An Historic Event that shows a major development of the genuine forces of Marxism in the trade unions and youth movement in MexicoOn the 21, 22 and 23 of May, in the building of the Independent Union of Workers of the Autonomous Metropolitan University (Situam), the 10th National Congress of the Marxist Tendency El Militante was held. The numbers in attendance were the biggest of any congress we have held in the past, with more than 160 present over the three days.
In addition to our student groups from UNAM, the Polytechnic, and UAM, which in total represented 20 different secondary schools and institutes of higher education, there were a very significant number of worker comrades from 15 different workplaces and trade unions. Among these we can mention the IMSS (the biggest union in Latin America, representing public sector workers in the health service etc.) SINTRASVIAL (Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Secretaría de Vialidad), SNTE (teachers' union), SUTGDF (Mexico DF council workers), SME (electricity), workers from the Colegio de Bachilleres, and textile workers from "La Perla" in Puebla. These textile workers are now on strike and have even received death threats from the bosses. Also present were workers from Telmex (telecomms), Chrysler, the Hospital del Niño Poblano, Euzkady (tyres), etc. Many of these workers have gained experience and been steeled in struggle over many years. They are now enriching our tendency with their experience of the class struggle. Their presence at this congress reflects the determined intervention of El Militante in the struggles of the working class, and this fills us with pride.
All the comrades were able to hear the introductory speech on world perspectives delivered by comrade Alan Woods. In his leadoff, Alan underlined the new period of revolution and counterrevolution in which we have entered. He pointed out that the accumulation of extreme contradictions have transformed what appeared to be an unending period of stagnation in the class struggle into a new and explosive period. There is a general instability in the relations between the classes and nations that finds its expression at all levels.
The revolutionary process in Venezuela was emphasised, as was the need to develop the subjective factor in order to carry the revolution through to the end. This could only be done if the Revolutionary Bolivarian Circles adopted a class position. The discussion on world perspectives was tremendously rich.
Saturday commenced with perspectives for Mexico, which stressed the absolute inability of the national bourgeoisie to improve the lives of the population, and its complete dependence on imperialism. This compels it to intensify its attacks on the working class and exacerbates the political crisis that reflects the fact that we have entered into a period of instability, which can unleash revolutionary processes. The discussion on these questions was excellent, emphasising the need to work in the traditional organizations of the working class, such as the unions and work with the rank and file of the PRD, as a means of winning over the masses to a revolutionary policy, and in this way build a real class party. The discussion on the intervention of the Marxists (student work, trade union work and the PRD) reflected this need.
The discussion on Sunday centered on internal work and the different ways of strengthening the tendency organizationally at all levels (Press, Finances, Growth and political education). The comrades were inspired by the rapid growth of our tendency internationally. Working commissions were then formed and were the scene of lively discussions that served to enrich the work of the congress.
One thing should be emphasised - the enormous effort put in by the comrades - both workers and students - of our Marxist Tendency to raise the necessary funds through the collection at the congress, which raised more than 25,000 pesos ($ 2,175 US). This great result on its own reflects the enthusiasm of every one of the comrades, their confidence in our ideas and our programme. These economic resources will be transformed into concrete actions to spread the ideas of genuine Marxism throughout the workers' movement - work that we have been conducting patiently for almost 15 years.
In general, the work of the 10th Congress of El Militante made it clear to all, through our debates of both national and international perspectives, that there is plenty of fertile ground for the building of the Marxist Tendency. We see this internationally (Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, etc.) and we see the same thing nationally (the struggles of the IMSS workers, the teachers, electricians etc.) There are many grounds for concluding that things have changed in the workers' movement and that its combativeness is increasing every day.
The general context is one in which the economic decomposition of capitalism renders it impossible for the bourgeoisie to solve a single one of its problems without attacking the proletariat with ever increasing severity. Since the working class, on the other hand, cannot tolerate more attacks, the general perspectives point towards a major increase in the class struggle.
The most important task before the 10th Congress was to identify by scientific means the different economic and political processes, but no less important were the discussions at the congress on how to strengthen and develop the structures of El Militante, both in its internal and external fronts. This is absolutely necessary if we are going to take advantage more seriously of the opportunities that are opening up in the field of the working class and the youth movement.
A clear indication of the internationalist character of El Militante is our firm support for the Venezuelan Revolution and our implacable opposition to the reactionary policy of the oligarchy of that country and the infamous intervention of US imperialism. The congress accepted a resolution to intensify the work of the Hands off Venezuela Campaign in Mexico and to give it a clearer organisational expression. This resolution received enthusiastic support from the workers and students present, and was approved unanimously. This fact expresses the enormous echoes that the Venezuelan Revolution has had in Mexico and the huge potential for solidarity action.
The Congress of Militante is living proof of the ability of a policy based on the principles of the workers' movement and the Bolshevik ideas of Lenin and Trotsky and dialectical materialism to overcome all difficulties and achieve important successes among the workers and youth.
In the last period the forces of Marxism passed through difficulties as a result of a series of defeats of the international workers movement and the collapse of the former Soviet Union as a result of the crimes of Stalinism. In those years we had to swim against the current. But today we can be proud of the work we have done and the firmness with which we have maintained our programme and principles. As a result, we have not only maintained our organisation but gained ground among the workers and youth, despite all difficulties.
But now the pendulum is swinging increasingly to the left. The wind is beginning to blow in our favour. This Congress marks an historic turning point, reflecting the changes that are occurring in the objective situation, and which El Militante is taking full advantage of. All the processes are coming together, allowing us to combine our past successes with the work of the present, which in turn provides us with a springboard for enormous advance in the future.
"Whoever has the youth has the future." "There is no revolutionary practice without revolutionary theory." These statements of Lenin provide the cornerstone for the work of El Militante since we commenced work in Mexico some 15 years ago, starting from nothing. Now we see the results. El Militante, basing itself on Marxist theory, has worked out a clear path to reach the workers and the youth. Now it is a question of transforming quality into quantity – a task that was energetically accepted by the Congress.
The Congress ended with a bang, with closing speeches by comrades Esteban Volkov (the grandson of the great revolutionary and Bolshevik Leon Trotsky) and Alan Woods. Following these speeches, the comrades closed this extremely important congress with the singing of the Internationale. It was a particularly emotional finish, accompanied by militant revolutionary slogans.
This congress was a worthy continuation of our past traditions. It was an example of firmness of principles and special attention to theory and it shows how these things can make a Marxist organisation into a real point of reference for the working class and the youth.
Successful Mexican Speaking Tour of Alan Woods
After the Congress Alan Woods spoke at a number of very successful meetings in Mexico City and Puebla. The principal aim of the tour was to launch the recently produced Mexican edition of Alan's book Bolshevism: the Road to Revolution, although he also spoke on other subjects.
The first presentation of the book was at the IMSS union branch at a big clinic in Mexico City (Clinic 92), and was attended by 77 union activists. There followed a meeting of over 200 in the Science Faculty of UNAM on the subject of Dialectical Materialism and Chaos Theory. Two professors, one of physics and the other of mathematics - two leading experts in Chaos Theory - also spoke, and gave fulsome praise to Alan's book Reason in Revolt. One of them, Professor Guillermo Gomez Alcarez, said that the book should be obligatory reading for every student in the Science Faculty. The following day another meeting on the book was held in the Arts Department and was attended by over 50 students.
However, the high point of the tour was in Puebla, a city with a big left wing and working class tradition. In the morning before the first meeting he spoke on a local radio programme with a big audience especially among left activists. The interview was only supposed to last ten minutes but went on for 40 minutes. In the course of the interview the presenters of the programme opened the web site www.marxist.com and expressed their surprise at the dimensions of the web page, its quality and the number of languages in which it appears. They commented on this over the air, read out the details of the page and invited their listeners to go to the meetings. The organisers of the programme were so impressed that they invited the editor of www.marxist.com back for an hour-long debate.
At midday Alan spoke to an audience of over 170 students at the university on the revolution in Latin America, and in the evening he addressed a crowd of over 180 trade unionists and youth on the history of the Bolshevik Party. The audience represented a good cross-section of the workers movement, including factories on strike.
These were without doubt the biggest and most enthusiastic Marxist meetings held in Puebla for a long time. Particularly important was the fact that alongside the youth were experienced veterans of the workers' movement who are being galvanised back into activity. The leadoff was followed by a lively question and answer session, including a few sour criticisms of Marxism by supporters of the Zapatista movement that has now passed its peak and entered into decline.
In his reply Alan pointed out that, for all their "revolutionary" demagogy, the programme of the leaders of the Zapatista movement did not go beyond the bounds of capitalism. He rejected the idea that the enemy was "neo-liberalism", which is only a particular model of capitalism. He said that to oppose a given model was not enough; what was needed was to fight against capitalism itself. He ridiculed the idea that it was possible to find a more humane model of capitalism. "These people are like a man who tries to persuade a tiger to eat grass instead of meat," he said. "Just try it. You will not persuade the tiger but you will end up inside its belly!"
The speaking tour ended on Saturday with a meeting at the headquarters of the Electricians´ Union (SME) in Mexico City, with an attendance of over 50. In all the meetings there was an atmosphere of great enthusiasm for Marxist ideas, a large number of books, pamphlets and papers were sold and a lot of contacts were made. There is no doubt that the future of the Marxist tendency in Mexico is guaranteed.