Ten Years Ago....
When the first edition of Militante came out, in July of 1990, traumatic events globally caused great uneasiness and demoralization for leftist activists. On the one hand, as a result of the failure of Stalinism, we watched as the bourgeois counter-revolution mercilessly beat the distorted worker states of Eastern Europe. On the other hand, the policy of class conciliation under the direction of the Frente Sandinista (and the brakes that this placed on the Nicaraguan revolution) facilitated the electoral defeat of 1989, when the Sandinistas ceded power to the counter-revolution headed by Violeta Chamorro.
In Mexico, the 80s had signified the ascent of a movement of the gravitated towards the majority leftist parties of the moment: the PSUM and later the PMS. They got entangled, more concerned with finding a niche in the regime's reform policy than with giving an alternative to that great movement that was stirring in various sectors which was even then generating a crisis in the bosom of the PRI (Revolutionary Institutional Party &endash; the ruling party for nearly the entire 20th century).
Far from giving a revolutionary opening to a situation becoming increasingly explosive, the PSUM and then the PMS abandoned all traces of the historic teachings of the workers' movement and instead looked towards the fight for "democracy" in order to capitulate before the nationalist bourgeoisie.
The fall of the Stalinist bureaucracy was a cause of demoralization and dispersion, as was also the defeat of Sandinism, to which many youths had looked as the "latest event in the revolutionary struggle." Nevertheless, the intense crisis at the core of the nation's leftist organizations had deep internal roots. Since the organizations mentioned had never really promoted authentic Marxism, it was almost impossible for them to make a correct analysis of the changing process, and draw the adequate conclusions.
For the revolutionaries in 1990, it was clear that, more than ever, it was necessary to bring the Marxist ideas on the organization of the masses to the most advanced sections of youth and workers. To achieve this, we derived the idea of Militante - the creation of a revolutionary workers' paper was the most immediate task of the day.
In these ten years, we have been witness to the formation of PRD as a product of the 1988 movement; to the policy of the Salinas counter-reforms; to the political crisis of 1994 (which included the assassination of the PRI candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio); to the Zapatista uprising that generated so much hope and confusion among the masses; to the fierce crisis of 1994-95 that resulted in more than 2 million unemployed workers; to the attacks of the Zedillo government and the heroic defensive struggles of the workers, farmers, and students.
In Militante we have analyzed the process of crisis and renewal of corporate unionism, but sadly this process has not been taken advantage of - for the creation of a combative union movement, held together and well-organized on all levels and in all unions. In spite of this, we have been witness to an historic occurrence: on May 1, 1995, hundreds of thousands of workers stood in the way of an official parade, and from then on the official ceremonies of the day took place virtually hidden. It seems almost contradictory that, while the unions remain atomized, and each of them purports to win isolated battles, the working class demonstrates in a spontaneous manner the need for unity in action against the common enemy. Undoubtedly this contradiction implies the possibility of a violent explosion that will break with the sectarian and opportunistic structures, and will bring the working class movement face to face with the question of power. Today the problem of the workers' movement lies not in its fighting ability, but rather in a lack of revolutionary direction. Historically this is the chief problem of the revolution in Mexico, and it is the task of Marxists to fight for the construction of this alternative.
The Zapatista Uprising
In the very heart of the peasant movement, we have yet to see a situation like it. It is certain that the Zapatista movement made itself heard at the beginning of 1994, as a voice that exposed the true nature of the regime. But with the passing of the years we have witnessed the tendency of the leadership of the EZLN (Zapatista National Liberation Army) to focus practically all of its energies on the native problem. The EZLN went from being a program for the whole country to having the defense of the San Andres agreements almost as its sole purpose. All the support and sympathy of the major sections of youth and workers was channeled not into the construction of a fighting alternative, but rather into the formation of a support group, the FZLN; which in spite of all the good intentions in the world, is seen as being on the sidelines of the principal struggles that the youth and workers of Mexico are waging.
The cause of the poor farmers and natives is one of the principal issues that a workers' program must resolve, but it is not the only one. A very dubious alternative is the semi-anarchist methods that the FZLN promote, and this only increases the difficulty of strengthening the organization and the cohesion of the movement.
The problem of the oppression of the Mexican natives will be resolved by a social revolution, or it will not be resolved at all. Any half-conceived agreement will only provoke the growth of new rebellions. It is fair to rebel against oppression, and this shall continue even after agreements between the government and EZLN are signed, given that the problems originate in the social system.
The Marxists who work with Militante call for the defense of the just cause of the indigenous people and the poor farmers fighting for the socialist transformation of society. Even though they fail, the native and farmer uprisings will continue, and it is our duty to support them and explain that only unity within the worker movement can lay the foundation for a definitive victory.
In the youth field, the heroic struggle of the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) students was an outstanding movement in defense of free, public, and democratic education. The UNAM was in a direct confrontation with the strategy of waste and repression on the part of the State. Though its (the State's) demands were not out of the ordinary, no one was fully satisfied given that agreeing to them meant taking a step backwards and was part of the policy of destruction of public education. In the era in which we live, capitalism can only sustain its mechanisms of accumulation of wealth at the cost of destroying the concessions obtained by the struggles of the youth and workers in the past.
When the masses rise up politically, they naturally gravitate toward organizations which they feel represent their interests. Many organizations have been created as a response to the struggles and sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of people, and the masses therefore consider them their own. Before aligning with any type of new organization, workers try to transform their traditional organizations, and it is only the force of large events, combined with the appearance of an alternative, which leads them to build new organizations. Thus, the need to construct a left current which works to build a revolutionary and fighting alternative is of utmost importance. In the case of Mexico, the struggle for the formation of a revolutionary alternative in the center of the PRD (Party of Revolutionary Democracy) is a fundamental step forward in anticipation of the events which will arise.
At the present time, the electoral process has shown that the policies applied up until now by the PRD leadership is insufficient, and cannot even lead to electoral victory. In spite of cases like Mexico City (where the mayor is of the PRD), these policies (far from favoring the workers' interests) have not signified any real improvement in the living standards of the masses. Above all, we reiterate that only a genuinely socialist program can really help the working masses. If this does not happen, any government administration, no matter how honest it may seem, will turn out to be just a puppet in the hands of the bourgeoisie.
The international bourgeoisie are dragging humanity into a deep crisis, which they will attempt to get out of, as they always have done, on the backs of the workers. These events will open a new epoch of revolutions and counter-revolutions for which we must be prepared.
The triumph of the reactionary right, represented by PAN (Party of National Action), once again put to the test the forces of the Left. A process of decomposition of their regime will demand a combative policy to uproot PANism from the government. In this battle, of course, Militante will participate by firmly raising the ideas and methods of genuine Marxism
Ten years after the appearance of Militante, we see that none of the fundamental problems in our society have been improved; on the contrary, the scheme of capitalist growth continues to wreak havoc among the masses. The misery and violence of the capitalist system is more crude than ever; thus the need for a newspaper that fights for a revolutionary alternative is more urgent today than ever.
The united activists at Militante, Marxist Voice of Workers and Youth, call you to join our struggle for the construction of a revolutionary alternative for the socialist transformation of society.
We call on our comrades and sympathizers in the United States and Canada to work with us in our common struggle against international capitalism and imperialism. For a Democratic Socialist Federation of the Americas!
by Editorial board of
Militante, marxist voice of
workers and youth in Mexico,
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