“Sixth Communiqué” of the EZLN - A false road for the proletariat

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This article was first published in issue no. 88 of Revolucion Mundial, the publication of the ICC’s section in Mexico.

In the context of the lead-up to the 2006 elections, the Ejercito Zapatista Liberacion Nacional (the Zapatista National Liberation Army) has issued a communique with a tone that is apparently critical of the developing electoral circus, and for the first time it says that exploitation is at the centre of the capitalist system. This communique may appear to be critical of the electoral process and capitalism, but in reality it is an accessory of the electoral campaign.  It shores up the ideology of the ruling class that wants us to believe that our lot can be improved through making better laws or through defending the “Welfare State”. For this reason this 6th Communique (6th-C) is irrefutable confirmation of the counter-revolutionary nature of the EZNL.

The “Other Campaign” complements the election circus

The 6th-C and previous comments by Marcos appear to show a change of direction by the EZLN. In their 2nd Communiqué (June 1994), the Zapatistas openly defended democracy and elections: “Now the possibility of a peaceful transition to democracy and freedom can be put to the test: the electoral process of August 1994. The CND (Convention Nacional Democratica) must demand the carrying out of free and democratic elections...

Now the EZLN declares that it is against the electoral process and has declared war on the PRD and Lopez Obrador (the ‘radical’ mayor of Mexico City). These changes, which the capitalist press and the apparatus of the left present as “radical”, are in reality deceitful and hollow.

The so-called denunciation of these elections and groups is not evidence of a reflection on what they represent. Commandante Marcos' apparent revulsion with the main political parties (PAN, PRI, and PRD) is due to his discovery in “April of 2001 that “politicians have no decency”.  Thus it was from 2001 they realised that the PRI, Pan and PRD were lying and they therefore tell us: “...we already have no contact with the federal powers; we understand that dialogue and negotiations with them would be a farce because of these political parties”. This is not because the EZLN considers the capitalist system uses these institutions (such as the parties) and its tools (such as the electoral process) in order to reinforce its domination. Rather these parties, and therefore the electoral process in which these participate, are seen as not carrying out their true role. That is to say, it would be enough to put other parties in their place in order to change the nature of the mechanisms of bourgeois rule.

It is their apparently radical attitude and denunciation of the electoral process and the PRD that has encouraged many sections of the working class to believe that the EZLN will now help to advance the development of the class struggle. But the EZLN’s anti-electoralism is a lie. They say they were betrayed by the PRD and deceived by the PRI and PAN when they signed the San Andres agreement; but this is only strengthens the idea that the apparatus of bourgeois domination can be used or reformed to serve the interests of the exploited.

In the same way, the role that the EZLN plays as the promoter of the “Other Campaign” reinforces the idea that, faced with capitalism, democracy is the only road to take. If the EZLN’s criticisms of the PRD and Lopez Obrador make it look like a radical group, an organisation of the “Left”, as Marcos says, it is because they are trying to present themselves as being different from the PRD.

We want to underline that while their form may be different, the nature of the EZLN has not changed. They remain alien to the proletariat and organically part of capital. They present themselves as being different, as ‘anti-globalisationists’ who maintain that ‘another world is possible’. But this ‘other world’ is merely capitalism with a human face.

We know that many workers, above all the younger generation, are taken in by the apparent radicalism of the EZLN, and that our denunciation of the 6th-C makes it appear that we being haughty or sectarian. But revolutionaries are obliged to denounce these so-called allies and friends who do nothing but swell the old structures of capital and stop the process of clarification and reflection.

The “6th Communique” in defence of Mexican capitalism

Along with the EZLN's supposedly anti-electoral talk goes its promotion of nationalism and the defence of the capitalist economy. While pretending to criticise the Free Trade Treaty (FTT), they end up defending the national economy and Mexican business. They thus conclude that the problem is not capitalism, but the interference of large foreign capital. “They make laws such as the Free Trade Treaty that leaves many Mexican in poverty, especially the peasants and the small producers, because they are swallowed up by the great agro-industrial businesses, and the workers and small businessmen, because they cannot compete with the great multinationals...”. Of course the FTT was set up to strengthen the USA and ensure its domination over the capitalist states of Latin America, but the working class cannot identify its own interests with those of capitalists large and small who have been driven to ruin by economic competition.

The same goes for the EZLN’s call to keep companies in the hands of the state, which is presented as a “great radical project” and a different form of property that workers have to defend. Without even blushing they call on workers to organise themselves to carry out “...a full and coordinated defence of national sovereignty, through intransigent opposition to the privatisation of electrical energy, oil, water and natural resources.” Faced with the EZLN’s patriotism and praise for state property, it is valuable to remember the denunciation that the Grupo de Trabajabores Marxistas[1] made of the poisoned talk and state capitalist policies of Cardenas, the 'radical' President of the Mexico in the 1930s: “...The task of the Mexican proletariat is not to sacrifice itself so that the oil industry and the railways become profitable for the imperialist and ‘national’ capitalists... the task of the proletariat  is to seize the industries, that is, wrench them from bourgeois hands through the proletarian revolution!” (Comunismo, 1938).  It’s the same today: the call for the defence of state industries means nothing more than the defence of capitalism.

In the same way, the EZLN’s critique of the “new  economic model” shows that it also yearns for the old state interventionist policies of Keynesianism used throughout the 1970's “...Neo-liberalism has changed the political class of Mexico, or rather its politics, because they act like shop employees, who have to do everything possible to sell everything cheaply.” It also continues with its tradition of defending the Constitution[2] adding “We have already seen the changes of the law that remove Article 27 from the Constitution and mean that the common land and communal land can be sold... And they also say they are going to privatise, or rather sell to foreigners, the businesses that the State once used to help the people's welfare. Not because they are not working properly... Instead of the social rights that were conquered by the 1910 revolution being improved, they are being shamefully abandoned...

The electoral campaigns, including the “Other Campaign”, are no part of the cause of the proletariat, which needs to recognise that the real terrain for its struggles is the defence of its own living conditions. At the same time workers must be able to identify the fraudsters who present themselves as friends but who are carrying out the destructive work of the bourgeoisie.

Tatlin 14.08.05.

[1]    The GTM was a group of the communist left that was active in Mexico during the 30's. In order to find out more, read our book The Italian Communist Left. Texts of the GTM were published in International Review nos. 10 and 19.

[2]    In 1994 the EZLN legally justified its uprising by referring to rights laid down in the Constitution.