Workers Vanguard No. 1055

31 October 2014


IG: For “Independent” Vigilantism

The following article is translated from Espartaco No. 41 (June 2014), newspaper of the Grupo Espartaquista de México.

A year ago, we published an analysis of the “self-defense” groups around the Regional Coordinating Committee of Community Authorities-Community Police (CRAC) of Guerrero [see facing page], in which we denounced the reformists’ enthusiasm for these “people’s security organizations.” In that article, we emphasized our position for the decriminalization of drugs and for the right of genuine armed self-defense, sharply counterposing our perspective to that of the “self-defense” groups that make the “war on drugs” their own by means of vigilantism, i.e., mobilizing civilian groups to “fight crime.” We wrote at the time: “As long as capitalism is not overthrown, any group dedicated to ‘fighting crime’ will act as an auxiliary of the capitalist state and will have, in the final analysis, a fundamentally reactionary character.”

Our straightforward position has provoked the indignation of the Internationalist Group (IG), though with a year’s delay (see Revolución Permanente No. 4, May 2014). With centrist babble that borders on schizophrenia, the IG first correctly denounces the “self-defense” groups of Michoacán as those of “the bosses” that “associate with fascistic Cristeros” [the 1920s reactionary clerical movement] and maintains that “the Guerrero community police serve as organs of the capitalist state.” But then they come out in defense of the self-proclaimed police against the “arrogant petty-bourgeois” members of the GEM!

The IG rejects our characterization of the actions of these “self-defense” groups as vigilantism, which according to them is “a bad translation from English.” With this puerile pedantry, the IG tries to obscure the reactionary purpose of these groups in order to present them, after all their supposed leftist verbiage, as examples of genuine “collective self-defense.” There is no need to elaborate on the grotesque Michoacán forces to make clear what they’re about. As for the CRAC community police, even with its composition of indigenous peasants who have mobilized on occasion in defense of their lands, at its nucleus is effectively a police organization that constantly hunts down supposed “criminals” (including drug users and prostitutes). It also relies on prisons and a “justice” system based on the inherently misogynist concept of “customs and traditions.”

Here’s a recent example showing the nature of this group, according to an account by a CRAC supporter. In June 2013, the CRAC community police mobilized in search of two young women who left home without permission—a clear example of “collective self-defense”! According to the CRAC, when the young women were found, their mothers asked for them to be “reeducated” because “the young women had already stepped beyond their mothers’ authority, coming home very drunk and very drugged up, and did many things that such citizens [young women] shouldn’t go around doing” (Los Angeles Press online, 14 November 2013, quoting a CRAC “commander”). One of them, Betzabé Baltazar, together with a third young woman, Sofia Navarrete, both minors, were denounced for “drug possession” and…“prostitution”! So the CRAC detained them and sentenced them to “reeducation”—usually administered by local “chiefs”—and to “community service” (forced labor). At the end of June 2013, the CRAC bragged about having 77 people in their prisons (El Sur, 29 June 2013), including “petty drug dealers” and several supposed “prostitutes.”

The IG is absolutely silent about all this in order to present the CRAC as a leftist peasant organization:

“But peasant and indigenous communities besieged by small armies of drug traffickers, by landowners eager to take away their ancestral lands, by mining companies that want to exploit their resources and pollute their environment, and by military and police forces, what should they do? The GEM has no answer. In fact, they completely ignore the problem.”

The IG’s answer is the CRAC. You don’t have to be a Marxist to take the side of poor peasants, whether or not they are part of the CRAC, when they defend their lands against the state and latifundistas [wealthy landowners]. Moreover, as genuine communists we are for agrarian revolution and the revolutionary alliance of the peasantry and the proletariat, led by a Leninist-Trotskyist party, in the struggle for socialist revolution. It should be more than clear that “community police” forces have nothing to do with this perspective.

The only reservation the IG has about CRAC is its relationship to the state, as if “independent” vigilantism were any less reactionary. And the IG goes even further: “The Internationalist Group denounces the self-defense groups of Michoacán and the community police forces of Guerrero for being intertwined with the bourgeois state, not for resisting attacks perpetrated by the forces opposed to workers and indigenous peoples’ interests.” So, by the IG’s lights, the Cristero killers led by “Papa Smurf” and company could play a role in the interest of the exploited and oppressed provided that they are “independent” of the state. As we stated in our last article:

“In the event of a revolutionary upsurge—a dual-power situation—ethnically integrated workers and poor peasants militias, with recognized authority among the masses of the barrios and indigenous villages, would certainly deal firmly and justly with lumpen violence. In the meantime, the ‘citizens’ security’ schemes are a liberal fraud that can only divert the working and oppressed masses away from the perspective of taking their destiny in their own hands through proletarian revolution.”

But this is taboo for the IG as they try to peddle the reactionary chimera of community police forces “independent” of the state.