On 02/14/2021, PÚBLICO published the article “Were the Portuguese victims or accomplices of PIDE?”, Written by Duncan Simpson, which raises some comments.
The title is immediately inappropriate because there were indeed victims and the rhetorical question belittles it.
In trying to bombastically attract the reader’s attention through logical absurdity (as if a people could ever be an accomplice to a political police force), the author could only get one appealing title.
The dichotomy “victim” and “accomplice” is reinforced, however, when the minority of opponents is against the large “rest of the population”, suggesting that a large majority of Portuguese adhered to the PIDE and even manipulated it. The “victims” would be the few who would have opposed the Estado Novo; The “accomplices” of the vast majority of the population: this is Duncan Simpson’s vision. At least it’s a pink vision of the Estado Novo.
Then the author paves the way and denigrates other historians. He first quotes Irene Pimentel and Fernando Rosas as prisoners of what he calls the “anti-fascist memory” of PIDE, and repeats the anti-fascist quotes whenever he refers to them. Why the quotes? Simpson should explain. In addition, in all of the works cited by the previous two authors they deal with the forms of connection between PIDE and population groups, and even Fernando Rosas understood these connections as one of the forms of Salazar’s “knowing how to hold” ”, one of the secrets of their longevity to be. The Simpson theme is therefore present in other authors so that the field did not have to be entered.
And the article goes on, using subjects dear to the heart of historiography and the social sciences, such as the so-called “history of the inferior,” and tries to fit Simpson into a stream of modernity to legitimize his place – what He had with it started to forge through.
Its modernity would also lie in its new bibliographical references in a context in which “Portuguese historiography would form a stark contrast to developments in international bibliography” … except, for example, that Gellately appears in texts by Irene Pimentel and as early as 2007 .
At some point, Duncan switches to a less noticeable form of writing and enters a more scientific record. He claims that he intends to “analyze the interactions between the political police and ordinary citizens, understood here as the vast majority of Portuguese who have never participated in political activities. It is about going beyond the traditional narrative of oppression and violence to better understand the role of PIDE in organizing society during the Estado Novo. “With that calmer tone, Simpson again squints the eye of anyone interested in the history of the following people: He’s talking about” ordinary citizens “again. One has to ask: do they not fit the concept of victims? Weren’t they suppressed by the political police that was PIDE?
The problem of PIDE-public relations is not new … just consult the newspapers after April 25th to see many, many rejections from anonymous people claiming not to be from PIDE, which in itself is the The penetration of PIDE in society shows, but also the fear and distrust of the shadow itself, which the Estado Novo has printed and spread widely!
Another element of Simpson’s modernity would be the comparative perspective. This has already worried António Costa Pinto, Fernando Rosas and Irene Pimentel. In this comparative perspective, Simpson expresses brief analogies of the relations between the political people’s police in Portugal and these relations in the GDR. Perhaps this very quick comparison is intended to gain more echo from the public, since the emotional adherence to criticism of dictatorships is so widespread in both countries!
This is not a way to make history!
The problem of relationships between PIDE and the population is not new, it has not yet been discovered. Just look in the newspapers after April 25th to see so many and many rejections from anonymous people claiming not to be from PIDE itself it shows PIDE’s intrusion into society but also fear and that Distrust of the shadow itself, which the Estado Novo printed and spread widely!
It is worth examining the analysis of PIDE’s relationships with the population in all their diversity and diversity, considering these relationships as the subject of the main study, but always in a context that does not relate to the category of the “traditional narrative” of the violent and repressive character of the political police.
Note: All italics are quoted from Duncan Simpson’s text