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International Socialism, July/August 1975


Manuel Fernandez

Spain: The Gathering Storm


From International Socialism, No.80, July/August 1975, pp.12-17.
Translated by Mike Gonzalez
Transcribed & marked up by by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


THE LESSONS of the revolution in Portugal have not been lost on the Spanish ruling class; the fear that the same thing might happen to them has moved them to try and carry out a reform of their own political structures. Nicolas Franco, nephew to the General and, according to The Times and some Spanish bourgeois papers, one of the brightest political talents on the scene, said recently:

‘We have so many things to learn, both good and bad; because it did not carry through evolutionary changes in time, Portugal now finds itself faced with the uncertainties of a revolution.’

Spanish society has unquestionably changed a great deal since the end of the Civil War. Change has been sparked off primarily by economic growth averaging 7 per cent a year. This has led in its turn to a massive migration of the rural population to the industrial centres, and to the export of the excess labour force to other European countries. (Two million Spanish workers are estimated to be working outside Spain.)

The Spanish bourgeoisie has found finance for that economic growth by attracting foreign capital, and from tourism and the money sent back to Spain by Spanish workers abroad. In the past fifteen years, the proportion of the workforce employed in agriculture has fallen from 44 per cent to 25 per cent. Where once the Spanish capitalists exported only oranges and other agricultural products, they now export industrial machinery. New industrial areas have grown up, and it is in those areas that in recent years workers have been involved in a whole series of struggles.

The growth of Spanish capitalism has taken place under an authoritarian state which has kept the Spanish working class under the heel of a brutal fascist dictatorship. The defeat suffered by the working class during the Civil War, and the physical destruction of its organisations which followed, allowed a new phase of capitalist accumulation and development to be carried through on the basis of an extreme exploitation of the proletariat (only in 1956 did the Spanish working class again achieve the purchasing power it had had in 1936).

Capitalist reconstruction began slowly, within a framework of autarchy and state intervention, the direct result of the ideology that was dominant during the first twelve years of Spanish fascism. The beginning of the Cold War, and the signing of trade agreements with the USA, however, opened a new range of possibilities for the Spanish bourgeoisie.

It was during these years that the Opus Dei began its rise to power. Having spent twelve years in fascist uniform, the Spanish bourgeoisie now attempted to change its economic and ideological objectives. And it was the Opus Dei, behind its religious mask, which played the major part in the process of economic growth. It is an element of Spanish monopoly capitalism, not only in the sense that it guaranteed the docile support of the middle and small bourgeoisie, but more precisely because a considerable number of these men of God are also members of higher levels of the financial and landowning oligarchy.

The struggle that has taken place within the Spanish bourgeoisie has been the direct result of the search for new solutions to the problems of Spanish capitalism, which has needed a force like Opus Dei to pull it out of its isolation and help it to reach levels that enabled it to compete with other European capitals.

In 1974, however, the Spanish bourgeoisie found itself faced with severe difficulties. The execution of Carrero Blanco in an attack carried out by the ETA in December 1973, Franco’s serious illness which lasted throughout last summer, the Portuguese coup and the economic slowdown (a reduction in income from tourism and from remittances from abroad, declining investment by foreign capital, the collapse of many enterprises, die energy crisis, 20 per cent inflation and the threat of growing numbers of strikes) have served to emphasise the divisions already existing within the Spanish bourgeoisie, as the various sectors squabble over who shall succeed the General.

One sector of the bourgeoisie has realised that it is not enough simply to use brutal repression against the working class; under the present circumstances it is not only insufficient, but also implies real dangers for the system itself. It must now deal with the problems of the economic crisis, organise the succession to Franco, and expand its social base without losing control of the situation.

The extreme right, on the one hand, had dominated the political scene through its control of the repressive and fake trade union apparatuses of the state for the first twelve years of the dictatorship; after that, however, they were slowly displaced by the technocrats of the Opus Dei and Christian Democrat currents. Until the Burgos trial of 16 Basque militants in 1970 they could still call on the support of some sectors of the people and declare states of emergency whenever their interests were threatened. The trial threw the Spanish political scene into crisis, and these sectors lost much of the support they had previously enjoyed. Now their situation is critical. They are being increasingly isolated from the state machine and are meeting considerable opposition within the Armed Forces; even so, they are still present in their thousands within the state apparatus, sections of the army and important sections of the fake trade union organisation.

The threat of a coup d’etat in order to prevent any attempt at liberalisation seems to command less and less support; but it is not wise to underestimate the power it still has. The fascists were able, after all, to have various liberal ministers thrown out of the government and have more than once caused severe governmental crises. You can still hear their Civil War slogans being shouted, with their fiercely anti-working class content, their calls for direct and brutal measures, and their demagogic references to the ‘national revolution betrayed’.

After the execution of Carrero Blanco, Franco nominated Arias Navarro to form the new cabinet. On the 12 February 1974, Arias promised a new law of association which would allow the Spanish people to play at democracy from then on. When the law came into force in December of last year, the first organisation formed under its aegis was the Confederation of Ex-Combatants for Franco, envisaged as a pressure group which would range its forces against any kind of change and hold back any attempt at evolution which some sectors of the regime might be planning. The leader of this association was Giron, Minister of Labour during the first years of the Franco dictatorship.

The so-called political ‘opening’ (apertura) is a manoeuvre designed to achieve three objectives:

  1. an improvement of the external face of the regime;
  2. an attempt to attract certain of the ‘middle sectors’ by promising them greater freedom of information, and the possibility of electing local mayors, indirectly, through a municipal electoral college;
  3. to allow a freer play among the various groups that comprise the bourgeoisie through the existence of associations constructed to defend the immediate interests of each such fraction. This would go together with a brutal repression of the working class movement and the revolutionary organisations.

Last March Arias Navarro garrotted Puig Antich, an anarchist activist. More than 2,000 people have been arrested since Arias came to power, and the repressive forces – political police and Civil Guard – have been given a 35 per cent increase in their budget over last year. Further, the regime is still threatening to garrotte Eva Forest, Manuel Duran and other activists of the FRAP.

The Spanish bourgeoisie is not prepared to grant democratic freedoms now. Its intention is to arrive at them by the longest possible route, and meanwhile to destroy the vanguard of the working class through repression; it will then create the most docile representative organisations of the working class that it can get away with, relying on their control of the state trade union organisation – the CNS.

[ Map of Spain ]

AMID THE welter of ‘openings’ followed by backsliding, of conflicts between bourgeois politicians, there has emerged an agglomeration of forces led by Christian Democrats like Ruiz Jimenez or Social Democrats like Pablo Castellanos, gathered in the so-called Democratic Conference. They differ from the other groups in that they believe that there must be a rapid move towards democratisation and in this respect have clear differences with the regime. Among the bourgeoisie it is this group that is most determined to enter the Common Market. They advocate a bourgeois democratic political structure for Spain, for they need trade unions that will contain and integrate the workers, and political parties to channel political tensions. But they remain still very remote from the Spanish Communist Party – perhaps because they have no need of it as yet.

The Spanish Church has participated actively in national politics for the last four centuries. The theocratic state rooted in the possessing classes is not exactly the province of the bishops, but it has been a constant element in Spanish political life even during the liberating interludes of a constitutionalist or republican character.

The Spanish church has constantly and repeatedly supported, especially since the last century, any and every counterrevolutionary movement that has emerged. In return counter-revolutionary elements have used religion as their standard and guide in the defence of their interests and privileges. Since 1939 it has not only taken part in more than one reactionary struggle, but in its leadership of the counter-revolution has provided the justifications, blessed or anathematised, and in the last resort backed these struggles with its immense resources.

The urban and industrial proletariat has never been particularly devoted to the church; until 1939, and its political defeat in that year, it grew and developed independently of the church. But there is no avoiding the fact that the church is deeply involved in the state apparatus, and still more deeply entrenched in the system. If we look at the totality, it is easy to understand the political behaviour of Catholics like Ruiz Jimenez. Today the dominant section of the church hierarchy is unhappy about linking its fate to that of a regime in crisis; it needs to win some room for manoeuvre, so that it can continue to play its part as moral guardian of the bourgeois order. That explains the many statements that the church hierarchy have made stressing the need to democratise the regime. The past year has seen a more open conflict between the regime and the church, which has simply gained strength from the regime’s repressive response to the church hierarchy’s demands for democratisation.

Since last summer more than a million workers have been involved in strikes, from building workers to actors, from doctors to the agricultural workers of Andalucia. It is difficult to find an industrial area where there has not been a strike.

There is no doubt that the working class movement has grown this year. The general level of struggle has risen; it is no longer the radical students who demonstrate in the streets, but thousands of workers who have experienced what it is like to take to the streets themselves. Commissions elected by assemblies of workers are now a reality; it is no longer possible to deny that a strong workers’ movement exists. Yet there are factors that suggest that the proven will to fight of the Spanish working class does not yet correspond to a rising level of political consciousness.

Last June, a general strike in Baix Llobregat, an industrial area near Barcelona containing more than 1000 factories, lasted more than a month. Little by little a solidarity movement grew up in support of workers who had been on strike in one particular factory for several months, after their demands had been rejected by the employer. At first the strike was clearly under the influence of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE), insofar as they tried to use the fascist trade union structure (the CNS) as a basis from which to generalise their struggle; this meant working without reference to the clandestine workers’ commissions. The reason why the PCE adopts this position stems from their belief that the CNS should be transformed from within, when what is really necessary is to destroy it. It instructs its activists, therefore, to stand in trade union elections and to try and win the highest posts; then they will be able to negotiate with the Falangist bureaucracy through the CNS structure.

Last September 150 political prisoners began a hunger strike, demanding that they and all other political prisonersshould be released. The strike rapidly gained support throughout the country. The majority of those on hunger strike were Basques; on 11 December last year 200,000 Basque workers went on strike in support of a demand for the release of all political prisoners. Here as in other strikes the Spanish Communist Party distinguished itself by distributing leaflets opposing the strike and calling on workers not to participate in it. The strike can only be understood, however, by looking at the peculiar situation of the Basque country. There are Basques whose lifelong means of expression has been the Basque language, while others have had to learn Spanish, often with great difficulty, in order to progress. These people, then, are inferiors in their own country; there are many cases in which they have been unable to defend themselves in court, or against civil government, for example, simply because the officials do not speak their language and the documents are all written in Spanish.

There are numerous examples of workers who have found it difficult to appeal against redundancy in industrial tribunals for the same reason, or of ETA activists who have been unable to defend themselves in court. For all these reasons, the Basques grow up with a hatred of the state apparatus; children of nine or ten have been known to burn Spanish flags and smash portraits of Franco.

These national aspirations have brought the nationalist movements a certain amount of support, particularly for the ETA which has in recent years led the agitation around the national question. The ETA’s guerrilla tactics have provoked the government into the most brutal forms of repression; under Franco the activists of the ETA have suffered the most savage torture and have been the most consistently persecuted. The most efficient torturers and assassins have been sent by the government to the Basque country.

The growing influence within the ETA of working class activists, however, meant that a new debate began within the organisation; the outcome was that the predominant petit bourgeois ideology within ETA was overcome, and new lines developed which find their highest expression in the period prior to the Sixth Congress of ETA. This was why the ETA activists who came to trial in Burgos in 1970 took as their slogan: ‘Long live the Spanish working class’.

The majority within ETA regards national oppression as class oppression; obviously this has meant a break with nationalistic ideology. Subsequently, ETA split into two factions: ETA V, which continued to have a guerrilla strategy, and ETA VI, which dissolved two years ago and whose members then moved into other left-wing organisations.

It is very clear that the Burgos trial of 1970 radicalised the working class and other popular sectors in the Basque country: despite their real limitations, struggles became more frequent everywhere. The government responded by taking a hard line against any nationalist manifestation; there is not a town in Euzkadi (the Basque name for the Basque country) which does not have at least half a dozen of its own in jail or in exile. Today there are 245 Basque political prisoners in Spanish jails. More than a dozen have already died at the hands of the police. The tortures are savage and the jail sentences brutal. The result is that people in the Basque country are very aware of the situation; the prisoners’ relatives and friends pass information about torture and arrests by word of mouth. Most towns are small, and news travels fast. This was the context in which the strike in support of the political prisoners took place.

In 1973 the province of Navarre was in the vanguard as far as the level of struggle of its working class was concerned; a general strike throughout the province had been maintained for almost a month. On 20 January this year a general strike was again in progress; what followed was one of the most violent confrontations with the forces of repression that anyone could remember. As a means of defence against police attacks, the workers built barricades in the workers’ areas. The strike had lasted for several weeks. From 9 December onwards, the situation in Navarre became even more tense; 28 factories were on strike. On the 10th, the employers launched a counter attack against the general strike which they knew was on its way; the employers’ federation of Navarre produced a document in which it denounced the strike as political, despite the fact that it had started as a struggle over economic demands. On the 11th, there were dozens of mass meetings in factories throughout Navarre which decided to launch a strike and join those who were already out. 20 January was the day on which this strike wave culminated in repression, more than 1,500 dismissals and continual confrontations with the police which unfortunately had no positive result; exhausted by struggle, the workers began to return to work.

At the same time, in Barcelona, SEAT (the biggest factory in Spain, employing 30,000 workers), Olivetti and other smaller factories had been in dispute since November. Workers from SEAT and other factories took to the streets, explaining to the public the reasons for the demonstration. The SEAT workers had been threatened with reductions in manning levels, and were on three day working. The other factories were in the process of negotiating factory agreements. The students came out in support of the workers, and soon some groups on the left were calling for a general strike on 15 January. It was a failure. In the end little was achieved; the men returned to work, 1,200 lost their jobs and many ended up in jail.

The Spanish Communist Party, together with other left wing groups, named 20 February as a national day of struggle against scarcity, and called for a national 24 hour stoppage which, according to them, was the only way to fight against a falling standard of living. The campaign was a total failure; a few shops were boycotted in Madrid and Galicia, but it had no impact in the factories. The rest of Spain remained unmoved by the call and it was never more than just one more action carried out in a vacuum. If the working class has failed to respond to these calls, however, it is because it lacks a factory-based workers’ organisation capable of turning the resentment and the sense of solidarity of the working class into an active struggle. What has been lacking is a vanguard of organised workers able to raise the level in each factory sufficiently to push the movement into active struggle.

THE ORGANIC law of the state says: the vertical (trade) union is an instrument at the service of the state, carrying through economic policy by drawing together all the elements of the economic process. Since they were founded, the state has made sure that these organisations kept their original role. The organisation of the vertical unions, the bosses’, technicians and workers’ organisations, the technical and economic commissions, the representatives and the tribunals – all the classic fascist corporate forms are simply the outgrowths of a social policy in whose service they were created, that is, as repressive organs of the state. From the start, the bourgeoisie knew that they could only act as a restraint on a working class whose own historical experience had exposed this kind of trickery. But the bourgeoisie had won the war, and they imposed the rules of their game in the aftermath; the working class had been defeated, its organisations destroyed or hidden deep underground and its most able militants physically annihilated – it had no means of responding to the aggression of the fascist state.

With time, the weakest link in the structure proved to be the union representatives at local level and the tribunals; in general they were recruited among the regime’s firmest supporters as a reward for services rendered. It was the Falangists (fascist party members) who took over the structure of the CNS, both because they had served the regime most directly and because ideologically it was they who were most clearly the supporters of these political structures.

Until 1966 the ‘elections’ for union posts passed unnoticed and unsung; often the workers would only discover a week later that elections had been held and so-and-so elected as representative. Everything went on behind screens; management and the fake union bureaucracy quietly prepared the candidates. The working class knew this, and scorned both the vertical union and those within the factory who claimed to be its representatives. They felt only scorn and disillusionment with the ‘instruments created to bring together all elements of the economic process’, and the endless fascist propaganda within the factories and through the fake union representatives, who for years had been proclaiming that there was no class conflict in Spain but only a ‘harmony of interests’. For this reason, when a wave of strikes did occur, workers rejected the CNS and took their struggles well beyond the frontiers so carefully laid down by the regime.

The great strikes of 1962-3 were a training ground for the working class; they did not change the situation radically, but they did change its character. The workers rediscovered their own organisational forms; the traditional method of driving home and winning their claims – the strike – proved still to be their strongest weapon. But the only way to use that power was by creating their own autonomous organisations, the Workers’ Commissiops, which the workers themselves had created out of the political rejection of the CNS; the organs of the state then had to be forced to recognise and deal with them. The Commissions consisted of representatives directly elected by the workers to carry out concrete tasks related to a particular wage claim or confrontation with management. The first commissions demonstrated the principle of workers’ democracy in the widest sense of the term; but their field of activity was severely limited by repression and the ease with which workers could be dismissed. Furthermore the absence of even the minimum democratic freedoms made their task more difficult still. Once they had fulfilled their social function, then, the commissions were left floating in a vacuum with little chance of surviving. The more conscious workers went on to create permanent, clandestine commissions which were never more than groups of workers who met secretly to discuss the problems of their factory.

Between 1964 and 1968 the tactical and political direction taken by the commissions was not the result of the experience of class struggle, but of the political line of the Communist Party. In the 1966 trade union elections, for example, it was most concerned with class conciliation, taking political tensions onto a more ‘rational’ plane and accommodating itself to the ‘progressive’ forces in Spanish capitalism. Like the rest of the left, the establishment of the workers’ commissions had taken the Communist Party by surprise; it had no alternative but to abandon the underground union it had been organising and send its members into the commissions, with instructions to occupy the leading positions within them. Its policy of transforming the fascist unions from within meant that Communist Party members should stand for union elections and try to win positions as union representatives. The result is that a number of militants were exposed and brutally repressed: the consequences of CP policy, then, were most keenly felt in 1968, when the Spanish workers’ movement went through a general crisis.

In the wake of this crisis, the workers, particularly in Cataluna and the Basque country began to create new workers’ commissions; but these were very different from the ones the Communist Party had controlled. This time they were presented as the independent and autonomous organs of the working class. In Barcelona, for example, more than fifty factories were linked by the beginning of 1970 through these new organisations. Yet here, in the Basque country and throughout the rest of Spain, these commissions had a short life span, mainly because of the repression on the one hand and the sectarianism of the left wing organisations on the other.

The general strike in the Basque country, as elsewhere in Spain, brought little response; the majority of workers stayed at home instead of going out on to the streets. Elsewhere the problem is rather the lack of co-ordination between strikes; in Cataluna, for example, a number of highly radicalised strikes occurred, but in isolation from one another. In other cases, the apparatus of bourgeois repression functioned as it did in the Baix Llobregat, where the CNS were frequently called into play. The lack of new perspectives plus exhaustion on the one hand, and the dismissals and the repression on the other, represent real obstacles which the working class movement must learn to deal with if it is not to simply come to a stop. In this respect, the economic crisis provides a new urgency; in the winter of 1973-4 more than 1500 workers were dismissed from the factories of Barcelona for having taken part in strike action, and in Navarre a similar number lost their jobs for similar reasons.

Some groups on the left were so taken aback by the strike wave that they began to talk about a working class ‘offensive’ and to see ‘pre-revolutionary situations’ in every conflict. They devoted themselves to calling for general strikes; but their calls have had no effect. On 30 October last year and 20 February 1975, they were surprised when the working class failed to answer the call. But if a general strike has not occurred in Spain, it is because of the lack of a national organisation of workers at factory level. The workers’ commissions that do exist are only linked at local or area level, and often even these links have not been established. There are even, in some factories, a number of different factory committees, co-ordinated through different organisations according to the political ideas which they represent. Barcelona, for example, is still suffering the combined effects of the repression and the sectarianism which has established several different rank and file organisations within a single factory.

The Spanish Communist Party is no exception to the rest of the European Communist Parties. The Eighth Congress in 1972 confirmed its development towards social democracy, for the bureaucracy of the PCE was determined at all costs to gain a legal toehold after the fall of Franco; it had long ago abandoned any revolutionary ideas. The Eighth Congress dealt without reservations with the need to defend the interests of the nation, spoke of the need to enter the Common Market, thus consciously defending the interests of the bourgeoisie, and promised the army, a bigger budget and better arms if it gave its support to the ‘Pact for Freedom’. The PCE took an important step towards forming this pact on 20 June 1974 when Santiago Carrillo (Secretary General of the PCE) and Calvo Serrer, an ex-member of the Opus Dei, announced the formation of the ‘Democratic Junta’, bringing together a number of tendencies from Monarchists to Communists. According to Carrillo, the working class and the non-monopolist bourgeoisie of Spain had come together on that day in a common struggle for the restoration of democracy.

‘Today the Democratic Junta covers a wide sweep of social and political forces from left to right, from the working class to the dynamic sectors of capital.’ (Mundo Obrero: 22 January 1975)

The constitution of the Democratic Junta has already had its effects; almost all the groups within the Catalan Assembly, for example, have rejected it outright; their political declarations make it clear that such a policy involves sacrificing the rights of nationalities on the altar of an eventual alliance with the central bourgeoisie.

Unfortunately for Carrillo, the politicians who are preparing for Franco’s death with a little more vision than Carrero Blanco take very little notice of the PCE. On the one hand, they are unwilling to go that far until they have seen how Spanish society adjusts to the post-Franco period, on the other hand they have very little guarantee that the compromises accepted by the PCE will be accepted by the working class as a whole.

The bureaucracy of the Spanish Communist Party sees the labour movement as a means of pressure that will ensure its admission into the post-Franco regime. It has to do two things at once; on the one hand launch more or less spectacular national campaigns (like those of 20 October 1974 or 20 February this year) that will ensure that its opinions will be taken seriously, while on the other demonstrating that it can and does control the working class movement. This double objective, however, presents a number of difficulties; the growing radicalisation of struggles in recent years has meant a loss of Communist Party influence in many industrial areas, where its activists have either found themselves left behind by the process of radicalisation, or have simply not taken part in struggles at all (as in the strike of 200,000 workers in the Basque country where Communist Party members distributed leaflets calling for non-participation). In Cataluna, one of the areas where the level of struggle had been highest, it had lost influence in most of the major factories, although that situation has changed slightly now as a result of the entry into the PCE of a number of members of Bandera Roja (Red Flag).

THE EMERGENCE of a large number of small left wing groups between 1965 and 1970 was not just an outburst of voluntarism or hysteria; it represented an attempt to respond to the dynamics of Spanish society, to the surge of activity which had shaken both the ruling and the oppressed classes, to the changes that had taken place in the class structure, to the accumulated tensions of the previous period. The development of the class struggle within the Spanish state in recent years has revealed the lack of any organisations capable of leading the developing movement in a socialist direction. Most of the struggles have been largely spontaneous and the embryonic organisations that did grow out of them were either overtaken by the dynamics of the particular struggle or destroyed by repression.

The left organisations that had taken part in the Civil War have undergone serious political and theoretical ruptures – not only as a result of the repression that they suffered, but also for more clearly political reasons; for they proved unable to develop any response to the changing reality of Spanish capitalism. Thus they lost the opportunity to direct and reinforce the rising level of class consciousness which the Spanish proletariat has been developing in the course of the struggles of recent years. During the Civil War, the labour movement received its orientation from four tendencies; anarcho-syndicalism, socialism, Stalinist-communism and the Communist Left (POUM). The traditional anarcho-syndicalism of the CNT, which was then the most important organisation of the Spanish working class, at least in numerical terms, has disappeared and is unlikely to re-emerge. Its ideas have been transferred to the syndicalist currents of Christian origin, losing the most positive features of the CNT (its extraordinary organisational capacity, its exceptional combativity, its defence of the autonomy of the working class and its radical attitude towards the bourgeois system), while reinforcing its classic weaknesses – ie its apolitical character and its blind anti-Communism.

The Socialist current (PSOE) is today no more than a sect with very little influence among the working class. Its leaders are in exile, and have devoted themselves to begging for crumbs from the table of European social democracy. And as far as social democracy itself is concerned, there are other currents within Spain – mostly linked to the Christian Democrats – with far more chance of success.

The Communist Left, mainly organised around the POUM, was decimated first by Stalinist repression and later by fascism. In the end it survived only outside Spain, with the characteristics of an ex-combatants’ club, but with no capacity to open new directions; it sat instead as the custodian of a rich political history, waiting to transmit that history to the post-war generation. It has been the point of departure for all those groups who have tried to continue the best traditions of the Spanish working class on the basis of an anti-Stalinist and revolutionary position.

The circumstances under which these new groups have emerged – a high level of repression coupled with a period of theoretical questioning – have directly influenced their present situation. Most of them are local in character, with very little influence at a national level; theoretically they are confused, and their immaturity and narrow base places severe limitations on their practical intervention. All this means that the Spanish revolutionary left has very few roots in the working class, and very limited access to it.

The Maoist tendency is represented by a number of groups. The PCE (M-L) advocates a Popular Federated Republic, a kind of coalition between the small and medium bourgeoisie and the working class against the monopolist bourgeoisie. Their means of achieving such a republic is through the revolutionary general strike, which, according to them, was already carried out by the Spanish working class last autumn under their leadership. Their transmission belt is the FRAP which according to them is a mass organisation, but which in fact is a phantom organisation all of whose militants are at the same time members of the PCE (M-L). They have shown themselves to be a very active organisation capable of burning out large numbers of people, the majority of them young students. One can say that more people have passed through this organisation than have remained within its ranks.

Other Maoist groups (MCE and ORT) have deeper roots among the working class, especially in the Basque country. Their strategic line is the same as that of the PCE (M-L), though they have a number of tactical differences, the most important of which is their recognition of the importance of work within the workers’ commissions. It is possible that these organisations will fuse in the near future, which would make them the strongest Maoist organisation.

The LCR-ETA VI, the sympathising organisation of the Fourth International was initially composed mainly of students though its ranks have been expanded in die last year or two with the entry of some worker militants. Its alternative to the dictatorship is socialism; they believe that a general strike in Spain would initiate a revolutionary crisis in Spanish capitalism that would open the way to a socialist solution.

On the other hand there are a number of groups who together constitute a new Communist Left (LO, OC, POUM, AC, UCL, CRAS). Their ideas do not derive from any particular Marxist thinker – Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Trotsky or Gramsci. The party that they wish to build cannot be simply a new edition of the organisations of the past, however revolutionary these might have been at a given stage in the development of the workers’ movement. Last November they met in a Conference to discuss a proposal for the regroupment of revolutionary Marxists. In their view the linking organisations between the various factory committees are little more than satellites of the various political organisations, and have led in practice to a growing mistrust among workers who have felt themselves to be the object of manipulations. In practice the co-ordinating organisations simply do not work.

The only solution is to call open meetings of the workers’ commissions in each area – not imaginary co-ordinating committees but meetings that will be attended by those militant workers who are actually involved in each factory and who are able to centralise decisions when the time comes to plan specific struggles. Anything else would be mere manipulation by one or other political group.

The Communist Left considers that freedom of expression, of association and of assembly are vital steps that will facilitate the mobilisation and organisation of the working class for the final confrontation.

These groups are very small and divided by a number of theoretical differences that will only disappear as a result of closer collaboration and a much more intensive discussion of the kind of political work that it is necessary to carry out in the present Spanish situation. Only the development of the class struggle in Spain will tell whether these groups can fulfil their role of creating a revolutionary party that will enable the working class to take power.

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