Six years after helping initiate PODEMOS (a broad left-wing party) in the Spanish State, and four months after Pablo Iglesias led that party into a coalition government with the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (SPOE), the revolutionary socialist Anticapitalistas have changed course, voting to leave Podemos. As Spain suffers one of the highest per capita Covid-19 rates in the world, with 27,104 having died as of May 14, questions facing the left loom large in what has been one of the most tumultuous and creative international sites for socialist strategy and organization in the past decade.
On March 28, an internal voting process ended in which Anticapitalistas decided to leave Podemos. Seventy-nine per cent of the membership participated: of these 89 percent voted in favour, 3 percent against, and 7.5 percent abstained. We decided to wait until today to make this decision public; our priority has been attending to the COVID-19 pandemic that is hitting our country very hard and affects the most vulnerable sectors of the popular classes most profoundly.
We consider that the collective experience of Podemos, of which we were co-founders, has been filled with interesting experiences and will always be part of our history, as well as the history of Podemos. The reasons that led us to participate in the founding of this organization are well-known. It was necessary to form a broad and radically democratic political force, strongly linked to the struggles and social movements, capable of challenging the economic, cultural, and political power of the elites, and reversing the effects of an aggressive and uncontrolled neoliberalism. With the intention, of course, of thinking about and building an overall political alternative to ecocidical and patriarchal capitalism.
We believe that these goals are still valid, but that, at this point, Podemos has ceased to be the space from which Anticapitalistas can contribute to this. We have often stated our positions and contrasted them in a comradely spirit with the other currents of the left. Unfortunately, Podemos is not today the organization that we aspired to build at first: the organizational model and the internal regime based on centralizing power and decisions being made in a small group of people linked to elected offices and the general secretary leaves little space for collective pluralist work. Obviously, this model has not proved at all effective for advancing in the social field: the militant organization and the force from below that Podemos used to enjoy has been diluted, disorganized and evaporated by this model, without this having translated, as they claimed in order to justify it, into improved electoral results.
Podemos was born as a political movement contesting the economic and political norms of the system. It is obvious that the strategy has changed. For Podemos, the “possible” has been progressively reduced over the years. In our view, the task remains to make what is necessary possible. The culmination of this drift is the strategy of co-governing with the PSOE. Once again, a left-wing project is subordinated in the short term to the logic of the lesser evil, agreeing to give up its policies in exchange for little or no decisive influence on the council of ministers. Despite the government’s propaganda, the coalition’s policies do not break with the orthodox economic framework, do not wager on a redistribution of wealth, on radically strengthening the public sphere, and on disobeying the neoliberal institutions. Of course, we will support all the gains made within this framework and we will fight together against the extreme right. But in a context of deep systemic crisis, we believe that an effort to advance in democracy and social justice necessarily passes through building our social strength, proposing ambitious policies, and preparing a confrontation against the elites.
The coming months and years will see great battles between the classes. The current crisis is not a temporary one: it is a systemic, economic, ecological, and care crisis. It will involve major political, cultural, and social realignments. One thing is certain, nothing that we believe today will remain the same. Our commitment to building an anti-capitalist movement open to all kinds of struggles and experiences allows us to look to the future in an open way and there is no doubt that we will find ourselves in many common struggles with the people of Podemos.
As soon as the social and health situation allows us to do so, we will hold a political conference of Anticapitalistas to discuss our proposals for the new phase in depth.
[For international news and analysis from working-class and socialists perspectives, read No Borders News.]