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Introdução a Workers' Councils in Portugal : 1974-1975

    
Peter Robinson
  
 
Introdução a Workers' Councils in Portugal: 1974-1975 

The attendance at some political demonstrations in Portugal 1974/5 exceeded that of the total Saturday turnout for the English Football League. In the working class bars there was intense discussion and argument. Talk of football was all but forgotten. Seven year old children could tell one about the many political parties of the left, their papers, badges and slogans. Furthermore they would explain why they supported a particular party. There was nothing but goodwill for the working class throughout the world. Workers discussed the situation in France, in England, Argentina and Brazil as if they'd been professors of politics all their lives. Posters advocating armed insurrection were legal. Even the bus tickets had political slogans on them.

The commanders of the state could no longer rely upon the army. Tanks rub1ed in cobbled streets alongside, and carrying, demonstrating workers. The scale of factory occupations recalled Turin in 1920, Cata1onia in 1936, France 1936 and 1968. And not only the factories were taken over. Popular clinics and cultural centres mushroomed. In one hospital the workers took over from the nuns and urged them to come and vote at the mass meetings. Empty houses and apartments were requisitioned. The organisation of tenants and residents was incomparably larger than anything else seen in Europe. On the land, workers took over the estates and gave their communes names like “Red Star” and “Dictatorship of the Proletariat”. 

What the workers achieved and organised still has to be remembered, celebrated and analysed. The turmoil of ‘74 and '75 was probably the most observed and televised revolutionary period ever. The European left hired charter planes. A holiday-maker in Portugal now would see little evidence of those halcyon, unbelievable days. Some wall paintings may be visible, perhaps still splendid, but a slender tribute to the creativity of the painters, people with little artistic and political training who, within months, painted gigantic murals.
 
Since then the whole thing has been allowed to dissolve. Only a handful books has appeared in English. It is almost as if nothing happened; as if we have nothing to learn.

Tese de mestrado em Filosofia Política apresentada ao Centre for Sociology & Social Research (UK) em 1989
 

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