Socialist Alternatives: The Portuguese Revolution

Revolução dos Cravos, 25 April 1974.

Fifty years ago, the Portuguese Revolution represented the climax of the radical 1960s and 1970s. In Portugal the working class confronted the questions of taking state power, ending exploitation and oppression by emancipating itself and initiating a socialist transformation of society. This amazing proletarian revolutionary process has not been equalled in the struggles since. Yet unfortunately it remains virtually unknown or ignored, with little recognition even within the radical left, which under reactionary climate has drifted away from the questions of self-emancipation, working-class revolution, insurrection and the conquest of power. These questions, fundamental to liberation, were posed in Portugal under modern conditions, and provide important judgements for revolutionary theory and practice. This brief introductory sketch of a revolutionary class struggle of nineteen months is limited to only a few of the major events.

My assessment of the revolution comes from personal experiences and interactions with workers and soldiers, meetings with workers’ and residents’ commissions, occupied farms, factories under workers’ control, and prominent revolutionaries from many political tendencies during the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary periods, as well as numerous reports by comrades who took part in the events in Portugal. The International Socialists were allied and worked with the Party of the Revolutionary Proletariat (PRP), the leading proponents of the Revolutionary Councils of Workers, Soldiers and Sailors (CRTSM in Portuguese), and of a state based on autonomous organs of workers’ democracy. They were an inspiration, and for all their strengths and weaknesses, remain a creative model for revolutionary functioning in the midst of revolution.

I arrived in Portugal in July 1975, eager to see the revolution first-hand, yet unaware I would witness the “Hot Summer”, the onset of the struggle for state power. On the bus from the airport into Lisbon I was amazed as every wall was covered with revolutionary posters, and even more so as we passed factory after factory with red flags flying over them and signs proclaiming: “This factory is under the control of the workers’ commission”. My mind echoed George Orwell’s words from Homage to Catalonia, as he entered Barcelona in 1936: “It was the first time I had ever been in a town where the working class was in the saddle… There was much of this that I did not understand…but I recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for”. It is in this spirit that I convey my account of the revolution.
Portugal in Africa

The Portuguese Revolution began on 25 April 1974, when 400 junior officers, organised as the Armed Forces Movement (MFA), carried out a military coup. The rebels met virtually no resistance as they toppled a 48-year-old fascist dictatorship, and had no idea that they were unleashing a proletarian revolutionary process that would push far beyond the limited goals they had set out to accomplish. It would be another confirmation of Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution – the idea that a bourgeois democratic political revolution can transform uninterruptedly into a socialist revolution, with class struggle driving workers to realise their goals by attempting to take power. It was a complex process, at times confused, but it was in the direction of socialist revolution that the working class moved.

The Portuguese Revolution began in Africa. The revolution developed as the culmination of years-long opposition to Portugal’s African colonial wars, both domestically and in the colonies themselves.

Portugal was regarded as a serious world power – despite being a small, poor country of 9 million – because of its huge African empire in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau. Together these colonial possessions totalled 22 times the size of Portugal, with extraordinary natural resources (oil, diamonds, coal, coffee and more) and were key to the holding of southern Africa for the West and its allies, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa.

Portugal was the first European nation to colonise Africa in the fifteenth century, and it was “the last to leave”. It launched the transatlantic African slave trade as a source for primitive capital accumulation, and to create a forced labour supply for the sugar plantations in Brazil.

Portugal’s empire slowly evolved to more modern imperialist practices, forcing the colonies to export raw materials to Portugal at below world market rates and to be a captive market for higher-priced Portuguese exports of finished goods. But this arrangement was limited: while more advanced capitalist nations in the post-World War II period moved to neocolonialism, backward Portuguese capitalism, dependent on the colonies for capital accumulation, continued to maintain direct colonial control. Portugal’s fascist regime feared that if it moved to a more limited form of economic domination over its colonies, Portuguese capital could find itself supplanted by its more developed rivals.

But the regime could not hold back historical tides. When most of Africa gained political independence, the Portuguese colonies rebelled. In Angola a national liberation movement arose in 1961, followed within two years by movements in Mozambique and Guinea Bissau.1

The Portuguese Army

The new provisional government, the Junta of National Salvation, which came to power in Portugal in 1974, was based on an unstable alliance between the MFA’s insurgent junior officers and the armed forces’ General Staff led by General Spínola, which represented the interests of capital. The Portuguese bourgeoisie, facing anti-colonial struggles abroad and opposition to the colonial wars at home, finally opted to attempt a neocolonial solution: local autonomy for the colonies within a Portuguese federation. In contrast, the MFA was for the right of self-determination for the colonies, whose national liberation movements would not settle for anything less than independence. These divergent interests manifested as a power struggle within the military, and became a dynamic for a deepening revolutionary progression, similar to that of the February 1917 Russian Revolution. In both Russia and Portugal, a democratic government replaced a dictatorship because of popular opposition to an ongoing imperialist war. The still-dominant ruling class in each country tried to continue the war for modified imperialist aims, while the workers, who have no imperialist interests, shifted to ever more radical alternatives to finally end the wars. Workers refused to accept democratic imperialism as a substitute for fascist imperialism; they were not just for ending the colonial wars but for the end of colonialism. This intertwining of class struggle with anti-imperialism became one of the most impressive attributes of the Portuguese revolutionary working class, whose strong, ardent anti-imperialism remains an inspiration for international socialism.2

The weight, over more than a decade, of Portugal’s simultaneous fight against three wars of national liberation, transformed every aspect of Portuguese society, and ended in revolution. Portugal was armed by its NATO allies, with its officers trained in the US in Vietnam War-era doctrines – of strategic hamlets, napalm, direct bombing, body counts, civilian massacres, of “dirty wars”. These imperialist policies were as disastrous for Portugal as they were for the US in Vietnam. By the late 1960s, it was clear that Portugal’s position was hopeless; its endless wars were lost. Anti-war opposition had also convinced conscious workers that Portugal itself was both a part of and controlled by international imperialism, and functioned as a semi-colony of the advanced capitalist countries.3

Throughout the long wars and economic crisis, working-class consciousness developed. As a result of the colonial wars the Army underwent a social explosion, expanding from 10,000 men to 220,000. The soldiers drafted were workers and peasants. They experienced terrible treatment in an institution riddled with rotten class prejudice; were paid an unbelievably low wage starting at $6 dollars a month; and were fed in separate, inferior messes. The mandatory two-year draft service was extended to four years, with up to 24 months of overseas combat in the colonies. To avoid military service around 200,000 draft dodgers and 25,000 deserters fled the country; by 1973, 20 percent of yearly draftees did not show up at induction. Together these figures comprised a significant number of young men in their twenties.4

The officer corps grew to 7,000, of whom only 2,000 were professional officers, recruited from lower middle-class backgrounds. The other 5,000 officers were milicianos, recently-drafted university students. There were only 14,000 university students in Portugal, children of the upper middle class, in a country where only 4 percent of working class students could afford to go to high school. University students were automatically made officers when drafted. Many of them had taken part in the radical left student activity of the 1960s, influenced by the student radicalism of the American anti-Vietnam War movement and the Paris May 1968 uprising. Many spread their radical views to their professional officer colleagues, the base of the MFA.5

Workers radicalise

Half of the government budget went to the wars, in a country with the lowest wages in Europe, virtually no social welfare, and appalling levels of illiteracy, disease, life expectancy, maternal and infant mortality. Almost a million and a half workers, peasants and ex-servicemen, seeking to escape poverty wages, emigrated during the wars, mainly to Western Europe. Eight hundred thousand of them were concentrated in the Paris region, the “second largest Portuguese city”, many of them radicalised as participants in the general strikes and factory occupations of May 1968. They marched in demonstrations with banners proclaiming: “Death to Salazar, Franco and fascism”. Many rushed home after 25 April 1974 to take part in the revolution.

Meanwhile, the global economic crisis, runaway inflation, and the international working-class upsurge that began in the late 1960s was already also shifting Portugal’s workers to the left. By the early 1970s, Portugal had yearly inflation rates of 20, 30 and 40 percent. Although strikes were banned by the fascist unions, inflation is the mother of all strikes; illegal strikes broke out at the end of 1960s, and continued to grow. In 1973, there were a hundred and fifty illegal strikes.

Most strikes were crushed by the PIDE, the secret political police that had been set up and trained originally by the Gestapo. Later, when Portugal was incorporated into NATO, the PIDE received training in the United States by the CIA. PIDE agents were placed in the large factories, usually paid for by the owners. When strikes broke out, workers were fingered by the PIDE, and by foremen, management and some working-class spies. At TAP, for example, the national airline with 8,000 employees, underground cells – of the Communist Party, the Movement of the Socialist Left (MES) and the PRP – existed alongside 200 PIDE informers. In the last years of the dictatorship, strike leaders were routinely arrested, tortured and jailed in prisons and concentration camps.6 But the movement kept growing and radicalising.

The revolution begins

Most of the drafted soldiers and many of the junior officers became politically influenced by the national liberation movements they were sent to fight. They came to realise that they had been sent to fight people like themselves, politically oppressed and impoverished. They were horrified at being forced to fight for the control of a social system, and for the ownership of vast colonial natural resources, by the six great monopolies that dominated the Portuguese economy and were allied with the fascist regime. Over time, they started to take seriously the anti-colonial injunction issued by the African liberation movements to form a fourth national liberation movement in Portugal itself. And it was the ultimate success of the wars for national liberation that finally destroyed the corrupt fascist regime in Portugal and opened the space for the workers’ revolution that followed.

Many draftees and junior officers came to believe that the wars were hopeless, that victory was impossible and Portugal was already defeated. As opposition to the war grew, the government in June 1973 called a “Combatants Conference” to mobilise the army to regain support for the wars. A group of junior officers circulated a petition stating that the Conference decisions did not apply to them since they had been excluded from taking part. Hundreds of officers signed the petition, a high level of support that convinced the initiators to organise a meeting of officers who opposed the war, which became the MFA. Within a few months, this group of junior officers grew to 400. They were politically diverse, ranging from unpolitical, to conservative, to the left. By their second meeting, they came to the decision that the only way to end the wars was to overthrow their own government. The rest of the officers were uncommitted or more conservative, passive on 25 April, but supporters of the MFA so long as it was ending the colonial wars. They also decided to passively follow the MFA because of the unexpected strength of the civilian mass movement.

The MFA was politically diverse, but from the start its leadership bodies were dominated by the broad left, including its eight-person coordinating committee, and its three-person executive committee. The program of the MFA was written by Ernesto Melo Antunes, a Marxist and self-described Gramscian, and it called for “decolonization, democracy, and development,” with a heavy emphasis on anti-monopoly and pro-working-class measures.7

The MFA’s 1974 military coup lifted the lid on a volatile situation and the working class exploded. On the very first day, masses awakened to the possibilities of open, legal struggle. Tens of thousands of workers took to the streets, cheering on the army as it entered Lisbon. The clandestine resistance movements, the Communist Party and the revolutionary left, came up out of the underground within hours, and started organising people on the streets. Thousands marched singing the Internationale. Resistance fighters led masses of people to the prisons, demanding the release of all political prisoners, many of whom had been strikers. The government capitulated within a day, freeing all political prisoners.

The next day, the order to free political prisoners was extended to thousands of African prisoners in the colonies. Meanwhile, revolutionary students led thousands of people to the Lisbon airport to demand that no troops be sent out to the African colonial wars. The new government refused to accept that demand, but the next day granted amnesty to all draft dodgers and deserters. On the streets, in the factories and in government offices throughout Lisbon, workers sought to hunt and lynch members of the secret police. The government stepped in to protect the PIDE agents from their long-suffering victims, but abolished the secret police, and arrested hundreds of them that day. In response to the stormy upheaval from below, the government was making the first of what was to be many concessions to militant working-class action, and everyone felt that. In turn, the power of the mass movement demoralised the agents of repression, the regular police and the national guard, who, fearful for their lives, refused to go out onto the streets The forces of law and order disappeared for a period of time.8

The new government then declared May Day a national holiday. From 25 April to 1 May, most workplaces and all the schools were closed. For 47 years May Day rallies had been illegal and had led to clashes with the police. Now, 600,000 people demonstrated in Lisbon, a city of just one million people. The rally was addressed by the Junta, the MFA, Mário Soares of the Socialist Party, and Álvaro Cunhal of the Communist Party. Political consciousness, developed by the years of war and economic crisis, soared overnight as May Day awakened many workers to the depth of support for a socialist transformation. Few, however, understood what a socialist transformation entailed or how one could occur.9

Political engagement and sophistication had been impossible for most people, but now, with the lid lifted, the masses were awakening with every variety of radical ideas on offer. Political discussion broke out everywhere, in the bars, cafés and workplaces, on the buses and on the streets. Consciousness was transformed by enormous leaps, and ferment was everywhere. Daily life became dominated by strikes, demonstrations, occupations and meetings, endless meetings, setting masses into motion. Working-class consciousness was further stimulated by the liberation of the media, the newspapers, radio and TV, as fascist owners of media enterprises were driven out, and the press and TV were opened up to all the left-wing groups that had emerged, further stimulating political dialogue, as participants in the struggle read and debated the competing proposals of various left forces.

On 2 May, the schools and the factories reopened. Revolutionary groups took over the universities, abolished exams and fired all deans, heads of universities, and fascist collaborators among professors and administrators. High school students held general assemblies and demanded that all teachers with ties with fascism be fired and that attendance records be abolished so students could take part in political demonstrations.10

The Workers’ Commissions

But the greatest transformation of class consciousness took place in the factories. Assemblies were held as all who worked for wages – manual, skilled, technical, office, and often lower management – met together. All questions of working life and politics were now open for discussion. Workers started discussing all conditions of their employment: wages, wage differentials, length of the working day and working week, mandatory overtime, harassment, sexism, poor working conditions, as well as broader debates over capitalism, exploitation and imperialism. The assemblies would then draw up lists of the workers’ demands, unleashing struggles for immediate improvements of conditions. Factory assemblies during the revolutionary period usually met on a weekly basis in the hours after work, with sub-groups assigned to working on specific topics met more frequently. In a few working-class strongholds, like the Lisbon Naval Yards (Lisnave), assemblies met bi-weekly during paid work time.

The assemblies elected factory committees, in Portugal called workers’ commissions, Comissão de Trabalhadores (CTs). Factory assemblies and CTs were the first independent workers’ organisations formed. The existing fascist unions were not independent, they were state-controlled labour fronts. The assemblies and the CTs started the self-organisation of the working class, and were the basic organs of workers’ democracy.11

Workers’ commissions were the organisations which the working class recognised as their own. They became the core of workers’ power, the locus of the class struggle, the organs of workers’ control, the mobilisers for mass demonstrations, the nucleus for popular power, the most distinct feature of the Portuguese revolution. Representatives to the workers’ commissions were elected in the workplaces by the factory assemblies, or by different sections of the factory. In the large factories CT members were full-time representatives, akin to shop stewards. Their term was usually for a year but they were subject to immediate recall, and made no more than a worker’s salary. It is no accident that this followed the guidelines of Lenin’s State and Revolution, which was number two or three on Portugal’s best-seller list for the next eighteen months, running only somewhat ahead of Lenin’s Imperialism (at number six or seven).

Within three or four months the number of workers’ commissions grew to between 2–4,000. The most politically advanced were in the 50 large factories with over 1,000 workers. The largest, most modern factories contained the most militant and class-conscious workers, the vanguard of the revolution, many of them veterans of the colonial wars. These skilled workers, particularly at workplaces like Lisnave, Setnave, TAP, Siderurgia and Efacec, were part of the international economy. Many militant strikes were carried out by poorly paid, unskilled, assembly, agriculture and building workers. But the skilled workers at the largest factories were the best-paid and most self-confident. They were the most needed by the international corporations, the most secure in their position in the economy, and the least afraid of losing their jobs. Often such conscious workers had a history of involvement in political struggles under fascism, within cells of the underground organisations, or as participants in the illegal strikes prior to 1974.12

The Communist Party, the only well-organised political force in Portugal, initially decided to boycott the workers’ commissions, but felt forced to join them nine months later, in February 1975. The CP was antagonistic to the workers’ commissions, which they feared as rivals to the trade unions that they now controlled. Almost all Portuguese trade unions had been fascist-controlled, with a dozen or more craft unions in a single workplace. These unions were not allowed to strike or hold democratic elections. Immediately after the overthrow of the dictatorship, the Communist Party occupied the fascist trade union offices, tossed out the officials, and took the unions over from the top down, with no elections and no input from workers. The CP thereby controlled almost all the trade unions in the country, which they used as leverage for influence and power in the new government. The CP used similar tactics to take over local government authorities, occupying government offices, replacing the fascist officials with their own members, and preventing local elections.13

Both the Spínolist wing of the Junta and the MFA agreed that the CP had to be in the cabinet in order to control the working class and the mass movement. This proved to be an inaccurate evaluation of working-class forces. The absence of the CP, thanks to their Stalinist sectarian blindness, opened the workers’ commissions and – with them the mass movement – to much more radical leadership direction, and action. When the CP was forced to flip-flop and enter the CTs in February, 1975, the CTs became an ongoing battleground between the CP and the revolutionary left, with the CP forced to take more left-wing positions that put them at odds with their coalition partners.

The CP’s original boycott of the CTs left a healthy legacy of suspicion and hostility towards the party, and allowed for the development of rank-and-file-based democratic internal life that included discussion, decisions and resulting actions, unlike the situation within the trade unions and other CP-dominated groups. The workers’ commissions were the organised force that prevented the CP from controlling the working class, and opened up space for the revolutionary left.14

The strike wave

The Portuguese working class entered the revolution as an active participant in the making of history, becoming a class-for-itself, and altering the politics and class goals of the MFA coup. The first stage of the revolution was a mass strike wave, the most basic proletarian method of struggle. In revolutionary periods, strikes deepen the political consciousness of both participants and observers. In Portugal, led by the workers’ commissions, 400 hundred strikes rocked the country in the first two months of the revolution, May and June of 1974. Many of those strikes united economic and political demands, a quality Rosa Luxemburg explained as the essence of the mass strike.15

Most strike demands were for wages, the reinstatement of workers fired during the illegal strikes, and saneamentoSaneamento meant purging the workplaces of all fascist collaborators: owners, foremen, managers, executives, even working-class stool pigeons. Fascist supervisors were often locked out or chased out of factories, and in a few cases expelled, during the first factory occupations. In some plants where purging forced out all the foremen, workers began to decide who the foremen were, or simply run things themselves, with good results. Saneamento, when carried out by workers themselves, and not the state, created the first ideas of workers’ control that would become powerful in the next stage of the revolution. Through the assemblies and saneamento, the CTs were becoming a dual power in the workplaces, challenging bosses’ control over production.16

The strike wave’s economic emphasis was on wages and salaries. In the first four months of 1974, inflation in Portugal was running at 63 percent. Many strikes demanded a doubling of wages for striking workers and often, a doubling of the minimum wage. Some strikes were for creating greater working-class equality by reducing wage differentials. At Lisnave, there were 11 different pay grades, and the strike aimed to raise all workers to the highest pay grade. The Communist Party and its unions opposed all 400 strikes and actually attempted to break some of them. The assumptions of the Junta, the MFA and the CP – that the CP and its unions could act as a disciplinary agent of the government and control the working class – were a complete failure. The CP claimed that higher wages were irresponsible, unrealistic and threatened the stability of the new government, which could lead to the return of fascism. The CP, prior to joining the government, had called for a minimum monthly wage of 6000 escudos ($240), and then supported the Junta proposal for 3300 escudos ($132), which workers called “the wage of misery”, further antagonising militant workers, who felt betrayed by the CP.17

The Communist Party

During the revolution, the Portuguese far left was the strongest in the world. Every radical tendency existed and was tested by the actuality of revolutionary practice; most failed miserably. With the bourgeois parties tainted by their fascist collaboration, politics flowed through the MFA, left parties and popular power organisations.

The Communist Party was the only large, well-organised political party at the start of the revolution. The CP had been the underground party of resistance to fascism; many of its members had been tortured and jailed for years. The CP’s bravery and consistent fight against fascism gave it enormous prestige and respect in the working class, which it regularly betrayed. The CP was an unreformed Stalinist Party that never deviated from Moscow’s line, and was capable of overnight shifts between incredible sectarianism and fantastic opportunism. Its sole consistency was to oppose every revolt from below, including strikes, factory occupations, housing take-overs and workers’ control. The CP viewed the power and passion of the mass movement as a threat to its manoeuvres from above. Put simply, as the largest party of the working class, the CP also functioned as the main barrier to socialist revolution.

The CP emerged from the underground with 5,000 members. With a vigorous open recruitment campaign at Lisnave and other factories, it grew within months to 100,000 members. Many radical groups, the PRP included, missed early opportunities, and were handicapped by continuing the underground organising culture limited to strict cadre recruitment. CP membership dwarfed the combined membership of all the left groups, and allowed it to build a massive bureaucratic apparatus of thousands of paid full-timers, union and local government officials and organisers. This made it a formidable opponent in the factories, holding back working-class militancy and advancement.18

When the CP opposed the workers’ committees and the strike wave, many party members and sympathisers left and joined the Maoists, second-rate Stalinists whose ideology and perspectives were closest to the ideas they had received through CP education. Some others joined revolutionary left groups, but many became apartido, or non-party. This was a strong current that appeared in the working class, distrusting the CP and all other political parties, reinforced by the sectarian operations of certain left groups which put their organisation’s interests over those of the working class. Many of the best revolutionary militant workers were apartido, the strength of which most revolutionary groups had to accommodate to at demonstrations and joint actions, but which held back necessary party-building.

The CP’s political strategy throughout the revolution was to attach itself to MFA officers and to give unwavering support to the MFA and its decisions. CP strength in the MFA increased with the almost accidental appointment of Vasco Gonçalves, who was considered no threat by President Spínola, as prime minister. Gonçalves had been, and possibly was still, a member of the CP; even if not, he acted as a disciplined supporter.

Communist Party theory maintained that Portuguese capitalism was not developed enough for socialism, and therefore the party was against a workers’ revolution. Instead it advocated for collaboration with the middle classes and even sections of capital against the monopolies and fascism. The CP supported a two-stage revolution plan: for the foreseeable future, a democratic revolution for national independence and development, followed in the distant future by a socialist revolution. This was orthodoxy in Communist Parties after the Stalinisation of the Comintern.

The Socialist Party

The other main party in the various provisional governments that emerged during the revolution was the Socialist Party. The Portuguese SP was formed in Bonn in 1973, under the auspices of the German Social Democratic Party, with 200 middle-class members, including professionals, lawyers, journalists, professors and intellectuals. It gained massive electoral support from workers, but in the factories it was smaller than the revolutionary left. To gain this support, it initially took positions verbally to the left of the CP, supporting the mass strike wave and calling for workers’ control and overthrowing capitalism. As the workers radicalised and increasingly imposed power from below, the SP snapped back to its petty-bourgeois origins, opposed workers’ power, and became financed by the CIA as the single most important force in the bourgeois counter-revolution.19

The Maoists

Portugal’s revolutionary left was the largest in the world. Many dozens of far-left groups suddenly emerged or formed. They represented, and put to the test, every conceivable shade of radical ideas, riddled with confusions and problems. They also contributed to the fragmentation of the left, and in the sorting-out process of the next year there were a dozen survivors. Most left groups had no independent role, but politically tailed after or tried to influence the CP or SP. Four radical groups – the PRP, the MES and the Maoist Movement to Reorganise the Party of the Proletariat (MRPP) and Popular Democratic Union (UDP) – were at times real forces in the military and the working class, particularly in the CTs, with influence in the revolutionary process. Maoism, however, was a political disaster for the left.

The MRPP was initially the largest revolutionary organisation and played a very militant, albeit sectarian, role in the early strike wave. Unreconstructed Stalinists, they disgraced themselves with their dogmatic adherence to China’s line that the CP was social-fascist, its ties to Moscow representing a greater danger than the capitalists. This led the MRPP to an early alliance with the SP against the CP, and later the MRPP became a useful instrument for the right. The MRPP joined the reactionary physical assaults on CP offices and members, and supported the counter-revolutionary coup of 25 November 1975. As the MRPP discredited itself, the UDP, formed through the merger of over a dozen small Maoist groups, became the main Maoist organisation. The UDP shared the CP’s two-stage theory, opposed socialist revolution as unrealistic, originally considered workers’ control to be utopian and anarchist, and argued that revolution was premature until a new, real Communist Party was built. Their main programmatic demand for struggle was for national independence. The UDP grew primarily by positioning itself as the most militant group in actions, even when that led to ultra-left positions. UDP membership was double or triple that of the PRP, which made them a major competitor for influence and support from the most radical workers and soldiers. The UDP was forced at times to cooperate in joint work with the PRP and other revolutionaries, but they were always prepared to engage in treacherous manoeuvres for sectarian raids of popular organisations, for their real objective of building the Reconstructed Marxist-Leninist Communist Party.20

The PRP – party building in the revolution

A proletarian revolution requires two necessary entities to be successful: workers’ councils (soviets), as the governmental bodies for a workers’ state; and a revolutionary workers’ party that provides political leadership during each stage of the revolution to move it forward, with the goal of winning the working class to the conquest of state power. The Portuguese Revolution began with neither of these two essentials and after 19 months it only had rudiments of them.

The most difficult task revolutionaries can face is to build a revolutionary workers’ party from scratch in the midst of revolution itself. The absence of a mass revolutionary party has been the decisive cause of the defeat of many revolutions, including Portugal’s. It is a question that will often reappear in the future, given the state of the contemporary revolutionary left. Defeat, however, is not inevitable; the Hungarian Revolution of 1919 occurred with a Communist Party being formed weeks before the revolution, and the defeated 1905 Russian Revolution was the dress rehearsal for revolutionary victory in 1917. The lack of a revolutionary party at the beginning of revolution is not an excuse to fatalistically accept or await defeat. The job of revolutionaries is to work as best they can with existing conditions, as they attempt to build a revolutionary workers’ party during revolution, however difficult that may prove to be.

The only force in Portugal that genuinely worked to build a revolutionary workers’ party was the Revolutionary Party of the Proletariat (PRP), an organisation that stood uncompromisingly for revolutionary communist ideals: for a proletarian socialist revolution, for a state based on worker’s councils, for workers’ democracy, for workers’ control of production and the state, for opposition to all imperialism, and for an armed insurrection for the seizure of state power. It was the only group that fought for these ideals in the popular power organisations and in the barracks, in an honest, non-sectarian manner.

The PRP began with a small underground cadre of 80, but with enormous recognition and prestige for its military operations under fascism. Its two most famous accomplishments were blowing up a NATO base outside Lisbon, and penetrating the officer corps, stealing the war plans for Guinea Bissau and turning them over to the national liberation movement. It had also controlled the underground Radio Free Portugal, which operated from Algiers and had broadcast news every night into Portugal that sustained the resistance. With legality, the PRP quickly drew in hundreds of its existing sympathisers. During the revolution it grew to 3,000 members, with 150 factory cells in the Lisbon industrial belt.

The PRP originated as a faction in the CP in 1969, opposing both the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia and Stalinism. It rejected the two-stage theory of revolution and proposed that a proletarian socialist revolution was on the agenda in Portugal. It had opposed CP passivity and advocated for armed struggle against the fascist regime. Its main strength was that it was linked to militants in the most important factories in Marinha Grande and the Lisbon-Setúbal industrial belt, whose assessment of working-class consciousness informed the PRP’s perspectives and ability to make rapid shifts in the turbulence of the revolution.

As an interventionist organisation the PRP was unequalled in the international revolutionary movement of the 1970s, but its weakest point was theory. PRP ideology was an eclectic mixture of Lenin, third worldism, Guevara, Luxemburg and Trotsky. They refused to be labelled as followers of any of them. From Trotsky, they took three important theories: permanent revolution, the united front against fascism, and the revolution betrayed. They considered the Stalinist states to be state-capitalist class societies, but had illusions about the progressive character of “third world socialism”. But on the most important question of theory and practice, that of the working class, they were excellent, with total commitment to the working class, its interests, its independence, and to learning from its struggles. They believed in and fought for workers’ power, for the self-organisation and self-activity of the working class, for the necessity of both a revolutionary party and autonomous organisations of the working class. Implementing these views, whatever other theoretical weakness the PRP had, placed them head and shoulders above much of the international left.

A powerful advantage of the PRP was their cohesive functioning on the basis of shared political analysis, through a unique method unlike any other revolutionary group internationally. In the rapidly changing conditions of the revolution, they regularly produced extremely sophisticated analyses of all social, economic and political events, of the evolving role of the political parties, of shifting consciousness among the working class and soldiers, and drawing conclusions for what was to be done. PRP membership cohesion and discipline was based on these perspectives and the organisation went over each new analysis individually with every cadre and member, which provided them the basis for functioning in the mass movement. These analyses were also shared with sympathisers in the CTs, the residents’ commissions (CMs) and among soldiers and officers of the Continental Operations Command (COPCON), who were dependent on them to function through the chaotic shifts in the revolution.

Despite its small size, the PRP was the most influential group in shaping the ideology and political initiatives of the revolutionary left. Central to major turning points in the revolution were key initiatives that the PRP proposed to advance the revolution at critical moments: the Inter-Empresas, CRTSMs, the COPCON document, United Revolutionary Front (FUR), Soldiers United for Victory (SUV), and the Setúbal Committee of Struggle, all of which will be discussed later.21

Tensions in the Junta

The government that came to power after 25 April, the Junta, was a coalition of the MFA army officers, the bourgeoisie, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party. The main bourgeois goals were twofold. First, a transition to bourgeois democracy to allow for Portugal’s entry and integration into the European Economic Community (the predecessor of the European Union). This would allow for exports from Portugal’s low-wage economy to the Common Market without tariffs or restrictions and to attract foreign investment for modernisation and development. The second main bourgeois goal was ending the colonial wars on a platform of partial local self-government within a Portuguese federation, with Portuguese control of defence and foreign policy. This would protect Portuguese companies’ dominant position in the colonial economies. These goals were stymied however, by the strength of the mass movement. Despite SP and CP support, they could not contain the working-class revolt, nor the revolt against the colonial wars, spearheaded by the troops and the MFA.

A month after the MFA coup, the troops in Guinea Bissau mutinied and demanded that the government grant independence to the national liberation movement. In August police fired upon mass demonstrations in Lisbon, demanding independence for Mozambique, killing one and wounding others; but the state was incapable of suppressing growing working-class opposition to colonialism. The bourgeoisie was determined to prevent the loss of Angola, its most important colony, with the richest natural resources and greatest potential wealth. There were other imperialist considerations; on 19 June, Spínola met with President Richard Nixon who promised American support, with the proviso that the right to independence of Angola and Mozambique would not be recognised, to which Spínola completely agreed.22


As the strike wave mounted, it became clear that the government was incapable of simply suppressing the movement because the apparatus of state repression was in disarray. The secret police had been abolished. Both the regular police and riot police often refused to go on the street or near the strikes for fear of the working class. The government solution was to create a new organ of state repression, the Continental Operations Command (COPCON), to serve as the military police of the Lisbon region. That proved to be yet another cruel illusion for the bourgeoisie – COPCON would soon evolve as the main army support for the popular power movement and the revolutionary left.

COPCON originally had a dual function. It was designed to change the balance between the Junta and the MFA. COPCON was to be the MFA’s power base in the army, out of Spínola’s control, charged with overseeing government implementation of the MFA program. COPCON’s other function was to hold down workers’ strikes and housing occupations by mediation, and coming to agreement with the workers involved, so that the popular forces whose support the MFA wanted were not totally antagonised. COPCON operated by those guidelines for a few months, and broke some important strikes in the name of law and order.23

But over time the body changed and was radicalised by proletarian struggle – and its own working-class soldiers. The COPCON troops who tried mediation, arbitration and compromise increasingly ended up identifying with the workers, their demands and actions. A significant turning point was the demonstration at the Lisbon Naval Yard (Lisnave), Portugal’s largest and most important factory. The demonstration demanded the saneamento of the remaining fascist collaborators in the Lisnave administration, as well as expressing opposition to the new government strike law, supported by the CP and SP, which banned factory occupations, political and sympathy strikes, and sought to severely limit strike action across the board, while legalising employer lock-outs. The Lisnave demonstration was banned by the government and opposed by the CP cells operating in the factory, but supported by the factory assembly and workers’ commission. As Lisnave workers began to start the march to Lisbon carrying banners reading “Death to Capitalism”, COPCON troops who had been sent with loaded rifles to prevent the march began fraternising with the workers. They responded by chanting at them: “Sons of the working class. Brother Workers. Future Workers. Always, always on the side of the people” and “The People, Armed and United, Will Never Be Defeated”.

Faced with such a scene, working-class soldiers broke down, some crying, and put down their guns. For the first time in the revolution, troops had refused to be used against the workers. Officers understood they could not force the troops to stop the march, and so withdrew them. This turning point began a period in which the government could not rely on COPCON as its repressive apparatus against workers.

The commander of COPCON was Otelo de Carvalho (Otelo to everyone in Portugal), the hero of the victory over fascism. His background was that of a fairly apolitical, naïve officer, devoted to the military, and perceived as a political lightweight. Yet he was a brilliant military strategist. Otelo was the organiser and architect of the 25 April coup, who had successfully executed every detail of the complex plan. When COPCON moved to the left, Otelo became the most popular figure in Portugal. He and many troops under COPCON’s command became radicalised, sympathetic to the revolutionary left, and often served as the armed strength of the popular power movement. Otelo remained politically unsophisticated and often erratic: loyal to the military and its officer corps, which included initial opposition to the rank-and-file Soldiers United for Victory. But he was also led, as he said, by the “spontaneity and creativity of the masses which gives them the ability to solve their own problems”, to become a revolutionary defender of soviet power and of arming the working class.24 This culminated in COPCON offering outright support to working-class occupations.25

The coup of 8 September 1974

The culminating impact of all these events – the mass strike wave, the factory commissions, the revolt of the troops in Guinea Bissau, the growing shift of power to the MFA, the unreliability of COPCON, and the coalition of the Junta and the MFA being ripped apart by the radicalism of the class struggle – convinced the bourgeoisie that they had lost control over the democratic revolution. Their solution was to plan a coup to restore their authority, halting the process of decolonisation and democratisation from below. Spínola, supported by right-wing parties that were little more than reorganised fascist groups, called on “the silent majority” to march on Lisbon on 28 September 1974, patterned after Mussolini’s march on Rome. The plotters were confident their coup would succeed, as they took over key army bases and re-established control over the major sources of information, the newspapers, television and radio stations. They preemptively arrested Otelo and other left-wing officers to avert military resistance.

The working class sprang into action to prevent the coup from succeeding. The Communist Party and the trade unions finally took action, calling on railroad workers and bus drivers to halt all transport into Lisbon. Workers, along with the PRP and other armed revolutionaries, built barricades around Lisbon, and COPCON troops joined them to prevent right-wingers from entering the city. The right-wing coup was defeated by this combination of spontaneous actions by the working class and the revolutionary left, with the strike calls of the CP and the unions. The march was called off. The Spínola government collapsed, replaced by the rule of the MFA without the General Staff, and the balance of forces shifted sharply to the left.26

Factory occupations

28 September was a turning point for the revolution, opening the second, more radical phase, with a rise in class struggle and growing opposition to the capitalist system. The right-wing coup plotters were leading figures from the old order, a fact that convinced the left that fascism had not yet been fully eradicated. While the fascist superstructure had been eliminated, the economic, social and political forces that were the base for fascism remained intact and could reassert their power. All the gains of the revolution could be lost, and the fear of arrest and prison radicalised both MFA officers and working-class cadres. The working class, having broken out of the prison of fascism, now broke with the prison of capitalist politics as well. All the neofascist parties, which compromised the bulk of the capitalist parties, were now banned. Well-dressed people, luxury cars, exclusive shops, and expensive restaurants disappeared from the streets and public view.

The radical second stage of revolution, with its greater class polarisation, introduced new revolutionary proletarian methods, including the occupation of the factories, and the beginning of workers’ control of production. As the working-class revolution progressed, so did the counter-revolution, with each class engaged in dynamics of self-protection. As workers became more confident, combative and insistent, the owners grew frightened that they could lose everything. Having failed in their coup attempt, the capitalists tried more economic methods of protecting their property and wealth. These included economic sabotage, laying off workers, cutting work to part-time, closing or threatening to close the factories, and removing equipment from the factory. The bosses began a capital strike, ending investments for new machinery and refusing the money needed to replace or repair worn-out, damaged or obsolete machinery. The multinationals cancelled orders and shifted production to plants in other countries. The six great Portuguese monopolies used the banks they owned to transfer money out of the country – which was revealed by the bank workers’ union when they opened the books.

Such polarising measures are intrinsic to the logic of capitalism during proletarian revolutions in general, not only to Portugal’s. In working-class revolutions, as capital engages in economic sabotage to protect their wealth, class struggle is forced to shift and workers must create new methods of self-defence. Workers moved from strikes over wages and conditions to the struggle for the right to work and defence of their jobs. They started occupying the factories to prevent them from being closed. They demanded that the books be opened and called for worker-control of company finances, so that the money to keep the plant functioning didn’t simply disappear. As this occurred, factory assemblies and workers’ commissions drew the conclusion that to maintain their employment, they had to control the workplace. To control the managers, they started democratically electing their own foremen. When workers realised that they had to control production, or else the factory would go bankrupt and they would lose their jobs, they begin the process of establishing workers’ control inside the factories. This began to take place in Portugal in the autumn of 1974.27

Housing occupations

Complementary to factory occupations were the occupations of housing which had begun in April but accelerated after the failed coup. Tenants and shanty town dwellers formed neighbourhood residents’ commissions, comissão de moraderes (CM), which were patterned after the workers’ commissions of the factories, with assemblies and elections of representatives who were all recallable. Together the CMs and CTs formed the core of the popular power movement, and militants were often active in both.

A hundred thousand members of Lisbon’s working class resided in shanty towns on the outskirts of the city, living in tin huts lacking running water and indoor toilets. Such conditions produced horrendous health problems. To cite just one example, one of every twenty infants died before their first birthday. The shanty town dwellers, along with tenants of other terrible housing, moved into empty apartments and challenged the right of landlords to maintain a large quantity of unoccupied housing for purposes of speculation. They defended the housing occupations with the slogan: “As long as there are people without houses, there should not be houses without people”. During the revolution some 80,000 people in Lisbon moved into occupied housing.

The MFA, SP and CP were against the housing occupations. They defended the property rights of the landlords, arguing that they were for maintaining a coalition with the petty bourgeoisie, not losing its support. COPCON troops were the exception, as they supported the “illegal” occupations, and later enforced the occupations as legal. Armed COPCON troops selected places for workers to occupy, physically defending them against the owners. This further divided COPCON from the MFA and the coalition parties, increased the split within the armed forces and further enhanced the image of COPCON and Otelo. The CMs also fought against the landlords to freeze rents, as well as for determining fair rents of what workers could afford based on their salaries and family sizes.

Since the CP and SP were against occupations, the neighbourhood committees became heavily influenced – even more than the CTs – by revolutionary militants from the PRP, UDP, the League of Revolutionary Unity and Action (LUAR) and MES. The CMs became mobilising forces for the revolutionary demonstrations of the Hot Summer of 1975. Since the occupations were illegal under capitalist law, they appealed to the newly-forming Popular Justice Courts. The CMs raised the slogan “A revolutionary situation demands a revolutionary legality”. They did not recognise the capitalist laws, including the fascist constitution of March 1933 that was still in effect. What they were doing, they stated, was acting in accordance with legality for the working class, establishing revolutionary justice.

After a second failed coup in March, these occupations would spread to vacant houses, mansions and luxury hotels. The neighbourhood commissions took charge of these buildings and turned them into medical clinics, child-care centres, senior centres, libraries, workers’ clubs, canteens and laundries, as well as providing for other social needs. Workers who ran these social centres felt an enormous sense of liberation, pride and accomplishment.28

Inter-Empresas and land occupations

All of these revolutionary actions divided the MFA government and political parties while increasing the size and influence of the radical left. In February 1975, a mass demonstration against unemployment, for the right to work, would become pivotal to the shifting political alliances. The demonstration was called by the Inter-Empresas, a coordinating committee of 37 workers’ commissions, and represented one of the first attempts to link the CTs across individual factories for unified working-class support of strikes and occupations. PRP members were key initiators of this attempt to unify the CTs. The Inter-Empresas called for a mass demonstration against unemployment on 7 February. At the same time, NATO was aggressively holding exercises off Lisbon’s harbour as a warning that it could intervene against the revolution. Fearing NATO, the CP and SP opposed the right-to-work demonstration as overly provocative, and the government decided to ban it. The workers’ commissions were not intimidated, and in response the demonstration added the second demand of “NATO Out, National Independence”. The Inter-Empresas met with and won the support of COPCON, which then had the MFA Assembly overturn the ban on the demonstration. Thirty thousand workers turned out triumphantly, backed by the same revolutionary groups that would later that summer form the United Revolutionary Front (FUR). For the first time, the MFA had broken with the CP and SP to support radicals from the popular power movement. All the political forces understood this as a political opening to the left, and recognised that the existing government coalition could not last.29

Joining with the working-class movement in the factories and neighbourhoods, the farm workers of the south began occupying the huge agricultural estates. These farms, many of them spread over thousands of acres, were owned by the old nobility and were often kept uncultivated as hunting grounds. The agrarian proletariat, reliant on seasonal work, was the most exploited and poorly paid sector of the working class. And as a result, many farmworkers were radical communists. In 1962, under fascism, 200,000 farmworkers, led by the Communist Party, had carried out a general strike and won the eight-hour day. During the revolution, the farmworker occupations occurred under the banner of “land to those who work it”. The workers did not break up the estates to divide the land; instead they reorganised the farms as co-ops and collective farms. The farmworkers were given government credit for tractors and machines to increase the food supply and overcome Portugal’s heavy dependence on food imports. In some places, links were made between the farms and neighbourhood commissions, bringing food to urban workers at lower prices. Many farmworkers from the south regularly came into Lisbon on trucks and tractors to take part in the revolutionary demonstrations.30

March 1975: Another botched coup

The encroachment of popular power on the social relations and legal system of capitalism, the mass occupations of factories and housing and the revolt of troops who refused to go to Angola all convinced leading capitalists to gamble on a second military conspiracy. This coup was planned by General Spínola along with senior army officers, leading industrialists and owners of the six great monopolies and the banks, all of whom were convinced that repression could bring popular compliance. It was an even bigger failure than the first failed coup, technically incompetent and politically misjudged to an extraordinary degree.

The coup began by seeking vengeance on the Light Artillery Regiment (RALIS), one of the most revolutionary of the COPCON forces, who would later become famous when they dropped the required military oath to the country, instead swearing allegiance to the working-class revolution. The RALIS barracks were shelled and bombed, killing one and wounding a dozen enlisted men. Right-wing paratroopers were sent into battle to gain the surrender of RALIS. Instead, when they were surrounded by thousands of enraged workers, they went over to the left.

In response, impromptu mobilisations of workers spread everywhere. A general strike of virtually all factories opposed the coup. Workers rushed to known left-wing barracks and demanded guns. Armed workers then began to patrol the streets. Masses of workers surrounded barracks thought to be sympathetic to the right, and soldiers arrested right-wing officers. The coup plotters did not receive the military backing they had expected from Spínolist military supporters, who later that day were expelled from the MFA. COPCON moved to organise the military defence of Lisbon and was decisive in defeating the coup. Workers’ barricades went up throughout Lisbon, and were reinforced by armed revolutionaries from the PRP and LUAR, as well as COPCON troops. For days workers ran the city. The coup collapsed almost before it started, and many capitalists involved with it fled the country, abandoning their factories, while others, including owners of the six monopolies, were arrested. The MFA Assembly and its Council of the Revolution now had full control of state power.31

But this could not be the revolution’s final resting point. The class struggle went right through the MFA, splitting it into factions that represented different social forces and their political proposals.


On the day of the coup, militant bank workers and their unions occupied the banks, arrested the managers and prevented all attempts to withdraw money or transfer it abroad. They opened the books and exposed how the banks, owned by the six great monopolies, had been subsidising the right wing, organising economic sabotage and stealing from the people and the government. In one case they revealed that the owners of the Espirito Santo bank had stolen two billion dollars from government subsidy funds for job protection and transferred the funds out of the country. The bank workers declared that they would occupy the banks until the they were nationalised under workers’ control. The next day, the government nationalised all of the nation’s domestic banks and insurance companies, which together owned one quarter of national industry. This was a dramatic reversal of its economic plan released just one month earlier, and reflected the enormous impact of the popular revolt against the coup.

The nationalisations were carried out without compensation to the owners, which for capital was a declaration of total war. At other times and in other countries, social democratic governments have carried out nationalisations, but always with compensation, which preserves the wealth and social power of the capitalist class. But this massive confiscation of private capitalist wealth placed the MFA and the revolutionary masses into direct conflict with the capitalist system.32 In response, domestic and international capitalism united to crush the revolution economically and politically. Their aim was to create chaos and hunger. An economic blockade by the European Community (EC) and international capitalism began to try to starve Portugal into submission. Orders to Portugal were cancelled, or not renewed. Tariffs were placed on Portuguese goods. The EC reduced imports from Portugal and blocked it from accessing credit. Foreign direct investments and all international aid and subsidies to Portugal were ended; they would not be restored until after the final, successful right-wing coup. At the same time, the CIA now stepped up its preparations for a third counter-revolutionary coup.33

Workers’ control

The 11 March coup marked another stage in the revolutionary process; an intensification of class warfare, of factory land and housing occupations – and the beginning of dual power. Factories whose owners had fled, or been expropriated, came under workers’ control. In other factories, strikes broke out demanding nationalisation under workers’ control as a pre-emptive measure. These strikes demanded financial backing from the government in order to maintain production and employment.

In May there were strikes for workers’ control at the major factories of TAP, CUF (the largest monopoly), CTT (postal and telephone), as well as at República, one of the newspapers that supported the Socialist Party, and Rádio Renascença, owned by the Catholic Church. Troops were sent in to break the strikes, but in every case, the troops went over to the strikers, shifting the MFA Assembly leftwards.

As political workplaces, República and Rádio Renascença became the flashpoints for the fight over workers’ control. The SP, when it left the government in July, used República as an excuse, claiming that it was the work of the CP attempting to end press freedom as a step toward establishing a Stalinist state. Despite this, most workers understood that the SP was out to crush workers’ control as an idea.34

Hundreds of factories were under workers’ control, with the workers’ commissions supervising the administration. Still, it was an uneven process. In more backward factories, the old administrative or technical staff often ran the factory. In the large, advanced factories, the workers and the CTs organised production, set the hours of work, wages and salaries, replaced piece-rates with fixed salaries, ended dangerous and unsafe working conditions, determined line speed, health and safety measures, and supervised technical personnel. In some workplaces, they raised wages for the lowest paid, froze higher wages, and moved to implement equal pay for women workers. It was an inspiration for every visiting socialist to experience workers’ control – the hallmark of every great proletarian revolution – alive in 400 factories in Portugal. Now working for themselves, the workers humanised working conditions, and simultaneously raised productivity by drawing upon the organising genius that exists in the working class. Workers understood the productive process better than foremen and administrators; they knew how to increase production if the ends would benefit them, not the bosses.35

The workers’ commissions’ primary objective was to keep the factory running in order to pay the wages of the workforce. Firms under worker control were faced with difficult decisions about how to finance the plant and market its products, pay bills and prevent bankruptcy. They needed to gain orders, replace materials and machinery and find markets for their products. Factories under workers’ control, where there was self-management, were still regulated by the capitalist market, and would remain so as long as capitalism persisted. Workers’ control is necessary for socialism, but not sufficient. Without workers taking state power and instituting a planned economy, self-managed factories become co-ops in a capitalist economy.

Many CTs quickly realised this, and did not want to be in the position of exploiting themselves, cutting labour costs in order to sell on the capitalist market. They therefore recognised the need for national planning under workers’ control. But such an approach – that is, the development of a socialist economy that can meet its potential as a force for humane, creative work – can only come about by workers taking state power. In the Portuguese Revolution, this was not simply a desirable socialist goal, but a necessity that could not be postponed. It was workers’ control that forced open the debate on state power and placed it on the immediate agenda.36

Dual power

Dual power is usually presented in terms of two political powers, and the struggle between them. But at a sufficient scale and Portuguese level of militancy, workers’ control can introduce an economic dual power to the capitalist market, in which one side or the other must triumph and bring the struggle to conclusion fairly rapidly. Workers’ control and the capitalist market are the representatives of the two incompatible social systems of capitalism and socialism. The capitalist market will force occupied workplaces to compete on the market, subjecting workers to the laws of capitalist competition. In contrast, under workers’ control, production is not carried out for profit and accumulation, the fundamental dynamic of capitalist production. These two systems were in a deadly competition in which one or the other must destroy its adversary. The intense Hot Summer was the dramatic expression of this life-or-death situation.

In Portugal, while dual power had developed in the factories, farms and neighbourhoods, there were still no working-class political bodies that could pose an alternative to the political power of the state. Without this, the working class had no way of making political decisions – let alone governing – on local or national questions. Factory commissions were not sufficient to respond to Portuguese the economic sabotage engineered by capital, end the colonial wars, deal with the crises in health, education, pensions, social welfare and more. There was no alternative to the existing state and its policies.

Because of this, during the revolution, dual power in Portugal was often humorously derided as dual powerlessness. The government was incapable of enforcing its decisions. This situation reached a climax in November during the building workers’ strike, when the government announced that it was itself “on strike” because it lacked the power to enforce any of its decisions. But there was no working-class alternative government lying in wait to fill this vacuum.

This impasse was a part of the chronic political crisis during the long Hot Summer, as the third stage of the revolution emerged: an advanced revolutionary situation where the central question was deciding which class would hold state power.37

Revolutionary councils

The first proposal for workers to take power had arisen shortly after the failed coup of 11 March, when the PRP proposed the formation of a state based on revolutionary councils of workers, soldiers and sailors (CRTSMs). This proposal was launched through the workers’ commissions of Marinha Grande, where the PRP held a majority of the city’s CTs. Marinha Grande, a small city of 40,000 that was centre of the glass-blowing industry, had a legendary reputation. Its workers had risen against fascism in 1934 and had set up a soviet republic, although it was subsequently crushed. Now its workers were issuing the call for a new soviet republic across all of Portugal. The CRTSMs became the first in a series of proposals on state power that were to follow and that would split the MFA. Discussions in workers’ commissions and army units in some of the most important factories and radical barracks provided support for the CRTSMs. In mid-April, a founding conference of the CRTSMs was held, with representatives from over 200 workers commissions and 40 military units. It was an encouraging start, one that could not be ignored, and led to debates in many workplaces and military units, and within the MFA Assembly.

The first CRTSM public event was a Lisbon demonstration on 17 June, that helped propel the subject of state power to a central position in public debate for the next five months. This demonstration was co-sponsored by the workers’ commissions of Lisnave and Setnave and the PRP and called for workers’ power and the defence of workers’ control at República and Rádio Renascença, both of which were under attack by the SP and Catholic Church respectively. The demonstration of 40,000 workers was led by ten thousand shipyard workers from Lisnave and Setnave. They carried banners calling for all power to the working class, for a state based on workers’ councils, and for the dictatorship of the proletariat. They also raised a slogan that became a favourite chant at many Hot Summer demonstrations: “Fora com a canalha, o poder a quem trabalha” – Out with the scum, power to those who work (the ruling class often referred to the “lower classes” as “canalha”).38

The MFA splits

The MFA Assembly met the next day and came out against the dictatorship of the proletariat. Meanwhile COPCON officers, most notably Otelo de Carvalho, endorsed the CRTSMs. In an indication of the influence of the radical left, Otelo stated that councils and neighbourhood committees were the essence of the Portuguese revolution, and were like soviets that existed in Russia in 1917 before the bureaucracy set up a new class society.

In the weeks that followed, the MFA split into three factions, politically broadly represented by the SP, CP and revolutionary left. Each faction made a proposal to solve the crisis of dual power, through reconstructing political, state and economic power. The three groups mobilised their supporters to battle it out in what was called the Hot Summer, which continued until the coup of 25 November.

The Socialist Party and its collaborators inside the MFA, led by Ernesto Melo Antunes, drafted a proposal called the Document of the Nine, which was signed by 400 officers. It was for parliamentary democracy, and opposed the radicalism of the popular power movement as an obstacle to “real” democracy. It was for resolving the economic crisis of dual power by joining the European Economic Community and accepting the dictates of the capitalist market. It charged the Communist Party with trying to destroy the free press and democracy and attempting to set up a state modelled on Russia and Eastern Europe. The Nine’s main enemy, however, was the revolutionary left and workers’ councils. It attacked the radicalism of what it dismissed as a wild revolutionary vanguard confined to Lisbon and the south; considered workers’ control to be anarchist; and argued that military discipline had to be restored in the barracks, where the troops, in its view, were out of control.39

The Communist Party, and its allied Gonçalvist officers, proposed a state based on Committees in Defence of the Revolution (CDR). Their blueprint was for political power to rest with the MFA and its government, with decisions made from above, but coordinated with tightly controlled popular mobilisations from below. Their model was based on the Cuban state. The Castro government tried behind the scenes to convince radical leftists estranged from the CP to support the CDR proposal. This had some influence on the MES. PRP members, by contrast, shed their illusions in Castroism as they began to understand what it meant in practice, and what its meaning was if applied to the Portuguese working class and to themselves. The CDR plan to resolve the economic crisis was the Battle for Production, for workers’ control to be co-managed with supervisors and local government authorities in order to increase production through voluntarism, gutting real workers’ control. These bureaucratic proposals that tried to straddle and avoid firm decisions on dual power had limited appeal beyond the CP.40

COPCON presented the third alternative, that of the revolutionary left, for a state based upon the popular power organisations – the workers’ and neighbourhood commissions, farmworkers’ co-ops and barrack units. The COPCON document denounced both the CP’s attempt to control the state apparatus and the social democratic Document of the Nine as hostile to popular power and a way of keeping the means of production in the hands of the bourgeoise.

The COPCON document was written by COPCON officers (primarily from the PRP, with input from officers from the UDP and MES as well) and by Isabel do Carmo (General Secretary of the PRP). The PRP explained that the COPCON document was a compromise since it maintained the MFA and the MFA-Peoples Alliance. This was not the same, they said, as soviet power, but would hopefully be a transition towards it. The idea was that if implemented, this set-up would Gonçalves be given the content by the working class that would quickly lead to a soviet state. The economic emphasis of the COPCON document was for the extension of workers’ control to the entire economy, while developing economic self-sufficiency and trade with the third world in order to break from the “imperialist” market.41

The Hot Summer

By the Hot Summer, which continued into November, the MFA was moving to the right as the three factions struggled for power. The summer featured mass mobilisations, demonstrations, strikes, occupations, dramatic battles over República and Rádio Renascença, and clashes between military units. Demonstrations in Lisbon were the largest since the first May Day, with tens and hundreds of thousands participating. In the working-class quarters, in all the cafés, bars, neighbourhood clubs, subways, buses, even at soccer games, people were talking and arguing about the meaning of each of the three political programs, the strength of the contending forces, and what could be done to take power.

The revolutionary left was being forced to act together as a more united force. This was given urgency by the question of state power and their shared support for the COPCON document, as well as the threat of the right within the MFA and the reactionary riots in the north of Portugal. The PRP proposed and organised a united front, the United Revolutionary Front (FUR), with the other revolutionary left groups: LUAR, MES, LCI, and the Popular Socialist Front (FSP), with the occasional support of the UDP. The FUR became the organising centre for the mass demonstrations and activity in support of the COPCON document and in defence of workers’ control at República and Rádio Renascença. As the united alternative to the CP and SP, the FUR gave the revolutionary left the ability to win many workers, neighbourhood commissions, farmworkers, co-ops and radical soldiers to its proposals and demonstrations. As a whole, the groups in the FUR functioned as greater than the sum of their parts; a unified revolutionary left that was recognised as a serious contender for power.

The FUR and the UDP, with the support of 250 workers’ and neighbourhood commissions, called the first demonstration in support of the COPCON document, which attracted, 120,000 workers, soldiers and sailors.

But the two great weakness of the revolution remained: the absence of soviets and of a mass revolutionary workers’ party. The PRP, despite its remarkable and creative achievements, was still a small party of a few thousand, and therefore not a credible alternative to the major parties. The FUR was an attempt to bridge this gap, but was a coalition, not a revolutionary party. The FUR’s cohesion would be challenged by sharp political differences, sometimes over minor points. These inevitably required negotiations to resolve, limiting the FUR’s ability to make rapid sharp shifts, or to function as a disciplined body. The coalition was necessary to defend the revolution from the growing right, and to advance the revolution as the alternative to social democracy and the CP. But it was not the force that could arm and politically prepare the working class for a revolutionary uprising, an armed insurrection and a possible civil war.42

The prospect of a civil war was being foreshadowed as the north of the country was rocked by armed right-wing mobs that attacked 100 offices of the CP and left groups, burning them down, and beating and shooting those on the scene, leaving some dead in their wake. These attacks were supported by the right, the SP, the Catholic Church and the Maoist MRPP and PCP-ml. The PRP was the only group to shoot back when armed mobs attacked its headquarters in the north.43

Soldiers United for Victory

As the MFA officers shifted to the right, their bonds with working-class troops grew increasingly strained and broken. This led to a growing soldiers’ revolt, characterised by insubordination, the collapse of military discipline, the creation of an underground soldiers’ press, outright mutiny, and finally the formation of a united revolutionary organisation in the barracks, Soldiers United for Victory (SUV).

SUV began in the Oporto area in the north, which had been the first place right-wing officers had taken over the MFA in the summer of 1975. The northern region MFA defended the right-wing mobs and replaced General Eurico Corvacho, the Gonçalvist commander of the north, with a right-winger who then purged left-wing soldiers and officers. An underground meeting of hundreds of soldiers took place in August to defend Corvacho and the expelled soldiers. That meeting was quickly followed by the founding of SUV, the largest rank-and-file soldiers’ organisation since the Russian Revolution. SUV was organised by soldiers from the PRP, UDP, MES, the Internationalist Communist League (LCI) and LUAR, the same groups that supported the COPCON document. For the first time, soldiers from these groups created a joint organisation in the army, moved by the bursting of illusions in the MFA as it shifted to the right.

At SUV’s first public appearance, a press conference on 7 September, they announced their program and purpose: to organise inside the army, to defend left-wing soldiers, to democratise the army and to end MFA rule. SUV identified themselves as workers in uniform, and raised working-class demands for better conditions, better pay, a single mess with officers’ food, and free transport for soldiers (trips home often took the whole month’s pay). Their manifesto charged that a reactionary offensive was underway in and out of the barracks, and that the MFA was now in the service of the counter-revolution. SUV raised as its slogans: “Reactionaries Out of the Barracks” and “Soldiers are Always on the Side of the People”.

SUV’s vision for a democratic army involved mass assemblies and the elections of recallable soldiers’ committees. They sought to link these soldiers’ committees with workers’ and neighbourhood commissions, with the goal of strengthening the Popular Assemblies. They were against all imperialisms. They viewed themselves as the armed wing of the working class, in struggle with all workers for the destruction of the MFA and the bourgeois army, for the creation of a revolutionary army of the working class. SUV was the reflection and intensification of dual power, now also inside the military.44

The working class immediately rallied around SUV, as the hoped-for defence against the right-wing offensive. Workers’ support for SUV rapidly led to mass demonstrations. On 10 September, three days after the appearance of SUV, 40,000 workers, alongside 2,000 soldiers, demonstrated in Oporto. The next day, in Lisbon, 33 military units took part in the SUV demonstration. The SUV demos were the biggest ever held in Portugal’s provincial cities. One of the most sensational demonstrations of the Hot Summer was the united FUR and SUV demonstration of 120,000 people in Lisbon on 25 September, in defence of jailed SUV members, with thousands of soldiers making up the largest military presence ever at a demo. Masses of workers and soldiers then seized the city buses, driving them to the military jail outside Lisbon where they forced the authorities to free the political prisoners.45

Soviets and guns

Also on 7 September, the same day as SUV’s public appearance, left-wing units of the military police revolted and refused to be sent to Angola. Then on September 10, Captain Álvaro Fernandes, an Angolan PRP officer and one of the authors of the COPCON document, went underground after turning over 1,500 G-3 automatic weapons to the PRP and workers’ commissions. Otelo publicly defended this action, saying: “The guns are in good hands”. (At the same time, however, Otelo was also denouncing SUV, since it called for the destruction of the MFA and the bourgeois army, which reflected Otelo’s confused loyalties over dual power.)

At this point, the workers’ commission at Lisnave was already armed, and the PRP was forming armed worker militias in other factories. These events were creating an insurrectionary mood inside the working class. The PRP then made its famous announcement that the working class should arm itself to prepare for an insurrection, which, they argued, was the only road to prevent civil war.46

In September, the first soviets appeared, but there were only two of them. One was located in the city of Marinha Grande, the stronghold of the PRP mentioned earlier. The second soviet was a broader, more representative council of dual power that appeared in Setúbal at the end of September. It called itself the Committee of Struggle of Setúbal, and was formed under the initiative and influence of the PRP cells in the city’s factories. It had representatives from Setnave and most of the city’s workers commissions, from the neighbourhood commissions and from all the army units in Setúbal. The Setúbal newspaper placed itself in support of the Committee of Struggle, publicising its events, decisions and actions. The Committee was so popular that it drew in the periphery of the Communist Party, which forced the CP itself to support it. It was a workers’ council, a dual power in the city of Setúbal, which served as a governing power, enforcing rent control, supporting occupations and mass demonstrations, supervising the city government, and more. It called itself a committee of struggle, rather than a council, because its objective was to struggle for a working-class seizure of power.47

Another promising development was the strengthening of a few Popular Assemblies in some parts of Lisbon. The Assemblies came out of an earlier MFA proposal to coordinate neighbourhood committees, workers’ commissions and soldiers’ units with local authorities, as functioning local governments. The Popular Assemblies were against the right and for defence of the revolution, but were highly uneven politically and often lacked political clarity. They had been set up by, and were loyal to, the MFA, and were paralysed as the MFA became an instrument of the right. Some of the better Popular Assemblies were potential nuclei of workers’ councils, had the revolution continued.

When the centre-right bloc gained a majority within the MFA, the government fell. The new, sixth provisional government represented a drastic shift to the right. It was dominated by the SP and the Group of Nine, with Vasco Gonçalves dismissed and CP influence curtailed. In an attempt to regain power, the CP then moved dramatically to the left, aiming to increase and use its popular support as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the SP and MFA. The CP now took some positions similar to those of the revolutionary left, blocking the continued growth of the revolutionary left, and shifting some working-class support back to the CP.

Since both the CP and the revolutionary left were battling the same SP-MFA-Right bloc, cooperation occurred among their supporters, who came out for each other’s demonstrations, without official co-sponsorship. Sharp political differences persisted which limited joint activity. But the CP was a mass force that was now making radical statements, supporting radical actions, and verbally flirting with the popular power movement. For some worker supporters of the FUR, the CP was seen as a lesser evil than the social democrats. The CP had led the building workers’ strike, the most radical strike of the period, that barricaded the presidential palace and held the cabinet and the parliament as hostages. The CP’s flirtation with radicalism convinced many workers that the CP was the necessary force to defend the revolution, defeat the right and open the road to state power. This belief was an understandable illusion, but an illusion nonetheless. As the CP manipulated the workers’ and popular power movement in order to negotiate the terms of its return to the government with the SP and the MFA, it remained the major barrier to the working class taking power.

The coup of 25 November 1975

All of these developments came to a climax with a third, successful, coup on 25 November. Officers associated with the CP, under the impression that the CP supported their action, started the motions for a peculiarly amateurish attempted coup, which in turn was the signal for the successful joint social democratic and-right-wing coup that would end the revolutionary situation.

At the start of these competing coups, the CP pulled the plug, abandoning its military supporters and imposing discipline on its trade unions to block all attempts to strike or mobilise against the right. At a meeting the night before, the CP’s leader, Cunhal, had come to an agreement with Melo Antunes, the organiser of the next day’s coup. The details of that meeting have never been made public. But on 26 November, Melo Antunes went on television to defend the CP from charges of plotting a coup, and to prevent any measures against the CP. Melo Antunes argued that including the CP in the government was necessary to defend democratic stability. The deal perhaps had been for the CP to tolerate a social democratic coup as a lesser evil than a right-wing coup. For Melo Antunes, the real danger was not the CP, but what he referred to as the Lisbon Commune, after the Paris Commune of 1871. It was the revolutionary left, and the PRP in particular, that would be slandered with coup-plotting and repressed.48

The coup of 25 November was not the right-wing coup that had been expected. Until then, the revolutionary left, as well as most other political forces, had thought a new coup would mean the return of fascism, or some facsimile of fascism. The chant at left demonstrations had been “Portugal will not become the Chile of Europe”, in reference to the CIA-backed coup that had overthrown the left-wing government of Salvador Allende and installed the Pinochet dictatorship just two years earlier. But the 25 November coup in Portugal was to be carried out by the social democratic centre of the MFA, albeit with right-wing support.

The key players in the coup, besides Melo Antunes, were Frank Carlucci, Mário Soares and António Ramalho Eanes. Carlucci, a sophisticated imperialist, was the US Ambassador and a CIA agent, who would later be promoted to second-in-command of the CIA. Carlucci had been secretly organising for a social democratic coup for over a year, convinced that after two failed right-wing attempts, a similar third one had no better prospects for popular support and success. He was convinced that a Chilean solution in Portugal would only bring on civil war, with the final outcome uncertain. Instead he hoped that a social democratic solution and entry into the Common Market would stabilise Portugal as a capitalist country in the Western bloc.

Carlucci’s main agent and co-thinker was Mário Soares of the SP. Carlucci arranged for substantial CIA funding of the Socialist Party as the logical organiser of popular forces for a coup. The CIA’s large monthly financing of SP activity was laundered through the German Social Democratic Party and British Labour Party. Thus international social democracy maintained its historical record of backing counter-revolutionary violence .

Melo Antunes and the MFA reformers would not finalise coup preparations until after Angolan Independence on 11 November, for fear that if the right-wing won the coup, they would continue the colonial wars. Melo Antunes was the MFA’s house intellectual: a self-described Marxist and Gramscian, author of the MFA’s major programmatic documents, and the leader of the MFA majority and Group of Nine. He was a left social democrat, who supported the educated elite implementing reforms for the masses, as long as the masses did not take matters into their own hands.

Ramalho Eanes, the other main figure in the coup, organised the military operations. Eanes had one foot in each camp – the Group of Nine, all of whose meetings he attended, and the centre-right. He became the main beneficiary of the coup, becoming president of the Republic the following year. His operational troops were the right-wing Amadora commandos led by the far-right Jaime Neves, whose role Eanes had kept secret from the Group of Nine.49

Social democratic counter-revolution

Social democratic repression differs from right-wing repression. In Portugal, social democratic piecemeal “reform” tactics were used over a period of years to restore full capitalist functioning, with a tempo designed to avoid violent working-class resistance. The immediate action was to crush what it viewed as its most dangerous enemies, the revolutionary left in the military. On the day of the coup, COPCON was abolished and Otelo arrested. Radical units were then purged, reorganised or dissolved. Restoring army discipline was the first step to restoring state repression over society.

The next step was to restore disciplined functioning in the state apparatus. Revolutionary groups were persecuted, the PRP more than any other, with 100 members jailed, and arrests continuing for years. The two main leaders of the PRP, Isabel do Carmo and Carlos Antunes, later received long jail terms; meanwhile, Spínola and right-wing coup plotters were welcomed home from exile.

Still, it took a few years for the state to gain the confidence to crack down on the factory committees and on workers’ control, often through financial pressure. Workers’ control had come into existence to defend employment; now, to maintain jobs it was forced to accept management control. It took more years still to undo the nationalisations and restore them to private ownership, and longer still to give financial compensation to the former owners. The government proceeded step by step, in a more sophisticated counter-revolutionary process than the traditional right-wing counter-revolutionary dictatorship and savage repression.

The Portuguese revolution ended on 25 November 1975, but many revolutionaries did not immediately accept defeat. Revolutionaries are trained to always be the last to leave the field of battle, and in some past instances, what could seem to be defeats turned out to be only temporary setbacks. The immediate revolutionary situation was over, but the revolution might have revived, in conjunction with international events in Italy, Greece, and most importantly, in Spain. Franco had died on 20 November 1975. Until then, there had never been a democratic transition away from fascism. As a result, the left expected a revolution in Spain, which could then revive the Portuguese revolution. That did not occur, thanks to the atrocious politics of the Spanish Communist Party, which was desperate to engineer a peaceful transition.

The defeat of the Portuguese Revolution turned out to be the final act of the 1960s–’70s radicalism. The neoliberal offensive had begun germinating in the 1975 recession. There would be no more reforms for the working class, but rather a decades-long attack by capital, with right-wing advances and working-class retreats.

Had the Socialist and Communist Parties been for the working class taking power, the Portuguese Revolution would not have been defeated. Social democracy and Stalinism were responsible for this missed opportunity for workers to take power in the heart of Europe.

Still, the Portuguese Revolution provides many important lessons for the revolutionary left that have been lost owing to the defeat of the revolution, and by decades of neoliberal reaction internationally. Those lessons are not all that different from those of other great working-class revolutions. The most basic is that the coming revolution will be a proletarian revolution or there will not be a revolution. Building organs of workers’ democracy and dual power is necessary, but not sufficient for victory. The revolutionary process is also a process for the counter-revolution, and both sides have time constraints. If the revolutionary workers do not take state power, the counter-revolution will end the revolutionary situation and workers’ democracy will be destroyed. Never underestimate reformism. In a revolutionary period, vehicles for reformism backed by powerful sponsors can be reinvented overnight as the agents of reaction. The indispensable instrument for the working class to emancipate itself is its own revolutionary party. The greatest chance for successful revolution is to not postpone party building, whose every advance now is a bridge to future liberation.

This piece first appeared in the Marxist Left Review


Birchall, Ian 1979, “Social Democracy and the Portuguese ‘revolution’”, International Socialism, 2:6, Autumn, pp.71–84.

Cliff, Tony 1975, “Portugal at the Crossroads”, International Socialism, 1:81/82, September 1975.

Downs, Charles 1989, Revolution at the Grassroots, State University of New York Press.

Faye, Jean Pierre 1976, Portugal: The Revolution in the Labyrinth, Spokesman Books.

Ferreira, Hugo Gil and Michael Marshall 1986, Portugal’s Revolution: Ten Years On, Cambridge University Press.

Figueiredo, Antonio de, 1975, Portugal, Fifty Years of Dictatorship, Holmes & Meier.

Geier, Joel 1975, “Out With the Scum, Power to Those Who Work”, Workers’ Power, No.128, 14–17 September.

Geier, Joel and David Finkel 1976, “The Portuguese Revolution and the PRP”, Documents of the International Socialists (U.S.), 1969–1986.

Hammond, John 1998, Building Popular Power: Worker’s and Neighbourhood Movements in the Portuguese Revolution, Monthly Review Press.

Inprecor 1975, “The Soldiers Show the Way”, No.35, 9 October.

Insight Team of the Sunday Times 1975, Insight on Portugal: The year of the captains, Andre Deutsch.

Levitan, Mark 1975, “Portugal Won’t Be the Chile of Europe”, Workers’ Power, No.130, 2–15 October, pp.8–9.

Luxemburg, Rosa 1906, The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions

Mailer, Phil 1977, Portugal, The Impossible Revolution?, Free Life Editions.

Peoples Translation Service, Berkely 1975, Portugal: Key Documents of the Revolutionary Process.

Ponte, Bruno da 1974, The last to leave, Portuguese colonialism in Africa, International Defence and Aid Fund.

Radical America 1975, “Documents of the Workers’ Struggle”, Vol.9, No.6, November–December.

Robinson, Peter 1987, “Portugal 1974–75: Popular Power”, in Colin Barker (ed.), Revolutionary Rehearsals, Bookmarks.

Robinson, Peter 1990, Workers’ Councils in Portugal 1974–75, Open Research Online.

Robinson, Peter 2011, “Workers’ Councils in Portugal 1974–75”, in Immanuel Ness and Dario Azzellini (eds), Ours to Master and To Own. Workers’ Control from the Commune to the Present, Haymarket Books.

Varela, Raquel 2018, “The PCP in Portugal’s Revolution 1974–75”, International Socialism, 2:157, Winter.

Varela, Raquel 2019, A People’s History of The Portuguese Revolution, Pluto Press.

Workers’ Power 1975, “News Direct from Revolutionary Portugal”, Nos.129–138.

1 Ponte 1974; Figueiredo 1975, pp.186–216.

2 Varela 2019, p.64; Hammond 1998, pp.75–6; Insight 1975, pp.96–7.

3 Insight 1975, pp.33–53.

4 Figueiredo 1975, p.103–4; Varela 2019, pp.56–62; Mailer 1977, pp.185–7.

5 Hammond 1998, pp.63–70; Insight 1975, pp.16–18.

6 Figueiredo 1975, pp.105–45; Mailer 1977, p.108.

7 Ferreira and Marshall 1986, pp.15–16; Insight 1975 pp.31–52.

8 Mailer 1977, pp.37–59; Varela 2019, pp.16–28.

9 Hammond 1998, pp.74–7; Mailer 1977 pp.59–61; Varela 2019 pp.29–30.

10 Insight 1975, pp.103–4, Varela 2019, p.160.

11 Varela 2019, pp.32–9; Robinson 1987, pp.90–1; Mailer 1977, pp.131–44.

12 Hammond 1998, pp.77–81.

13 Robinson 1990, pp.73–9.

14 Varela 2019, pp.67–71 and 124–7.

15 See Luxemburg 1906, chapter VI.

16 Varela 2019, pp.32–51; Hammond 1998, pp.78–83.

17 Varela 2019, pp.69–71; Cliff 1975, pp.16–17.

18 Cliff 1975, pp.12–17; Varela 2018.

19 Birchall 1979.

20 Cliff 1975, p.20; Robinson 1987, p.97.

21 Program of the PRP in Peoples Translation Service 1975, pp.26–31; Cliff 1975, pp.18–19; Geier 1975; Geier and Finkel 1976.

22 Insight 1975, pp.135–8.

23 Ferreira and Marshall 1986, pp.106–7 and pp.147–50; Insight 1975, pp.140–5 and 169–75.

24 Ferreira and Marshal 1986, pp.114–21; Insight 1975, pp.73–8 and 139–40; Faye 1976, pp.46–9.

25 Mailer 1977, pp.115–6 and 373–4; Varela 2019, pp.75–6.

26 Insight 1975, pp.166–80; Mailer 1977, pp.120–6; Robinson 1987, pp.93–6.

27 Varela 2019, p.84–90; Geier 1975.

28 Hammond 1998, pp.126–34; Varela 2019, pp.128–30; Ferreira and Marshall, 1986, p.152; Downs 1989.

29 Robinson 1990, pp.153–63; Robinson 2011, pp.267–71; Varela 2019, pp.119–22.

30 Mailer 1997, pp.155–67; Hammond 1998, pp.178–85; Varela 2019, pp.183–93.

31 Insight 1975, pp.219–31; Cliff 1975, pp.23–5; Mailer 1977, pp.196–201, Varela 2019, pp.140–1; Ferreira and Marshall 1986, pp.190–2.

32 Hammond 1998, pp.141–54; Varela 2019, pp.150–64; Insight 1975, pp.216–8.

33 Cliff 1975, pp.35–7; Workers’ Power, No.126.

34 Radical America 1975; Mailer 1977, pp.227–36; Varela 2019, pp.194–8; Workers’ Power, No.135; Geier, meeting with República Workers’ Commission, July 1975.

35 Robinson 2011, pp.263–80; Hammond 1998, pp.159–71; Varela 2019, pp.143–50; Workers’ Power, No.126.

36 Geier 1975. Geier, discussions with Setnave Workers’ Commission, July 1975 and August 1976.

37 Varela 2019, pp.267–9; Hammond 1998, pp.236–7.

38 Peoples Translation Service 1975, pp.20–6; Robinson 1990, pp.175–218; Varela 2019, pp.167–77; Geier 1975.

39 Faye 1976, pp.165–71; Hammond 1998, pp.214–5; Insight 1975, pp.262–3.

40 Varela 2019, pp.171–2.

41 Faye 1976, pp.172–9; Ferreira and Marshall 1986, pp.115–21; Varela 2019, p.202.

42 Mailer 1977, p.390; Varela 2019, pp.207–10; Workers’ Power, No.128.

43 Mailer 1977, pp.264–9; Insight 1975, pp.256–9; Hammond 1998, pp.209–13.

44 Peoples Translation Service 1975, pp.37–8; Inprecor 1975; Varela 2019, pp.225–9; Robinson 1987, pp.109–10; Workers’ Power, No.129.

45 Levitan 1975.

46 Mailer 1977, pp.311–2; Hammond 1998, pp.233–4; Workers’ Power, Nos.133 and 136.

47 Varela 2019, pp.231–3; Robinson 1990, pp.269–90; Robinson 2011, pp.274–8; Downs 1989, pp.58–62; Workers’ Power, No.132.

48 Faye 1976, Otelo testimony, pp.41–6; Varela 2019, pp.243–8; Hammond 1998, pp.242–8; Workers’ Power, No.138.

49 Ferreira and Marshall 1986, pp.193–8; Melo Antunes interview pp.163–7, Otelo de Carvalho interview p.117–21, Vasco Lourenço interview pp.134–7.

Joel Geier has been active in the US socialist movement since the 1960s. He is an associate editor of the International Socialist Review, and has written on many topics, including world crisis, Marxist economics, social movements, and the soldier’s rebellion during the Vietnam War.