An interview with Felipe González

Maya Adereth interviews Felipe González in Phenomenal World:

MA: When you were elected in 1982, Thatcher and Reagan were already in office. What was it like to enter as a socialist in this context? What were your primary objectives upon being elected?

FG: Henry Kissinger came to visit me in 1982. He wanted to see me because they had forecasted that we may win the general elections. Before that I had only seen him once at a meeting, and we never spoke. This time we spoke for two or three hours. He never explicitly said it, but he was coordinating with the intelligence department. He wanted to get to know me, understand my principles and political purposes. At one moment the conversation felt like a satirical interrogation; he asked me: “Mitterrand nationalized the bank. Are you planning to nationalize the banks?” And I answered: “That’s not very precise. De Gaulle nationalized the bank, and despite the fact that he wasn’t pro-American, you could hardly call him a Red.” At that point he started to smile.

He told me what, in his view, a socialist should do upon entering government. Mitterrand had nationalized some technologies, under the theory of “controlled progress.” But technology can’t be controlled, once you bureaucratize it it stops working. I assured Kissinger that despite his expectations, being a socialist does not always necessitate being a fool.

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