The states of Portugal, Greece and Spain share one common trait that has distinguished them from the imperialist states of Northern Europe. The weakness of their big bourgeoisie can be observed in the incapacity of social-democracy to integrate broad sectors of the working class, which has expressed itself, to this day, in the need for parliamentary revisionist “communist” parties as necessary tools for big capital when it comes to legitimizing the bourgeois dictatorship in its parliamentary form and contain the struggles of the masses within reformism. Now, in the midst of the final crisis of imperialism, the Portuguese, Greek and Spanish big bourgeoisie finds itself in the urgent need to restructure the old state and contain or crush once more the struggles of the masses.
In the seventies of the last century, the political, economic, moral, and social crisis in these three countries, within the international capitalist crisis, obliged their big bourgeoisie to contain, and try to lead astray, the revolutionary struggles of the masses with “democratic transitions”, with the necessary participation of the Eurocommunist parties and social-democracy. “Transitions” supervised and overseen by the Yankee superpower that in this way tried to secure its economic, geopolitical and military interests in the Mediterranean and the Balkan Peninsula.
In Greece after World War II, the Communist Party did not capitulate as happened in France and Italy. The war between the Greek People’s Liberation Army (ELAS), led by the Communist Party, and the reactionary army supported by the Yankees and British imperialism, lasted until 1950. The communist defeat did not end the political instability and the struggle of the masses. On April 21st 1967 a coup d’état made way for what is known as the “Regime of the Colonels”, which did not solve the problems of the Greek state either. On July 24th 1974 the military dictatorship falls and the Greek “transition” starts.
In Portugal, the fascist dictatorship encountered serious problems in the seventies. On one hand, the armed struggle of the masses in the Portuguese colonies, and on the other the domestic resistance. On April 25th 1974 the “Carnation Revolution” takes place, the fascism that had lasted since 1926 falls and the Portuguese “transition” is started.
In dates, the general panorama was as follows: on April 25th 1974 the Carnation Revolution ends the military dictatorship in Portugal. In July of 1974 the Regime of the Colonels falls in Greece. On September 26th 1975 hundreds of People’s Democratic Union (UDP) sympathizers (hoisting the banner of Chairman Mao) takes and burns the Spanish embassy (in Portugal) in solidarity with the ETA and FRAP prisoners sentenced to death by the fascist Franco. On the 20th of November 1975, Franco dies and the “democratic transition” starts.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the Spanish “transition” is planned by the apparatuses of the Spanish state and by the Yankee superpower. According to the journalist Alfredo Grimaldos’ investigation, published in his book “La CIA en España. Espionaje, intrigas y política al servicio de Washington” (“The CIA in Spain. Espionage, Intrigue and Politics in Washington’s Service”), the “transition” starts with the 1971 visit to Spain by the Yankee general Vernon Walters, who shortly afterwards was appointed Deputy Director of the CIA. A visit that the North American general himself considered as “a mission without comparison”. According to Walters, Richard Nixon “was aware of the importance Spain had for the free world”. And this interest in the country induced him to send the general to Spain on the “special mission” of meeting with Franco “to talk about the future years in with the generalissimo would no longer be head of state”.
The goal of the “transition” was therefore to defend the economic, military and strategic interests of the Yankees as well as the dictatorship of Spanish monopolist capital, by changing the superstructure. To go from fascist dictatorship to a multi-party regime so that nothing would change, so that the dictatorship of the Spanish imperialist bourgeoisie would be consolidated. A key role in order for the struggles of the masses, including the armed struggle (FRAP, GRAPO, ETA) not to end up in a revolutionary crisis, was the role of revisionism (PCE, Communist Party of Spain) and reformism (PSOE). The bourgeois state and the Yankee superpower needed to create their own “left-wing opposition”:
“The North American intelligence agencies and the German social-democracy zealously took turns in the leadership of the Spanish Transition, with two objectives: to prevent a revolution after Franco’s death and annihilate the communist left. This subtle work of building a party “of the leftists” in order to prevent precisely that the left take power in Spain, is the work of the CIA, in collaboration with the Socialist International. The first draft of this long operation goes back to the seventies, when the regime started to give in, inevitably, to the pressure from the workers’ struggles and the people’s demands.” (Alfredo Grimaldos – La CIA en España. Espionaje, intrigas y política al servicio de Washington, Debate, 2007)
Only six months after the Carnation Revolution, the XIII Congress of the PSOE is held in Suresnes, France, where Felipe Gonzalez and his group take leadership of the party. Years later Felipe Gonzalez, now as Prime Minister, would get Spain into NATO. About his trip to Suresnes, Alfredo Grimaldos relates:
“Gonzalez and other members of the new party leadership have managed to get to France thanks to help from the Central Service of the Prime Minister itself. The officials of the intelligence organization created by Admiral Carrero Blanco are in charge of providing them with their passports.”
About Carrillo’s PCE Grimaldos writes:
“In 1975, shortly before Franco’s death, the New York Times reveals that the CIA maintains important relationships with all the Spanish political parties in order to find a way out for the regime, including Santiago Carrillo’s PCE (Communist Party of Spain).”
“Two years later, the general secretary of this formation will be invited to visit the U.S., a unique case in the history of communist parties, whose leaders have been prohibited to enter the U.S. since forever.”
We also know that from the 50’s the PCE promotes their “national reconciliation”, “for a democratic and peaceful solution to the civil war” and the contact with Falangist elements: “Considerable forces, which in another time were part of the Franco camp, have been showing their discrepancy with a policy that keeps alive the spirit of the civil war.” (Central Committee of the Communist Party of Spain, June 1956). On April 1st 1969 Franco promulgates a pardon that reached Carrillo:
“First article.- All crimes committed before April 1st 1939 are declared expired. This statute of limitations by the Justice Department does not need to be declared judicially, and therefore takes effect regarding all types of crimes, regardless of who may have committed them, of their seriousness or their consequences, independently of their supposed description or sentence, and without considering the rules established by the penal code in force concerning calculation, interruption and resumption of the expiration time of the crime…”
A few months later, Franco appointed Borbón Juan Carlos as his successor. Everything started to “come together”. The “transition” started. The interests of the Yankee superpower is clear, Spain must join NATO: “The accession of Spain to NATO is vitally important. If Spain’s rapidly modernizing forces and key strategic location were combined with France’s growing cooperation within the alliance, NATO would have the military depth it now lacks. The United States has advocated Spanish membership since the early days of the Eisenhower administration. With the passing of the Franco regime and the evolution of democracy in Spain, the West Europeans should now be prepared to incorporate Spain into NATO” (The Real War. Richard Nixon. 1980)
In Spain the imperialist state, while using the revisionists, fundamentally the PCE and the social-democracy (PSOE) to contain and lead the struggles of the masses astray, towards parliamentary cretinism, it also used white terror. In the biography of general Sáenz de Santa María, it says the following about the year 1976: “The police as well as the Guardia Civil were quite trigger-happy. The protests were usually broken up in a hail of bullets and very frequently ended with blood on the streets…” To this must be added the thousands and thousands of young workers who died from the heroin that the bourgeois state distributed in the proletarian neighborhoods. In spite of this, and in spite of the overflow of revisionism within the Mao Tse tung Thought-organizations after the death of Chairman Mao, the struggle did not cease, and the armed struggle has continued to this day.
When imperialism goes down in its final crisis, the crisis in Greece, Portugal and Spain once more strikes furiously. An economic, social, political and moral crisis that is the basis of all the struggles and mobilizations that have developed for the last few years all over the states and in all sectors. Accordingly, the report of the Elcano Institute, “Hacia una renovación estratégica de la política exterior Española” (Towards the Strategic Renewal of Spain’s Foreign Policy, February 2014), recognizes the depth of the crisis although they embellish it:
“Spain is currently going through difficulties but its contemporary history is also a history of clear political, social and economic success. It is possible that the collective project of the country has to be renewed at the same time…” That is to say, in spite of the “difficulties”, the “collective project” has been a success; or rather the bourgeois democracy is a success, although it currently needs to be somewhat reformed. “Renewal of the collective project”, which for the Spanish monopolist bourgeoisie means changes in the superstructure “that promote the participation of individuals and of civil society in the actions and decisions made” (“Hacia una renovación…”, Instituto Elcano), without changing anything; social peace at home and political stability to drive the imperialist project.
The three fundamental goals in this transformation of the superstructure are: political stability, coexistence (social peace) and territorial integrity. These changes in the superstructure would have to “put the citizens at the center of attention, empowering them in the face of globalization, promoting that they participate more in defining how Spain is connected to the world and, outside our borders, providing them with assistance and protection.” (“Hacia una renovación…”, Instituto Elcano).
We can start do draw some conclusions: it is necessary for the Spanish big bourgeoisie to make changes in the superstructure, in the state, so that the struggles of the masses do not go beyond the bourgeois framework and to redirect them towards parliamentary cretinism: “It is possible that the collective project of the country will have to be renewed at the same time, but the essential elements – in the form of the great values and interests of the citizens – continue to be valid.” (“Hacia una renovación…”, Instituto Elcano).
In the context of this final crisis of imperialism, in March 2011, in Portugal, the mobilizations of the “Precarious Generation” (“Generación precaria”) started; in May 2011 in Madrid thousands of people camped out with permission from Rubalcaba, then Minister of the Interior, starting the movement 15 M; mobilizations that were a continuation of those in Greece in 2008. On September 15th 2012 in Portugal, the biggest protests since the “Carnation Revolution” were organized. On October 15th 2011, the bourgeois press wrote about the “global protest”; all over the world protests were held, called by the so-called “indignados” (“indignants”). Meanwhile in Madrid 250 000 people protested, in Rome the day ended with hundreds of protesters confronting the police of the reactionary state. In Greece, it was the first time in a long time that protests and strikes questioned the reactionary state’s monopoly on violence. And the list goes on.
Portugal, Greece and Spain now start to walk hand in hand again. In Greece, Syriza has won the election with applause from Le Pen, in Spain Podemos turns itself into a political party and in Portugal a new Podemos is being prepared, Juntos Podemos (“Together We Can”).
Since the beginning of this new wave of mass protests, of the bourgeois state’s loss of all legitimacy among the masses, a significant part of the movement 15M has defended the state’s monopoly on violence and parliamentary cretinism, and out of that grew Podemos. In this scenario of radicalization of the masses’ struggles and of imperialist war appears the Report of the Elcano Institute, proposing the need for a new framework for coexistence. A few months later the document written by Podemos’ Preparation team for the Constituent Assembly is published: “The crisis of the regime in 1978, Podemos and the possibility of political change in Spain”, where they affirm the need for this new framework for coexistence: “We have before us the possibility and the responsibility to contribute decisively to the building of a new popular will to political change in favor of the social majorities.” I.e. a new alliance of classes that legitimizes the imperialist state.
If in the “transition” the monopolist bourgeoisie needed the workers’ aristocracy and its organizations (parties and unions), the Basque and Catalonian bourgeoisie, in order to maintain its power and drive its imperialist project, now brings the petty bourgeoisie onto the stage. We will see if Podemos’ alliance with Bildu in the Basque country and the rapprochement with Ada Colau in Catalonia will take the path of temporarily solving the problem of territorial integrity, replacing the debate about independence with the debate about the corrupted; the problem would no longer be Spain, but the “old politics”, the corrupt ones.
This, what some have called the “second transition” and the “democratic regeneration”, has already started: the head of state has been replaced. A new generational changing of the guard is taking place, where young politicians have appeared to replace the old ones, trying to create a new image, distanced from the corruption. Big newspapers with national circulation have changed their leadership. And Podemos is being promoted by bourgeois television and press.
Another thermometer to measure the de-legitimization of the bourgeois state is the degree of abstention in the most recent European elections, and while the bourgeois press emphasized the 7% of cast votes obtained by Podemos and presented it as a success, the only success was that of abstention, which reached 54,16%. Abstention was highest in the working class neighborhoods. It is not strange then that the document from Podemos’ Constituent Assembly preparation team focuses on parliamentary cretinism: “We have in front of us a year and a half which will be decisive in the history of our country. By the very timetable and development of the political crisis, elections are and will be in the center of the political dispute in this accelerated cycle”. Their objective is, again just like in the “transition”, that the struggles of the masses end up serving as support for one of the factions of the Spanish imperialist bourgeoisie and legitimizing the Spanish imperialist state.
But although Podemos’ role is to make a “left wing” in the service of the power of the monopolist bourgeoisie, there are important differences when compared to the revisionism and opportunism of the first “transition”.
Its support, according to the data of the CIS from November 2014 on the social base of Podemos, is not the working class but the petty bourgeoisie, middle class professionals who work in qualified or well-paid professions and with extensive educational background. A petty bourgeoisie that has also been hit by the crisis, and whose only objective is to go back to the “good old days” and that their children shall not have to emigrate to be able to live like the bourgeois.
In the program of Podemos the working class does not exist, there are only citizens. This is class conciliation. The only thing the working class can expect is scraps. There is no real revolutionary measure, neither confiscation of big capital nor agrarian reform. This is the line of the declarations of Jesús Montero, member of the Citizens’ Council, the Central Committee of Podemos, who in a recent conversation with John Carlín affirmed that “There are two business cultures. One is that of caste, the other wants to contribute to social welfare, like the Botín family in the Santander Bank”, and went on insisting that “Yes! I am convinced that there are businessmen with good intentions”.
In the first paragraph of the first point of Podemos‘ program one can see that there is a special interest in the middle and petty bourgeoisie, as well as in the business of the Podemos leadership, proposing the “promotion of the prominent role of the small and medium business in creating jobs, highlighting the role of the companies of social economy. A policy of public hiring that is favorable to the small and medium business that includes social clauses in the adjudication of the contracts”. For the working class: “Reduction of the working day to 35 hours per week and the retirement age to 60 years, as mechanisms to fairly redistribute work and wealth, in favor of family reconciliation.” More “minimum wage” or “non-taxed pensions”.
One can only say that what Podemos considers to be measures to redistribute wealth are only means to redistribute misery. In a sudden attack of sincerity, the “proposal for debate to solve the problems of the Spanish economy” written by the economists Vicenc Navarro and Juan Torres López on Podemos’ behalf states: “The incomplete character of our democracy and its practically complete absence in the financial institutions is the main obstacle that we encounter to be able to apply policies that shall not be as antisocial as those that are currently being applied.” When they shall solve these obstacles, there will be antisocial policies, but “not as antisocial”. It is not an error in the document; they do not see beyond capitalism and imperialism.
It is impossible to collectivize wealth without changing the mechanisms for its distribution, and we have already seen their measures: dividing the working hours and lowering the retirement age. To better understand Podemos’ economic proposal, the professor of economic structure, Andrés Niño-Becerra explained to a media channel his opinions on the proposal: “The 68 pages of their economic program have two good ideas; (…) and the second – although they do not say it – is that there are four million people left out. And since we are not going to gas them, one must give them something to live on. The basic income.”
In the document from Navarro and Torres López they also affirm that the capitalist economy has no laws, only particular wills: “We put forward this document convinced that the situation that we have come to and want to get out of is not the result of any natural law or of unavoidable circumstances, but of a succession of many antidemocratic impositions by the most powerful, but very small, groups in our society, of politics unwanted by the majority of the population, politics that only aim to consolidate the privileges, the benefits and the power of those above. Hence our efforts are directed towards revealing their true nature and promoting alternatives that are explicitly beneficial to the popular classes and for the immense majority of society.”
Inventing contradictions that only exist in the heads of the petty bourgeoisie, “democracy”, “markets”, or with the rhetoric of the “hijacking of democracy”, they try to hide some fundamental laws of the development of imperialism and its mechanisms of distribution of wealth:
1:The overproduction crises are inevitable
2:All the rights conquered by the masses and their struggles are knocked down by the crisis. The conquered rights are only temporary in capitalism.
3:Concerning the distribution of wealth, Lenin masterfully summarized how this takes place in capitalism in its imperialist stage:
” By destroying small-scale production, capital leads to an increase in productivity of labour and to the creation of a monopoly position for the associations of big capitalists. Production itself becomes more and more social—hundreds of thousands and millions of workers become bound together in a regular economic organism—but the product of this collective labour is appropriated by a handful of capitalists.” (Lenin – The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism)
Therefore, while millions of workers earning their wages continue to be poor – the salary is not enough to live on any more – a few who do not work, the owners of the large means of production, accumulate the wealth created in society. One does not have to be a great brainy theoretician to know that no one gets rich by working. But they do need theoreticians to hide the fact that the salary in capitalist society is a robbery.
To this one must add, as Podemos’ own contribution, the constant affirmations that while they are people of the “left”, their politics are “neither left nor right”, which as we have seen means that there are good bankers, and that – as we shall see – the working class must be controlled. Hence their proposal to create a “Commission of Participation in the European Commission that, nominated and elected by the Parliament, shall have the mandate to promote, drive and verify that the citizens’ participation be a central element of the European construction. Setting in motion some obligatory Participative Budgets in all the fields of the administration (local, autonomous, national and European), and, gradually a participative democracy in all the fields, aiming for a European constituent process”.
This “commissary” is very reminiscent of the National System of Social Mobilization (SINAMOS) that the fascist Velasco Alvarado implemented in Peru. A network of “organizers” for the mobilization and participation of the masses with the purpose of organizing them and channeling their mobilizations towards supporting the reactionary state, while at the same time trying to prevent that the communists and revolutionaries organize the masses against the imperialist state. This shows the profound crisis of the Spanish state and the need of the imperialist state to control all the mobilizations of the masses; this will be Podemos’ role, as an “opposition” party or as a party in government.
This role is a fundamental one, because the Spanish state is at war and needs a “left” that demobilizes and keeps watch, while it supports the imperialist aggressions of the Spanish state. On this last point, keep in mind Monedero’s (one of the three top leaders of Podemos) support for the imperialist intervention in Syria, when he signed a manifesto that said: “The Arabs are victims of the commercial cynicism that governs international relations, that evaluates in each case when it is convenient to intervene or not, always according to the interests other than those of the affected populations. Our condemnation does not harbor any request for western military intervention nor the imposition of a medieval siege against the people of Syria. We openly reject – as do the Syrians themselves, who fight for their liberty – any form of military pressure or colonial tutelage. But we resist accepting that nothing can be done about what is happening in Syria, that passiveness and silence support the crimes that are being committed in Syria.”
Today, when Syria and Iraq are being bombarded in a criminal way by an alliance headed by the genocidal Obama in the name of “freedom” and “progress”, when Spanish troops participate in the genocide in the name of “democracy” – from Podemos we know nothing but their silence. This imperialist war is also a war to legitimize the imperialist states that present themselves as the most advanced of mankind in the face of barbarism. To legitimize them before the masses that live in the imperialist countries as well.
The Report of the Elcano Institute says: “At the same time, and this is a slightly neglected dimension of the interior-exterior connection, a greater influence in the world from an identity more coherent with its condition of advanced and pluralist democracy, that the citizens aspire to, may feed back internally the improvement of coexistence and the quality of democracy, in a time of deterioration of the legitimacy of the political system. For example, a greater commitment from the Spanish state to the international respect for fundamental rights and liberties, a greater activism in the creation of global government property and, in general, the affirmation of cosmopolitan values together with other advanced democracies, may contribute to many citizens reconciling (or reinforcing their identification) with the project of the country.” Thus their silence about this war betrays them. The silence concerning the Spanish colonies Ceuta and Melilla betrays them again; they are their master’s voice.