[Marxism] Re: Bush November 2003 Visit To England--reply to Walter

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Apr 3 08:08:36 MST 2004

Steve Gabosch wrote:
>So, I am curious, Walter ­ and any other reader on marxmail that might like to
>respond - whether you disagree with any of these points.  Perhaps these
>editorial points have some facts wrong?

These editorial points do not include what is the most interesting element 
for people like us,  namely the thinking of the Spanish working class when 
it decided to vote for Zapatero. This, of course, is a very interesting 
story and one that might inspire socialists whatever one thinks of Zapatero 
himself. This is from Alan Woods's "Lessons of Spain". Woods is an 
ortho-Trotskyist from Great Britain and long-time collaborator with Ted 
Grant, who must be in his 90s now. It is the kind of reportage that 
socialists should be producing, leaving aside the obligatory "build the 
revolutionary party" call that usually accompanies such items.


The murderous attack of Thursday 11th March struck the working class. The 
districts affected were not the bourgeois Barrio de Salamanca but places 
like Vallecas and Pozo. The people who were killed were not bankers and 
stock exchange speculators but workers going to work in their overalls and 
children from working class families on their way to schools and colleges.

In the funerals there were few suits and ties. The faces of grief were the 
faces of ordinary working class people, consumed with grief and suffering. 
They were people who had been forced to pay a terrible price for actions 
beyond their control or comprehension.

In normal times people like these pay little or no attention to politics. 
They do not interest themselves in events that unfold on the world scale, 
because such events seem very distant and remote. They do not impinge upon 
their everyday lives, or those of their families. But now, like a 
thunderbolt from a clear blue sky, the world crisis blasted the world of 
ordinary men and women and turned their lives upside down.

The main reason why the people of Spain voted massively to eject the PP is 
that they correctly thought that Aznar's slavish support for George Bush 
and his so-called "war on terror" had put Spain in the front line as a 
target for Islamist radicals, and directly produced the devastating 
terrorist attacks in Madrid on Thursday. However, none of this would have 
happened without the direct intervention of the masses.

The demonstrations called by the PP were everywhere turning into anti-PP 
demonstrations. By Saturday, the movement was beginning to take the form of 
attacks on the PP itself. People saw that Aznar and his government were 
hiding information pointing to al-Qaida's possible involvement, through 
fear that it would rebound against it in the elections. This produced an 
explosion of indignation that was manifested on Saturday in angry 
demonstrations outside the PP's headquarters.

The television reports showed incredible scenes of people – some of them 
obviously old age pensioners – confronting the forces of public order, 
arguing and remonstrating the heavily armed riot police. The latter, 
clearly nervous, responded by striking out with batons and even pointing 
their guns at the demonstrators. There seemed to be a danger of a serious 
clash. But the huge numbers of demonstrators, numbering up to 10,000 in the 
end, forced the police to give up.

Demonstration in front of PP headquarters

Government spokespersons made statements to the effect that the 
demonstrations were "illegal", since they were taking place on the 
so-called "day of reflection" [i.e. the day prior to the elections when all 
political events are banned by law]. This shows how out of touch the 
leaders of the right wing were. Under such circumstances to imagine that 
the masses would sit with their arms folded was absurd. We are talking 
about Spain here, and anyone who is acquainted with the traditions of the 
Spanish working class would not be surprised at what happened on Saturday.

The attempt to criminalise these demonstrations backfired. The 
demonstrators chanted defiantly: "What the people does is not illegal!" and 
also, "Illegalise the PP!" There were other slogans that showed the anger 
of the people: "Liars!" "Assassins!" "Tell us the truth!" and always: "Down 
with the war!"

The mood of anger among the masses was shown in Barcelona, where the PP 
leaders Rato and Piquet were driven from the demonstration by the violent 
hostility of the crowd. Similar events were reported all over Spain. The 
mood of panic in the governing party was shown by the fact that they issued 
a formal appeal to the electoral commission, blaming the opposition parties 
for deliberately fomenting the attacks on the PP headquarters.

The commission rejected the complaint, for the simple reason that it lacked 
any basis in fact. Nobody had organised these demonstrations. The workers 
and youth who protested outside the PP headquarters did so quite 
spontaneously, in the best traditions of the Spanish working class. The 
leaders of the opposition were nowhere to be seen.

It is this spontaneous movement of the masses that produced the historic 
victory of the Socialists in the election, and nothing else.

full: http://www.marxist.com/Europe/lessons_of_spain0304.html

Louis Proyect
Marxism list: www.marxmail.org 

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