 1974. This was associated with a massive release of pent-up, creative energy manifesting itself in all fields of social life.

b) The decomposition of many of the bases of classical bourgeois power. But the private ownership of industrial enterprises and of the latifundia, and the imperialist commitment, were gradually replac~d by state capitalist institutions (over 70% of Portuguese industry is now nationalised) which guarantee the continued dominat:i..oIiof Capital in only marginally altered form.

c) The difficulties confronting the working class in its attempts to create genuinely autonomous organs of struggle. These difficulties were partly due to the proliferation of leftist groups, all allegedly speaking ‘on b~h.alf of’ the working class but in reality seeking to manipulate militancy for their own objectives.

d) The depth of the class struggle in the countryside, particularly in the Alentejo.

e) The persistence of dangerous illusions (largely fostered by the left, and only now slowly being dissipated) concerning an alleged community of interest between the Army and ‘the People’ (the so-called
MFA-Povo alliance).

f) The limitations of even the most radical forms of self~management when applied within an overall capitalist framework.

g) The depth to which (side by side with the explosion of the new) traditional attitudes to the problems of everyday life persist, penetrating the thinking and practice of leaders and led alike, and crippling meaningful action.

We have chosen five texts which illustrate some of these points and raise problems worthy of discussion:

1) The Manifesto of the postal workers of Lisbon in June 1974. This was issued at the time of their major strike against an administration in which the PCP was strongly entrenched. It represented one of the first important confrontations between a section ,of the working-class and the Communist Party.*

2) An editorial (‘What Workers Councils?‘) published by the paper ‘Combate‘ (Rua da Atalaia 204/206, Lisbon 2) in July 1975· This describes the artificial creation of ‘Workers Councils’ by the FRP-BR (Proletarian Revolutionary Party – Revolutionary Brigades), an organisation politically close to I.S., except that it does not urge people to vote for socialdemocrats. The article describes some working class responses to these attempts at manipulation.

3) An article ‘Portugal – North and South’ by Phil Meyler which seeks to dispel some of the stereotyped images of the ‘reactionary’ North versus the ‘radical’ South, and to explain what made possible the massive attacks last summer on various left-wing headquarters.

4) A diary by Maurice Brinton describing some experiences in Portugal during August 1975.

5) A reply to Tony Cliff’s ‘Open Letter to the Portuguese Revolution’ (published in ‘Socialist Worker’ on October 11, 1975) in which the relation of Party to Councils is sharply posed.

__________________________________________________________________________________
* Other important strikes at this time in which the workers came up against both the Communist Party and the MFA (Armed Forces Movement) were the struggles at the Lisnave shipyards and at TAP (Portuguese Airlines).
-There is an excellent description of the latter in ‘Portugal: l’autre combat’ by Avilla, Ferreira, Lory, Orsoni and Reeve (Spartacus, Paris, 1975)

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