The complex history of the Spanish communist movement had a gap left unfilled by historiography: the split parties after the distancing from the Soviet Union by the Communist Party of Spain (PCE). The historian Eduardo Abad (Xixón, 1987), a researcher at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and a specialist in communist militancy, collective memory and political violence, has shed light on the formations to the left of the PCE in Counterflow. Orthodox dissidence in Spanish communism (1968-1989), edited by Publicacions de la Universitat de València. A soup of acronyms whose trajectory reconstructs the work written by the Asturian historian, a former militant of the youth of the Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain (PCPE), who observed that “nobody compiled the testimonies of veterans”, as explained to elDiario.es . “Yes, there is an increasingly rigorous historiography about the PCE and the radical left, but this current located in between had not been picked up,” adds Abad.
The researcher has consulted archives in Russia, the Czech Republic and Germany and has concluded that the secret services of the socialist camp had little or nothing to do with the emergence of orthodox dissidence, as the PCE maintained. “The starting hypothesis of this book is that the multiple internal conflicts produced within the PCE were not manipulated by the exogenous intervention of some secret service of a socialist country,” writes the author of the book. “On the contrary”, continues Abad, “it was a fundamentally endogenous process, whose origin must be sought in the consequences of the progressive mutation of politics and the image of the PCE among sectors of its militancy”.
The researcher distinguishes three phases in the orthodox dissidence of the iron discipline of the Spanish communists, the main nucleus of opposition to the Franco dictatorship. Thus, the distancing of the party from identification with the Soviet Union and the consequences of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact troops led to the emergence, in 1971, of the PCE (VIII Congress); in addition to the Spanish Communist Workers’ Party (PCOE), very marked by the figure of its leader, General Enrique Líster, and another formation led by Eduardo García. “Many of these dissident foci are based on the exercise of charismatic leadership and concrete experiences in certain nuclei with grassroots militancy, and not necessarily linked to the embassies of socialist countries,” says the historian.
With the second dissident wave, which brings together young professionals and university students dissatisfied with the PCE’s lack of internal democracy, a new alphabet soup emerges: the Workers’ Communist Party (PCT) is born from the ashes of the Left Opposition (OPI). ) and, in turn, fosters the birth of the Communist Cells and the Unified Communist Party. “The new sectors, made up of students and many women, see the contradiction in their militancy in the neighborhood associations or in the university assemblies, with horizontal structures and a lot of participation, which collide with the party cells and with internal discipline,” explains Abbot. The IPO, which intended “solely and exclusively to influence” the internal dynamics of the PCE, “collides with the concept of democratic centralism and its militants are expelled,” adds the researcher.
After the death of the dictator Francisco Franco, the third wave sought to vindicate the communist identity in the face of Santiago Carrillo’s turn towards Eurocommunism. “A dangerous path begins for his militancy, with concepts such as a social pact or austerity, which in some way seek to turn the PCE into a government party,” argues Abad. The new strategy “wreaks havoc” by abandoning “basic pillars such as republican identity or the collective ideology of the history of the communist movement,” adds the author.
Catalonia was the “scene of the greatest phenomenon of dissidence against Eurocommunism,” writes the historian. The Partit dels Comunistes de Catalunya came to have a strong presence (“more than 6,000 militants in the context of the crisis of the revolutionary left in the 1980s”) and the support of countries in the socialist camp, “something long desired”. The conclave of 1984 marked the birth of the PCPE, a large part of whose militancy would later end up joining the nascent United Left, in the heat of the mobilizations against NATO.
Despite remembering the famous movie scene Brian’s life from Monty Python —the Popular Front of Judea against the Popular Judaic Front— the experience of the so-called pro-Soviet, a name that Abad denies by not assuming the complexity of the phenomenon, the orthodox dissident experiences of the PCE reflect “sectors and currents ignored by their losing position of history, with thesis against the current, minority and that collided with the ruling party”.
“The current itself is very complex and it is very difficult to map,” acknowledges Eduardo Abad, who highlights the role of theoreticians such as Manolo Monereo or leaders such as Enrique Santiago, current Secretary of State for the 2030 Agenda and leader of the PCE.