The Communist Party of Spain (pce) was among the communist parties which went furthest in its condemnation of the Soviet military intervention in Czechoslovakia and the Husakian ‘normalization’. This led to a serious deterioration in its relations with the cpsu and provoked a deep internal crisis in the party, the gravest since the years 1931–32. At that time the leading group, headed by Jose Bullejos, tried to resist the directives of Moscow and was replaced without further ado. Today, the tendency represented by the general secretary, Santiago Carrillo, still controls the apparatus of the party, but a group led by Enrique Lister, Eduardo Garcia and Agustin Gomez footnote1 has raised the banner of unconditional loyalty to the Kremlin and is waging an open struggle against Carrillo, accusing him of anti-Sovietism, nationalism, revisionism and dictatorial methods. Encouraged and aided by the Soviet Union, this group has carried an important fraction of the party with it, but has failed in its primary objective: to remove Carrillo and his supporters from the leadership. In view of this, it is now aiming to split the party and constitute itself as the ‘authentic’ Communist Party of Spain, in opposition to that presided over by Dolores Ibarruri and led by Santiago Carrillo.

In the present article we intend to analyse the course taken by this crisis in the pce and its significance in the context of the general crisis through which the communist movement is passing.

In 1968, some commentators were surprised that the pce opposed the Soviet leadership on the Czech question. The party was, in fact, famous for its unquestioning loyalty to Moscow.

Its attitude was not substantially modified by the trauma of the Twentieth Congress. It accepted the mythical explanation of the Stalinist epoch summed up in the formula ‘the cult of personality’, and saw in Khrushchev’s line a sure road to socialist democracy and the triumph of communism internationally. After Khrushchev’s fall, it made some gestures of independence on marginal questions but otherwise it continued to be subservient to the Soviet Party. Thus it adopted a virulently hostile attitude to the Chinese Party in the course of the Sino-Soviet dispute and bitterly denounced the cultural revolution. The pce’s publications asserted that Mao’s policy consisted in provoking a war between the Soviet Union and the United States:

‘Out of the fabulous destruction that war between both giants would bring, an untouched and omnipotent China would arise, led by Mao, deciding the destiny of the earth . . . the realization in the middle of the twentieth century of the aims of Genghis Khan.’ footnote2