Is there a revolutionary situation in Mexico?

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The conflicts following the elections in Mexico - promoted and financed by fractions of the bourgeoisie - have given rise to a flurry of speculation. Here we will deal with the one peddled with gusto by radical leftism (the many Trotskyist groups), which wants to convince us that there is a revolutionary situation in Mexico, with soviets, a state of dual-power characteristic of a proletarian revolution, on the brink of the workers taking power. It is lamentable that this is NOT the case, but by affirming these illusions they are making the situation even more confusing and pushing the workers to have hope in actions that are beyond their control: actions which are really controlled by the bourgeoisie.

Let us begin with a quote from a Trotskyist publication, The Militant [1]: "The unprecedented collapse of the state apparatus is one of the clearest symptoms that we are at the door of a openly revolutionary process. The most important element is the combativity of the masses and the will to take this fight to the end. All that is missing is the determination to channel this fight towards the seizure of power by the workers and the total destruction of the apparatus of the bourgeois state. It is for this reason that the program, strategy and tactics of the National Democratic Convention (CND in Spanish) will determinate for the future of the movement.

It is necessary to clarify that the development of an enormous struggle, with great combativity or will, does not necessarily mean that it is has a clear awareness of what it is doing or where it is going. Combativity and consciousness are not necessarily united in the development of struggles, which is why many such struggles can end in a mess with little perspective. The unity between combativity and consciousness is a function of the degree to which the worldwide revolutionary situation begins to appear on the horizon. The revolution will be first of all a conscious effort. But in addition, it is necessary to see how the "will to fight" is put under the direction of a fraction of the bourgeoisie, because the CND is a defender of democracy, the State, which - of course - does not question the dictatorship of capital.

The workers and the non-exploiting masses are caught up in the enormous illusions of the electoral circus and thus have great difficulties in finding the course to take, to decide where to go. For this reason when The Militant affirms that "we are at the door of a revolutionary process" they are seeking to create a false spirit amongst the workers in order to disarm them, to hand control over them to the fraction of the bourgeoisie which 'represents' the workers: the PRD and the CND.

A similar situation of confusion also surrounds the events that have happened in Oaxaca. The demand to re-zone the area occupied by the teachers of Oaxaca was buried after the 14th of June 2006 under the pretext that the central enemy was the governor. Nevertheless, the demand for the removal of governor Ulises Ruiz - which unites social sectors like the natives, retailers and the petty-bourgeoisie - only dilutes the demands for the defence of the living conditions of the workers. Furthermore, it fosters the vain hope that a change of personnel or civil servants can change their miserable living conditions. Without a doubt, the workers present in the APPO[2] - in spite of being pre-occupied with the desperate actions of the middle classes that have congregated under its umbrella - have shown a sincere mood and determination to fight. However, this force is turned aside and weakened.

Another Trotskyist group - the Workers' League for Socialism-Counter Current (LIT-CC) - in its periodical Workers' Strategy nº 53 (16-09-2006) also plays its tune of confusion. While it firmly denounces the PRD it ends up pouring water on the bourgeoisie's mill: "...the combination of a strong crisis at the heights of power, the existence of a democratic movement of the masses and the commune of Oaxaca, opens a pre-revolutionary situation, which can be the beginning of the second Mexican revolution, workers' and socialist."

Let us leave for another occasion the denunciation of the "Mexican revolution". Here, our central concern is to demonstrate that the famous premise of Lenin that characterises a revolutionary situation, as being when "those above can no longer govern" has absolutely nothing to do with the situation in Oaxaca. Indeed, there is here a process of radicalisation taking place, but one that is marked by desperate actions, whose only objective is the removal of Ulises Ruiz from office. In this sense, to refer to the "Commune of Oaxaca" sounds like a demagogic phrase that has two objectives. First, it confuses the workers because it is totally outside reality: the manifestations are dominated by a mass in which the proletariat is submerged as much in the objectives as the decisions made. Second, because the Paris Commune bequeathed a great lesson to the workers' movement that marxism has always defended: the state machine is not to be "conquered" but to be destroyed from top to bottom. To demand the removal of Ulises Ruiz is very far from considering the "destruction" of the state. For these reasons, to say that Oaxaca has a "Commune" is not simple a historical imprecision: it is a treacherous means to give a proletarian colour to a movement that is completely outside the terrain of the working class.

For another Trotskyist group - Germinal (in Spain) - the APPO is "possibly the embryo of a workers' state[3], the most developed organism of a soviet nature seen for many decades on the whole planet" (document of the 13-09-06). This affirmation is not only exaggerated but false. It is not an error made 'in ignorance', but a bad-intentioned deformation so that the workers think they are seeing a soviet where there is really an inter-classist front. A soviet or a workers' council is an organisation that develops in a pre-revolutionary or directly revolutionary period. In them all workers participate. Its assemblies are the life and soul of the insurrection. Their delegates are elected and revocable. In the APPO the well-known 'leaders' are close to the existing structures of power, such as Rogelio Pensamiento, known for his relations with the PRI; the ex-deputy of PRD, Flavio Sosa; or the SNTE unionist, Wheel Pacheco, who himself received "economic support" for a long time from the same government of Ulises Ruiz. But in addition, if we look at the composition of the "soviet" we can see that, as the first act of the APPO stated, it is made up of 79 social organisations, 5 unions and 10 representatives of schools and parents. Such an amalgam allows the expression of everything except the independence and autonomy of the proletariat.

This "soviet" or "commune" of which the Trotskyists speak, which doesn't, in its practice or decisions, worry about the good march of capitalist business, is applauded by this same Germinal group because: "its own municipal police has been created", and which, "on the 3rd of September approved to summon the construction of popular assemblies in all the states of Mexico. It decided: (...) to contemplate decrees for the reactivation of the economy, citizen security, cleaning and improvement of the city, for urban and suburban transport, to attract tourism and promote harmonic co-existence." These are the facts that they put forward to affirm that this body is "the most developed organism of a soviet nature seen for many decades on the whole planet". That is to say, the pure and simple defence of a better economic, political and social operation of capitalism!

The discontent in Oaxaca is real. The teachers are in misery like millions of their class brothers in the rest of the country and the world, but this discontent has been turned aside and put under, for that reason the APPO does not show what should be done, but rather what should not be imitated. The autonomy of the proletariat continues to be a problem in search of a solution.

Marsan. 10-10-06.

(Translated from Revolución Mundial nº 95, Noviembre-Diciembre 2006)

See also: 'Oaxaca, Mexico: Unions Derail Teachers' Strike'.

In Spanish, ‘Oaxaca: La lucha en defensa de la democracia o por el cambio de funcionarios, un camino falso para los trabajadores’



[1] This group is called the "Marxist voice of the workers", although it does not have shyness in denominating itself as a "cofounder of the Party of the Democratic Revolution". The Party of the Democratic Revolution (in Spanish: Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD) is one of the three main political parties in Mexico, founded in 1989.

[2] The Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca (Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca), formed in the early July 2006.

[3] The phrase a "workers’ State" is a contradiction. The workers will have to destroy the state and it will not be enough to add "the workers’" to its name to change its nature. See our pamphlet "The State in the Period of Transition".