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New Left Review I/96, March-April 1976

Ronald Fraser

Spain on the Brink

The following report is the fruit of a three-week visit to the Spanish state in February 1976. In many hours of discussion, with economists and politicians, businessmen and trade-union officials, workers and Left militants, a single, apparently simple theme oriented my enquiry. What was the concrete possibility of a ‘democratic rupture’ (the now standard Spanish term) with the régime established by Franco’s legions forty years ago? In other words, what was the possibility of a middle way between, on the one hand, the maintenance of a modified version of the authoritarian State and, on the other, the latter’s violent overthrow: a middle way that would, at least in the short term, establish an authentic bourgeois democracy. It seemed clear that a democratic rupture of this kind would be considerably facilitated by—if not actually require—the splitting off of a fraction of the bourgeoisie from the dominant bloc, in which finance capital at present exercises hegemony. Were there any indications to suggest where such a line of fissure might lie? The following lines reflect the random course of the enquiry, which of necessity was forced beyond its original limits. The central theme becomes submerged under a number of other questions, only to re-emerge at the end. [1] I take this opportunity of thanking all those who have helped me with their detailed knowledge of the current situation. Needless to say, they bear no responsibility for any mistakes I may have made or for the conclusions I have drawn from their answers to my questions.

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Ronald Fraser, ‘Spain on the Brink’, NLR I/96: £3

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