Class Dismissed but not Dissed: the Latin American Case

Julio Pino jpino at SPAMkent.edu
Wed Aug 16 13:41:21 MDT 2000


Reply to Louis and other comrades:
Claro, hombre, the oppressed all over the world are engaged in struggle
everyday against globalization, but to argue that "The rising class
struggle in the United States is not an isolated phenomenon...All across
the world there are signs that the popular classes are on the offensive"
requires a Kierkegaardian leap of faith.
   In the same way that The Great Depressed One insisted that he was not
interested in objective proofs for the existence of God, only in the
subjective experience of being a Christian, I'm not convinced, simply on
the evidence of this or strike or peasant mobilization that this is CLASS
STRUGGLE, ie,that those so engaged have a consciousness of class as a
political weapon.Struggles between oppressors and the oppresed will go on
forever, presumably even on Jupiter when it is colonized. But it's one
thing to engage spontaneously to fight this or that injustice and quite
another to comprehend and act upon particularly class interests.

  Sticking only to the one region I know best, Latin America, I observe the
poltical scene come to the opposite conclusions reached by Louis: the class
struggle, as opposed to popular struggles of resistance, is at an all-time
low.

   Argentina: Yes, the union movement is beginning to stir once again, and
some in its ranks even talk of "rolling back" neoliberalism. But why, then,
is there no organized political resistance to de la Rua? Why was Menem
replaced by Menemismo with a more kindly face?(Confirm this Nestor, quien
es mas feo?)
   Brazil tells much the same story. The Worker's Party has lost three
presidential elections in a row to candidates vowing to implement
neoliberal programs. The main trade union confederation, the CUT, is losing
members and hasn't mounted one succesful action to stop Cardoso's
privatization program.
   Bolivia has been shaken by mobilizations against the rape of the energy
industry, but the political left there has gone over to the right. The
Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria(MIR-Movement of the Revolutionary
Left) is in coalition with president Hugo Banzer, an ex-dictator who once
hunted down MIRistas back in he Seventies. (And to think that when I was in
La Paz in 1985 during the presidential election I attended a party thrown
by the MIR and chanted "Viva Cuba ! Viva Fidel! along with los
muchachos!)What's left of the left in Bolivia? anybody know?
   Peru and Ecuador have witnessed indigenous mobilizations against
presidentialist-dictatorial regimes, but they have been co-opted by the
"respectable" liberal (read neoliberal)opposition.There is no civil left
opposition to Fujimori, and the armed left (Sendero, Tupac Amaru) is
missing in action.
   Cuba does  "continue to persevere through all sorts of difficulties...
As long as there is a single Marxist alive in the world, Cuba
will continue to be an inspiration." An inspiration yes, an example no. Not
even the FARC looks to Cuba as a model for building a socialist society.
Fidel himself has counseled both Colombian guerrilla groups to make peace
with Pastrana. Not only is "taking the Cuban road" to socialism not on the
horizon for the guerrillas, but if they were to do so the experiment would
likely collapse much like the Sandinistas. Speaking of whom...
   Central America. The FSLN and FMLN have both become social democratic
parties, discovering "advantages to the market economy" they never knew
existed before. And splits from those two parties have all been to the
right, never to the left.

   One cannot speak of class struggle in Latin America. What significant
political group in the region openly proclaims socialism as its goal?

   I'll make myself plain: I believe Marx to have been wrong in thinking
that the proletariat would attain class consciousness by undergoing
immiseration and witnessing the widening gap between it and the bourgeosie,
with the role of communists being to bring together the common interests of
all workers and provide leadership.
   I believe Lenin to have been wrong (as it applies to today)in thinking
the revolutionary party could bring political consciousness to the working
class and ignite the Spark of revolution.
  Revolution will come to Latin America only when Marxism is reborn as
something other than, and goes beyond, a class movement.
Julio Cesar







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