Portugal: For a Workers’ Offensive against Austerity!

By Johannes Wiener, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 17.12.2015, www.thecommunists.net


The recently held elections in Portugal mark a distinct shift to the left in the balance of class-forces. The bourgeois PSD and CDS lost around 12% compared with the previous elections. On the other hand, the left-wing Bloco de Esquerda (BE) (a coalition of right-centrist forces) doubled its electoral strength to more than 10% of the votes cast and is now the third largest party in Parliament. The electoral front Coligação Democrática Unitária – a coalition of the Stalinist, left-reformist Partido Comunista Português (PCP) and the Green Party (Partido Ecologista “os Verdes”, PEV) – also slightly increased its votes, gaining 8.25% of the ballots. The social-democratic party (Partido Socialista, PS), which verbally ran on an anti-austerity platform, also increased its strength and garnered 32% of the parliamentary vote.


This means that, together, the bourgeois and petty bourgeois workers‘ parties now constitute a majority in the Parliament of Portugal. The reason for this is very simple: the popular masses oppose the austerity-policies of the neo-liberal bourgeois parties.


Reactionary Attempts to Install a Right-Wing Bourgeois Government


Going into the elections, the bloc of the two openly neo-liberal bourgeois parties was arithmetically the relatively strongest parliamentary force. This led to their impudent attempt to continue the hated austerity government of Passos Coelho, despite the majority of the population voted against this. A particular reactionary role was also played by Portugal’s president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, who called upon Coelho to form a government, dubbing as “an attack on democracy” the electorate’s daring to oppose the austerity policy dictated by Brussels as well as opposing the will of the imperialist-terrorist NATO alliance. Silva said: “In 40 years of democracy, no government in Portugal has ever depended on the support of anti-European forces, (…) (which) in addition (want) the dissolution of NATO.”


The Creation of the “Left” Government


Pressure from below, from the workers and popular masses, as well as the provocative pro-austerity policy of the reactionary bourgeois parties led the majority of the members of Parliament (belonging to the PS, BE, and the CDU) to vote against the governmental program of Coelho, preventing him from taking power.


Instead, the social-democratic PS formed a government which promised to oppose the austerity attacks and to defend social gains of the Portuguese masses. This resulting government of Antonio Costa has the parliamentary support of the Bloco de Esquerda and the Coligação Democrática Unitária which did not join the government’s coalition.


A Bourgeois Workers‘ Government


The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) maintains that the fall of the right-wing bourgeois government reflected the growing radicalization of workers and youth in southern Europe. This radicalization is the basis for the European working class’ finding a way out of austerity and the nationalist nightmare, growing militarism and the erosion of democratic rights.


Naturally, the new government of Antonio Costa is neither a socialist or authentically left government. It is a capitalist government, albeit one which rests on bourgeois and petty bourgeois workers’ parties, which was elected as a result of massive popular sentiment against the austerity policy. This government is what the Communist International (before it degenerated under the rule of the Stalinist bureaucracy) called a “bourgeois workers’ government.


Which Way Forward?


Revolutionaries in Portugal should defend this government against any attack instigated by the reactionary-bourgeois parties, the bureaucracy in Brussels, the President, or the state apparatus.


However, the strategic goal of revolutionaries must be help the workers and poor to overcome their illusions in these left-reformist parties and to break them away from such leaderships. This is the only way to fight for a true proletarian government based on workers’ and popular councils and militias.


In the present situation it is crucial that revolutionaries organize the masses independently from the reformist or left reformist leaders and place pressure on the government via independent workers’ and popular mobilizations. It is clearly obvious that the masses of the workers and poor still harbor illusions regarding the leadership of the social democrats and left reformists of Bloco de Esquerda and in the PCP.


On the one hand, revolutionaries must instructively explain to the advanced workers why they will sooner or later be betrayed by the reformist bureaucrats who have promised to end austerity, to say nothing about building a socialist society. On the other hand, we have to place demands before the leaders of the reformist parties in order to put them to the test in the eyes of the working class and to help the latter overcome their illusions by means of their own practical experience. If the government attempts to capitulate to the EU and its policy of austerity, revolutionaries must mobilize to stop them by calling for militant strikes, leading up to a general strike. Another very important task is to fight for the full equality of migrants and to oppose every form of racism and discrimination against them! This is particularly important for Portugal which for centuries exploited and brutally subjugated its colonies.


The RCIT suggests that revolutionaries in Portugal call on the “left” government to undertake the following:


* Abrogate all austerity-measures of the previous government!


* Immediately create a public works program, under the control of the trade unions, to provide jobs for all unemployed. This should be financed entirely by taxation on the super-rich!


* Nationalize the ports and big industries under workers’ control!


* Nationalize all banks and amalgamate them into a single central bank under workers’ control!


* Immediately withdraw from NATO! No people should be guilty of participating in this brutal terrorist organization!


In addition, we maintain that Portugal, as a semi-colonial country, should leave the EU. However, this tactic should be combined with the struggle for a real workers’ government. Such a government would not play footsy with the EU and NATO, but rather should declare class war on them! An authentic workers’ government would base itself on workers’ and popular councils (soviets), like those rudimentarily established in 1974/75, as well as on militias of our class. A real workers’ government would immediately try to internationalize the struggle to other European and North African countries.


There is no solution to austerity but the struggle for a European revolution against the EU and for the creation of revolutionary workers’ governments through socialist revolution. To fight for revolutionary workers’ governments in Europe and around the world we need new revolutionary workers parties! The RCIT is dedicated to building such parties as part of the future 5th International and to collaborating with revolutionaries in Portugal to build such a revolutionary workers’ party there and in every other country around the world.


* For a revolutionary workers’ government!


* Down with the imperialist EU! For the United Socialist States of Europe!


* For a revolutionary workers’ party in Portugal as part of a new workers’ International!



About RCIT Britain

What the RCIT stands for Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT)is a revolutionary combat organisation fighting for the liberation of the working class and all oppressed. It has national sections in a number of countries. The working class is composed of all those (and their families) who are forced to sell their labor power as wage earners to the capitalists. The RCIT stands on the theory and practice of the revolutionary workers’ movement associated with the names of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky. Capitalism endangers our lives and the future of humanity. Unemployment, war, environmental disasters, hunger, and exploitation are all part of everyday life under capitalism as are the imperialistic oppression of nations, the national oppression of migrants, and the oppression of women, young people, and homosexuals. Therefore, we want to eliminate capitalism. The liberation of the working class and all oppressed is possible only in a classless society without exploitation and oppression. Such a society can only be established internationally. Therefore, the RCIT is fighting for a socialist revolution at home and around the world. This revolution must be carried out and lead by the working class, for only this class has the collective power to bring down the ruling class and build a socialist society. The revolution cannot proceed peacefully because a ruling class never has nor ever will voluntarily surrender its power. By necessity, therefore, the road to liberation includes armed rebellion and civil war against the capitalists. The RCIT is fighting for the establishment of workers’ and peasants’ republics, where the oppressed organize themselves in councils democratically elected in rank-and-file meetings in factories, neighbourhoods, and schools. These councils, in turn, elect and control the government and all other statue authorities, and always retain the right to recall them. Authentic socialism and communism have nothing to do with the so-called “socialism” that ruled in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and which continues to do so in China and Cuba, for example. In these countries, the proletariat was and is dominated and oppressed by a privileged party bureaucracy. Under capitalism, the RCIT supports all efforts to improve the living conditions of the workers and oppressed, while simultaneously striving to overthrow this system based on economic exploitation of the masses. Towards these ends, we work from within the trade unions where we advocate class struggle, socialism, and workers’ democracy. But trade unions and social democracy are controlled by a bureaucracy perniciously connected with the state and capital via status, high-paying jobs, and other privileges. Thus, the trade union bureaucracy is far from the interests and living conditions of its members, based as it is on the top, privileged layers of the working class – a labor aristocracy which has no real interest in replacing capitalism. Therefore, the true struggle for the liberation of the working class, the toppling of capitalism and the establishment of socialism, must be based on the broad mass of the proletariat rather than their “representative” from the upper trade union strata. We also fight for the expropriation of the big land owners as well as for the nationalisation of the land and its distribution to the poor and landless peasants. Towards this goal we struggle for the independent organisation of the rural workers. We support national liberation movements against oppression. We also support the anti-imperialist struggles of oppressed peoples against the great powers. Within these movements we advocate a revolutionary leadership as an alternative to nationalist or reformist forces. While the RCIT strives for unity of action with other organizations, we are acutely aware that the policies of social democrats and pseudo-revolutionary groups are dangerous, and ultimately represent an obstacle to the emancipation of the working class, peasants, and the otherwise oppressed. In wars between imperialist states we take a revolutionary defeatist position: we do not support either side, but rather advocate the transformation of the war into a civil war against the ruling class in each of the warring states. In wars between imperialist powers (or their stooges) and a semi-colonial countries we stand for the defeat of the former and the victory of the oppressed countries. As communists, we maintain that the struggle against national oppression and all types of social oppression (women, youth, sexual minorities etc.) must be lead by the working class, because only the latter is capable of fomenting a revolutionarily change in society . Therefore, we consistently support working class-based revolutionary movements of the socially oppressed, while opposing the leadership of petty-bourgeois forces (feminism, nationalism, Islamism, etc.), who ultimately dance to the tune of the capitalists, and strive to replace them with revolutionary communist leadership. Only with a revolutionary party fighting as its leadership can the working class be victorious in its struggle for liberation. The establishment of such a party and the execution of a successful revolution, as it was demonstrated by the Bolsheviks in Russia under Lenin and Trotsky remain the models for revolutionary parties and revolutions in the 21st century. For new, revolutionary workers' parties in all countries! For a 5th Workers International to be founded on a revolutionary program! Join the RCIT! No future without socialism! No socialism without revolution! No revolution without a revolutionary party!
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