As soon as revolutionary activism was neutralized, at least in its most radical and anti-hierarchical manifestations, Order, that is, Authority and Force, appeared once again with its unchanging character, in such a way that any attempt at a qualitative transformation of authoritarian society seemed useless and irresistibly condemned to failure. In the East as in the West, and despite the relative diversity of regimes presently in existence and their conflicts, which occasionally take them as far as economic or military war, Order overrides all other considerations; it identifies governmental elites with the same cult of political authoritarianism and capitalist expansion, in a surprising synthesis of private and State capitalism, which all ruling classes have ended up reconciling to their benefit. As a result, detente, whose objective is to make this a permanent Order, enjoys the complete agreement of the two blocs:
"(...) Is there another choice than detente when faced with the growing dangers for man's survival, the ruinous arms race and the planetary problems we are faced with? Can the destiny of detente depend on the political fortune of Brezhnev or Nixon? I think the Soviet answers to these questions would be very close to those given by the Americans. Here I see proof that the United States and the Soviet Union, the West and the East, are experiencing despairs and hopes that are similar in many respects. They are locked into a vicious circle that has only two exits: one bears the inscription "apocalypse" and the other "detente", with all the risks and ambiguities that this notion implies (...) It is in solid economic reality rather than spectacular diplomatic manoeuvres or rigid military logic that I am basing my persistent confidence in the future of East-West coexistence. As fragile as it is, I think that the dynamic of detente is irreversible, with or without Nixon and with or without Brezhnev (...)"1
What is significant is the way this neutralizing dialectic is incorporated into the very political strategy of the international left (social-democratic and communist), reducing its fundamental hopes to the consolidation of bourgeois democracy and economic expansion within the limits of the established order. Thus, both on the side of domination and on the side of those who suffer it, people objectively collaborate in the restoration of the crudest political pragmatism, and the violation of the very foundations of democracy, socialism, communism, and all the other humanitarian and progressive "isms".
With the "Vietnamization" of the war, the international left lost interest in it, and accommodated itself to the "detente" line advocated by the United States, leaving their hands free so they could continue to plot with impunity in all the countries where they felt their interests were threatened. At the instant Brezhnev kissed Nixon in Washington at the end of June, Kissinger authorized the CIA to support, with several million dollars2, the Chilean fascist groups who were preparing a coup d'etat against the Popular Union government of Salvador Allende. Although American interference to prevent the "peaceful road to socialism" was obvious, Brezhnev allowed himself to take part in such a comedy. It is not surprising, therefore, that after the coup d'etat in Chile and the triumph of the rebellious military, the communist bloc and the international left did nothing more than shed a few tears and sign a few declarations of protest among so many others, but without this leading them to doubt the policy of "detente", which favoured only American imperialist domination and the strengthening of fascism in the world.
The military uprising and the imposition of a clearly fascist regime, in a country where the army had a reputation of respect for legality, proved that international capitalism always relies on fascism as a final solution when the democratic interlude is no longer effective in safeguarding its privileges. But the left persists in ignoring this reality, and its organizations, which should devote themselves to attacking bourgeois legality, are the first to attach themselves to it and strengthen it by their obstinate search for reformist solutions and their condemnation of revolutionary marginalism. By confining solidarity to legal paths, the left makes it easier for reactionary forces to act; they only respect legality when they control it. Yet this left, which seems to be sincerely moved by the tragedy of the Chilean people, does not learn from this lesson: contrary to what Allende asked for in his last speech, it continues to waste its energies in legal political struggles that lead it to renounce revolutionary internationalism.
Parallel to the rise of fascism in Chile, it was Peronism in Argentina which, after having progressively rejected the support of the left turned to positions further and further to the right, in an atmosphere of exaggerated nationalism and populist demagogy following General Peron's return to power. As a result, the last hopes of the "peaceful road to socialism" disappeared in Latin America.
As for the strategists of "detente", they prepared the Yom Kippur war, which justified the order for a "general alert", made on October 25 by the American President in order to remind the world that the threat of atomic apocalypse was not something out of science fiction. This new conflict, whose spread is called the energy war3, demonstrated -- once again -- the advantages of the policy of Soviet-American coordination to re-establish the status quo.
In the general context of 1973, which was dominated by the great events of imperialist politics, revolutionary activism and oppositional leftism did not succeed in giving their struggles an international projection. They had to be satisfied with sporadic actions with a more limited scope, and increasingly scattered into the particularities of local situations: liberation struggles against national oligarchies and workers' struggles to satisfy their demands.
In Latin America, where the guerrilla movement was decimated by repression, only Trotskyist revolutionary groups in Mexico and Argentina continued to appear with actions of national and international scope4. Meanwhile, near the end of the year, with the failure of the Popular Union in Chile and Peronism's rapid development in the direction of increasingly reactionary positions, the theses of armed struggle reappeared in the Latin American revolutionary Left, although the prospects were hardly promising, given the ravages of the repression and revolutionary sectarianisms.
In Europe, revolutionary activism remained once again reduced to the anti-Francoist struggle and the equally chronic struggles of the Irish Catholic resistance and the Palestinian resistance. Yet because of increasing political, economic and religious interference present in the latter two struggles, European leftism lost interest in them and quietly concentrated on its national problems.
In Italy, where the fascist peril is a daily preoccupation, leftist groups, who were the object of continual threats and attacks, devoted all their energies to the creation of self-defence groups and the preparation of clandestine structures. But because of ideological sectarianisms, it did not even succeed in forming an embryonic anti-fascist front, and each group organized and acted independently, increasing confusionism and facilitating fascist provocations and repressive State action, which prosecuted the leftist groups that "are not respecting legality, by forming themselves into private militias". In fact, since the middle of the previous year, the Red Brigades organized in clandestinity in order to defend themselves and respond to fascist attacks on leftist centers and militants who participated in the most practical workers' and popular struggles:
"(...) We have a good memory, and we remember every attack on the neighbourhood vanguard; the group action, armed, at the Circolo Perini, the TNT against comrade Marra's car (...). For all the bosses, the Quarto Oggiaro is the spectre of revolutionary resistance to the exploitation of rent. For this, they have not hesitated to use force, terror and fascist violence. Today, we know that the struggle against exploitation, against the bosses and the State also means blocking the road with acts of proletarian justice; we organized ourselves for this: to fight not only with the assemblies, the demonstrations and the committees, but with acts: to also build an armed and proletarian power which in small things as well as the big ones, will oppose, fight and defeat the power of the pigs (...). We are not violent, but nothing will stop us when it comes to defending and prolonging with acts our autonomy and our struggle (...)"
(A communique of the Red Brigades).
The activity of the Red Brigades, although they developed in a somewhat particular social and political context, is very close to that of other European revolutionary activist groups, which arose from the meeting of the youth revolt with the contradictions of classical revolutionary ideologies.
In France, leftism mobilized to prevent the meeting of the New Order fascist movement, which attempted to develop a racist campaign against foreign workers. New Order held its meeting with the protection of a large police presence, while the arrival of leftist demonstrators led to many confrontations. The police proceeded to arrest several leftists, and later to charge Alain Krivine and dissolve the Communist League. This resulted in a protest campaign by the left, the Communist Party included, with the aim of winning leftist votes for the Union of the Left. Leftism allowed itself to be courted, while Maoist and Trotskyist tendencies continued to seek a trade-union base in competition with the big reformist federations; this appeared in the conflict at the Lip company, transformed by leftism into a symbol of the new "self-management unionism".
In Spain, despite the noisy liberalization, the political and social situation has not changed. People speak insistently of "strong tensions inside the regime" ... They speculate on the attitude of the Church, "which seems to be distancing itself", in a document of the priesthood5, in which it is emphasized that: "Although the Spanish State proclaims itself to be officially Catholic and affirms that its laws are inspired by Church doctrine", this does not mean "that the Church or its leaders back them." But on the pretext that it "must serve as a supernatural fermenting agent for society" the Church accommodated itself to the situation and the manoeuvres in preparation for the "succession"; for this is being quietly prepared in the higher realms of the regime while the opposition sinks into powerlessness, by resigning itself to the idea that nothing is possible in the face of the designs and power of the Dictatorship. Yet events show that at the grassroots level, the workers and activist groups refuse to accept this defeatism. In mid-January, the ETA kidnapped industrialist Felipe Huarte and forced his company to re-hire all the workers it had fired. Another consequence of this action: the trial of 15 Basques accused of kidnapping industrialist Lorenzo Sabala6 ended with relatively light sentences7. In the first three months of the year, and coinciding with a series of workers' conflicts in Catalonia, the MIL carried out a series of "expropriations" in banking and savings institutions, accompanied by explanatory demands and calls for armed struggle against the regime8.
On April 3 in Barcelona, in the neighbourhood of San Adrian, the Civil Guard opened fire on a demonstration of 2000 construction workers, wounding several people. On May 1 in Madrid, a police officer was mortally wounded during a confrontation with demonstrators. The police made many arrests9. The Francoist press unleashed a hysterical hate campaign, organized by the hard-liners. State officials were present at the funeral, and afterwards, police and Falangist demonstrations were organized in Madrid and other cities to cries of:"Franco, yes, Opus Dei no, Garicano Goni resign!" and "Reds to the firing squad!" This agitation by hard-liners served as a pretext for the nomination of Admiral Carrero Blanco as head of the government, and the nomination of a new ministerial team in which the Falange gained ground10 at the expense of Opus Dei. From then on, the repression hardened even more, as many gunfights occurred between the police, who had carte blanche, and militants of the ETA and the MIL, who defended themselves guns in hand. The police brutalized prisoners in order to extract confessions and discover the hideouts of clandestine groups. During the period lasting from May to December, the police killed five ETA militants and wounded several others. In Barcelona on September 25, Salvador Puig Antich, a militant of the MIL, fell into an ambush prepared by a group of plainclothes police and was seriously wounded and arrested; but in the fight, one of the officers was mortally wounded. This served as a new pretext for a public hate campaign against the "reds", and the police unleashed an orgy of violence.
It was in this context that, on December 20 in Madrid, the ETA succeeded in assassinating Franco's successor, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, in a bombing that caused an enormous commotion, both because of the Admiral's personality and the political vacuum caused by his disappearance, and because of the meticulous preparation of the bombing and the power of the explosion. It was without a doubt the most spectacular and important attack of all those carried out by anti-Francoism, and it caused a new crisis in the regime, as the order of succession had been completely modified11.
At the funerals, the hard-liners, with the Falangists in the lead, took advantage of the occasion to insult the high clergy: "Murderers, Tarancon to the firing squad!" and "Red priests to the firing squad!". But the real objective was the elimination from the government of Opus Dei, whose members were advocates of a dangerous liberalization ... To everyone's surprise, the former Director-General of Security and former Minister of the Interior, Arias Navarro, was appointed successor to Carrero Blanco as head of the government. This allowed people to suppose that the new ministerial team would not include a single known member of Opus Dei, and that despite the apparently conciliatory words of the Caudillo's end of the year speech, people feared for the life of Salvador Puig Antich and his comrades of the MIL, who were about to be judged by a court-martial sumarisimo.
This feeling of powerlessness -- in the face of Francoist vindictiveness -- was unanimously shared by the Spanish opposition in exile, particularly in libertarian circles. No one could forget that Francoism had always shown an unhealthy prediliction for anarchists, even more so if they were activists. It was not surprising, therefore, that all the autonomous groups, and in general most anarchist militants marginalized by the CNT leadership in exile, overcame all the ideological differences that separated them, feeling concerned, and participated actively in the various committees created in Spain and France to defend militants of the MIL. As they did on other occasions, the non-sectarian anarchist militants found each other in order to confront the repression and show their collective solidarity with the victims of the day. And this was how, in late 1973, tighter relations developed between the new generation of anarchist activists, the autonomous groups and the most important marginal groups of the Libertarian Movement. With these new relations, a new stage began in the anti-fascist struggle of Spanish anarchism.
On the other hand, it was precisely in this context that Spanish anarchism's official leadership in exile published an information bulletin, "To Worldwide Anarchist Consciousness and to Spanish Anarcho-Syndicalism in Particular", intended to justify the intrigues that split the MLE, and, and even more serious act, publicly denouncing the activist current, naming the so-called most radicalized militants. Subsequent events and behaviour would continue to prove that the split was an irreversible one, and that the organizations of the Spanish Libertarian Movement in exile had accommodated themselves to a situation that "justified" the revolutionary demobilization of their "militants".
1 Samuel Pisar, in an article entitled "The Dynamic of Detente", published in L'Express. In another article published in Le Monde, this is how he introduces himself:
"After the 1960 elections. I was asked to suggest, on behalf of the President of the United States, practical means intended to show the communist world that America was ready to reduce tensions. I was convinced that only economic links could ensure the progress of detente ..."
2 Which was confirmed in 1974 by declarations of one of the heads of the CIA.
3 Which was cleverly exploited by Kissinger, to ensure world political and economic leadership.
4 The kidnapping on May 6 of the American consul for Guadalajara, to force the Mexican government to release a large number of political prisoners. In Argentina, the kidnapping on April 2 of a Rear Admiral, before the military handed over political power to the Peronist Campora, and a series of kidnappings of important personalities (two industrialists, a colonel of the military headquarters and a political leader) carried out in December by the People's Revolutionary Army (APR), a Trotskyist organization, which, in this way, broke the ceasefire in order to challenge the political orientations initiated by General Peron.
5 This document was approved by 59 prelates over the abstentions of 24 others, and was made public in mid-January.
6 This industrialist was kidnapped by an ETA commando in early 1972.
7 Only four of the nine defendants in this trial were sentenced to 12 to 17 years' imprisonment.
8 "The MIL is the fruit of the history of the class struggle of the last few years. Its appearance is linked to the great proletarian struggles that demystified the bureaucracies -- reformist or marginal -- that sought to integrate this struggle into party programs. It arose as a group to specifically support the most radical struggles and sectors of the workers' movement in Barcelona. It is conscious at all times of the necessity of supporting the proletarian struggle, and its support as a specific group is: material, agitation, and propaganda by word and deed." (Taken from the report of the Congress of Self-Dissolution of the MIL in August, 1973.)
9 Attributing responsibility for the officer's death to a commando of the FRAP (Revolutionary Anti-fascist and Patriotic Front), a Marxist-Leninist organization.
10 With the nomination of the Secretary of the Movement, Torcuato Fernandez Miranda, as Vice-Secretary of the government. In addition, Arias Navarro, who is considered an intimate friend of the Caudillo's family, was named Minister of the Interior.
11 On the very morning of the bombing, Carrero Blanco received a visit from Henry Kissinger, who declared: "This great country must be a full partner with the United States in the building of the new world."