Kornilov with a Monacle

By Sam Marcy

October 21, 1974

The political crisis in Portugal is deepening. On the surface everything is being done to present a picture of calm and serenity. Underneath, however, political tensions are rising. Class antagonisms are growing more acute. The workers, encouraged by the monumental and spectacular victory on September 28 over the fascist conspirators, are more confident than ever.

The mood, even according to the hostile Western capitalist press, is one of a growing sense of strength and solidarity. The possessing classes feel more threatened than ever. However, all the basic social and political forces which plotted the fascist conspiracy on September 28 and mounted the aborted march of the phony "silent majority" on Lisbon are still at large and free to pursue the same objective they set out to achieve then.

"Not a shot was fired exclaimed General Costa Gomes in commenting on the victorious confrontation of the masses with the fascist conspirators. True enough, not a shot was fired. The masses are a thousand times more generous in their treatment of vanquished enemies than are the tormentors of the working class. That's been so ever since the Paris Commune, down to the last socialist revolution in Cuba.


It should be noted that only about 200 of the fascist elements have been arrested. Almost all of them, without exception, are from three obscure, ultra-right groupings. The offices of these three fascist groups have been occupied and closed by the security forces.

The core of the conspiracy, however, does not lie there. These are merely fringe groupings which the real conspirators can easily denounce and repudiate. They are really of no consequence so far as the general struggle is concerned.

The heart of the conspiracy lies within the summits of the Portuguese ruling class which is relying on both the fascist right in the military and the covert support of the Western European imperialists and the U.S. Surely CIA clandestine operations in Portugal are in full swing now.

It was to little avail that General Costa Gomes groveled on all fours before President Ford and Secretary Kissinger in Washington last week, asserting that his visit here to the White House "helped to dissipate mutual concern." Nor can there be any comfort in the fact that Ford and Kissinger have dispatched a four-man team to Lisbon to assess that the country's future direction was favorable enough to make U.S. willing to help the crisis-ridden Portuguese economy." Any talk of U.S. "help" is a crude deception, a damnable lie deliberately calculated to sow confusion in Portuguese public opinion and above all to disorient the working class, which is deeply distrustful of any U.S. "favors" or "assistance."

They remember too well, even if their leaders prefer to forget, how the U.S. has really acted in the past.


The Ford-Kissinger strategy for Portugal is to talk sweet reasonableness to try to intimidate, cajole, and bribe the provisional government and make them do Washington's bidding as much as possible within the limits of the present situation, while stealthily supporting the fascist reaction.

The Portuguese government's pledges to support NATO and to renew the lease on the Lejas air base in the Azores, while ignominious and shameless betrayals of the September 28 victory of the masses, will not satisfy the demands of the Pentagon, although it is undoubtedly delighted to receive Gomes's promises to that effect. The Ford-Kissinger strategy is aimed at crushing the revitalized working class movement and the revolutionary ferment of the masses that has permeated all layers of the oppressed, including vast sections of the petty bourgeoisie.

The aims of the rightist reactionaries in Portugal, both those in the highest circles of big business as well as the rightist generals of the military, coincide exactly with those of Ford and Kissinger. This must be borne in mind. Those who take for good coin the soothing pronouncements of the provisional government are bound to be misled.

It would be far better if the eyes of the masses were fastened on the inner circle of the Confederation of Portuguese Industries (an organization like the National Association of Manufacturers in the U.S.). For public dissemination the confederation talks of the improved economic situation at home and seeks to assure that no real cause for alarm exists in the country. But in reality the lords of high finance and industry and the MNCs (multi-national corporations) in Portugal are preparing for economic sabotage, if that is not already in progress.


The soaring inflation, the growing unemployment are grist to their mill. These are the intractable problems that only a truly socialist government can solve. No amount of chatter about democracy can cover this brutal fact. Nor will it be of any avail to beg for foreign investments, as did the Secretary General of the Portuguese Communist Party, Alvaro Cunhal.

The more the CP moderated its demands, the bolder and more insolent big business and their rightist military become. In fact, this whets their appetite.

It was Cunhal himself who wrote in early September, "The intrigues of the reactionaries are becoming increasingly insolent and unrestrained, because they are becoming aware of their imminent defeat."

The reaction has been halted for the moment, but by no means defeated. The intrigues are continuing even if the insolence for the moment has been suppressed.

And who specifically has been at the center of the intrigues? Who was more insolent at the cabinet meeting on the eve of the September 28 confrontation? Who poured the vials of his wrath at Cunhal himself at that critical meeting? General Spinola.

It is Spinola who is still at the center of all the intrigues of the fascist reaction. It is he who summoned the phony silent majority" for the Mussolini-type march on the Palacio De Belem (it corresponds to the U.S. White House). It is he who denounced the working class organizations and charged them with being bent on "bringing on a new slavery."

His resignation speech over radio and TV, after the victorious confrontation of the workers against the fascists, was not one of contrition, let alone a confession for plotting. It was one of insolent defiance and thinly disguised calls for renewed efforts at fascist mobilization.

The very fact that this ex-butcher of the African people is still at large and is permitted to carry on usual activities means that the ruling class and the rightist military are still organizing around him for the counterrevolution.


There is no doubt that he is serving as the symbol around which all the forces of conservatism and reaction are again gathering and rallying. All the platitudes about devotion to democracy cannot conceal this enormous and ominous fact Nor should it be forgotten that the U.S. military the CIA and Ford and Kissinger have shared a common view with Spinola and his ilk and class supporters all these many years and will at the proper moment throw him all possible support.

Like Russia's General Kornilov, who rallied the reactionary forces in the summer of 1917 in an attempt to overthrow the Kerensky Provisional Government Spinola can be turned back by the organized and determined effort of the working class.

But Spinola-Kornilov and his military camarilla and big business supporters are still at large in Portugal only awaiting the opportune moment. Only the broad masses of people only the oppressed and exploited can stop them. This time, the Portuguese masses must go all the way.

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