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Workers Vanguard No. 891

27 April 2007


For Labor Mobilizations Against Starvation Policies, Repression!

No Support to the Bourgeois PRD, PRI, PAN!

For Socialist Revolution Throughout the Americas!

The following article, edited for publication in WV, is translated from Espartaco No. 27 (Spring 2007), newspaper of the Grupo Espartaquista de México, section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist).

Mexico is an extremely explosive society. The divisions within the ruling class are now out in the open. The right-wing PAN [National Action Party] of Felipe Calderón seeks to continue and deepen the neoliberal and anti-working-class measures of the former regime of [Vicente] Fox, especially through privatization of the oil industry, the country’s main source of revenue. The nationalist-populist PRD [Party of the Democratic Revolution] worries both about massive unrest and the excessive demands of the imperialists.

These divisions have been evident since Fox launched the desafuero [stripping of immunity] campaign against [prospective PRD presidential candidate] Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) in 2004 and continued through the post-electoral polarization in 2006, with demonstrations of millions of people protesting the electoral fraud. In Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán, the miners and steel workers union waged the most powerful and combative labor strike in decades. Striking teachers and the oppressed masses of Oaxaca occupied the state capital. Out of fear of greater social explosions, the PAN rulers have pushed a growing militarization of the country, in some cases even threatening their bourgeois opponents in the PRD.

In anticipation of a Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) strike announced for March 16, but called off just one hour before it was scheduled to begin, the government sent in the army to surround several facilities of Luz y Fuerza del Centro [regional electric company covering Mexico City] as a threat to the working class as a whole. The new president ordered massive military operations in coordination with the police in states like Michoacán, Guerrero and Baja California to terrorize the population, targeting in particular rural zones where guerrillas have a presence and the working-class concentrations near the northern border. In February, to ensure the loyalty of the troops, Calderón gave them a pay raise of over 45 percent—a slap in the face to the working masses who received less than 4 percent.

The old PRI [Institutional Revolutionary Party] regime’s economic base has been undermined by growing economic subjugation to the U.S., symbolized and driven by the NAFTA treaty for the imperialist rape of Mexico. The corporatist union structure is in severe crisis, and the benefits that corporatism once offered to some unionized sectors—like cheap housing, food subsidies and job security—have become a thing of the past. The PAN, with the PRI, looks to the privatization of the oil industry, and pushes for “reforms” to the State Workers Social Security and Services Institute (ISSSTE), which are aimed against the retirement pension system of government workers and tantamount to its privatization. These reforms are similar to the ones approved in 2004 for the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS).

The PAN’s most recent attack on the poor—which was met with massive demonstrations—was the increase in the price of tortillas, the main staple food for most Mexicans, by over 40 percent. The stage had been prepared by over a decade of NAFTA and the more recent international rise in the price of corn. However, the immediate cause of the current crisis was speculation on the part of corn magnates, both domestic (especially GRUMA/Maseca) and American (like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland) in collusion with the federal government. With nearly half the rural population living below the official poverty line and 20 percent in utter destitution, this price hike, together with the price increases for other basic products like milk and eggs, threatens the population with starvation. The convulsive struggles from Lázaro Cárdenas to Oaxaca to Atenco have found a unifying element in this crisis: the policies of Bush and his lackeys are uniting in struggle the workers, the peasants and other sectors of the population.

In a 27 January leaflet (“Mobilize the Working Class Against Hunger and Repression!”) [reprinted in WV No. 886, 16 February] we demanded the expropriation of the corn magnates without compensation as a call for the working class to fight against the capitalist class as a whole. We called for “labor strikes that demand a subsidy for tortillas so everyone can have them” which, together with our call for “the distribution of food for all under control of the trade unions,” would ensure food distribution among the workers and the poor. We also called for opening the accounting books and the abolition of trade secrets.

Price watch committees, comprised of factory delegates, unions, cooperatives, peasant organizations and the urban poor, could be the nucleus of workers self-defense units against the repression accompanying the crisis. We fight for a sliding scale of wages that would ensure pay raises proportional to price increases, and for a sliding scale of working hours to divide up the available work, along with an extensive public works program to combat the massive chronic unemployment in the cities.

Our slogans—which underscore the irreconcilable contradiction between the capitalist mode of production and a system that would serve the interests of workers and the oppressed—aim at mobilizing the proletariat at the head of all the poor. Our program against the current crisis is centered on the working class which, due to its relationship to the means of production, is the only class with the historical interest and the social power to sweep away this system of economic exploitation once and for all. The bourgeoisie owns the means of production and therefore expropriates the fruits of the proletariat’s labor. The fundamental task for Mexican revolutionaries today is to struggle for the political independence of the proletariat: to struggle against the illusions in the PRD that permeate the working class and to oppose the bourgeois state’s interference in the labor movement, fighting to forge a revolutionary workers party.

The Counterrevolutionary Destruction of the USSR and the “New World Order”

The current price crisis is conditioned internationally by the capitalist counterrevolution in the deformed workers states of East Europe beginning in 1989 and in the Soviet Union in 1991-92. The destruction of the Soviet degenerated workers state represented a world-historic defeat for the international proletariat, resulting in a general retrogression of working-class consciousness and opening a new period of the redivision of the world markets among the economic powers on a global scale. Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, is the economic system in which the national markets have been surpassed and the imperialist powers compete for control of the international markets, thus leading to wars. Without the military, ideological and economic counterweight of the first and largest workers state in the world, U.S. imperialism has emerged as the sole superpower, which today means such wars of colonial occupation as in Afghanistan and Iraq and the increased subjugation of the underdeveloped capitalist countries. In Mexico, the collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in the indiscriminate opening of the domestic economy to imperialist monopoly finance capital, particularly through NAFTA and massive privatizations.

Uniquely among the left, we Spartacists fought for the unconditional military defense of the Soviet Union, the DDR (the East German deformed workers state), and the other deformed workers states against capitalist counterrevolution. We fought for proletarian political revolution to sweep away the Stalinist bureaucracies in power and establish the genuine workers democracy of soviets and factory councils. Today we do the same for the world’s remaining deformed workers states: China, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam.

Break with the PRD, Party of Capital!

The PRD represents the political wing of the bourgeoisie that seeks to use concessions to defuse the discontent of the workers and oppressed, so as to perpetuate the system of capitalist exploitation. The differences between the PRD and the PAN boil down to the manner of administering capitalism—with the carrot or with the stick. However, large masses of workers, peasants and youth see in the bourgeois populism of López Obrador and the PRD a viable alternative to the clerical and neoliberal policies of the PAN. The PRD, which emerged out of the PRI (as did AMLO himself), is a party of capital, inherently anti-worker. Nationalist populism is not anti-capitalist; in fact, it reinforces capitalism by strengthening the ties binding the working class to its “own” national bourgeoisie.

Just like its bourgeois opponents, the PRD does not hesitate to unleash state forces against the struggles of the workers and the oppressed. This was shown in the murderous attack on the Lázaro Cárdenas strikers in April 2006 and in the police attacks against students in the UNAM [National Autonomous University of Mexico] strike of 1999-2000, as well as the recent brutal occupation of the [impoverished] Tepito neighborhood by the Mexico City police and the expulsion of hundreds of families.

Many workers see in AMLO a sort of reincarnation of General Lázaro Cárdenas del Río, who [in the 1930s] used democratic reforms and concessions to win the support of the workers and peasants. Cárdenas’ fundamental objective was to modernize the country for the benefit of the national bourgeoisie and never to call into question the bourgeoisie’s rule. This required the support of the working class against the bourgeois factions opposed to the reforms and against the imperialists’ demands. Once this objective was achieved, he himself unleashed the repressive force of the state against the strikers at the Azcapotzalco refinery in 1940, for example. The consequence of working-class trust in Cárdenas was the chaining of the labor unions to the state by means of the corporatist straitjacket and seven decades of brutal PRI rule. In the context of Lázaro Cárdenas’ Mexico, Trotsky explained in 1940:

“Inasmuch as foreign capital does not import workers but proletarianizes the native population, the national proletariat soon begins playing the most important role in the life of the country. In these conditions the national government, to the extent that it tries to show resistance to foreign capital, is compelled to a greater or lesser degree to lean on the proletariat. On the other hand, the governments of those backward countries which consider it inescapable or more profitable for themselves to march shoulder to shoulder with foreign capital, destroy the labor organizations and institute a more or less totalitarian regime.”

—“Trade Unions in the Epoch of Imperialist Decay”

Albeit under different historical circumstances (fundamentally conditioned by the counterrevolutionary destruction of the USSR), Cárdenas and AMLO embody analogous phenomena: bonapartist, bourgeois caudillos interested in the development of national capitalism and in impeding the development of an independent labor movement.

Many youth identify with Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and his “Bolivarian Revolution” as well as Bolivia’s Evo Morales. The nationalizations in Venezuela and Bolivia—measures of national self-defense that we Marxists defend—do not free industries from capitalist domination, and in the end what happens in these countries is decided on an international scale. Capitalists in Venezuela are taking their money out of the country and in some cases they are hoarding their products, causing high inflation rates and shortages of food in the market. The imperialists sabotage and pull out their investments. This shows that it is impossible to solve problems in the framework of a single country. Reforms and nationalizations of certain branches of industry by a bourgeois state—reversible under the pressure of imperialism—do not lead to socialism. The repetitive cycle of bourgeois nationalist demagogy and neoliberal puppets has to be stopped. It is a task of the working class in the region to pull Latin America out of backwardness and imperialist subjugation. It is crucial to forge an international revolutionary workers party that can link the struggles of the impoverished masses to the powerful working class throughout the Americas.

Permanent Revolution and Defense of the Nationalized Energy Industry

Mexico is a country of combined and uneven capitalist development, where the most modern techniques of industrial production coexist side by side with the ancestral backwardness of the countryside. The bourgeoisies of the countries subjugated by imperialism are incapable of even carrying out the bourgeois-democratic tasks, such as national liberation, agrarian revolution and political democracy, that were historically associated with bourgeois revolutions such as the French Revolution of 1789. The revolutionary Leon Trotsky described the weakness of this class:

“The pressure of foreign imperialism so alters and distorts the economic and political structure of these countries that the national bourgeoisie (even in the politically independent countries of South America) only partly reaches the height of a ruling class. The pressure of imperialism on backward countries does not, it is true, change their basic social character since the oppressor and oppressed represent only different levels of development in one and the same bourgeois society.... The bourgeoisie of colonial and semicolonial countries is a semiruling, semioppressed class.”

—“Not a Workers’ and Not a Bourgeois State?” (1937)

We Spartacists base ourselves on the perspective of permanent revolution developed by Trotsky and vindicated in practice by the Russian Revolution of 1917. The full completion of the bourgeois-democratic tasks, in our time, is only possible under the rule of the proletariat. But once in power, the working class will not be able to limit itself to achieving these tasks; rather it would pass immediately to the socialist, collectivist tasks of the revolution. In so doing, the revolution acquires its permanent character. Thus the felt bourgeois-democratic demands of the population become a motor force for socialist revolution.

We oppose NAFTA and we defend the nationalized energy industry, especially but not only the oil industry, as basic measures of self-defense against the imperialists in a semicolonial country. The nationalizations in the energy sector were a crucial conquest for this country. As many layers of the population are perfectly aware, the privatization of oil will make for even greater subjugation to the imperialists, especially the U.S. imperialists.

Until March 1938 the Mexican oil industry belonged to the British, American and Dutch imperialists. Following the expropriation under Cárdenas, the oil magnates—especially the British, who had the support of “His Majesty”—imposed a boycott of Mexican crude oil and, in fact, provoked a rightist rebellion by General Cedillo against Cárdenas. Trotsky appealed to proletarian internationalism to mobilize British workers in defense of the Mexican expropriation against their own imperialist rulers. As Trotsky wrote:

“The expropriation of oil is neither socialism nor communism. But it is a highly progressive measure of national self-defense....

“Without giving up its own identity, every honest working class organization of the entire world, and first of all in Great Britain, is duty-bound to take an irreconcilable position against the imperialist robbers, their diplomacy, their press, and their fascist hirelings. The cause of Mexico, like the cause of Spain, like the cause of China, is the cause of the international working class. The struggle over Mexican oil is only one of the advance-line skirmishes of future battles between the oppressors and the oppressed.”

—“Mexico and British Imperialism” (1938)

Today, it is the U.S. imperialists who circle like vultures over PEMEX [Mexico’s state oil company]. One of the main reasons for Bush’s recent visit to Mexico was to insist on opening the oil company to “private capital to expand Pemex production” (La Jornada, 11 March). U.S. workers have the internationalist duty to defend the Mexican nationalized oil industry against the predatory intentions of Bush and his imperialist cabal.

For a Workers and Peasants Government!

The peasantry is a heterogeneous layer of the petty bourgeoisie that is incapable of playing an independent political role as a class. Their productive activity is individual and based on the private ownership of a portion of land. Thus the peasants compete economically with each other. The peasantry does not have the objective class interest, cohesion or social power that the working class has to overthrow the bourgeoisie and establish its own government. Especially with the implementation of NAFTA, the Mexican countryside has largely been devastated with great masses of peasants thrown off their land, faced with the inability to compete with large U.S. and Mexican agribusinesses. The impoverished peasantry and the great mass of the urban poor are the main potential allies of the proletariat for socialist revolution.

The industrial working class must place itself at the head of the other oppressed sectors in society and fight alongside agricultural workers and peasants committees for subsidies in the form of machinery, tractors, irrigation systems, agricultural credits as well as quality seed. Well-paid jobs, quality bilingual education at all levels, a system of public works to supply basic services and health care in the more backward indigenous regions of the countryside must be elementary demands for the workers movement.

The demand for so-called “food sovereignty,” raised prominently by the UNT [National Union of Workers] and a host of peasant organizations, resonates everywhere. This demand has a defensive character as it is posed in the context of the devastation of the countryside by NAFTA and increased subjugation under the imperialists. Nonetheless, we do not raise this demand. According to the National Union of Autonomous Regional Peasant Organizations (UNORCA), food sovereignty means “the freedom of peoples to define their agricultural and forestry policies; fighting to take agriculture and food out of the World Trade Organization and any international trade agreement that weakens our sovereignty.” At the center of their demands is one to “promote balanced and sustainable rural development with the implementation of new public policies, institutional programs, tools and reforms that foment and protect the ability to produce, industrialize, distribute and market the strategic products for feeding Mexicans—based on small peasant producers—as a condition for food sovereignty.” Thus behind the demand for “food sovereignty” is a reactionary and utopian framework of returning to small-scale peasant agriculture within the bounds of national capitalism.

In contrast to the nationalist populists, we Marxists understand that hunger can only be eliminated in the context of an international division of labor in a socialist planned economy which requires the overthrow of capitalism worldwide. To perpetuate the existence of a miserable, culturally and technically backward peasantry is reactionary. Marxists fight for the modernization of the countryside. A workers and peasants government—the dictatorship of the proletariat supported by the poor peasants, which together will direct the goals of the country through soviets (councils)—would struggle to attain these goals by expropriating all the modern agribusinesses of the north and the Bajío [central lowlands region] and transforming them into state farms. At the same time, it would seek to convince, through example, the poor peasants in the southern and central regions of the advantages of large-scale, mechanized, collective exploitation of land over small family plots. The fate of the poor peasantry, i.e., its disappearance in the midst of oppression and capitalist misery or its transformation into a class of agricultural proletarians in a modernized countryside, depends on the success of the proletarian revolution and its international extension.

For Proletarian Internationalism!

Mexico, even after a proletarian revolution, could not on its own reach the living standards of a First World country. Modernization of the countryside, for example, would require a scientific and technological level much higher than Mexico currently has. The immediate survival itself of a workers Mexico would depend on the help of our class brothers and sisters in the U.S. At the same time, a socialist revolution in Mexico would reverberate through the Americas and galvanize the powerful multiracial proletariat in the U.S. Trotsky explains in his “Basic Postulates” in The Permanent Revolution (1930):

“10. The completion of the socialist revolution within national limits is unthinkable. One of the basic reasons for the crisis in bourgeois society is the fact that the productive forces created by it can no longer be reconciled with the framework of the national state. From this follow, on the one hand, imperialist wars, on the other, the utopia of a bourgeois United States of Europe. The socialist revolution begins on the national arena, it unfolds on the international arena, and is completed on the world arena. Thus, the socialist revolution becomes a permanent revolution in a newer and broader sense of the word; it attains completion only in the final victory of the new society on our entire planet.

Many in Mexico incorrectly view the U.S. as one homogenous reactionary and imperialist mass—a view based on the bourgeois nationalism prominently pushed by the PRD. But the U.S. is a class-divided society. The working classes and oppressed of Mexico and the United States have a common interest in a socialist revolution in “El Norte.” Our comrades in the U.S. struggle to mobilize the powerful multiracial U.S. working class in opposition to the designs of Yankee imperialism, sharply opposing the semicolonial occupation of Iraq, the presence of imperialist troops in the Near East, and the U.S. imperialist threat against the Chinese and North Korean deformed workers states. Our comrades in the U.S. fight for full citizenship rights for immigrants as a concrete way to forge links of solidarity between both proletariats. All of this is within a perspective of class struggle independent of the bourgeois Republican and Democratic parties.

In 1991 the Spartacist League/U.S., Trotskyist League of Canada/Ligue Trotskyste du Canada and the Grupo Espartaquista de México, sections of the ICL, issued a declaration titled “Stop U.S. ‘Free Trade’ Rape of Mexico.” We explained that “the fight for workers revolution in Mexico and the U.S. is directly linked, including by the human bridge of millions of Mexican and Central American workers who have ‘gone north’.” The declaration calls on “Mexican, U.S. and Canadian workers to join in opposing this anti-labor pact.” Down with NAFTA! For joint class struggle on both sides of the border! For socialist revolution in all the Americas!

For a Class-Struggle Leadership! Forge a Revolutionary Workers Party!

It is clear that Mexican workers want to fight. But their current leaderships subordinate them to the bourgeoisie, whether through nationalist ideology or open repression. As an excuse for not mobilizing their supporters for the demonstration against starvation on January 31, a spokesman for the corporatist unions grouped in the CTM [Mexican Labor Federation] and historically affiliated to the PRI argued that they had to “give time” to Calderón to see if his economic measures “work.” The CTM and the CT [Congress of Labor] refused to participate as soon as AMLO confirmed that he was going to march, and then they proposed a system of “credit based on wages” [to lessen the impact of the crisis]. This measure would only make workers indebted to their bosses. What is necessary is to increase the buying power of the workers, not to chain them for life to their exploiters through bloodsucking loans.

For their part, the “independent” UNT and SME unions, politically aligned with the bourgeois PRD, demonstrated on January 31 under a set of nine demands codified in the “Declaration of the Zócalo,” which clearly reflect the bourgeois populist program of the PRD. Besides demanding aid to the countryside, emergency wage increases as well as the creation of formal jobs—demands we support that are directed toward elementary needs—the declaration calls to “renegotiate” and not to end NAFTA. It calls for a “great national agreement” on the basis of “social unity,” as if there were no class divisions in Mexico. The union bureaucracies want to unite the impoverished masses with the people that are trying to starve them to death. This is bourgeois nationalism: illusions in the false unity between exploited and exploiters on the basis of the supposedly common interest of advancing “the fatherland.”

We Spartacists fight to replace the pro-capitalist bureaucracies with a class-struggle leadership and to transform the trade unions into organs for the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat. As Leon Trotsky explained in 1940, “The primary slogan for this struggle is: complete and unconditional independence of the trade unions in relation to the capitalist state.”

This struggle and the struggle for union democracy cannot be separated from the struggle for a revolutionary leadership—a Leninist-Trotskyist revolutionary workers party, part of a reforged Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution. A Bolshevik party is the fundamental instrument for bringing political consciousness to the proletariat, the principal, leading force through which the working class can achieve and consolidate the socialist revolution. As Trotsky explained, “Without a party, apart from a party, over the head of a party, or with a substitute for a party, the proletarian revolution cannot conquer” (Lessons of October, 1924).

The French utopian socialist Fourier noted that the level of emancipation of women is the natural measure of general emancipation. Bourgeois revolutions such as the French Revolution of 1789 swept away the feudal institutions that had blocked the development of capitalism. They replaced social relations based on obligations and privileges with those based on contractual equality, and thus had a profound effect on the family. The condition of women in the most advanced capitalist countries shows the limits of liberty and social progress under capitalism. On the other hand, the backward character of capitalist development in Mexico, its colonial past, and its subjugation to imperialism are reflected in deeply rooted manifestations of social backwardness. PRDers and representatives of other parties in the Mexico City Legislative Assembly have presented a proposal to decriminalize abortion up to the twelfth week of pregnancy when the woman claims poverty or argues to control how many children to have. In response, the arch-reactionary Catholic church is calling demonstrations to prevent its approval. We Spartacists support this partial reform and struggle for the right of free abortion on demand, for women’s liberation through socialist revolution and for full democratic rights for homosexuals.

Age-old anti-indigenous racist oppression is derived from colonial brutality, when the decadent Spanish crown kept itself going through the immense shipments of silver and gold obtained through the superexploitation of the indigenous population. Machismo, homophobia, anti-indigenous racism and anti-Semitism are bourgeois ideologies that serve to justify concrete oppression and divide the oppressed. A revolutionary party would be, in the words of Lenin, the “tribune of the people.” By fighting against all examples of oppression and social backwardness, the proletarian party embodies the Marxist revolutionary ideal: the emancipation of all humanity through the emancipation of the proletariat.

The Petty-Bourgeois Radical Populism of the EZLN and the APPO

In the context of the horrible misery and brutal oppression that the indigenous population of the country faces, the EZLN [Zapatista Army of National Liberation] has been very attractive for some of those who oppose capitalist devastation. In addition, their criticisms of the PRD during the electoral circus were attractive to many youth. Thus the Zapatista Sixth Declaration says that “the problem of the country is not a party, but rather the capitalist system,” which “we must transform” (La Jornada, 15 January 2006). But there is nothing in the Sixth Declaration directed toward overthrowing capitalism; its demands are for democratic reforms such as, centrally, a new constitution “that would recognize the rights and liberties of the people, and defend the weak in the face of the powerful.” It is utopian to think that through new laws the capitalist state can be reformed and put at the service of the exploited and oppressed. What is necessary is a workers revolution that abolishes private property.

On the other hand, the militancy of the APPO [Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca], which emerged as the ally of the SNTE [National Educational Workers Union] Local 22 teachers who were on strike for over six months, also galvanized those who want to struggle against this vile and corrupt regime. Their barricades—which gave them control of an important part of the city of Oaxaca—and their ongoing battles with the police were a source of inspiration for many youth who want something more than fraudulent elections and parliamentary farces. But their struggle did not go beyond calling for the sacking of governor-hangman Ulises Ruiz. Thus, although at the beginning of their struggle they had called for boycotting the elections, the APPO and SNTE Local 22 leaders ended up calling for a vote to AMLO.

Populism denies the fundamental division of class society between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, substituting a simplistic division only between the rich and the poor, thus denying the central role of the working class as the fundamental agent for social change. In fact, the Zapatistas emerged in 1994 explicitly rejecting the struggle for proletarian revolution. Populists confine their program to democratic reforms within a capitalist and narrow nationalist framework. Regardless of their militancy and intentions, the “radical” populists such as the EZLN and the APPO end up orbiting around the PRD and trying to put pressure on it.

The Syphilitic Chain of Petty-Bourgeois Populism

Our revolutionary Marxist perspective is counterposed not only to all varieties of populism, but also to the self-proclaimed Marxist organizations that tail class forces alien to the proletariat and limit their program to the Mexican national terrain. Perhaps the most grotesque example is the Militant Tendency [Militante], which is in fact an integral part of the bourgeois PRD. Militante touchingly says that “AMLO must fight against capitalism” (Militante No. 154, second half of September 2006). This is tantamount to calling for the Pope to fight for the rights of gays. Militante only strengthens suicidal illusions in the bourgeois PRD, and its politics pave the way to bloody defeats for the working class.

The Liga de Trabajadores por el Socialismo (LTS) puts forth every kind of slogan against the high cost of living, such as “jobs for all,” “general emergency increase in wages” (Estrategia Obrera No. 58, 24 January), etc. But without even mentioning the fight for socialist revolution in their article, the LTS’s program is reformist, completely within the framework of capitalism. The LTS writes: “Unfortunately, the PRD, which claims to be a ‘democratic’ party and to be against repression, has endorsed this action,” that is, the recent huge federal police operations in Michoacán. The LTS doesn’t even mention the direct participation of the PRD in the bloody attack against the workers of Lázaro Cárdenas in April last year! Instead, the LTS calls on “all organizations that claim to be democratic (like those that make up the CND [National Democratic Convention])” to join them in forming a “National Coordinating Committee Against Repression.” In other words, the LTS calls for a political bloc with the bourgeois PRD.

The Internationalist Group (IG) was formed eleven years ago by demoralized former members of our organization. Incapable of dealing with the counterrevolutionary destruction of the USSR in 1991-92 and the retrogression of working-class consciousness that followed this world-historic defeat for the proletariat, they deserted Trotskyism to tail the forces of alien classes, embellishing existing consciousness and adapting to it.

The IG is incapable of dealing with the massive illusions in populism, and looks to invent its own reality. They make every kind of contortion to present AMLO as merely a “neo-liberal with a human face,” minimizing the devastating effects of NAFTA and all of the neoliberal policies of the last four presidencies. They turn their back on the struggle in defense of elementary democratic rights and the most pressing needs of the poor.

In a recent article (“Against the Tortillazo, Impose Workers Control! Mexico’s Tortilla Crisis, Product of Capitalism,” El Internacionalista, January 2007), the IG essentially puts an equal sign between the former semi-bonapartist regime of the PRI and the current openly pro-imperialist, starvation policies of the PAN. Thus, while they make a passing reference to the “disaster” brought about by NAFTA, they argue that “neither the poverty of small peasants nor forced migration began 15 years ago,” minimizing the horrible misery and growing subjugation of Mexico to imperialism that this predatory treaty has produced. Finally, they write:

“Moreover, by keeping the cost of tortillas low and the price of corn high, it [the government] was subsidizing Mexican industrialists by lowering the cost of reproduction of ‘its’ workforce. In other words, they were using ‘food sovereignty’ to keep workers drowning in poverty due to low wages.”

The IG argues that you shouldn’t fight for cheap food because it means keeping wages low! This position is, plain and simple, reactionary.

The IG refuses to defend partial gains. With this logic, they should oppose the defense of the nationalized oil industry, and in fact all demands directed toward improving the conditions of the working class and oppressed before the socialist revolution. Every reform, every gain for the working class and oppressed will necessarily be partial and at any moment reversible while capitalism still exists. But that’s no reason for revolutionaries to drop the struggle for partial conquests; on the contrary, our purpose is to mobilize the working class at the head of all the poor and oppressed in the fight for their most pressing needs in preparation for the general overthrow of the entire capitalist class. As Lenin explained:

“Unlike the anarchists, the Marxists recognise struggle for reforms, i.e., for measures that improve the conditions of the working people without destroying the power of the ruling class. At the same time, however, the Marxists wage a most resolute struggle against the reformists, who, directly or indirectly, restrict the aims and activities of the working class to the winning of reforms. Reformism is bourgeois deception of the workers, who, despite individual improvements, will always remain wage-slaves, as long as there is the domination of capital.”

—“Marxism and Reformism” (1913)

Lessons of the Paris Commune of 1871

The combative struggle of the Oaxacan masses has infatuated the supposed “Trotskyist” left, demonstrating in deeds its crass rejection of Trotsky’s permanent revolution. The LTS salutes this struggle as “the Oaxaca Commune,” comparing it to the Paris Commune of 1871. Nothing could be more false. The Paris Commune was a social revolution, the first example in history of the dictatorship of the proletariat. But, to begin with, the industrial working class barely exists in Oaxaca! In reality, the Oaxaca struggle was based completely on unionized teachers and the impoverished petty-bourgeois masses. For genuine Trotskyists, the point is not to paint reality in prettier colors, but to fight to mobilize the industrial urban proletariat at the head of all the oppressed in the fight for socialist revolution.

One of the main lessons from the Paris Commune—which in the end was smashed by bourgeois reaction at the expense of 30,000 working-class lives—was that the proletariat cannot seize the existing state apparatus and wield it in its own interest. As Marx and Engels taught us, the bourgeois state is made up of bodies of armed men whose task is to defend the capitalist mode of production, which is based on private property and the exploitation of labor. Its core is the army, the police, the courts and the prisons. The working class must destroy the bourgeois state through socialist revolution and erect in its place a workers state to defend the proletariat as the new ruling class against the recalcitrant bourgeoisie. The lessons of the Paris Commune with respect to the Marxist understanding of the state—especially as codified in The State and Revolution by Lenin, a seminal work of revolutionary Marxism—played a crucial role in the 1917 Russian Revolution, the only successful workers revolution in history.

The entire perspective of the APPO was based on illusions in the democratic reform of the capitalist state, with the PRD as the instrument to carry it out. The LTS shares these illusions; one of its most frequent demands, directed at the bourgeois state itself, is “For the dissolution of the repressive forces of the state.” To believe that the bourgeoisie would ever agree to “dissolve” its state is not only utopian, but truly suicidal—this is a reformist position counterposed to the essence of Marxism.

The IG’s rejection in deeds of permanent revolution drives them, as we’ve already seen, on the one hand, to abstain from the struggle for elementary rights and measures to meet the basic needs of the population; on the other hand, it leads them directly to glorifying left populism. An example is Oaxaca. Last year the IG affirmed that the Oaxacan teachers “know that the ‘PRI, PAN, and PRD are the same thing’” (El Internacionalista/Edición México No. 2, August 2006), a position that they had to abandon barely days later, when the teachers and APPO called for a “punishment vote” against the PRI and the PAN—i.e., for the PRD. More recently, they wrote that the APPO masses “lacked an explicit revolutionary political perspective” (El Internacionalista, January 2007), implying that they had an implicit one—and only the IG knows what that means! Now, in a desperate attempt to paint APPO red, they say that “APPO’s support to PRD presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the July 2 elections was seen by many Oaxaca strikers as a ‘tactical’ move against Ulises Ruiz Ortiz [URO]: a vote for AMLO against URO. But for the APPO leaders it was strategic.” The IG abandons the starting point for all revolutionary politics: political support to the bourgeoisie is not some astute “tactic” but a mortal illusion that can only lead to defeat.

Not very different from the LTS, the IG also abandons the Marxist understanding of the state. Thus, in a recent article they cite uncritically—and in such a moving way—the speech of a Oaxacan student directed at the police: “‘the condition of the country made you choose between leaving your fatherland or joining that force [the Federal Preventive Police] due to the lack of opportunity,’ but that ‘you should be on this side because you are the same as us. Look at your skin, your hands, you’re the same color as us. You are also Huicholes, Mixes, Tarahumaras [indigenous peoples]’” (El Internacionalista, November 2006). The IG in fact approves of such statements, adding: “Appealing to the police invaders not to repress can be a correct tactic under certain circumstances, and suicidal in others. It is a dangerous illusion to think that the police ‘are also part of the people’.” Presenting such liberal appeals to the police as, again, another type of astute “tactic” can only mean sowing deadly illusions in the bourgeois state.

For New October Revolutions!

Recurring economic crises and repression are endemic to the capitalist system. The only solution to put an end to both is the overthrow of capitalism through international workers revolution. The victory of the proletariat on a world scale would place unimagined material abundance at the service of human needs, lay the basis for the elimination of classes and the eradication of social inequality based on sex and the very abolition of the social significance of race, nation and ethnicity. For the first time mankind will grasp the reins of history and control its own creation, society, resulting in an undreamed-of emancipation of human potential, and a monumental forward surge of civilization. Only then will it be possible to realize the free development of each individual as the condition for the free development of all. Reforge the Fourth International of Trotsky, world party of socialist revolution!


Workers Vanguard No. 891

WV 891

27 April 2007


Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants!

Break with the Democrats! For a Workers Party That Fights for a Workers Government!


Free Abortion on Demand!

Supreme Court Rolls Back Abortion Rights


Don Imus and Racism U.S.A.

Capitalist America: Hell for Black People


Rally in London to Free Mumia

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)


Protest F.O.P. Harassment of Mumia Supporters

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)


The Russian Revolution and the Fight for Black Freedom

(Quote of the Week)


Diana Kartsen




For Labor Mobilizations Against Starvation Policies, Repression!

No Support to the Bourgeois PRD, PRI, PAN!

For Socialist Revolution Throughout the Americas!


Fascistic Minutemen and Anti-Immigrant Bigotry


From Death Row, This Is Mumia Abu-Jamal

Of Nappy Heads and Hard Hearts