Podemos: New clothes at the service of the capitalist emperor

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If we are to believe the media bombardment that has been assaulting us in recent months, we are on the eve of an earthquake that will shake to the core the traditional scenario of the last thirty years, in which the People’s Party of the right (PP) and the Socialist Party (PSOE) have succeeded each other alternately in power without anyone finding anything to complain about. This political chessboard is disturbed today by the eruption of ‘emergent forces’, and in particular by the most recent: Podemos. But Podemos represents nothing new.

Its political programme and its ideology are the classics of Stalinist regimes[1] defended by the so-called Communist parties (in reality virulently anti-communist) and their leftist acolytes of all stripes (Trotskyists, base unionists, anti-globalisation movements)[2], who are the main supporters of this pantomime of ‘new politics’. The specificity of Podemos which justifies the stunt it has pulled for Spanish capitalism is that the troops of Iglesias (its leader) fulfil a special mission, very important for both the Spanish and the world bourgeoisie, which is to erase the footprints of the movement of May 15 that shook the streets four and a half years ago.

The ‘Pride of Spain’: Iglesias against the internationalism of the movement of May 15

Four years ago, huge crowds took to the streets and squares not only in Spain but also in Greece, the USA, Israel, etc. “This movement of indignation has spread internationally: to Spain, where the then Socialist government imposed one of the first and most draconian austerity plans; to Greece, the symbol of the crisis of sovereign debt; to the United States, the temple of world capitalism; to Egypt and Israel, focus of one of the worst and most entrenched imperialist conflicts, the Middle East.” There were attempts, still timid and embryonic, at international solidarity: “In Spain solidarity with the workers of Greece was expressed by slogans such as ‘Athens resists, Madrid rises up’. The Oakland strikers (USA, November, 2011) said ‘Solidarity with the occupation movement world wide’ In Egypt it was agreed in the Cairo Declaration to support the movement in the United States. In Israel they shouted ‘Netanyahu, Mubarak, El Assad are the same’ and contacts were made with Palestinian workers.[3]

This internationalism, expressed spontaneously even in an embryonic way in the strongest moments of the Indignados movement, is something very dangerous for the bourgeoisie which justifies its domination of the proletariat by the existence of a supposed community of interest between exploiters and the exploited of each country.

From its origins, Podemos has been characterised by what they call a “transversal” discourse, that is to say, addressing both the ‘disadvantaged’ and business leaders to whom the they have not ceased to send reassuring messages. But this supposed ‘transversal’ community is also the one invoked by the fraternal party of Podemos, the Greek Syriza party, to justify its compliance with the requirements of the European Union, which underpins an intensification of the attacks against the living and working conditions of the Greek workers. Instead of solidarity towards the victims, Iglesias, Errejon and the others solidarised with their executioner, Tsipras.

In this patriotic assault, the ‘podemists’ have distanced themselves from proposals to send soldiers into the areas occupied by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq on the grounds that “they might be killed”. We have seen that, in contrast to their initial call to send troops into the areas occupied by the Islamic State (in Syria and Iraq), they then claimed that “Spanish soldiers could be killed.” The ‘argument’ of the man with the ponytail[4] is a very effective weapon to inject the poison of nationalism, and attempts to trap workers in the small and narrow world of the ‘Spanish nation’.

No matter that the Syrian or Iraqi workers and peasants will be massacred? No matter that the population of Raqqa, the ‘capital’ proclaimed as the bastion of the Islamic State, is subject to the threefold terror of its ‘Islamist rulers’, the bombing of Russia, US and France and also of the Assad militias? No matter that these territories will be transformed into a black hole where it becomes simply impossible to live? None of this we should worry about, according to the ‘national philosophy’ and jingoism of Mr. Iglesias! The only thing that matters is that no ‘compatriot’, no Spanish national can go to die there!

It is for this reason that the ‘podemists’ have joined as ‘observers’ the anti-jihadist pact signed by both the parties taking part in the invasion of Iraq (the Popular Party), the invasion of Afghanistan (PSOE) and by the candidates for the invasion of any country that would be made under the banner of the Spanish flag. It is for this reason that Podemos has promised Rajoy[5] all the necessary support to deal with terrorist attacks, as it has already done for the victims of the recent attack in central Kabul[6].

If we put our dreams in the ballot boxes, it will be a nightmare!

One of the most repeated slogans of the movement of May 15 was “our dreams do not fit in your ballot box!” Indeed, the Indignados movement arose with a strong tendency to reject bourgeois politics, elections,[7] etc etc. In the movements of 2011, there began to be emphasised, with still many weaknesses and hesitations, a fact that, today, that is to say four years later, seems strange: “These people, the workers, the exploited who have been presented as failures, idlers, incapable of taking the initiative or doing anything in common, have been able to unite, to share initiatives and to break out of the crippling passivity to which the daily normality of this system condemns them (...) It was the first step towards a real politics of the majority, far from the world of intrigues, of the world, lies and dodgy manoeuvres that is characteristic of the dominant politics. A politics that addresses all the issues that affect us, not just the economy or politics, but also the environment, ethics, culture, education or health.[8]

By contrast bourgeois politics advocates the isolation of each one of us; it argues that we must each consider ourselves as our own master faced with problems which have a social character and must search for their solution through the individual act of voting in favour of professional politicians – a procedure which, over time, only results in greater atomisation and greater resignation.

The evolution of the trajectory of Podemos is very significant. In its early years, to strengthen the illusion of continuity with the movement of May 15, they reproduced and plagiarised the appearance of the assemblies and public debates to understand the causes of our sufferings, possible alternatives to offer, etc. But today, the so-called ‘assemblies’ of Podemos have become an undisguised knife fight between the different competing tendencies on the electoral lists.

Furthermore, the debates are today reduced to an approval of the list of recipes defended as a simple electoral programme of variable geometry, depending on the electoral needs of Iglesias and those of his gang.[9]

What will the future role of Podemos be?

The organisation of Podemos’ ‘internal’ functioning is not in contradiction with its role, as the representatives of the wing most critical of this group would have us believe. It is in reality fully in line with the mission assigned to this party by the entire bourgeoisie: to convince the workers that any protest movement, any questioning of the control by the networks established by the democratic state to channel indignation about the future capitalism has in store for us, is inevitably doomed to die and finish up in their nets. Its ultimate aim is to convince us that it is useless to think we can fight against the system, because in the end the capitalist system will always recuperate this fight and entangle it in the institutions of the bourgeois state.

The movement of the Indignados in Spain, like those which arose in the following months in the United States or in Israel, or other expressions of weariness towards this capitalist system that turns human beings into vulgar commodities, failed to overcome the trap set by the bourgeois state, and particularly by those factions most able to sabotage any movement that puts capitalism into question. This does not mean that the possibility of a reflection, of a searching to learn the lessons of the causes of the weakening of these movements, does not exist - even in a latent form - in the dynamics of the current situation. The stimulants for this reflection are not missing. Capitalism is sinking every day into an abyss of growing misery for huge masses of the population, into multiplying outbreaks of war and terror, into a spreading scenario of ecological disaster. The exploiting class will always need, and will always be willing to pay handsomely, someone who proclaims at every street corner that the emperor is not naked, he only needs new clothes, like the ones Podemos, Syriza, Bernie Sanders in the USA or the ‘Corbynistas’ in Britain are willing to cut and tailor for him.

Paolo, 13 December 2015 (Acción Proletaria, organ of the ICC in Spain)


[1]. As we have already criticised in the previous issue of Acción Proletaria. See our article in Spanish: http: //es.internationalism.org/accionline/201406/4033/podemos-un-poder-del-estado-capitalista


[2]. In fact, a large part of the workforce of the ‘podemist’ grouping is made up of militants from the ‘anti-capitalist left’ formed from the remnants of leftist organisations in the 1980s and from the umpteenth ‘left’ split from the Spanish ‘Communist’ party.


[3]. Extract from our leaflet distributed internationally on the balance sheet of the 2011 movements: “2011. From indignation to hope,” published on our website March 30, 2012 https://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201203/4766/statement-social-m...


[4]. A reference to Iglesias.


[5]. Spanish prime minister and leader of the People’s Party.


[6]. Perpetrated by the Taliban in the diplomatic quarter and which killed four Afghan policemen and two Spaniards, after which the Spanish government declared it was “an attack against Spain.”


[7]. It is not for nothing that the assemblies in the squares defiantly refused to follow the call for their dissolution during the “day of reflection” on 21 May.


[8]. Extract from the ICC international leaflet cited (the last passage is not included in the English version).


[9]. Of some 380,000 supporters that Podemos claims, only 15% took part in the primaries and only 4% mobilised for the adoption of its platform.