XIII. The Situation in the Class

Portugal - The Impossible Revolution? -- Phil Mailer

XIII. THE SITUATION IN THE CLASS

While the North was exploding in a spate of 'anti-communist' actions the South was evolving quite differently. The political crisis was deepening. The newly formed Sixth Government and the 'Council of the Revolution' were opposed by wide sections of society and from many directions simultaneously. In many respects the Sixth Government only had a nominal reality. Not one but several 'parallel' states existed in Portugal at this time.

The breakdown of the state apparatus had two immediate results. The first and most important was that the workers (both industrial and agricultural) could exert greater pressure on employers. The second was that the various groups, to wt support, treated all demands in a completely demagogic way. The press manipulations the front organisations passing themselves off as 'united, non-party groups', the 'triumphalist' lies on the radio and in the press (an optimism gone crazy) all increased.

The PCP had a foot in the Sixth Government but was also opposing it from the outside. FUR and the UDP, in their different ways, issued calls for a 'Revolutionary Workers' Government'. Their projects of state capitalism (FUR) and of 'national independence' had more force at the level of the media than in terms of real support. The platform of FUR, decided upon on August 25, 1975, saw the COPCON document and a PCP document 'Lines of programmed action and the tasks of transition' as a basis of common action. After the split with the PCP, FUR could still explain the need for its own existence as follows:

'Now that the revolutionary process is in a certain impasse ... it is necessary to close ranks and prepare for combat. The bourgeoisie is trying to regain ground lost after March 11th and we must oppose the reactionary forces with a revolutionary offensive. At this moment, when reactionary forces are spreading confusion and disunity amongst the workers ... it is necessary to unite the revolutionary forces against social democracy and fascism'. (A Capital, September 12, 1975). For FUR the greatest enemies were the PS, the PPD and the extreme right (which used these groups as cloaks). Reaction was undoubtedly on the offensive. There were reports of CIA money pouring into Portugal (New York Times, September 25, 1975). False 20 dollar notes were being passed round to the tune of $7 million. Vast amounts of Russian money were also reaching both Portugal and Angola.

FUR, now reduced to a strange rump of six groups (MDP, PRP-BR, FSP, MES, LUAR, and LCI) issued a manifesto on September 9 (see Appendix 22). They blamed the Church, the Nine, the Angolan refugees, the 'economic groups', the 'coup-makers within the Armed Forces'. They warned that the dissolution of various units (like the Fifth Division) was preparing the ground for a right-wing putsch. FUR's stock in trade was the manipulation of the spectacular and their use of the press and media will be examined separately.

Land occupations were increasing. By the end of September 393,000 hectares had been taken over by 10,800 workers. 1 By November it was to be over a million hectares. Thus during two months the number of occupations had more than trebled. The main reason was the lack of state control. The bureaucrats and officials had been slow in establishing their inventories and in developing their state capitalist policies for agricultural production. The GNR (always the mainstay of stability in the countryside) was partly neutralised. In this context, the agrarian revolution surged forward. Workers took the law into their own hands. They went ahead and occupied, without worrying about the 'neces-sary' formalities, i.e. without being unduly concerned about legal 'requirements' such as getting the support of the IRA. The feeling was that this was the time to occupy, as the GNR was weak. Hundreds of agricultural workers force d through occupations in the regions of Beja, Portalegre,Evora,Setubal,Santaram,Lisbon,Faro and Castelo Branco. The weakness of the state apparatus enabled the technicians of IRA promptly to legalise most of the occupations.

The names of the new cooperatives speak for themselves: 'Go to hell', 'Now or never', 'New souls', 'Wall of steel', 'Shining star', 'Liberty or death', 'Soldier Luis', 'Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho', ... but also 'Red star', 'Freedom or fascism', 'Vasco Goncalves' and even 'Bento de Jesus Caraca' (an old PCP militant and mathematician).

POPULAR ASSEMBLIES

The base groups, in many areas, fully appreciated the need to co-ordinate their struggles. Parochialism was not one of their weaknesses. They were also deeply aware of the need for self-defence which, on their own, they would have had difficulty in providing. Soldiers and workers alike attempted to set up contacts at a non-party level. The various leninist groups functioned within these autonomous organisations but had to hide their party colours if they wanted to take part.

In Marvila, near Lisbon Airport, the troops of RAL-1 met with the CMs and CTs. Some 23 such committees, collectives and cooperatives set up what became known as a Popular Assembly, which defined itself and its tasks as follows:

The Marvila Popular Assembly 1. is the organisation of workers and local inhabitants of Marvila. It is autonomous and non-party, and seeks to represent their interests at all levels. 2. recognises the CTs and CMs already elected. 3. will reinforce the alliance between the popular masses and the MFA, guaranteed by the CMs and CTs and by the ADUs (Assemblies of Unit Delegates) of RAL-1. 4. aims at mobilising for a socialist society, contributing to the solution of the most pressing problems. 5. represents the class aspirations and organisations of the workers. 6. should progressively replace the organs of the state apparatus, already decrepit and inefficient, taking into its own hands the power to legislate, at a local level, over all problems which affect the workers. The Marvila Popular Assembly is composed of CMs and CTs, with one representative of the Parish Junta and one representative of the Social Centres. There will be one delegate from the collectives of Marvila with less than 200 members and two delegates from collectives with 1000 members. There will also be representatives of the ADUs of RAL-1.

The first action of the Assembly was the collection and sifting of information about the area: companies in difficulty, cases of economic sabotage, problems of housing, transport and sewage disposal, etc.

Many other Popular Assemblies were coming into being or'were being planned at this time (early September 1975). Most were in the Lisbon area but Assemblies had appeared in Faro, Coimbra, Porto, Braga. PS members participated in certain areas but on the whole party involvement was limited to groups to the left of the Socialist Party.

Houses were occupied, parks created. Social centres sprung up where none had existed. In general a great explosion of energy was witnessed. Even in northern towns, condemned as 'reactionary' and 'anti-communist', self-activity aimed at improving people's own living areas was not totally absent.

In Setubal the Popular Assembly decreed a ceiling on monthly rents of 500 escudos per room. This 'social rent' was practiced throughout the town. A kitty was set up to improve neighbourhoods, build recreation centres and plan parks and common grounds.

The coming together of soldiers from the ADUs and of delegates concerned both with work (from the CTs) and with housing (from the CMs) represents an interesting attempt to break down the barriers traditionally separating these functions. But as in so many other areas, forms alone were insufficient. The most active militants in the Popular Assemblies were leninists of one kind or another - with all that that, implies in terms of behaviour and concerns.

EVERYDAY LIFE IN THE CO-OPERATIVES

There can be no meaningful revolutionary upheaval without a change in how people live. If one compares everyday life in 1975 with what it had been in 1973, or even 1974, there was clearly a difference. The external signs were obvious enough. Politicians toured the villages in the South, holding 3 to 5 large meetings per day, in which they would 'turn nice marxist phrases round in their mouths'. The radio stations blared out songs of 'revolt'. But the gestures and cultural habits were also in upheaval and it is here that the most important changes were taking place. It was in the depth of this feeling that the real revolution was seeking to develop. It is much easier to change regimes than to change lives.

If the workers struggle successfully, the only person to lose out is the boss. It is he who panics, flees, has a heart attack or emigrates to Brazil. The workers are dazed, left to start anew. Their stories sometimes tell in a few lines what pages of statistics cannot possibly convey.

The agricultural cooperative of Casebres was set up in February 1975 and comprised almost 4000 hectares. In many ways it had been a model occupation and it now promised to be a model cooperative, an example to others. The old bosses had left the land fallow, using parts of it as hunting grounds for Portuguese rrea:ati undiarios and their German and American friends. Now the soil had been turned and was growing a variety of crops. The Workers were full blooded communists: the land and everything on it was for everyone, they said. In March 1975th ey erected a large sign at the entrance proclaiming 'the Dicratorship of the Proletariat'.

Alvaro Cunhal was to visit the cooperative and a troop of aides went ahead to sound out the reception. The sign at the gate was 'ideologically correct', the PCP explained, but would have to come down. 'The elections had to be won'. 'But it's in your writings', one of the workers argued. 'We saw it there'. 'There's some mistake, the PCP delegate explained. 'Our Seventh Party Congress voted against the dictatorship of the proletariat'. 'See, it's here', the workers insisted, taking out a well-thumbed copy of The Works of Marx and Engels to prove it. The PCP militants from Lisbon were completely at a loss.

This story shows a deep sense of class justice and communist principle. In an RTP interview carried out by a PCP crew with workers from a cooperative near Evora, the commentator was interrupted as he was repeating the usual slogan: 'the land to those who work it'. A worker said the slogan was incorrect. It should be 'the land to all who work'. He then explained how the cooperative functioned: 'this man takes more because he needs more, that man takes less because he needs less'.

There were darker sides too. In a cooperative with two tractors there were often squabbles over who should work them. At Aveiras de Cima, a self-managed farm about 40 km north of Lisbon, this problem was to lead to fighting between workers. Other problems related to the division of labour were also, at times, at the root of bitter disputes. Housework was a case in point. In the canteen of the 'Comuna' (a 19th century mansion belonging to the Duke of Lafoes, which included a library, meeting rooms, a school and a medical centre) a sign bluntly proclaimed 'He who leaves his dirty dishes in the sink for someone else to wash up leaves behind his socialism'. A meeting had criticised the lack of initiative of the men in this area and a 'strike' by the women had forced the work to be divided more evenly. Despite this, and despite their complaints, the women continued to do the housework and washing up.

The allocation of tasks varied from cooperative to cooperative. In the better organised ones a rota was set up. But often work was not done, when it should have been. In most instances it was just left at that. But there were cases where workers disciplined other workers.

Another problem was drunkenness. After France, Portugal is the country which consumes the most alcohol per inhabitant. At least that's what the OECD says. But with all the home-made brews (both wines and aguardentes) Portugal might well consume more. Most of the wine is drunk in the countryside. In coopera-tives near Evora many men consumed up to 5 litres per day. Some drank even more.

At the cooperative of Torre Bela, in the region of Azambuja (north of Lisbon) the women held a meeting to discuss the drinking habits of the men. It was decided that they were drinking too much and that a limit had to be set. A compromise was worked out: the limit would be 4 litres!

Drunkenness often highlighted sharp divisions. There were fights and rowdiness, and production suffered. In many places the house of the ex-owner had been occupied, together with his land. As many as 8 or 10 people would move in. The men sat around the fire, drinking and talking late into the night and causing others to lose sleep and feel tired the following day.

The Nefil furniture factory near Porto had gone into self-management late in 1974. Shop floor relations improved greatly and one of the most popular 'improvements had been the construction of a bar on the premises. The only problem was that the workers began using it. Production slumped. When a member of the CT was found snoring merrily under one of the machines, a meeting was called and resolved to close down the bar. The workers later rescinded this decision and voted to keep the bar open - during certain hours. This case was not unique.

Drunkenness often produced amusing results. During the election campaign of April 1975 it was made illegal to tear down other people's posters. Many MRPP militants were imprisoned in Lisbon for doing this (they concentrated on PCP posters). One middle-aged member of a cooperative was rounded up by the police for tearing down a PS poster. The man was obviously drunk. He had used the poster to wrap up a piece of chicken. When the police searched him, they found ... a membership card of the Socialist Party.

Many party militants took the electoral campaign with a seriousness bordering on mania. Legalistic attitudes were rampant throughout Portugal. Everything is tied up in red tape and endless signatures are needed to complete any legal business. Many parties began their campaign early, an hour or two before midnight. Some people, busy tearing down the posters of all parties, were threatened by PPD militants: the police would be called. The poster-strippers pointed out that there were still ten minutes to go an J that the regulations didn't yet apply. The PPD militants felt outwitted and left. Others took things in a less docile manner. Street battles were fought at gun point between the MRPP and PCP. On one occasion UDP militants dumped an MRPP member, found tampering with one of their notices, into the river. He couldn't swim and drowned. In general the forces of COPCON turned up to 'restore order'.

In most cases they gave more support to the PCP than to the 'illegal' MRPP.

The state capitalist parties to the left of the PCP were often extremely puritanical. The Maoists were notorious in this respect, idealising asceticism and monogamy and being very heavy about extramarital relations. There were many young workers who left the MRPP because, as the Portuguese say, they 'liked their glasses'. The parties in a sense reinforced the traditional moralism in the country at large.

Despite all the freedom to demonstrate and go to meetings, everyday attitudes and relations hadn't changed all that much. Men still went to the tascas and women, while they could now go to meetings, usually remained at home. There had been more change in the rural cooperatives than in the cities.

Clearly the mode of living was not altered overnight. The setting up of creches which was taking place all over the country was something positive. It was not an outcome of state planning. It liberated women from child-minding. But the level of unemployment being some 12% it didn't just 'liberate' them in order to drag them into the factories. Creches were on the whole organised by local women, often helped by progressive teachers and other young professionals, through the Neighbourhood Committees. Many parks were also built.

Within the cooperatives and self-managed factories working relations changed in a definite way. Workers had more freedom to come and go. In many cases they could come late and go even later. What was important was not being parasitical on the work of others. But this awareness varied from place to place. In some instances the CTs began to behave as though they were the new bosses. Decisions were not always taken in common and members of some Committees occasionally went around snooping on the workers. The textiles factory of Jotocar in Vila Nova de Gaia near Porto was a case in point. The CT, which consisted of members of the Union of Textile Workers, spent more time doing 'national' political work than concerning itself with problems of the factory. For this it was 'fired' by the workers, who accused it of being party-orientated (PCP). In many other cases the workers weren't so vigilant and the CT became a bureaucratised organisation having little contact with its base. At the agricultural cooperative of Torre Bela (where the mansion had belonged to the Duke of Lafbes) Camilo Mortigna, leading CT member and ex-LUAR militant, had commandeered the master-bedroom. But he also spent more time on other cooperatives than on his own.

Such cases, and the frictions they produced, caused an upheaval in everyday life. Attempts to resolve the subsequent problems provided a rich lesson in understanding.

The cooperatives were what their members made them. Some were far more radical than others. Coopera-tives with names like 'Red Star' or 'The Steps of Lenin' functioned through instructions received from the 'Union of Agricultural Workers' in the PCP stronghold of Beja. Life there changed very little, though the work was organised communally and members could not avoid some of the problems inherent in this. Other, more autonomous, cooperatives tried to establish quite different working relations to deal with their problems.

Take for instance Argea, a village of about 300 inhabitants, 20 kms from Santarem. The cooperative there was set up initially by a group of intellectuals from Lisbon. Because of the level of unemployment in the village it quickly integrated many of the local inhabitants. The latter, in fact, soon became a majority. The initial suspicion with which the inhabitants had viewed the cooperative was eventually transformed into enthusiastic support. A collectivised butcher's shop was set up in the village (to the annoyance of the resident butcher who was forced to lower is prices ).A communal canteen was established. People not connected with the cooperative could eat there, provided they helped in a rota of duties shared by all supporters.

Perhaps the most difficult problem of all was the organisation of living accommodation on the occupied farms. Space was scarce and when only two or three houses existed they had to be shared. The family unit underwent a certain change. The idea of individual families struggling on their own was overcome: the economic survival of the cooperative was a communal preoccupation.

At a cooperative in Unhais da Serra (see Chapter 11) the workers asked for troops to be sent to protect them from an expected attack by the bosses. The two soldiers lust hung around all day with their G3s (automatic rifles)'. When it was discovered that they were having sex with some of the wives, their welcome was cut short. One of the workers said that it had been wrong to ask for outside help and that it was up to them to defend themselves.

Attitudes to sexual matters always provide a rich insight into the fabric of everyday life. In Portugal sexual moralism was rampant due to the influence of the Catholic Church. There are many expressions of derision in Portuguese, usually directed against women. Women were held responsible for 'loose morality' rather than men.

There were also class responses to sexual problems. When in the late summer of 1975 the whole of Portugal was inundated by 'revolutionaries' from all over Europe they often brought with them problems which the Portuguese workers could have dispensed with. Emigration to Portugal had always been a predominantly bourgeois phenomenon and foreign residents in Portugal rarely spoke to the natives. They lived in their Algarve villas or in their Estoril and Cascais 'foreign communities'. The new 'revolutionary tourists' were different. They came to Portugal to see the revolutionary process. Many visited the agricultural cooperatives, to 'work' alongside the workers there. They stayed for a month or six weeks, and then moved on At first they were welcomed.

In many ways these visitors created more problems than they helped solve. They had little respect for the autonomy of the workers and little understanding for the deep, personal meaning of their struggles. In many cases they went so far as to tell the workers how best to manage their problems. At Torre Bela, for example, the workers decided to limit the number of 'assistants' to 6. The 8 foreigners who were there at the time held a meeting of their own and 'decided not to agree with this decision'. The workers were annoyed, but tried to explain the situation in class terms. 'You, in your German university, may have certain problems. We help by sending good wines and cheeses to you. During your holidays you can come here and work. But do you think we can go to the director of your university and tell him how to run the place?'.

In the late summer of 1975 some Swedish leftists visited Portugal, staying in various cooperatives, including 'Estrela Vermelha' and 'Torre Bela'. The women often appeared in the fields scantily dressed. The contrast between these girls, naked under their jeans and tee-shirts and heavily-clad, browbeaten working wives was enormous. When sexual relations began to develop between the men and these girls, the women of the cooperative felt hurt and betrayed. They met and discussed the problem and decided to throw these bourgeois girls out. Whatever comments one cares to make about the 'opportunism' of the men, the behaviour of the girls was experienced as a form of terrorism by the other women.

Many such problems were thrown up in the day-to-day lives of the workers. They were resolved (and not resolved) in a variety of ways. Discussion in any case was rampant, sometimes formal, sometimes not, and here the richest experiences were lived.

Things at times reached surrealist levels. A latifundario in Elvas happened also to be the owner of the local taxi company. His lands had been occupied and his drivers thought this was a good example. They turned up in force at the Centre for Agrarian Reform, and asked that the take-over of their taxis be legalised.

People's behaviour did not always follow a 'rational' pattern. Many workers were upset by this, but that was life. When a cooperative was faced with chaos because of internal problems, some of the older workers threatened to leave. Some did. They went back to their villages and sought work there. Some later returned and were reintegrated. Others never came back.

BEYOND LOCAL WORKERS' COMMITTEES?

Many of the 700 cooperatives only survived because of the overtime being worked or as a result of loans granted by the government. The cooperatives faced all the problems confronting private companies ... and more. Boycotted by international enterprises and denied markets they survived by two interrelated methods.

Firstly, through credits. It was estimated by one of the leaders of the Confederation of Portuguese Industry that paper money in circulation during the last 6 months of 1975 had increased from 1.1 to 3.7 billion escudos. Many of the companies in self-management would have gone bust had it not been for the steady growth of bank-lending. Such an increase in paper money meant an inflation rate of between 50% and 100%. The granting of credits to both industrial and agricultural units was a political manipulation of the highest order. PCP cooperatives could be sure of credit from the Fifth Government, while PS cooperatives had to wait for the Sixth.

The second system of support for the cooperatives came from the workers themselves. By 'dealing among themselves' they provided a parallel internal market. The 'Cooperative of April 25th' started building houses for the shanty towns, having won an order for 600 flats. Lisnave shipyard workers gave their order for boiler-suits to companies in self-management. Agricultural cooperatives organised markets through Neighbourhood Committees and sold their products directly to the population. The Setubal Federation of Neighbourhood Committees got their products from the agricultural cooperatives in the region of Azambuja, while Neigh-bourhood Committees in Lisbon supported the coopera-tives of Alcacer and Evora.

But if the Workers' Committees were to provide a real alternative to capital they would sooner or later have to face up to some political and institutional problems. The most important was how to organise themselves into a larger federation. This was talked about on many occasions, but it was usually the political parties who were behind such moves, not the workers themselves. 'Politics' couldn't be divided. One couldn't help relating, in one way or another, to all that was going on. Workers' Committees made political choices everyday, either meeting in F lena nos or taking initiatives themselves. Thousands 0 communique's were published by the papers. Here is an example, published in Republica on September 27,1975. The workers of Entroposto (Set4bal EIA, Lda - a car repairs unit) met in an assembly on September 22 and decided to:

1) Support the people of Porto in their struggle against fascist laws used by the civil governor of that city in an attempt to close down the Municipal Council. 2) Support the manifesto of SUV (Soldiers United Will Win) and the demonstrations called by that organisation. 3) Support the rural workers of Alentejo in their revolutionary struggle. 4) Support the just struggle of disabled ex-service-men, victims of the shameful colonial wars waged by the fascist regime against both colonial and Portuguese people. 5) Support the struggle of the workers of Republica and Radio Renascenca in defence of popular power and of information at the service of the workers and their organisations. In some instances (as at Auto Succo) workers occupied the Lisbon branch of a firm and sent telex messages to the Porto section Timex workers made international phone calls, asking for solidarity, but their enthusiasm was damped when managers, rather than workers, answered at the other end of the line. But what was noteworthy in all cases was the class solidarity, the support given by workers to other workers.

Inter-Empresas, formed in December 1974, had now fragmented into various 'Inters', controlled by different political factions. They even fought over the salvage of the fragments. On September 13 some 50 CTs in the Lisbon industrial belt held a conference in the Copam factory, the general theme being 'Advancing the Revolution'. One of the decisions taken was to call a rigorously non-party' demonstration on September 18. The factories taking part included Copam, Fima, Robbialac, Cora me, Volvo, Lever, Luso-Italiano, Autosil, Sorefame, J. Pimenta, H. Parry & Son, etc. The demonstration wouldn't end up in Sao Bento, where the Constituent Assembly sat, but in the Pargue Eduardo.

During the demonstration (which was supported by the PCP) certain elements, devoid of much imagination, began shouting 'Vasco, Vasco'. The demonstration was then recognised as having been a PCP demonstration, which was unjust to those workers who took part in it and didn't belong to the Party or didn't agree with it.

Another attempted regroupment was the 'Federation of Covilha'. Covuha was a town in the Centre, in which many textile factories were concentrated, and which had a rich history of workers' struggles. Here, over 90 CTs met during the weekend of September 26-27,1975.52 of the CTs represented had been mandated by their plenarios. The basis of representation (i.e. the voting and speaking rights) at this Congress of Factory Committees was as follows: Enterprises of less than 100 workers 1 vote Right to speak 200 - 1000 workers 2 votes Right to speak 1000 -4000 workers 4 votes Right to speak Over 4000 workers 6 votes Right to speak Neighbourhood Committees 0 votes Right to speak Soldiers and Sailors' Committees 0 votes Right to speak Unions 0 votes No right to speak Political parties 0 votes No right to speak Topics discussed at the Congress included: Workers' Control (forms production and working hours, unemployment,control exercised by CTs over consumption, self-management, etc.), arming the working class, purges, workers-peasants alliances, nationalisations, etc.

The secretariat of the Federation accused certain Workers' Committees of sectarianism in relation to the Congress: 'We are non- party, but still insist that the question of the party of the working class is a question which must be resolved. Our position is clear: the Congress is open to all delegates of organisations which, by their programme, politics and practice, support the organs of popular power, realise their importance and defend these organs... These CTs have their own political significance. What is important is the simple fact that they are meeting in a National Congress to discuss, not just the problems of their own factories or economic sectors, but a whole spectrum of general political problems of importance to the working class.' The secretariat condemned the fact that the PCP had organised a boycott of the Congress by organising a picnic in Coimbra for the same weekend, through the auspices of the Southern Textiles Unions. 'While at the level of Intersindical they defend unicidade, at the level of the Workers' Committees they can take such an attitude (as boycotting the Congress), ignoring the fact that this Congress is op en to all Workers' Committees which are freely elected and revocable.

'We doubt that the demonstration of September 18 was rigorously non-party. We know that most of those CTs belonged to a well-defined political tendency. But if they were democratically elected in their factories, if they accept the principle of free revocability, if they defend the fullest democracy in the plenarios, meetings and ideological discussions within their own factories, then those CTs are representative. We don't consider it incorrect to defend a political line. What is incorrect is for them to have a sectarian attitude in relation to our secretariat and to Inter-comissoes, and that they play party politics,hiding under the cloak of non-partyism.'We think the political situation calls for the unification and centralisation of the organs of political power. Today everyone talks about the return to fascism and about swings to the right. The question, for us, is knowing who is politically responsible for this. The responsibility must fall on the political forces who participated in government until now, and who continue with their pacts, conciliations and betrayals of the interests of the people. It is they who op en the door for a return to fascism. 'These elements are now trying to recover the political initiative, trying to manipulate incentives of this kind, covering them with a non-party cloak while mobilising certain CTs. 'It is important to stress that we are not against these CTs having a political line. This line seems to us to be incorrect, but if these CTs are representative of the working class then this line must be discussed.'

Secretariat of Inter-commisoes(Inter-empresas)set. 27 1975 This Covilha Congress was, however, supported by the MRPP and thousands of their highly characteristic red and yellow 'n on-party' posters had appeared All over the country, publicising it in factories and public places. The MRPP had infiltrated the original Inter-Empresas and through such CTs as Efacec-Inel (see Chapter 11) were now attempting to infiltrate all the other Workers' Committees related to this 'Inter'. The above document criticised the PCP and Intersindical but failed even to hint at the MRPP's own role in the whole project of coordination. The Congress elected a new secretariat which included the factories of Hoechst (Porto), Celnorte (Viana do Castelo), Cravinhos (Covilha), TAP (Lisbon), Cambournac, Efacec-Inel, Timex, Plessey, Sacor, etc. The CTs of Cambournac, Efacec-Inel and Celnorte were heavily MRPP-orientated.

Another attempt at federation was the attempt to create TUV Committees (Workers United Will Win) based on the SUV model (see Chapter 14). This attempt was more propagandistic than real, being launched by the PCP-controlled Diario de Noticias.

The weakness of the state apparatus, and the discredit in which the political parties found themselves, left the task and burden of self-organisation firmly in the hands (and on the shoulders) of the workers. Both the state and the political parties were aware of this reality and attempted to manipulate it by creating supra-party structures. The PCP were most notorious in this respect, the MRPP coming a close second. The PS too, realising its falling support within the working class, were present in Covlha.

These experiences provide rich lessons in the tech-niques of manipulation - and in methods of resisting them. But these lessons were not assimilated fast enough. The majority of the workers who wanted to fight capitalism never took the lead themselves. It was during this period that they could most easily have taken the initiative - but they didn't. Some, admittedly, were moving in this direction. Party banners were prohibited on demonstrations (there were workers who forced groups like LCI to take down their banners and shouted 'here there are no parties'). People moved from a situation which ridiculed the claims of particular vanguard parties to a situation where they were openly saying that there were too many vanguards. What was needed was to go a step further - and see that vanguards were superfluous. If the parties could not bring about radical change - and if radical change was what one wanted - one would have to consider alternative means of achieving it. If the dream was to become reality, self-mobilisation on an enormous scale would have to be undertaken and certain new institutions created. Throughout the whole of the Portuguese revolution this was to remain the biggest problem of all. And it was to remain unsolved.