La Tarcoteca

La Tarcoteca

martes, 28 de febrero de 2017


Source - Whatever-ism: Anarchists and Marxists in the 21st Century via Marxist World, sent by Mark O'Connor

This is an open letter addressed to anarchists, written by anarchist and Marxist World supporter Dennis Moore. Reproduced and slightly edited from the original blog post here.


Anarchism is a movement which seeks to overthrow the current social order in a revolution, establishing in its place a new society organised without hierarchy either in the form of exploitation, oppression or government.

On the other hand, not many of us are completely clear on the answer to the question “what is Marxism?”. That’s probably partly because Marxists don’t even all agree on this (and not all of them have even read much Marx). Marxism is a number of things but for simplicity I’m going to boil it down to two:

1. Marxism is a method of social analysis:
Marxists view Marx’s contribution to the method of social analysis called ‘historical materialism’ as being on the level of what Issac Newton was to physics.

Newton’s analyses of physical phenomena were so accurate that he was able to make predictions about events (such as the movement of the planets) based on his theories which turned out to be reliably and repeatably correct – from an objective point of view (meaning they could be tested and observed by numerous people who would agree on what they saw). ‘Newtonian Physics’ eventually became established as the only serious method of doing physics and so the discipline could go back to just being ‘physics’ (obviously it’s also still being developed and perfected).

Marx’s work Das Kapital came to conclusions about how society works, proposing numerous ‘laws’ (like Newton’s laws of physics) about the rise of capitalism, the crises within capitalism and predicting the eventual fall of capitalism. He didn’t get this theory out of the blue, he build on the ideas of people who came before him and his own ideas have been further developed after him but to Marxists he is really the seminal thinker (hence the name of their movement!)

2. Marxism is a proposal for a new society:
The first part of Marxism involves no inherent claims to be ideological, even if it’s usually used by people who do have a particular clear ideology. It’s supposed to be a scientific, or at least a ‘scientific style’ of study, a discipline rather than an ethical position or a proposal for what should happen in the future.

Nevertheless Marx did leave some writings about what kind of society might exist after the revolution but even when he did so he wasn’t really starting from scratch thinking up the coolest idea he could come up with for how everyone should live.

Marx suggested that the ideas and methods and even the core of the structure of the future society has to come out of the old, and also that the forces that will create it have to come from within the old society too. He sums it up in this beautiful passage:

<<Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolise all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organised by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself. The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralisation of the means of production and socialisation of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated. (Marx, Capital, 1867)

Marxism and Anarchism

Much of the discussion of Marxism and anarchism focuses on the original split or on how anarchists have been betrayed or persecuted by various ‘Marxist’ regimes. There is another side to the story.

Many Marxists were utterly opposed to Stalin and went into the gulags alongside the anarchists because of it (and many Marxist thinkers and activists today recognise that this would have been their fate too in that context). Marxists fought against the fascists in Spain alongside anarchists in open defiance of Stalin and repeatedly showed solidarity in anti-fascist struggles ever since. It was Marxists who were predominately involved in the Zapatista uprising in the beginning. Then we have Marxists like Henri Lefebvre who took up Marx’s tools and used them more holistically than they had been previously, or hero’s like Rosa Luxemburg who we all know and love who died for the cause.

There is also the fact that many anarchists travelled to Russia in the early days of the Soviet Union hoping to participate in the revolution, inspired by pamphlets such as Lenin’s ‘State and Revolution’ which planned for the withering away of the state to start immediately and any semi-state/ commune type arrangement to be solely used for defending the revolution not for ruling the newly liberated masses.

And this isn’t necessarily just fringe ‘council communists’ or those who specifically name themselves ‘libertarian Marxists’. Today those who call themselves ‘orthodox Marxists’ are just as likely to see the left-wing of Marxism throughout the 20th century as those who held true to the movement against the perversions of Stalin and co.

Another factor in all this is that we’ve got to live in the present. The USSR is gone. Endless debate over who did what to who and when exactly it went wrong (1918, 1924, 1956 or for the hardcore 1991) is potentially dangerous. The conditions that caused Lenin to make the decisions that he did are gone, the conditions that brought about the rise of Stalin are gone, the conditions that caused anarchism to go off into the wilderness after WW2 are gone… we live now.

All this has led me to the conclusion that the best of Marxism and the best of Anarchism are stood right next to each other and the worst of both are equally crap.

Let’s review some of the crap so we can be clear about who drags both of our movements down. That way the serious revolutionaries who are left should feel released from the burden of constantly feeling the need to apologise for their embarrassing hangers on:

Some anarchists seem to think that dressing up in black bloc, eating out of bins and listening to punk music all feels very revolutionary and if it feels revolutionary and looks/ sounds a bit revolutionary then it must really be revolutionary (not that there is any problem with doing these things or with any kind of non-oppressive lifestyle, it’s just that it’s a lifestyle, not a revolutionary movement).

These, the people who think that the anarchist aesthetic is the movement, are the people who turn up to an action and they’re already high, that expect the right to do whatever they feel like with no accountability to the movement because they “believe in freedom” and “only answer to themselves”. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. We can’t conjure up revolution through rituals as social anarchist Murray Bookchin pointed out:

<<What is most troubling is that the self-indulgent aesthetic vagaries of lifestyle anarchism significantly erode the socialist core of a left-libertarian ideology that once could claim social relevance and weight precisely for its uncompromising commitment to emancipation — not outside of history, in the realm of the subjective, but within history, in the realm of the objective. (Bookchin, Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm, 1995)

Lifestylism can also sneak into the Marxist movement too: Regimented marching, the hammer and sickle flag (ripped from it’s original context) – [we’ll get to the big Stalin banner next]… We don’t get an inch closer to communism just by adopting it’s apparent trappings.

Stalinism should be irrelevant. Stalin has been dead for 64 years and the Soviet Union has been history for 26 years. There is no Stalin to be a supporter of. It now seems to manifest itself as a slavish devotion on the fringes of the Marxist movement to any “communist” regime no matter how completely they’ve completely degenerated/morphed into something else.

These are the people who are still desperately trying to whip up support for the Chinese state on the basis of anti-imperialism no matter how internally repressive the Chinese government acts, no matter how many Chinese billionaires there are with close ties to the state and how ruthlessly they exploit the Chinese working class… they even support China in the face of it’s own imperialism and domination of it’s near neighbours. Stalinism is firmly crap.

Class CollaborationOne that some anarchists get a bit tempted by; the idea of anarchism as just a really good philosophy or even just a moral code for the whole world to follow. These are the people who seek out seemingly enlightened or progressive elements of the ruling class and try to influence them with anarchist ideals.

Waste of time. You’ll either have the dogs set on you or you’ll end up being adopted as a pet radical to parade around. The ruling class have no interest in changing the system that gives them all the power and wealth they currently enjoy.

Kropotkin ended up falling into this trap, being a favourite guest at progressive dinner parties later in life, however it was already partly visible in ‘Conquest of Bread’ too. He writes of his bedazzlement at the capitalist railway companies co-operating to cover Europe in a rail network as proof that humans don’t need government to make them co-operate:

<<If a man had foreseen or predicted it fifty years ago, our grandfathers would have thought him idiotic or mad. They would have said: “Never will you be able to make the shareholders of a hundred companies listen to reason ! It is a Utopia, a fairy tale. A central Government, with an ‘iron’ director, can alone enforce it.” (Kropotkin, Conquest of Bread, 1892)

It should be fairly obvious what’s wrong with that example…

Maybe it’s because they don’t usually eat out of bins, maybe it’s because they’ve read so many fancy books but for one reason or another some Marxists end up wanting to be ‘legitimised’. To seek legitimacy means that in return for no longer being arrested, sacked from their jobs, slandered in the press or spied on, they drop their talk about revolution and limit their ambitions to reforms within capitalism. They then take their place helping to manage the rowdiest elements of the working class and ensuring they don’t step over the mark and ruin the legitimacy that has been achieved. The rest of the Marxist movement doesn’t welcome this kind of behaviour.

Both Marxists and anarchists seem to be equally at risk of bitter sectarianism. Sectarianism might be something that can be indulged in when the struggle goes quiet and there is little opportunity and little at stake. Anyone failing to read even the most basics signs of the times right now and falling into unnecessary squabbles while the world burns around them is a distraction and a hindrance to our progress. Sectarianism is much more than being clear and resolute about your views it’s prime manifestation is those people whose allegiance is not to the working class but to their particular organisation or even just their favourite set of ideas.

Left Unity?
Anarchists have also already got a long tradition of using Marxist tools for analysis or even relying on the analysis that Marxists have already done to see where there is scope for the class struggle to improve and expand and for general education.

Many Marxists also recognise and respect the anarchist movement where it is strongest for bringing out some of the most militant and active sections of the working class and getting shit done.

Marxists may be surprised to learn than most anarchists are serious about class struggle and are actually fairly well read. Anarchists may be surprised to learn than most Marxists are serious about smashing the state and are resolutely anti-oppression too, not just anti-exploitation.

But where do we go from here, an alliance? A truce? A synthesis? No. All of those are either weak or horrible ideas. Left unity is based on the mistaken notion that it’s people with similar ideas or beliefs that have interests in common and cause to unite. The remedy is class unity.

Class unity doesn’t demand that anyone ‘put their differences aside’ it demands instead that we act in the already shared interests of the working class. Unity arises from our shared class position and it takes it’s primary form in joint action, not joint dogma.

And yet none of this is to write ideas, dreams, goals, beliefs or ethical codes off as being nothing. Obviously none of us would bother if we didn’t have ideals. We can learn from each other and will benefit from doing so. It’s also not to say that anyone should give up on calling themselves an anarchist or try to deny what they love about the anarchist ideal.

Learning from Marxism
It’s my opinion that anarchists would benefit hugely from reading both ‘Capital’ by Marx and ‘State and Revolution’ by Lenin and really getting to grips with them (you probably won’t have read anything like them). This would unite us around a basic understanding, clear up some of the muddled thinking we have in our midst and give us a general direction to head in and some expectations of what is likely to happen at each stage.

We need to learn that describing the perfect society, even if we stay up all night and read ‘Conquest of Bread’ twice over, isn’t going to make it real. Getting there is all important. This doesn’t have to make us boring ‘realists’ in the sense that we should limit our ambitions, it’s just that they need to become more than just ambitions.

So how might we make it all real?

A simplified Marxist programme:

1: Revolution (smashing the state, expropriating the capitalists)

<<According to Engels, the bourgeois state does not “wither away”, but is “abolished” by the proletariat in the course of the revolution. What withers away after this revolution is the proletarian state or semi-state. (Lenin, State and Revolution, 1917)

From the Paris Commune onward Marx became convinced that the working class had no use for the capitalists’ state machinery. What to replace it with (and what to call it’s replacement), is stage 2:

2: Replace it with a commune type arrangement to protect the gains of the revolution

<<As the state is only a transitional institution which is used in the struggle, in the revolution, to hold down one’s adversaries by force, it is sheer nonsense to talk of a ‘free people’s state’; so long as the proletariat still needs the state, it does not need it in the interests of freedom but in order to hold down its adversaries, and as soon as it becomes possible to speak of freedom the state as such ceases to exist. We would therefore propose replacing the state everywhere by Gemeinwesen, a good old German word which can very well take the place of the French word commune.


<<The free people’s state has been transferred into the free state. Taken in its grammatical sense, a free state is one where the state is free in relation to its citizens, hence a state with a despotic government. The whole talk about the state should be dropped, especially since the Commune, which was no longer a state in the proper sense of the word. The ‘people’s state’ has been thrown in our faces by the anarchists to the point of disgust…

Both of the above are quotes from a letter sent from Engels to August Babel (leader of the German workers’ party) in 1875.

<<So long as the state exists there is no freedom. When there is freedom, there will be no state. (Lenin, State and Revolution, 1917)

Marxists talk about the use of a state as a transitional stage. As can be seen from the quotations above they’re not really talking about a state. They are talking about the need to maintain some level of organisation after the revolution in order to protect what has been gained. Not an organisation to re-establish rule over the newly liberated working class.

3: Dismantle even this level of political organisation

Finally develop society freely and directly democratically, (having now completely suppressed any attempt at counter revolution) towards a post-scarcity and what we call anarchy/ anarchist communism/ luxury communism or what they (Marxists) just call communism (we won’t care by that point, we’ll just get the robots to make us another drink while we chill on the veranda).

Could anarchists and Marxists unite around this? I think they probably could. Is any of it really a deal breaker for anarchists? Probably not for most.

Obviously anarchists will want to have an influence and ensure that each stage is as libertarian as possible and Marxists should respect that many workers are attracted to anarchism and anarchist-type ideas precisely because they are suspicious of authority and having decisions made for them. At this point anarchism and Marxism could become tendencies within a revolutionary workers movement instead of separate competing ideologies.

The past is the past. Many of the disputes are exaggerated, distorted or the product of conditions or even specific personalities that are long gone.

This generation has to forge something new to deal with the challenges of what seems like it could be capitalism’s final decades. Many of us will probably live long enough to see either collapse into war, famine and environmental destruction or revolution.

sábado, 18 de febrero de 2017

Beyond the IWA: an interview with the CNT’s International Secretary - the New International Relaunch (2 of 2)

Source: Beyond the IWA: An Interview with the CNT’s International Secretary 4.1.2017, originally post in spanish in 2 parts at Noticias Amor y Rabia: Más allá de la AIT (2ª parte) 25.12.2016


AMOR Y RABIA: The CNT’s agreement from the XI Congress makes it very clear that for the CNT, the anarcho-syndicalist movement “must base itself on local work (…) International solidarity arises as an extension of this work.” This can be seen as a clear position against the typical problem of the groups that form part of an organization when it’s time to mark out the specific areas of coordination to make sure that nobody’s local activities are affected. But it could also be understood as saying that international action is secondary, ignoring the complexity that is implied by coordinating our work at an international level, something very different from local activities.

As such, it would continue the attitude that is part of the problem, which in the past led to tolerating the current system of decision making in the IWA [International Workers Association], while sections without any real existence were accepted and given the same rights in decision-making as the sections with a real existence, which ended up as a minority. At the same time, the agreement from the XI Congress speaks of creating “an International of revolutionary unionism”, a description which is both broad and diffuse in its definition. Does the CNT have a strategic vision of international action? Or does it just have a tactical vision, centered in supporting local activities?

CNT International Secretary: We believe that the declaration about “the local” comes in relation to the miniscule groups in some countries, which, before they have a strategy to plant themselves and grow as an IWA Section in their country, come to integrate themselves into the structure, attracted by the initials, by a sense of belonging, or whatever it is. We believe that this false preoccupation with the international when there is no local cement is what contributes to them acting more like political control groups than like sections of the same International. If we achieve even a minimally acceptable local development of the sections, we believe that then there will be a real basis for thinking of international strategies that aren’t pure pie in the sky. In the CNT – and I believe in the other sections – nobody is thinking of abandoning the process that we are immersed in, in order to stick to just occasional support for local struggles. That wouldn’t make any sense. It’s another thing to be able to read the international situation correctly and, with the correct analysis, carry out successful actions. We’ll see what we’re capable of.


AMOR Y RABIA: A glance at the past shows that the IWA only existed as a real organization during the inter-war period (1922-1930), when it had strong and active sections, and an international activity. The creation of the IWA could be classified as a swan song for the international anarcho-syndicalist movement, since it collapsed shortly after it was founded. Fascism’s rise to power in Italy ended the USI, just as Salazar’s coup ended the Portuguese CGT, which up to that point was the main union in the country.[iv] Internal struggles put an end to the Argentine FORA, which reached a point of having two daily newspapers, the rise of Bolshevism destroyed French anarcho-syndicalism, and the flood of new members into the German FAUD after WW1 was followed by the sudden and fatal collapse once the economic situation stabilized, in the mid-1920s.

The illegalization of the CNT during the “soft dictatorship” [Dictablanda] of Primo de Rivera allowed the CNT to preserve itself like a mammoth in Siberian ice, making its resurrection in 1930/31 possible, but by this point the only organization with real influence that remained in the IWA was the Swedish SAC.[v] In practical terms, anarcho-syndicalism disappeared after the defeat of the CNT in the Spanish Civil War/Revolution and the decision of the SAC to move towards reformism after the Second World War. This is how, after the SAC’s exit, the IWA ended up as just the last name of the CNT in French exile, and its insignificance is made clear by the total lack of interest in its past. Today, the only well-documented history of the IWA is “The Unknown International”, by Vadim Damier, two volumes of 1600 pages (Vol 1: 1918-1930, Vol 2: 1930-1939). It’s symptomatic that it was written and published in Russia, a country where the IWA has never had even a minimal influence, and that nobody has taken on translating this into a language which the majority of the IWA can read.

The collapse of Communism and the Franco dictatorship allowed the CNT to revive itself, and the IWA with it. Sections which merit the name have popped up, but we’ve never successfully developed a truly international activity. The weakness of the new sections, and their “infantile disorders” which resulted from the contradictions inherent in trying to put 1930’s theory into practice in countries where neoliberalism ruled, quickly gave place to splits in Spain, France, and Italy. This turned the revived IWA into a cricket cage, incapable of offering a real perspective to any organizations that showed interest. Keeping all of this in mind, does anarcho-syndicalism still make sense on an international scale? Is it a real movement, or just a fossil from a bygone age? Is belonging to the IWA – or the very idea of international action itself – anything more than mere posturing?

CNT International Secretary: From our point of view, it makes complete sense. In recent years we’ve seen an increasing process of conglomeration, creating more multinationals at the expense of small and medium capitalism. We’ve had a bunch of conflicts where our sections have been able to count on the solidarity of workers beyond their borders, where their company or a company in the same group is established internationally. The new ease of communication, transport, and movement for capital (at the same time that restrictions against the movement of people are being hardened) has allowed many more capitalists to realize that the entire world is their playground. So it makes even more sense to organize internationally, not less.

Organizations which took part in the creation of the IWA in December 1922 in Berlin, and their membership numbers (SOURCE).

The analysis of the historic process which you make – despite any possible clarifications that could be made, or a couple of errors – is essentially correct. The one-two punch of Fascism and Bolshevism led to a hard defeat of anarchist or libertarian ideas (not just anarcho-syndicalism) on the world scale during the ‘20s and ‘30s, so that after WW2 it was impossible to recover the previous strength. The “rebirths” from time to time of anarchist ideas and the anarcho-syndicalist project (Paris 1968, Spain after 1975, the UK in 1977, globally beginning in 1999, etcetera) have only complicated the situation, given the conditions in which they occurred. Nevertheless, we find ourselves in an opportune moment, when the changes in political culture over recent decades have put anarchist ideas in general back into the spotlight.

Thirty years ago, many people assumed that the Leninist-style democratic centralism was a natural and unquestionable form of organization. Now they prefer general assemblies and consensus. Of course, there’s a lot to say about this, and this isn’t the right outlet, but we do want to stress that we consider anarchist ideas, and the anarcho-syndicalist model, as tools of the future, not relics of the past. This does pose a serious challenge for anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists. We have to figure out how to adapt our strategies to the current situation, without renouncing one bit of our central and distinctive approaches (rejecting the state, avoiding institutional participation, direct action, mutual aid, etcetera). This is how we should look at the changes in focus that the CNT has applied to its workplace organizing in recent years. Some people don’t see a difference between questions of form and content, and they like to say the new strategic focus in our workplace organizing is a betrayal of principles, but this is completely wrong. On the contrary, it’s an effort to provide anarcho-syndicalism – and anarchist ideas by extension – with a present and future relevance that it has lacked in recent decades.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we’ve figured it all out, nor that it’s going to be simple. We have to recognize that the current situation is very bad, and that overcoming it will require extraordinary effort. It’s significant that the IWA until now has not had a section in a country such as the US, with more than 300 million inhabitants (there was something symbolic more than 15 years ago which disappeared). So, the important thing isn’t a card with some initials (a question of form), but to provide it with meaning, with value, with concrete projects. The IWA is not a Platonic idea which exists perfectly somewhere, safe from the harm which we might do to it, as some people think. Anyone who is satisfied by the mere fact of “belonging” is fooling themselves, and in that case we can probably speak of posturing. It’s striking that many of those who are focusing on the Anselmo Lorenzo Foundation have never dropped in to give a hand, and that many of those who are tearing out their hair over the IWA never took on tasks or constructive proposals inside it, nor did they ever go to any of its meetings.[vi] The International will be what we make of it, all of us who are dedicated to working constructively inside it while struggling against an unjust social and economic system, until we overturn that system in a revolutionary process that won’t be led by any form of elites.


AMOR Y RABIA: Fighting against something is always easier than fighting for something. Creating something new requires an enormous amount of energy, which will doubtless be the case for the project of creating a new International of revolutionary unions. Until now, and despite limiting itself to the anarcho-syndicalist movement, the IWA which the CNT, USI, and FAU were active in was incapable of stopping the internal struggles of various sections (today there are 4 French CNT’s), establishing a satisfactory relationship with sympathetic but microscopic groups which have no real presence in their own countries, or establishing a clear boundary between anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism. To abandon the more or less clear terrain of “anarcho-syndicalism” for that of “revolutionary unionism” implies substituting a word with a precise meaning for one which is used by vary different organizations, from the IWW – which is an international organization in its own right – to the Italian “pure syndicalist” groups that followed Sorel’s ideas on violence and ended up supporting Mussolini.

The “Open invitation to the international conference of anarcho-syndicalist and revolutionary unionist organizations, Bilbao 26-27 November 2016” only listed a few requirements for becoming a part of the new International: Not having a vertical decision-making structure, not receiving state financing, not supporting political parties, and having more than 100 members. Does this mean that the CNT is in fact giving up on trying to form a purely anarcho-syndicalist international organization? What about, for example, union organizations with salaried staff? Or organizations that might be apolitical, nationalist, or even religious? Is it possible that there would be two sections in the same country, for example IWW and CNT? Where is the limit?

CNT International Secretary: I don’t think that by using the term “revolutionary unionism”, we’re giving up on the international that arises from this process identifying with anarcho-syndicalism. It’s possible that this term has been used in the past by totally erratic people as you describe, or to deliberately confuse people, but I also remember that the British once asked to be able to use another term such as this because “anarcho-syndicalism” sounds like an STD in their language, they told us, more than a revolutionary movement inspired by anarchism. There was not much debate on the topic.

BACK TO THE BEGINNING: Participants in the International Conference in Barakaldo.

I believe that even more than the specific term which we adopt, we should be clear about our ideas, and, as we said before, what are the limits that we set to make sure that we progress without confusion towards a truly free society, without getting bogged down on the way. There’s been a lot of talk about salaried staff in organizations like this, and in general we reject them. It’s another things to use lawyers, or professionals when we are renovating our offices or doing technical installations, etc., when we have not been able to cover these kinds of work through volunteer labor from members.

None of the organizations which are trying to re-launch the international have any kind of paid staff. Similarly, we are sure that in the Congress which will be called, they will write up limits that no nationalist or religious organizations would be able to meet to be accepted. Not because we’re elitist, but because those ideas run against the same internationalism and anarchist vision of society which we have to construct through this tool.

We also imagine that there might be a discussion about the possibility of two or more sections existing in one country. In fact, it’s a proposal that’s been brought up by other unions and which the CNT will dedicate time to discussing and taking a position on. If it helps to smooth out some ruffled feathers, and to avoid a culture of division over who will be “the chosen one”, as we see in France with up to 5 unions which claim anarcho-syndicalist heritage – then it would be welcome. Although it still hasn’t been formally brought up within the CNT, it’s a proposal which some of the organizations interested in the process want to bring up, and which will have to be debated.

In any case, this brings us back to the last response, where we spoke of the risks in the process. There are many open questions which will have to be closed in order to be able to draw up an associative pact that works for all of the participating organizations, beginning with the proposals about membership, and which succeeds in capturing all of the aspects that we spoke about before. For this, we need time, effort, good will, and the right answers. We hope that we can pull it off.


AMOR Y RABIA: For an international organization, projecting its activities and ideas throughout the world is fundamental. In this sense, the IWA has been a complete failure, with an undeniably Eurocentric character. Throughout recent decades, the IWA has been incapable of offering a space for the real union organizations from the countries of the so-called “third world” which have approached it, while it has had no problem at all bringing in groups from Western countries without any real workplace presence, or which, in some cases, were really just pure anarchist groups rather than anarcho-syndicalist ones. Nigeria, South Africa, Nepal and Bangladesh are some examples of lost opportunities.[vii]

On top of eurocentrism we have to add a certain Islamophobia, conscious or not. Despite the appearance for the first time of anarchist groups in the Arab world (Tunisia, Egypt) during the so-called “Arab Spring”, and the growing interest in anarchist ideas in Turkey, interest in the IWA in these countries is conspicuous by its absence. And the same is true with propaganda in other non-Western languages, such as Arabic, Chinese, or Hindi, mother tongues for the majority of the world’s population. Beyond big words, an international organization implies much more than just the solidarity with local struggles that the agreements from the XI CNT Congress speak of.

If an international organization wants to have a real existence, it has to be capable of bringing in groups from countries with very different social and economic structures. What approach do the CNT/USI/FAU, who pull together about 90% of the international membership of anarcho-syndicalist organizations, to attract or work with union organizations from the countries of the so-called “third world”, which are the majority of the world’s population? Is the CNT ready to support (and finance) a dynamic activity on the part of a new international?

CNT International Secretary: It’s true that we have lost opportunities for expansion for the international outside of Europe during this period of self-destruction of the international. We have to make sure we don’t repeat these mistakes in the living organization which we hope results from this whole process. In Nigeria contact was lost, but I remember the case of Bangladesh and the doubts that arose around the forms of functioning that we have in Europe. What we’re missing is a labor of empathy with the situations in countries like that, whose daily life couldn’t be more different. We have to stop gazing at our own navels, in an attitude that we learned from the colonialist accents of our own exploiters.

FIRST CONFERENCE OF THE EGYPTIAN LIBERTARIAN SOCIALIST MOVEMENT (November 7, 2011): The appearance of anarchism in Africa and in countries with Islamic culture forms part of the process of modernization of those societies.

I believe that if we start with cordial understanding and some minimum bases for living together in an organization, we can undertake some very fruitful work here, and I don’t have the slightest doubt that we’ll be able to integrate organizations of workers in Africa, Asia, and the Americas with whom we have much more in common than it might seem. We are sure that the first successes here will help to build a consciousness about how to tackle the following projects in countries which, in their level of economic development or of repression, have much more in common with each other than they might with the reality of Europe. The lack of real, dynamic activity in this and other fields is exactly what has led us to break with the current drift. We hope that in time we’ll be able to demonstrate that things should be done differently in order to attract those who are organized as workers in other countries to our principles, tactics, and aims, or to develop projects whose aim will be the creation of organizations that might become new sections.

However, we have to be conscious of our own size and our resources. We’ve already said that anarcho-syndicalism on a world scale is in a worrisome state and that it must be revitalized. The CNT, with all that it has, and despite being the largest anarcho-syndicalist organization in the world (that we know of) is infinitely smaller than we would like. That is to say, it doesn’t make sense to ask whether the CNT is ready to finance the international activity of other developing sections. To put the debate in these terms is unfair. What we can do is put effort into creating a climate of solidarity and comradeliness in international work, so that all of the organizations that we relate with feel like we have their backs, and so that they can all contribute as much as possible to the growth and recuperation of anarcho-syndicalism as a thriving movement on a world scale. We are convinced that for this, they can definitely count on close collaboration from us and from all of the organizations that get involved in this project.
[This interview was originally published in Spanish, in two parts. 1 and 2. English translation by Lifelong Wobbly.]

[i] The CNT suffered two splits in 1979 and 1983 which eventually became the CGT. The main issue was over participation in state-sponsored works councils, and state and employer subsidies tied to the councils. [This and all other footnotes are by the translator.]

[ii] I translate “sindicalismo revolucionario” as “revolutionary unionism” as this is a better English rendering than “revolutionary syndicalism”. However, “anarcosindicalismo” remains “anarcho-syndicalism.”

[iii] It is common for revolutionary unions in other countries to have a document of “Principles, tactics, and aims” which is updated at each Congress to reflect their living strategy.

[iv] The Italian USI had hundreds of thousands of members prior to Benito Mussolini’s fascist coup in 1922. The Portuguese military coup of 1926 gradually led to the corporatist state of Antonio Salazar, which lasted until the Carnation Revolution of 1974.

[v] “Dictablanda” is a pun on “dictadura” (dura = hard; ­blanda = weak) and is used to describe Miguel Primo de Rivera’s unstable dictatorship from 1923-1930, which ended with the abolition of the Monarchy and the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic.

[vi] Named after “the grandfather of Spanish anarchism” (in Murray Bookchin’s words), the Anselmo Lorenzo Foundation is a publishing house tied to the CNT, which also maintains the union’s extensive historical archives. They recently opened a space in Madrid and apparently they have been a target for criticism by the small number of IWA loyalists.

[vii] These are countries where unions have approached the IWA over the last 20 years or so. The National Garment Workers Federation in Bangladesh have also maintained contact with the IWW over the years.

jueves, 16 de febrero de 2017

Beyond the IWA: an interviewed with the CNT’s International Secretary: the New International Relaunch (1 of 2)

Tarcoteca translation from: Noticias Amor y Rabia - Más allá de la AIT (1ª parte) 25.12.2016

Discreetly, could be almost said in silence, an event that will have serious consequences for the future of the International Libertarian Movement is taking place: the reorganization of anarcho-syndicalism at the international level, at the initiative of the CNT.

Following its December 2015 XI Congress agreements [1], the CNT organized, together with the German FAU and the Italian USI, an International Conference of anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist organizations on 26-27 th November 2016, Bilbao. To know the objectives of this conference we [Noticias Amor y Rabia] have interviewed members of the CNT International Secretary Work Team in a conversation that tries to go to the bottom of the question, without dogmatism or myths.
[CNT- Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, is/was the spanish section of IWA- International Workers Association, call AIT- Asociación Internacional de Trabajadores in spanish]


Noticias Amor y Rabia: For those of us who have been in the organization for decades, the CNT's decision to relaunch the AIT/IWA, and even more, the way to do it is a surprise: it is assumed that it is impossible to change it through a consensual agreement, and instead of withdrawl from IWA tries and create a new organization [that would be the organic way], CNT calls to "Refoundation the IWA" out of the organic channels.

The CNT change in its international strategy is the result of an agreement taken at the XI Congress, but for almost a whole year nothing has been heard, the information has been glaring by its absence.

This silence contrasts sharply with the informative activity of the IWA Secretary, which uses internet to accuse CNT, FAU and USI (90% of the AIT membership) of scisionist. At the same time those were not informed about the next IWA Congress in December 2016... Why this policy of communication, bordering on secrecy and delights of any good conspirator? Why do things get carried out in this way, giving arguments to the IWA Secretaryto act against organizations that form the vast majority of the militancy of the IWA?

CNT International Secretary: This may be the result of being the target of the unique, and therefore easily frenetic activity of the IWA Secretary and some of its sections. On the contrary, from CNT we have resisted to enter on dynamics of wasting time awnsering to "trolls" in the Internet forums and we preferred to focus on carrying out our project. In fact, the development of the agreements reached at the CNT XI Congress regarding to ​​IWA and internationalism has been an arduous task of contact with unions in other countries, attendance at Congresses of brother unions, such as FAU and USI among others, as well as an intense collaboration with these last two organizations in this matter.

We have come to assume that it was not worth to spend time from the many other constructive activities of the CNT to get trap answering accusations that the most of the time have no other basis than generate noise enough to make lose the sight of what is happening, and the logic is bring to a second plane. 

This is not happening just now, a lot of things that have been done in recent years and have become visible have been defamed and surrounded with lies, responding to certain attitude of some of the sections of the IWA and its secretary. In fact, much of the IWA's problems stem from this vigilant and censoring attitude, follow by some sections with a lack of real activity, with an exclusively digital existence, centered on the defamation of the positive developments of other syndical active sections.

International Anarcho-syndicalist of Barakaldo Conference 26-27 November 2016.

Arrived at this point and seeing the negative effect that have had on social networks the lies that have been repeated a thousand times with the intention of turning them into truth, it is possible that our discretion has been one of the several mistakes we have made in this matter. Comrades in several countries have told us so. We are now aware of this, mayby we do not give it enough importance. However, we insist, ours is a commitment in the real world, union struggles at the workplace and not discussion forums or social networks. 

Finally, this is not the moment to enter to discuss the impact of Internet on the recent development of the libertarian and anarcho-syndical movement, but is enought to say that, often, there is a supposed purism that only subsists in the cristal mirror that is the digital world, without existence or relevance in the real world.

At times it has been tried to compare the situation with the cism that gave rise to CGT in spain, but this is something that we deny. In that case there were elements of dissension with the ideas that are not present here. That is, CGT was betting on a model that renounced anarcho-syndicalism. Whereas now it is a situation of paralysis that prevents the practical development at the international level of a truly anarcho-syndicalist model of implantation and growth. The problem is not the one of ideological differences, but of attitude and mood.

What is really regrettable is that this situation has escalated, due precisely to the vigilant and censorship attitude of which we spoke before and to the interference of the secretary in the inner affairs of the sections, reaching a situation of rupture we have.


Noticias Amor y Rabia: The agreement reached at the XI CNT Congress talks about the "re-founding of an international anarcho-syndicalism and revolutionary syndicalism" and a "New IWA", as well as preparing "a serie of conferences and contacts with those IWA sections interested in a process of International refounding". However, the call for the Bilbao Conference ends with ¡Viva La AIT! [Long life IWA!], despite the clear intention to leave this organization and create a new one. Why this fetishism with the acronym, especially when the agreement of the XI Congress qualifies the IWA as "inoperative"? Would not be better to start from zero, with a new name, instead of dragging out an expensive process of confrontation? Does the loss of the surname have legal consequences to CNT, or just sentimental?

CNT International Secretary : It may be so, but it is something we have not decided yet and will have to be clarified in a Congress to be call this coming year. The boast does not represent the will of the militants too well.

There are people who think that acronyms are just a dispensable fetish and others have it as an historical internationalism symbol that they do not want to give up just because a handful of people in some European countries have decided to take unfair advantage of the loopholes in the statutes to impose its destructive will. And we say destructive because it seems that for them to build our alternative and fight capitalism, churches and States is much more ungrateful.

Of course, keeping the acronym IWA or taking another will not have much to do with any legal consequence for the CNT. Our acronyms and identity are at safe, regardless if linked to the IWA or not. But as stated in the question, the Congress agreement is not definitive in this sense and this is therefore an open question that will decide the CNT affiliation in a Plenary and that will take shape in the Refoundation Congress, because we must count also with the opinion of the other organizations involved in the process.


Noticias Amor y Rabia: The decision of the CNT to rethink its international strategy and the Bilbao Conference have resulted in the immediate convocation of a "National Conference of Syndicates for the Re-Structuring of the CNT-AIT (25, 26 Of June)" [es] [en] and even another "CNT-AIT Congress" [es] in Benissa the past 5 and 6 of November. Nowadays, after some defederations (voluntary or expulsion) there are anarcho-syndicalist groups all over the peninsula, critics with the current direction of the CNT, especially in Galicia, Murcia and Levante. That is why the recent Benissa "Congress" seems more like an attempt to unify the several unions that or have been expelled or voluntarily left the CNT, and are trying to create a new organization that could be recognized as the IWA Spanish section.

In this way, fighting for the restructuring of international anarcho-syndicalism has the direct consequence of a new struggle for acronyms. In addition, the decision to refound the IWA was taken by a slight majority, and there are unions within CNT that do not agree with it, such as Granada, Puerto Real (these are not in CNT), Oviedo or Tarragona (these about to be defederated because they have not paid the quotes for some months), to name a few. Puerto Real for example, on 2016 November 10 call for a monographic general Assembly of Affiliates entitled "In Defense of the AIT." How do you expect to react to an hypothetical new conflict for acronyms? There is any danger of a new internal rupture in the CNT because of the IWA issue?

CNT International Secretary: We should start by putting all these statements in context in order to understand the answer to the final questions.

None of the unions cited (of those who are still in the CNT) went to the Congress of Zaragoza [where the refoundation was choosen] and did not send 'positions', so their disagreement is even less significant than those syndicates that did attend and voted against the agreement, and this didn't meant that they left the organization. 

In addition, we have to add that both the votes the one of the majority as well as the vote of particulars from the international commission that took place at the XI Congress differed only in one question: when to launch the whole process of "refounding the IWA."

<<THE "CONGRESS" TO CREATE A NEW "CNT-AIT": The meeting of a handful of defederated syndicates celebrated in Benissa (4, 5 and 6 of November of 2016) was a smokescreen, since neither took decisions, nor created a new organization with its own statutes.

It is also curious that a couple of years ago a document  with precisely that same name  ("In Defense of the AIT") was put on circulation with the intention of looking for supporters, and its only incidende was to make a fool. 

Among the arguments to ensure that the CNT was self-destructing was the one that said that Noam Chomsky (among others) was one of the intellectual leaders responsible for our "reformist" drift. 

Anecdotes aside, we are talking about a very few bunch of people in a few places, yes, talking bombastically. But nothing else. Neither syndical  nor social reality, but rather virtual, because the computer screen is what is best given to them. 

Our reaction to anyone who tries to usurp the acronyms we carry with pride is not going to be a threat but a forceful response, as we did in the day with the CGT.

These groups have long tried to play the trick of a false ideological purism, in the absence of their own trade union achievements, to criticize the developments of the anarcho-syndicalist model that has raised CNT in recent years. It is not surprising that their membership and number decrease over time. In front of their null reality, they have start play the card of the IWA recognition to ensure their subsistence, since their ability to act is non-existent, and they know that time plays against them. In fact, it is necessary to interpret the meeting of Benissa in the light of this bet. It is not surprising that they had to hold their supposed congress in two parts.
<<ARTIFICIAL MAJORITIES - The 26th IWA Congress picture (Warsaw, December 2-4, 2016): 6 newly created organizations with a total of approximately 325 affiliates, some of them microscopics, expel 4 organizations that helped found the IWA, with 7,100 affiliates.

In the absence of concrete preparations and proposals, and facing the inminence of the IWA Congress at Warsaw, a grotesque meeting was held with no other purpose than to build an organization skeleton to present to the IWA, even if it has a completely lacking of content beyond some high-sounding statements about the supposed reformist drift of CNT, such as we have heard since many years ago, without substantiated anything concrete. After the expulsion of CNT from the IWA at the Warsaw Congress, this is the new Spanish section of the IWA: an organization that has not even been established, without statutes, without organic regulations, etc... There is no doubt that it is a sad end for the IWA.

However, this dinamyc, more important tham for CNT, as it lacks of fundamentes, is relevant to understand how the IWA has arrived to the current situation.

For some time now, the attitude of the current secretary and some sections of the IWA (especially KRAS, Russia) has been to prompt and encourage this brake down. Not in vain KRAS has done several announcements in which they welcome and celebrate this development of facts. Meanwhile the secretary of the IWA has maintained a direct contact with the CNT-Levante defederates, from which comes the initiative of Benissa Congress. Even circulating Levante Documents to the rest of the sections of the IWA through the mailing list. All this as the same time that CNT-spain remained as the official IWA spanish section.

This injerence in the internal affairs of a section constitutes a flagrant violation of the most basic associative pact, in view of which, any call to respect the common agreements lacks of foundation and verisimilitude, especially when the decision-making situation in the IWA is as has already been discussed.

In view of all this, it should be not surprise that is reached a situation of total rupture inside the IWA.


Noticias Amor y Rabia: Whatever happens in the future, the truth is that the CNT, the FAU and the USI have passed the Rubicon, and the rupture within the IWA is a fact.

A probable future scenario is that in wich the British Solidarity Federation 'Solfed' will become the most important section of the IWA, while the weight in decision-making would move to Eastern Europe countries, where are set the large number of sections with voting rights in congresses, but with a lacking of the minimal social influence.

An example of the situation that would have to face the IWA in future is the financing of the secretary activities, which nowaday spends 1,000 € per year only in photocopies; The ZSP, the Polish section currently in charge of the secretary, only pays € 100 a year despite being the largest section of the AIT in Eastern Europe. Only with the CNT disissal means for the IWA the loss of an annual income of € 30,000, so the march of 90% of the current militancy will turn the IWA into a purely testimonial and completely inoperative organization, lacking of a source of funding for its propaganda and international activities.

This situation will undoubtedly be the source of growing tensions between an marginalized in decision making SF, but still responsible for carrying on with the burden of financing the remains of IWA and the rest of sections. It is even possible to imagine that SF and some other section would rethinking its international strategy, so maintaining a communication channel would be crucial for the future.

Unfortunately, from the experience of the CNT/CGT scission it is easy to guess that the cut in relations between the now facing sectors in the IWA could finish in a total break up. Has been discussed about the relationship of the New International that CNT, FAU and USI intend to launch with the current IWA? Will it seek to maintain contact with the IWA secretary and its sections?

CNT International Secretary: It is not that the weight of decisions will move east, but that is the reality of the recent years that has led us to the situation we are now in. Of course, the decision is now on the SF and only they know if they are willing to put up with what we have suffer. But with the situation at what we have arrived, we believe that with the attitude of the Polish Secretary, or whoever that takes its place along the same lines, will veto any possible relationship of any section of its international (if it survives) with ours.

We in principle have no problem working together with other syndicates from other countries to win the conflicts that arise in the field of companies or state repression, since we do not lose sight on the fact that our enemy are not the workers even those who we hold the greatest discrepancies, but capitalists and their lackey bureaucrats.
<<SCHIZOPHRENIA: One of the attendees to the Warsaw AIT Congress claims to have attacked the Barakaldo CNT offices for having complied with an agreement of the XI CNT Congress together with others pro-IWA "delegates" [es], and then he says that it is necessary to respect the organic regulation

In any case, the real risk that threatens the IWA in the near future has more to do with its internal drift than with financing, since thanks to the quotes paid by the expelled sections for years, the International has a financial statement more than healthy. In the absence of activity in the real world, the illusion of purism can only be kept living in a permanent witch hunt. That is how all kind of organizations that keeps this attitude end up devouring themselves.

In this sense, returning to the question, the obvious target of the supposed 'purists' will be the SF, since, having refused to establish itself as a union, all its militants hold a double affiliation to the official majoritarian unions, becoming representatives of these in their working centres, (which, on the other hand, speaks clerly about the purported purists motivations, who preferred to ignore this fact and focus on a conflict with CNT, based on fictitious accusations). We may venture that the witch-hunt will not be long in focusing on aspects such this, which can make the remain of SF in the IWA really uncomfortable indeed.


Noticias Amor y Rabia: The CNT decision of propose reorganize the international anarcho-syndicalism is the answer to a serie of unending conflicts within the IWA. The agreement of the XI Congress states that the refoundation of the IWA is carried out because it is "inoperative" and because of its a "major internal crisis, which erupted with the expulsion of its German section, the FAU". This is an irony of history, since the expulsion of FAU was due in the most part at the CNT initiative, and especially this of García Rúa, former general secretary of CNT-IWA and the IWA, as we have exposed in a extense article In the previous number of Prisma magazine (first part HERE, second part HERE).

However, instead of calling to prudence, to amend the mistakes of the past, it was decided to take a drastic measure and break down with the relationship. In fact, the CNT agreement seems more as reaction to solve a problem than an action to promote anarcho-syndicalism.

The IWA paralysis was due to the lack of agreement on the various strategies adopted by the CNT, FAU and USI to carry out a strategy of syndical action in the anarcho-syndicalist way adapted to their respective specifities of action. These debates provoked clashes between the various sections and have led to the current destabilization of the IWA, by accepting that sections without real existence had a decisive weight on the organization's progress.

Therefore, the organizational change that is intended to carry out now ends with that decision-making system that deforms the reality as decision are taken by a tiny minority of the organization. But fact this does not change the fundamental problem: the necessary balance between the independence of the Sections and their obligation to respect the principles, tactics and goals that define the federal pact of the new organization. Has this issue been addressed by the CNT, FAU and USI by defining how to reorganize the international anarcho-syndicalism? What consequences would it have if you failed to create a new International?

CNT International Secretary: Of course we must recognize that the step that has been taken has obviously been a reaction to a strangulation of the sections with the vast majority of affiliation, but it also follows a strategy of promoting anarcho-syndicalism at the international level.

We arrived to the point in wich it was evident that the reality of the International made impossible the necessary promotion of the libertarian vision to combat exploitation, so the first step to globally relaunch anarcho-syndicalism was to break with the inertia we have being dragged for years based in many cases on Myths. The exclusive dedication to the control of others and the constant sermon of a handful of sections made impossible to generate the dialigue enviroment to re-speak about the ever more necessary international solidarity and about the challenges that the workers face in a global scenario where we can hear again the old syren chants of fascism.

Although it is something recurrent in this interview but I think it has to be clear enought what are we speaking [the decision-making system] and it is that we are talking about that KRAS (Russia) or Slovakia, quoting each for less than 10 affiliates, have the same representation in the International that the Spanish CNT with about 5000 affiliates. Neither the size of the country, nor relative to the population, nor the repression, nor the anarchist tradition justified (as they have done at times) that for more than 20 years they are in these same conditions of stagnation if not for the attitude of those who grab to the acronyms of the international in those countries; some old knowns. With the shared position of 6 countries with similar realities the majority decision making in the International has been in their hands [for more tham 20 years].

These realities contrast with those of the one that have always been in the spotlight as it has been USI, FAU and CNT with more affiliates than the rest of the world together.

To have another point of view, we are talking about a Sections with 20 times larger membership numbers tham the Sections of 6 countries together, some of them from smaller countries and another one covering two continents, that is subject to decisions, control and the threat of these.

Regarding to the principles, tactics and goals I think that people have a lot more respect for the agreements they accept than it may seem at first glance. The problem with the faults in this sense comes when you are aware that what looks like a serious organization is in reality a bad taste joke and you are the object of laughter. There have been many shortcomings to the agreements, to the point to ensure that we consider that the current secretary and some sections have effectively breached the associative pact long time ago.

As already mentioned and without going further, there are sections that, before the CNT expulsion from the IWA, have publicly recognized other groups as the Spanish section of the IWA.

Possibly we could pull back the chain of irregularities and we would find ourselves with in the times when the Rúa Secretariat warn about a parallel international with the SAC and the CGT, that never happened, and the use of this speech to attack to the FAU and USI.

In that sense, it is true that the current internal situation of the IWA stems largely from the mistakes made by the CNT years ago, but it is also true that given the situation in which our organization was at that times, it is understandable that this happend. Precisely, the CNT's change of approach, from a defensive and enclosed on itself strategy, without a project beyond the reports of the prevailing syndical model, to the current one, in which we face a stage of growth and openness, with an own, [unique] and effective syndical model, explains in the most part why CNT needs another kind of international coordination, which can not be given in the current IWA.

By all this I mean that when people is taken into account, is respected, work conditions are created and efforts are focused on the real enemy looking outward rather than inwardly, conflicts with internal normative tend to lesser or even disappear.

<<FULFILLING THE AGREEMENTS OF THE XI CNT CONGRESS: The CNT's highest decision-making body, a Congress, decided [es,en] to organize an International Conference to promote the Relaunch of the IWA.

The consequences of failing can not be very serious because we start from Zero, that is, The International does not exist 'de facto'.

If we compare the societies in which we live, the influence or even the existence of the IWA disappears when we stop reading certain Internet forums. In order for us to be considered as a useful reality in defens of the interests of internationally exploited workers, we must try to get out of the trap we are in, and that is exactly what we are doing now without any sense of fear to fail. The current situation is the proper failure.

However, it is true that is not easy to outline an international organization that avoids all the mistakes of the past, while achieving a frictionless operativity. It will require a good dose of work and will. Ultimately it will much depend on the participating organizations to know how to endow it with practical content, common projects, to ensure effective solidarity.

In this way, the discussion will move from the formal and organizational aspects to the practical issues, where unfounded confrontations are less likely to arise, despite the differences that may occur, of course. But because of that, because we want to do it well, CNT, USI and FAU have decided to handle wide times and not enter in meaningless competitions with anyone.

There is, no doubt, the risk of repeating past mistakes, but also the firm will to avoid them.


sábado, 4 de febrero de 2017

Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair 2017

Source - Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair 2017 | South Wales Anarchists 

On Saturday 18th February we will once again be returning to Cathays Community Centre to host our annual Anarchist Bookfair. We will be hosting a wholeday of workshops, talks and debates, plus a hall full of stall, plenty of food, live muscial entertainment, and much more.

miércoles, 1 de febrero de 2017

The community of Suc-Tuc in Campeche form a self-government against corruption and repression of their authorities

The community of Suc-Tuc form a self-government against corruption and repression in Campeche – Ruptura Colectiva (RC) 14.1.2017

Traduction by Isaac Rosas
“Impossible takes just a little bit longer”
 -Someone said it. Today it is replicated in the walls (from the street and from Facebook)-
Towards a panorama where we put the reflectors
The current capitalistic order dictates the images of the world -and information- at their convenience. The alternatives that many seek before the global deterioration and that media dictatorship that prevents more people from knowing them is also centralized in vanguards, in historical resistances, leaving in the background other proposals that emerge, even more solid than those.
The work routine -and the study– is not referred to the exploitation of our time, energy and opportunities to perform other activities that do not fall into the monotony, in the “I wish I were not here”, it also subtracts panorama to our understand-the-space, to see other geographies, to the possibility of intertwining subject to subject, cause to cause. It is not impossible to leave our spheres.
While the main topics are still the #NoAlGasolinazo, Trump’s presidency, Obama’s hypocrisy in his last speech, etc., a Mayan community far from the metropolis has become a new banner of that speech that is repeated over and over to the point of fatigue -and as that New Year’s diet that we propose ever- is seldom put into practice: it is time to get organized!
In the municipality of Hopelchén in Campeche, the community of San Francisco Suc-Tuc has decided to be governed by uses and customs. What does this mean? On January 9, 10 and 11, after a days of historic deliberative assemblies, the people elected an autonomous Council of Government and three representatives who will serve as treasurer, secretary and sheriff, all of them decentralized and revocable for the administration that arises in future assemblies, a radical difference from what was set in the old constitutional order.
Now, they will see to the autonomous management of the territory and the social life in pursuit of the common interests, and no longer for what the local government has always transformed into business and profit of a few.
From the silenced humiliation to “the solution is in our voice”
Suc-Tuc is a relatively small communal territory that is crossed by the Campeche-Holpechén-Bolonchén highway, modernized in the middle of 2015. Its main source of income is consolidated in apiculture and agriculture, mainly in the production of creole corn. As for the population, the majority is of Mayan descent and 80% still speak the native language, there are other groups such as some Guatemalan families that have joined the locality (representing 2% of the population at the most). Official figures estimate an approximate 1179 inhabitants, although they say that “we are only 653 registered.”
There are more factors to consider for reading this territory. Since their immigration to Mexico in 1922, some groups of Mennonites inhabit the countryside of Campeche, demographic phenomenon that in time would mark a clear racial and privilege segregation between the productive majority (indigenous and mestizo) and the minority (Mennonite), this last one supported by the state organs.
The awakening for the self-management and a new lifestyle in Suc-Tuc has its first course of action in the fact that the government granted to Monsanto Company -with the support of SAGARPA and SEMARNAT-, 253,000 hectares for the production of genetically modified soybeans and other products on June 6, 2012. Among the most benefited mainstays by this juicy and illegal business, Mennonite families and sub-companies were found associated to this ecocide monopoly of transgenics who installed their machineries to begin to plant, and at the same time caused immense deforestation that was translated into serious problems of production for beekeepers (out of 10-15 drums produced daily, the amount dropped to 2-3).
The struggle was sudden in those years and people were instructed in the challenge of spontaneity. “When we knew and heard about transgenics, which we did not know what it was either, we already had them here. Then, through our organization, we started to know what transgenics are, what damage they do and who brings them. Then we became alert and also saw the effects that they were doing to beekeeping” [1] says Jose Luis, Mayan peasant and activist about this first precedent of organization.
Although illegal crops and these occurrences happened in the neighboring communities of Suc-Tuc (located in the center of Campeche and on the border with Yucatan), it was the process of chemical irrigation by light aircrafts the cause of direct damage in the public land was seen. Health has also been at risk. In August of 2016, several investigations of the Center of Ecology, Fisheries and Oceanography of the Gulf of Mexico (EPOMEX) of the Autonomous University of Campeche came to light, confirming the presence of glyphosate in the Hopelchén ground water, as well as in the blood and urine of women and children of Ich Ek, Suc-Tuc, San Juan Bautista Sacabchén and Crucero San Luis, where Mennonite producers have used for years that herbicide, considered as a deadly carcinogen [2].
Even though the distance between the labor privileges of these two groups is abysmal, there was no conflict that would lead to violence in the region.
The mind is prone to tracing a single course, monotonous, routine. It self eliminates the possible alternatives to living in a more accommodating and caring way, all due to the resignation and fear of raising awareness, negative feelings that are provoked by the labor exploitation and lack of opportunities in the countryside, provinces and -since the Colony- in the indigenous communities.
An uncertain future was the only certain thing for the people of Suc-Tuc. An unconscious empire cemented in “that’s the way we have to live and that’s how things will be”. I repeat: it was, in past tense.
And then … what caused Suc-Tuc to decide to self-determine and chart a new course? Let’s get to the recent facts. By the first days of December last year, the community attacked the initiative of meeting, discussing and deliberating from the suspicions of something that disturbed the majority – although in the first instance, directly affecting only a minority. Later, and with official documents at hand – obtained by some instances investigating the alleged “transparency” of government agencies, on Sunday, December 4, the population verified that the municipal commissioner Olivia Esther Ucán Chan was constricted in corruption; she diverted resources and falsified signatures on many legal documents corresponding to a scholarship program for youth in the community, parents reported the falsification of identities in those documents and, of course, that support never came to their hands.
People raised protests in the head of Hopelchén. On December 14, the assembly went to the city council to file the complaint where the commissioner is accused of fraud. From that demonstration, the municipality and the town government secretary, Javier Soberanis Acosta -a key figure in understanding the theater that the government has set up against the movement-, promised to convene a resolution meeting. However, they only let it go.
The agreed day was dated December 16. Cynically, no governmental authority came to the meeting, so, really angry, the villagers blocked the Campeche-Hopelchén highway at night. After three hours, three officials of the City Council arrived to discuss and it was agreed to “resolve the conflict” in an assembly in the Suc-Tuc police station. The first resolution number was the definitive dismissal of the commissioner. At the end of the night of December 17, when the agreement had been signed, and even someone was on the way to Ucán Chan’s house for her to sign his resignation, four trucks loaded with anti-riot specialists arrived. Armed with tear gas and batons, they entered the meeting place with verbal and psychological violence all the time, until they began to beat the few settlers who endured all day in the meeting; three of them were detained (Diego Armando Poot Pech, Jose Alfredo Poot Aguayo and Sergio Echazarreta Ucán). Outside the place, people who went to help the first beaten ones were rushed and thrown at rocks and tear gas; many cars windows and motorcycles were broken just because[3]. People make responsible as intellectual actor of these events the governor of Campeche, Alejandro Moreno Cardenas from PRI, accused of multiple repressions during his mandate since September 2015.
Witnesses who were in the meeting narrate that the PEP antiriot police (Policía Estatal Preventiva -State Preventive Police-), when entered, shouted threateningly “release the detainees!”, to this, the witnesses showed amazement, for the people of the government “were sat and even drinking soda”.  And actually, the comptroller who served as a legal instance in the assembly accused the demonstrators of “illegal deprivation of freedom” and “obstruction of public roads,” fabricated felonies that are imputed to them today. As the last straw, the “attacked” denounced, literally: “I signed against my will, people held me back”.
Ka ‘Kuxtal Much’ Meyaj A.C. organization[4] -which includes one of the prisoners- also testified to the facts in a virtual statement, stating that “(…) the community retreated, many sought refuge for not to be victims of the police beatings, however, others were more confronting when seeing that they were taking their friends or relatives, some could get free, but four people were taken to the police vans. Of these four people, one was returned to the community. The other three are in detention. One of these people is a member of our organization” [5].
That early climate of violence, lies and rage awakened even more the participation of the Suc-Tuc assembly. Roadblocks are hardened. The rallies outside the State Congress radicalize their tone. Under the slogan “we are not gang members, we are an indigenous community that demands justice” and “the government represses the people of Suc-Tuc”, more people attended the protests with the spirit of collaborating for the release of the 3 prisoners. Sergio, Diego and José Alfredo are currently in custody in the San Francisco Kobén Prison.
At the dialogue tables after 17 December, the authorities focused -magically!- on the replacement of the commissioner, very little was spoken of the three prisoners. Some of the arguments that the legal authorities use as rhetoric are that “there is no conclusive evidence, which is why they were not transferred to the penitentiary; they are given 3 months of preventive jail remand (…) by the 31st, –of March?! – will be back in their homes”.
In addition, the population learns that Ucán Chan is still sealing and validating documents from her home. Therefore, the message that the State will continue to ignore the petitions of the movement became rather a message of humiliation that found his last second of life. The community closes the curtain saying: “we are not going to continue going to the City to demonstrate, we will organize locally to choose our representatives and change course.”
The process
It is worth not being pernicious, so it is very important to state that it would be too optimistic to give de facto the establishment of self-government, at least not at the moment, a concrete definition of what happens in Suc-Tuc is, as the title of this text, the majority decision of the community to conform and be governed by a communal self-government. The results and experiences will be the determining factors so that in the not so distant future it will be written everywhere that “Suc-Tuc is an autonomous community”.
Thus, we can sketch how the community process was conceived:
The call to elect its authorities by uses and customs was spread by voice to be held on January 9. However, the assembly was dissolved by the provocation of an agent infiltrated the PRI –extreme right wing party-, diverting the objectives that people already had well thought, causing in turn the assembly to be postponed for the next day.
On January 10 at night, Suc-Tuc elected the members of an autonomous Governing Council and three representatives who will serve as treasurer, secretary and a new commissioner, respectively. Almost at the end of this historic moment, Javier Soberanis made an appearance, with complete exasperation, intimidating and trying to revert the agreements reached.
The human rights defenders who make up the organization Caracol ODDH -partners and translators also in other instances of dialogue with the different levels of government-, spread in their social networks that “(…) even though every moment the secretary of the City Council tried to tell the villagers that it was not right to elect by usages and customs, “because in Campeche there is no community that governs this way” and to wait the times and electoral processes of the municipality, the villagers chose their Representatives and signed a memorandum of understanding, thus recognizing the new popular administration.” As a legal weapon -which left Soberanis with no arguments– they gave reading to the  Articles 2 and 39 constitutional, current guidelines for popular election at any time.
The vote was an act of direct democracy based on the trustworthiness and mutual aid shown by both settlers and elected representatives. It is a new scheme without the direct/indirect participation of the political parties[6] and that rests in a total horizontality.
On the morning of January 11, the people took the act of the new Governing Council to the head of Hopelchén. The meeting was not pleasant. In an interview with Tribuna Campeche, the villagers denounce that the City Council refused to remove the commissioner, textually, saying that “the most viable thing is that she renounces and makes things easier for the people”[7]. What hope can we have that a person with so much power and a way of life resolved at the expense of the productive work of others renounce such overnight comforts? They were blamed with other words, arguing that “you have to wait until 2018 because you chose the commissioner … it is okay to organize, but your representative can only be civil, not commissary”.
If we analyze these statements we can say that … it’s irrefutable! the State seeks all the pieces of distraction-discursive confrontation to ‘gain time’ and prevent Suc-Tuc’s self-government from being consolidated and start to operate. Similarly, Caracol ODHH reports that “Soberanis did not want to receive the minutes because it was not “sealed” with the ex-commissioner’s seal, despite the fact that the act consists of signatures of the majority of the registered inhabitants of the community”, an excuse difficult to overcome under the scheme of legality, since the commissioner has not come to the public since the conflict that broke out in early December.
The definitive solidarity
To build a communal self-government does not symbolize a temporary exit, it’s a germ that works day by day, it is a political-organizational task that entails too much effort and vulnerability for those who integrate and support it. The State is hostile and will seek all ways to counteract the strength of the people of Suc Tuc, for example, the withdrawal of social programs, the scholarships -ironically, the spearhead of this movement-, police intimidation[8] and even extreme decisions of violent repression as was observed in the early hours of December 17.
Solidarity must be urgent and DEFINING by Mexico and the world, both for the release of the prisoners and for avoiding the dismantling of the process.
That is why we say: texts should not hesitate only in information, give them a practical sense. Let’s replicate what happens in Suc-Tuc by voice, in the streets, on the internet, in all existing corners. Let’s be alert, light and place the reflectors – of which I wrote at the beginning of the article – where they are needed!

Critical notes and references:
[1] “Los mayas de Hopelchén resisten a la muerte de su maíz, sus abejas y su pensamiento” in Red en Defensa del Maíz, Gloria Muñoz Ramírez, March 8, 2014.
[2] “Encuentran glifosato en manto freático, agua embotellada y orina de habitantes de Hopelchén”, La Jornada por  Lorenzo Chim, August 30, 2016, p. 28.
[3] Entrevista  a Leonardo Poot Pech, padre de Diego  Armando Poot Pech, uno de los detenidos del 17 de diciembre. “Sin justicia e igualdad” en ¡Por esto!, Dignidad, identidad y soberanía, por Adrián Ferráez y Jorge Caamal, December 28, 2016.
[4] Ka’ Kuxtal Much’ Meyaj A.C  “Indigenous organization in the sedes defense” is a originary Holpechén’s group that bet for “build like part of the Mayan people, educative, organizative and productive conditions for the good living of our communities. It has dedicated strongly to the awareness of the importance of facing the monopoly of the transgenic crop, winning legal protection against Monsanto. They have also organized the “Native Seeds Festival” since 2008, replicated in Iturbide, Dzibalchén, Suc-Tuc and other communities in Campeche and Yucatán.
[5] Ka’ Kuxtal Much’ Meyaj A.C. pronouncement about the repression ocurred in San Francisco Suctuc, December 18, 2016.
[6] Isn’t an assembly that discriminates, all contrary, cordially invites to “partisan brothers” to participate, but leaving aside the flags and the colors. Is logical, the remnants of the later society and its representative democracy are not eradicated from court, but with the majority participation in a new political diagram.
[7] 7 “Que renuncie Comisaria Municipal de Suc-Tuc”, Tribuna Campeche, January 12, 2017.
[8] In interview with Caracol ODHH, they says that “policial presence is intermitent, such, there 1 or 2 patrols that are rounding in a sporadic way in Suc-Tuc”. Other causes that diminish the police presence are the territorial remoteness to the headwaters of Holpechén and Campeche, and the cowardly murder to blows, of Dennis Abraham Canché Trejo, agronomist engineer and neighbor of Bolonchén de Rejón on November 1, 2014, by state police.