Sunday, January 26, 2020

Democrat party versus independent working class political action: the 1983 Chicago mayoral race

The left and Jesse Jackson

 

SWP is only voice for socialism in '84 elections


Intercontinental Press

April 16, 1984


By Mac Warren


[The following article appeared in the May 13, 1983, Militant, a socialist weekly pub

lished in New York. It was reprinted as part of a pamphlet, A Socialist View of the Chicago Election, by Pathfinder Press. Mac Warren is a national leader of the Socialist Workers Party in the United States.]


The potential political power of Blacks, Latinos, and the labor movement, expressed in the recent Chicago elections, has sparked a major discussion on which way forward for political action that can advance the interests of working people and the oppressed.


Two views inside Democratic Party circles are being expressed in the wake of the election victory of Democrat Harold Washington, the first Black to become Chicago mayor. Jesse Jackson, leader of Operation PUSH, calls for running a Black in the Democratic presidential primaries, and links this to a massive voter registration drive among Blacks.


Jackson says now is the time to "renegotiatec our relationship with the Democratic Party. We're not arguing a Black agenda; we're arguing a national agenda from the perspective ofBlacks."


Jackson has held several meetings withTony Bonilla, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), to discuss this perspective with him. LULAC is assessing the massive (over 75 percent) vote for Harold Washington by Puerto Ricans, Mexican-Americans, and other Latinos and what that means for a Black-Latino alliance in the Democratic Party for the 1984 elections.The recent gathering of the national Conference for Puerto Rican Rights, held in Newark, N.J., took up the same question.


A second point of view in this discussion is articulated by Andrew Young, the mayor of Atlanta and a prominent Black Democrat. He argues it's wrong to run a Black in the Democratic primaries. This would divide Black leaders, he says, and possibly create a racial polarization that could jeopardize a Democratic victory in 1984. In other words, it would shake things up.


Lane Kirkland, president of the AFL-CIO [national labor federation], has talked of a labor-Black coalition, but he shares Young's approach and opposes Jackson's.This discussion has received prominent coverage in the major dailies, the Black press, and on television. The question is being discussed at political meetings across the country. "Building a political alliance of the labor movement and the oppressed is a major question for workers today," comments Ed Warren, who was the Socialist Workers Party candidate in the recent Chicago mayoral election. "This discussion is a very important one for Blacks, Latinos, trade unionists, and socialists."


A laid-off garment worker, Warren is a member of the SWP and the National Black Independent Political Party. He actively participated in meetings in the Chicago Black community about how to mobilize Black political power prior to the decision of Harold Washington to run for mayor.


In those meetings Warren explained that the events in Chicago reflected the real pressure that has built over the last decade among workers for solutions to the crisis of the capitalist system. He pointed to the crumbling of the Chicago Democratic machine as a sign of the growing incapacity of the two-party system to contain the push by Blacks and other working people for a political solution to the problems they face.


Warren said the logic of this push is toward breaking with the Democrats and Republicans,and running independent Black, Latino, and labor candidates. He pointed to the potential for building a mass independent Black party, and the impact this would have on unionists seeing the need for a labor party.


The perspective of the SWP was a significant factor in the Chicago discussion. While all socialist groups in the country are small today, what they do and the stands they adopt are important, especially at a time like this when workers are thinking about the idea of an alliance between Blacks, Latinos, and labor. Historically socialists — even when a small minority — have been an important factor in big turning points in the class struggle, from the rise of the ClO, to the civil rights movement, to the formation of labor parties in countries like Britain and Canada.


This is why it's important to call attention to the fact that every other major group that identifies itself as socialist endorsed the Democratic party candidate, Washington, in the Chicago elections. These include the Democratic Socialists of America, Communist Party, Workers World Party, Communist Workers Party, and the newspapers In These Times and the Guardian.


These groups capitulated to the pressure to support a capitalist candidate instead of recognizing the big opportunities for gaining a hearing from working people for a different course, a break with the Democrats and Republicans. Instead of advancing the fight for independent political action on the part of Blacks, Latinos,and the labor movement as an underlying strategy, these groups bolstered the idea that workers should give the capitalist parties another chance.


They put forward similar arguments to cover up their wholesale collapse in the face of the Democratic Party campaign of Washington. Perhaps the best example of this is the WorkersWorld Party (WWP), which called the election a "referendum on racism."


In a departure from previous practice, the WWP campaigned openly for the DemocraticParty candidate. To overcome resistance in their ranks to this crossing of class lines, the WWP defended its endorsement of Washington and attacked the socialist campaign of Ed Warren in an article in the April 15 Workers World.


"The Chicago race was not analogous to an election between a liberal Democrat and a conservative Republican as such,"  Workers World said. "That is an election campaign where political program is key, where the responsibility of a working-class party is to expose the false policies of the capitalist parties.


"The Chicago election," it explained, "was an election in form. It was, in reality, a referendum on racism."


Warren's campaign against the capitalist parties was a "surrender to racism," the article proclaims. He should have withdrawn in favor of Washington.


The idea that capitalist elections are in reality just referenda on one or two issues is not new. In 1964, workers were told the race between Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater was a referendum on the Vietnam War. Most voted "against the war" and elected Johnson,who proceeded to escalate U.S. involvement. Similarly, the 1984 elections are already being portrayed as a referendum on Reaganomics. To defeat Reagan's social and war policies you have to vote for the Democrat.


And a race between a Democratic candidate who is female and a Republican who is male can easily be described as a referendum onsexism.


This is the logic of the course the Workers World Party has embarked on. The class character of the Democratic Party — the fact that it represents the interests of the employers — is dissolved into an abstract struggle "against racism." Exposing the nature of the Democratic or Republican parties becomes irrelevant, political program is no longer "key," and the candidate of a genuine working-class party, Ed Warren, becomes an agent of reaction.The Workers World Party relies heavily on moralism to push its retreat from Marxism and presents an utterly patronizing view of bothBlack and white workers.


Workers World claimed that Warren's campaign would be viewed as racist by workers in Chicago. "Blacks and whites will perceive a call to vote against Washington as giving aid to the racist forces," the paper said.


But the SWP did not call for a vote against Washington, but rather a vote for a socialist perspective and against the two capitalist parties that monopolize political power today. And this is what won Warren a good hearing among workers, contrary to the Workers World predictions. Blacks, whites, and Latinos responded in a friendly way to the socialist campaign. Over 800 copies of the campaign newspaper, the Militant, were sold in the last week before the election, a significant number of them at plant gates.The many thousands of workers who meet SWP campaigners were politically much more sophisticated than the WWP and others ocialists gave them credit for.


Close to 4,000 people voted for Ed Warren. Fourteen thousand voted for Nicolee Brorsen, SWP candidate for city clerk, and 20,000 for Craig Landherg, SWP candidate for city treasurer, indicating that thousands who voted Washington for mayor also registered their support for the socialist perspective. These Blacks, Latinos, and whites who voted SWP were the vanguard of the many thousands more who listened, discussed and learned from the SWP campaign.


What the Workers World Party really expresses is its own lack of confidence in the political capacities of Blacks and all working people.


They have decided that it's not possible to talk about socialism with the American working class, especially with Blacks, who are apparently incapable of thinking in class terms. By the same token, white workers, in the WWP view, are incapable of grasping that racism is against their class interests.


The WWP fell totally for the frame-up of white workers orchestrated by the capitalist media. Accepting the lie that the core of reactionary opposition to a Black for mayor was in the white working class, they talked to whiteworkers on a moral level. "White workers need to be educated on racism, need to see that racism is a deadly poison that divides them," Workers World preached.


They went on to say that "under the existing circumstances, it was the first duty for a working class party truly interested in building unity to come out strongly and unequivocally for Washington."


In other words, white workers are racist and to help them overcome this racism, working-class parties should tell them to vote for the racist, anti-labor Democratic Party.


The entire framework of the WWP and other socialist groups who caved in to the Democrats is false. Their inability to look at politics in class terms leads them to miss what is actually happening in U.S. politics.


The real lesson from the Chicago elections is that it is easier today than ever before to get a hearing for a strategy of independent Black, Latino, and working-class political action. Socialist, class-struggle fighters in the labor movement, members of the National Black Independent Political Party, and other political activists should join in the discussions going on today about how to build an alliance of Blacks, Latinos, and the unions. They should participate and help advance the perspective of breaking with the racist, antilabor capitalist parties and charting a course of independent working-class political action.




http://themilitant.com/1983/4717/MIL4717.pdf






Electoral campaigns versus social movements and independent working class political action

Jesse Jackson and political independence 

A contribution to 'Guardian' discussion on electoral strategy


The Militant June l5, 1984


The following article by Laura Garza, a national youth coordinator for the Socialist Workers Party 1984 presidential campaign of Mel Mason and Andrea Gonzaiez, was submitted to the Guardian's "Opinion and Analysis" page last March. It was written in reply to an "Opinion and Analysis" contribution in the March 7 Guardian by Elissa Clarke and David Finkel, members of the editorial board of the International Socialists' magazine Changes


The Guardian, a radical weekly published in New York, has been campaigning for Democratic presidential aspirant Jesse Jackson. In their article, Clarke and Finkel wrote, "We believe Jackson would be most responsive to the real, immediate and historic needs and to the mass sentiments of his base if he ran for President as an independent. And we believe activists should advocate that he do this .... 


"Those . . . who could be convinced that Jackson's campaign represents an historic opportunity tragically wasted because it remains locked within the Democratic Party are the potential core of a new movement serious about independent political action." 


Garza's reply has not yet appeared in the Guardian


BY LAURA GARZA 


How to respond to the candidacy of Democratic presidential hopeful Jesse Jackson has been the subject of much debate on the left. In an article in the March 7 Guardian, International Socialists Elissa Clarke and David Finkel assert the only obstacle to socialists supporting Jackson's campaign is that he is running in the Democratic Party. The task, then, is to urge him to break with the Democratic Party. 


While I agree that Jackson's adherence to the Democratic Party does not advance the struggle of Blacks and other working people, that is not the only thing wrong with his campaign. 


A socialist view of the elections should begin by explaining that capitalism is the source of our problems and both the Democratic and Republican parties are tools of the ruling rich. It is only by charting a course independent of the ruling rich and their parties that working people can develop a mass struggle to overturn capitalist political rule, and establish their own government. 


What is independent political action? 


While Clarke and Finkel indicate they are for breaking from the Democrats and Republicans, they begin with the mistaken foundation of believing that Jackson and his program are somehow fundamentally different from the other Democratic candidates and from the Democratic Party itself. They reduce independent politics to being, simply, organizationally independent of the two dominant capitalist parties. 


But to have any meaning, independent political action has to be independent of capitalist politics. It has to be independent, working-class political action, based on a program that advances the interests and demands of the working class and its allies. Jackson, his program, and his party all fail this test. Jackson's positions cannot be separated from his candidacy in the Democratic Party because they have the same basis - support for the capitalist system. He believes the way to solve our problems is for us to "renegotiate" with the racists and bosses who run this society, not to get rid of this system. His entire program is one of reforming U.S. capitalism. 


When Jackson says that our problems can be addressed and solved within this capitalist system, he misleads Blacks, women, workers, and others to believe that we have a stake in defending it. 


That is why Jackson points out that he, like his Democratic Party opponents, is for a "strong defense." He has tactical differences about how much is needed to maintain the domination of imperialism. Cut the waste out of the Pentagon budget, he says; station only 150,000 troops in Europe; but keep the budget and the troops, and the imperialist system they defend. 


At a time when the bosses are on a union-busting offensive, Jackson offers as his example of "taking on" corporate America the deal he worked out with Burger King, where Jackson advocates they get a tax incentive for buying cucumbers and building a plant in Alabama. 


His answer to the economic crisis is to step up U.S. business' competitiveness in the international market. But it is precisely this same "foreign competition" hype that is the club used by the bosses to impose worse conditions on us and bust our unions. 


Jackson's perspective of appealing to "progressive" companies will not blunt the offensive of the bosses and their government. They are driven to attack our rights and living standards to defend their profits. 


And insofar as Jackson is able to win to his view people who want to fight back against these attacks, he misleads and misdirects their desire to struggle in their own interests. 


A mass movement? 


Many argue Jackson is leading a movement and a "rainbow coalition" can be built and advanced through support to his candidacy. 


First, there is a difference between a mass movement and a mass meeting of people who come to hear Jackson, are told to register as Democrats, work on his campaign, and then go home. 


A mass movement, such as the civil rights movement, has its own set of demands, which it fights uncompromisingly for, not tied or beholden to a particular party or someone else's interests. Its strength is based on mobilizing people in action to fight for their own interests, and that is what is needed now to counter the war drive, the rise in racist attacks, the capitalist economic offensive, etc. 


Second, the idea of a coalition linking the interests and needs of workers, oppressed nationalities, and women is a powerful and important one. But it would have to be a fighting alliance based on the fact that there are common interests, and this cannot be built in either of the capitalist parties. Jackson, in fact, counterposes his campaign to building an independent movement. 


The idea of a coalition uniting those with common interests and a common enemy, in struggle, has been subsumed into a get-out-the-vote apparatus for Jackson, and uniting into an electoral bloc in the Democratic Party.


Many believe we must be a part of this because we cannot stand aside from an important discussion among Blacks about how to advance their interests politically. This discussion is of concern to all working people, many of whom look to the Black community for leadership because of its legacy of struggle, and its successes, most importantly the civil rights movement. 


But the Jackson campaign is not a continuation of the legacy of struggle, of Blacks leading the oppressed to fight in their own interest. It is the opposite, relying on working with your class enemies. Socialists should point out that it was mobilizations independent of relying on capitalist parties that won workers historic gains. Moreover, there is a rich history of struggle to form an independent Black political party in the United States and we should point to this road as a way forward. 


An independent Black party would be an example for the whole working class and would advance the discussion needed to form a labor party. To defend the interests of Blacks, women, Latinos, and all workers we need a party of our own, a labor party, based on a fighting trade-union movement. 


Socialists should point out that there is a connection between the war against the workers and farmers of Central America and the attacks on workers and farmers here. We should explain there are classes in society and our problems can't be solved until society is run in the interests of a different class - the working class. 


The problem with supporting Jackson is not only, as Clarke and Finkel say, that you will end up supporting Mondale later, the problem is supporting Jackson now. Jackson's campaign, like all the other capitalist candidates, keeps the discussion of solutions to our problems within the framework of capitalist politics and solutions. The effect of the support given by much of the left to Jackson is that the source of our problems - capitalism - doesn't get discussed and exposed. 


The Socialist Workers Party and the Young Socialist Alliance have taken advantage of the interest in the elections to discuss socialist ideas and solutions. Through the SWP campaign of Mel Mason for president and Andrea Gonzalez for vice-president, we have raised the idea that workers and farmers should run the government, in their own interests. We have defended the revolutionary gains of the Cubans, Nicaraguans, Grenadians, and Salvadorans. We have spoken for the abolition of the entire war budget and the reallocation of this massive wealth for social and economic development here and abroad. 


The response we have gotten shows people are willing to listen to those who tell the truth and advance socialist ideas. 



Anyone interested in these ideas and the Mason-Gonzalez campaign can write to Socialist Workers Presidential Campaign, 14 Charles Lane, New York, N.Y. 10014. Telephone: (212) 675-3820.


http://themilitant.com/1984/4822/MIL4822.pdf



Saturday, January 25, 2020

Walmart bosses hire plumber, fix up toxic Tire and Lube center – The Militant


#solidarity

....“Several employees confronted managers one on one and nothing changed,” Alex Ziomeck, a tire and lube worker, told the Militant. “The only way that we were able to see real change in the situation is when we came together. To other Walmart workers, if you feel like you can relate to this story, talk to your co-workers and get organized.”


Walmart bosses hire plumber, fix up toxic Tire and Lube center – The Militant

Issues in the 1975 Portuguese revolution

Boston U. symposium: 

US. left debates issues in  Portuguese revolution


The Militant

January 16, 1976


By Steve Clark 


Every socialist current has been put to the test by the revolutionary upsurge in Portugal following the April 1974 coup by the MFA-Armed Forces Movement that toppled that country's decades-old fascist-like regime. 


At each decisive fork in the road, every workingclass party-inside Portugal and out-has had to take a stand on vital questions of strategy, tactics, and political program. 


At a December 14 symposium on Portugal at Boston University, representatives of five tendencies on the U.S. left participated in a debate on this central development in the international class struggle. The symposium, sponsored by the campus student government, was attended by 300 people. 


Speaking on the panel were Arthur Simson, a frequent correspondent from Portugal for the U.S. Communist party newspaper, the Daily World; Barry Sheppard, Socialist Workers party national organization secretary; Joan McBride, of the International Socialists; Patrick Smith, a writer for the pro-Maoist Guardian newspaper; and Dan Burstein, of the Maoist October League. 


Also on the panel were Mario Castanheira of the Portuguese Committee for Democratic Action and two Boston-area journalists who have recently visited Portugal-Danny Schechter of WBCN radio and Boston Phoenix reporter Sid Blumenthal. 


What kind of revolution? 


An obvious first question in a serious discussion of revolutionary prospects for Portugal is: What kind of revolution are we talking about? 


SWP leader Barry Sheppard offered his answer to this question in opening remarks. "The mass upsurge in Portugal during the past year and a half," he said, "has placed the socialist revolution on the agenda. 


"The Portuguese masses, whose democratic rights had been suppressed for forty-eight years, very swiftly came to the conclusion that the correct name for the opposite of what they had lived under for so long-the correct name for what they wanted-was socialism." 


Hundreds of thousands of Portuguese workers joined the previously illegal trade unions, Sheppard explained. Tens of thousands joined the political parties they believed to be socialist, especially the Socialist and Communist parties. The deep radicalization could be seen in the outbreak of strike struggles and factory occupations; the election of workers commissions in many plants; the breakdown of military discipline among rank-and-file soldiers; and the enormous mobilizations that blocked rightist coup attempts in September 1974 and March 1975. 


"It was also reflected in the elections to the Constituent Assembly last spring," Sheppard said, "when all the parties-even the capitalist parties-claimed to be socialist and when the majority of votes were cast for the two big workers parties-the Socialists and Communists." 


Joan McBride of the International Socialists, while differing with Sheppard on many crucial questions of strategy and tactics, agreed that the fundamental dynamic of the Portuguese events was toward a socialist revolution. 


Now or later? 


Other panelists, however, disagreed. 


Patrick Smith of the Guardian, for example, did not believe that the socialist revolution was on the agenda in Portugal for some time to come. "In the context of the present situation," he said, "the principal battle is between neo-fascism and democracy." . 


Smith was not referring here to the struggle for democratic rights, a key aspect of the struggle to make the Portuguese socialist revolution. He was talking about "democracy" on a capitalist basis, postponing the struggle for socialism to a "stage" in the indeterminate future. 


Communist party spokesperson Arthur Simson sidestepped the issue, as he did most other disputed questions throughout the symposium. The CP's position was clarified several days later, however, in a December 17 Daily World account of a meeting of the Central Committee of the Portuguese Communist party (PCP). According to this report, the Central Committee "said that a democratic regime, developing toward socialism, remains a long-term objective of the Portuguese revolution." 


On this point, the Guardian and Daily World are in close agreement. 


Both the Guardian and Daily World also share the view that the Armed Forces Movement is the leading force in the unfolding Portuguese revolution. Before the Socialist party became the favorite of the MFA government this fall, the Portuguese Communist party for eighteen months had loyally helped the generals and admirals attempt to impose their stiff austerity measures on Portuguese workers. The PCP served as the MFA's policeman in the labor movement. . 


Simson spoke in particularly glowing terms about Portugal's fifth provisional government-headed by Col. Vasco Goncalves-which was replaced in late August. The PCP had achieved its greatest influence in this cabinet. Panelist Mario Castanheira also praised Goncalves, saying that his was "the government that for the first time in 800 years did something for Portugal." 


Smith from the Guardian gave his seal of approval to the fifth government too, contrasting it favorably with the current Lisbon regime. 


Despite the fact that both Simson and Smith were highly critical of the current SP-backed sixth MFA-dominated provisional government, the Guardian and Daily World have sounded the alarm against what they believe to be-as the Guardian put it-the threat that "the MFA would be eliminated as a political force." The Daily World wrote recently that the MFA's dissolution could be "the most reactionary move in the last 19 months. 


Socialist demagogy 


Sheppard differed sharply with these estimates of the Armed Forces Movement. The MFA, he insisted, was and remains a capitalist political instrument. "It was forced to use socialist rhetoric and demagogy to maintain its support," he said. "If it could just maintain support during the mass upsurge, it could hope for eventual restabilization and the reimposition of bourgeois 'law and order.'" 


The MFA could not successfully carry out this strategy without the help of the leaderships of the Communist and Socialist parties, which exercise significant influence among Portuguese workers. "The leaders of these parties," Sheppard said, "subordinate the interests of the Portuguese workers to one or another wing of the MFA. 


"They have had a rivalry between themselves over which party could do that best, which would get the most cabinet posts, and so on. Last summer during the Goncalves government, the Communist party was the favored junior partner of the MFA; this fall it has been the socialists." 


Sheppard pointed out that many Portuguese organizations to the left of the PCP and SP have failed to provide a clear alternative to the class-collaborationism of the two reformist parties. These centrist groups tended to look to the most radical-sounding officers, such as Gen. Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho and Adm. Rosa Coutinho. 


The views of the Revolutionary party of the Proletariat (PRP), a small group championed in this country by the International Socialists, provide an example of these illusions. PRP leader Isobel do Carmo told panelist Joan McBride in an interview recently published in the IS newspaper, Workers Power: "Some of the people in the [Goncalves] government were to the left of the CP. The head of the cabinet was of the revolutionary left. But that was the peak.'' 


Still imperialist 


Sheppard said that such illusions were common among those taken in by MFA phrasemongering. "One of the demagogic things that the MFA did in order to win support," Sheppard explained, "was to call itself a national liberation movement. 


"But the problem with that is that Portugal won its independence-from Spain-several centuries ago! Today, Portugal is not an oppressed nation. It is an imperialist power, albeit one of the weaker ones.'' 


The MFA's "national liberation" demagogy, Sheppard pointed out, helped mask its true aim, which was to protect Portuguese capitalist interests in its African colonies. "We're a national liberation movement, therefore we're anti-imperialist, therefore we can no longer oppress other people," was the MFA's argument, Sheppard said. It helped the generals explain why they kept Portuguese troops in Angola for nearly a year and a half after the April 24 coup. 


The MFA's real plan, however, was to shift from direct colonial domination of its colonies to the type of neocolonial arrangement worked out by most other imperialist powers. 


There was a lively discussion of revolutionary strategy and tactics during the symposium, despite the opinion of several panelists that such a discussion within the American left is inappropriate. Simson excused his reluctance to discuss the CP's position on many questions by remarking, "In this room we are not going to decide today the fate of . . . Portugal." Blumenthal of the Boston Phoenix called such discussions "counterproductive" and "hairsplitting." 


Sheppard explained why he believed such discussions are extremely important. "Parties and factions," he said, "represent different policies for the road ahead-different strategies and tactics. 


"Because Marxism is internationalist in its perspective," Sheppard explained, "the discussion of strategy is necessarily also international. It's not enough to say, 'Let's leave it to the Portuguese.' No, the lessons are international, and we must take stands on questions of broad strategy and program in all countries-in order to even understand our own.'' 


Earlier in the symposium, Sheppard pinpointed the central axis of a revolutionary socialist strategy for Portugal: political independence of the working class from all capitalist forces, including from the MFA. "The whole question of strategy at every turning point of the Portuguese revolution," he said, "has been how to organize and help lead the spontaneous upsurge of the masses of working people, students, and others in an independent direction to establish their own power." 


Sheppard stressed the need for powerful, united actions of the Portuguese workers to fight for higher wages, against inflation and unemployment, against government strikebreaking, and for full democratic rights. 


Democratic rights 


"A central aspect of MFA strategy," Sheppard said, "was to divide the working class.'' This summer, for example, the PCP spearheaded-for the MFA-a concerted attack on the democratic rights of the Socialist party. Many of the centrist groups in Portugal supported this sectarian vendetta. 


The Socialist party-backed daily newspaper Republica was taken over by a small group of printers, who objected to the paper's occasional mild criticisms of the MFA regime. The MFA backed up the take-over. 


"Workers democracy," Sheppard pointed out, "does not consist of fifty printing workers censoring the views-no matter how wrong they are-of millions of Socialist party workers. That is not workers democracy; it is capitalist repression-capitalist censorship. 


"You can't make a socialist revolution," he said, "by putting yourself in the position where you look like you are suppressing democracy. The MFA, the Communist party, many of the Maoist groups, and the centrist currents identified socialism and communism this summer with the suppression of democratic rights, thereby bolstering one of the props of capitalist rule in the world today: the fear among the masses of people that socialism and communism will mean an end to their democratic rights." 


By cheering on the CP's sectarian campaign, Sheppard explained, the centrist groups played into the hands of Mario Soares and the other class-

collaborationist SP leaders. During that period, these misleaders were able to pose as champions of 

democracy in the face of capitalist repression. At the same time, the centrists failed to see the SP's real crime against the Portuguese workers: its political support to the capitalist MFA regime and its subordination of workers' struggles to that regime. 


Even right-wing forces were able to cloak their reactionary aims in democratic verbiage during the summer. "Revolutionists should not give the powerful issue of democracy to the right wing," Sheppard said. "That strategy will never lead to victory.'' 


'Social fascism'? 


Simson tried to defend the PCP's attitude toward the SP by quoting the assertion of a leading Portugues Stalinist that "Mario Soares is now part of the right.'' Castanheira called the SP a ''right-wing party." The Guardian and IS spokespeople echoed tills characterization. Many Portuguese centrists, for example the PRP, even said that the SP is fascist. 


Sheppard pointed to the dangers of this kind of slander campaign inside the workers movement. "Do you think you can win over the workingclass majority from the wrong policies of the SP leadership by telling them, 'You belong to a fascist party'? 


"These radicalized workers who have joined the SP don't think that they belong to a fascist party. And they're right.'' 


October League representative Dan Burstein added another dimension to this discussion, hurling the accusation of "social fascism" at the PCP. This refrain is a favorite of most Portuguese Maoist groups as well. 


Burstein said that there are two types of fascism in Portugal today: "the fascists of the old Salazar-Caetano-Spinola type, who are tied directly to U.S. imperialism," and the "new type of fascists-the social fascists of the Cunhal [Communist] party.'' The PCP, he said, is merely the agent of "Soviet social imperialism," which he called the "main danger to the people of Portugal. . . . " 


Smith of the Guardian agreed that the PCP might be social fascist in the abstract, but insisted that in the concrete situation in Portugal it has been a "representative thus far ... for the establishment of progressive and democratic rights." He failed to explain how "social fascists" could play such a role. 


The potentially disastrous results of sectarian campaigns like these are amply illustrated by the very origins of the term "social fascism." In Germany in the early 1930s, Hitler rose to power on the crest of just such a campaign by the German Communist party against the German social democrats. Stalin's theory of "social fascism" and refusal to call for a united front with the German SP blocked the ability of the German workers to mount a united fight against the Nazi threat. 


Why don't the Communist and Socialist parties form a government-a workers and peasants government? After all, they won the majority in the elections last spring.


Sheppard continued, "We should ask them, 'Why do we need the MFA-this self-appointed group of military officers? Let's form our own government and begin the construction of socialism.' " 


Minority revolution 


To IS spokesperson Joan McBride, all these questions of strategy and tactics seemed irrelevant. 


"People there [in Portugal] don't need analysis," she said. "They don't need long discussions on the problems. They don't need long discussions on the answers. They know the answers.'' 


McBride said, "What we have in Portugal is a situation of dual power ... workers commissions, soldiers committees, neighborhood committees, and other organizations of working people. They have linked up in major cities and are governing cities and entire areas." She identified this "dual power" with the small sectarian "soviets" set up by the PRP. 


Sheppard said that this utterly fantastic exaggeration of the political situation in Portugal has led the IS, following the PRP in Portugal itself, to totally disregard the question of winning the masses of working people to a revolutionary perspective. 


"The problem with groups like the PRP," Sheppard said, "is that winning power is not yet on the order of the day in Portugal. The vast majority of the Portuguese workers still follow either the misleadership of the Communist or Socialist parties into support of a capitalist government. 


Ironically, Simson referred to this historical analogy in his closing remarks, of course without referring to Stalin's disastrous policies. "If there had been unity between the Communist party of Germany and the Socialist party of Germany-with all the weaknesses of that party-in 1933," he scolded, "the road to power for Hitler would have been successfully barred. 


"The important thing to remember is that working-class unity, and only working-class unity, is going to bar the present threat of fascism in Portugal. ... " 


Class independence 


Sheppard pointed out that leaders of both the PCP and SP had torpedoed this much-needed unity in Portugal through their attacks on the democratic rights of each other. 


Sheppard also explained that the concept of working-class unity advanced by the PCP was in reality a policy of unity with the capitalist MFA. 


"The Portuguese Communist party," as Simson put it, "would like to participate in a government on a principled basis in which the PCP and PSP are represented. . . . " He stressed the leading role that the MFA must lay in any such government. 


Sheppard differed fundamentally with this class-collaborationist perspective. "We have to unite the working class around the idea that they should have their own government." he said," and not "Revolutionists must win the majority to a revolutionary course before winning power is on the agenda. The PRP calls for 'insurrection' helped set the stage for the adventurous coup attempt on November 25.'' 


That was the day that radicalized rank-and-file soldiers at several Portuguese military installations were misled by the ultraleft rhetoric of the Stalinists and centrists into trying to change the government by the determined action of a handful. This attempt was rapidly quelled by progovernment troops. 


Since the aborted coup attempt, the MFA has stepped up its repressive campaign against democratic rights in the military and in other sectors of Portuguese society. The MFA has intensified its austerity campaign, rebounding from the blows it suffered only a week earlier from a militant strike and demonstration by construction workers. This action had won a much-needed wage hike, which has since been rescinded under the wage freeze proclaimed by the MFA government after crushing the November 25 adventure. 


But Sheppard did not agree with the moderator of the panel, who in her opening remarks said, "After the recent events in Portugal, I feel as if I am presiding at a funeral.'' 


"I think it is far too premature to draw an 'X' through the Portugveae revolution," Sheppard said. 


"The workers, the masses, have not been defeated. They will have the final word."



http://themilitant.com/1976/4002/MIL4002.pdf


Friday, January 24, 2020

Portuguese revolution, 1975

Key issues in Portuguese revolution


October 1975


[At the 1969 world congress of the Fourth International, the debate over what political course to follow, particularly in relation to the class struggle in Latin America, led to the formation of two tendencies. These later developed into two factions, the International Majority Tendency and the Leninist Trotskyist Faction.


[The differences "between the two groupings have extended to the Portuguese revolution, as was explained in the contribution by Gerry Foley, Joseph Hansen, and George Novack, "For a Correct Political Course in Portugal," published in last week's issue of Intercontinental Press.


[The resolution below constitutes the official position of the Leninist Trotskyist Faction on the Portuguese revolution. It was adopted unanimously by the LTF Steering Committee at a meeting held August 30, 1975.]


The opening of the Portuguese socialist revolution stands at present at the center of the international class struggle. A working-class victory in Portugal- would sound the death knell of European capitalism and deal a staggering blow to the main powerhouse of international capitalism in the United States.


In view of the size and power of the Portuguese working class relative to the bourgeoisie and its reactionary contingents, why hasn't it already established its own government? The answer is that the Portuguese workers, like the workers in other countries, are faced with "a crisis of leadership," to cite Trotsky's words in the Transitional Program.


The crisis in leadership can be overcome only by the construction of a team of cadres capable of providing correct political guidance. The nucleus of such a team is very small in Portugal today. The prime problem is to expand that nucleus. This means constructing a revolutionary socialist party in the very heat of the revolution. Achievement of this difficult requisite demands, above all, a precise Marxist analysis of all the contending political forces, and, in particular, the political issues at the heart of the developing class struggle. The greatest possible concreteness is demanded. Instructive as analogies with other revolutions may be, they cannot take the place of analysis of the Portuguese events themselves and determination of their political meaning in the living context of national and international contending forces.


This resolution is intended as a contribution in that task, which is a collective responsibility of the world Trotskyist movement as a whole. Of course, more than accurate analysis and political prognosis are required.


Unless the small nucleus of Trotskyist forces in Portugal succeeds in taking full advantage of the openings provided by the revolution, they will not be able to expand sufficiently and at a swift enough rate to gain leadership of the revolutionary-minded masses.


Fortunately, the pattern of the Portuguese revolution favors their efforts. It is preeminently proletarian. Among other things, this means that it is centered in the cities where the Trotskyists are also based, giving them extraordinary opportunities to spread their ideas among the radicalizing layers of workers.


In a developing revolution, the proletariat has enormous advantages. These include its economic and social weight, the power of its numbers when they move in unison, the effectiveness of its natural methods of organization and battle in the plants and in the streets, the radicalizing and mobilizing effect of its struggles on its allies in the city and countryside, and above all its inclination to move toward socialism, a trend clearly evident in Portugal today.


In accordance with this pattern, the Portuguese workers in their first upsurge began to organize militant unions and to establish workers control of industry. Action committees appeared in many factories, as did similar forms in the armed forces and in some neighborhoods, giving promise of the rise of soviets or comparable bodies. The direction of movement obviously favors the growth of Trotskyism.


Such phenomena, along with the universal determination among the masses to finish with Salazarism, or anything resembling it, and to establish a new governmental system capable of guaranteeing democracy as they understand it and want it, have provided striking confirmation of the correctness of the Transitional Program, which in 1938 outlined the logic of a rising proletarian revolution like the one in Portugal and noted the concomitant slogans and tasks facing the revolutionary Marxists.


By the same token, those Portuguese Trotskyists who have assimilated the lessons taught by Trotsky, above all in the Transitional Program, stand well-prepared to tackle the key problem of resolving the crisis of leadership faced by the Portuguese working class and thereby assuring a victory of colossal importance to the workers on all continents.


1. Bourgeois Calculations in the April 25 Coup


The April 25, 1974, military coup that toppled the Caetano dictatorship was an outcome of the conclusion drawn by Portuguese finance capital that neither their colonial empire nor the working class in their own country could be dominated any longer primarily by repressive means.


The Portuguese imperialists had at first resisted turning to neocolonial means to save their empire. As rulers of the weakest of the imperialist powers both economically and politically, they sought to evade the cost of fostering and maintaining a neocolonial bourgeoisie. Moreover, their state apparatus appeared to have a tight grip on society. Thus, the Portuguese imperialists hoped to achieve by determination and ruthlessness what other imperialists with vastly greater resources chose not to attempt, or failed to achieve.


However, after more than a decade of savage war against the peoples in the colonies, the Portuguese imperialists found that the sword was incapable of cutting off the sources of the colonial revolution, which continued to mount. Even terror on the massive scale practiced in northern Angola was not sufficient to destroy the nationalist movements, in particular since they received support, and in some instances bases, from the surrounding  Black African states.


Although the Portuguese imperialists managed for a time to contain the nationalist movements in the economically important colonies, this was insufficient to accomplish their objectives.


They finally realized that they did not have the resources to sustain a large-scale military occupation of the colonies without undermining the bases of capitalist stability in Portugal itself. Nor could they get the necessary support from stronger imperialist powers to make up for their weakness.


Nonetheless, the sectors of the Portuguese ruling class who came to see the need for a change in policy faced grave difficulties in carrying it out. The regime had rested on corporatist repression for nearly half a century. Not only were substantial repressive forces such as the secret police and the riot police strongly intertwined with the regime but the economic interests of a swollen layer of backward petty capitalists and latifundists were bound up with the maintenance of this special repressive system. Furthermore, the Portuguese imperialists had waited too long to shift to neocolonialism; they faced well-organized mass nationalist movements deeply rooted in the populations of many colonies, including Angola, the key piece of the empire. These movements were already substantial.


With their long tradition of struggle, they could not be co-opted cheaply. Nor could the colonial masses, after long years of massive struggles and enormous sacrifices and suffering, be easily demobilized by small concessions.


So, Portuguese imperialism, which has always had an extraordinarily weak base, engaged in perhaps the most daring gamble in 500 years of Lusitanian expansionism. It moved to reorganize its forms of political and social control by violent means, by a military uprising against an entrenched layer of the state and political apparatus. A major indication of the line of thinking of the ruling sector was their decision to allow Spinola's book Portugal e o Futuro to be published in February 1974. The book became a best seller and helped provide the general with a revolutionary image. Through the subsequent coup, Spinola moved to disarm and neutralize a section of the ruling class itself by purging a considerable number of previously sacrosanct authorities. This not only disabled the police forces for a time, it was a violent shock to the habits of obedience instilled in the masses by almost fifty years of dictatorship modeled on fascist Italy and Spain.


The Portuguese capitalists did not embark on such an adventure without taking into account certain favorable conditions. Although they had failed to stop the rising radicalization among the workers and the youth, a powerful, organized mass movement had not yet formed in Portugal. Likewise, although the imperialist army had failed to crush the nationalist movements in the colonies and had suffered some defeats as well as significant losses, it had not been broken or decisively defeated.


The most favorable condition from the bourgeoisie's point of view was the absence of a mass revolutionary Marxist party in either Portugal or the colonies. The mass movement was dominated by dependable reformist elements. As it turned out, the assessment made by the Portuguese imperialist bourgeoisie of the reliability of the reformist workers parties proved to be accurate.


What Portugal's rulers underestimated was the power and extent of the mass upsurge that would be touched off both in Portugal and the colonies by the fall of Salazarism. They failed to gauge correctly the hopes this would inspire among the masses that they could finally gain their democratic right to think, to discuss, to make their own decisions, and to struggle to change their economic and social conditions and determine their own fate.


In the sweep of this mass radicalization, the bourgeoisie found it impossible to sufficiently reconsolidate its repressive apparatus, and was forced to permit far more widespread purges of rightist police and officials than it intended or than was compatible with the stability of bourgeois class rule. The pressure of the mass upsurge opened wider the cracks in the discipline of the armed forces resulting from growing unwillingness to continue the long and unsuccessful colonial war. As it deepened, this process threatened to shatter the armed forces as an instrument of the bourgeois state.


2. The Armed Forces Movement-a Bourgeois Instrument


The instrument on which the imperialist bourgeoisie relied to remove the Caetano regime and to carry out the needed political reorganization was the Armed Forces Movement (AFM). The AFM began as a movement among professional officers who sought to defend their privileges as graduates of the military academies against the ordinary university graduates, large numbers of whom were given commissions as part of the expansion of the armed forces required to fight the colonial war.


The AFM, in essence, has functioned as the political arm of the military hierarchy. That is what it has always aspired to be, and what the present leadership intends it to be. Following the March 11, 1975, attempted coup, some of the cleverest military demagogues such as Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho have tried to picture things as if a political difference existed between the top military commanders who associated themselves with the April 25 overturn, Spinola in particular, and the "revolutionary movement" itself. This line was intended to explain away the obvious splits in the AFM represented by the attempted rightist coups on September 28, 1974, and March 11, 1975.


In any such conspiratorial movement there are bound to be various layers of officers and various degrees of commitment, with the lowest officers, officers who take the greatest risks, generally being the most radical in speech and the most determined in action. The AFM has thus drawn the support of many radicalized young officers as well as radicalized civilians, and has maintained its control over them. However, the AFM has always striven to make itself as representative of the military command as possible; and since the April 25 overturn it has continued to bring in officers on the basis of the positions they hold in the military hierarchy. In addition, representatives of the lower ranks of the armed forces have been incorporated in the formal organs of the AFM to make these bodies better transmission belts for the directives of the military leadership and better barometers of the political processes at work in the armed forces, as well as to divert demands for real democracy in the armed forces. In accordance with their bonapartist strategy, the military tops also brought some left-wing elements into the AFM assemblies to counterbalance the right and increase their maneuvering room.


As a conspiratorial opposition movement under Caetano, the AFM attracted officers influenced by various political currents hostile to the Salazarist regime. In response to the logic and the pressures of the struggle against the old dictatorship, as well as the pressure of the masses following April 25,there was a tendency toward radicalization, in the lower echelons of the AFM in particular. This tendency was reinforced by the mass mobilizations in response to the attempted rightwing coups on September 28, 1974, and March 11, 1975.


In these cases, the most conservative elements in the armed forces feared that the democratic ferment and social struggles were getting out of hand and that the process of reform could not contain the masses but would inspire them to further struggle. At the same time, they were unwilling to accept the minimum demands of some nationalist movements in the colonies. If successful, this "restoration of order" would have meant a purge of important sections of the AFM now regarded as "unreliable" by the conservatives. In each instance, the masses mobilized to defend the military regime, which they identified with their new-found freedoms and the perspective of socialism. These coup attempts further compromised the already discredited Portuguese capitalist class and shifted the balance of forces in favor of the working masses. As a result, the process of radicalization accelerated in the ranks of the armed forces and at the lower levels of the officer corps, and after each coup attempt the AFM was obliged to adopt correspondingly more "socialist" and "anti-imperialist" verbiage in order to divert the political process into the channels of the AFM. However, the AFM has remained the essential political instrument of the Portuguese imperialist bourgeoisie.


And its objective has continued to be to modernize and strengthen Portuguese capitalism-not to overturn it. It simply found itself obliged to rely heavily on demagogy to persuade the Portuguese workers to help out capitalism in its hour of need. It is also using "socialist" phrase mongering to put capitalist needs in a better light as a first step toward restoring the dominance of bourgeois ideology and of bourgeois "law and order" and repression. One example of the demagogy of the AFM is its use of bourgeois nationalism.


Since its successful April 25, 1974,coup, the ruling military group has carried on a campaign designed to restore the hold of Portuguese nationalism, which had been largely discredited through its use by Salazar. In order to accomplish this, it has posed as a national liberation movement borrowing the anti-imperialist themes of the rebel movements in the colonies.


In the same way, it has tried to borrow the repressive features of the colonial bonapartist regimes and the Stalinist regimes, which, since they are identified to some extent with revolution and progressive struggles, are not so discredited as the repressive devices of the old regime.


Since the April 25, 1974, overturn, the AFM has served as the real government of capitalist Portugal and the empire, using the various provisional cabinets as a means of presenting a civilian facade and assuring the support of the mass reformist workers parties for its rule. During this time, it has presided over and maintained a capitalist imperialist system, consistently taking the side of the bourgeoisie against the workers in economic conflicts. It has made only such concessions to the mass movement as were inescapable if popular support were to be retained and its position held against both the more conservative bourgeois elements anxious to halt the reforms at any cost and the more combative elements in the workers movement threatening to push them out of control.


At every stage the AFM has striven to maintain as much control over the colonies as possible without endangering the conversion to neocolonialist methods. There have been differences over the amount of concessions that had to be given. An example is the reported dispute between Spinola and the present leaders of the AFM over withdrawal from Mozambique. The Portuguese imperialists have also been forced to make more concessions than they originally intended.


However, the essential continuity in the policy objectives of the imperialist bourgeoisie has been maintained by its present political agent, the AFM. This is shown, among other things, by the maintenance and reinforcement of the Portuguese military intervention in Angola, and by the attempts of the AFM, including its supposed "radical" wing, to regain political support in Portugal for keeping troops in the economically and strategically more important colonies. The fact that the AFM has used "socialist" and "antiimperialist" demagogy in its attempt to persuade the Portuguese masses to accept continued military intervention in the colonies and continued sending of troops there is indicative both of its methods and its objectives.


From April 25, 1974, until August 1975, there have been five "provisional" governments in Portugal. The rapid turnover testifies to the deepening instability of the bases of bourgeois rule in face of the continuing democratic ferment, the growing social struggles, advance of the colonial revolution, · and worsening economic situation. Throughout this process, the provisional governments have been paralleled by military bodies that have functioned as the real governmental authority. The pact signed between the AFM and the main bourgeois and reformist parties in April 1975 in fact tried to formalize this situation by setting up a two-tier governmental structure in which all the decisive powers were to be exercised by the AFM bodies.


In political composition, the various provisional governments have all been openly popular frontist; and this actually was their main value to the bourgeoisie. The political tendencies and orientations represented in the military bodies have been more veiled, which again constitutes one of the main political advantages of these bodies to the bourgeoisie.


The steady shift since July 1974 toward more and more reliance on the military formations as the political leadership of the bourgeois state has had as its complement an accentuation of the bonapartist balancing role of the AFM. Parallel to this trend toward more open military rule, the AFM has escalated its socialist-sounding demagogy and in particular resorted to petty-bourgeois radical themes such as the need for "national liberation" in Portugal, "direct democracy," and various populist nostrums.


3. The Upsurge of the Masses


Because of the sudden collapse of the repressive regime and the extreme political and organizational weaknesses of both the capitalists and the workers, the fundamental classes in Portugal, the political and social situation has remained very fluid.


The old regime fell completely discredited. To a large extent, the bourgeoisie and bourgeois ideas shared in its disgrace. In vast ferment, the masses began to express themselves for the first time in forty-eight years, to examine forbidden ideas, to take hope in their ability to change their conditions. As the best known opposition group, the Communist party had the most prestige. But all the opposition groups, all the left parties and groups, were taken seriously by the masses. All

tendencies and groups received substantial press coverage. There was an unprecedented openness to revolutionary ideas on the part of the masses and an attitude of giving equal consideration to the proposals of all tendencies on the left. The ferment of revolutionary ideas spread irresistibly, threatening to dissolve even the discipline of the armed forces, the last prop of capitalist order.


The workers in the factories and the poor masses in the neighborhoods organized spontaneously. Hated bosses and strikebreaking goons were purged. Unused housing was seized. The workers asserted the right to hold meetings and organize assemblies in the plants. The factories became centers of political discussion and activity. Wage gains were made.


Democratic factory committees sprung up in most of the big plants. They were elected by general assemblies involving all the workers. From the craft-union fragmentation imposed by corporatism, the workers went in one leap toward democratically organized industrial unions and opened the perspective of soviet forms of organization. The splits in the military command that developed as some sections of the bourgeoisie began to fear that the mass movement in Portugal and the colonies was getting out of hand opened the way for democratic organization in the armed forces, especially in the military police, the navy, and some regiments of the army. This development has posed the most immediate danger to bourgeois rule since the April 1974 overturn, provoking some bourgeois forces to turn to very radical sounding demagogy in an attempt to maintain political control of the process, and other sectors to strike out desperately to crush it before it got further out of hand.


Combined with a sharpening economic crisis and partial paralysis of the bourgeois repressive forces, the ferment in the working class led to a series of factory occupations, the imposition of elements of workers control, and to demands for nationalizations. The workers turned to nationalizations as a way of preventing layoffs and countering claims by the capitalist owners that they could not afford to meet demands for better wages and conditions. They imposed workers control to prevent factory closures and in some key cases, such as the banks, to prevent the capitalists from using their economic power to mount an attack on the workers movement.


In the instance of the banks, the government was obliged to give in to the workers' demand for nationalization partially to defend itself against sections of the bourgeoisie who were now opposed to the reform policy it represented. In other cases, the government resisted demands for nationalizing profitable enterprises. However, because of the economic crisis and the need to reorient the economy in line with the change represented by abandoning the Salazarist regime, the government itself initiated a series of nationalizations to bail out key capitalist interests and strengthen Portuguese capitalism. In the given political context, these nationalizations had contradictory effects: On the one hand, they spread illusions that control of the economy would actually be handed over to the workers; on the other, they encouraged the workers to press for nationalizations going beyond what was acceptable to the capitalist class. This contradiction was expressed most concretely on the political level by the demagogy of the government and the Communist party, calling on the workers to work harder since they now "controlled" production. This kind of "workers control," tied to increasing production, had the effect of shoring up the capitalist profitability of plants in a period of political crisis when the capitalists could not themselves effectively manage their plants. Under these conditions, the capitalists could accept the loss of direct control over their property, even for a prolonged period.


As the radicalization deepened, landless peasants began to seize the land of latifundists, and agricultural workers began organizing unions and demanding equality with other workers.


The ranks of the armed forces became increasingly reluctant to stay in or embark for the colonies to carry out the Portuguese bourgeoisie's neocolonialist plans.


The fall of the Caetano regime gave great impetus to other social movements. The women's liberation movement, for example, quickly raised demands that went beyond what the military were prepared to grant. Despite the opposition of the new regime and the forces most closely allied with-it, such as the Communist party, the small nucleus of the women's liberation movement aroused the interest of women in the poor neighborhoods, factories, and peasant villages. indicating that it has the potential for rapid development as the revolutionary process deepens.


The· movement among university and high-school students against authoritarianism in the schools and against restricted access to education assumed powerful momentum, along with actions by students from the colonies. High-school students became its most dynamic sector. They entered into struggle against the new military "saviors" themselves and won victories. It was essentially the continuation ·and deepening of the broad social ferment that split the AFM and led the more conservative elements to make desperate attempts to carry out rightwing coups in order to halt these processes. Conversely, when democratic rights and other gains of the revolution appeared to be dangerously threatened the masses have mobilized on a huge scale. The political process in Portugal has centered on issues that became explosive because of the concern of the masses over their democratic right to freely consider all alternative points of view and to assert their will as the majority of the populace.


The fight to defend and extend democratic rights in the factory, in the barracks, in society as a whole, is indispensable to advancing toward the establishment of a workers and peasants government. This fight for a workers and peasants government constitutes the decisive axis of struggle in Portugal today. With their deceptive schemas of "direct democracy" subordinated to a military regime, the demagogues seek to divert the working class and the peasantry from seeing this reality and organizing accordingly. A major obstacle to mobilizing the masses to struggle for democratic rights, popular sovereignty, and a workers and peasants government is represented by the leaderships of the mass reformist workers parties and their satellites, since all of them favor subordinating the workers movement to the unelected military regime, the main defender of capitalist order in Portugal today. However, there is a strong sentiment among the workingclass as a whole, which these leaderships cannot ignore, for united-front action in defense of democratic rights, and social gains that have come under attack. Furthermore, they have already been obliged, in different ways, to defend certain democratic rights at certain times for their own specific interests as bureaucrats. The fight to defend the social and economic gains of the toilers, democratic rights, and popular sovereignty, in order to move toward a government of the oppressed and exploited, also brings out the contradictions of the reformist parties most sharply and poses the need for a working-class united front in the strongest way.


4. The Stalinists Support the Bourgeois Order


During the first phase of the new regime, the Communist party and its petty-bourgeois front, the Movimento Democratico Portugues (MOP Portuguese Democratic Movement), played a crucial political role in upholding the military government. It was the only political force not compromised with the old regime that had an effective apparatus, and this machine became in effect the mass apparatus of the new regime. It was the only current in the working class that acted like a mass party despite its small size-it took up issues of concern to the masses. This helped it to move to the center of the stage with extraordinary speed, while other currents were trying to gain consideration. It was the forces of the Communist party that dominated the giant May 1,1974, demonstrations and rallies in the wake of the downfall of the Caetano government on April 25 and that turned them into demonstrations of support and adulation for the military. It was this apparatus that enabled General Spinola to build his bonapartist image and thus to move swiftly toward restoring a strong bourgeois authority, which would have crushed the Communist party itself, among others.


The political influence of the Communist party hinges on maintaining its working-class base, and, in a situation where the bourgeoisie has been unable to restabilize its political dominance, the Stalinist leaders face great dangers as well as great opportunities for expanding their bureaucratic apparatus. Thus, in both the September 28, 1974, and March 11, 1975, coup attempts, they were obliged to accept mass mobilizations that, although politically and organizationally limited, had revolutionary aspects.


Nonetheless, the fundamental aim of the Communist party goes counter to the revolution. Its objective, as clearly shown in the period since April 25,1974, has been to serve as a transmission belt in the workers movement for the bourgeois regime, as the mass organizer for the AFM. The Portuguese and its mentors in the Kremlin have also tried to use their influence with the MPLA in Angola to further the neocolonialist plans of the AFM. The Portuguese CP today, which knows it has the support of a minority of the workers, prefers a military government with a populist facade to a parliamentary regime. The Stalinists believe that a government of this type offers better possibilities for carrying out the necessary minimal reforms while maintaining firm control over the masses, politically subordinating them to the bourgeoisie, and preventing them from "going too fast too far," as the Stalinists claim they did in Chile.


In view of the prerevolutionary situation in Portugal and the extreme weakness of the Portuguese bourgeoisie, such a solution recommends itself all the more to the Stalinists. A military regime, moreover, seems to offer greater guarantees to American imperialism that mass mobilizations will be kept within limits that will not endanger the status quo on a world scale. To the Stalinists it thus seems to offer a way of achieving their objectives without provoking intervention by Washington or endangering the détente.


As a result of the Communist party acting as the transmission belt and labor policeman of the military regime in Portugal, its popular support has lagged far behind the gains in bureaucratic influence it has achieved as a result of the strength of its machine and its privileged relationship with the AFM. Thus, the Portuguese Stalinist shave become dependent on the current bourgeois forces remaining in power to preserve their posts in the provisional cabinet that serves as a facade for the military, as well as to preserve their positions in the labor movement. This situation has led them to take more and more openly antidemocratic positions and finally to join with the AFM in a drive to curtail freedom of the press and union democracy, and to suppress the left groups that do not subordinate themselves to the military. Wall Street in particular has taken advantage of these attacks on democratic rights to make publicity gains at the expense of the Portuguese Stalinists and Moscow and to issue warnings about what will happen if the Stalinists go "too far." However, the seemingly aggressive moves of the Portuguese Stalinists have been publicly supported by the Kremlin, and the PCP's class-collaborationist line represents no departure from the policy of détente toward American imperialism. Although the Stalinists' objective is to consolidate their position as the indispensable auxiliary of the military and thus to prevent any challenge to their position from political rivals, their course is objectively making them more and more captive to the bourgeois military regime. At the same time, by playing the role of an auxiliary repressive force for a regime that cannot solve the economic and social problems of the Portuguese masses and is determined to make the workers pay the price of the deepening economic crisis, the Communist party is preparing the way for a resurgence of reactionary anti-Communism on a massive scale, not only among the petty-bourgeois strata but in large sections of the working class itself. Acting on behalf of a bourgeois regime and against the development of the Portuguese revolution, the CP is helping to pave the way for restoration of one of the fundamental props of bourgeois rule-the fear among the masses that socialism means an end to their democratic rights and subjugation to a tyrannical machine.


The Communist party grew in the space of a year from a small nucleus to a mass party and has not yet had time to thoroughly consolidate the flood of new recruits. Political differentiations are possible, but as yet no major currents have appeared in opposition to the Stalinist leadership. The ranks have been rallied behind the leadership through training in a fanatical sectarian spirit. The promise of material advancement for large layers of recruits through the party machine and its alliance with the military rulers also helps to harden this sectarian attitude and to reinforce the position of the leadership. The Portuguese CP is thus thoroughly Stalinist, particularly distinguished among its sister parties in Europe only by its slavish adherence to the directives of Moscow.


5. The Left-Centrist Satellites of the Communist Party


Left-centrist groups have had a certain influence in Portugal, especially among the youth and the intellectuals but also among the military and the workers. The two parties of this type that participated in the April 25,1975, elections, the MES (Movimento· de Esquerda Socialista-Movement of the Socialist Left) and the FSP (Frente Socialista Popular-Socialist People's Front), won more than 2 percent of the vote between them, over half the vote of all the parties to the left of the mass reformist organizations.


Of these two groups the MES is the most serious." It had broken from the Stalinist-dominated popular front some time before the April 25, 1974, overturn and has tried to develop a theoretical alternative to Stalinism. The FSP is a crudely opportunistic formation. It began as a faction in the Socialist party that was disgruntled over the number of posts granted it in the leadership. The faction leaders decided in early 1975 to set up shop as peddlers of a more extreme version of the MES line. One of their selling points was radical Catholic connections.


This group calls the SP a bourgeois party. The MES implies this but has not made it explicit. The FSP subordinates itself completely to the military, while the MES position is more ambiguous. The FSP signed the Pact-Program. The MES did not, but said it had nothing in principle against doing so. Both groups identify with the Latin American guerrillaist groups and attract a following at least partially through ultraleftist phrasemongering. There are two groups that characterize themselves as armed organizations and that engaged in terroristic actions against the Caetano regime, the Partido Revolucionario do Proletariado Brigadas Revolucionarias (PRP-BR Revolutionary party of the Proletariat Revolutionary Brigades) and the Ligade Uniao e Acao Revolucionaria (LUAR....:League for Revolutionary Unity and Action). 


All of these left-centrist groups constitute new ultraleft editions of old anarchist-like patterns, although this is most pronounced on the part of the groups that have actually developed around guerrillaist actions and not simply around identification with foreign guerrillaist groups. There are various shades of difference. The MES tends to take as models the ultraleft critics of Lenin in the Third International who made a fetish out of the soviet form and who called for soviets under all conditions in an abstract and romanticized way instead of taking up the concrete political task of winning a majority of the workers through leading the workers to break from the bourgeois and reformist parties. This is simply a new form of anarchism masquerading in "Marxist" and "Leninist" clothing. The LUAR comes closest to repeating the formulas of the historic anarchist currents. But these are merely nuances. All of them have essentially the same orientation, and all of them echo the CP line of supporting a military dictatorship with a populist facade.


The MES was in a relatively strong position vis-a-vis the Communist party in the labor movement prior to the April 25, 1974, coup. However, its groups were built in the syndicalist tradition. What they call their "rank-and-filist" orientation did not reveal its weaknesses so clearly under conditions of repression, when workers struggles were scattered and the initiatives of small groups of fighters had more impact. However, its ineffectiveness became glaring when the workers movement reached massive proportions and had to face the political problems posed by a bourgeois government using concessions and demagogy rather than outright repression to contain workers struggles. As a result, the MES groups in the union movement suffered severe setbacks. In particular, because of the emphasis of this group on "rank and filism" and initiatives from below, general political questions, such as the attitude to be taken toward a bourgeois government supported by the mass reformist workers parties and how to project a working-class alternative to it, were obscured. The need to propose a working-class governmental alternative to the AFM was lost in the vague concept of the masses organizing themselves. Concretely, this resulted in the acute contradiction of MES activists participating in strikes that were denounced as "reactionary provocations" by the government while the MES itself gave political support to this same government. Ultimately this line boiled down to the simplistic formula that the AFM had to "fuse with the people's movement."


What this evolution demonstrates is the incapacity of the renovated anarchist-type notions to solve the real political problems facing the workingclass movement, the problems of breaking the political hold of a demagogic bourgeois government and reformist mass parties. In this, the failure of the MES is reminiscent of the failure of the anarchists during the Spanish Civil War. The fact that this orientation is covered up with implicit and explicit references to "soviets" does not mean that these groups are moving toward Leninism. To the contrary, following their own petty-bourgeois centrist course, they have been tending of the experience of the Russian revolution first advanced by such figures as Anton Pannekoek.


As a result of its anarchist-type confusion, including the opportunism this confusion breeds, the MES has failed to see the democratic issues involved in the conflict between the Socialist party and the military government and has in effect adopted only souped-up version of the CP's antidemocratic campaign. Despite its denunciation of the CP's "reformism" and "conciliationist," it has become an auxiliary of Portuguese Stalinism, and serves as an advance patrol in the Stalinists' campaign against the SP.'.{'he most extreme expression of this anarchist-type confusion is to be founding the Partido Revolucionario do Proletariado-Brigadas Revolucionarias, which was built on a program of urban guerrilla warfare against the Caetano regime. This group has created a phantom organization of "soviets," the "Committees of Workers, Soldiers, and Sailors," and has called n the military security forces, the Copcon, to abolish the political parties and the Constituent Assembly and turn power over to this nonexistent "people's power." Rarely has ultraleft braggadocio been carried to such aberrant conclusions. This ultraleft group has been used as a tool by a group of military officers seeking to abrogate political democracy, such as it is in Portugal, and consolidate a thoroughgoing military dictatorship.


6. The Confusionist Role of the Maoists


Up to now, a sizable section of the youth and the workers looking for an alternative to the left of the Communist party has been attracted to various Maoist groups, which have tended to coalesce into the following four groups: the Uniao Democratica doPovo (UDP); the "Frente Eleitoral deComunistas (Marxista-Leninista), or the FEC(ml); the Movimento Reorganizativodo Partido do Proletariado (MRPP); and the Partido Comunista Portugues (Marxista-Leninista), or thePCP(ml), which sought to run in the elections as the Alian- Operaria Camponesa.


The UDP was the dominant force in the factory council at the Lisnave shipyards in Lisbon from the fall of1974 until the spring of 1975.


The FEC(ml) has been the organizer of the Grupos de  Antifascista(GAAF) in Oporto, which have specialized in attacks on meetings and headquarters of the right-wing bourgeois party, the Centro Dernocratico Social (CDS).


The PCP(ml) has played a leading role in the chemical workers union and is in very close alliance With the Socialist party.


The MRPP has functioned as a tight cult operating under different initials in its various fronts of work. In every area, this group follows the theatrical tactic of trying to raise the red flag the highest, shout the loudest, and assume the most provocative stances. It has achieved no broad influence but has assembled a dedicated following that is probably larger than that of any of the other Maoist groups.


These Maoist groups differ in many respects, the sharpest dividing line being between the PCP (ml), which acts more like a right-centrist ally of the SP, and the others, which are generally ultraleftist, in their poses. However, they all have one salient trait in common-sectarianism, which is exemplified in their common slogan, "Neither fascism, nor social fascism people's democracy." The Maoists have proved incapable of understanding the real process of the development of political consciousness among the workers and have arbitrarily counterposed their own schemas to this process. In the case of the UDP, this was expressed in an attempt to counterpose factory committees to the trade unions.


By losing sight of the process of the organization of the working class as a whole, the UDP obstructed both the development of industrial unions and of genuine factory committees. This resulted in important sections of militant workers becoming isolated, in the factory committees becoming seriously weakened, and in the Maoists losing their positions.


In the case of the FEC(ml), it resulted in a small group conducting a private war against the CDS and the repressive forces of the bourgeois state. In the case of the MRPP, its strident ultraleft posturing aroused the hostility of large sections of the workers and the toiling masses toward the groups to the left of the Communist and Socialist parties.


In the case of the PCP(ml), it resulted in reinforcing sectarian attitudes toward the Communist party among the ranks of the other mass workers party, the Socialist party, thus helping to impede the mass workers organizations from developing united front actions.


Thus the political program and conduct of the Maoist groups have contributed nothing to developing a revolutionary alternative in Portugal. Without exception, these groups have induced confusion among the militant soldiers and sailors, youth and workers influenced by them, and have led them toward isolation from the class. Along with the anarcho-centrists, the Maoists bear a major responsibility for the grip retained by the class-collaborationist SP and CP leaderships over the radicalized youth and the working class and thus for the continuation and deepening of the crisis of revolutionary leadership in Portugal.


7. Social Democratic Rivalry for Favored Position With the AFM


The Socialist party has become the main rival of the Communist party for mass influence among the workers and radicalized petty bourgeoisie. The Social Democrats, like the Communist party leaders, have a reformist perspective, which is expressed in subordination to the ruling military group.


The SP differs from the CP in its methods of organization and political control. It is not a disciplined or homogeneous party. It seeks to control the working class by political and electoral means rather than by building a disciplined machine. Because of its relatively loose organization and its politically heterogeneous composition, it is much less suited than the Communist party to serve as a transmission belt for the military regime.


The SP requires the forms of parliamentary democracy as a means of developing its influence, competing with the machine of the Communist party, and in fact communicating with its supporters, if not even its members. It is as a result of this need that the SP has come into conflict with the Communist party and the military junta.


This conflict has been developing since about a month after the fall of Caetano, when the military regime began to move toward cracking down on the radical ferment. Leaders of the SP have repeatedly spoken out in opposition to certain kinds of repressive moves by the military regime and have defended victims of the repression belonging to the groupings standing to the left of the reformist parties. Another reason for this defense of the left groups attacked by the· regime, which up till now have generally been Maoists, is to gain a certain left cover by association with non-Social Democratic left forces not allied with Moscow. Nonetheless, the result of this limited opposition by the Socialist party leadership has been to block more severe repression of revolutionary ideas and consolidation of a more stable bourgeois regime.


The Socialist party has more and more become the rallying ground for forces in the workers movement that refuse to bow to the Stalinists. Like the Communist party, the Socialist party expanded in one year from a small nucleus to a mass party. It is a Social Democratic party, that is, a reformist workers party that claims to represent socialism but whose perspectives are tied to the ability of its own monopoly capitalism to grant concessions to the workers. It does not strive to abolish capitalism and establish a socialist system; and it is not tied to a bureaucratic cast in any country where capitalism has been abolished. However, the Portuguese Socialist party has developed in a way different from that of the Social Democratic parties in the other imperialist countries of Europe. It is essentially a new formation and is not yet based on a big trade-union bureaucracy.


The initial nucleus drew together a number of strands of the non-Stalinist left opposition to the Salazarist dictatorship, all of which were deeply antagonized by the sectarianism and dogmatism of the CP, led by Alvaro Cunhal. Some of these elements, most notably Mario Soares, sought the support of the Socialist parties in Western Europe and the "democratic" capitalist countries. Some of them, like Soares, came out of the old bourgeois liberal milieu. Others, again like Soares, served an apprenticeship in the Communist party. A section of the SP leadership comes from the liberal Stalinists who left the Communist party after 1968, most notably the leader of the SP's trade-union work, Marcelo Curto. Another contribution to the initial nucleus was made by youth involved in terrorist actions against the old regime. Many radicalized Catholics were also attracted to the initial nucleus. The original group included young intellectuals and activists influenced by the international youth radicalization who were critical of reformism but without a well-defined or consistent political perspective. These elements, who sought a broad arena of activity, were repelled by the Stalinism of the Communist party and its satellites and the Maoists.


This heterogeneity has increased during the growth of the Socialist party into a mass organization. The ideological and organizational looseness of the SP made it a gathering place for workers who were radicalizing but who were not ready to commit themselves to the political and organizational conformity demanded by the CP. It attracted in particular workers and intellectuals who feared the totalitarian features of Stalinism, and militant layers of workers who were repelled by the CP's policing the labor movement on behalf of the military regime.


This heterogeneous combination included, as was to be expected, elements bearing reactionary anti-Communist and anti-Leninist prejudices. Moreover, in the conflict with a Communist party seeking to use totalitarian methods in support of military rule, strong currents in such a combination were bound to seek support from the European Socialist parties and the "democratic" capitalist governments.


However, the facts do not support the claim of the CP and its ultraleft satellites that the SP has become the rallying ground for reaction.


The reality is that the SP has become the gathering place of the broadest range of forces representing the majority of the Portuguese workers and radicalized petty bourgeoisie. The working class is profoundly divided and weakened as a result of the policies of the CP and SP leaderships, and the conditions are being created for the restoration of an openly antiworking-class government in Portugal.


Thus, the sectarian campaign the CP unleashed against the SP following the latter's electoral victory can at some stage prove suicidal for the Stalinists themselves. It in fact represents a deadly danger to the working class as a whole. In this campaign the CP is motivated by determination to defend the bureaucratic positions it has gained as a result of its role as mass organizer for the military junta as well as by Moscow's calculation that a regime like the AFM fits in best with its current diplomatic needs in the détente with Washington. This campaign of slander and demagogy against the Social Democracy as the main danger goes counter to the interests of the revolution and must be characterized as reactionary.


The development of anti-Communist and anti-Leninist sentiments among the Socialist party rank and file can best be fought by revolutionists showing in practice that they defend the democratic rights of the masses, and are battling to extend them to the barracks, the factories, unions, and any popular committees; that they are fighting to unite the working class and its political organizations around a program that genuinely responds to their needs and aspirations. Among other things, this involves exposing the demagogy of the Stalinists and combating their campaign of slander against the Socialist party. It also includes unflinching criticism of the SP leadership's links to the AFM and popular-frontist orientation, which is a fundamental obstacle to the establishment of a workers and peasants government.


8. The Road to Workers Power and the Role of the Constituent Assembly


The revolutionary process has not reached the point where clear forms of workers power have emerged. What has appeared is sporadic and scattered mass initiatives, forms of workers control, and embryonic factory committees. These developments can point the way toward dual power. Progress along this road hinges on a correct political course. The fundamental task is to bring the workers to break from subordination to the Armed Forces Movement and to assert their right to put a workers and peasants government in power.


This fight at the present time centers on the sovereignty of the Constituent Assembly, in which the workers parties have a substantial absolute majority and which is the only national body thus far elected by the populace. This is counterposed to the sovereignty of the unelected military hierarchy which constitutes the present government. Closely linked to this is the crucial struggle for democratic rights and democratic control in the armed forces. The various "direct democracy" schemas floated by the demagogues of the AFM are intended to divert the workers from insisting on the concrete expression of popular sovereignty through the Constituent Assembly; that is, by establishing a workers and peasants government. The AFM aims to keep the workers captives of the various popular-frontist provisional governments in which the CP and SP vie for portfolios. In the same way, the alleged "democratization" of the AFM, and the setting up of "revolutionary councils" under AFM tutelage, are designed to divert the ranks of the army from demanding their democratic right to organize independently of the AFM and to engage in political activity.


The ultraleftist schemas of "revolutionary councils" projected in opposition to the Constituent Assembly play into the hands of the military demagogues. This line of the centrist anarchist-type groups of calling on a bourgeois regime to abolish the only existing nationally elected body with political representation of the working masses in the name of phantom "soviets" and in return for vague promises from demagogic military officers amounts to criminal confusionism if not outright betrayal of the working class.


The capitulation of the anarchocentrists to bourgeois military "saviors" is also expressed in their demand that the regime use its troops to back groups in the colonies that they consider to be the most "progressive" of those vying for power .. This demand is helping the imperialist regime to roll back the sentiment among the masses for bringing all the· troops home from the colonies. It thus plays a reactionary role. It also promotes the AFM'spolicy of restoring the armed forces as an effective instrument of repression. The factory councils that appeared in the period following the fall of the Caetano dictatorship were a response to the need for an economic organization representing all the workers in an enterprise, a special need created by the fragmentation of the economic organizations of the workers under the Salazarist regime. These bodies have generally remained within the trade union framework. They have not functioned as soviets. They have not taken political initiatives; they have not assumed control over industrial concentrations; they have not served as arenas of general political debate or as organizing centers of united-front action by the working class; they have not drawn into struggle the most oppressed layers of the masses; they are not seen by the workers as a center of power parallel to or competing with the government. The existing neighborhood committees represent even less a nucleus of workers councils that could lead to workers power.


The most advanced revolutionary democratic forms of organization that have yet appeared in Portugal are the assemblies and committees of soldiers and sailors that have sprung up in various units at certain times. How- ·committees on any substantial scale except in the navy, which is not the politically decisive branch of the armed forces.


Parallel with its mounting attack on freedom of the press and on the "direct democracy" and the "revolutionary process," the AFM has become less and less regarded by the masses of workers and peasants as-offering hope or a way out of their difficulties. This decline in the prestige of the military is most marked among the peasantry, since only a revolutionary agrarian policy can begin to solve the problems facing the poor peasants in Portugal. The technical level of agriculture needs to be raised, landlordism abolished in the South, and government-subsidized aid projects established for the poor peasants in the North.


In the South, the agricultural proletariat and poor peasants have been able to profit from the paralysis of the bourgeois repressive forces to seize land and greatly improve their living standard. As a result, they have become strong supporters of the new regime. However, this process can soon run up against severe limitations and even be transformed into its opposite under a bourgeois government. State aid is necessary to effectively reorganize the extensive form of agriculture practiced in this area. Unless the land occupations are integrated into an overall socialist policy for agriculture, the actions of this militant but small layer of rural workers can serve to frighten the far larger stratum of smallholders in the North who fear that a "Communist" government would take away their land and livestock as well as subject them to bureaucratic controls and high taxes. The failure of the AFM government in the countryside provides an index of its conservative nature. On the one hand, the continuing backwardness of agriculture has meant a continual rise in food prices for the urban workers. On the other hand, the failure to offer any hope of improvement in the lot of the peasants has turned this stratum toward reactionary "saviors." The recent "independence" demonstration in the Azores are a clear example of this.


The deceit in the AFM demagogy about "direct democracy" is shown perhaps most clearly by the reactionary opposition of the military government to struggles for democratic rights in the high schools, an opposition reaffirmed in the June 21 policy statement of the Conselho da Revoluciio(Council of the Revolution).


Massive struggles for democratic rights by high-school students have shown this section of the population to be one of the most militant and most highly politicized in the country, and one of the least influenced by the military and the reformists. The June 21 statement points to a new attack by the military on this mass movement, which is struggling for real direct democracy and not "participation" under the rod of military tutors. Thus, there are six axes of the revolutionary process in Portugal at the present stage.


1. The defense of the economic gains of the workers and other layers of the masses, and the fight for the economic aspirations awakened by the fall of the Salazarist regime.


2. The struggle for immediate withdrawal of all troops from the colonies.


3. The struggle for democratic rights of the ranks of the armed forces.


4. The struggle for democratic rights and democratic decision-making in every area of social life.


5. The struggle for effective workers organizations.


The Portuguese workers are still at an early stage of organization. The embryonic factory committees and nuclei of industrial unions that have developed, although they show certain advanced features, are still not adequate on a national scale to effectively defend the elementary interests of the workers. In this situation, propaganda and agitation for industrial unions, a united democratic union structure, and the transformation of the embryonic factory committees into action committees that can mobilize and represent the workers and poor masses in the industrial centers combine closely with other revolutionary tasks and form an essential component of a concrete revolutionary answer to the concerns of the masses of workers.


The fight for workers control in the present conditions also fits in with these tasks, and the workers have already asserted control in many instances to protect their specific interests, in the face of government assaults, employer sabotage, and mounting unemployment and inflation. Workers control is necessary to obtain the economic information and organization necessary to defend jobs, to prevent the flight of capital, to fight inflation, and to administer a sliding scale of wages and hours. However, workers control cannot serve its purpose unless the workers make clear that they do not accept any responsibility for the functioning of the economy until they have real political power over it.


Because of the demagogy of the military regime and the Communist party-demagogy that has been reinforced by the anarchist predilections of the left-centrist groups-the danger is that a facade of "workers control" maybe used by the government to induce the workers to accept austerity. If such a tactic is successful, it will result in profound demobilization and demoralization of the working class.


An example of how the government and the reformists have used the· theme of "workers control" for demagogic purposes was provided by the closing of the newspaper Republica. This test case, a brazen· attack on freedom of the press and the right of expression of the largest party in the working class was justified by claiming that a small group of Stalinist influenced printing workers had the right to impose political censorship over a daily paper disliked by the government and the Communist party. The greatest danger to the organization of the workers on the economic level is the attempt by the military regime and its Stalinist supporters to impose the tutelage of the bourgeois state over the unions. The so-called Trade Union Unity Law, imposing Intersindical as the only legal national federation, was precisely an attempt by the military junta and the Communist party to subordinate the unions to the bourgeois state, to convert the unions into a transmission belt for the policy of the bourgeois government in the working class.


6. The struggle for a workers and peasants government.


On the political level, the workers in their great majority look for leadership from three sources: the Socialist party, the Communist party, and Intersindical, the trade-union federation.


The Socialist party has the largest following· and is the most attractive at the moment to the majority of the workingclass. The Communist party and Intersindical are the strongest organizations of the working class and are looked to for leadership in action such as the resistance to the coup attempts in September 1974 and March 1975. At present no alternative to these mass organizations has credibility among large layers of workers. Nor can any alternative develop except as the masses learn in practice the limitations of the leadership offered by these organizations.


The only national politically representative body chosen by the workers and the masses in Portugal is the Constituent Assembly, in which the workers parties hold an absolute majority.


The fight for a workers and peasants government cannot be waged without defending popular sovereignty and democracy, and concretely, without defending the Constituent Assembly against attempts by the Communist party, the military junta, and the SP leaders to undermine its authority and limit or destroy its sovereignty. The struggle for a workers and peasants government focuses at present on the Constituent Assembly. The sharpest issues are defense of the Constituent Assembly, the demand that the Constituent Assembly represent the interests of the toiling masses who elected it, and repudiation by the workers parties of the Pact-Program, which codified their capitulation to the military junta. By signing this agreement with the military regime, the leaders of the mass workers parties betrayed their responsibility to represent the workers who support them. In the Constituent Assembly, the Socialist party stands in the most contradictory position, since it claims to represent the majority of workers as well as to have been mandated by the majority of the population. Moreover, the leaders of the Socialist party came into conflict with the military government ostensibly in defense of popular sovereignty and the democratic rights of the masses. But they continue to abide by the decrees of the military rulers. The Socialist party leaders are also less able to control their following and more dependent on their electoral popularity than their CP counterparts. Incipient organs of workers power will arise out of united mass struggles of the working class, as they have in every previous revolutionary upsurge. In Portugal, the way cannot be cleared for such struggles without beginning by contesting the self-assumed right of the military government to rule. Acceptance of this pretension is not only the strongest force in maintaining subordination of the workers to a bourgeois leadership and the biggest impediment to their organization; it is also the main obstacle to the mass working-class organizations engaging in united-front actions.


Concretely, defending the sovereignty of the Constituent Assembly against the military government involves calling upon the Communist and Socialist parties, as the representatives of the overwhelming majority of the Portuguese workers and the majority of the Portuguese people, to establish a new government by exercising their majority in the Constituent Assembly and appealing to the masses and the rank and file of the armed forces to mobilize in support of it. These are also the main political forces in Intersindical, which should remain independent of any government, even a workers and peasants government, as the direct defender of the economic interests of the workers.


Making this demand on the two mass parties of the working class is an essential part of the process of advancing a socialist governmental alternative to the military regime and exposing the incapacity of these parties to provide such an alternative.


As the disillusionment of the masses with the military regime deepens, and the economic crisis grows worse, the threat of a reactionary coup will become increasingly grave. At the same time, the AFM will lose its capacity and its desire to resist a rightist onslaught. Since its power is based specifically on the bourgeois army, it views arming the masses as a deadly threat. Furthermore, as the regime becomes more and more discredited, the masses will become increasingly reluctant to mobilize under its auspices, since this would continue to subordinate them to a regime over which they have no control, and which seems less and less inclined to respond to their needs and interests. Thus, propaganda and agitation for mobilizing and arming the masses against the rightist hangmen can only be carried out successfully in combination with the struggle for a workers and peasants government.


9. Tasks of the Portuguese Trotskyists


Under the conditions of Salazarist repression, the Trotskyists were unable to carry out regular and thorough political discussion involving the entire organization. Likewise, they were unable to participate, except in a very limited way, in the life of the world Trotskyist movement. Among other things, this made it difficult to build a politically homogeneous organization on a national scale and to resolve tactical and incipient political differences without splits. Since April 1974, however, this tendency has been, to some extent at least, reversed. Nonetheless, two separate Trotskyist groups still exist. The Liga Comunista Internacionalista (LCI Internationalist Communist League) was recognized at the February 1974 world congress as a sympathizing group of the Fourth International. The existence of the other organization, the Grupo Marxista Revoluciomirio (Revolutionary Marxist Group), now the Partido Revoluciomirio dos Trabalhadores (Revolutionary Workers party), became known to the Fourth International only in the summer of 1974.


These two groupings, of a similar size, have concentrated their activity indifferent arenas and are now complementary in certain respects. Their unification on a principled basis would represent a qualitative advance for Portuguese Trotskyism.


Both Trotskyist groups consist primarily of young people recruited in the student milieu. The PRT has many high-school activists. The LCI has a larger proportion of older activists with experience in the universities and in political campaigns. Both groups have begun work in the factories. In this the LCI has more experience. But neither organization yet has a substantial foothold in the workers movement.


Under these conditions, the Portuguese Trotskyists face the following tasks.


1. To engage in common discussion to develop a rounded program for the Portuguese revolution and for building a mass Trotskyist party in Portugal.


2. To integrate themselves into the political life of the Fourth International and participate in its discussions.


3. To regularize and expand their propaganda work, in particular by publishing an attractive regular paper and assuring the translation and publication of Trotsky's works.


4. To demonstrate the practical applicability of Trotskyist ideas and principles in the broad struggles against exploitation and oppression.


The common program of the Portuguese Trotskyists should include the following points


1. Mobilizing a broad movement to demand immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all Portuguese troops from the colonies.


2. Defense of the right of all members of the armed forces to discuss all political ideas and to organize politically on an equal basis in the barracks and on military installations. Full democracy within the armed forces, including the right to elect officers and discuss all orders that have a political significance. Defense of the right of military personnel to participate fully in the political life of the country without any restrictions. Mobilizing abroad defense for any military personnel victimized for political reasons.


3. Presenting a plan for a radical agrarian reform suited to Portuguese conditions. Since the great majority of the one-third of the Portuguese population engaged in agriculture are smallholders, this requires a program of state support for individual peasants, as well as the promotion of state assisted cooperatives and state farms in the area of extensive farming. For the area where the rural proletariat predominates, it requires also a program for the farm workers unions. The great unevenness in the conditions of smallholding peasants should also be taken into account.


4. Offering timely immediate economic demands and democratic and transitional slogans to meet the needs of oppressed layers of the population, such as women and youth in particular.


5. Rallying the broadest possible front for the defense and extension of democratic rights. The political rights of most of the workers organizations in Portugal have come under attack at various times since April 25, 1974,including the rights of each of the mass reformist parties. Yet the principle of solidarity of the entire workers movement against such attacks is far from established. Furthermore, even bourgeois and petty-bourgeois political forces and parties have contradictions on this question that can be exploited to serve the fundamental interests of the workers movement. For example, some elements in the bourgeois PPD protested against the police attack on pro-MPLA demonstrators in August1974 more strongly than did the CP. While every major political party in Portugal claims to support democracy, only the revolutionists are capable of consistently defending and extending democratic rights.


6. Giving impetus to workers control to defend the interests of the workers against layoffs, the speedup, and attempts by the capitalists to use their economic power to sabotage the economy and block the advance of the proletariat toward taking power. Workers control is an extension of democratic rights to the factory and is necessary in the present stage to defend the democratic rights of the workers in the society as a whole against capitalist reaction. However, it can only play this role if it serves the interests of the working class as a whole and is subordinated to a general perspective of developing workers democracy. Both the attempts by the government and the Communist party to make the workers work harder and the attempts of relatively small ultraleft groups to override the opinions of the majority of workers with minority initiatives and demagogic campaigns do not advance but retard the development of genuine workers control.


7. ·Winning the political independence of the working class from the AFM and any other bonapartist leaderships that may arise. This involves calling on the mass workers organizations to genuinely represent the interests of the workers and break from all forms of collaboration with the bourgeoisie, including the bourgeois military government in all its aspects, as a way of showing the workers in practice the limitations of their reformist leaderships. This includes calling on the mass workers parties to break the Pact-Program and establish a workers and peasants government.



8. Advancing the unity in action of the working class by pushing the demand for a united front of all organizations that claim to represent the workers in defense of the gains that have been made and against any offensive by bourgeois forces that threatens the proletariat as a whole. This includes the appropriate measures to arm the proletariat to defend its gains.


9. Advancing the independent organization of the working class so that the proletariat can meet the tasks of the class struggle in this period of crisis and win in a direct confrontation with the bourgeoisie. This involves pushing for broader and broader forms of workers organizations, industrial unions, a united and democratic trade union structure, action committees and democratic factory committees that can unify and mobilize the broad masses of the workers in the industrial zones and draw in other exploited and oppressed layers, and finally regional and national congresses of workers organizations that can adopt general political policies and lead the working masses in taking decisive initiatives.


The line of development is toward establishment of a workers and peasants government and the organization of soviets as the basis of a workers state.


The Militant

24 October 1975


http://themilitant.com/1975/3939/MIL3939.pdf