[Marxism] Re: What should revolutionaries do in the Latino immigrant movement?

dwalters at marxists.org dwalters at marxists.org
Wed Apr 12 11:32:40 MDT 2006

If you give a moose a muffin . . .

Why Joaquín insists on people who commented criticially on "comrade" Morales
program and politics are then duly obligated to comment on the immigrant
workers movement here in the US seems a little disingenuous
and irrelevant to
this discussion. What IS he trying to say?

Over on the Leftist Trainspotters list on Yahoo I answered some one the
following way about the role of the US left in the recent demonstrations:

"The left is politically and organizationally irrelevant to this movement, for
now. Probably a good thing for the time being."

That sums up my view for the moment. Largely because, factually, this movement
doesn't need the left, anymore, say, than a successful union organizing drive
needs the organized left. It's successful in it's own right. In fact, it IS the
left in it's own right. And, unlike union organizing drives, this movement can
develop politically beyond it's own immediate demands more or less out the
dynamic created by workers exercising it's own power. It'll be something to
watch for sure.

A few disparate thoughts on Joaquín's essay(s) on the question and other

We (meaning working class activists) need a good comprehensive analysis of the
origins of modern immigration (say from the 1980s onward) and it's effect on
labor and capital in the United States. What ARE the effects of immigration on
the working class in general and the labor movement specifically? How does it
tie in with capitalism today? How are social services effected? Who benefits of
immigration, undocumented or not? What are the specific effects of NAFTA on the
Mexican peasantry, it's labor market, it's political economy? A sort of "Wage
Labor and Capital" for immigration. Right now we argue for open borders or
legalization based on solidarity, for the most part, with the most smashed
oppressed sector of the working class. But we need more that that. Just a

On the issue of exclusivity of "Latino" leadership of this massively growing
immigrant rights movement. I'm wondering if this isn't just a term Joaquín to
homogenize politically a movement that is in fact related, but not totally
congruent. This is especially true in California where the Chicano culture
remains distinct from the immigrant community.

At any rate, my view is that this movement should NOT be Latino lead as Joaquín
defines it
but *immigrant* lead. That is why this discussion is important and
those nuances about immigrant 'versus' Latino is also important. They are not
the same thing, rather, one, immigrants, are a subset, albeit not exclusively,
to the broader Latino population as Joaquín defined it. It should be pointed
out that Haitians took the lead in the recent rallies and marches in south
Florida and Asians were noticeable and active on the West Coast. It's important
that the most obvious victims of the attack on the undocumented be the ones to
politically and organizationally lead their defense.

"Labor". This is the area the "revolutionary left" can be most effective. While
this is mostly a Spanish, pan-Latino movement  of *immigrant workers* , no
minority can safely defend themselves without the use of the united front
tactic (something this movement understands regardless of any narrow
nationalistic impositions on it from native born or naturalized citizens among
Latinos that have argued otherwise) to reach out to broader sectors of the
working class
especially organized labor. Again, here too, without advice, this
new movement has *instinctively* understood the need to get the labor unions on
board, especially given the long historic animosity between some unions and
immigrant labor. The left can play the role of  *intervening*  in their unions
to get more support for this movement, and, for that matter, getting our unions
to integrate into this movement so it becomes our movement as well [within the
parameters of this immigrant lead united front].

We are obligated to get unions on board because the unions are the main working
class institution that can dovetail with this broad immigrant movement in a
positive way and has a *totally vested interest* in doing so. We don't need to
wait for anyone to do this, but if groups like USLAW, Labornotes and other
union left groups would take the lead, it would help immensely.

"Class Traitors". If people are for defending immigrant workers, then who gives
a shit about their politics? Generally, it means their politics are good or,
more likely, contradictory. If this movement wants to give Democrats or union
leaders (who, in my mind should be MADE to support this movement, not driven
away by sectarian fantasies) speaking rights, first off, we have to recognize
that his is *their* movement, not ours. As such, one doesn't make 'demands' but
has calm, political discussions. This was a common practice inside the Million
Worker March movement where discussions among activists over having
politicians, or not, on the speaking platforms were carried out. That is,
within the groups of activists who are actually doing the mobilizations. Shrill
leaflets issued from the outside and are politely accepted by the person taking
the leaflet is not the same thing as agreement with the content or method of
the leaflet.

I think Joaquín is probably upset for no real reason other than he disagrees
with this sort of method since, in fact, these sorts of leftist pronouncements
are totally irrelevant and have no effect on anyone, positive, or negative.
What some left groups 'demands' or 'suggest' to use the diplomatic term, can
only be judged by the march participants and activists based on the groups *
actual and real * involvement in building it.

"Amnesty". Well, Joaquín might be overstating his case here. This is the first
time I've heard objection to this term or the reasons for not using it. It
might be taking PC a bit too far on this. On the ground, as the movement itself
seems to be defining it, the term "Amnesty" is the term everyone seems to be
using. So, good luck with that.

David Walters

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