XVI. A Balance Sheet

Portugal - The Impossible Revolution?
-- Phil Mailer

XVI. A BALANCE SHEET

THE STRENGTHENING OF STATE CAPITALISM

The almost spectacular indifference with which most workers reacted to the
events of November 25 is not difficult to understand, Neither the Nine/FMU
nor the PCP/FUR had anything relevant to offer in relation to their
fundamental needs, to their real life. To choose the one rather than the
other was to choose one boss in preference to another. In many ways the
forces which came out on top on November 25 were the ones which appeared to
offer the easiest way out, for to carry through the projects of FUR or
COPCON would have brought the wrath of Europe and America down on the
workers' heads.

Sometime during the afternoon of the 25th the Central Committee of the PCP
had drawn certain conclusions. They had two choices: a) to support the
paras and call for street mobilisation. This, most probably, would have led
to a 'Lisbon and Alentejo Commune', rejected by the rest of the country but
which might have survived a few weeks. Such an 'adventure', they must have
calculated, would have lost them the entire leadership of the crisis. Power
would be lying in the streets and on the barricades, and there they would
be outflanked. b) to hold back, to compromise with 'the Nine' (through
Costa Gomes) and to seek to reap what benefits they could from this. Given
the state capitalist nature of the Party, the second strategy was the less
dangerous. Although they would lose their power in the ministries, they
would retain considerable control over the state infrastructures, i.e. in
the unions, the CMs, the CTs, the co-operatives and the media.

In any event the turnout on November 25 had been poor. The PCP was faced
with the prospect of losing everything. It decided to throw to the wolves
the officers it had used in the weeks prior to November 25. In return it
would keep its place in the government. 'The Nine' knew they couldn't
control the workers on their own. They needed the PCP. Brigadier Charais
said as much in a radio interview on November 29.

As in all Portuguese crises to date the outcome was an extension of state
control: the remaining capital of 8 newspapers and of all radio stations
was nationalised. But it wasn't so much nationalisation that was on the
mind of 'the Nine': it was control of that vast section of the economy
already in the hands of the state (65% according to official statistics,
though other reports -that of the Banco Pinto Magalhies for instance - put
the figure as high as 74%). Five morning and three evening papers were
given new managements. Information became a major state prerogative. 0
Seculo, Diario de Noticias, A Capital, Jornal de Noticias, Diaro de Lisboa,
Diario Popular, Jornal do Comercio and Comercio do Porto as well as a
variety of state owned magazines and radio stations received major
'overhauls'. The PCP, despite its machinations, lost many of its positions
in the media. The political parties, perhaps to their own surprise,
survived November 25. Those inheriting the newly strengthened state
apparatus realised that political parties (left or right) were a necessary
ingredient of the democratic camouflage. All the parties (PPD, PS, PCP, CDS
FUR, UDP, PCP-ml and MRPP) were invited 'for talks' at Belem on Sunday,
November 30. On learning he was only to be received by a presidential aide,
Arnaldo Matos, leader of the MRPP, took his usual 'bourgeois enfant
terrible' stance - and left his own aide to do the talking. It was typical
of the personality of the leninist leaders.

The autonomous workers' groups (i.e. those outside party, or 'non-party'
party fronts) received most of the stick. A search for weapons was started.
The GNR (now rearmed) 'investigate if over 40 cooperatives and autonomous
proletarian organisations. The local Infantry School and GNR threw a cordon
around the cooperative at Aveiras de Cima, in Ribatejo. The workers were
herded out into the cold night, in their bedclothes. 'Where are the guns? '
No one answered. The GNR began to search, finding one G3. No one owned up.
There were threats of arrests. A worker owned up for the rest; two men were
arrested all the same. 'All living together, eh? Sleeping together, too? 'a
GNR officer smirked. No one answered. Some factories were likewise searched
as were the Popular Clinics of Santa Cruz and Cova de Piedade.

The PRP headquarters were raided, but then a raid there was almost 'de
rigueur' in view of their boasts about weapons. None were found. Had they
been distributed? Were they hidden elsewhere (for an even bigger
'emergency')? Had they ever existed? Captain Fernandes (who had certainly
distributed 1500 G3 automatic rifles and had then sensibly disappeared) was
declared a deserter and an order for his arrest sent out. These searches,
aimed at bringing the organisations into line, were to continue right up to
March 1976.

The main repercussion of November 25 was a strengthening of the state
apparatus, allowing it a more coherent and united approach to control and
'planning'. This required the modification of other projects of state
control. This was achieved rather drastically, through a series of purges
in various ministries - in particular the Ministries of the Economy, of
Internal Affairs and of Agriculture and Fisheries. More specifically it
required firmer control over the workers' organisations and over the Army.
The differences between the two technocratic projects ('Nine'-PS and
PCP-FUR) can be looked at from an economic point of view, though obviously
there were wider ramifications. The proposed 'solutions' differed in the
pace of the nationalisations envisaged and in the sectors to be
nationalised. What constituted the 'commanding heights' of the economy
depended on the general direction chosen for the 'development of the
productive forces' and this in turn was related to international agreement
between various states. The Nine never questioned the principle of
nationalisation: the argument was about the areas or sectors considered
most in need of development.

What people thought was the collapse of capitalism was in act a crisis
which allowed this mode of production to advance. The private monopolies
had been neutralised and the various technocratic groups struggled as to
what would come next. Each had its own vision of distribution and envisaged
production accordingly. For the PS and PPD the future was Europe. For
others (Melo Antunes, for instance) it was the Third World. A few doubtless
dreamed of endless trade with Albania and China. No one was asking at what
cost - or at whose cost - the new production would be established. There
was no basic awareness of the law of value - hence an ambiguity about the
whole question of production and about the proletariat itself.

These technocrats (from the PS, through the military 'left', to the
so-called extreme left groups) shared the same general historical
perspectives: to subordinate the economic to the political, and the sweat
of production (done by the workers) to calculations about distribution
(done by the technocrats). The proletariat, as Marx had said, had no ideals
to defend. It was a body on which ideals would have to be fitted.
Capitalists and state-capitalists alike were in business for just that. For
the mass of maimed individuals salvation was a choice between one vanguard
and another (each pretending it wasn't a vanguard). The super-revolutionary
vanguards are never like ordinary people. That's why we're supposed to look
up to them, and never voice what our alienation demands. For the
revolutionary misfits, i.e. the proletariat, decisions about life were
being taken by others. Tomorrow the International 'would be the human
race'. Today, sadly, demands and perspectives centred on 'national
independence.

The "coup' of November 25 wasn't 'A la Pinochet' as PRP (and others)
had guessed. It wasn't even 'A Ia Noske'. And it didn't herald a return of
capital into private hands as all the foreign press (including the
Financial Times and Le Monde) said it would.

It represented a step, a pause, an attempt by the state to catch up with
itself, to draw its breath and to generate policies from above to put its
house in order. As a first step all military communiques other than those
emanating from the Military Chief of Staff and the 'Revolutionary Council'
were forbidden. A decision was taken to reduce the armed forces to 12,000
men by 1978. Many conscripts, due to be called were excused But the army
provided employment for thousands of young then and there would be
difficulties. in the meantime the ADUs in the barracks were abolished.
Traditional discipline was restored.

Plans for the 'censorship of pornography' were worked out (the military
always have an obsession about this matter). All further occupations of
land were prohibited by the Minister of Agriculture. Only 4 occupations
took place between November 1975 and February 1976, compared to 400 between
September and November 1975. Some 700,000 hectares had still to be
reallocated if the 'law on Agrarian Reform' was to be implemented, but the
state clearly wanted to assimilate what had already been taken over before
any new occupations were made.

All this, of course, didn't satisfy the extreme right, who saw Melo Antunes
as a 'dyed in-the-wool' communist. The forces of ELP and MDLP continued to
organise and to dream of a return to the 'good old days'. Bombings
continued in the North, in Braga, in Pavoa de Varzim, etc. In Braga alone
no fewer than 7 bombs exploded during the weekend of January 28-29. The UDP
and the unions were the chief targets. The forces which had been active on
September 28 and March 11 were again on the offensive There was a lot of
talk (mainly by the left-wing groups) of a 'return of the bosses' from
Brazil and the US. But the new state was not prepared to give them back
what it had gained. In certain instances, certain bosses were allowed back
. .. as managers. By mid-January 1976 some 128 'requests' by ex-bosses had
been received. Tellingly, it was the Ministry of Labour whose task it was
to unravel all this. The Ministry of Agriculture issued instructions giving
March 1, 1976 as the closing date for compensation claims by ex-landowners.
By March only 19 cases of 're-occupation' had been registered and some 10
cases of 'reprivatisation' (i.e. return to private ownership). The latter
cases (all in the northern textile industry) had been called for by the
workers themselves. In many cases where workers called for support for the
old boss this was refused by the state authorities.

What had happened on November 25 was that one of the bureaucratic-military
groups (actually an alliance of groups) -had managed to impose its will on
the others. But there were enormous differences between the old PIDE and
the new police: the new regime regarded the opposition' parties as
essential and concentrated its attacks on the base groups. During the first
waves of reprisals, the parties moved to defend themselves first and
foremost. They 'forgot' all their fine phrases about 'the defence of the
workers'. Their first reflex was to tighten up their own apparatus. But
really they had little to fear: were essential to the new schema.

The government move more cautiously in relation to the working class in
general. They were confronted with some 800 industrial cooperatives and
with some 200 enterprises under workers' control, not to mention the
thousands of cases of 'workers' vigilance' (a term coined by a Lisnave
worker to describe the situation in that firm). In addition there were over
600 agricultural cooperatives (most of them legalised by May 1976). This
meant that over one-fifth of all agricultural land in Portugal (one million
hectares out of 4,974,158) was under some form of collective control. House
occupations, which had reached 35,000 before November 25, were maintained.
Squatters were not prepared to give up their rights just because the PCP
and left parties had lost a few ministries.

November 25 was, however, to affect the workers in a very direct way.
Prices had been frozen after March 11 'for the remainder of the year'. They
were now 're-fixed' and this meant they now incorporated all the hidden,
state-supported inflation that had occurred in the intervening nine months.
In January 1976 there was an I all-round 40% increase in food prices.
People complained and there were cases of refusal to pay. But no organised
opposition developed, despite attempts by UDP and PRP. The workers tried to
increase their pay packets, to get the extra month's wage which most had
'won' over the previous year, but which many private and state enterprises
were refusing to pay. During February and March 1976 some 380 factories
went on strike and thousands passed protest motions against the new
policies. The bosses had found a new confidence and the state was gradually
taking things under its wing .

WORKERS' RESPONSES

Lavandaria Portugalia is a dry cleaning concern. It has branches all around
Portugal and a central plant in Ajuda (Lisbon) employing 198 workers,
mainly women. In November 1974, after a lock-out and a day's strike it
'fired" the boss and went into self-management. The enthusiasm was
overwhelming: everyone was to be paid the same wage (4500 escudos a month).
Some 30 women in the worst jobs (the 'pressing' section, working in a
temperature of 400C) called for better pay. A general assembly rejected
this, the majority viewpoint being that socialism had to begin with equal
wages for all. In September 1975 the pressers had organised a Committee of
Struggle to put their demands to the Workers' Committee, but were denounced
by the rest of the workers.

November 25 came and went and the old bosses started hanging around the
central offices (as many other bosses began to do). A part of the Committee
of Struggle (some 90 workers altogether) supported the boss. 'He, at least,
understood the peed for differentials'. The CT condemned this Committee as
'an attempt to create an intolerable situation for the finances of the
enterprise, with the aim of bringing back the boss'. The Committee said
'the boss must return. He is the guarantor of our bread. And, anyway, he is
the owner of all this'. The boss said he would only pay wages if half the
staff were dismissed. The CT decided to call in the PS-oriented Ministry of
Labour, who recommended that the boss be taken back ... as a manager.

At Manuel Goncalves' textile factory at Famalicao (see p.270) things
developed rather differently. The PCP had totally disgraced itself.
Gonqalves could count on man workers voting in his favour. He outlined his
own conditions for returning: a) full democracy for the CT within the
factory(!); b) state help; c) freedom to determine his own market. The
government accepted the first two conditions, but not the last (they had a
general policy for the textile industry). But the fact that Goncalves, an
ANP supporter before April 25th, could stipulate 'workers' democracy' as a
condition for his return only illustrates the absence of such democracy
when the or was under PCP control. Seventeen PCP workers were fired by the
CT and refused entry to the factory. The government opposed this decision
saying that Gon calves could Only return if the 17 workers stayed on. The
case of Sanimar, a Lisbon factory making sinks and lavatory bowls and
employing some 350 workers, is even more informative. In October 1975 a
plenano had fired the boss and elected a CT of 5 workers to manage the
company. Some workers in the sales department and offices sided with the
boss and boycotted the plenario. The CT then discovered that the boss'
friends in these departments were helping him remove goods to the value of
some 6 million escudos. These were being stored in a warehouse in Setubal,
where the sales department workers had actually opened a shop to sell them.

The 'Secretary of State for Public Investments' at first recognised the
representativity of the CT elected by the plenario. But after talks between
the boss, the (PS) Minister of Labour and the Ministry of Finance it was
decided to nationalise the company and to appoint a state functionary as
manager. This, it was argued, was the only way to assure the 'unity of the
workers. The CT refused to accept this decision, calling it 'anti-worker
and anti-democratic' and decided to throw the 'three well-spoken gentlemen'
(from the ministries) off the premises. The Ministry of Labour called in
the GNR to back up their plans for nationalisation. They closed down the
factory, locking out the workers for three weeks. The workers were
eventually forced to accept nationalisation and returned to work.

There were hundreds of cases in January and February 1976 where workers
took more radical stances and actions than they had in the months before
November 1975. Only now, it was no longer spectacular. Termo-Electrica
Genia, an electrical parts firm in Lisbon with a hundred workers, took over
their factory. The police had to rescue the boss from the hands of the
workers. At Conlus (ladies' underwear) the workers went on strike for back
wages. The government paid up. Busmen's strikes in Coimbra, Porto and
Barreiro took the form of not collecting fares. At Firestone, the workers
kidnapped the American bosses and demanded a ransom from the parent
company, to pay back wages. These struggles continue.

COOPERATIVES

With a million hectares under occupation the workers prepared for their
first 'collective harvest. What the government planned was to
'commercialise' these cooperatives, forcing them to sell their olive oil,
wine and cereals to state controlled institutions (the Wine-producers
Association, the Institute of Cereals, etc.) who would arrange for their
further distribution. Failing this, credits would not be allocated.

By prohibiting all further occupations the state was creating a certain
division among the agricultural workers, hoping thereby to control them
better Many further occupations were attempted (like at Vale de Sobrados
near Evora) but the local GNR were immediately called and the workers
evicted.

The problems of small tenant farmers were becoming acute Many who had
rented land for a season, for a particular crop (wheat or tomatoes, for
example) began to ask the state for land on which they could continue to do
this. The state was slow in replying. In many cases it just refused,
despite the fact that 700,000 hectares of latifundios still existed. CAP
(ex-ALA) began to use these tenant farmers in their campaign against the
land occupations, suggesting that the cooperatives provide land for them
and falsely claiming that the workers on the cooperatives were making
fantastic profits and living the good life. A group of small tenant farmers
who occupied a farm near Santarem were evicted by the GNR and then
proceeded to occupy part of a cooperative. The workers in the cooperative
needed this land for a crop they were planning. They criticised the PS
Minister of Agriculture (Lopes Cardoso) and asked that other land be given
to the tenant farmers. The Minister refused. The workers finally 'gave'
land from their cooperative, but in a different part of the estate. Several
similar cases followed. In 1975 2.5 thousand million escudos had been paid
out, as emergency credits, to workers who had occupied farms (i.e. to pay
wages and to buy fertiliser and seeds). It was clear that the new
administration had no intention of returning to the previous system. It was
intent on using the 'cooperatives' to modernise the economy.

In places workers attempted to set up parallel economic structures. Direct
selling from cooperatives to Neighbourhood Committees was organised on a
wide scale in the Centre and South and proved very popular, given the
increase in the cost of living. Cabbages costing 15 escudos in the
supermarket were sold for 4 escudos. Wine and olive oil were also sold at
much lower prices.

Party manipulations continued, however. It was now a question of who
'supported' which occupation. Money was raised for tractors and buildings
but these campaigns were, in part at least, vote-catching gimmicks. It was
not just the PCP and PS who indulged in all this. The fragments of FUR,
scattered to the winds after November 25, began to regroup. PRP, UDP and
MES (and the more reformist maoist groups) were now acting in closer
unison. Their support for the cooperatives was organised through the
Neighbourhood Committees which they still controlled.

Support, at times, came from other strange sources. The Hissapa Cooperative
(in Bulgaria) had made a gift of 8 tractors to the Cooperative at Casebres.
They had also given 4 wheat sowers and other machinery, all rather
ancient-looking. The Bulgarian delegation were extremely embarrassed when
the tractors couldn't be got going. Finally, by using petrol to start with,
the workers managed to get the diesel motors going.

Unions of Cooperatives were formed. Here again the PCP began to intervene,
demanding that the 'progressive' technicians from the IRA Centers who had
been purged) be readmitted. One such Union (embracing cooperatives named
New Hope, Good Hope, Alentejo Flower, Red Rose, Future, Liberty, Popular
Power, Bento Goncalves, etc.) was, as might be guessed, completely
PCP-dominated. It concentrated on making demands on the PS-controlled state
machinery. Another was 'the Union of Vimeiro' which attempted to federate
certain cooperatives with a view to mutual aid and defence against the
state.

In Barcouco, near Coimbra, a group of 46 small farmers decided to join
parts of their lands together to create a cooperative. 'The more advanced
no longer say "hey, let's go to my land". They say "let's go to the
cooperative" Clearly there are still people (and there will be for years to
come) who think: "that is my land" ... The idea (of the cooperative)
emerged during a plenario to resolve the problem of collecting resin from
the trees ... We decided to form a cooperative, joining up our small plots.
We would increase production and rent a tractor '.

The tractor was in fact given to these tenant farmers by PS militants who
organised a concert for the purpose. Barcouco was an exception, however,
and in the north the situation of the small tenant farmers continued as it
had always been. They were poor and getting poorer.

In the North a law relating to the 'baldios' (common grounds) had been
prepared by the Fourth Government. It was designed to give these grounds
over to the poorer tenant farmers to graze their cattle on. When the law
was finally promulgated in January 1976 it had been changed so that any
farmer could use the 'baldios'. The larger farmers would obviously benefit
most. This caused the tenant farmers to attack the PS (whom they now
identified as the detainers of state power and the initiators of
decisions). So much for their 'constitutional anti-communism.

INFORMATION

The now fully nationalised radio and TV were amalgamated. The new company
would avoid the confrontation of political views heard before November 25.
The nationalised papers were given a new set of editors, mainly PS-oriented
though including some 'independents' close to the PPD. It was horrible.
'The radio spoke for the people', the people were told, 'for the real
people of Portugal who were tired of songs of revolt'. The authorities
seemed to think the people would prefer the soft-cushioned,
social-democratic music of American ice-cream parlours. Self-discipline (in
their mouths a euphemism for self-repression) was urged on everyone, daily.

Poets, novelists and professional lawyers rook over editorial desks in
magazine and newspaper offices. The weekly Vida Mundial and A Capital,
which had been reasonably objective, were entrusted to the timid
imagination of small minds. News consisted of information about what
technocrats were thinking, or doing, or thinking of doing. Whereas before
November 25 all news had been related to Portugal, it was now the opposite.
Earthquakes, official visits, the Lebanese war all received major coverage.
Comments about local affairs consisted of tirades against anarcho-populism,
'Copconism', and the burning down of the Spanish Embassy. Those who
contested - and even those who questioned were denounced to a chorus of
cries of 'discipline', 'discipline'. Economic collapse was predicted a
hundred times a day and the workers held up as scapegoats. The workers, it
appeared, were all being manipulated. Except those, of course, who had
followed the parties 'victorious' on November 25. Everyday life was trodden
to death with half-truths culled from the masochist repertoire of petty
officials. One wanted to scream at them, at their 'freedom' - to hurl at
them Mallarmo's quietly desperate 'the flesh is sad, alas, and I've read
all the books Had they an inkling of the torment they were causing, of the
pit into which they were pushing their listeners? What did they know of the
yearnings which, in the hectic pre-November days, had provided such a
strange peace of mind? Did anyone tell them that pills and alcohol were
repressed forms of class struggle? Could they feel the real immiseration of
the proletariat which in their mouths (and in those of their left
fractions) immediately became empty rhetoric?

These new rulers, great anti-fascists all, were out to destroy both
imagination and any semblance of life. These morons, with their ideas of
'pluralism' had a vision of socialism so lifeless that, as Lukacs put it,
it 'crippled to the point of abnormality'. Moralism and mediocrity
buttressed one another. All this pettiness in the name of order, 'sanity'
... productivity. But if all this didn't satisfy the workers, it didn't
satisfy the extreme right either. With international help they launched a
series of new papers attacking the left: 0 Pais, Rua, Rossio, Retornado, 0
Dia. The PCP, having lost its dominant influence in Diario de Noticias (now
the propaganda organ of an aggressively insipid PS) set up its own insipid
daily: 0 Diario. The left, having lost Republica because of financial
difficulties, set up weeklies such as Gazeta da Semana and Pagina Um. The
former was edited by an ex-MES militant who had resigned from the Fifth
Government, calling it state-capitalist. The latter was in the hands of the
PRP.

Radio Renascenca was handed back to the Church. Even Otelo began to wonder
if his decision to back the workers had been the right one, strategically.
The Church had proved so strong. Masses were heard again on Sundays, after
six months of sublime silence. Mysticism was peddled everywhere.

On March 8 Diario Popular reported that 1040 PIDEs had been freed since
November 25, leaving only 300 in prison. The latter were to be released
later. Of those freed, 600 were under semi-house arrest. This didn't stop
them from moving freely around the country, attending meetings and
conducting political propaganda. Until April 1976, not a single case had
been brought against the PIDEs. Up to May 1976, two years after the coup,
only 108 cases were being 'processed.

RECUPERATION OF POPULAR POWER

The cooperative movement was not born as a revolutionary challenge to
capitalism but as a state capitalist attempt to control the crisis and to
guide it into channels which the established institutions could dominate.
The workers occupied land, houses, factories. The state then came along
with promises to 'legalise' some of their achievements. The workers, in
order to survive, were forced to accept these recuperated results of their
own self-activity.

Why was the government interested in industrial or agricultural
cooperatives? The answer is simple. Believing that the land or factories
were their own the workers would work twice as hard as they ever did for
private bosses. The government lacked hard cash to invest in the
restructuring of capitalism. They found something else to invest: labour
power. Through this means the government secured its objective of increased
production. While the workers worked towards their own integration, the
technocrats congratulated themselves at having avoided a complete breakdown
of the system. Many agricultural workers toiled 10 to 12 hours a a o
reorganise the farms. In industrial enterprises they produced more surplus
value than any private employer could ever have extracted from them. They
self-managed their own exploitation.

It is obvious that nationalisation (or statification, as it should
preferably be called) has nothing to do with socialism: it is merely a
means of ensuring the smooth functioning of vital sectors of the economy
such as transtort.power, the distribution of raw materials, there y making
possible both state planning and an overall development of the productive
forces. But whether these benefit the workers or not depends on how the
fundamental decisions have been taken - and by whom - in the last resort on
who holds power. The same ruling classes who were horrified nearly 60 years
ago when Lenin and the Bolsheviks showed them how to bring about a
fundamental restructuring and development of capitalism are today horrified
when the state is threatened by workers who want to run things for
themselves, by themselves. Nationalisation is the way out of the classical
type of capitalist crisis and this previous 'heresy' is slowly (and
sometimes less slowly) becoming the dominant trend of ruling class thought.

The Portuguese experience is modern in every sense. So is the Portuguese
revolutionary movement. Modern not just in the attitudes of the workers and
in the nature of their demands but also in the pattern of state-capitalist
counter-attack which the working class practices unleashed. It is a
movement which has transcended the sterile arguments between leninists and
left communists that have raged for over 50 years. The advocates of the
Vanguard Party are forced to disclaim the very core of their beliefs and to
say that they are not parties. Council forms are fetishised and put on
show, even if they have no socialist content. And people who call
themselves materialists (even historical or dialectical materialists)
refuse to see the material reality that stares them in the face.

The Portuguese experience between 1974 and 1976 shows that revolutionary
activity does not develop as the result of strategies devised by system
analysts or bourgeois planners, masquerading as revolutionary generals like
Otelo or Costa Gomes. It emerges in the, the struggle itself and its in
most advanced forms are expressed.by those for whom it is a necessity to
struggle. Hundreds of thousands of workers entered the struggle. But the
enemy constantly appeared before them in unexpected garb: that of their own
organisations. Every time they set up an organisation they found it
manipulated by so-called vanguards or leaders who were not of their class
and who understood little of why they were struggling. Even the groups who
paid lip-service to a critique of state capitalism did so because of their
weakness. They were forced to support the base organisations for the time
being. They were no less leninist for having a critique of state capitalism
for their denunciations proved to be denunciations of particular sets of
bureaucrats, not critiques of the system per se.

The revolutionaries - on a massive scale were found to be part of the
problem, not part of the solution. In this the Portuguese experience may
prove to be a pre-figuration of revolutions to come. The lessons should be
pondered while there is yet time. The alternative is clear. It was put
concisely many years ago: 'the liberation of the workers is the task of the
workers themselves'.

First published by Solidarity (London) 1977