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Franco Regime Tottering

(June 1966)

From Militant, No. 17, June 1966.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

After thirty years in power, the Dictatorship in Spain is coming to an end. Following the nationwide student demonstrations of last year, the strikes of miners, metal workers and other sections of the working class, large sections of the middle class and even the clergy openly voiced their opposition to the Franco state.

After two decades of economic stagnation, the Spanish economy has benefited over the last few years from the general expansion of world trade.

Eight million people have drifted from the land into industry, only 34 per cent of the population are today engaged in agriculture compared with 64 per cent in 1936. Industrial investment rose 16 per cent in 1964 and 25 per cent last year, the gross national product has increased by 15 per cent in the past two years. Foreign Capital investments by Dutch, American, German and British firms have amounted to £500 m in the two year period, altogether there has been a growth in the gross national product – in real terms – of 57.99 per cent since 1951.

The working class have benefited very little from these advances, the cost of living rose 12.7 per cent last year alone and for several years there has been a built in rise of around 10 per cent. The minimum wage in Spain is established at 7s. 6d. per day, a million workers have emigrated and millions more work 60–80 hours per week doing two jobs to make ends meet.

With an actual decline in Agriculture and the need to import large quantities of food as well as industrial products, leading to a permanent balance of trade problem, the Spanish economy rests on a very precarious foundation. Above all the enormous bureaucracy consuming vast sums of the nations resources, and acts as a fetter on the economy.

Opposition Growing

Four or five years ago, the opposition which has recently been shown would have been impossible: this is the measure of the disintegration which has taken place. Even in Arriba and other organs of the Falange, the only recognised political party, articles have appeared advocating changes “to find a role for legal opposition.” The rapid growth of the clandestine Trade Union movement A.S.O. and the open campaign for the right to strike testify to the regeneration of the Spanish Labour Movement. The question is not will Franco go, but how and when, and more importantly with what will the regime be replaced?

One million people died in the terrible Civil War which saw the defeat of the Spanish working class and the establishment of a fascist dictatorship. Fascism arose from the need of the landlord and capitalist class to depress even further the already appalling standard of living of the masses. Only over the bones of the workers economic and political organisations could Spanish Capitalism compete, even in a limited way with the more advanced countries.

Ironically, the economic boom of the past few years has served to undermine further the Franco regime. A large and relatively prosperous middle class has been created, who more and more feel the restrictions of the authoritarian state, while the workers economic and political struggles intensify. All the conditions for revolution exist in Spain, the divisions within the ruling clique, the social crisis, the gnawing recovery of the working class confidence. All the conditions exist except the most important, a Marxist leadership and a Marxist party.

Civil War

The dawn revolt of July 17th, 1936, when General Franco assumed command of the army was met with an immediate reply from the Spanish workers. Within days most of the 50 garrisons were disarmed, many by workers without arms. The three year Civil War which followed saw the open intervention of Hitler and Mussolini, the betrayal of the Leon Blum Popular Front Government in France and the cowardly actions of the T.U.C. and Labour Party leadership who for two years supported the arms embargo on the Spanish Republic. Yet it was not these factions which defeated the heroism of the Spanish workers, rather the complete incapacity of the traditional leaders of the Spanish working class to wage a revolutionary struggle for a Socialist Spain.

The Spanish Communist Party in the programme adopted last year still pursues the Popular Front policy of a coalition with the nationalist and Capitalist parties. No party in Spain has the undisputed leadership of the working class.

Explosion Inevitable

Any event, a retreat by the Government, the death or retirement of Franco, a particular act of brutality by the police or military, could trigger off a revolutionary explosion in Spain. The revolt would almost certainly be spontaneous, taking course similar to July 1936 when the workers seized the factories and the peasants the large estates. Lacking a Marxist leadership the very real danger of a “democratic Counter-revolution” to establish parliamentary democracy on capitalist economic foundations exists.

The overthrow of Franco will mark a decisive step forward for the European working class movements. Apart from its immediate repercussions in Portugal, its effect will enormously strengthen the development of a real left wing in Europe. The victory of the nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War marked the culmination of a series of defeats for the working class throughout the world, resulting in the holocaust of the Second World War. Victory for the Spanish workers today would mean the beginning of the end for Capitalism.

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Last updated: 3 December 2015