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Workers Vanguard No. 974

18 February 2011

A Marxist Analysis of the Mexican Revolution of 1910

Part Two

This part concludes this article, translated from Espartaco No. 12 (Spring-Summer 1999), published by the Grupo Espartaquista de México. Part One appeared in WV No. 973 (4 February).

When the Mexican Revolution broke out, the proletariat consisted of some 600,000 workers but was very dispersed and atomized throughout the country, particularly in the mines, on the railroads, in the textile industry and various artisanal trades. The list of organizations affiliated with the Casa del Obrero Mundial [House of the World Worker], founded only in September 1912, shows the still-rudimentary composition of the proletariat. Besides electricians and streetcar drivers, the majority of the list consisted of guilds such as bakers, drivers, tailors, leather workers, bricklayers, shoemakers, carpenters, etc. There was also some urban industry, such as textiles, but not nearly as modern or concentrated as in western Russia. Also, because of the limited migration of European workers, socialist thought was not as widespread here as in Chile and Argentina in the Southern Cone of the hemisphere.

Consequently, anarchism (imported from Spain) flourished and gained authority in the young working class. The anarchism of the Flores Magón brothers had emerged as a radical-liberal tendency in the ranks of the bourgeois opposition to Porfirio Díaz. During the Porfirian dictatorship, anarchist publications such as El Hijo del Ahuizote [Son of the Scourge], Revolución and Regeneración helped to organize sectors of society unhappy with the regime. From 1906 to the 1910 uprising led by Francisco Madero, the anarchists focused their strategy on the formation of guerrilla cells in the north. They even established a utopian anarchist “Socialist Republic of Baja California” in 1911, which was immediately crushed after an agreement between Díaz and Madero was reached. Díaz’s constant repression of Ricardo Flores Magón’s group, which eventually had to hide in the U.S., pushed the group to the left, and it began to build workers’ cells. During the Revolution, anarchist groups founded the Casa del Obrero Mundial.

Flores Magón and his Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM) certainly presented the most radical program during the Revolution, even calling for the abolition of private property and for no support for the bourgeoisie. But its ideas and proclamations were extremely contradictory. In spite of its influence on the incipient unions, Magonist anarchism did not represent the historic interests of the working class; it had more to do with a type of petty-bourgeois “utopian socialism” that reflected the desperation of the artisans and the middle classes ruined under the Porfiriato.

The acid test of the Mexican Revolution showed the total bankruptcy of anarchism and its inability to draw an independent class line. Some anarchists in the Casa del Obrero (such as Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama) went over to the ranks of Zapatismo. But the majority of the anarchist leaders, such as Antonio I. Villarreal, who went from the ranks of the PLM to being governor of [the northern state of] Nuevo León and a mouthpiece for the bourgeois forces of Venustiano Carranza, reached agreement with Carranza and engaged in demagoguery to convince a sector of the working class to participate in Carranza’s infamous “red battalions” [armed forces arrayed against peasant insurgents].

The traitorous collaboration of the Casa del Obrero anarchists, who exchanged their “direct action” discourse for the demagogic “class struggle” offered by Carranza in his 1913 Plan de Guadalupe, guaranteed “social peace” in the capital for Alvaro Obregón while he pursued Pancho Villa. In the end, the Casa del Obrero leadership accepted without complaint Obregón’s order to dissolve their organization when it was no longer useful to him. Most of these anarchists would later have careers as union bureaucrats in the new Confederación Regional Obrera Mexicana (CROM, Mexican Regional Workers Confederation), subservient to the bourgeois regime.

Here it is interesting to refer to the position of the centrist Internationalist Group (IG), a handful of deserters from Trotskyism who were expelled from our organization in 1996. The IG attempts a retrospective embellishment of the anti-revolutionary role of anarchism which, inciting the backward consciousness of the working class, mobilized it to actively support the suppression of the revolution under the Carranza’s orders. The IG writes:

“The anarchists withdrew into passive opposition to all sides. General Obregón, meanwhile, wooed the Casa del Obrero on behalf of the mistrusted landowner-general Carranza.... When Obregón appealed for the formation of Red Battalions of workers to fight Villa, the union bureaucrats finally agreed (despite continued opposition in the ranks).”

The Internationalist, April-May 1997

In the IG’s centrist laundry room, the anarchist bureaucrats of the Casa del Obrero seem like confused, passive victims of Obregón’s intrigues. The IG uses the same lying description of “paralyzed” victims that [IG leader Jan] Norden used to clean up the image of the Stalinists of the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany), who in 1990 led the counterrevolution and presented the East German workers state as a gift to imperialism.

As we have written, anarchism showed its complete bankruptcy during the Mexican Revolution. With their petty-bourgeois perspective, the pages of Regeneración and Magón’s correspondence were filled with bitter recriminations against the working class for being responsible for its destiny. Magón wrote to Gus Teltsch in 1921: “Man is a very stupid long as he has a crust of stale bread to put in his mouth, he thinks he lives in the best world, and everything is going well.” Years earlier, Magón even celebrated with strange justifications the imperialist slaughter of the First World War:

“Millions of men dead? Even better! The people are such imbeciles that they need these terrible blows, these formidable shocks, to wake up. Let us not give in to whining and sentimentality in the face of this spectacle of desolation and ruin. Let us accept with fortitude this result of human stupidity, and to those who wish to hear us, let us say: Brothers, here is the result of your obstinate refusal to heed our good counsel…. Long live the war! Let the horrible spectacle of death, the desolation, the hunger, the ruin, shock the peoples who are lethargic with the narcotic of flags, fatherlands and religions!”

Regeneración No. 201 (undated)

Even earlier, the anarchist PLM went so far as to define a chauvinist, anti-immigrant, protectionist vision in its program. Regarding Chinese workers, the 1906 PLM Program stated: “Generally willing to work for the lowest pay, submissive, with paltry aspirations, the Chinese is a great obstacle to the prosperity of other workers. His competition is disastrous and we must avoid it in Mexico.”

It was Villa and the northern governors who took anti-Chinese chauvinism to its ultimate consequences. One can see this brutal aspect of the Villista troops in Friedrich Katz’s well-documented biography Pancho Villa, in which the historian exposes the visceral hostility of the Villistas toward Chinese immigrants, whom they plundered and murdered in the cities Villa’s forces occupied. The anti-Chinese chauvinist poison went hand in hand with the moth-eaten anti-Semitism propagated in Mexico since the Inquisition. It is no accident that today’s “Chinatown” in Mexico City occupies only half a block of Dolores Street.

The lack of an authentic revolutionary internationalist leadership during the Mexican Revolution would be felt again when the working class began to radicalize against Carranza, as demonstrated by an electricians general strike in Mexico City in 1916. One can understand the limited anarcho-liberal vision of Magón and many of its unresolvable contradictions, which led him to sordid extremes like the anti-Chinese chauvinism of his party. But it is pathetic that today reformist groups like the Partido Obrero Socialista (POS, Socialist Workers Party), heirs of the political chameleon Nahuel Moreno, and the Liga de Unidad Socialista (LUS, League of Socialist Unity), heirs of the pseudo-Trotskyist Ernest Mandel, which along with others promote nationalism, venerate Flores Magón and refer to him uncritically as a “fighter for the liberation of the proletariat” (El Socialista-Umbral No. 238, 1 May 1998).

The Petty-Bourgeois Vision of the Nationalist Left

The Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920 is a clear example of one of those revolutions in which the proletariat, still socially weak, was incapable of acting as an independent contender for power and carrying out its revolutionary tasks. Generalizing from the experience of the Chinese proletariat’s bloody defeat, thanks to Stalin’s betrayal, in the Second Chinese Revolution of 1925-1927 at the hands of the bourgeois-nationalist Guomindang of Chiang Kai-shek, Leon Trotsky wrote in The Permanent Revolution (1930):

“Under the conditions of the imperialist epoch, the national democratic revolution can be carried through to a victorious end only when the social and political relationships of the country are mature for putting the proletariat in power as the leader of the masses of the people. And if this is not yet the case? Then the struggle for national liberation will produce only very partial results, results directed entirely against the working masses.”

Later, he continued:

“A backward colonial or semi-colonial country, the proletariat of which is insufficiently prepared to unite the peasantry and take power, is thereby incapable of bringing the democratic revolution to its conclusion.”

As subsequent history would show, what Trotsky wrote is completely applicable to the Mexican Revolution, whose results were partial and “directed entirely against the working masses.” This can be seen from the beginning in the Zapatista demand that “the land belong to the tiller”—a demand for which hundreds of thousands of peasants rose in rebellion and died. The land was completely stolen by the victorious bourgeois faction: almost all the land seized in the revolution was returned to the landowners or appropriated by elements of the new military caste. (Such a return of lands to the owners of the landed estates did not occur, for example, in France under Napoleon after the Great French Revolution, nor even under the restorationist monarchists that succeeded him.)

Besides the key agrarian question that the Mexican Revolution failed to resolve, there is the issue of imperialism and national liberation, which could not be resolved under bourgeois leadership, or under peasant leadership for that matter. The United States was able to increase its control over the Mexican economy, and the shackles of imperialism continued to tighten on the country, giving rise to the present situation.

With the bloody triumph of Carranza and Obregón’s bourgeois wing, ferocious repression was unleashed in the cities. Not surprisingly, many workers and anarchist leaders of the “red battalions” who returned from fighting the peasant armies were shot as soon as they began to demand that Carranza’s promises be kept. The old death penalty, which had been decreed in 1862, was restored along with other brutal punishments to be applied against the workers movement. A common practice of this new regime was to first send the army against strike picket lines and then, after carrying out repression, to concede a few of the workers’ demands...over their leaders’ corpses. This type of political practice, directed entirely against the working class, as Trotsky wrote, was crystallized in the famous Carrancista Constitution of 1917, which gives the bourgeois state the role of inspector and supreme arbiter in the life of the unions.

To achieve its consolidation, the bourgeois regime of Carranza’s successor Obregón, which had support among the petty bourgeoisie and intellectuals, began to use nationalism and an opportunistic anticlericalism as ideological battering rams in order to justify its continuing repression of workers struggles and regional uprisings of land-hungry peasants. In 1938, the nationalist regime of General Lázaro Cárdenas decreed the expropriation of the petroleum industry and carried out some land distribution, mainly as an escape valve for the pressure of peasant unrest that had been set loose by the church in the reactionary clerical Cristero movement. Cárdenas also used the land distribution as a way to deactivate workers struggles, offering pieces of land so that dissatisfied workers could become small peasant landowners.

With these measures and because of his occasional friction with imperialism, Lázaro Cárdenas gained popularity with the masses and gave a strong boost to nationalism. The Cárdenas regime was able to subordinate the most important workers unions to the PRM (predecessor of the PRI, Institutional Revolutionary Party). This was thanks to the treason of the Stalinist Mexican Communist Party (PCM, founded in 1919), which, following the traitorous, class-collaborationist line of Stalin’s popular front, used its influence in the unions to support [the reformist] Lombardo Toledano and [quintessential pro-government bureaucrat] Fidel Velázquez. Thereafter, the leadership of these unions fell into the hands of the corporatist “charro” bureaucracy—labor lieutenants of capital and the bourgeois state in the workers movement. While opening schools and initiating some public works projects, Lázaro Cárdenas reinforced the army and also founded the hated anti-riot squad known as the “granaderos,” the fundamental instrument of the bourgeoisie for breaking strikes and beating students.

The reformist left failed to resist the increasing popularity of the caudillo Cárdenas and capitulated to the nationalism that was in vogue. This had its most well-known intellectual expression in the works of José Revueltas, a dissident member of the Stalinist PCM, and, later, those of the onetime pseudo-Trotskyist Adolfo Gilly. Influenced by the Stalinist schema of “revolution in stages” and “socialism in one country” and adding his own special philosophical gibberish, Revueltas extolled the terrible backwardness in the Mexican countryside in order to paint the economy during the Porfiriato as merely “semi-feudal.” He then characterized the Revolution of 1910 as a successful bourgeois-democratic “anti-feudal” revolution, which is false.

In the imperialist epoch of capital, as we have noted, it is impossible for the national bourgeoisie to carry a democratic revolution to victory and solve such burning issues as the agrarian question. The millions of landless peasants, including indigenous people, throughout the country are the strongest possible refutation of the Stalinoid vision of Revueltas, who embellished the meager achievements of the Mexican Revolution.

Inspired by the Stalinist concept, Revueltas feverishly looked for a “progressive” sector of the bourgeoisie, which he claimed to have found in Carranza’s forces. In his 1962 essay “Un Proletariado Sin Cabeza” (“A Proletariat Without a Head”), in which he supposedly differentiates himself from the PCM, Revueltas writes a defense of Carranza:

“Thus, carrancismo is actually more radical, more ‘advanced’ than maderismo, because the bourgeois-democratic ideology must widen its field of criticism.... Not only does Carranza promise from the beginning to establish a new organic legal statute for the country, but he also announces the beginning of the social revolution.”

Revueltas’ anti-Marxist revisionism is accompanied by his position on the role of the working class:

“Even when the proletariat does not carry out a leadership function in a bourgeois-democratic revolution like that of 1910, on its own, solely by its presence, it provokes a series of historical and revolutionary consequences. There is an immanent force in the proletariat that on its own becomes evident and leads to results within history.

“This occurred with the proletariat in the Revolution of 1910. And if this bourgeois-democratic revolution has such an advanced and progressive character, it owes this more than anything else to the working class.”

—José Revueltas, “La Revolución Mexicana y el Proletariado” (“The Mexican Revolution and the Proletariat”), 1938

This “objectivist” vision of the weight and role of the working class is typical of the revisionist current of Michel Pablo, which developed in the ranks of the Fourth International in the 1950s. (Perhaps that was why, at the end of his life, Revueltas considered joining the Pabloite United Secretariat of the late Ernest Mandel.) Trotsky polemicized strongly against the false position that the proletariat could effect revolutionary changes “solely by its presence” or its combativity. Trotsky affirmed that the fundamental condition for the proletariat to intervene as a revolutionary force is that it has the consciousness of its historical tasks and a communist leadership. Revueltas was hostile to this Marxist-Leninist perspective.

The Stalinist position of seeking a nonexistent “progressive” sector of the bourgeoisie, and its vision of the proletariat as a mass whose weight is revolutionary in and of itself, was consistent with the type of party that Revueltas wanted to build: not a Leninist vanguard party but rather an amorphous party of “the whole class.” In fact, the core of Revueltas’ critique of the Stalinist PCM was to reproach it for not having succeeded in becoming a party of “the whole class,” that is, a mass party. It is no accident that the majority of members who, with Revueltas, broke with the PCM to found the so-called “Liga Espartaco” in 1960 ended up joining the PRI, attracted by its “mass influence” and nationalist rhetoric. This summary of Revueltas’ work merits a correction in reference to what we wrote in the first issue of Espartaco (Winter 1990-91), that “our tendency has taken up again the key point of Revueltas’ break with Stalinism.” In reality, Revueltas never transcended his Stalinist political framework.

Gilly and the Pseudo-Trotskyist Left

The book La Revolución Interrumpida (The Interrupted Revolution) by the former pseudo-Trotskyist Adolfo Gilly is the bible of the revisionist left. In a merely formal way, Gilly accepted a key tenet of permanent revolution—that the stage of classic bourgeois revolutions had ended a long time ago—only to write that in the Mexican Revolution the peasantry played the socialist role that the working class could not undertake. For Gilly, the Mexican Revolution was an “interrupted revolution” because the radical peasant leaders like Zapata and Villa were assassinated. Thus, while the revolution was “temporarily” interrupted, Gilly finds that the bourgeois government of Lázaro Cárdenas in the 1930s took up socialist principles once again. This supports the bourgeois myth of the revolution that never ends and therefore justifies, from a supposedly Marxist viewpoint, subordination to Cardenismo and the current capitulation of the left to the PRD [the bourgeois-populist Party of the Democratic Revolution].

Taking his liquidationist logic to its ultimate consequences, Gilly became an official in the current [Mexico City] government of Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas. The same fate awaited his old Mandelite party, the Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores (PRT, Revolutionary Workers Party), which liquidated into the PRD and the Zapatista EZLN.

A current archetype of the reformist left’s capitulation to the influence of bourgeois nationalism, also inspired by Gilly’s “interrupted revolution,” is the Partido Obrero Socialista. For the Morenoite POS as well, the Mexican Revolution could have continued...including even to socialism, if Zapata and Villa had not been assassinated. The POS writes:

“While Madero and his followers planned to throw Díaz out of power to establish, mainly, a bourgeois-democratic system based on the principle of no re-election and effective suffrage, hundreds of revolutionaries worked clandestinely to overthrow the dictator and generate a social revolution, which in essence would have socialist objectives....

“Anarchists, Zapatistas and Villistas understood this desire perfectly well, and not always agreeing on how to achieve it, nevertheless fought in the same trench....

“With this unprecedented event, and because of the objectives that inspired the Zapatista and Villista armies, the Mexican Revolution seemed to be headed toward a socialist revolution, which would finally destroy the bourgeoisie as the ruling class and establish a workers and peasants government. Nevertheless, in spite of the social conquests expressed in the Constitution of 1917, because the working class did not lead the revolution and because there was no revolutionary party to lead it, the Mexican Revolution fell into the hands of the national bourgeoisie, and at that point another dictatorship began to take shape: the priato [decades-long rule of the PRI].”

El Socialista No. 182, November 1993

These last references to the lack of a revolutionary party and the working class are merely demagogic, serving as the POS’s red loincloth to cover its true nationalist and reformist program for the class struggle. It is sufficient to see what they wrote the previous year in referring to the capture of Mexico City by Zapata and Villa in December 1914:

“Without knowing it, the Mexican peasants were placing themselves at that moment in the vanguard of the world revolution. It is a fact that has been preserved in the historical memory of the masses, an event that we must always remember, since it demonstrates the possibility that an organized and decisive people can put the bourgeoisie and the government in check and take power in this country.”

El Socialista No. 166, November 1992

Like Gilly, the POS considers that the peasantry was—even without knowing it—the vanguard of the world revolution, and that the Magonista anarchists, along with Zapata and Villa, could have been the equivalent of a revolutionary party of the working class in the struggle for socialism...if they had just had a little more time. Nothing could be further from the Trotskyist theory of permanent revolution!

The POS view of the Mexican Revolution is in accordance with its current reformist program and the patriotic language that fills the pages of El Socialista. If the peasantry was, according to the POS, “the vanguard of the world revolution” in 1914, it is logical that these reformists called for a vote for the EZLN in 1994. And if for the POS the anarchists, Zapatistas and Villistas were the vanguard of the world revolution, today they welcome without embarrassment any class-collaborationist front that emerges in this country—from its joint campaign with the PRD to “struggle” against NAFTA (El Socialista No. 182, November 1993) to its political support for the EZLN, the CND [pro-EZLN National Democratic Convention], El Barzón [a middle-class movement of bank debtors], etc., and its current petition campaign begging the Senate and the House of Representatives not to privatize the electric industry. The illusion of the POS that the bourgeois state can be reformed is shown in its call for the “democratic restructuring of judicial power” (“Draft Program of the Socialist Coalition, POS-LUS,” 1998) and in its treasonous calls on the bourgeois state to intervene into the unions. In 1997, for example, the POS called for “imprisonment without bail for union leaders who sell sweetheart contracts to businesses” (El Socialista No. 225, February 1997). The conscious workers movement should sweep away these types of fake “socialist” parties.

The LTS and IG: Centrist Confusionism

The centrists of the Liga de Trabajadores por el Socialismo (LTS, League of Workers for Socialism), a 1988 split from the POS, differ from their parent party only because they want the end of the PRI to come through the advent of a “[revolutionary constituent] Assembly that develops out of the overthrow of the hated PRI regime” and struggles against imperialism (Estrategia Obrera No. 7, September-October 1998). But in Mexico the semi-bonapartist bourgeois regime adopted a thin cover of bourgeois democracy which, although unstable, allowed the PRI to govern for decades with the politics of “the carrot and the stick.” The PRD has shored up illusions in this discredited bourgeois parliamentarism, and today it governs Mexico City, several municipal governments around the country and the states of Baja California and Zacatecas. Calling here for a constituent assembly—a new parliamentary body—only serves to sow more illusions in the bourgeois PRD.

The fact that the LTS fetishizes bourgeois democracy is clearly seen in its assertion, in the same issue of its newspaper, that it would be a “Provisional Workers and Peasants Government” that would convene this assembly. As Trotsky noted in the Transitional Program:

“This formula, ‘workers’ and farmers’ government,’ first appeared in the agitation of the Bolsheviks in 1917 and was definitely accepted after the October Revolution. In the final instance it represented nothing more than the popular designation for the already established dictatorship of the proletariat.”

But for the LTS, the purpose of the dictatorship of the proletariat would be to convene...a bourgeois parliamentary body! Trotsky never proposed the constituent assembly as a possible organizational form of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is an invention of the fake Trotskyists, who distort the Bolshevik call for a workers and peasants government, converting it into a call for a government to reform the bourgeois state.

The centrists—revolutionary in word, reformist in deed—frequently borrow small pieces of the genuine Marxist program to hide their real appetites. Thus, the LTS writes: “The main tasks of the Revolution of 1910 that were left unfinished, such as giving land to the peasants, national independence to break the yoke of imperialism and elementary democratic demands, can only be fully and effectively accomplished under a government of the victorious working class” (Estrategia Obrera No. 2, December 1996). However, this is nothing more than a fig leaf to hide the LTS’s illusions in the bourgeoisie. Trying to polemicize against Gilly and his old party, the LTS winds up kissing his hand:

“The PRT, far from raising a consistent Trotskyist strategy to fight for the program of the second Mexican Revolution, to conclude the anti-capitalist revolution begun in 1910 (interrupted by the triumph of the Carranza wing over the peasant armies of Villa and Zapata, imposing the reactionary Constitution of 1917 on the masses), ends up joining the Cárdenas government.”

Estrategia Internacional No. 10, November-December 1998 (emphasis ours)

In the end, the LTS accepts Gilly’s revisionist schema by which the Mexican Revolution, “anti-capitalist” in its inner dynamic, was “interrupted” by the fact that Villa and Zapata were murdered.

The Internationalist Group is not very different from the LTS. The IG’s rejection of the perspective of permanent revolution is evident in the way it obscures the differences between the petty bourgeoisie, the peasantry and the working class—the only class with the social power and consistent historic interest to lead the fight against the rule of capital. In spite of its Trotskyist pretensions, every time the IG tries to paraphrase or put into practice the perspective of permanent revolution, it jumbles together workers with other oppressed sectors. The IG takes this centrist confusionism onto the historical plane. Trying to distinguish itself from Gilly on the Mexican Revolution, the IG finally bows to him:

“In its successive incarnations (PNR-PRM-PRI), this regime has presented itself as the ‘party of the Mexican Revolution.’ This is an enormous historical falsification. In truth it is the party of the firing squad against the revolution, the party of the northern ranchers who assassinated the radical peasant and plebeian leaders Emiliano Zapata and Francisco Villa, and put an end to the revolution before it could become a full-fledged social revolution.”

The Internationalist, April-May 1997

Here we see how the IG, like the LTS, leaves the door open to the implication that if Zapata and Villa had not been murdered, the Mexican Revolution could have continued and eventually become a “fully developed social revolution.” The IG consciously uses this vague, classless phrase only to distinguish itself slightly from its pseudo-Trotskyist cousins.

But like good centrists, the IG tries to cover its tracks with apparently orthodox formulations. In the same article, it writes: “The Mexican Revolution was frustrated, above all, because of the absence of a proletarian vanguard with a program for workers revolution, the only way to complete the agrarian revolution and liberate the country from the yoke of imperialism.” In spite of the IG’s demagogic references to Trotskyism, its mystification of the peasant leaders and its defense of the anarchist bureaucrats of the Casa del Obrero Mundial are not isolated errors. With its frenetic passion to dilute the proletariat in an amorphous mass of “discontented sectors,” the IG’s rejection of permanent revolution becomes even clearer in its attempt to discover a nonexistent popular front around the PRD of Cárdenas in order to capitulate to this bourgeois formation.

As we explained in Espartaco No. 10 (Autumn-Winter 1997), a popular front is a bourgeois formation that ties the reformist organizations of the working class to the bourgeois parties. In Mexico, however, the subordination of the proletariat to the bourgeoisie has been particularly open, with the union movement directly tied to the bourgeoisie through bourgeois nationalism and its corporatist shackles. The dominance of this nationalism explains why mass reformist workers parties did not develop here and the pseudo-socialist left never overcame its marginalization in the workers movement.

In its insistence that a popular front exists in Mexico, which it uses as a lying argument that the Spartacists “abandoned” the struggle against the PRD, the IG presents as conclusive proof a paragraph from an article in La Jornada (2 May 1997), which reports:

“The Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) yesterday released its final list of candidates for the House of Representatives to fill the seats assigned to the party based on the proportion of votes for the entire country. It consists of leaders of university unions, the SNTE and the FAT; also peasant organizations such as CIOAC, UNTA and CODUC; ex-CNC members; the UCD; leaders and activists from El Barzón and popular urban organizations.... In the leading places, more than 50 percent are not PRD members.”

And the IG fervently concludes: “Yes, there is a popular front in Mexico!” This jumble that the IG makes of the proletariat and the peasantry with organizations of renters and bank debtors recalls the old Stalinist concept of a “bloc of four classes.” As Trotsky himself explained in his devastating “Critique of the Draft Program of the Communist International” (printed in The Third International After Lenin), following the defeat guided by the Comintern in China in 1925-27:

“Those organizations which in capitalist countries label themselves peasant parties are in reality one of the varieties of bourgeois parties. Every peasant who has not adopted the proletarian position, abandoning his proprietor psychology, will inevitably follow the bourgeoisie when it comes to fundamental political issues.... The celebrated idea of ‘workers’ and peasants’ parties’ seems to have been specially created to camouflage bourgeois parties which are compelled to seek support from the peasantry but who are also ready to absorb workers into their ranks.”

Or, as Lenin once expressed it, urging the proletariat to organize separately from the peasantry:

“We stand by the peasant movement to the end; but we have to remember that it is the movement of another class, not the one which can and will bring about the socialist revolution.”

—“Revision of the Agrarian Programme of the Workers’ Party” (1906)

Against the efforts of the fake socialists and centrists who embellish bourgeois democracy and the current level of consciousness of the working class, we communists struggle for the political independence of the proletariat to advance the cause of socialism. This will happen in Mexico by building a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist party to sweep away the deep nationalism in the workers organizations that poisons and divides their struggles and to break the chains of the bourgeois state’s corporatist control of the unions—a legacy of Cardenismo.

An essential part of this struggle is winning the sectors oppressed under capitalism to the program of workers revolution. The struggle for the liberation of women is especially important in a society like Mexico, where the oppression and enslavement of women are strongly rooted and are buttressed by nationalism and the church. With a large percentage of the proletariat made up of women, especially but not exclusively in the northern part of the country in the maquiladoras, the proletarian revolution cannot triumph unless the working class wins the confidence of women workers, by acting as a tribune of the people.

The task we face is, as Trotsky noted, “a succession of social revolutions, transferring power to the hands of the most resolute class, which afterwards applies this power for the abolition of all classes” [“The Revolution in Spain,” January 1931]. The revolutionary-internationalist task Trotsky refers to is still before us today, and it is from the point of view of permanent revolution that we must evaluate the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Only then will the working class be able to take the correct path toward victory. Forge a Leninist-Trotskyist party! For new October Revolutions!


Workers Vanguard No. 974

WV 974

18 February 2011


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Black History Month

Honor Harriet Tubman, Abolitionist Hero


Liebknecht and the Spartacists



Pandering to Reactionary Muslim Brotherhood

Cliffites on Egypt



Women Garment Workers Fight Starvation Wages


France, May 1968

Prerevolutionary Situation Betrayed by Communist Party

Part Two

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On Obama’s War on Public Education

(Letters to Young Spartacus)


Capitalism Has Nothing to Offer Youth

SYC Speech at New York Holiday Appeal

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A Marxist Analysis of the Mexican Revolution of 1910

Part Two