Category Archives: Organizing

Denver Update

http://www.raimd.wordpress.com

Over the next few months, RAIM-Denver’s blog will go through a period of relative inactivity. Members of RAIM-Denver are nonetheless engaged in a number of ongoing projects, including but not limited to: learning Spanish, researching and writing longer essays, writing and doing work with other Third Worldists organizations, organizing study groups, and engaging in local, informal dialogue and education.

In the meantime, we encourage comrades worldwide to step up and pick up some slack. Specifically, we encourage comrades to begin taking steps towards being more proficient writers for the movement. Writing news and analysis, cultural reviews and even research is something that can be accomplished by lone comrades, yet can have far-reaching consequences. Writing up-to-date articles and providing a revolutionary, anti-imperialist analysis is one important role the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement has thus-far fulfilled. We are looking forward to continuing in the role in an even greater way into 2011 and beyond. Now is the time for comrades who’ve thus far been on the sidelines to take a more active role in this regard.

Likewise, study is important. There are now many comrades engaged in serious study to the end of contributing towards revolution. This is good and should continue. We encourage comrades to not neglect study, but redouble their efforts with informal and formal group study programs, insofar as it is possible.

Over the next year, we expect the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement to congeal into a larger, nodal, international network. With this positive breakthrough will come some changes. Our message and mission will be the same: revolution is possible, not based on the collective self-interest of bourgeosified First Worlders, but on the pressing necessity of the vast majority of humanity exploited by capitalist-imperialism; and our role, in betrayal of our immediate interest and often class background, is one in service to the world’s masses and their revolution.

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RAIM Digest Volume 2, Issue 6

RAIM Digest Volume 2, Issue 6

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Anti-Kolumbus Day 2010

Anti-Kolumbus Day 2010

(www.raimd.wordpress.com)

Kolumbus Day, amongst Amerika’s quaintest celebrations of its founding genocide, rolled through again throughout Occupied North America. In Denver, the usual crowd of fake Italians and flag-waving crackers put on another grosteque display of parasitism and reaction. In absence of any evident protest plans, RAIM put a call-out to protest against the chauvinist Killumbus celebrators.

Behind the scenes we discussed the issue with interested parties and decided two protests were a good idea: first a rally and demonstration against the parade itself; then a protest across the street from their after-parade lunch.

Our efforts resulted in around 50 protesting the celebration of conquest and genocide. RAIM made a number of signs and banners. Some examples included, “End Amerika’s Longest Running Genocide: 1492-2010,” “I Hate the USA (there, I said it),” “Kick Cracker Bum$ Off Stolen Indian Lands,” and “No Amnesty for Pilgrims or Their ‘Anchor Babies.”

The protest slowly warmed up and was diverse and energetic, especially as the plunder parade drew near. There was no shortage to opposition this blatant display of reaction.

The actual Kolumbus Day parade was as trashy as usual.  It was both a celebration of past imperialism and genocide and a reflection of that which goes on today.  As usual, the parade was made up of motorcycles, muscle cars, some Hummers, and semis with empty flatbed trucks: all toys for Amerikan parasites. The parade featured Amerikan military troops, who are imitating Kolumbus in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere today.

Tom Tancredo, who was scheduled to appear in the convoy of conquest, didn’t show because he supposedly had a cold. The popular right-wing candidate in Kolorado’s 2010 governor campaign, his politics include: defining unborn Amerikans as living people and abortion as murder; advocating bombing Mecca and other Muslim holy sites; describing Spanish-speaking migrants as “illegal;” and claiming that Hezbollah has activist “terrorist” cells in Mexico. Even though Tankkkredo was too sick to sit in the passenger seat of a slow moving vehicle for 40 minutes, plenty of his racist supporters were there to represent.

The protesters’ chants included “Kolumbus Go to Hell,” “Kolumbus Go Home” “Yankee [and Gringo] Go Home,” and “Face It, You’re Racists, Your Claims On This Land Are Baseless.” These chants reflected the fact that Amerika is in fact a settler-empire founded on stolen land. Many of the protesters wanted to change that.  Many people took the opportunity to give the parade-goers  history lessons. Some suggested a wider range of other Italian history figures to celebrate besides Kolumbus.  RAIMers asked through megaphones, “Where are your hoods, you racists?”

The second protest was even more charged. This was the first year that protesters showed up to the Kolumbus beneficiaries’ after-party. There, many of racists tried to piggishly provoke fights with protesters in front of the cops. Others challenged protesters to back-alley brawls. Some asserted we were lucky the Denver police were near by, suggesting we would be physically harmed if not. For the protesters, this merely confirmed the Kolumbus Day gathering was just another lynch mob.

Some of the krackers called protesters ‘faggots.’ This was met by a wide range of responses. Some protesters admitted to not conforming to traditional gender or sex roles. Others suggested the krackers themselves might by projecting their own repressed desires onto the anti-imperialist opposition before them. George Vendegnia, head of the ‘Sons of Italy,’ with all the grace of a drunken date-rapist at a honky-tonk bar, gestured simultaneously to his genitalia and various protesters numerous times.

A moment of comedy for the protesters occurred when some of the racists again tried to look tough. A large groups of biker-krackers pulled near the intersection next to the protesters and began revving their obscenely loud engines. The protesters’ chants of “Pigs On Hogs” were muffled out by the noise. However, when the biker klan was order by the cops to move along, one kracker’s bike slid out from underneath him, resulting in him dropping it and scratching his multi-thousand-dollar custom paint job. Laughter largely overtook the protest crowd. However, one protester’s effort to help the pig recover his motorcycle from the pavement sent 10 or so more racists running over expecting a fight.

 

After a time of letting the paraders know they were racists, we headed out, fired up from confronting racial hate in the town. Over the course of the day, RAIMers had handed most of the protesters copies of the ‘Troublemaker’ DVD, from which we still get positive feedback, and our recent programmatic statement, ‘The Anti-Kolumbus Day Manifesto.’

Some local media made note of the declining number of protesters at the first protest, but failed to report on the second protest, which drew additional people. The media also noted the declining participation of the parade.  Even with the better weather from last year, the parade was still pathetic at barely 200 participants.

The Kolumbus myth is a center of the official narrative of Amerika as a beacon of freedom and democracy, and glosses over the legacy of imperialism that is at the heart of Amerika. Beginning after the anti-colonial movements, this narrative has been challenged internationally. In many countries and regions, Indigenous Peoples Day or Indigenous Resistance Day has replaced Kolumbus Day: a step in the right direction. Kolumbus Day is not part of a celebration of Italian or Italian-America history or heritage. It is a celebration of US and Western supremacy based on aggression and exploitation. It must be opposed along with imperialism itself.

It is worth noting that in Occupied America, anti-imperialist forces are a vast minority. We are ‘behind enemy lines.’ This was evident at the second protest, which was more of a stand-off at times. The racists were correct in one clear sense. Were the cops not present, they could have easily overran the diverse, smaller crowd of protesters. The 200 or so krackers present represented 200 or so potential modern brownshirts in a future fascist movement; 200 out of many more. To underscore the fascistic nature of the Kolumbus Day paraders and the danger they represent would be an error of underestimating the nature of the enemy. Already, Kolumbus Day has become a rallying cry for those who champion the reassertion of global Amerikan supremacy. (1)

Kolumbus Day, like imperialism, will come to an end. However, it will not be through the singular efforts of a small minority of anti-imperialists in western, First World countries. It will only end when the exploited masses of the Third World stand up, assert control over their own lives, beat back the First World and build a world free from imperialism. Standing against our material interests and becoming a traitor to one’s exploiter background; siding with the world’s exploited majority and supporting national liberation for captive, oppressed nations; opposing Amerikan chauvinism and overt celebrations of genocide and supremacy: these things are the least we can do here.

Notes:
(1) http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/28647

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US Activists’ Homes Raided, Support for Third World “Terrorists” Alleged

http://www.raimd.wordpress.com

On the early morning of September 24th, SWAT teams in Minneapolis and Chicago kicked in the doors of private residences, seizing computers and documents and serving grand jury subpoenas to at least thirteen US activists. The activists, many associated with First Worldist organizations, are, according to an FBI representative, part of an investigation “concerning the material support for terrorism.” (1)

Ted Dooley, a lawyer for one of the activists, said the raids regard “contact with FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and Hezbollah, all of which are FTOs (Foreign Terrorist Organizations).” Some of the subpoened activists had recently traveled to Columbia and Palestine to do solidarity work with those resisting US-sponsored militarism and admit to meeting with members of these groups, yet deny providing any material support to any organizations labeled ‘terrorist’ by the US.  (2)

The raids against Amerikan activists come during the ‘progressive’ administration of Barack Obama.  Despite this reputation, Obama has stepped up the war in Afghanistan (3); increased drone attacks in Pakistan and elsewhere(4);  amplified support for Israel (5); and maintains close relations with the comprador dictatorship in Columbia. (6) Now, as White supremacists openly organize militias and street gangs, such attacks come upon members of the self-described ‘peace’ movement. (7)

The First Worldist so-called ‘left’ has made a lot out of the FBI raids. For the most part, the First Worldist ‘left’ is ignored in the US, both by the imperialist state and the petty-imperialist asses. Such raids are therefore a relatively big deal for First Worldists, and small protests were held in dozens of US cities. (8)

Many on the so-called left have described the raids as part of an intimidation campaign meant to silence opposition prior to escalated imperialist militarism in the Middle East and Latin America. Others have described it as a ‘fishing expedition,’ an attempt to acquire as much information on the nominal ‘left’ as possible. (9) While both are likely true to a small extent, it misses the obvious.

The FBI raids concern those who facilitated connections between US activists and those resisting imperialist designs in their respective countries. The raids targeted activists who support, at least at face value, the active struggle of Third World masses.

Any criminal charges will likely be based around ‘material support’ for US-designated ‘terrorist’ organizations. There are only 46 such ‘terrorist’ organizations, a number which does not reflect the far greater magnitude of peoples’ resistance. ‘Material support’ is extremely broad and can be interpreted any number of ways.  While we certainly support the activists as defendants for the ‘crime’ of reaching out to those resisting imperialist terror, we question the very nature of First Worldist ‘aid’ to Third World peoples’ struggles.

First Worldism, the thought that the First World masses are exploited and part of a global proletariat, is not a minor error or slight miscalculation. When espoused to Third World peoples, it is an outright lie that misrepresents the true scope of the anti-imperialist struggle. Such a lie is so fundamental, its spread can only set back the anti-imperialist struggles being waged in Latin America, the Middle East and around the Third World. First Worldism, which denies First Worlders are affluent due to the exploitation of Third World peoples, must be opposed on an international level.

True First World anti-imperialist solidarity comes from working to create support for Third World liberation struggles, not globe-trotting while spreading the lie of First Worldism. True anti-imperialist solidarity comes by honestly assessing the social landscape and building public opinion in favor of Third World peoples’ revolution, not opportunistically pimping-off pre-existing resistance movements in an attempt to stand-out amidst an array of similar, First-Worldist grouplets.

The imperialist state vamped on several Amerikan activists for what they did right: work to build support for Third World liberation struggles. However, these attacks are light compared to what imperialism doles out to Third World peoples.

Imperialism will be defeated by the exclusive struggles of the world’s exploited majority and their allies. As the contradiction between the people of the exploited Third World and imperialist First heats up, we can only expect increasing legal attacks against those in the US and First World who foster support for such struggles. The correct route to take is not one of eclecticism, opportunism and appealing to the broad First World so-called ‘masses.’ The correct rout is one of clarity, determined strategy, and honesty guided by the sprit of revolutionary anti-imperialism. Real support is telling the truth and still working to advance the revolutionary struggle of the world’s exploited masses.

Sources:

(1) http://www.pjstar.com/news/x1936771969/Group-plans-protests-of-FBI-raids
(2) http://www.twincities.com/ci_16168424
(3) https://raimd.wordpress.com/2009/08/22/obama-more-troops-more-imperialism-more-of-the-same/
(4) https://raimd.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/drones-kill-28-people-then-hit-the-funeral/
(5) http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Security-Industry/2010/09/28/Israel-gets-boost-in-US-military-aid/UPI-98411285697147/
(6) http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2010/09/obama-congratulates-colombias.html
(7) http://www.democracynow.org/2010/1/11/white_power_usa_the_rise_of
(8) http://kasamaproject.org/2010/09/26/actions-planned-in-coming-days/
(9) http://www.frso.org/about/statements/2010/activists-denounce-fbi-raids.htm

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The Anti-Kolumbus Day Manifesto

The Anti-Kolumbus Day Manifesto

(www.raimd.wordpress.com)

Every year in October, in cities throughout the US and occupied America, celebrations and parades are held on Kolumbus Day, in honor of Khristopher Kolumbus. And every year, though in fewer cities, these celebrations are met with resistance by those concerned with indigenous sovereignty and colonialism. This year, the protests continue.

We oppose Kolumbus Day because it is a de facto celebration of conquest, including the genocide and land theft waged against First Nations. Upon arriving in modern-day Haiti/Dominican Republic and viewing the native Tainos, Kolumbus remarked, “with fifty men, we could subjugate them all.” Thirty years after his arrival, the island’s Native population had declined by 90%. This pattern would be recreated across the Americas, particularly in the United States, where a campaign of genocide was waged against First Nation peoples by White settlers. Kolumbus would also pioneer slavery in the Americas, a phenomenon that would officially last nearly 400 years yet remains in the form of exploitation of the masses south of the militarily-imposed US-Mexico border and throughout the Third World.

We oppose Kolumbus Day because it is a de facto celebration of imperialism, the exploitation of subjugation of many peoples by a handful. Kolumbus’s original voyage was a landmark of Spanish imperialism, yet Kolumbus Day transcends this original meaning. Today, the United States stands above the rest of the world, dominating various peoples, in part by operating over 700 military bases around the globe. Today, over a billion people are faced with undernourishment, yet virtually every Amerikan is part of the world’s richest 15%. Kolumbus Day is a celebration of this ongoing imperial legacy.

We oppose Kolumbus Day because it is a celebration of parasitism and imperialist decadence. The ritualistic Kolumbus Day parade, usually consisting of closing roads for slow-moving processions of large vehicles filled with flags-waving crackers, is one made possible only through the exploitation of various countries, including their oil resources, for benefit of a decadent First World population. We protest Kolumbus Day in solidarity with those who suffer for the luxuries Amerikans receive 365 days a year, not just on this or that imperialist holiday.

Though a good start, ending Kolumbus Day alone doesn’t cut deep enough into the problem. Therefore, The Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement presents the following program:

1) The end of all US territorial claims; national liberation for oppressed nations. Return of land to First Nations throughout the US and Klanada. National liberation for Mexicanos on both sides of the militarily-imposed border and reunification. National liberation and sovereignty for Puerto Rico and for the Kanaka Maoli of Hawai’i. National liberation and self-determination for the Black nation. The surrender of all US-controlled land throughout the world.

2) The imposition of a globalized democracy of the world’s oppressed and exploited masses upon the United States and First World. The creation of zones throughout the current US and elsewhere to be used as the global proletariat sees fit.

3) The massive payment of reparations from Amerikans to the Third World, to be accomplished through the redistribution of land, capital and through labor.

4) Relocation of many Whites, including to the Third World, and reeducation for all Amerikans, resulting in the liquidation of much of the White nation and eradication of their parasite culture.

These are the demands of a world that suffers from deep problems and requires truly revolutionary solutions. Until these demands are met, resistance will continue.

The Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement-Denver

The Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement-Seattle

October 1st, 2010

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Filed under Agitation Statements, Anti-Racism, Black Nation, First Nations, Images, Imperialism, KKKolumbus Day, Occupied Mexico/Aztlan, Organizing, White Amerika

Movie Review: Machete and The Baader Meinhof Complex

Movie Review: Machete and The Baader Meinhof Complex

http://www.raimd.wordpress.com

Machete (2010, Ethan Maniquin and Robert Rodriguez) and The Baader Meinhof Complex (2008, Uli Edel) are two recent movies set in imperialist countries, both depicting armed struggle against reactionaries.

Machete garnered criticism prior to its release, including campaigns by White supremacists to have the film pulled from Amerikan theaters, ostensibly for fear its depiction of Mexicans engaging in mass-violence against Whites would spark a real-life ‘race’ revolt. (1) The Baader Meinhof Complex is ‘foreign film’ dramatizing the real-life Red Army Faction, a clandestine group which beginning in 1970 waged armed struggle against the Federal Republic of Germany in the name of communism and anti-imperialism.

While the movies follow dissimilar plots, both deal with the topic of revolutionary armed struggle and reaction. It’s worth noting that we at RAIM-Denver are fairly familiar with the situation involving the national oppression of Mexicans on both sides of the militarily-imposed US/Mexico border, yet are largely ignorant regarding the factual details surrounding the RAF. Thus, our treatment of The Baader Meinhof Complex will be solely as a cultural product, and not as historical analysis of the real-life RAF.

In Machete, we meet the protagonist of the same name (Danny Trejo) as a federal agent of the Mexican state. Fleeing a powerful drug cartel, Machete ends up in Texas where, while searching for work as a manual laborer, he’s forced-hired into assassinating an anti-migrant state senator, played by Robert De Niro. It’s a set-up, however. The botched assassination attempt is pinned on Machete in hopes of building public opinion for even more anti-Mexican legislation, including an electrified fence along the border.

The Baader Meinhof Complex opens in 1967, showing a student protest against the despotic Shah of Iran. The students are beat by goons of the CIA-supported monarchy and by German police as they stand defenseless, backed against a wall. Soon into the film, Ulrike Meinhoff (Martina Gedeck), a sharp-worded, progressive journalist, Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibteu), depicted as arrogant, extreme and prone towards violent action, and Gundrin Esslin (Johanna Wokalek), a young blonde depicted as rebellious and verbally aggressive towards her parents, decide that words alone will not stop “Amerikan imperialists” or the fact that over “half the people in the world do not have enough to eat,” deciding instead to take up arms against the West German state and organs of Western capital. After going underground and running from the law, the group is apprehended and placed in isolation together as their trial begins. Subsequent ‘generations’ of the RAF arise, continuing the armed struggle but with the goal of freeing the original members. After several years and armed actions by various RAF unit, the imprisoned lead members, save Meinhof who previously died in what was called a suicide, lose hope and kill themselves as well.

People who like Machete for its thematic violence of the oppressed against the oppressor will also find The Baader Meinhof Complex interesting, though the latter is fairly longer and has slower moments towards the end. While Machete depicts plenty of over the top, high-action, fight scenes and climaxes with a ‘battle royale’ between the forces led by Machete and White supremacist militias, The Baader Meinhof Complex depicts a number of gun fights, bombings, bank robberies and even an ill-fated plane hijacking. The Baader Meinhof Complex is also explicitly more political. Cries of ‘Ho Ho Ho Chi Mihn’ are chanted at one gathering; students have Mao posters on their dormitory walls; references are made to ‘May ’68’ in Paris and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.; RAF members meet with members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in Tunis and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Jordan; and there is a steady denunciation of the West Germany’s support for US imperialism and “fascism.”

Both movies have strong female lead characters. In The Baader Meinhoff Complex, Ulrike Menhoff is the the eldest founder of the RAF and in charge of propaganda. Esslin Gundrun, the youngest lead character and girlfriend of Baader, is nonetheless shown as passionate and as someone who was pivotal in getting things done within the group. Further into the movie, under the pressure of capture and confinement together, both begin to break down emotionally and increasingly argue with one another, reinforcing the view that women are emotional and weak while discounting the psychological pressure brought to bare on them by the reactionary state.

In Machete, the two female lead characters are initially foes. Lulz (Michelle Rodriguez), shown as righteous and socially concerned, organizes an underground “network” to provide services for oppressed migrants while Sartana (Jessica Alba), a naive, sycophantic ICE agent, harasses her and makes threats of criminal charges. The women come together as part of Machete’s quest for revenge. In the process, Lulz gets shot in the eye and comes back fighting even harder: if nothing else an allegory for revolutionary determinism. Sartana recants her previous position in support of imperialist legalism and declares to a crowd of migrants, “We didn’t cross the border. The border crossed us!”

Unfortunately, Machete does drop the ball regarding gender in a number of ways. In one notable scene of question (of many), Machete gives tequila to the wife and daughter of the man who set him up, sleeps with them and films it for his foe to watch later. While there is no doubt an element of humor simply for the outrage this must generate on the part of actual White supremacists, this scene is symptomatic of the film’s larger depiction of women, i.e. they are not treated as independent agents (with perhaps the exception Luz), but instead act as objects, things to be acted upon in one way or another by Machete or the male viewer.

In both movies nudity is prevalent. In The Baader Meinhof Complex, such is not so one-sided. In an opening scene, children and adults are shown nude at a beach. In this regard, that nudity serves not sexual purposes solely, The Baader Meinhof Complex is less reactionary. In another scene however, while the original RAF are training with Muslims in Tunis, they sunbathe nude in plain view. When told by the camp commander to cover themselves, they respond, “fucking and shooting are the same.” In the scene, Baader and Esslin are rightly depicted as crass, almost as if they are Amerikan vacationers. If fact, this is not an example of anti-imperialist fraternity nor spreading sexual liberation, but imposing the culture of a dominating society under the guise of such.

Revolutionary Violence

While there is much to say about the minutia of the films, the main theme of both is violence in name of the oppressed against the oppressor within imperialist countries.

In Machete, a work of fiction, the violence is over-the-top and gratuitous. In one early scene, the protagonist swings his machete in a circle and decapitates three people who were closing in on him. In another set in a hospital, he uses a ‘bone-scraper’ and several surgical knives tied to a belt to cut up several gun-toting men before using one’s small intestine to jump out the window and swing into the floor below. Likewise, the social setting in Machete is narrow, there being only politicians, main characters, hired guns, a few pigs, border militiamen, migrants and some cholo-type Chicanos. Missing from the picture are Whites- particularly the reactionary White masses, including so-called “workers,” or the imperialist state in full force. This, along with the movie’s revenge-based plot, allows Machete to be a movie with a happy ending, where Machete himself defeats the bad guys and ‘gets the girl.’ By the end though, despite the protagonist’s personal achievements, nothing has really changed. In an ironic twist, the right-wing politician played by Robert De Niro is shot to death near the border by White vigilantes who thinks he’s Mexican. Perhaps Machete will return in a sequel and broaden the scope of the struggle? We won’t hold our breath.

In The Baader Meinhof Complex, supposedly based on true events, the ending isn’t as happy. The members of the RAF, mostly student-aged and young adults, are driven by causes such as anti-imperialism and communism and are sympathetic to the plight and resistance of Third World peoples. They are outraged and disenchanted with the response of everyday West Germans to these phenomena, yet never come out and say as much, nor do they ever make the demarcation and write off West Germans entirely. When they launch their clandestine armed struggle, they envision it as being part of a world-wide revolutionary movement yet make efforts to not harm your average West German, seeing this as pivotal to winning public sympathy. After the founding members of the RAF are apprehended, others from similar backgrounds arise, carrying on the struggle and including “the release of political prisoners” as part of their campaign against German reactionaries and imperialism. This too is ill-fated, as these newer members are all apprehended or killed, leading to the climax that is the apparent suicide of the remaining lead characters.

While certainly not the ‘happy ending’ of Machete, the down conclusion to The Baader Meinhof Complex does leave us asking, “what went wrong?,” a serious question for revolutionaries in imperialist countries. Many would say RAF were ultra-leftist and their militant armed struggle freaked out the west German ‘masses.’ In truth, this is not the case. Rather, the RAF was ultra-“left.” Though their action appeared militant and extreme, it was always predicated on a perceived political alliance and unity with a portion of the west German population, all of which were part of a global petty-bourgeoisie and thus an unreliable ally (at best) to their struggle. The founders of the RAF would have done better to develop their writing capabilities under the direction of Ulrike Meinhof, coordinate real ties to foreign fighters, fall under their discipline when appropriate and develop alternative means of contributing to the global revolutionary struggle, not launch an hasty armed struggle in west Germany with the assumption that west Germans would support them.

The Network

More interesting than any possible Machete sequel or the First Worldist focoism of the RAF would be a film featuring She and the Network. In Machete, it’s stated that Lulz has been busy organizing migrants, helping them cross the border, securing housing and jobs and “making sure they play their part” once they’re settled. The operation is called the Network, and it includes a mythology about a militant female leader known only as “She.” When Machete makes his hulkish last stand, his success is aided b y the connections Lulz has already made.

Today, the situation involving Mexicans migrants is dynamic. Historically, there has been a trend towards assimilation. However, as the numbers of Mexicans and Chicanos rise, particularly in the Amerikan ‘southwest’ (occupied Mexico), a situation may arise where the social basis for national liberation struggles becomes more readily apparent. Ultimately, it will be the type of work typified by Lulz, politicized ‘serve the people’ programs organized outside pre-existing power structures, which will advance and aid this struggle.

Again on Violence

One final note. We imagine many First World viewers will find the presentation of violence in both Machete and  The Baader Meinhof Complex to be off-putting in one way or another.

In Machete, the violence is unnatural, over-the-top, intense, frequent, etc. However, the same could be said with the Expendables or any number of Amerikan-inspired action movies. In Machete, the difference is that the violence is dished out by forces representing the oppressed against oppressors. Simply put: that is why it stands out, why it is good.

Many so-called “leftists” would reject the violence of the RAF on rotten grounds, whether pacifism, charges of being too extreme and “left,” or other liberal reasons. However, the violence of the RAF should be looked at critically and put in the correct perspective.

Nothing is more violent than imperialism. Every 2.43 seconds, someone dies from starvation- a form of structural violence. The violence in Machete by contrast is mild and restrained. Though ultimately misguided at a fundamental level, the same could be said about the RAF. The question is not whether in either movie violence was depicted in a gratuitous way, this answer being obvious. Ultimately, it matters against whom the violence is being expressed upon, and towards what end. And for this, we see no reason to broadly criticize either movie.

Notes:

(1) http://www.stormfront.org/forum/t737495/

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Filed under Culture and Art, Imperialism, Movie Reviews, News and Analysis, Occupied Mexico/Aztlan, Organizing, Youth

Long Live Mexico: In Commemoration of the 100th Year Anniversary of the Mexican Revolution

Long Live Mexico: In Commemoration of the 100th Year Anniversary of the Mexican Revolution

By Nick Brown

(Author’s note: This was written in the early part of 2010, my hopes being that it could have been published earlier.

In the various feedback I’ve received, two main things stood out. First, there is not a consensus amongst those queried for comments about the various topics, and in some cases contradictory responses about single issues were given. Second, for this essay to be anything close to definitive it would need  to be a series of books.

Without additional time to lengthen and restructure the entire essay and draw in the entirety of historiography and current thoughts, I’ve attempted to reconcile the problems as much as possible in the notes.

Accordingly, this document does not reflect the sole, comprehensive line of The Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism Movement(RAIM) on the matters discussed (see, ‘Fuck the Border, Support Mexican National Liberation‘ for our general program in support of Mexican national liberation). Rather it is being published as a resource and timely effort at education in service of revolution. My hope is that this essay can help contribute to a basic narrative surrounding the Mexican Revolution and the events since, as part of a wider anti-imperialist historical narrative. Certainly, this essay following is hardly all there is to be said about such topics.)

This year, 2010, marks the centennial of the start of the Mexican Revolution, or La Revolucion. [1] It was one of the first major attempts at social revolution in the 20th century and one in many of only partially-successful or failed revolutions throughout the still-developing Third World.

Its age, the fact that it didn’t survive as a social revolution, etc, does not diminish its significance. Rather, the Mexican Revolution is part of the real cultural heritage of many millions of people, both in Mexico and the US. Additionally, the revolutionary project, the idea of achieving the more radical goals of the Mexican Revolution, is one of continued relevance and necessity today.

Background and Outcome of the Mexican Revolution

The Mexican Revolution erupted in 1910 with Francisco Madero’s Plan de San Luis Potsi and rebellion against the quarter-century-old regime of Porfirio Diaz. Diaz’s rule, lauded by many around the world, proved to be a paper tiger and collapsed after only a few short months of simultaneous revolts under a variety of leaderships. [2]

Like all revolutions throughout the 20th century, the Mexican Revolution contained agrarian and anti-imperialism aims. It was seen by many as a revolution of the common masses against the big landlords, the corrupt Mexican state and the foreigners (particularly Amerikans) gaining ever more influence in Mexican society. However, by the end of the decade, the radical aims would be cut sort as splits within the rebelling forces and US intervention led to a series of moderate, inevitably comprador leaders.

The most radical proposals put forward during the Mexican Revolution were done so in part by Emiliano Zapata of Morelos. The Plan de Ayala of 1911, which launched Zapata’s revolt against Madero, called for the return of communal and small-holding lands to those it was stolen from, breaking up monopolies to the benefit of common Mexicans and waging a form of total justice against those power holders who might resist. Sociologist and researcher into revolutions, John Foran, argues “the social revolution reached its apogee in late 1914 with the arrival of [Pancho] Villa and Zapata in Mexico City, and that it was militarily defeated in 1915-16 by [Álvaro] Obregon and [Venustiano] Carranza, who then laid the groundwork for the carrying out of a less thorough-going social transformation in the 1920s and beyond.” (Taking Power 34)

However, it wasn’t Carranza or Obregon who in the main reversed the growing wave of mobilization for social transformation. The United States had a hand in the outcome of the Mexican Revolution. Ramon Ruiz notes:

“The Yankee next door, Mexicans learned immediately, would not easily relinquish his stake in Mexico. To the contrary, investors and their government in Washington watched warily the course of the rebellion, and from the start, worked feverishly to keep it within the bounds of what they believed permissible. They distrusted social revolution and only belatedly tolerated halfway reform.[…] [H]istory amply documents sundry Ameri[k]an efforts to impede and stifle change in Mexico.” (The Great Rebellion 383)

At every turn of La Revolucion, the US attempted to direct the outcome in one manner or another. In 1910-11, the US did little to prevent Francisco Madero from launching his initial rebellion and undermined the Diaz regime by stationing troops at Mexico’s northern border. (Ibid 389) Two years later, the US ambassador to Mexico, Henry Lane Wilson, directly colluded with Victoriano Huerta to overthrown Madero as part of the Ten Tragic Days. (Ibid 391) Later, the US turned on Huerta, compelling his ouster, and by 1915-16 was backing Carranza against the more radical and nationalist factions led in part by Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. (Ibid 394)

Carranza, in turn, would preside over the writing of Mexico’s constitution in 1917. Rather than resolve the contradictions within Mexico, the Constitution of 1917 blunted them as the comprador-bourgeoisie regained an upper hand within the power structure of Mexican society. With the ascendancy of Carranza and marginalization of more radical forces, the vast majority of Mexicans lost an equal voice in deciding Mexico’s future. In the words of Ramon Ruiz, it was “a cataclysmic rebellion but not a social ‘Revolution’,” i.e, it accomplished minimal social transformation through great upheaval. [3] (ix)

One of the most immediate results of the Mexican Revolution was an influx of refugees into the United States. Already prior to the Revolution, Mexicans were migrating to the US in high numbers (Acuna 150). Combined with US labor demands during World War I, the Mexican Revolution culminated in the first great wave of northbound Mexican migration since the US’s invasion and occupation of Mexico in 1846 and greatly contributed to continuity between previously-existing and future Chicano communities in the ‘Southwest’ and throughout the US. It’s estimated that by 1929 there were nearly a million Mexicans living in the United States. (Taylor)

Unlike the waves of refugees which followed abortive revolutions in central and eastern Europe or the successful one in Cuba, the US played host to Mexicans of a diverse political blend. Nonetheless, the mass arrival of Mexican migrants also coincided with a “brown scare,” mob-violence and lynchings directed at the Spanish-speaking communities at a greater rate than faced by Blacks in the post-Reconstruction South. (Carrigan)

The Mexican Revolution and Today’s Context

Today, the world is not much different than 100 years ago. We can say that the main difference is one of degree. Whereas in the 18th, 19th and early-20th century, patterns of imperialism and dependent development emerged and solidified, in the late-20th and early-21st centuries, even greater interconnectedness and polarization have arisen as well as a host of other problems (largely relating to climate change and resources availability).  According to the United Nations, for example, the gap between to richest and poorest countries grew from 3 to 1 in 1820 and 11 to 1 in 1913, to 72 to 1 by 1992. (Human Development Report, 1999: Globalization with a Human Face, 38) Another report suggests the gap between the average incomes of the world’s richest and poorest 5% jumped from 78 to 1 in 1988, to 114 to 1 in 1993, and that, “an American [sic] having the average income of the bottom US docile is better-off that 2/3 of [the] world population.” (Milanovic, 88, 89)

This phenomenon and its social implications were described by a number of thinkers contemporary to the Mexican Revolution.  The controversial Black intellectual, William E.B. DuBois, explained with great prescience:

“[T]he white workingman has been asked to share the spoils of exploiting ‘chinks and niggers.’ It is no longer simply the merchant prince, or the aristocratic monopoly, or even the employing class, that is exploiting the world: it is the nation; a new democratic nation composed of united capital and labor. The laborers are not yet getting, to be sure, as large a share as they want or will get…[b]ut the laborer’s equity is recognized, and his just share is a matter of time, intelligence and skillful negotiation.” (The African Origins of War, 1915) [4]

Today, up to a fifth of the world’s population act as effective parasites upon the remaining eighty percent: a bourgeoisified First World minority existing through direct exploitation of labor, unequal exchange and modern-day plunder backed by military might. Contrary to the proclamations of bourgeois intellectuals and their followers, the necessity of revolution has not gone away. Instead, the modern equivalent of the archetypal proletariat is embodied by those exploited and dispossessed by imperialism in the Third World and, to a much lesser extent, those who suffer related national oppression.

Regarding the Mexican Revolution, its continuing significance and the revolutionary project focused in North America, the subject is two-fold. First are Mexicans, often exploited under the dual weight of comprador-capitalism and imperialism; and second, Chicanos, a group born of ties to Mexico and oppression within the US.

Chicanos and Mexicans

It is difficult, if impossible, to talk about Mexicans without talking about Chicanos, and vice versa. [5]  Their history, customs, and identity are related. For Mexicans, the US has been a refuge,  a source of seasonal work and often permanent home. Thus, Chicanos, those of Mexican descent born in the U.S. with no direct ties to Mexico, are a group very much in flux, born from the historic and ongoing migration of Mexicans into a territory and social structure dominated by Whites. [6]

Jeanne Batalova of the Migration Policy Institute noted, “In 2006, more than 11.5 million Mexican immigrants[sic] resided in the United States, accounting for 30.7 percent of all US immigrants and one-tenth of the entire population born in Mexico.” According to the same report, over a quarter of this group arrived within the last decade. (“Mexican Immigrants in the United States”)

In 2007, ‘Hispanics’ (a demographic term including those of Spanish and Portuguese-speaking, American descent, but mostly comprising of those of Mexican descent) accounted for 45.5 million people inside the US, making them the largest ‘minority’ group and 15% of the total population. This group is most significant in the southwestern region of the US (land seized from Mexico in 1846-48, henceforth referred to as Occupied Mexico). For example, in New Mexico, California and Texas, ‘Hispanics’ make up between 44 and 36% of the total population.  This group is also younger: the median age being 27.6 years of age compared to 36.6 in the population as a whole, and almost 34 percent of the ‘Hispanic’ population is younger than 18 years old compared with a country-wide average of 25 percent. (“US Hispanic Population Surpasses 45 Million, Now 15 Percent of Total”)

Inside the US, Chicanos live hardly equal to Whites. During the 2007-8 recession for example, the US Census Bureau reported that median household annual income dropped 2.6% to $55,530 for Whites and 5.6% to $37,913 for ‘Hispanics.’ (“Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the Unites States”) Additionally, Chicanos face a disproportionate amount of policing and imprisonment compared to Whites. The state of Colorado, for example, incarcerates ‘Hispanics’ at twice the rate of Whites (and Blacks at six and a half times). (Mauer, Washington 14) Similarly, Chicanos find themselves increasingly targeted as Mexican migrants are becoming even more criminalized inside the US.

Relatively speaking, Chicanos have it lucky. Their kin in Mexico often face the worst of imperialism: sweat-shops, sex trade, destroyed ecosystems, uprooted communities, disappearing traditional economies and an overall lack of opportunities.

While Mexico has long been held in a state of dependent development, this has only increased with the introduction of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994.

Subcommandante Marcos, a prominent representative of the Zapatista movement, called NAFTA a “death certificate for the Indian peoples of Mexico.” (qtd. in Campbell, “The NAFTA War”) Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution was formally amended to accommodate conditions of NAFTA’s enactment, thus rescinding what little legal protection indigenous people had over communal lands. Also under NAFTA, Mexico was flooded with cheap corn from subsidized Amerikan farmers, destroying the former’s rural economy. (Gutierrez) Thus in 2005, according to the US Department of Labor, the hourly compensation cost of Mexican production workers was $2.63 an hour, compared to $23.65 for their US counterparts. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)  Mexico was the hardest hit Latin American country during the recent economic crisis; the number of people in Mexico living on less the two dollars a day jumping from 44.7 million (42% of the total population) to 53 million (46%) between 2006 and 2010. (Mexico Solidarity Network) Though the official unemployment rate is one of the lowest in Latin America, around 20% of Mexicans find a living in the informal sector. (Cevallos)  Labor unrest in Mexico is increasingly heated. (Paterson)

Reclaiming History and the Future: Contemporary Movements

Neither Mexicans nor Chicanos have forgotten the Mexican Revolution and its radical potential.

Groups like the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional- EZLN) are well known for their struggle against the Mexican state. They emerged on January 1st, 1994 in the state of Chiapas to the shock and fanfare of many. Their initial ‘Declaration of War ‘ called for the “return of the land to those who work it” and quoted Article 39 of the Mexican Constitution in calling for the overthrow of the Mexican government. (First Declaration from the Lacandon Jungle)

Unlike many resistance groups, the Zapatistas have managed to capture significant world-wide attention. Thus, many interpretations exist of their movement. Early on, some analysts speculated on the EZLN’s ideological origins in Maoism, which seeks to build up base areas and create expanding liberated zones where reactionary forces are the weakest. (La Botz 38) The EZLN leadership has disavowed this interpretation, stating, “We don’t think like the Maoists. We don’t think that the campesino army from the mountains can fence in the cities.” (Marcos, qtd. in Henríquez and Petrich) The Zapatistas now claim they are fighting for autonomy and freedom in areas of Chiapas and have worked intensively at courting support of the local indigenous population. While some on the nominal left have lauded the EZLN, noting their insistence on not ‘taking power’ but instead fighting for ‘justice, freedom and democracy’ and ‘neutral political space,’ (Halloway) others have labeled such as strategy as “armed reformism” (EPR qtd in Weinberg 299) and the EZLN has been criticized as “the first post-modern guerrilla group.” (People of Color Organize!)

The Zapatistas are not the only group attempting to lead armed resistance against the Mexican state. The Popular Revolutionary Army (Ejército Popular Revolucionario- EPR) revealed themselves in 1996 with their Manifesto of Aguas Blancas, stating their aim as creating a “democratic people’s republic” in Mexico. (Lemoine) (Weinburg 208)  The EPR has been more prone to a focoist strategy of sabotage and coordinated attacks on state forces than the EZLN, and thus been more easily labeled terrorists by reactionaries. In June of 2007, the group briefly crippled the Mexican economy through coordinated attacks on the country’s gas pipelines, resulting in a crackdown from the Mexican state directed at a number of resistance groups, not just the EPR.  (Ibid 286) (Tobar) In the past, the EPR leadership has defended such actions, asking, “Whose pardon are we supposed to ask for not letting the government continue to murder people? And for our armed uprising? The government’s, perhaps?” (qtd. in Lemoine)  Other armed leftist groups include the Insurgent People’s Revolutionary Army (ERPI), formed from a 1998 split with the EPR, and the Triple Guerrilla National Indigenous Alliance (TAGIN), which has recently called for unity between various groups and an escalation in attacks. (Ibid) (Ross, “A Real Blast”)

Whereas armed groups in Mexico are attempting to push forward towards a second attempt at revolution, reformers and misleaders also pay homage to the ideals and iconography behind La Revolucion. Perhaps this is nowhere better illustrated than by the Revolutionary Democratic Party (Partido de la Revolución Democrática- PRD), the largest nominally-left grouping and one of the three main electoral parties in Mexico.

The PRD was founded in 1989 as a left-wing split, led by Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, from the historically-ruling Institutionalized Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional- PRI). Cárdenas is the son of the former Mexico President, Lázaro Cárdenas del Río, who, beginning in 1934, pushed through the last mildly-progressive reforms on the heels of the Mexican Revolution, including the compensated nationalization of the country’s oil industry in 1938.

The PRD became involved in civil unrest when its candidate for president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, narrowly lost the country’s 2006 presidential election and made charges of fraud. (Campell, “Calderon inaugurated while lawmakers brawl”) Cárdenas, who still leads the party, frequently refers to the Mexican Revolution, its unfinished nature and continuing relevance. “The revolutionaries fought for democracy, for equality and justice, for education, knowledge and culture, for a just and generous nation, for shared progress and a fair and equitable world order,” Cárdenas told an audience at the University of California, Los Angeles recently. “To build a new Mexico, the lessons we can derive from the Mexican Revolution show us the way.” (qtd. in Matthews)

Though the PRD often uses such lofty, ‘revolutionary’ language, their phraseology is not unlike that of the PRI: slogans to bolster and advance their own rule absent any revolutionary transformation. More than anything else, the PRD’s rhetoric shows how both the memory and goals of the Mexican Revolution  remain strong with the people. [7]

In Occupied Mexico and throughout the US, Chicanos continue to hold onto the Mexican Revolution, including its underlying values, as part of their cultural heritage. Beginning in the late-60’s, Chicano nationalism gave rise to a number of organizations, including the Crusade for Justice, La Raza Unida Party, the Brown Berets, MECHA, and the Centro de Acción Social Autónoma (CASA).  These and other groups and individuals took up a wide range of ends and means in varying locales to form a quite diverse and tumultuous movement. (“The Question of Youth and Revolution”) [8]

More recently, Chicano nationalism and its references to the Mexican Revolution have begun to reemerge as controversy over ‘immigration’ has spilled into the mainstream. In 1994, California’s Proposition 187, which barred access to public services (such as schools and hospitals) for ‘illegal aliens,’ engendered nationwide outrage and led to a march of 70,000 in downtown Los Angeles. ( McDonnell, Lopez)  Over a decade later, in response to US House Resolution 4437, Mexicans, Chicanos, other migrant communities, and their allies, a total of 1.5 million people in the US, staged massive protests on May 1st, 2006. Since then, International Workers’ Day, a holiday long ignored within the US, has been rechristened as a day of support for migrants’ struggles. (“Over 1.5 Million March for Immigrant Rights in One of Largest Days of Protest in U.S. History”) In 2010 and following the passage of Arizona’s SB1070, which gives the police the power to stop and question anyone who ‘seems illegal,’ rallies were held in over 90 major US cities, including one of 60,000 people in Los Angelas. (McDonnell, Watanabe)  Similar rallies in Denver drew around 10,000 people, mainly Mexicans and Chicanos, including many students. (Espinoza, McWilliams)

Whereas figures such as Che Guervara have long been icons within the post-60’s nominal left, Emiliano Zapata prominently occupies this role at such political demonstrations. At one of Denver’s most recent May Day rallies, two large banners featuring his likeness were on display, one reading, “Zapata Vive, Le Luche Sigue” [“Zapata Lives, the Struggle Continues”]. (RAIM-Denver, “Denver May Day 2010”) Similarly, an annual March for Zapata is held in Los Angeles. (LA Eastside) Especially during the earlier protests, Mexican flags have been prominently featured. As time has wore on and as reform-oriented coalitions have seized much of the control over the movement, their display has been discouraged in favor of Amerikan flags. In many ways, this symbolized the internal dynamic of Chicano movements, with Mexicano nationalist and assimilationist factions disagreeing on tactics and long term goals and vying for leadership over the broader movement.

Quickening situation

More to any other people’s struggle, that of Mexicans’ is connected to struggles inside the US itself. Due to the relatedness of Mexicans and Chicanos, it should be of no surprise that their respective revolutionary struggles are deeply affective of one another.

John Ross, author of El Monstruo, Dread and Redemption in Mexico City and 50-year resident of the country, recently stated, “Objectively, at this moment, Mexico is overripe for social upheaval.” (qtd. in Ross, “John Ross on ‘El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City'”) He argues that a big cause of unrest in Mexico lies to the north.

“Traditionally, escapers in México came north towards what they called the ‘safety valve.’ But they can’t get across the border now because of the way it has been militarized,” Ross was quoted as saying. “When you turn off the safety valve, you amplify the pressure on the situation.” (qtd. in Terrazas)

It should be of no surprise that the storm center of revolutionary struggle on the North American continent lies in Mexico. There, the masses face the harsh conditions imposed by imperialism and often struggle against its thuggish forces. However, conditions in the north (USA) greatly affect those in the south (Mexico).  A speculation-driven ‘financial crisis’ has eroded the confidence of Amerika’s largest body of oppressors, Whites, and provoked amongst them a fascistic backlash directed in no-small part against “illegals;” as well as resulting in even greater militarization of the border. Thus, not only has movement of Mexicans been greatly impeded, but remittances, Mexico’s second largest source of foreign income, have fallen dramatically, down 15.7% in 2009. (Castillo)

Under such conditions, unrest is likely to continue and grow in Mexico. However, a number of other factors need be present in order for a mass revolutionary movement to develop and succeed.

In Taking Power, On the Origins of Third World Revolution, John Foran reduces these factors to five: dependent development, followed by a economic downturn, exclusionary rule, a social culture and coalition of opposition which gains legitimacy amongst the population at large, and a world systemic opening. [9]

It is likely, if only possible, that these conditions will develop simultaneously and in relation to each other. A general degradation of US global hegemony and the effects this will have on the Mexican economy could conceivable lead to a political crisis within Mexico. Rather than the liberal democracy that imperialism traffics in, such a crisis can only be met with increasingly violent, repressive measures from the Mexican state and the US, resulting in the delegitimization of existing power structures and increased support for existing and new revolutionary organizations and coalitions inside Mexico.

Under such a crisis of open class warfare inside Mexico, it is safe to assume that class struggle in the US would also heat up, much of it in favor of reaction and intervention. In the wake of such reaction, an opening might present itself where Chicanos more widely identify with the struggle of Mexicans and, to varying degrees, the international proletariat. This tide of Chicano radicalism, combined with what larger revolutionary internationalist sentiment could be mustered in the US, would alone not be able to carry out a wider social revolution against the forces of reaction throughout the US. However, it might be useful in impeding reactionaries’ full ability to stifle the revolutionary struggle in Mexico.

While this scenario, a winding spiral of the preconditions of revolution described by Foran, may seem far fetched, it is far less so than the “end of history” theory put forward by Francis Fukuyama and many liberal supporters of the capitalist-imperialist system. Rather than entering into an age of peace and harmony as predicted by bourgeois theorists and new-age gurus alike, the world is becoming more unequal and more conflict-ridden. No doubt, it will be against a backdrop of global social unrest, in no small part directed against the imperialist bourgeoisie and its local agents, that any revolutionary struggle in North America, centered in Mexico, will likely develop and find fertile conditions for success.

Northern Stars

Already in the north, where ideas flow more freely, revolutionary Chicano and Third Worldist groups are pushing a political line and culture of broader internationalism of the oppressed and exploited, especially between Chicanos and Mexicanos.

Colorado-based Mexicana Resistencia, in describing the struggles of Chicanos and Mexicans writes:

“We use the term migration as opposed to immigration to challenge the US Settler colonialists’ dehumanizing and dominating view of legality that is based on stolen land and imperialism with the understanding that when injustice becomes law resistance becomes duty; in opposition to the reformist sectors in the non-profit industrial complex working on so-called immigration rights when in actuality they co-opt, pacify, mislead and misdirect our movement; to redefine the perspective as a movement of a people with our own occupied homeland as opposed to a movement into another country; to reclaim the North; to unite our people and political struggle; and to have self-determination in defining our issues and give direction against the oppressive conditions that confront us.[…]”

“Self-determination is based on a revolutionary nationalist culture of resistance with the objective of creating a reunited homeland and liberated future based on human need instead of profit motives.” (Mexicana Resistencia)

Groups such as the Third-Worldist, Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement (RAIM) also promote a revolutionary unity between Chicanos and Mexicans, and supports Occupied Mexico’s “reunification with a revolutionized Mexico,” as part of the “division and ultimate destruction of Amerika.” (“Fuck the Border, Support Mexican National Liberation”)

The Mexican National Liberation Movement (Movemento Liberacion National Mexicano-MLNM) stresses that Chicanos and Mexicanos are “one people divided by a militarily-imposed border,” and describes “socialist reunification with Mexico” as their ultimate goal. They support national liberation struggles throughout the world and its membership has suffered repression, including prison sentences for refusing to collaborate with a grand jury investigation into the Puerto Rican Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (Armed Forces of National Liberation, FALN). The MLMN describe US imperialism as their primary enemy: “We are fighting the biggest empire ever and we are right inside of it.[…] The revolutionary movement here will begin in the south.” (Tizoc)

While there is nothing to suggest any of these groups or their blend of ideologies currently have any mass following in the north, each does represent the kind of totalizing, revolutionary internationalism required as part of any modern, genuine, mass revolutionary movement. As the US becomes more reactionary, their message of unity with the Third World and rejection of the First may gain wider, marginal appeal inside the US. Neither should we discount the possibility of such internationalist messages percolating southward, into Mexico and beyond.

Sunrise

While an open split between Chicanos (or at least a section of them) and Amerika may be heavily influential as part of the revolutionary struggle in Mexico, we should not see it as the overarching factor, or as part of any ‘world systemic opening’ for another, more successful Mexican revolution. While glimmers of light may exist in an otherwise dark, northern sky, the ‘proletarian sun’ will mainly arise from the ‘global south,’ the Third World, and it is these convergent struggles to which particular revolutionary struggles, including that of Mexicans and Chicanos, are bound to.

In 1965, Lin Biao, a general in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and prominent leftist during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, described the situation similarly. In Long Live the Victory of People’s War!, Lin described the “proletarian revolutionary movement” as “for various reasons …temporarily held back in the North American and West European capitalist countries,” and stated that, “In the final analysis, the whole cause of world revolution hinges on the revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples who make up the overwhelming majority of the world’s population. The socialist countries should regard it as their internationalist duty to support the people’s revolutionary struggles in Asia, Africa and Latin America.” (49) [9]

Lin reasoned that expanding wars of liberation would create ‘world systemic openings’ for revolutionary struggle elsewhere and that China could play a pivotal role in aiding these struggles. He saw the revolutionary struggle as one of the Third World masses waging a ‘people’s war’ against capitalist-imperialism, principally that of the United States, and its executioners:

“The struggles waged by the different peoples against U.S. imperialism reinforce each other and merge into a torrential world-wide tide of opposition to U.S. imperialism. The more successful the development of people’s war in a given region, the larger the number of U.S. imperialist forces that can be pinned down and depleted there. When the U.S. aggressors are hard pressed in one place, they have no alternative but to loosen their grip on others. Therefore, the conditions become more favorable for the people elsewhere to wage struggles against U.S. imperialism and its lackeys.” (56)

Unfortunately, the policy articulated by Lin Biao was never implemented in  full by the People’s Republic of China. Six years after his writing, Lin disappeared under mysterious circumstances, while China began a rapprochement with the US and deepened its rhetoric against the USSR as part of the Sino-Soviet split. [10]

While much has changed since Lin’s writing, class struggle has not ceased. Were that the case, there would not be continued migration of Mexicans into the 21st century, nor would there exist the rising tide of anti-migrant, reactionary sentiment amongst Amerikans. Rather, the radical goals of La Revolucion have yet to be reached today.

In this regard, Mexico is hardly alone. Eighty percent of humanity lives on less that $10 a day; almost half live on less $2.50 a day.   The richest 20%, the First World, receives 75% of the world’s income and accounts for 76% of the world’s private consumption. Thus, 24,000 children die from poverty each day. (Shah) As the Leading Light Communist Organization (LLCO) has recently described, “The principal contradiction in the world is the First World versus the Third World, the global city versus the global countryside, the exploiter countries versus the exploited countries.” (Monkey Smashes Heaven. “The Sun Rises in the East and Sets in the West.”) [12]

According to LLCO, the world’s exploited masses must carry out a people’s war against reactionaries: seizing power and building institutions which serve and defend their common interests. This must be extended to a global scale, a Global People’s War, in which the imperialist First World becomes cut-off and encircled by the revolutionary forces of the Third World, the latter imposing a radical global democracy on the former. The LLCO has called for support and solidarity between exploited peoples worldwide and captive, oppressed nations in the US: “Justice will only come when Amerika and the First World are defeated, the land is returned, the imposed border is torn down, reparations paid.  Justice implies a society where the land and resources are organized to benefit humanity, not just a few, privileged rich countries.” (Ibid. “SB1070, The Continuing War Against the Mexicano People.”)

The next Mexican Revolution in perspective

The next Mexican revolution will not occur in a vacuum nor be significant unto itself. Rather, it will occur as part of the next wave of revolution, and its significance will be seen in relation to the international movement for liberation, away from a system of capitalist-imperialism and towards one controlled by the masses in their own interest.

In Mexico and elsewhere, the long-term viability of any revolutionary movement will be ultimately judged by whether or not it is ‘part of a worldwide people’s war waged by the peoples of the Third World, against the peoples of the First World.” (Ibid. “Points on People’s War”) The ability of the worldwide revolutionary movement to rally together and defeat the forces of imperialism, concentrated in the First World, is pivotal in the revolutionary struggle of the global proletariat as a whole.

For revolutionaries in the north and throughout occupied America, the struggle remains building an internationalist conception of revolution which explicitly rejects the First World and First Worldism (First World chauvinism/worship) and connects the struggle along the margins to that in the Third World. This means working to build a Chicano nationalist movement which identifies with Mexicans more than Amerikans, which actively seeks liberation of Occupied Mexico and above all seeks to unite with the struggle of the Third World-centered proletariat against imperialism and for a new world.

Ultimately, world revolution rests on those of the global South. However, this hardly negates the responsibility of revolutionaries in the North towards advancing effective strategies, championing the revolutionary struggle and undermining imperialism where possible. Just as the end of La Revolucion hardly suggested class struggle had ended in Mexico, the closing of the twentieth century hardly marked the end of revolutionary struggle internationally. One hundred years since the opening of the Mexican Revolution, Mexican society, like much of the Third World, has rarely been more poised for the outbreak of open class and people’s warfare. At the beginning of the 21st century, one hundred years after the start of La Revolucion, the vast majority of the world’s people, most Mexicans included, have, in the famous words of Karl Marx, “nothing to lose but their chains,” but “a world to win.” (86)

Notes:

[1] As the essay the explains, the Mexican Revolution was not a revolution in the full sense, i.e. it was not successful in overthrowing the existing economic and social order. Thus for our purposes, ‘Mexican Revolution,’ ‘La Revolucion’ and ‘the revolution years’ are synonymous and roughly correlate to the period between 1910-19.

[2] While this paper does not deal with the causes of the Mexican Revolution, they could be summed up as: the dependent nature of Mexico’s economy in which US investors increasingly controlled much of Mexico’s land and capital; the regime Porfirio Diaz had set up had become more exclusionary over time; the additional pressures created under the 1907 financial crisis; the political crisis created when Diaz recanted his public promise not to rerun for president; and the Diaz regime’s loss of patronage from the US.

[3] While certain political achievements were made through the Mexican revolution, such as the overthrow of Porfirio Diaz’s regime, some land reform and the writing of the Mexican Constitution, social demands of the broad Mexican masses were only partially, if at all, met. Moreover, the Mexican Revolution did not significantly alter Mexico’s path to becoming a nation exploited under capitalist-imperialism.

[4] W.E.B. DuBois wasn’t the only radical thinker of the time to highlight the fact that imperialism bought off it ‘own’ working-class. In 1916 Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin wrote, “The capitalists [of the ‘Great Powers’] can devote a part (and not a small one, at that!) of these superprofits to bribe their own workers, to create something like an alliance … between the workers of the given nation and their capitalists against the other countries.” (“Imperialism and the Split in Socialism”)

[5] There was not unanimous agreement on the use of ‘Chicano’ in this sense. Here on some views on the use of Chicano and its meaning.
One view is that because of historically different material circumstance and subjective inclination, there is a substantive difference between Mexicans and Chicano’s, the latter being so distinct that it constitutes its own nation.
Another view counters the first, stating that Mexicans are one people divided by an imperialist-imposed border. This view is in no small part a response to the legacy of ‘Chicano nationalism,’ which includes sell-outs, reforms and co-option into the Democratic Party while not achieving liberation of the Mexican people on either side of the border. This view sees the extolling of ‘Chicano’ as part of the legitimization of US claims to Occupied Mexico.
The final view and one that I hope comes out in the paper is that Chicanos are Mexicans. Just as we could talk about Mayans as being Mexicans, we can say the same of Chicanos: they are a socially/geographically-identified group within a larger. The use of Chicano in this sense is a matter of having clarity and accounting for the material and subjective differences between Chicanos and Mexicans, not to legitimize the root cause of the differences.

[6] Though we can generally say that today Chicanos are a group born from migration, this has not always been the case. The original Chicanos were Mexicans who stayed on their land in the North after the United States invaded their country and seized its northern half.

[7] The Revolutionary Democratic Party themselves should not be seen as able to carry through a social revolution in Mexico. Rather, they are contenders for power in an existing system, i.e. compradors in-the-waiting.

[8] This glosses over the history of late-60s/early-70s ‘Chicano Nationalism.’

[9] In Taking Power, John Foran discusses these five factors in relation to the 1910 revolution, arguing that Diaz had created a regime which grew exclusionary over time, as well as maintained Mexico in a state of dependent development vis a vis the US. When, Foran argues, Madero launched his revolution (hardly the first against Diaz), the US government essentially sat on their hands, allowing the regime to crumble. Conversely, the revolutionary coalition collapsed, in relation to the closing of the ‘world systemic opening,’ when the US firmly threw its weight behind Carranza.

[10] Lin Biao’s essay also deals with the political-military nature of carrying out the social revolution. This synthesis, in its details, was described as ‘People’s War’ in revolutionary China.

[11] The Chinese state claimed, one year after his disappearance, that Lin died in a plane crash near the Mongolian border after a botched coup plot against Mao Zedong. Though a plane did crash near the Mongolian border, there is no independent evidence or researched arguments that support the Chinese state’s narrative around Lin’s disappearance or the plane crash itself.

[12] This quote comes from the online journal Monkey Smashes Heaven, which has since become the official journal of the newly formed Leading Light Communist Organization.

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