This immediately confronted the authoritarian strategy of the powerful Communist Party, which, newly emerged from clandestinity, had joined with the provisional government installed by the military putsch. For a year and a half—a period of social agitation that ended on November 25, —these two social tendencies were in conflict with each other, and also with the forces defending the private capitalist order, led by the Portuguese Socialist Party P.
The social forces demanding autonomous action, independent of the parties, to reorganize society under the control of those directly affected, were finally isolated, encircled by those defending an elitist vision of social organization, a version of state capitalism. These forces constantly tied the autonomous initiatives of the social movement to the state, giving the latter strength and legitimacy. The Portuguese experience shows, once again, that when the state gives a legal form to collective conquests it takes control of them and dispossesses the collectivity of its own power.
The official memory of April 25 thus leaves unmentioned the spontaneous dimension of independent social movements, self-organizing practices, and direct democracy that characterized the period after the military coup, and emphasizes the construction of a system of parliamentary democracy. It should be emphasized that—unlike in Greece—the current period of profound social crisis without new political perspectives has not favored fascist groups or those waiting for a leader.
Which in itself says a lot about the degradation of living conditions under democracy. The social process of the effacement of memory is complex. It is rooted in the very reproduction of the capitalist system.
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In the Portuguese case, specific circumstances participate in this falsification. There was, first of all, the repression exercised by Salazarist fascism on the social history of early 20th-century Portugal, the high-water period of revolutionary syndicalist and anarchist activity. Then, the post-war years saw mass emigration, which effaced pasts, memories, and lived experiences. Then, in a few years, the crisis set in, brutally calling that radiant future into question.
But its current fragility is of course also a legacy of that past. Portuguese fascism and the colonial war, complementary historical facts, were late episodes in the progress of a poor society into a fragile capitalist future. In contrast, it must be stressed that during the last two centuries Portuguese society saw the emergence of cultural and political movements capable of expressing cosmopolitan, modern, universal values. Among them was the revolutionary syndicalism of the early 20th century, which overthrew the authoritarian monarchy and demanded Iberian federalism, a new idea contesting the stifling mediocrity of nationalism.
Then, a half-century later, came the autonomous and emancipatory spirit that followed on April 25, putting an end to the fascist regime and to the last European colonialism. The technocrats in charge have personally controlled the economic and political activity of the Portuguese state. They have imposed austerity measures necessary to assure service on the debt owed to the international banking system. The devastating effects of these measures have provoked deep social discontent and unprecedented protest movements. What is new is that the revolt against these austerity policies has opened a way to the first relatively independent movements since the Portuguese revolution of — Of course, political militants are active in them, but what characterizes the new mobilizations is the fact that they have developed without regard for the strategies of the leftist parties and unions, in response to calls made through social networks by activists speaking only for themselves.
The organizations to the left of the P. But the amplification of popular discontent with successive austerity measures made such tactics—not well understood by the base—dangerous. Not only did the little anti-capitalist group grow in the course of the next few demonstrations, but it was soon the leftist organizations that disappeared, as their militants joined, as individuals, demonstrations organized through social media. Strikes have become more active, with picket lines, especially in the transportation sector.
Collective protest actions have appeared spontaneously amidst demonstrations or general strikes called by the unions. The rejection of the political class can be seen in individual and collective protests that have made any public appearance by members of the government difficult. On September 15, , an appeal on Facebook by a totally unknown network, Q.
In Lisbon, the participation of workers, unemployed, and young and old people from working-class neighborhoods changed the nature of demonstrations, which became more aggressive. The demonstrators made several attempts to invade the parliament building. In a significant episode, the chief of the C. Henceforth, the refusal to shout the slogans of the political organizations often produced silent demonstrations.
Then, the great demonstration of March marked a new turn in this series of more independent demonstrations. The Q. As a result the network was quickly discredited and their appeals found few echoes. This allowed the old leftist organizations, above all the P.
The advances and retreats of the mobilizations express the incertitude of social consciousness. On the one hand, people are aware of a new situation, in which the crisis of the system is real and long-lasting.
This lucid vision is also a source of paralysis. For what is to be done? The political class is discredited and the illusion of a political alternative has dissolved. On the other hand, union proposals—repeated general strikes and weary demonstrations—are followed without great enthusiasm, for lack of anything better.
It has become obvious to many that these old bureaucratic practices will not succeed at all in changing the policies in place.
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This widespread belief, without sound political or economic grounds, in the virtues of adopting the single currency was somewhat understandable. E-mail The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. Hundreds of our comrades went over and those who went still have brilliant, but fading, memories. The unemployment rate rose rapidly, particularly among youth. The unemployment rate rose rapidly, particularly among youth.
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