Clarifying in Order to Move Forward
One Hundred Days Into the Oaxaca Commune, a Successful Assault on Power is Possible
By Alberto Hijar
September 9, 2006
Brutal, forced globalization and the downfall of Soviet and European socialism demand the deconstruction of historical power blocs. In Mexico, the defeat of the Institutional Revolution Party (PRI in its Spanish initials) forms part of the corporately legitimized political and economic liquidation of the so-called welfare state. The Party of the Democratic Revolution’s (PRD’s) losses, like those of the rest of the Euro-communist nationalist and statist socialist leftist parties, are not absolute. Rather, they are socially maintained by the hope of winning the Presidency accompanied by corresponding parliamentarian, state, and municipal representation, where grassroots social organizations faced with unprincipled political backdoor maneuvering don’t fit.
Politics of exclusivity, where a negotiator class operates on behalf of the state with its back to the people, reduces the place of the people to the identity offered by the leadership of nationalist state power. Self-governing and autonomous popular power is reduced to marginality and precariousness.
The historical bloc of statist leftists define themselves in the struggle. They are the nationalist part essentially opposed to all organization of popular power, substituting it with false representations because they insist on preserving state power at all cost. Here we can see their filthy alliances opposed to all criticism of their principles and that, in fact, they are not leftists.
In any event, the Left, faced with the acute crisis of the Nation-State (not only a crisis of government and not only in Mexico), is defined as favoring the extinction of the capitalist state in order that the power of a complete and inclusive nation might emerge. The current historical phase, according to this strategy, is the construction of popular power expanded from the power of the proletariat to include those without traditional employment who are close to or integrated into the so-called informal economy.
For the false Left deeply rooted in the state and in the defense of its institutions, the people are passive subjects because they must remain represented by the leaders. The assembly, the Democratic National Convention, is a rite, a formality to legitimate those who don’t make room for the practice of popular sovereignty. It’s about, in the end, proclaiming a president in rebellion, or an acting president, or someone in charge of the government, or provisional leadership, and assuming as a strategy a personalized struggle accompanied by the unlikely coordination of the interests of Congress members, senators, assembly persons, governors, mayors, and the chief of the Government of Mexico City, who are paradoxically considered legally elected. The contradiction in the acceptance of one part of the electoral process would be left resolved in strategic terms by the outside struggle coordinated with the struggle from inside. What is necessary is a political party clear in its program, in its strategy, and in its tactics, something that doesn’t exist in Mexico.
The platform of the false left is one of nationalism that is close to the monopolist imperialism of the state. They demand sovereignty in the management of energy and land without acknowledging the corruption in PEMEX and the Secretary of Energy. They have high hopes for public services in compliance with the slogan “first the poor” (under state control, of course) and at the same time, state reform in order to improve the corrupt justice system, infringed workers’ rights, and the devastated countryside. But the practice proves a different tendency: like no one else, the government of Lopez Obrador in Mexico City operated against the most fundamental labor rights, just as those who have followed him have. He handed over control of the historical downtown area (the Centro Histórico) to Carlos Slim’s corporations, while the popular culture was subjected to fun diversion in order to attain the Zócalo as territory of the industry of spectacles, with massive televised concerts for CD promotions and with an act of popular agitation here and there under the control of the social climbers on the bandstand. Symbolism was all that resulted from a grand march against the desafuero with clamoring multitudes and brigades of PRD supporters demanding that they silence their chants. Grassroots organizations were conspicuously absent from the bandstand, and in their place were hot shots on the rebound from the PRI, “statesmen” as they like to call themselves. La Jornada’s eloquent exaltation of spectacular figures like Jesusa Rodríguez, Poniatowska, or Taibo II makes us believe that the great nine-kilometer-long encampment on el Paseo de la Reforma is boiling over with cultural activity. In the presence of neighborhood musicians and the instrumental participation of groups like the Coro de los Pejeviejitos (Choir of Lopez Obrador’s Little Old Men) is proof of the cultural workers who the Mexico City government never support or acknowledged. This is owed to the need to contain the popular organization within the limits of the so-called leadership’s orchestration.
To wait and hope for the disenchantment of the National Democratic Convention attendees would be criminal. We would be shortsighted if we though the non-conformists’ unhappy consciousness was due to the electoral fraud and nothing more. Starting now, and even before now, it is urgent that we construct a genuinely sovereign popular power with a long-term plan against the oppressor and repressor State. Take, for example, Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land, which could have been the first Caracol with its Juntas de Buen Gobierno in the outskirts of Mexico City. The excessive repression hasn’t merited the smallest commentary from the Alliance for the Good of All (the electoral coalition led by the PRD) – just the predictable renunciation of Convergencia (a small party that formed part of the Alliance).
Not a single political party protested the Mexican Interior Secretary’s official congratulation to the murderous repressor of Atenco, Peña Nieto, during the Meeting of Governors (presided over by Vincente Fox) in recognition of the preservation of law and order. The same could be said with respect to Lázaro Cárdenas Batel, who attacked the miners of SICARTSA (the Lázaro Cárdenas Las Truchas Iron and Steel company) in the place named after his own grandfather.
Neither does the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca seem to merit the attention of López Obrador supporters, despite the popular power that was proven by the organization’s ability to increase its strength in the wake of the violent eviction attempt of June 14. The reinstallation of the encampments, accompanied by the necessary self-defense and the corresponding security measures, included the occupation of eleven government offices and the Oaxaca Corporation of Radio and Television, which was being used by the repudiated Gov. Ulises Ruiz for his self-exonerating propaganda. This was the response to the attack by paramilitaries protected by municipal and federal police that burned buses, threw acid on Radio Universidad’s equipment, and shot at protestors, killing five so far. Now the radio stations La Ley and Oro are communications media with open telephone lines to receive messages, commentaries, and criticisms of the movement, which has grown in all of Oaxaca with the occupation of city halls and local and regional assemblies. Self-defense tactics have also grown accordingly.
Everything that the enemy privatizes and corrupts must be liberated and socialized, just as has occurred with the Guelaguetza. What was once a tourism business has been recuperated as the peasants’ divinely titled land, which calls the producers of all wealth, the workers, to join in the fiesta that integrates work and pleasure.
The Other Campaign seems to be waiting on the sidelines until the lifeless bodies of populist statism are taken away, when it will once again raise the flags of the Left from below. But since the Indigenous Gathering in Campeche, Delegate Zero has welcomed the APPO and asked that people not be confused by the silence of those who are liberated from the State’s electoral times, but instead create liberatory times with new territories. In any case, many adherents to the Other Campaign will be in the National Democratic Convention, perhaps to denounce the expropriation of the name given by the EZLN to a meeting held in Chiapas toward the end of 1994. Since the condition of being adherents doesn’t precisely define their rights and obligations, and since there is no longer any civilian Zapatista Front, each organization loyal to the Sixth Declaration will act according to their own knowledge and understanding, creating a complex relationship with the statist and institutionalist false left.
What is certain is that, in the face of a globalizing corporate rightwing bloc that has chambers of commerce, monopolies, and cartels that are all associated with the state (the administrator of maximum concentrated profit), there is a need to act from now to December 1, when the rightist puppet will take power amid blood, fire, and televised verbal diarrhea. It will be necessary to cultivate, in turn, a national program of struggle from Atenco, Oaxaca, the Other Campaign, the Popular Assembly of Michoacán, and those that follow, workers against union charrismo [the alliance of corrupt union leaders, bosses, and the state apparatus] and in favor of workers councils exercising the sovereignty of the people guaranteed in Article 39 of the Constitution (“…All public power comes from the people, and it is instituted for their benefit. The people have, at all times, the inalienable right to alter or modify the form of their government.”).
One hundred days into the Oaxaca Commune, a successful assault on power is possible. The Paris Commune lasted fifty days in 1871, the same number that the St. Petersburg Soviet lasted in 1905. Eurocentric revolutionaries offer these events as the example to follow. Today its time to reclaim the 100 days of resistance in Oaxaca as the exemplary point of departure for the constructive history and geography of the new richly complex and inclusive nation. The great historical obstacle of the nation-state, still maintaining the power of conviction, has begun its definitive collapse, though not without demonstrating the danger of its last recourse: military and police power along with disinformation broadcasted on the televisions, radios, and newspapers. It is necessary to act accordingly, opposing the sermon of the informe [the Mexican president’s state-of-the-union speech] with the information of a people in struggle.
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