[Marxism] (Fwd) On local bourgeoisies and original peoples

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Wed Nov 23 20:30:07 MST 2005

Nestor writes: "Not only I am _for_ the right of the Mapuche against
companies, I am also _for_ the single way in which they can reasonably
struggle _and win_.  This way is to consider themselves simply as a
fraction of the  larger unit composed by the Chilean or Argentinean
peasantry or petty landowners, not as an ethnic group with a right to
'national independence'."

I find that I cannot agree with Nestor's formulation here, although I do
believe there is a rational kernel to it -- our peoples will never be
free unless we become one people. But the road to the great nation of
Our America is not the negation of our redness, but of our whiteness.
The indigenous people do not need to renounce their identity as native
peoples. On the contrary, what has to happen is that we who imagine we
are better than them, because we were born with white skin, renounce our
identity as Europeans, become race traitors, renounce our right to rule
as "whites."

I *reject* that Mapuches should "consider themselves simply as a
fraction of the  larger unit composed by the Chilean or Argentinean
peasantry or petty landowners." That is unworthy of a free people, it is
a betrayal of liberty, that is the road to demoralization and defeat.
That is what the Spanish and the English and Dutch and French and all
the rest of them have tried to impose on us for 500 years. Even if
freedom could be found on that road --which I deny-- it is a freedom I
would reject. The only freedom I want is the freedom to be part of a
great indigenous and African people that confronted the enemy of
humanity, and helped to send it to its grave. 

I believe the road --the only road-- is that the Chilean and Argentinean
peasantry or petty landowners and other toilers of our America should
consider themselves "simply as a fraction of the larger unit" composed
of Mapuches and other indigenous peoples. 

Only when we "Spanish" Latin Americans get it through our heads that
what makes us what we are is that we are part of the most primitive, the
lowest, the most backward, that by denying us membership in the white
race the colonialists and imperialists have given us the most precious
thing of all, membership in the human race, will we Latin Americans win
our true national independence, our right to call ourselves, as the free
peoples of the Americas called themselves before the Spanish came, human

I have been very struck by what little I've been able to learn about the
indigenous movements in Bolivia and Ecuador, and that their thrust is
not at all "separatist" but quite the opposite: they demand the
"indigenization" of those countries AS A WHOLE. And we should say yes,
and say more: we demand the indigenization of all of our America. 

Quispe, the Bolivian revolutionary, expressed it in explaining why he
wasn't so hot on the nationalization of the gas. He said, without
nationalization of Bolivia, it won't mean much. What does this
"nationalization" of Bolivia consist of? A people's government, a
"workers and farmers" government except in Latin America today any
conception that LIMITS itself to those two as "classes" and doesn't
fundamentally incorporate "the popular masses," the huge layer of
"semi-proletarianized" small merchants and artisans and farmers and so
on, the socalled "informal economy," which for masses of our people is
the REAL economy, is doomed to failure. On this Nestor is at least 200%

For example, Venezuela, and Chavez's insistence --quite correct, in my
opinion-- of raising the *social* wage and discouraging narrow,
"trade-unionist" economic struggles by the "industrial proletariat,"
which some view as the nec plus ultra of "class" struggle but are in
fact EXCLUSIVELY and ENTIRELY within a bourgeois framework, and owe a
lot more to Lasalle than they do to Marx for inspiration. 

If we revolutionary Marxists support the struggle for higher wages it is
NOT because higher wages are our freedom but so that workers come to the
conclusion that wages themselves are the chains that keep us as slaves.
Mine own wages are extraordinary when one considers what one really
needs to live and to love and be well-fed, well-clothed, sheltered and
internet-connected at the highest speed money can buy in this market.
Yet even three, five or ten times my wages cannot buy what I would want
most -- security should I become sick or disabled, security in my old
age, security that if I die tomorrow my children will still have the
things they need and the doors to education and a good life --as they
may conceive of it-- wide open.

No amount of wages can do this because it is not in the nature of wages.
Only capital can do that, which is the opposite of wages, even if the
origins of the money that becomes capital is wages. But my capital then
becomes the wages of my neighbors, on which their children depend. And I
would not want to deny my children their right to have friends as
equals, nor condemn them to having friends only among the very rich.

In this, the only solution is revolution, a revolution to abolish the
wages system, capitalism itself. And that is precisely what our comrade
Hugo Chávez has set out to do.

In this, Chávez is following the example set by the Cuban Revolution,
which did not come in and RAISE wages, but instead CUT the rents, CUT
electricity charges and so on, froze prices, universalized education and
health care, etc. And back then the "popular masses" sector was small in
Cuba compared to what exists in Latin America today.

Contrary to Nestor's assertion that indigenous peoples must liquidate
their own identity into a "class" identity, I suggest it is perfectly
possible and rational to act as indigenous peoples, not to create
separate states but to "indigenize" the existing nations, and in the
Caribbean, to "Africanize" them too.

That is the road that Lenin and his friends proposed to the toilers of
the East, to seek the flowering of their nationalities WITHIN a
community of soviet peoples, of governments of the toilers. That is the
road the Sandinistas began to follow with the Miskitu people with the
autonomy turn at the end of 1984. 

The negation of the indigenous people's national identity today is
neither possible nor desirable. It is not possible because the Latin
American Spanish and spanishized mestizos do not allow it. They do not
accept the indigenous peoples as equals, but rather treat THEM with as
much condescension and contempt as the imperialists treat ALL Latin
Americans. They exploit them and cheat them and oppress them. 

Because we "Spanish" and Mestizo Latin Americans have been so absolutely
BACKWARD about this question we need the fraternal aid of the national
movements of OUR indigenous nations to CLUB IT INTO OUR HEADS that we
are ALL Indians in the view of the imperialists, and to get us to stop
acting as little imperialists, "pitiyanquis" as the Puerto Ricans say.
We will NEVER defeat the oligarchs while we nurture a little oligarch
within ourselves.

And why shouldn't the Indians rule for a change, even over and against
the wishes of the Spanish? How good has Spanish rule been for our lands
and their peoples for 500 years, both before independence and after?

Fidel --who I believe is certainly the greatest revolutionary of the
Cold War and immediate post-Cold War epoch-- has a strange idea of when
the Cuban nation was born that some consider un-Marxist, downright
idealist if not hopelessly Quixotic. Fidel teaches that the Cuban nation
was born with the cacique (Indian chief) Hatuey, who led a rebellion
against the conquistadores, and when he was brought to the stake, to be
burned, one of those good, saintly padres who the oppressors never seem
to have a shortage of, urged Hatuey to repent, and to accept Our Lord
Jesus Christ as his savior, treating Hatuey almost as if he were white,
and offering Hatuey the holy sacraments so he could go to heaven. And
Hatuey asked him if the Spanish went to heaven. And the priest said yes.
And Hatuey refused the benediction, saying he preferred to go to hell. 

That, said Fidel, is when the Cuban nation was born. And Fidel knows
more about being Cuban than anyone else.

And July 26 is our greatest national holiday, but it isn't remembered as
they day the revolution started, or when Fidel led his first military
action, nor anything else like that. It is "El Día de la Rebeldía
Nacional," the day of national rebelliousness. It is not the day of
Fidel. It is the day of Martí and of Hatuey, of the very core of the
Cuban soul.

And one of the greatest battles of the Cuban Revolution, and one that is
not yet over, but is even today being fought, is to establish
irrefutably and inescapably that we Cubans are an AFRICAN people. And
the question is not "Y tu abuela donde está" ("And where is your
grandmother," meaning, your recognizably African descended grandmother
who you have hidden away so you can "pass"), it's got nothing to do with
genes, it's got to that with what saved our nation, our people, from
being absorbed by the  monster, what saved us from becoming (North)
Americans. And it's in the culture and the music and the veneration of
our heroes and martyrs and the cult of Martí. And that our war for
independence was waged, not to preserve slavery, but to free the slaves
because that was the only way Cuba could be free. And that is as true
today as it was 150 years ago as it was 500 years ago when the Spanish
tried to burn Hatuey at the stake and instead turned him into a torch
that will forever light our way to freedom, and the way for all peoples
that want to be free. 

The indigenous peoples of Latin America have shown time and again that
they understand that the struggle is not to separate indigenousness FROM
our America, but to restore it TO our America, to restore its indigenous
soul, its human soul.

Yes, the road to liberation is through the unity of our peoples -- but a
unity based on our acceptance, celebration and respect for our
indigenousness, and our africanness, not on the illusion of our
whiteness, which is the oligarch inside so many of us that allows the
oligarch outside to continue to rule.


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