March 10, 2018 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — After decisively defeating the Second Spanish Republic in 1939, the triumphant dictatorship of Francisco Franco presided over a regime of unbridled state terror, concentration camps and murder. Resistance survived during the long years of repression, but Franco was never beaten. By the time of Franco's death in 1975, the bourgeoisie recognized that fundamental reform was needed to deal with a militant labor movement, the leftist opposition and a mounting economic crisis. To that end, the post-Franco government began a process of “liberalization.” However, the Spanish bourgeoisie would not have been able to make the transition from fascism to a constitutional monarchy without the willing collaboration of the left-wing parties who renounced any other alternative in the interests of “national reconciliation.”
The much touted Spanish “transition to democracy” was an example of what Antonio Gramsci called a “passive revolution.” By passive revolution, Gramsci means that through the legislative intervention of the state, and by means of the corporative organization-relatively far-reaching modifications are being introduced into the country's economic structure in order to accentuate the "plan of production" element; in other words, that socialization and co-operation in the sphere of production are being increased, without however touching (or at least not going beyond the regulation and control of) individual and group appropriation of profit.
After Franco's death, the Spanish bourgeoisie was able to achieve a “revolution without a revolution” since they possessed the will and the capacity to carry out a strategy of “democratization.” They were also able to secure the collaboration and support of the opposition since the left lacked a revolutionary and “Jacobin” strategy of their own that could lead to a revolutionary break. Not only did the left refuse to play a revolutionary role, they allowed themselves to be co-opted and absorbed by the bourgeoisie, ultimately ensuring a successful passive revolution in Spain.
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