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The Fall of Primo De Rivera
and its Consequences

(February 1930)

Throughout the World of Labor, The Militant, Vol. III No. 9, 1 March 1930, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The fall of Primo de Rivera surprised almost no one. It surprised only Primo de Rivera himself ... and the leading Spanish Communists. The former stated, two weeks before his collapse, that he would relinquish power of his own accord in six months; the latter, like an echo, were writing that Primo would be with us for a long time.

Primo did not yield up power of his own accord. Neither was he driven out by a revolutionary movement. His downfall was due to one of those secret revolts which threaten to break out not only against a government, but also against the class which maintains it. The class – the bourgeoisie, the monarchy the army – wish to ward off the immediate danger, the discontent and the growing revolution, by driving Primo out of power and promising a return to the constitutional form of government. In fact, a large-scale conspiracy was organized, which, in breaking forth could have overthrown not only the dictatorship, but even the monarchy, and which, under the existing circumstances, could have exceeded the desires and intention of the organizers themselves.

It can be said with certainty that the discontent against Primo was widespread. The proletariat showed their discontent through the powerful strikes of 1927–28–29 in Asturia, Catalogne, Seville, etc., strikes of an almost spontaneous character, let loose through economic causes, and which rapidly assumed a political character, not through the almost non-existent efforts of the official communist movement, but through the intervention of the dictatorship, on the side of the bosses, against the proletariat and through the rapid development of the latter.

(The leading Spanish Communists have deceived the International in pretending that these strikes were instigated and directed by themselves. Unfortunately this was not so.)

Bourgeoisie Desert Primo

The discontent of the petty-bourgeoisie, of the intellectuals, and of a section of the army manifested itself in the form of conspiracies, (six, up to the one which was being recently prepared) and in the student movements. Primo was already left with the support of only a section of the big financial and industrial bourgeoisie whom he had succeeded in reassuring through the establishment of national monopolies at the expense of foreign finance capital, and through extreme political protection. But he ended up by losing the support of the big bourgeoisie as well because of the fall in the value of the Peseta. The pressure of international finance was in fact one of the chief causes, a fact which can easily be explained, it having given rise to the ultra-nationalist political economy of Primo. This, however, was not the sole cause. Instead of correcting this entire political economy, financial and social, and of achieving parity, the dictator, ship believed that it could sustain the Peseta by means of simple manipulations in the world market. It obtained a credit of 18 million pounds from a group of British and American financiers, which made possible only a temporary halt in the decline of the Spanish standard. The decline proceeded in a fatalistic manner, resulting first in a defection of the Minister of Finance and finally in the collapse of the entire government.

Financial Crisis in Spain

The economic and political situation which Primo is leaving as a heritage to his successors, is extremely dangerous. If the best-known former political leaders – Cambo, the younger Maura, Sanchez Guerra, etc. – definitely refuse to aid Berenguer, it is because of the seriousness of the situation. Above all stands the financial question. In 1923, the year of Primo’s Coup-d’État, the Spanish public debt, according to the official figures themselves, was 8,531 million Pesetas, the total indebtedness of the treasury approaching 5,000 million. At the end of 1929 these figures had risen to 19,633 million pesetats (an increase of 11 [thousand] million in six years and four months of the dictatorship!)

Naturally, the political situation is also extremely serious. In 1923, Primo destroyed all the government parties. Those could no longer offer the least resistance, being discredited in the eyes of the people.

But Primo set up nothing in their place. The Patriotic Union was an artificially created party, an empty shell in the eyes of the public owing its existence solely to official support. This group, together with the Advisory Assembly and everything created by the dictatorship of Primo, were doomed to perish. The proof of this lies in the fact that the king appealed and continued to appeal to the former leaders of the traditional parties, through Berenguer, that they reorganize their parties and prepare for distorted elections, following the vicious methods of former years. All this as though nothing had happened!

Of course the Spanish proletariat did not look at things in the same light. For them the former parties were permanently discredited. They did not await, they did not desire their return – a return to the status of 1923. Not a praetorian guard, but neither the former regime, and above all not a monarchy. Primo had engineered his coup-d’état in 1923 in order to save the monarchy.

The Growing Republican Movement

It is also in order to save it that his rule has just been liquidated and that the former politicians are preparing to govern anew. Will they succeed in saving the crown? We think not. A wider and wider republican movement is taking form in Spain. The very first acts of Berenguer have been to arrest several of the republican leaders in Valencia, Barcelona, etc. The demonstrations of the students and workers against the dictatorship revolved not only around the slogan of “Down with Primo”, but “Down with the Monarchy”. The republican movement cannot but grow. The important problems left over by Primo and which cannot be solved by his successors will serve to aggravate the crisis of the monarchist regime. We are at the threshold of political struggles of the greatest interest.

But we Communists, in this situation, which, by the action of material forces assume an increasingly revolutionary character, must act with energy and facility. The anti-monarchist movement will be led in its first stages by the petty-bourgeoisie, by the republican party and by the socialists.

The Spanish proletariat, whose living conditions are extremely wretched, and whose hatred of the entire system has matured during the last few years of dictatorial oppression, are getting ready for participation in the struggle.

The Need of a Communist Party

But in face of the socialists who are preparing to maneuvre, and of the anarcho-syndicalists who will attempt to reassume the leadership of the revolutionary trade unions, what is needed now is a strong Communist Party, disciplined, supple, knowing how to lead the proletariat in the coming struggles towards its emancipation. Will the actual Communist Party attain its historic mission? This is the serious problem for the entire International. Today, once again, the leaders of the Spanish Communists, with the support of the Stalin clique which steers the Comintern, readily devote themselves to the miserable task of systematically hounding the best militant Communists. Under any circumstances this attitude would be incorrect; at present it is an anti-Communist crime. We Opposition Communists will know our duty. But if the Stalinist bureaucrats attempt to hinder us, they will be responsible before the international proletariat.

Paris, February 7, 1930


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