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Three failed chapters, plus one unfinished chapter. Brief historical approach to Galician communism

Carlos Morais

 

The Galician revolutionary communism does not identify itself with the reading that any of the different splits of the Spanish Communist Party PCE make about the foundation, a century ago, of the first nucleus proudly self defined as communist.

There is no evidence of Galician presence among the dozens of signatories of the manifesto of the break with the Socialist Youth / PSOE (Spanish Socialist Worker´s Party, by its Spanish initials), and its transformation into the Spanish section of the Third International. There is evidence of such presence, on the contray, in the foundation of the short lived first PCOE, 13th April 1921.

Although they are not very visible, militant memory and historiography believe in the existence of Third Party nuclei scattered in various regions of Galicia, already in the years immediately following the Bolshevik victory. However, it was not until April 1923 that the constituent congress of what was called the Communist Federation of Galiza took place. In reality, it was but the "regional" branch of the PCE (Spanish Communist Party, by its Spanish initials).

We do not deny the historical significance and importance of the agreement ratified on 15 April 1920, in the Casa del Pueblo in Madrid. The genesis of the Spanish Communist Party [it was not named “Spain´s” until the unification congress in November 1921] was decisive for the subsequent process of recomposition, orientation and class offensive of the workers' movement.

But unfortunately it was born contaminated, mutilated by the centralist/Spanish conception of its promoting nucleus, incapable of incorporating in its cosmovision and political program, the right of self-determination, and therefore of workers' self-organization in the specific national framework of struggle.

Mortgaged and indebted to the sterile political traditions of bourgeois liberalism, which drenched the early workers' movement from its birth, they lacked the audacity to incorporate the lessons of the Bolshevik Revolution and Lenin's contributions to their theoretical and practical corpus.

Just as the party managed to correct the unfortunate initial diagnoses about the role of the rural proletariat, the poor peasantry and the small Galician agricultural owners, as an inherent part of the revolutionary subject, the erroneous indications of the advisors of the Third International did not contribute either to extirpate the Jacobinist virus installed in the hive of the party of the "one hundred children".

 

First frustrated attempt to articulate Galician communism

The founding act of Galician communism is diffuse. We lack a definite date, a specific place, a precise act of constitution.

We can synthesize in three, the great chapters of the unfinished process of constitution of a Galician communist party.

The traumatic end of the ephemeral popular front period made it impossible to develop the crystallization process of the Galician national communist party, which was being born in southern central-eastern Galicia.

From 1933/34 onwards, the idea of building a worker and peasant detachment with its centre of gravity in Galiza began to take shape. The intensity of the class struggle in the factories and in the hegemonically peasant Galiza, together with the demands for the Statute of Autonomy, always subject to the inevitable laws of dialectics, allowed and facilitated the "discovery" of the tangibility of the national framework, which had been denied for centuries.

The workers' leader and head of the local branch, José Silva, following the trail of the favourable winds emanating from the official theses of the 6th Congress of the Komintern [Moscow, summer 1928] - later debated and ratified at the 6th Congress of the PCE [Seville, March 1932] - wrote in the same month and year, in the theoretical journal "Bolchevismo", a text of great historical value. In "The Revolution and the Nationalist Movement", the stone mason from Compostela stated that "we cannot ignore the problem of the oppressed nationalities and the role played by the struggle of these national minorities for their independence in the development of the revolution. [...] Hence the interests of the revolutionary movement of the working class are closely linked to those of the nationalities and colonies for their liberation [...] Only by taking a stand on the side of the national minorities fighting for their independence, by supporting them against the imperialist state, do we do revolutionary work and work for the unification of the workers.

It was the unique and exceptional second generation of Ourense Marxist-Leninists, led by Benigno Álvarez -the charismatic veterinarian from the village of Maceda -, who laid the foundations of the constitution of what would have been the Galician Communist Paty (PCG, by its Galician initials) if the fascist beast had not won in the summer of 1936. Manuel Gómez del Valle, Ramón Lafuente Rodríguez, Luis Soto, Enriqueta Iglesias, Antonio Fernández Carnicero, Eduardo Villot Canal, Francisco Gayoso Frias, José Villar Lafuente, are some of the names of the Bolsheviks who had correctly evaluated the political dimension of the hegemonic language and culture within the working people.

 

Second attempt

The indelible proletarian strikes of March and September 1972, in Ferrol and Vigo respectively, which shook to the core the foundations of the relative comfort reached by Franco's regime, not only provoked the second great eruption of the working class as a potentially revolutionary subject in contemporary Galicia. They are the second failed chapter in the construction of Galician communism.

On this occasion, it was the young workers of the south-west of the country, in break with the already discredited PCE, who promoted this new foundational attempt.

Moncho Reboiras stands out as the natural leader of this valuable generation that reactivates the comfortable semi-lethal state that defined the Galician People´s Union (UPG, by its Galician initials) at that time. Despite the fact that this political force had already been founded in two acts in 1963/1964, it did not act as a communist party, but rather as a patriotic Galician organisation defending the right to self-determination, influenced by the Third World discourse, and focused on cultural demands.

Despite their good intentions, chosing to provide it with a genuinely working class line, following the Maoist veneer in vogue at the time, they were unable to overcome the Dimitrovian discourse of national-popular interclassism and anti-colonial strategy.

However, they do provide it with a combative theoretical-practical action, dialectically combining mass work with vanguard work, adapted to the limitations inherent in the framework of clandestinity, imposed by the singular characteristics of Spanish capitalist domination at the time, of the restoration of the brutal bourgeois dictatorship resulting from the 1936 fascist triumph.

On this occasion, we do have documents and texts that confirm the will to build a Galician national communist party. But apart from the statements, interviews and records in Luis Soto's biographical book, we have not found enough documentation to prove the level of maturity, determination, correlation of forces and development of this patriotic line, of unquestionable Leninist manufacture, which was being forged during the previous four decades at the headquarters in Reina Victoria Street in the town of Ourense.

The fall in combat of José Ramón Reboiras Noia in August 1975 breaks and alters the idea and strategy of the leading nucleus. In the subsequent intense internal debate of lines, amidst turbulences that bleed the accumulated militant capital, the teachers' liquidationist lobby wins. The same petty-bourgeois caste that leads it today.

Four decades of debate, more in terms of form than content, amongst splits, abandonments and ruptures within a ten-year period [the Galician Proletariat´s Party (PGP, by its Galician initials), the Communist Party of National Liberation (PCLN)/Galician Popular Front (FPG), Movement for the Base (MpB)], transformed the dream of a Marxist and pro-independence UPG, honestly defended by Luís Soto, into a harmless national-autonomous social-democratic party, made up of the largest concentration per square meter of apparatchiks and bureaucratic functionaries in all of Western Europe.

The failure to build a genuine Galician communist party, forty years after the beginning of the Galician holocaust, derives mainly from the petty-bourgeois composition of most of its cadres, and therefore, from the identity and ethnicist discourse that prevails over that of the class in almost all the Galician national affirmation movement, both the autonomist/nationalist one and the clearly pro-independence one.

If in the period of the Second Spanish Republic it was the enormous internal resistances and misunderstandings derived from deep theoretical limitations, which prevented the heart of the PCE from applying the leninist line defending the worker's self-organization in the specific national frameworks of struggle, and prevented it from applying the class independence and the proletarian internationalism, with the unpublished exception of the foundation of the Unified Socialist Party of Catalunya (PSUC) in July 1936… in this second chapter, it was just the opposite.

The narrow nationalism centered on the obsessive defense of "the productive sectors", of the search for "leverage in Madrid", the institutional vocation and the electoralist fetishism, disregards the material conditions of the working and impoverished people, and therefore, their priorities and most felt aspirations.

Third attempt

In the eye of the political-ideological hurricane resulting from the implosion of the USSR, and the subsequent devastating counter-offensive of imperialism that we are still suffering from, takes place the original configuration of the first communist party founded in Europe after the Kremlin's hammer-and-sickle flag was lowered.

The foundation of Primeira Linha [MLN] in the spring of 1996 sought to creatively combine the dialectic of the class/nation equation within the forces that claimed to be Marxists. The new Galician revolutionary communism is built on the central thesis that, in a social formation suffering from national oppression, class struggle takes the form of national liberation struggle. The struggle for a Socialist Homeland must be led by the working class. The emancipation of more than half the labour force is the third priority task linked to the other two. The Galician Revolution must therefore be a socialist and anti-patriarchal revolution of national liberation, discarding the erroneous conception of an etapist and progressive revolution, promoted by the social democratic variants with a "socialist" façade.

Despite being born with the congenital limitations of left-wing sovereignty, not to mention the anti-communist independentist essentialism whose aim is to be but a satellite of the party of the Spiral, the contemplative dimitrovism of this time, despite the inexperience of the human resources that embarked on the configuration of the "Galician Communism of the 21st century", derived from their youth… despite all this, it achieved significant theoretical and practical advances, essential to build a genuine Revolutionary Galician Communist Party, but it did not achieve its final objectives either.

The adverse subjective and objective conditions of two decades of intense activity, conditioned and later made impossible the consolidation of the MLN as an embryo of the Galician Communist Party.

The natural endogenous contradictions generated by any collective initiative, but basically those artificially inserted, the late and insufficient introduction into the heart of the working class, the neo-piñeirista reintegrationist drift, the little courage and determination to build a clearly autonomous political project, and a policy of alliances that mortgaged and delayed its organizational development, are some of the main causes that caused its internal crisis in the spring of 2015.

Because of inherited inertia and internal resistance, it was unable to weave a broad policy of alliances based on advanced programmes, being permanently conditioned by narrow units with minimal projects.

The implosion provoked a rollback of decades in the accumulation of organizational forces, militant experiences, work styles, dialectic combination of struggle methods, and basically, a rollback of the most perfected Marxist-Leninist theoretical-practical elaboration of the history of Galician communism.

New chapter

Nowadays, we are still engaged in the construction of the fighting, patriotic and revolutionary Galician communist party. Weakened, but with more experience than when, on that May 1 1996, we participated in the founding congress of Primeira Linha.

We are not the only ones, nor the most numerous and nourished detachments that claim to be an embryo of the necessary PCG, antithesis of the grotesque branch promoted in 1968 by the clique headed by Santiago Álvarez, which still usurps the acronym today.

However, in the face of the Euro-communist degeneration that post-Franco Spain is currently experiencing, the objective we are pursuing must avoid any temptation to reproduce the tactical and, basically, strategic errors of the long history of Galician communism.

Summarizing the best of the inputs of Benigno Álvarez, Luis Soto and Moncho Reboiras, is part of the challenge set for the seizure of power.

The antidote to the opportunistic degeneration of "carrillismo" is not to remain installed in the nostalgic fascination of Soviet state capitalism, nor will we find that antidote in the claudicating reformism of the multiple groups that claim to be followers of Trotsky, nor in the various expressions of Maoist folklore. And even less can we expect it from social democracy with a socialist façade. More than a hundred years of constant betrayals of the class struggle prove this.

None of this serves the immense and urgent task of providing the proletariat and the entire working and impoverished people of Galicia with an effective tool for fighting to overcome the historical needs of the present, in the phase of deep crisis of twilight capitalism, accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Without giving itself the organizational instrument, the collective brain, the vanguard detachment represented in the validity and topicality of the Leninist model of the communist party, our class will continue to be installed in the triple strategic defeat suffered in 1936, 1977 and 1991.

The objectives are to overthrow the post-Franco regime, to recover the independence and national sovereignty violated by the Spanish Central Government and the EU, to organise the Socialist Revolution to build the Workers' Republic. Not to reform, "humanize", nor mend capitalism.

And in order to achieve this, we must continue to focus considerable energy on the struggle of ideas, we must continue to elaborate the alternative that brings together the various colours of rebellion under the centrality of the class struggle, coordinating the partial struggles against post-modern disintegration and amorphism. The working class is the only potentially revolutionary subject with the capacity of summoning, coordinating and leading the multiple rebellions.

But without purging Marxism of the social democratic adulteration of the electoral left, of the academic ivory towers, without restoring its deeply subversive content, without recovering its founding principles, we will continue to be inevitably condemned to shipwreck, to remain installed in residualism or, in the best of cases, in marginality.

In the midst of huge storms, we continue to be involved in the construction of the necessary patriotic and internationalist Galician communist party, always guided and inspired by Marx, Lenin and Che, participating in and promoting internationalist spaces. 

We do not give up the chase because our struggle is to win in this life, in this land and in this time.

 

Independence and Socialist Homeland!

Communism or chaos!

Galiza, April 17, 2020