socialism


socialism
   Spanish socialism has often been characterized by its ideological poverty. No Spanish theorist has made any significant theoretical contribution to Marxism. Spanish socialism has been largely derivative, particularly from French socialism, and has also been influenced by Catholicism, which lent it a strong ethical tone. Moreover, the development of socialism in Spain was hampered by the fact that neither the First nor Second International showed much interest in the Iberian peninsula and provided no specific guidance to Spanish socialists. The early Spanish socialists thus lacked any deep understanding of Marxist analysis which resulted in an incoherent programme, combining reformist political practice with a reductionist revolutionary rhetoric. By failing to provide an adequate framework to analyse the socio-economic and political reality of Spain effectively, the ideological poverty of Spanish socialism also contributed to its organizational weakness. Thus, although the PSOE, founded in 1879, is one of the oldest socialist parties in Europe, it initially remained a weak force due to its preoccupation with organizational questions rather than theoretical analysis. Consequently, vital issues such as the agrarian problem and regional diversity in Spain were ignored. Moreover, the socialists" determination to make Madrid the centre of socialist activities rather than Catalonia, the most industrialized region of Spain, which was far more fertile ground for a radical socialist movement, led to the dominance of anarchism, rather than socialism, in that region.
   The socialists" essentially incorrect analysis of the political situation in Spain was particularly damaging during the Second Republic (1931–6). By then the socialists were the most important political party in the country, yet they were unable to provide an adequate response to the problems which beset the Republic because they mistakenly believed, in accordance with their own schematic interpretation of Marxism, that the Republic heralded the long-delayed bourgeois revolution. Their misplaced faith in their ability to realize a programme of wide-ranging social reforms by parliamentary means, in a political system where parliamentary democracy remained a façade, thus prevented them from forestalling the military revolt which began the Civil War. Socialism remained dormant, both ideologically and organizationally, throughout the Francoist dictatorship. With the transition to democracy in 1975–7, however, the PSOE initially displayed its previous inconsistency by emphasizing its radical Marxist heritage whilst simultaneously adopting a reformist political strategy. Subsequently, however, the PSOE dropped its Marxist label in order to achieve electoral success, and, in office from 1982 until 1996, became one of the most cautious socialdemocratic parties in western Europe. Ironically, therefore, although the PSOE finally enjoyed a hegemonic position within Spanish politics during the 1980s, socialism as an ideology is still arguably deprived of a voice.
   See also: political parties; politics
   Further reading
   - Anderson, P. and Camiller, P. (eds) (1994) Mapping the Western European Left, London: Verso (includes an excellent chapter on the survival of socialism in Spain).
   - Gallagher, T. and Williams, A. (eds) (1989) Southern European Socialism. Parties, Elections and the Challenge of Government, Manchester: Manchester University Press (there is an excellent detailed chapter on Spain).
   - Heywood, P. (1990) Marxism and the Failure of Organised Socialism in Spain, 1879-1936, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (an excellent, well-documented study of the early development of Socialism in Spain).
   - PSOE (1991) Manifiesto del Programa 2000, Madrid: Editorial Sistema (this is PSOE's own vision of the future development of Spanish socialism; it contains an introduction and conclusion by Willy Brandt, Felipe González and Alfonso Guerra).
   GEORGINA BLAKELEY

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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