Thirty-eight years ago tomorrow army officers ended Portugal's 40-year dictatorship and kicked off a bloodless "carnation revolution" that for 19 months saw this small and impoverished country experience a revolutionary process not seen in western Europe for a generation.
The carnation revolution overthrew the longest-lived authoritarian regime in western Europe and ended the Portuguese empire.
A military coup that started in Lisbon, it was rapidly joined by an unexpected mass civil uprising.
DL Raby writes in Democracy and Revolution that Portugal witnessed "a nationwide whirlwind of demonstrations, factory occupations, land invasions, takeovers of empty buildings by slum-dwellers, and projects of popular power and socialism.
"Yet on November 25 1975 a carefully controlled coup restored state authority and put an end to the revolutionary process, ensuring that Portugal would remain a member of Nato and become a conventional liberal parliamentary regime, joining the European Union a few years later."
The dominant narrative was that this outcome was a logical conclusion of the revolutionary process.
But it was only so because a mass workers' and peasants movement aspiring to more than "bourgeois normality" was neutralised.
The events started when war-weary low-ranking Portuguese officers organised in the Armed Forces Movement (MFA) rose up on April 25.
They were inspired by the pro-independence guerillas they had been fighting in Portugal's African colonies.
The MFA's programme was democracy at home, self-determination for the colonies and economic and social policy to serve the poor and the working class.
But a provisional government headed by General Antonio de Spinola, one of a group of senior officers who had sided with the MFA, gave way as it became clear power was in the streets.
Six ever more radical governments followed Spinola's failed coup on March 11 1975.
Struggles ensued between three tendencies. One was associated with the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) and Colonel Vasco Gonsalves, which favoured reinforcing components of state power.
The "moderates" were close to the Socialist Party and the right-liberal PPD. They believed in socialism on the basis of conventional elections and parliamentary politics.
The third was the "radicals" around young Major Otelo Saraiva de Cavalho. He had had operational command of the April 25 coup and now commanded key MFA units identified with the popular action in the streets and the Trotskyist, anarchist and extra-parliamentary left.
The battles between these groups continued in what was known as the ongoing revolutionary process.
But although democracy was restored and dictator Antonio Salazar's brutal Estado Novo ended, the revolution failed with the right-wing coup on November 25 1975.
Why? First, revolutionary forces led by de Cavalho, the PCP and Goncalves controlled Lisbon and the south, but the right controlled the north, the Azores and Madeira.
Any attempt to seize power would have led to a civil war where the odds were stacked against the revolution. The right enjoyed the backing of the US, European Community and Spain while the Soviet Union was not expected to help the popular movement.
The right had been planning two coups. One was by the extreme right which wanted a new fascist era.
The other was by more moderate forces backed by European social democracy worried that a fascist coup could provoke an explosive situation. The latter succeeded with a decisively positive outcome for European and US capitalism.
Raby argues: "The victory of the social democratic coup neutralised the revolutionary left in Portugal and Europe for many years to come and made possible a peaceful and controlled transition in Spain."
Second, the left parties stand charged of dampening the popular movement. Some criticism is made of the PCP for seeking to control and weaken strikes to promote a "battle of production."
More serious criticism is made of the Socialists for allying with the right to stop what they saw as a communist takeover.
Leader Mario Soares encouraged splits in the MFA and attacked the popular movement in alliance with the Catholic church, Europe and the US.
Finally, events ended as they did because of "leadership and progressive populism," as Raby puts it.
Elements in the army had long played a central role in challenging the dictatorship, despite the hugely important resistance of the PCP and other civilian revolutionaries.
In the military, de Cavalho and Gonsalves, with almost hero status, played a key role.
Some criticise Gonsalves, probably unfairly, of being too associated with the PCP to bring all the factions together.
More damning was the role of de Cavalho, who refused to assume leadership because he believed popular power didn't need any.
An effective alliance between them and their forces could have saved the revolution, Raby argues.
Today Portugal faces mass unemployment and poverty, debt default, possible exit from the euro and attacks on its sovereignty.
And interest in the carnation revolution is on the increase again.
As the neoliberal European dream turns into nightmare its lessons will be invaluable for helping trace an alternative future that revives the hopes and aspirations of April 25 1974.
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