Theses on the situation in Spain
Since these theses were written important political events have taken place in Spain which, without undermining the general perspectives outlined in the theses, make it necessary to bring them up to date.
The theses say that one of the causes of “the inability of the Spanish bourgeoisie to acquire the political means for containing and confronting the proletariat - apart from bloody repression” resides in “a quasi-religious paralysis in front of the personage of Franco, who, as long as he is alive, constitutes the only raison d’etre for the completely anachronistic forces which back him”. The agony and death of Franco, by eliminating one of the causes of the paralysis of the Spanish bourgeoisie, has unfreezed the situation. As a result there has been a complete disarray amongst those anachronistic forces, mentioned in the theses, who derive their strength partly from the army and more especially from the police. These elements have, during the ‘interregnum’, tried to stand in the way of any possibility of ‘democratization’, by engaging in a systematic campaign of repression, in particular by putting Marcelino Camacho, the Stalinist leader of the workers’ commissions, back in prison a few days after his release. But all this has been the swan-song of the ‘ultras’. They have allowed their hands to be tied by the fact that Arias Navarro has remained at the head of the government and they have had to listen, without protest, to a solemn warning issued by the Minister of the Interior, Fraga Iribarne, the new ‘strong man’ of the regime, to the effect that: “those who attribute to themselves the role of guardians of their own affairs and their own leaders, roles which no one has accorded to them, had better understand what I am saying: we will have no friends or enemies other than those of the state...” (20 December)
The death of Franco will thus add a certain nuance to the perspective outlined in our thesis which states that, “In spite of the fact that the world bourgeoisie....has taken the Spanish situation in hand, it is unlikely that the changeover in Spain can still take place in an atmosphere of calm”. Today the Spanish bourgeoisie has been strengthened by the support of the whole world bourgeoisie, especially that of America. (A recent expression of this support was the fact that so many of the Heads of State who attended Juan Carlos coronation ‘missed’ Franco’s funeral.) After two fruitless attempts at the end of the sixties and at the beginning of 1974, the bourgeoisie of Spain has finally managed to set in motion the delicate process of ‘opening out’ (‘apertura’), a process which must allow it to move towards ‘real democracy’. And whether in the government or in the opposition, the main factions of the bourgeoisie will do all they can, in a concerted manner, to make the transition a peaceful one (of the tete-a-tete dinner on 15 December between Fraga Iribarne and Tierno Galvan, one of the leaders of the Democratic Junta).
Thus the present government’s policy of ‘small steps towards democracy has a dual objective:
* to ensure a sufficient continuity in the structures of the state to avoid disorganization and convulsions of the kind that have taken place in Portugal
* to divert the discontent and combativity of the proletariat towards ‘deepening’ and accelerating the process of democratization.
As far as the opposition is concerned, its unification has been based on the need to divert working class struggle; the head of the PSOE, Felipe Gonzalez, was not afraid to declare: “The country wants democracy without violence; that is why we are prepared to compromise ... we must try to be realistic.” (L'Expansion, December, 1975) There is no lack of themes for the left to use in its efforts to derail the combativity of the class, and they will probably all be used one after another: amnesty, freedom of the press, the ‘right’ to strike, universal suffrage, a constitutional referendum, etc.
And when all these themes have been used up, there is always the spectre of the ‘return to fascism’. In Spain as everywhere else the left in power will not hesitate to denounce workers in struggle as ‘agents of fascism’, of the ‘reaction’, or the ‘right’, etc., in order to be able to repress them all the more easily. It is in this sense that these theses remain entirely relevant to the current situation.
29 December, 1975
With a growth rate of more than 10% during the sixties, the Spanish economy was, after Japan’s, one of the main beneficiaries of post-war reconstruction. This spectacular progress was to make it one of the most modern and concentrated economies in Europe, although it still retained a number of archaic sectors - agriculture, commerce, handicrafts and mall industry. Tied to the rigid political structure of Francoism, the persistence of these archaic sectors has caused tension and furthered contradictions brought about as a result of the effects of the world economic crisis.
The prodigal son of European capitalism, Spanish capital is today beginning to look like one of its impoverished parents. With an 8% fall in industrial production, inflation at 20% and unemployment doubling, Spain has in this last year plunged full-tilt into the crisis. The start of the large-scale movement home of Spanish migrant workers from other more developed European countries which are also feeling the effects of the economic crisis, and the fall-off in tourism, have contributed in a very concrete way to the aggravation of the economic situation in Spain.
Having paid for the boom in its’ national economy through ferocious exploitation, the Spanish proletariat, with its powerful tradition of combativity and solidarity, has launched itself into a number of hard and resolute struggles since the first onslaughts of the crisis in the late sixties. These struggles reached their culmination in the winter of 1974-5, when whole industrial concentrations and even provinces engaged in often violent struggles which, despite the systematic repression that it has had to deal with, have put the Spanish proletariat at the forefront of the global strike movement. The considerable deterioration of working class living standards since last winter, which is a result of the deepening crisis, opens up a perspective of major confrontations between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in this country.
The Spanish bourgeoisie is in a particularly unfavourable situation to deal with this upsurge:
* the present regime is hated by the working population who see in it a symbol of their defeat in 1936-39 and the repression which followed. It has no capacity for mystification and for diverting workers’ struggles ‘from within’.
* this regime is completely rotten, senile, and incapable of reforming itself to deal with the new situation; in particular, after several attempts, it has shown itself to be incapable of ensuring an ‘institutional’ transition to democracy, despite the fact that a growing sector of the bourgeoisie is demanding such a change as the only way of channeling the class struggle. The blind violence with which the Franco regime struck at the leftist militants of the FRAP and ETA is an expression of the deadly impasse in which the regime finds itself today. Its imminent demise makes it act like a wild animal at bay.
The inability of the Spanish bourgeoisie to acquire the political means for containing and confronting the proletariat - apart from bloody repression - has a number of causes:
-- the paralysis of the bourgeoisie when confronted with the urgent measures which the situation demands, a paralysis brought about by its fear of arousing the proletariat. In other words, the proletarian menace has become so strong that the bourgeoisie is unable to take measures against it.
-- a quasi-religious paralysis in front of the personage of Franco, who, as long as he is alive, constitutes the only raison d’etre for the completely anachronistic forces which back him.
-- the relative weakness of the democratic political parties, a weakness linked to the still partially-backward character of the Spanish economy and to the thirty-six years of illegality with which they have had to contend.
In contrast to Portugal, the army in Spain cannot serve as a force for political transformation in that it:
-- does not constitute the only social force organized within a capitalism that is relatively developed and powerful.
-- is not a colonial army confronted with a situation that would allow it to become aware of the real interests of the national capital.
-- recruits its officers from the social strata closest to the regime, since its role is limited to the maintenance of internal order.
-- constitutes the regime’s most reliable bulwark, and the maintenance of its preponderant weight within the state and the privileges of' its present military personnel depend on the survival of the regime.
In this sense the dissident movements which have grown up in the Spanish army, even if they are used by the bourgeoisie to nurture the myth of a democratic army - which is their only function anyway - are doomed to play a secondary political role and have no chance of playing a similar role to the junior officers’ movement in Portugal.
It is for these same reasons that the classical democratic parties, in particular those regrouped around the ‘Democratic Junta’, will, despite their relative weakness, be called upon to play a more important role than they have done in Portugal; and so as a consequence of this will the classical forms for containing and mystifying the working class: the trade unions and elections. Because of this the card of the extreme left will probably be used much later on than in Portugal; for the moment, the leftists in Spain are destined to act as the touts of the traditional ‘left’.
Another difference between Spain and Portugal resides in the position of the two countries in the international balance of forces, particularly in the field of class struggle. Because of the concentration of its industry and its working class, because of the proletariat’s combativity, and because of Spain’s geographical position that much closer to the nerve centres of European capitalism, the importance of the situation in Spain is much greater than it is in Portugal.
Portugal’s main value is to serve as a laboratory for the various experiments of the bourgeoisie in the face of the crisis and the class struggle. But like Russia in 1917, Spain today is a ‘weak link’ in the capitalist system, and its importance therefore is much more than ‘exemplary’. Events there can have a decisive weight and effect upon the development of the class struggle in the rest of Europe.
The fundamental importance of the Spanish situation in terms of international class confrontation, in addition to the inability of the Spanish bourgeoisie to face up to the objective necessity of defending its own interests, (an incapacity manifested in particular by the executions of 27 September), have led the world bourgeoisie to take over the task of ‘regularizing’ the Spanish situation.
History demonstrates that the only time different national bourgeoisies can set aside their economic and imperialist rivalries is if their very existence is called into question by the class struggle.
This explains why the different national factions of the bourgeoisie, strengthened by past experience, are now in the process of taking preventative measures in relation to Spain, putting pressure on the regime (eg, the recent decision of the EEC), and orchestrating whole campaigns denouncing the present political set up in Spain.
As well as being used to channel the discontent of the European workers and to divert their struggles, the recent anti-fascist campaigns have been used to indicate to the Spanish bourgeoisie that the bourgeoisie of other countries is prepared to support only its democratic factions, since they alone are capable of fulfilling the political needs of capital in Spain and by extension the rest of Europe.
In these grand manoeuvres of capital, it is not surprising to find, alongside the Pope, the traditional left and Gaullists like Alexander Sanguinetti, those eternal protagonists of anti-working class causes, the leftists, among whom the anarchists are making as much noise as their meagre resources allow.
More tragic than this is the fact that certain elements of the petty-bourgeoisie and even of the proletariat have in despair put themselves at the mercy of the counter-revolutionary strategies of the FRAP, ETA, or other nationalist movements, who use them as instruments of terrorism. Terrorism constitutes one way of diverting class struggle along with providing an excuse for bloody repression and new martyrs for the repulsive propaganda machines of the left and extreme left; propaganda all the more disgusting since its aim is nothing more than the introduction of new governmental bureaucrats whose essential task will be to massacre the Spanish workers.
In spite of the fact that the world bourgeoisie (including American capitalists acting through their intermediaries in Germany and Holland) has taken the Spanish situation in hand, it is unlikely that the changeover in government in Spain can still take place in an atmosphere of calm. Thus the democratic parties, especially the Democratic Junta, will probably come to power in a ‘hot’ climate, probably as a result of big workers’ struggles. In such a situation, it is equally probable that a great deal of violence will be used against the tenants of the old regime, and that this will be taken in charge by the left and leftists. Once again in the name of anti-fascism they will try to shift the working class on to bourgeois terrain and divert it from its own struggles.
As in 1936, because of the impending violence and the historic situation it is emerging from, Spain is once again destined to serve as one of the main themes for the diversion of the struggles of the European proletariat. The current anti-fascist campaigns, whose principal function at the moment is to help the Spanish bourgeoisie to rid itself of a regime which isn’t equipped to fulfill the needs of capital, are part of the preparations of the bourgeoisie for reinforcing a myth it will use to the maximum when class confrontation really hots up: the myth of the ‘fascist’ menace.
The difference with the campaigns of 1936 - that the present anti-fascist campaign has the function first and foremost of obstructing an ascendant movement of proletarian struggle, in order to repress it all the better when the time comes to do so; whereas the campaigns of the thirties took place after the defeat of the world proletariat and had the task of mobilizing the class for an imperialist war. In 1936, in the face of a completely disorientated working class, fascism had a real presence and this made the regimentation of the working class all the more effective. Today the ‘fascist danger’ has to be constructed artificially and a proletariat in the process of gaining consciousness is much less likely to be fooled by it; but the relative success, in much less propitious circumstances, of the anti-fascist mystification in Portugal shows that capital will not fail to make use of it in Spain.
Within this perspective, revolutionaries must give priority to the clearest and most systematic denunciation of the anti-fascist menace. They must denounce the left, which is putting itself forward as the future executioner of the proletariat, and in particular, its extreme leftist watchdogs who are trying and will go on trying to outdo the left in antifascist hysteria. Revolutionaries must make no concessions to any anti-fascist campaigns; they must clearly assert the counter-revolutionary role of all political tendencies which, even in a critical manner, participate in these campaigns today and in the future.
19 October, 1975