Today marks the 39th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution, when a military insurrection toppled the ultra-conservative Portuguese regime. It installed an effectively socialist-revolutionary government between April 1974 and November 1975, which in turn set in motion the nationalisation of several major industries, banks and media, as well as the development of a functioning welfare state. The slogan of the revolutionary junta, also known as the National Salvation Junta, was the 3 D’s: “democratise, decolonise, develop”.
The revolutionary process was stalled by a botched ultra-left coup immediately followed by a moderate counterinsurgency, which put in power a social-democratic administration. The liberal governments that followed the post-revolution period were ideologically openly committed to the forces of capital, leading to an increasing corrosion of the many social victories made on the 25th April 1974. Raphael Samuel said that with the political and institutional development of post-1975 “arguably the best single chance of a socialist revolution in Western Europe (…) was spectacularly missed” (source).
Thirty-nine years later the hope lies now, once again, in the revolutionary forces of the south of Europe, where capitalist dogmatism is weak due to relentless austerity measures. Just like Perry Anderson postulated in the mid-seventies, countries like Portugal, Spain, Greece and Italy have electorally successful, but ultimately not working-class loyal, centre-left organisations, as well as a puny capitalist elite, which is itself constantly written off by Imperialist powers (think IMF, European Central Bank, World Bank, European Union, United States foreign policy, etc). This socio-economic, political dynamic could be explosive, and with the winds of revolution blowing from the Middle East and North African regions (as well as popular dissent having seen a revival with the Occupy and student movements), a ‘spectre’ could well be ‘haunting’ southern Europe once again.
On this day, in which we remember one of the most progressive days in Western Europe’s history, let us raise a glass to this spectre. Might it bring change, justice, equality, freedom and peace.
For more on the 1974 Carnation Revolution, see Peter Robinson’s chapter in Arms and the People: Popular Movements and the Military from the Paris Commune to the Arab Spring (Pluto, 2012).
Popular Movements and the Military from the Paris Commune to the Arab Spring
Edited by Mike Gonzalez and Houman Barekat
Draws on a range of global historical experiences to examine the relationship between mass movements and military institutions.
“These engaged case studies from some 150 years represent a very welcome review of both the popular armed struggle and the institutions of state violence.” – James Dunkerley, Professor of Politics at Queen Mary, University of London, and former Director of the Institute for the Study of the Americas
“A most revealing study of some of the most dramatic moments of modern history, from the people in arms in the Paris Commune to today’s headlines. Often beaten back but even then leaving a legacy of achievement and understanding to carry the struggle forward.” – Noam Chomsky