[Marxism] Reply to Julio RE: Mexican and US Government Alliance inPolitics
juliohuato at hotmail.com
Thu May 13 20:35:35 MDT 2004
I'm sorry. I misunderstood you, and wrongly attributed to you views that
were not yours. It's my fault. I appreciate your interest in Mexico and
your sharp observations on it -- uncommon on the list. You are taking the
initiative to introject Mexico on the list, something I have a hard time
doing myself. I don't even feel that I can catch up with the material that
you are putting on the table.
As for the disagreement:
>Yes, we do disagree here, for I believe that this capture of Mexican
>government foreign and domestic policy by the US is not something new, but
>that it is already essentially very old past history.
It seems to me that we view these events so differently because we start
from different premises and place the events in a different context.
Without discussing assumptions and approach, it's hard to understand each
other. But the list seems to work better when people focus on the burning
issues of the day and closely related topics. Many regulars on the list
seem to share a common political background (e.g., the ex SWP-ers), which
helps them communicate. Those of us with a different background have a
harder time. Seeing what we're getting at takes a bit more of patience --
ours and yours. Over time we can expect to understand each other better,
which doesn't mean necessarily that the disagreements will evaporate.
Back to the issue -- we know already Mexico is an extremely unequal society;
unequal along class, ethnic, and regional lines -- to mention only a few
dimensions. Each class, group, region, etc. in Mexico has a different
stance towards policy and that shows. But, in the case of foreign policy,
there is very broad agreement on the traditional doctrines: (1) national
state sovereignty, the rights of self-determination and (2) peaceful
settlement of international disputes and use to force only in self-defense.
These are the same principles stipulated in the UN Charter signed in San
Francisco in June of 1945 by, among others, the U.S. And there's no
allowance for pre-emptive aggression in the charter -- not even in case of
In fact, in the case of Mexico, these doctrines have deeper historical roots
in Mexico. They were first codified by Benito Juárez and, with ups and
downs, they survived a 33-year dictatorship, a fairly radical revolution,
and over 80 years of post-revolutionary history with sways from right to
left and vice versa. The reason why these doctrines have become such a
robust institution is because the main reason for their existence hasn't
gone away: the imperial urges of the United States of America and, to a
lesser extent, of the European powers. The demographic, economic, and
cultural integration with the U.S. is also a long-lived institution. NAFTA
is not the cause -- it's an expression of gradual but deep shifts in
regional demographics and economics. So this foreign policy has a very good
chance of surviving Fox. I have already given my interpretation of the
diplomatic fiasco with Cuba. I know it's a conjecture -- like yours. So I
cannot prove you wrong. We're trying to make sense of things with the
little information we have.
Mexico views the case of Cuba as a top priority issue, immediately connected
to the enforcement of its traditional doctrines of foreign policy. It is
obvious that if the U.S. can at will violate Cuba's sovereignty and right of
self-determination, use economic sanctions also explicitly prohibited by the
UN charter, fund subversion, and threaten with a direct military
intervention, a precedent is then established in the immediate neighborhood
of the U.S. And that means that Mexico as a nation (led by the bourgeoisie)
is also at risk. Out of self-interest, the Mexican bourgeoisie -- not to
mention the rank and file Mexicans -- are trying to pre-empt the U.S. from,
say, taking over Mexico's oil wells and facilities with the pretext of chaos
at the border, protecting the lives of American citizens, preventing a
massive wave of refugees, keeping an uninterrupted oil supply in case of war
with Russia, stopping China from using Mexico as a beach head, or whatever.
In the background of our discussion, there is the issue of the nature of the
North American integration. IMO, we need to be very careful and distinguish
its two facets:
1. Its CONTENT, that is, the increasing interdependence between the two
societies, the increasing traffic of people, things, and ideas, the mutual
acquaintance and synthesis of two very different cultures, etc. We need to
remember that a highly socialized production and life is the premise of
higher forms of social organization. Mexicans will compare their social
institutions, customs, way of life, etc. with those of the U.S., and will
draw conclusions one way or another. "A nation should learn from the
experience of others" (Marx). And learning is a process of trial and error.
Mexicans will adopt the ideas and institutions that help them advance and
will reject the rest. People are not stupid. And the U.S. society will
also be altered in the process.
2. The particular socio-historical FORMS of this integration, its
subordinated character from Mexico's side; the asymmetry, where the U.S.
society has the upper hand and imposes its conditions on the Mexican nation.
The Mexicans migrate at great cost, live and work in the U.S. as second-
or third-class citizens, with no or few rights, in sub-standard conditions.
The Mexicans trade in terms that the gains from cooperation (mediated by
commerce) are mostly pocketed by the U.S. Because of the history of the
U.S., the Mexicans that migrate and are exposed to U.S. influence jump into
a society that is profoundly divided, fragmented, alienated, demoralized to
the point of exuding the kind of politics and policies that we observe now,
not to mention other trash it oozes. It's a society founded on a tremendous
amount of shit (the attempt to exterminate the Indians and the enslavement
of Africans are the two major items on the liabilities side of the balance
sheet) -- so much shit that people on this list can't see where the glory
is. On top of that, the Mexicans bring with them a heavy baggage of poverty
and oppression. So it'll be tough.
Sorry to sound preachy, but the engine that drives the Mexicans (the
migrants who stay, and those who stay connected or return and bring back a
piece of the U.S.) is the same that has powered human beings since the onset
of history: their refusal to accept the conditions they inherit, their
indomitable impulse to transform their living and working conditions. In
this process, Mexicans are and will continue to shed social forms, one after
another after another; often times because their options are few and
tradeoffs are unavoidable. Institutions will come and go; if one works well
for them, they'll preserve it; if it doesn't, they'll transcend it and forge
or adopt a new one. It is up to the left to distinguish between the
struggling human being and the social, historical shells through which she
struggles to accomplish her aims.
The left -- the bi-national left -- should focus on changing the outrageous,
unacceptable, oppressive social forms of the integration. They should not
fault Mexicans for choosing to integrate. Granted, they were not snatched,
shackled, and shipped to foreign lands by the brute force of slave traders,
but they were expelled from their home by deprivation and economic
necessity, which also bites. The left should struggle to help workers gain
more control, to manage the integration so that workers enable themselves
and advance towards their unity and political independence. It'll be very
tough because of the divisions, the objective diversity of interests and
background prevailing in the U.S. working class; but it is entirely doable.
And in order to change the historical FORMS of the integration, the left
needs to change both the U.S. society and the Mexican society -- and itself.
The CONTENT of the integration (the increasing interdependence) doesn't
"conspire" against the political goals of socialists and radicals. On the
contrary, such content creates the premises for the political goals of
socialists and communists to be attainable. It is grounds for optimism.
This is what I can say about the issues that concern us more directly. The
particular issues that involve the left in Mexico... well, for the most
part, we should let those leftists in Mexico sort them out by themselves.
Sometimes we need to watch and let go.
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