Monday, December 21, 2015

Spain: an essential background

"Despite this pointed Northern patronage, the PSOE adopted a new programme at its 27th Congress 
of December 1976, the first held in Spain since the Civil War, which seemed to define it as the most radical Socialist party in Europe—a ‘class party with a mass character, Marxist and democratic’. Rejecting ‘any path of accommodation to capitalism’, the programme envisaged ‘the taking of political and economic power, the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange by the working class’. Of course such formulations of the final goal had once been the standard, raising no eyebrows among the continental parties of social democracy. But this was now seventeen years after Bad Godesberg had brought programme into line with practice and enshrined a most extensive accommodation to capitalism as the model for European Socialism. The González team, deeply indebted to the SPD for material and political aid, had never shown any commitment to a Marxist inflection of the Party’s ideology and strategy. Why, then, this language of the 27th Congress?

"... [T]he franquista regime actively presided over the most sustained and explosive expansion of any Atlantic capitalist economy from the late fifties onwards. Tourism, emigrant remittances and cheap labour were the motor of a surge of accumulation which broke every European record and utterly changed the structures of the society that had once thrown up the revolutionary challenges of the Second Republic

"[I]n the first year after Franco’s death, Spanish labour rose to the highest level of militancy in the continent: in 1976, 150 million working hours were lost in disputes, the great majority of them politically inspired.

"The crucial objective, symbolized in the drive for EEC membership, was to strengthen the Spanish economy and polity through participation in the bourgeois-democratic order of Western Europe, and to effect the transition in such a way that the flow-tide of working-class radicalism would not leave a permanent mark on any new political settlement.

"Within a little over a year, Suárez had smoothly piloted the fascist state to a soft landing on the plains of a more or less conventional bourgeois democracy. He had done so while maintaining a nearly perfect continuity of personnel in the upper reaches of the civil service, judiciary and armed forces, except where it had been necessary to find posts for former bureaucrats of the defunct vertical syndicates. The new Constitution [of 1978] sanctified the principle of private property, recognized the army’s role in ‘protecting the constitutional order’ and laid down the obligation for any government to maintain relations of cooperation with the Church. Topping the whole edifice was an unelected monarch who had been given the power to command the army, select governments and ultimately to veto legislation. Such was the mess of pottage for which the insurgent and republican birthright of the Spanish labour movement was given up by the leaders of the Socialist and Communist opposition. For in effect, once the reformist course had won the day in the political establishment, the PSOE and PCE leaderships simply decided to fall in with its scope and timing.

"... for the PSOE and PCE leaderships in the late seventies, the ‘free-enterprise monarchy’ set the parameters for an epochal reconciliation of class interests... For its part, the González leadership of the PSOE kept its sights fixed on a German type of political system in which the Socialists and the Centre would loyally alternate in the roles of government and opposition."

Analysis in full: Spain: an essential background

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