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venezuela / colombia / miscellaneous / opinión / análisis Tuesday February 25, 2020 05:07 byViaLibre

En el presente artículo se realiza una reflexión sobre el desarrollo del periodo 2010-2019 en América Latina desde la perspectiva del Grupo Libertario Vía Libre. En primer lugar se reseñan algunas tendencias generales en materia de la economía y la política regional en el decenio, en un segundo apartado se realiza un análisis de esta mismo época en 24 países de la región atendiendo claves políticas y económicas y en un tercer momento se analizan el desarrollo de los movimientos populares, con énfasis en los sectores obreros, campesinos, estudiantiles, de mujeres, ambientales, así como de otros sectores.

Análisis del periodo 2010-2019 en América Latina

En el presente artículo se realiza una reflexión sobre el desarrollo del periodo 2010-2019 en América Latina desde la perspectiva del Grupo Libertario Vía Libre. En primer lugar se reseñan algunas tendencias generales en materia de la economía y la política regional en el decenio, en un segundo apartado se realiza un análisis de esta mismo época en 24 países de la región atendiendo claves políticas y económicas y en un tercer momento se analizan el desarrollo de los movimientos populares, con énfasis en los sectores obreros, campesinos, estudiantiles, de mujeres, ambientales, así como de otros sectores.

Tendencias generales

En el terreno económico la región experimento un crecimiento lento del 2.1% promedio del PIB entre 2010 y 2018[1]. Tras el impacto de la crisis económica mundial de 2008-2009, que llego este último año a un decrecimiento conjunto del -1.88%, se experimentó una fuerte recuperación en 2010 con el 5.84% debido al boom de las materias primas que coronaron un ciclo largo de precios altos, seguida de una importante desaceleración desde 2012 que ese año promedio 2.78%, que llega a su pico más bajo en la nueva recesión de 2015 con el decrecimiento del -0.35%. Después se produjo un fenómeno de crecimiento lento que llego a su mayor expansión en 2016 con 1.46%, seguido de una disminución con fuerte estancamiento en 2017-2018, que este último año llego a 0.49%, con tendencias de mejora lenta y relativa.

La dinámica de semi estancamiento de la economía regional ha llevado a plantear la existencia de una segunda década pérdida en materia económica para el continente, similar a la de 1980. Esta nueva década de extravió productivo estaría marcada por la crisis de la deuda externa y el inicio de los planes de ajuste económico, primero bajo el signo de los propios gobierno progresista y luego de forma más decidida por las administraciones conservadoras. De hecho los registros entre 1980-1988 muestran un promedio de crecimiento del PIB del 2.2%, un acumulado que de forma anual y total presenta un crecimiento ligeramente más alto que el de la década de 2010, aunque también vale anotar que hace 30 años, hubo más año de decrecimiento franco y menos de estancamiento general. Desde 2010 la economía de mayor crecimiento fue Panamá, seguida de República Dominicana, y con más distancia Nicaragua, Paraguay y Bolivia, mientras que las que de hecho acumularon un fuerte decrecimiento fueron Venezuela y Puerto Rico, con las mayores crisis de su historia reciente, así como el desarrollo de situaciones de virtual estancamiento de Argentina, Brasil, Surinam y Jamaica.

En materia empresarial en la región se registró la fusión en 2010 de las compañías Lan de Chile y Tam de Brasil, junto con sus filiales, en el grupo Latam, que se convirtió en la principal empresa de aviación de pasajeros y cargas de la región, con participación en sus acciones de Qatar y Delta Airlines; similar dinámica siguió en 2012 la alianza Avianca-Taca finalmente unificada bajo el nombre Avianca, en alianza con United Airlines. También se presentó una expansión regional de telecomunicaciones lideradas por empresas como Claro y otros marcas del grupo Carso, que supo aprovechar las privatización de la infraestructura comunicacional de 1990 en todos los países de la región, empresa propiedad de Carlos Slim, que entre 2010 y 2013 fue reconocido como el hombre más rico del mundo, y hacia el final del periodo descendió hasta la quinta posición en este ranking de injusticia realizado por la prensa corporativa. La misma dinámica de expansión puede señalarse sobre el rubro del comercio al detal, como lo muestra la dinámica de empresas chilenas como Falabella bajo la dirección de la familia Solari o Censcosud de la familia Paulmann, la mexicana Oxxo en expansión desde 2015 propiedad del grupo FEMSA el embotellador más grande de Coca Cola en el mundo, o el colombiano Grupo Éxito en expansión desde 2011 asociado con la multinacional francesa Casino. En diciembre de 2016 se revelo el escándalo Odebrecht, principal empresa de construcción en Brasil y América Latina, con casos de corrupción que salpican la elite económica y política de todo el continente. Similar fue la situación del grupo EBX de inversiones energéticas, propiedad del multimillonario brasilero Eike Batista, en prisión por corrupción desde 2018.

En materia política la región experimento el aumento relativo de los gobiernos progresistas iniciados en 1999 y que llegan a su auge en 2006-2009, que llego en 2013-2014 hasta 14 gobiernos de este signo político contra 10 conservadores, es decir una leve superioridad numérica de las opciones anti neoliberales. Luego se experimentó de la mano del impacto de las crisis económica y el desgaste de estas administraciones, un nuevo giro conservador sobre todo a partir de 2014, que se profundiza en 2016 con el retorno de la derecha en Brasil, que dejo para el periodo 2018-2019 un registro de 8 administraciones de centro izquierda e izquierda y 16 de derecha y la centro derecha, una mayoría más abultada que la anterior primacía progresista. El actual giro derechista aunque más extenso parece más frágil que su antecesor como lo demuestran las grandes protestas populares contra la desigualdad de 2019. El giro se acompaña tanto de un giro hacia el centro político, la apertura al mercado en materia económica y la continuidad tradicional en materia cultural, de las anteriores administraciones y movimientos progresistas, como de una importante crisis y cierre autoritario de los gobiernos más claramente rupturistas.

Son claras las largas tendencias derechistas de 5 países como Colombia, Panamá, Honduras, Guatemala y Puerto Rico, dos de ellos en importante crisis política en la actualidad. También se registra la contra tendencia de largas gestiones anti neoliberales de 4 estados: Cuba con su excepcionalidad, República Dominicana, Nicaragua y Venezuela, dos de los cuales atraviesan a su vez importantes problemas políticos y económicos. El restante grupo de 15 estados de la región han experimentado fluctuaciones, ya sean estas históricas como en Paraguay, Perú o México donde no existían antecedentes cercanos de gobiernos desarrollistas, o cíclicas como Costa Rica, Argentina o Chile, donde hay cambios de gobiernos de diferente signo político de manera más tradicional. En 2019 se presentaron importante cambios en direcciones opuestas, por un lado la contra tendencia importante pero minoritaria que lleva a la asunción del moderado gobierno nacionalista de López Obrador en México y la victoria de Fernández en Argentina, y la tendencia aún hegemónica pero con significativas debilidades hacia la derecha, con el ascenso de Lacalle Pou en Uruguay o la protesta popular liderada por la derecha y posterior golpe de Estado contra Morales en Bolivia, que constituía la experiencia más avanzada del ciclo progresista en materia política y cultural, y parecer concluir de forma dramática.

En la década se vivió la formalización de organismos como la Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (UNASUR) formada en 2008 y liderada por Brasil, que aunque vivió un desarrollo lento de múltiples instituciones interregionales y proyectos económicos y sociales, vivió su práctica desintegración en 2018 con la salida de 6 países del organismo bajo el pretexto de la crisis venezolana. Similar destino corrió la Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América-Tratado de Comercio de los Pueblos (ALBA-TCP) formado en 2004 como alternativa al proyecto del ALCA liderada por Cuba y Venezuela, pero que tras su reorientación en 2010 hacia una mayor integración económica y cultural en la que surgieron iniciativas como Petrocaribe, experimento un claro estancamiento, para luego empezar a desintegrarse en el periodo 2018-2019, debilitada por la crisis y el cambio de orientación de diferentes gobiernos. En este periodo además fue creada la Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (CELAC) formada en 2010 e impulsada también por Brasil, que desde 2018 entro en una dinámica estancamiento, marcada además por el reciente anuncio de salida realizada por el gobierno Bolsonaro.

En este marco de estancamiento y crisis de los organismos de integración regional con mayor autonomía especialmente a partir de la segunda mitad de la década, se vivió una recomposición y posterior fortalecimiento de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) y el proyecto panamericanista bajo la supremacía de los Estados Unidos, que ha tenido una participación política importante en el giro hacia la derecha regional y el impulso de organismos como el Grupo de Lima que buscan intervenir en la crisis venezolana. En paralelo se formó en 2012 la Alianza del Pacifico bajo el liderazgo diplomático de Perú pero la dominancia de México y Chile, con la asociación de 4 países neoliberales y pro estadounidenses, con miras a organizar un contrapeso contra las propuestas progresistas y facilitar una mayor integración con las económicas del sureste asiático opuestas a China dentro de la estrategia global del Tratado Transpacífico. Del mecanismo de la Alianza surgió el Mercado Integrado Latinoamericano (MILA) que estrechaba la cooperación de las bolsas de valores de los miembros suramericanos del organismo. La Alianza continúo y aunque el tratado comercial vivió un severo revés por la decisión de Estados Unidos, esta mantuvo una importante actividad a nivel regional.

Desenvolvimiento por países

En México se experimentó el final del mandato del líder político heredero de Fox, Felipe Calderón del neoconservador Partido de Acción Nacional (PAN) signado por el grave incremento de la violencia asociada con la llamada guerra contra las drogas. Más adelante en 2013 se presentó el ascenso de Enrique Peña Nieto y el retorno del neoliberal Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) al poder, en un mandato marcado por la gran impopularidad del gobierno, diversas medidas de ajuste económico y la continuación de la violencia. Finalmente en 2019 se presentó un giro a la izquierda con la irrupción de Andrés Manuel López Obrador del socialdemócrata Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional (MORENA), que sin embargo ha mantenido un programa de gran continuismo en materia de economía, seguridad, e inmigración. La economía mexicana experimento un periodo de moderado crecimiento del 3% en promedio del PIB en 2010-2018, y tras el gran impacto de la recesión de 2009 que llego al descenso del -5.28%, el punto más bajo desde la crisis de 1995, presento una fuerte recuperación en 2010 con 5.11% del PIB similar al auge de 1998, seguida de una relativa desaceleración que llega en 2013 con 1.35%, sucedido luego por un ciclo de recuperación en 2014-2015 que llega a 5.28%, y posteriormente de un crecimiento lento pero continuado desde 2015, con promedio por encima del 2%, con una economía jalonada por la nueva producciones industriales de maquila y explotaciones minero energéticas. El país experimento la crudeza de la guerra contra el narcotráfico, con hasta 100.00 muertos como consecuencia de la violencia de los carteles y las Fuerzas de Seguridad, actores que mantienen entre si contradictorias y cambiantes relaciones de cooperación y choque.

En Guatemala se dio el final del gobierno del empresario Álvaro Colom de la social liberal Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza (UNE) que implemento algunos programas sociales focalizados y enfrento el aumento de la violencia criminal en el país. Ya en 2012 inicia la presidencia del general Otto Pérez Molina del conservador Partido Patriota que adelanto diversos programas de control policial y de empleo, se vio forzado a renunciar en 2015 en medio de escándalos de corrupción por el caso La Línea. Le sucedió la administración interina del abogado Alejandro Maldonado que aprobó el discriminatorio salario mínimo diferenciado por regiones, y desde 2016 el gobierno del pastor evangélico y actor Jimmy Morales por el ultraderechista Frente de Convergencia Nacional, luego comprometido junto con su familia en un nuevo escándalo de financiamiento ilegal. El país se vio fuertemente influido por el mandato de la Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICIG) que investigo diversos jefes de Estado y sufrió finalmente un ataque por parte del gobierno Morales. La economía del país creció de forma moderada en un promedio de 3.4% del PIB entre 2010 y 2018, en la que tras la caída a 0.52% de 2009 la tasa más baja desde 1986, se experimentó una moderada recuperación en 2010-2011 que llego este último año a 4.16%, una pequeña contracción en 2012 con 2.97%, seguida de un nueva ola de crecimiento entre 2013-2015 que fue en 2014 del 4.17%, el número más alto desde 2007 y desde entonces se experimenta una relativa desaceleración con un pico bajo de 2.76% en 2017.

En Belice se desarrolló el largo gobierno del abogado Dean Barrow del conservador Partido Democrático Unido (UDP) que asumió el poder en 2008 y vivió una primera relección en 2012 y una segunda en 2015, manteniendo control sobre la mayoría de los gobiernos locales y una importante presencia parlamentaria. El segundo gran periodo de gobierno conservador de la antigua Honduras británica, ha estado marcado por una política fuertemente neoliberal y de seguridad interior. La economía del país ha experimentado un moderado aunque inestable crecimiento de 2.3% del PIB en el periodo 2010-2018, pasando de un pequeño auge entre 2010 con 3.38%, desaceleración y contracción en 2013 con 0.83%, una nueva expansión en 2014 con 3.69% el porcentaje más alto desde 2006, la fuerte caída de -0.58 de 2016, la más significativa crisis desde 1983 y un moderada recuperación desde entonces, todo esto impactado por los vaivenes del precio del azúcar, su mayor producto de exportación y los variables flujos de inversión del país por su condición de paraíso fiscal.

En Honduras la década inicio con la administración ilegitima del empresario Roberto Michetti, tras el golpe de Estado de 2009 contra el gobierno centrista de Manuel Zelaya ambos del Partido Liberal (PL), golpe que genero múltiples protestas populares y una importante crisis económica. Esta administración fue sucedida en 2010 en viciadas elecciones presidenciales por el empresario y líder de la patronal agraria Porfirio Lobo del Partido Nacional (PN) que desarrollo un programa de combate a la inseguridad, el desempleo y la pobreza extrema con bajos resultados. Desde el 2014 se desarrolló el gobierno de Juan Orlando Hernández de la misma agrupación, salpicado por escándalos de narco política y la corrupción, que fue luego nuevamente reelegido en las fraudulentas elecciones de 2018. El país experimento un crecimiento moderado de. 3.8% del PIB en promedio de 2010-2018, y tras la depresión de 2009 de -2.43% la más grave desde 1991, vino una importante recuperación que llego hasta su máximo en 4.12% en 2012, un caída al 2.79% en 2013 y una nueva dinámica de crecimiento que llega a su máximo en 2017 en 4.78%, el porcentaje más alto de 2007.

En El Salvador se experimentó la mayor parte del gobierno del periodista Mauricio Funes del izquierdista Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) que adelanto su plan anti crisis con obras pública y subsidios a la población para también un plan de seguridad que impuso la entrada del Ejercito en el control del país, y posteriormente se vio envuelto en actos de corrupción. En 2014 en una relativa profundización del camino a la izquierda, asumió el dirigente magisterial e histórico comandante guerrillero Salvador Sánchez Cerén que se desempeñaba como vicepresidente de Funes, también del FMLN ahora en minoría en el parlamento, adelanto políticas de crecimiento del salario mínimo y protección medioambiental, sin lograr frenar la inseguridad o la crisis de salid, decidiendo además el rompimiento de las relaciones con Taiwan para acercarse a China. Más adelante y tras el gran desgaste de la administración de Sánchez, se presenta un giro hacia el mercado y la asunción presidencial en 2018 del empresario Nayib Bukele de la derechista Gran Alianza por la Unidad Nacional (GANA), con un programa de combate a la inseguridad. El país experimento un crecimiento moderado de 2.5% del PIB en promedio entre 2010-2018. Tras la fuerte caída de 2009 que significo un decrecimiento del -2.08% del PIB, el porcentaje más bajo desde 1982, se experimentó una recuperación que llega a su máximo en 2011 con 3.81% en 2011, porcentaje similar al 2005, seguido de una contracción que llega a la parte más baja en 2014 con 1.71%, seguida desde 2015 por un ciclo de crecimiento estable que en llego a un máximo 2.53% en 2018.

En Nicaragua se experimentó la década larga de gobierno del ex comandante guerrillero Daniel Ortega del Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) que volvió al poder en 2007 con un programa centrista de inspiración cristiana. El envejecido Ortega desarrollo programas de gratuidad de la salud y la educación, y paralelo respeto al tratado de libre comercio con Estados Unidos, para luego perseguir una primera relección en 2011 y una segunda y fraudulenta en 2016, generando un régimen político autoritario que enfrento con gran violencia las protestas populares de 2018. Ortega impuso una agenda cultural conservadora, con paradójico gobierno paritario con la mayor equidad de género del continente y a la vez la derogación de la ley de derecho a la interrupción voluntaria del embarazo que la Revolución sandinista había conseguido. La economía nica vivió un crecimiento importante que llega a un 5% promedio del PIB en 2010-2018, tras la fuerte caída de 2009 con el decrecimiento del -3.29%, a la que siguió una importante recuperación entre 2010-2012 que llega este último año al 6.49% del PIB, el porcentaje más alto desde 1999, de lo que se sigue una desaceleración relativa que se mantiene sobre el 4.5% entre 2013-2017 y una nueva crisis en 2018 con un crecimiento negativo -3.81%, un porcentaje similar al de finales de 1980 cuando el país afrontaba la guerra de Estados Unidos y la contra. La economía creció de la mano de las exportaciones agrícolas y los proyectos de infraestructura, incluido el proyecto del canal interoceánico de capital chino finalmente frustrado, aunque hacia final de la década experimento una nueva crisis.

En Costa Rica la década inicio con la elección de la politóloga Laura Chinchilla, heredera de Oscar Arias, del conservador Partido de Liberación Nacional (PLN) que impulso su política de seguridad integral y busco limitar en el país los peores efectos de la crisis económica mundial. Luego se da un relevo gubernamental y surge en 2014 el gobierno del académico Luis Guillermo Solís del social liberal Partido de Acción Ciudadana (PAC) con ciertas leyes progresistas en materia cultural y civil. En 2018 con un discurso más centrista resulta electo el comunicador Carlos Alvarado Quesada también del PAC, que sin embargo aplico una regresiva reforma fiscal que suscito una fuerte respuesta del movimiento sindical con una huelga general que el gobierno busco ilegalizar. El país vivió un quiebre del sistema bipartidista, así como el escándalo de corrupción por financiación electoral del PAC en 2016 y el llamado escándalo de cementazo que implico a miembros de diferentes partidos y poderes públicos. En la derecha se dio el enorme ascenso en 2018 de los fundamentalistas cristianos de Restauración Nacional, que se convirtieron en la fuerza política más votada en primera vuelta, mientras que en la izquierda el Frente Amplio pasó de un gran crecimiento a principio del periodo y registrarse como tercera fuerza nacional en 2014, a una fuerte en crisis en 2018. En materia económica el país vivió una década de crecimiento moderado a un 3.7% en promedio del PIB entre 2010-2018, que implico una importante recuperación tras la fuerte caída del -.0.97 de 2009, la más grave desde 1982, con el periodo 2010-2012 con promedios de crecimiento por arriba del 4.5%, con un pico en el 2010 con 4.95%, el más alto desde 2008, una contracción en 2013 con 2.26% y luego un nuevo recuperación que llego al 4.24% en 2016 y a partir de ahí una moderada desaceleración que llego hasta el 2.63% de 2018.

En Panamá el periodo inicio con el segundo año de la administración del empresario Ricardo Martinelli del partido derechista Cambio Democrático y la frágil alianza conservadora, en el que se desarrolló un plan de modernización de infraestructura y se aprobaron tratados de libre comercio con Estados Unidos y la Unión Europea, así como un extenso plan de espionaje a la oposición política. En 2014 asumió la jefatura del Estado el ultra rico empresario Juan Carlos Varela del conservador Partido Panameñista, antiguo aliado y vicepresidente de Martinelli del que luego se distanciaría y buscaría procesar judicialmente. En 2019 resulto ganador de las elecciones el ganadero evangélico Laurentino Cortizo de una fracción social cristiana del centroizquierdista Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD). En la izquierda el Frente Amplio por la Democracia, conformado y disuelto en los periodos de elecciones generales por las restrictivas leyes electorales, tuvo un desempeño muy limitado. En materia económica el país experimento un crecimiento alto del 6.5% en promedio del PIB durante 2010-2018, con un primer momento de expansión entre 2010-2012 que llego en 2011 al 11.31%, la cifra más alta desde 2007 y uno de los porcentajes más alto en 30 años, para más adelante sufrir una curva de descenso que llega a 2014 al 1.24%, la cifra más baja desde la crisis de 2009, y una más moderadamente alta recuperación desde 2015, a la que siguió una desaceleración relativa en 2018 con 3.67%, con una economía jalonada por la actividad del canal ampliado, los servicios financieros y gran paraíso fiscal puesta de presente en el escándalo de los papeles de Panamá.

En Cuba tras el final del larguísimo mandato del líder revolucionario Fidel Castro Ruiz, el periodo estuvo marcado por el la administración del también histórico Raúl Castro, hermano menor de Fidel y comandante general de las privilegiadas Fuerzas Armadas del país, que profundizo los programas de liberalización económica, modernización estatal y relativa relajación de la actividad represiva. En 2016 se produjo un importante cambio generacional con la llegada del ingeniero de origen obrero Miguel Díaz Cannel a la presidencia, todo en el marco de la férrea dictadura del Partido Comunista, quien impulso en un proceso extenso pero limitado el cambio constitucional de 2019 y continuaba las políticas de giro relativo hacia el mercado. La isla experimento un crecimiento moderado del 2.3% promedio del PIB entre 2010-2018, ligeramente más significativo por la situación de estancamiento poblacional de la isla, con una curva de crecimiento de 2010 hasta 2012 que ese año llego al 3.01%, una desaceleración entre 2013 y 2014 que llego ese año a 1.04%, un gran auge en 2015 del 4.43%, con el promedio más alto desde 2008, y una nueva contracción en 2016 del 0.51% semejante a la segunda parte del periodo especial en 1998, con un ligera recuperación hasta 2018, que sin embargo se ha interrumpido con el regreso de las sanciones norteamericanas y el agravamiento de la crisis venezolana y el giro derechista, con la que asoma una nueva crisis de abastecimiento con algunos puntos de encuentro con la crisis de 1990.

En República Dominicana se dio el final del tercer gobierno del abogado Leonel Fernández del socialdemócrata Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD) que impuso fuerte medidas para paliar el déficit fiscal, volvió a privatizar el sector eléctrico y promovió un programa de inversión en infraestructuras como la segunda línea del metro de Santo Domingo. Desde 2012 asumió la administración el economista Danilo Medina también del PLD, luego reelecto en polémicas elecciones en 2016. Medina impulso una severa reforma fiscal y acepto la racista resolución 168 que negó la nacionalidad a cerca de medio millón de haitianos residentes en esta parte de la isla. En el periodo continuo la hegemonía existente desde 2004 del PLD sobre el poder ejecutivo, legislativo y local. La economía del país registro un alto crecimiento del 5.7% promedio del PIB entre 2010-2018, con la gran recuperación de 2010 con el 8.34%, el porcentaje más alto desde 2006, seguido de una contracción en 2011-2012 que llego este último año a 2.71%, para pasar a una nuevo auge desde 2013 que en 2014 llego a una expansión del 7.05%, con una relativa baja en 2017 hasta 4.66% y una nueva subida en 2018.

En Haití se experimentó el último año del gobierno del agrónomo René Prevál del centro izquierdista Partido Esperanza favorable al derrocado y popular presidente Aristide, que impulso un severo plan de privatizaciones. En la primera transición pacífica del gobierno en su historia independiente se presentó un giro a la derecha, con la administración en 2011 del músico y cómplice de la dictadura Michael Martelly del conservador Respuesta Campesina ganador de las controvertidas elecciones de 2010. Más adelante se dio la administración interina del senador Jocerlerme Privert y después las irregulares elecciones presidenciales de 2015-2016 y el gobierno del líder del gremio empresarial Jovenal Moise del liberal Partido Haitiano Tet Kale, partidario de Martelly. En materia económica el país experimento un crecimiento lento del 2.7% promedio del PIB entre 2010-2018, agravado por el incremento poblacional, con la depresión de -3.12% de 2010 generada por el grave terremoto con enormes costos materiales y humanos, una importante recuperación en 2011 con 5.52%, el porcentaje más alto desde 1995, fluctuaciones con moderado crecimiento hasta 2014 y a partir de ahí una senda de estancamiento de 4 años seguidos, que en 2017 llevo al país a crecer al 1.17%, en medio de una economía afectada por los escándalos de corrupción de Petrocaribe que implicaron a los últimos dos presidentes.

En Puerto Rico el periodo inicio con los tres años de gobierno del abogado corporativo Luis Fortuño del conservador y anexionista Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP), que impulso un severo programa de despidos y reducción salarial y un paralelo plan de obras de infraestructura privatizadas. En 2012 se presenta un giro hacia el centro con la asunción del abogado Alejandro García Padilla del centrista y pro autonomista Partido Popular Democrático (PPD) con un programa de aumento de combate al desempleo que sin embargo consiguio solo magros resultados. Desde 2017 se presentó el gobierno del académico Ricardo Antonio Roselló del sector afín al Partido Demócrata del PNP, derrocado en 2019 tras una intensa movilización popular contra su mandato, y la posterior administración interina primero del ex secretario de Estado Pedro Pierluisi y luego la abogada Wanda Vázquez Garced, todos de la misma formación partidaria. Para la isla esta fue una década de depresión con un decrecimiento del -1.3% en promedio y 8 años sumados de depresión entre 2010-2018, con una muy ligera mejora entre 2010-2012 que llego este último año al 0.02% de expansión, luego una nueva ola de decrecimiento entre 2013-2016 este último año registrando -1.26%, y luego un aumento de la dinámica de hundimiento en 2017-2018 que este último año llego al -4.90%, un porcentaje aún más bajo que lo registrado en las crisis económicas de 1975, 1983 o 1990 en la isla. La crisis se explica por factores como el fuerte agravamiento de la crisis fiscal con la enorme deuda externa, la contracción del empleo público a niveles históricamente bajos y los golpes recibidos por catástrofes naturales como el huracán María en 2017, que causo grandes pérdidas humanas ocultadas por el gobierno local y destruyo la totalidad de la red eléctrica del país, con muy baja ayuda del gobierno norteamericano.

En Jamaica la década inicio con el final del gobierno de Bruce Golding del conservador Partido Laborista de Jamaica (JLP) y más adelante en 2011 el primer mandato de Andrew Holness por la misma formación derechista. En 2012 en un cambio de orientación política asumió su segundo mandato la ex ministra de Trabajo Portia Simpson Miller del social liberal Partido Nacional del Pueblo (PNP) quien desarrollo un programa de reforma social con impacto limitados. Luego hay un nuevo giro conservador y desde 2016 se desarrolló el segundo mandato del propio Holness, bajo la promesa de atracción de inversiones y recuperación económica. En el periodo la economía ha experimentado un periodo de estancamiento del 0.7% promedio del PIB entre 2010-2018, tras la fuerte recesión de 2008-2010 que el último año registro un decrecimiento -1.46%, una leve oscilación en 2011 hasta un nuevo decrecimiento en 2012 del 0.61%, seguida de dinámicas de mínima expansión 2013-2015, que mejoraron en 2016-2018 con el último año en 1.93%, crecimiento similar a 2006, con una isla dependiente del creciente turismo y las remesas de la comunidad jamaiquina en el exterior, así como la exportación de bienes agrícolas principalmente el azúcar y en menor medida la minería de bauxita para la producción de aluminio.

En Colombia el periodo inicia con la aparente continuidad política que suponía el ascenso al gobierno del economista Juan Manuel Santos de extracción oligárquica y Ministro de Defensa de Uribe Vélez, por el neoconservador Partido Social de la Unidad Nacional (Partido de la U) y la coalición uribista Primero Colombia, que fue luego relegido por estrecho margen en 2014 con el apoyo de la coalición de la Unidad Nacional. El gobierno Santos emprendió un largo proceso de negociaciones de paz con la insurgencia de las FARC que llevo al Acuerdo del Teatro Colón de 2017 y la consecución del presidente del Premio Nobel de Paz, en medio de la continuidad de las políticas económicas neoliberales. Capitalizando la impopularidad del gobierno Santos, en 2018 se presenta el regreso del uribismo al poder con la administración del senador Iván Duque por el ultraderechista Centro Democrático y una nueva coalición uribista y conservadora, que ha buscado aprobar una agenda de ajuste económico en materia pensional, laboral y tributaria, en medio de la intensificación de la violencia contra los líderes y lideresas sociales especialmente de las zonas rurales. En la izquierda se experimentó la división y la relativa crisis del socialdemócrata Polo Democrático Alternativo (PDA), el ascenso del centro izquierdista Movimiento Progresista luego Colombia Humana que en las elecciones presidenciales de 2018 con Gustavo Petro el ex alcalde de Bogotá y antiguo líder guerrillero del M-19, obtuvo el mejor resultado de la izquierda en elecciones en la historia reciente.

La década puede describirse para la economía nacional como de moderado crecimiento con 3.8% de aumento promedio del PIB entre 2010 y 2018. El periodo estuvo marcado por la salida de la crisis de 2009 que dejo un promedio de crecimiento ese año del 1.2% del PIB, la más baja cifra desde la recesión de 1999 y luego de fuerte recuperación con el 7.36% de 2011, el número más alto desde 1970, con una subsecuente y paulatina caída, marcada por una enfermedad holandesa de auge de la materias primas y crisis de los otros rubros económicos, sobre todo desde 2014 que llega al crecimiento del 1.35% de 2017, momento a partir del cual se registra una dinámica de moderada reactivación en 2018.

En Venezuela se dio el final del gobierno del antiguo militar Hugo Chávez Frías con su debilitamiento y muerte en junio de 2013 y el ascenso del antiguo líder sindical obrero Nicolás Maduro, canciller y vicepresidente de Chávez, ambos del Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV) formado desde el poder y la coalición del Gran Polo Patriótico. Le llegada de Maduro supuso un cierre autoritario en el país que aunado a la profunda crisis económica facilito el crecimiento y radicalización de la oposición derechista que por primera vez en 17 años gano las elecciones parlamentarias de 2015. El deterioro de la situación económica y las fraudulentas elecciones de la Asamblea Nacional Constituyente en 2017 y las violentas protesta cívicas de la oposición brutalmente reprimidas por el gobierno, condujeron una honda crisis orgánica, que tomo la forma desde 2019 de una situación de doble poder, con un gobierno paralelo en cabeza del presidente de la Asamblea Nacional y antiguo líder estudiantil derechista Juan Gaudio del social liberal Voluntad Popular, administración contrapuesta que ha logrado el reconocimiento de la mayoría de países de la región, ha buscado sin éxito la intervención militar y el golpe de Estado contra Maduro, sin lograr control efectivo del territorio.

La economía venezolana vivió una década de gran crisis con un decrecimiento promedio del -5.9% del PIB entre 2010-2018 y seis años de crecimiento negativo, incluida una depresión que inicio en 2014. El país vivió una lenta recuperación de la crisis de 2009-2010, que lo llevo a un crecimiento alto en 2011-2012 que alcanzo este último año el 5.62%, el más alto desde 2008, para pasar desde entonces a un fuerte contracción, primero con desaceleración en 2013 con 1.34%, luego de fuerte crisis en 2014-2015 con el último año promediando caídas del -6.22% y tras esto de honda depresión en 2016-2018, llegando este último año al descenso del -19.62%, que representa la cifra individual y la suma total de decrecimiento más severa de la historia contemporánea del país, rebasando por mucho las crisis de 1980, 1989, 1999 y 2002, sumadas. La República Bolivariana paso de un auge importante y una posición de crecimiento líder en América Latina además de un proyecto fallido de diversificación productiva y estímulo a la producción agrícola e industrial, con el barril de petróleo que llego a máximos de 115 dólares al barril en 2012, a la recesión de 2014 que llevo el precio de crudo en 2016 a 26 dólares, una contracción severa que supuso arrasar con las importantes conquistas sociales del chavismo y no hizo sino agravarse aún después de la moderada recomposición del crudo sobre 56 dólares de 2018, en parte por las grandes sanciones económicas y en parte por la masiva fuga de capitales. La severa crisis ha llevado a que en la actualidad se presente un fenómeno inédito en la historia del país, intensificado sobre todo desde 2018, como lo es la migración masiva de más de 4 millones de personas, en su mayoría jóvenes de clase media y trabajadora que han decidido viajar al resto del continente.

En Guyana se dio el final de la administración del economista Bharrat Jagdeo del izquierdista Partido Progresista del Pueblo (PPP) y luego el segundo gobierno del también economista y líder campesino Donald Ramotar del propio PPP. Desde 2015 se da en un giro más moderado, con la administración del militar retirado David Granger del centro izquierdista partido Asociación para la Unidad Nacional (ANPU) que impulsa un relativo giro hacia el mercado. La economía del país ha vivido un importante crecimiento del 4% promedio del PIB en 2010-2018, con un ciclo de expansión que llega al pico de 2012 con 5.27%, similar al de 2007, un parcial desaceleración que llega a 2.1% en 2017, que en cifras es algo inferior al bajón de 2008 y una importante recuperación en 2018 con 4.1%. El hallazgo nuevas reservas de petróleo en 2019 parece asomar al país a un boom económico inédito, que sin embargo se prevé difícil de controlar.

En Surinam se desarrolló la larga administración del militar retirado Dési Bouterse del nacionalista de izquierda Partido Nacional Democrático (PND) electo en 2010, donde se aprobaron proyectos de integración regional y una polémica ley de amnistía que lo beneficiaba a él y a sus socios del golpe de Estado de 1980. Bouterse logro relegirse en 2015 consiguiendo mayoría en el poder legislativo y local, con un segundo mandato centrado en los intentos parciales de reactivación económica. El país experimento un muy lento crecimiento del 1.3% del PIB promedio entre 2010 y 2018, que inicio con un fuerte crecimiento en 2010-2011, registrado este último año una expansión del 5.84%, la más alta desde 2006, seguido de una moderada desaceleración en 2012-2013 que llego el último año 2.93%, a la que sucedió un fuerte periodo de crisis que llego al decrecimiento de 2015-2016, registrándose este último año una contracción del -5.56%, la más severa desde 1993. Tras la crisis se siguió una ligera recuperación que llego al 1.9% en 2018 y parece continuar desde entonces. La dinámica económica estuvo ligada a los vaivenes de las exportaciones primarias, especialmente arroz y un gran crecimiento de la inversión china.

En Ecuador se vivió la mayor parte del segundo mandato del economista y tecnócrata Rafael Correa, así como su proyecto de segunda reelección en 2013, que supuso la presidencia continuada más larga de la historia republicana del país y se vio envuelta de un proyecto desarrollista y de fuerte control sobre la oposición. Tras las elecciones de 2017, se vio el ascenso con fuerte discontinuidad política del empresario y expresidente de Correa, Lenin Moreno, ambos del partido Revolución Ciudadana (RC), quien marcando fuerte distancia con Correa a quien busco judicializar, y para afrontar la crisis económica decide impulsar un severo plan de ajuste económico parcialmente derrotado por el movimiento popular en 2019. El país experimento un crecimiento moderado del 3.2% entre 2010 y 2018, con un importante que entre 2010 y 2011 que llego este último año al 7.86%, el más importante desde 2004, para pasar una dinámica de desaceleración relativa que se profundizo en 2015, y llego a su punto más bajo en 2016 con un decrecimiento -1.22%, el más significativo desde la crisis de 1999, y desde ahí una lente recuperación que llego en 2018 a 1.37% y se desarrolla de manera lente hasta hoy. Esta dinámica se explica por el desarrollo de proyectos de infraestructura y la intensificación de las explotaciones primarias.

En Perú el periodo inicio con el último año de la administración del segundo gobierno del político Alan García del derechista APRA, que luego fue seguido con un giro hacia el centro en 2011 con la administración del ex militar Ollanta Humala del Partido Nacionalista quien desarrollo políticos sociales focalizadas, mientras afianzaba la matriz productiva basada en minería. Luego de 2016 se presentó un retorno derechista de la mano del empresario y antiguo ministro Pedro Pablo Kuczynski que arrinconando por escándalos de corrupción debió dejar el gobierno en marzo de 2018 en manos de su vicepresidente Martín Vizcarra ambos del movimiento político PPK. El país se vio fuertemente sacudido con el escándalo Odebrecht, que involucra en hechos de corrupción a los presidentes de los últimos 20 años y el ascenso del derechista Fuerza Popular de Keiko Fujimori como principal partido del país. En materia económica esta fue una década de crecimiento económico alto con un promedio de 4.7% del PIB entre 2010-2018, que inicio con la gran recuperación de 2010 con 8.33%, similar a lo obtenido en 2008, seguido de un menos veloz crecimiento sobre el 5.8% entre 2011-2013, luego una importante desaceleración en 2014 que llega al 2.38%, el promedio más bajo desde la crisis de 2009, y luego un más lento periodo de crecimiento, con la relativa disminución en 2017 al 2.51% y una nueva recuperación que en 2018 llego al 3.97%. Esta dinámica de crecimiento estuvo jalonada por las exportaciones mineras y el desarrollo de la infraestructura interna, en medio de la continuación de los problemas estructurales

En Bolivia se dio el largo periodo presidencial del líder sindical indígena Evo Morales del indigenista de izquierda Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) con el desarrollo de la mayor parte de su segundo mandato obtenido en 2009 y su segundo reelección desde 2014. El histórico líder cocalero lidero un importante proceso de modernización económica e institucional en el país, pero se fue debilitando hacia el final de la década en medio de diversos escándalos por su gestión, como lo expreso la pérdida del referendo constitucional de 2016, que sin embargo logro sobrepasar. Más adelante las irregularidades presentadas en las reñidas elecciones presidenciales de 2019 a las que Morales volvía a aspirar, condujeron a las protestas cívicas lideradas por la derecha en la llamada revolución de las pititas y en medio de esta situación el golpe de Estado encabezado por las Fuerzas de Seguridad, que lleva la asunción de la senadora Jeanine Añez del conservador Movimiento Demócrata Social, quien en su corto mandato ha implementado una severa política represiva contra las protestas que rechazan el golpe. Durante la administración de Morales, la economía vivió un gran crecimiento del 4.9% entre 2010-2018, con una gran curva de expansión entre 2010 con 4.12% y 2013 del 6.79%, el porcentaje más alto desde 1975, y una desaceleración relativa que no impidió el mantenimiento de niveles altos entre 2014-2018. Esta dinámica estuvo impulsada por el aumento de los precios de las materias primas, el programa de desarrollo de la infraestructura interna y estímulos al consumo, así como la reducción de la pobreza extrema y el desempleo.

En Paraguay se presentó la segunda mitad del gobierno del sacerdote progresista ligado a los movimientos campesinos, Fernando Lugo del centro izquierdista Frente Iguasú que al tiempo que desarrollaba ciertos programas sociales impulso una política económica liberal que acerco al país a organismos multilaterales como el FMI. Tras los sucesos de Curuguaty en 2012 que llevaron a la muerte de 17 personas durante un desalojo policial de una hacienda ocupada por campesinos, el gobierno Lugo se vio afectado ese mismo año por un proceso de destitución fuertemente irregular, por lo que fue sucedido por el cuestionado gobierno interino del su vicepresidente, el oligárquico Federico Franco del Partido Liberal Radical Auténtico (PLRA), que potencio la siembra de cultivos transgénicos, las inversiones de capital internacional y se vio involucrado en múltiples escándalos de corrupción. Desde 2013 se dio el retorno de gobiernos conservadores con el empresario Horacio Cartes del Partido Colorado con su intento reeleccionista y desde 2019 la administración del millonario Mario Abdo Benítez también colorado. La economía nacional vivió un gran crecimiento del 4.9% en promedio del PIB para 2010-2018, con una gran recuperación de 2010 que llego al 11.14% el porcentaje más alto desde 1980, vivió luego un acelerado bajón que llego en 2012 a un crecimiento marginal del 0.523, similar a la depresión de 2001, con una posterior recuperación en 2013 con 8.41% y desde ahí un cierta estabilidad con crecimiento superior al 3%, con un pequeño pico en 2017 con 4.95%. Está dinámica de expansión estuvo jalonada por el aumento de los precios de la soja y las inversiones inmobiliarias y de comercio.

En Brasil se experimentó desde 2010 el primer mandato de la antigua líder guerrillera y economista Dilma Roussef, jefa de gabinete de Lula y del Partido de los Trabajadores (PT), quien mantuvo las políticas de desarrollo industrial y agrícola con programa sociales grandes pero limitados. Tras las reñidas elecciones de 2015 en las que Dilma fue relegida con un programa contrario al ajuste que luego termino por impulsar, el gobierno progresista fue perdiendo apoyo electoral, afectado además por las renuncias por corrupción de parte de su gabinete. En agosto 2016 culmino el proceso de destitución irregular de la presidente que llevo al ascenso del abogado y vicepresidente Michel Temer del centro derechista Movimiento Democrático Brasilero (MDB), tenido como el mayor aliado de Odebrecht en el país, quien profundizo el ajuste en curso. Luego en las elecciones presidenciales de 2018 de las que Lula como candidato más popular fue prescrito, se registró el ascenso del ultraderechista y antiguo militar golpista y líder parlamentario Jair Bolsonaro del Partido Social Liberal (PSL), del que luego se retiraría para formar una ultra reaccionaria Alianza por Brasil, con un fuerte programa de conservadurismo cultural, avance de la agroindustria sobre el territorio y brutales ajustes económicos. La principal economía del subcontinente vivió una década de estancamiento con un crecimiento de 1.3% del PIB entre 2010-2018, iniciando con el gran crecimiento de 7.52% en 2010, el más alto desde 1986, y luego una fuerte desaceleración hasta 2012 que llega 1.92% en 2012, una leve recuperación en 2013 seguida de una fuerte depresión en 2015-2016 que llego en el primer año -3.54%, el porcentaje más bajo desde 1981, y tras este decrecimiento, una leve recuperación desde 2017 que parece continuar.

En Chile se experimentó desde inicios de 2010 el primer mandato del empresario y economista Sebastián Piñera del pinochetista Renovación Nacional (RN) administración marcada por importantes resistencias populares a las políticas neoliberales. En 2014 se experimentó el retorno al poder de la ex presidenta y médica Michel Bachelet del Partido Socialista ahora en la coalición con la Nueva Mayoría, que ampliaba la anterior coalición de la Concertación, que impulso reformas en materia de salud y educación, exploro sin éxito el proceso de una nueva constitución y vivió el estallido de los escándalos de corrupción Caval y Penta. En 2018 se presentó un nuevo regreso de Piñera a la presidencia con la coalición Chile Vamos, en una elección que supuso el debilitamiento del sistema de partidos chileno y un gobierno que pronto afronto un estallido social que afectó severamente su gobernabilidad y lo llevo a plantear la salida institucional de la Asamblea Constitucional. En el periodo, la economía del país experimento un modesto crecimiento promedio del 3.6% del PIB entre 2010-2018, con un periodo de expansión tras la recesión de 2009 que llego a 6.11% en 2011, con una importante contracción en 2013-2014 que llega a 1.76% este último año, una leve recuperación en 2015 con 2.3% y a partir de ahí una senda de crecimiento marginal que se supera solo en 2018, dinámica jalonada por el alza y las bajas del cobre y otros productos mineros en el mercado internacional.

En Argentina se desarrolló el final del primer gobierno de la abogada y senadora Cristina Fernández de Kirchner por el nacionalista Partido Justicialista (PJ), que conseguiría su relección en 2011, en un mandato marcado por políticas sociales moderadas y una creciente inestabilidad económica. Luego en 2015 se presenta un giro a la derecha con el ascenso del empresario y antiguo alcalde de Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri de Propuesta Republicana (PRO) y la derechista coalición Cambiemos, con una administración marcadamente favorable a los mercados y una política de ajuste económico. En medio del desgaste político y económico de la gestión Macri se presenta un nuevo cambio de signo político y el ascenso en 2019 del abogado y docente Alberto Fernández, escogido por la propia Cristina, por el centrista Frente de Todos de liderazgo peronista. La economía vivió un periodo de crecimiento lento del 1.8% en 2010-2018, con fuerte sobresaltos que iniciaron en 2010 con la recuperación 10.12% del PIB desacelerada luego a 6.0% en 2011, y desde ahí tres mico ciclos de decrecimiento y posterior crecimiento lento que empeoraron durante los últimos años de gestión de Macri, incluido el crecimiento negativo de 2014 con -2.51, el más bajo desde 2009. La economía del país vivió el auge de las exportaciones rurales y ciertas industrias intermedias en la primera mitad de la década, pero desde 2017 una recesión que supuso su mayor descenso desde 2001.

En Uruguay se experimentó desde 2010 el gobierno del antiguo líder tupamaro y ex ministro de Agricultura, José Mujica proveniente del Movimiento de Participación Popular del centro izquierdista Frente Amplio (FA), con un programa que combinaba mayor gasto social con leyes pro-empresariales y una retórica política que lo llevaría a la fama mundial. En 2015 se presentó el regreso a la presidencia del médico Tabaré Vásquez cercano al Partido Socialista del FA, y asesor del Fondo Monetario Internacional. Tras el desgaste de Vásquez en medio de cierta desaceleración económica, se dio en 2019 la ajustada victoria del abogado Luis Lacalle Pou, hijo de un presidente blanco, por el derechista Partido Nacional. La economía vivió una década de crecimiento moderado del 3.4%, con un importante auge en 2010 con la expansión del 7.8%, la más alta desde 1997, seguida de una relativa desaceleración entre 2011-2012, un repunte hasta el 4.63% en 2013, y una nueva dinámica de reducción en 2014 que tuvo su punto más bajo en 2015 con 0.37%, la cifra más reducida desde 2003, y desde ese entonces un leve crecimiento que en 2017 llegaría a 2.59%. La dinámica de crecimiento estuvo jalonado por los vaivenes de las exportaciones rurales.

Movimientos populares

A nivel general esta fue una década de importante actividad de los movimientos sociales con los importantes periodos de auge de 2011 y 2013, así como de subsecuente contracción manteniendo niveles altos de actividad. De forma más reciente y más profunda se registró la gran explosión de lucha social contra la desigualdad de 2019 con eje en Puerto Rico, Colombia, Ecuador y Chile, y la dividida movilización en Bolivia. La estrategia de subordinación de las organizaciones populares a los gobiernos progresistas expresada en organismos como el Alba de los movimientos sociales y el proceso de burocratización y control autoritario que esto implico, trajo resultados modestos en términos reivindicativos y de aplazamiento indefinido de las grandes reformas sociales. Por otro lado la estrategia dejo en general en malas condiciones para resistir a mismos, cuando se presentó el giro derechista que tiene como uno de sus ejes el combate y la desmovilización de estas organizaciones, lo que no impidió que la nueva ola neoliberal encontrara una importante oposición popular.

La actividad sindical urbana pareció mantener su relativa preminencia y liderazgo sobre otras luchas y organizaciones sociales, pero fue muy importante el desenvolvimiento de otros movimientos clasistas, como lo expresa el crecimiento de la movilización de los sectores barriales populares y reactivación de la lucha campesina en diversos países de la región. Hubo también una importante actividad estudiantil universitaria y secundaria, con importante capacidad para generar grandes coyunturas críticas, así como luchas por trabajo o servicios sociales como la vivienda, el transporte o las pensiones que resultaron aglutinando diversos sectores. Las más importantes novedades las constituyeron por un lado la irrupción muchas veces masiva del movimiento de mujeres de liderazgo feminista contra la violencia machista, por el aborto legal y la educación igualitaria, quizás el que ha conseguido los mayores logros de esta época, si bien más en materia cultural que en el terreno reivindicativo, y por otro la extensión del movimiento ambientalista, especialmente de base rural y local, con valiosas resistencias al extractivismo y sitúan al subcontinente como la región del mundo con mayor cantidad de movilizaciones sociales ambientales.

Especificando por actores, notamos que el movimiento obrero de la región tuvo una actividad diversa aunque continuada. Se experimentó el desarrollo orgánico de la burocrática Confederación Sindical de las Américas (CSA) formada en 2008 y más adelante la escisión de un minoritario sector derechista que formo la Alternativa Democrática Sindical de las Américas (ADS) que busca adaptarse mejor a posibles pactos con los nuevos gobiernos conservadores. En el periodo, hubo un importante crecimiento de la sindicalización en Argentina y Uruguay jalonado por luchas independientes y ciertas políticas de los gobiernos desarrollista, con lo que se consiguió volver a superar el 30% de la población asalariada, al tiempo que se mantenía un estancamiento relativo en Costa Rica, Brasil, Bolivia y México, y un crecimiento modesto en Colombia y Perú. Continúo siendo central la actividad del movimiento de maestras estatales de educación primaria y secundaria, así como el sindicalismo en el sector educativo de empleadas docentes y administrativos de universidades e institutos técnicos y más en general de las trabajadoras estatales, particularmente de servicios públicos y los ministerios. Mantuvieron su peso las trabajadoras del estratégico sector minero energético, especialmente del petróleo, así como las obreras de la industria de la construcción en algunos países, y las proletarias de la industria metalmecánica de los países más desarrollados. Sin embargo hubo también importante desarrollos sindicales en la industria maquiladora ya automovilística en México, ya textil en el norte de centro-américa, así como nuevas formas organizativas de asalariados rurales, y crecimiento importante pero insuficiente entre las trabajadoras del comercio, la logística y los servicios.

En materia cronológica en 2009-2010 se desarrollan huelgas obreras en las maquilas textiles de honduras y en este último año un paro general del sector eléctrico en México en marzo ante la liquidación de la empresa estatal de energía. En 2011 se presentó la huelga general de 48 horas en el mes de agosto en Chile para exigir una reforma tributaria. En 2012 en enero se desarrolló el cese laboral de trabajadores municipales en Guatemala y más adelante en agosto la huelga de trabajadores del subterráneo de Buenos Aires y el paro general de noviembre en Argentina por mejoras salariales. En 2013 se presentó la huelga nacional de docentes en México contra la reforma educativa y el desarrollo del día nacional de lucha en Brasil con ceses laborales en junio por políticas sociales y reducción de la jornada laboral. En 2014 se desarrolló un paro general en Paraguay por reajuste salarial en marzo y en Brasil importante huelga de recolectores de basura, sumada a conflictos de docentes y universitarios. En 2015 estallo en Uruguay la huelga general en agosto contra los recortes al presupuesto social. En 2016 se desarrolló un cese laboral de los trabajadores de la salud en El Salvador en octubre y en Argentina la marcha federal por diferentes regiones del país entre agosto y septiembre contra la política económica del gobierno. En 2017 se presentaron las grandes huelgas de maestros en Colombia, la más general, Perú, la más larga de dos meses y Argentina, más dispersa, dándose en este último país grandes movilizaciones obreras en marzo con elementos de rebelión contra la burocracia sindical, así como en Colombia la huelga de pilotos de Avianca, el más largo cese laboral en la historia de la navegación comercial a nivel mundial. En 2018 se desarrolló en Costa Rica uno de los movimientos más importantes de la década, con el paro general de 90 días contra los proyectos de reforma fiscal, a la que luego se sumaron la paralización de actividades de maestros en Guatemala durante un mes con toma de edificios públicos en abril y ese mismo mes el cese laboral de la construcción en Panamá, así como en Argentina las grandes protestas obreras y populares en diciembre contra la reforma jubilatoria. En 2019 se registró la huelga de las maquilas automotrices que luego se expandió a múltiples empresas de la región de Tamaulipas en enero de 2019 en México, el paro general en Brasil contra la reforma pensional y los recortes sociales en junio, en Perú en septiembre el cese de actividades de los trabajadores mineros por negociación colectiva que luego confluyo en noviembre con una huelga del sector público ilegalizada por el gobierno y en Paraguay el paro de los trabajadores del Estado contra el recorte del presupuesto público en noviembre del mismo año.

En el movimiento campesino se vivió una actividad moderada pero importante, con momentos de auge en las grandes jornadas de movilización de 2013 y 2019, pese a la gran burocratización de varias organizaciones integrantes de la Confederación Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo (CLOC) Vía Campesina, que sacrificaron su políticas de reforma rural por su alianza con gobiernos progresistas que mantuvieron las políticas de fomento del agro negocio. En el movimiento campesino continuo perdiendo relativa centralidad la lucha directa por la tierra, y en cambio aumentan demandas diversas como los derechos humanos, la protección del medio ambiente y los servicios públicos. En términos de las organizaciones se mantuvo una situación de fragmentación en la base y coordinación por arriba, y un desarrollo sobre todo concentrada en zonas de colonización reciente afectadas por la agroindustria, aunque también se registra actividad en económicas rurales consolidadas golpeadas por las políticas de librecambio.

En términos cronológicos en 2011 en Colombia se realizan protestas campesinas en el centro del país en el mes de octubre contra los bajos precios de los productos. En 2013 también en Colombia se desarrolla el gran paro nacional agrario entre agosto y septiembre con presencia tanto en las zonas de colonización como en sectores de agricultura tradicional, en un movimiento que consiguió importantes acuerdos con el gobierno y lleva a la formación organismos como Dignidad Agropecuaria y la Cumbre Agraria. En 2014 una vez más en Colombia se presentó un segundo y más reducido paro nacional agrario, contra el incumplimiento de acuerdos anteriores. En 2015 en Honduras se desarrolla en octubre un paro campesino y cívico contra la criminalización de líderes rurales. En 2016 en Colombia se desarrolla en junio el tercer paro nacional agrario más localizado que los anteriores, en Guatemala en mayo se dan una movilización nacional por tierra y subsidios inician ese mismo año en Argentina los verdurazos y frutazos de diversas organizaciones campesinas en las ciudades, en protesta por los bajos precios agrícolas. En 2018 en Perú se vivió un paro agrario entre enero y febrero fuerte entre cultivadores de papa, por mayor intervención estatal y en marzo sucede lo mismo en Paraguay, en demanda de reforma agraria. En 2019 importante participación campesina en las grandes protestas populares de Ecuador y en menor medida en el paro cívico del 25 de abril en Colombia, una participación dividida en Bolivia en la coyuntura de las elecciones presidenciales y el golpe de Estado, al tiempo que en Perú se desarrollaba una huelga nacional del sector en mayo y en México una protesta por mayores ayudas públicas en agosto.

Por otro lado, el movimiento estudiantil vivió un periodo de actividad importante, con los relativos auges de 2011 y 2018-2019, intercalados con periodos de parcial repliegue, que en ocasiones son más notorios que los de otros movimientos sociales. En este periodo se mantuvo la gran actividad de organismos como la Confederación de Estudiantes de Chile (Confech), principal actor regional, que vivió una importante extensión con la formación de Federación Estudiantiles en nuevas universidades privadas. Aunque es claro el estancamiento de organismos como la Organización Continental Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Estudiantes (OCLAE) y de grandes organizaciones burocratizadas como la Federación Universitaria Argentina (FUA) en donde la izquierda híper partidista perdió la dirección de la mayoría de federaciones locales donde tenía presencia o la Unión Nacional de Estudiantes (UNE) de Brasil, desinflada por el petismo. Al tiempo se desarrolló desde 2016 un importante activismo estudiantil con demandas feministas en torno a la educación no sexista en Chile, contra el acoso sexual en México y por el aborto legal en Argentina, que se extendió en gran medida al resto del continente.

En una línea de tiempo, en 2010 se desarrollaron en Argentina grandes movilizaciones de los estudiantes secundarios y universitarios por inversión en infraestructura. En 2011 se desarrollaron las grandes jornadas de paro estudiantil en Puerto Rico, el estudiantazo en Chile liderado por la Confech y en Colombia las movilizaciones de octubre-noviembre de la MANE. En 2012 se presentó una nueva movilización en Chile, esta vez con gran actividad de estudiantes secundarios contra las sanciones que quisieron imponer autoridades sobre el movimiento anterior, mientras en México se desenvolvía el movimiento Yo Soy 132 en mayo y junio contra el autoritarismo político. En 2013 en Colombia se desarrolla un localizado paro nacional universitario en el mes de octubre y en Venezuela un paro nacional de profesores universitario por mejoras salariales que fue acompañado por estudiantes opositores. En 2014 en México entre septiembre y diciembre se desenvolvió una huelga estudiantil del Instituto Politécnico contra una reforma inconsulta del reglamento interno. En 2015 se desarrolló un parcial paro nacional universitario en Colombia por la deuda histórica del Estado con las universidades públicas. En 2016 en Chile se volvió a experimentar una gran movilización estudiantil entre abril y julio en la coyuntura de la reforma educativa y en Argentina una importante lucha regional en mayo por el presupuesto universitario. En 2017 se registró la huelga general de la Universidad de Puerto Rico entre abril y junio amparada por la Confederación Estudiantil Nacional contra el recorte presupuestal y en Colombia en el segundo semestre paros en diferentes universidades públicas contra los programas de créditos-becas. En 2018 en Colombia se desarrolló el paro nacional universitario de octubre-diciembre en Colombia liderado por la UNEES que logro conquistas importantes frente al gobierno y en Argentina en materia negativa se registró la pérdida de la hegemonía de izquierda en la FUBA. En 2019 se grandes protestas estudiantiles en Brasil contra la reforma educativa autoritaria. Además se registró una gran participación estudiantil en las protestas populares de Guatemala en 2015, Venezuela en 2015 y 2017, Nicaragua en 2018 con el Movimiento Universitario 19 de abril, y de formas más reciente Puerto Rico, Honduras, Chile, Ecuador y Colombia en 2019.

Por su parte, el movimiento de mujeres registro un explosivo aunque fragmentario crecimiento, fundamentalmente concentrado en los países del Cono Sur y en especial Argentina, gracias en parte a instancias como el Encuentro Nacional de Mujeres y el desarrollo de coordinadoras regionales y sectoriales. Se consolido así en esta década, especialmente en su segunda mitad, la de la más extensa y profunda movilización de mujeres de la historia reciente de la región. En orden cronológico, en 2010 en marzo se presentaron movilizaciones en varios países de centro y Suramérica coordinadas por la Marcha Mundial de Mujeres. En 2011 se presentó en Colombia la huelga sexual de las habitantes de Barbacoa por infraestructura, con resultados parciales. En 2012 en abril en al menos 10 países se organizaron múltiples marchas de las putas replicando la experiencia de Canada, contra la violencia hacia las mujeres. En 2015 en Argentina se organizó la movilización ni una menos en Argentina contra los feminicidios que llamo a un paro nacional de mujeres y consiguió réplicas de la marcha en al menos 12 países de la región. Desde 2017 también en Argentina y Uruguay se convocó el 8 de marzo un paro internacional de mujeres, que logro grandes niveles de movilización, aunque no así de anormalidad laboral. Ese mismo periodo se extendió el efecto de la campaña virtual Me Too con diferentes variaciones regionales. En 2018 se dio en Argentina la marea verde que en junio y septiembre impulso movilizaciones por la legalización del aborto, que sin embargo fue vetada en el parlamento, mientras en Chile en abril y mayo se desarrollaban grandes jornadas por una educación no sexista con tomas de colegios y universidades. En 2019 en México se desarrollaron en agosto múltiples protestas con la consigna no me cuidan me violan, contra la violencia sexual de la policía y hacia final de año hubo un importante impacto del performance un violador en tu camino que se extendió desde Chile al resto de países de la región. .

Este también fue un periodo de gran expansión del movimiento ambientalista en la región, en parte surgido como respuesta al aumento de los proyectos extractivos. Se presentaron grandes años de actividad en 2011-2012 y eje regionales en Colombia, Perú y el norte de Centroamérica. En orden temporal, en 2011 en Colombia se presentó una movilización urbana y rural que logra frenar proyecto de minería de oro en el páramo de Santurban, en Guatemala la lucha del pueblo queqchi contra el desalojo de sus tierras por los proyectos extensivos de palma aceitera y azúcar, en Perú en noviembre movilización contra el proyecto Conga de explotación de oro en Cajamarca y se presentan grandes protesta contra el proyecto minero Tía María en Arequipa. Ese mismo año extraordinario en Chile se desata una gran movilización contra el proyecto hidroeléctrico HidroAysén, finalmente bloqueado y en Bolivia la movilizaciones contra la carretera que atravesaba el territorio indígena y parque natural Tipnis. En 2012 en Colombia se desarrollan protestas en enero contra la hidroeléctrica El Quimbo que no obtienen los objetivos esperados y contra la desviación del rio ranchería en La Guajira que resulta exitosa y en Argentina se registran protestas contra la minería a cielo abierto en Catamarca. En 2015 en Brasil se presenta la movilización de las víctimas del desastre generado por la ruptura de la presa Samarco que condujo a que población de Bento Rodrigues fuera sepultada. En 2016 en Honduras es frenada la hidroeléctrica de Agua Zarca y es asesinada la activista Berta Cáceres. En 2017 en Colombia en septiembre se desarrolla el paro cívico del sur de Bogotá de bajo acatamiento, con eje en la demanda del cierre del basurero Doña Juana. Ya en 2019 en septiembre hay expresiones regionales en varias ciudades de la región en el marco de la Huelga Mundial por el clima, al tiempo que hay presencia del activismo ambientalista en las protestas populares de Chile y Colombia.

Otros movimientos populares también se desarrollaron durante la época en la región. Así se mantuvo la actividad del fragmentado movimiento de trabajadores desocupados en Argentina que tuvo una importante reactivación desde 2016, ya articulada en el burocrático Triunvirato piquetero o ya en el Frente de Lucha Piquetera por reivindicaciones de más trabajos, mejores salarios y presupuesto para alimentos. En las ciudades continuo y se incrementó la gran actividad de los dispersos movimientos barriales, con importante desarrollos del Movimiento Sin Techo en Brasil o por la vivienda digna en Chile. También se adelantaron importantes movilizaciones por los servicios públicos, especialmente por el transporte como lo muestran los desarrollos en 2013 de Brasil con el Movimiento Pase Libre de Brasil o en 2018 en Chila las evasiones en el Transantiago, así como diversas movilizaciones contra los tarifazos y suspensiones de servicio en Argentina. Al tiempo se desarrollaron importantes luchas indígenas del pueblo Mapuche en la Patagonia de Argentina y la Araucanía en Chile por tierras ancestrales, de los pueblos kichwa y saraguros de la sierra en Ecuador por autonomía, en Colombia del pueblo nasa en el Cauca a partir primero de la minga y luego de las jornadas de liberación de la madre tierra por territorios y acuerdos incumplidos y de la continuidad en México del proyecto zapatista, con los territorios autónomos y el intento fallido de la candidatura presidencial de la lideresa indígena María del Jesús Patricio “Marichuy”. También se presentó actividad del movimiento negro, con gran actividad urbana en Brasil e importantes participación en conflictos indígenas y campesinos en Colombia.

El institucionalizado movimiento de derechos humanos mantuvo importantes niveles de actividad con la denuncias de desaparición de personas en México con el caso Ayotizinapa, en Argentina por Santiago Maldonado y por el juicio y castigo de los represores y en Perú contra el indulto a Fujimori, así como las movilizaciones contra los asesinatos de líderes y lideresas sociales en Honduras y Colombia. El grande pero despolitizado movimiento de las diversidades sexuales, se extendió por la región y adquirió importantes características de lucha en 2014 contra la persecución al interior de las instituciones educativas en Colombia tras el caso de Sergio Urrego y en 2018 contra el fundamentalismo anti derechos en Brasil, además sé que se vio una mayor irrupción de actores como las mujeres trans, tradicionales marginadas del movimiento gay. Continúo con un importante crecimiento la actividad del movimiento por la liberación animal con grandes demostraciones contra la tauromaquia y otros espectáculos crueles contra los animales no humanos en México, Colombia y Perú

[1] Todas las referencias económicas de este escrito están tomadas de la base de datos en línea del Banco Mundial que en solo recoge para febrero de 2020 números entre 2010-2018.

aotearoa / pacific islands / miscellaneous / news report Saturday February 22, 2020 06:48 byPink Panther

NZ politicians are embroiled in a financial scandal during an election year.

Just when it seemed the 2020 General Election (scheduled for September) was shaping up to be another yawnfest both National (traditionally one of the main parties of government, currently in opposition) and New Zealand First (a minor Right-Wing populist party now in the coalition government) have found themselves embroiled in a scandal that could upset the political landscape, or at least the outcome of the election itself.

The scandal that threatens to take down long-term political zombie Winston Peters and his New Zealand First vehicle does not directly involve the main government party, Labour. However, the latest polls mean that the parties Prime Minister Ardern needs to form a coalition government with, may not get back into Parliament. The Colmar Brunton Poll has the Greens at 5 percent and NZ First at 3 percent. Labour polled 41 percent. National polled at 46 percent. Unless New Zealand First, ACT [a very small purist free-market party] and the Maori Party win electorate seats, National will also have problems forming a coalition government. Under New Zealand’s Mixed Member Proportional representation system a party must win either 5 percent of the party votes or an electorate seat to gain representation in Parliament.

So what is this scandal?

Under the electoral laws any political party donations that are at least $15,000 must be made public so the everyone knows who is bankrolling them. To evade this legal requirement it has been alleged that in this case the two Directors of Conrad Properties and other entities owned by these Directors donated a total of $55,000 in four payments to the New Zealand First Foundation so they could avoid the public disclosure requirements of the Electoral Act. (Radio New Zealand, February 18th, 2020) The Electoral Commission, which oversees all matters relating to elections and enforcing the Electoral Act, including political party donations, views the failure to disclose these donations as a breach of the public disclosure provisions of the Act. However, this is not the only reason why there is such a frenzy.

The problem stems from the claim many of the donors, including the two directors from Conrad Properties, were using their 2017 election campaign donations as leverage to press NZ First MPs’ to make changes to the Overseas Investments Amendment Act 2018 that would personally benefit these directors and other donors in the housing sector. No matter how much Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters resorts to the standard Trump tactic of accusing journalists of fabricating news stories and smearing his reputation (Winston Peters’ message to his supporters dated February 18th) the reality is that many voters will see this as cronyism at best and corruption at worst.

Such donations also raised eyebrows among some former New Zealand First members who wondered how a political party that was supposed to be on the bones of its arse (according to Doug Woolerton, one of the two trustees who oversaw the running of the Foundation) was suddenly able to afford a campaign bus for Peter’s campaign in his (failed) electoral campaign for the Northland seat in 2017.

Even more intriguing was that David Carter, the National MP for Northland since 2017, had also been approached by these donors because he was on the select committee that was hearing submissions on the Overseas Investments Amendment Bill. This is nothing unusual in NZ politics: people personally approaching a Member of Parliament to discuss legislation is commonplace even in this day in age. However, in the context of their donations to the New Zealand First Foundation, this meeting has struck some people as highly suspect. Carter himself claimed that he was surprised to learn that the directors of Conrad Properties had donated money to the NZ First Foundation.

This problem of wealthy people donating large sums of money to a political party but avoiding the disclosure laws by donating it in smaller sums has also come to haunt the National Party. This came particularly after it was revealed that an unnamed wealthy Chinese businessman made two donations of $100,000 in 2017 and $100,050 in 2018 to National without this amount being disclosed. (Newshub, February 18th) This case has resulted in four people being prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office. Three of the four people being prosecuted are being charged over deceptive practices in trying to cover up these donations according to the Auckland District Court. The fourth is being charged with the same charges relating to the other three but is also being charged with misleading SFO investigators.

These people are expected to appear in court on February 25th. On February 19th, Newshub released their names. They are Zhang Yikun, the businessman who donated $100,00 to the National Party; Colin Zheng, Zhang’s business partner and perspective National Party candidate; Hengjia Zheng and JamiLee Ross, the already scandal-soaked MP for Botany. As expected Simon Bridges, the leader of the National Party, denied knowing anything about these donations in a media interview he gave on February 18th.

Despite these scandals Ardern has displayed what at first sight is a surprising lack of decisiveness. The same person who had no qualms about immediately banning military style weapons and generally plays on her own supposed dynamism, has taken a hands off approach to the scandals impacting her coalition partner. When she was interviewed by RadioNZ on February 17th, she said: “Indeed, I’m the Prime Minister, I run the government. I do not run three separate parties, so I don’t think it’s unfair or unreasonable to say that these are matters for New Zealand First, not for me.”

According to a RadioNZ website article dated the same day, she was quoted thus: “It is not conduct I’ve been engaged in. No, I don’t see these things as being explicit to the Cabinet manual, which is the conduct of how we run the government…”. “He [Peters] maintains the role he needs to maintain appropriately as Minister of Foreign Affairs. You’re asking questions of him as leader of a political party … these are matters for him…”. “It is ultimately an MMP environment, it will have separate political parties, they are in charge of their own conduct as party and party leaders. “These aren’t matters that I have any responsibility for. I’m the leader of the Labour Party, I had nothing to do with this and I’m not going to stand here and explain it or defend it because it’s not for me.” “I cannot run both a government and three political parties.”

Here is a Prime Minister stating that serious accusations being made against a key member of her Cabinet are nothing more than an internal NZ First matter that should be left to them to sort out! These accusations threaten to undermine the image of the system she supports and all she can say is that it’s not her concern?! The key to this is probably that once you cut through the smooth PR-generated rhetoric, media hype, advertising and spin, Labour exists as a vehicle that seeks power. That’s what it is for, plain and simple. NZ First is a populist party that specialises in the lowest common denominators of politics such as xenophobia. Since NZ First had sufficient support during the last election to be a serious junior partner, Labour could not alienate them. Though, given their shared nationalism and the anti-Chinese xenophobia Labour stoked up on the housing issue at the time, there isn’t a completely different outlook between them anyway. More importantly,they shared a pursuit for power that was ultimately more motivating than any technical, policy differences or supposed matters of principle. That being the case, it’s hardly surprising really that Ardern is soft pedalling the current scandal.

Ardern is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Winston Peters is a spiteful man and there is no doubt that if she kicked him out of Cabinet she will have to call an early election as he is unlikely to support her on supply and confidence motions. The Labour-led government will be in serious trouble if the poll results prove to be accurate or, worse, the tendency of the Greens to perform worse in elections than the polls holds true, if an early election is called. If she condemns him and kicks him out of Cabinet she will face an election where the chances are she won’t be able to form a coalition government. If she washes her hands of the situation she shows herself to be a moral coward which will almost certainly cost the Labour Party dearly in the election. The only thing that could save her election chances is if Jami-Lee Ross (who is admittedly now an ex-National MP) and Colin Zheng are found guilty of the charges laid against them. This will seriously dent National’s credibility among many swing and undecided voters.
At least she bothered to say something. The Greens have been noteworthy for having nothing whatsoever to say on these scandals. Considering how vocal the Greens have been in the past about holding other political parties to account, this is interesting. Now they have seats at the big table, its not really in their interests to mess with things in a way that might jeopodise their cut of the pie. They would seem to prefer waiting it out, pointing to the puny policy successes they’ve squeezed out of Labour and hoping for the best. Politically they’ve got nowhere to go except to tail behind Labour as the bigger dog anyway.

There is often the lazy and smug assumption in this country that ‘we’ are somehow an exception to the way things work elsewhere. To Anarchists, the scandals that have rocked National and New Zealand First have merely confirmed that this country is not immune to the influence of business elites donating large amounts of money in exchange for favours or, dare I suggest it, buying their way into Parliament. It’s noteworthy that it’s not a crime for wealthy donors to pay out $15,000 or more to a political party, just a crime for political parties not to reveal who made such donations. Just like in failed states such as the U.S.A, wealthy people are buying influence here by offering large donations to political parties they think will be most receptive to their lobbying.

None of this comes as a surprise to us. State-based ‘democracy’ has always been founded upon a link between money and power. You simply can’t obtain power under the current system without raising a lot of money for advertising, meetings, social media promotions, lunches and all sorts of stuff. Wealthy elites influencing the politicians who pass laws that benefit them financially is really just an extreme manifestation of what passes for normal.
The politicians and, by extension, the state itself does not exist primarily to serve the people. It is set up to ensure that the elites within each country or region are able to keep their wealth, privileges and power. As the anarchist activist Lucy Parsons put it a long time ago “Never be deceived that the rich will allow you to vote away their wealth”. Even in the countries that historically some Marxists are fond of calling “deformed workers countries” or “Socialist” the brute reality has been that the state only serves to keep bureaucratic, rather than wealthy, elites entrenched in power.

There are many reasons why Anarchists seek to eradicate the state but the key reason is that without the state these elites would not exist. Without the state there are no laws, no police, no military and no bureaucracies to create, entrench and protect these elites from the workers and everybody else they have bribed, exploited, lied to and terrorised. Attention to the current scandals and this year’s election, should serve to prove that while the scale may differ from elsewhere, this country is no different from any other in that regard.

international / miscellaneous / opinion / analysis Thursday February 20, 2020 08:01 byUniversidade Popular & Movimento dos Trabalhadores Desempregados

This booklet, called Capitalism, Anti-capitalism and Popular Organisation, is a publication of the Popular University of Rio de Janeiro in conjunction with the Movement of Unemployed Workers of Rio de Janeiro (MTD-RJ).

In this co-edition, we thought that a first and important step would be material that explained, in a simple way, the functioning of the capitalist system and offered a critical and current perspective in relation to it. At the same time, this material should offer more than just criticism. It should present constructive elements that could show ways and possibilities of how to fight capitalism and, also, give some perspectives of struggle in the medium and long term.

CAPITALISM, ANTI-CAPITALISM AND POPULAR ORGANISATION

by Universidade Popular
Movimento dos Trabalhadores Desempregados (MTD-RJ)
(Movement of Unemployed Workers)
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, 2009

English translation by Jonathan Payn
Johannesburg, South Africa, 2020

CONTENTS

PRESENTATION
INTRODUCTION

PART 1: CAPITALISM AND ANTI-CAPITALISM

WHAT IS CAPITALISM?
A SOCIETY THAT DOMINATES AND EXPLOITS
A SOCIETY OF CLASSES
THE DOMINANT CLASS (OR BOURGEOISIE)
THE EXPLOITED CLASSES
CLASS STRUGGLE: THE CRISIS INHERENT TO CAPITALISM
PRIVATE PROPERTY
COMMODITY, SALARY AND MARKET
“PRIMITIVE ACCUMULATION”
A GLOBAL AND EXPANSIVE SYSTEM
NATION STATES
IMPERIALISM
ECONOMIC GLOBALISATION
INTERNAL EXPANSION
AND THE STATE?
TO GUARANTEE ACCUMULATION
TO ENSURE LEGITIMACY
THE STATE AND THE CLASS STRUGGLE
A MACHINE TO SEPARATE AND HIERARCHISE
GLOBAL SOCIETY, LIMITED RIGHTS
PUBLIC AND PRIVATE
BUT WHY DON’T WE CHANGE ALL THIS?
FALSE DEMOCRACY
IT IS NOT GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE
A DICTATORSHIP OF CAPITAL
THE HEGEMONY OF THE DOMINANT CLASS
THE IDEOLOGY OF CAPITALISM
THE CULTURE OF CAPITALISM: INDIVIDUALISM
THE CULTURE OF SUCCESS, PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION
CONFORMISM AND PASSIVITY
A TOTAL SYSTEM?

PART 2: POPULAR ORGANISATION

TO STRUGGLE AGAINST CAPITALISM
BUT HOW?
A RELATION OF FORCES
WHY SPEAK ABOUT ORGANISATION?
WHY SPEAK ABOUT POPULAR?
CENTRE-PERIPHERY RELATIONS: RETHINKING EXPLOITED CLASSES
TO STRUGGLE AGAINST DOMINATION
THE WILL TO FIGHT
MASS MOVEMENT OR SIMPLY “SOCIAL MOVEMENTS”?
WHAT IS A SOCIAL MOVEMENT?
FORCE TO GROW AND FIGHT
AUTONOMY: A SOCIAL MOVEMENT MUST NOT BE CAPTURED
NOT EVERYONE WANTS TO CAPTURE
STATES, PARTIES, BUREAUCRATS, ETC.
WHO WANTS TO SUPPORT THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT
COMBATIVENESS: NO TO THE SOCIAL PACT
DIRECT ACTION IN OPPOSITION TO REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY
IS DIRECT ACTION NECESSARILY VIOLENT?
ISN’T DIRECT ACTION OFTEN ILLEGAL?
POLITICS IS NOT FOR THE POLITICIANS
DIRECT DEMOCRACY: WHEN EVERYONE TRULY DECIDES
ETHICS: A PRINCIPLE, A WAY OF CONDUCT
THE IMPORTANCE OF RESPONSIBILITY
SOLIDARITY AND MUTUAL AID
THE STRUGGLE IS INTERNATIONALIST
A CHANGE THAT IS ALSO CULTURAL
TO BUILD A SOCIAL MOVEMENT OR JOIN ONE THAT ALREADY EXISTS?
ESTABLISH THE STRUGGLE’S OBJECTIVES (SHORT AND MEDIUM TERM)
CREATE A MORE OR LESS STRATEGIC PLAN
A PRACTICAL EXAMPLE
ASSEMBLIES AND MEETINGS
EFFICIENCY IN DECISION-MAKING
DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION
PRIORITIES, MODERATION AND ESCALATIONS
PERSONAL RELATIONS
COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA
LEGAL SUPPORT
A FEW PRECAUTIONS THAT SHOULD BE TAKEN
MEDIUM AND SHORT-TERM STRUGGLES
ISN’T THIS REFORMISM?
A LONG-TERM PERSPECTIVE
DOES THIS MEAN BEING REVOLUTIONARY?
DO WE WANT TO “TAKE POWER”?
PEOPLE’S POWER
THE NEW SOCIETY IT IS NECESSARY TO BUILD
A CLASSLESS SOCIETY
WITHOUT PRIVATE PROPERTY AND WITH SELF-MANAGEMENT
WITHOUT THE STATE AND WITH FEDERALISM
TRUE DEMOCRACY
FREEDOM AND EQUALITY
THE MEANS OF POPULAR ORGANISATION AND THE PEDAGOGY OF STRUGGLE


PRESENTATION

This booklet, called Capitalism, Anti-capitalism and Popular Organisation, is a publication of the Popular University of Rio de Janeiro in conjunction with the Movement of Unemployed Workers of Rio de Janeiro (MTD-RJ).

Formed in mid-2007, the Popular University believes in the political, social and cultural self-education of male and female workers (homeless, landless, unemployed, street vendors, etc.) with a view to building a new society based on socialism and freedom. It is made up of students and workers who assert themselves as the real producers of the wealth of the current society and ,“indignant with the most complete situation of misery and oppression that affects us”, has the “deepest desire for the collective construction of a new society, based on cooperation and equality. ” [Pro-Popular University Manifesto]

The construction of the Pro-Popular University nucleus made public, through its Manifesto mentioned above, the defence of six points that guided “the construction of this centre of popular learning, knowledge and culture”. We can summarise them:

1. The impossibility of the capitalist system promoting the social well-being of the exploited classes, as it is based on exploitation and domination, privileging the dominant class.

2. The impossibility of representative democracy serving the will and expectations of social movements, since it is understood that the representative system and the State itself serve capitalism.

3. The reinforcement of the values of capitalism through today's education, which distances the exploited classes from the possibility of building a new society.

4. The state and private education system, which does not meet the needs of popular education.

5. The defence of democratic, self-managed public education, organised by the excluded sectors themselves, with free access, that values the popular sectors with their social and cultural formation, with a view to their self-emancipation.

6. A popular education that is linked to the historical context of the struggles and conquests of the workers coming from the Paris Commune, passing through the Spanish Revolution, Quilombo dos Palmares, Confederation of Tamoios, armed resistances of Latin America, contemporary popular uprisings, foundation of the University Popular in 1904 and all the struggles of workers who sought their emancipation.

In this sense, we understand that we should contribute with training material to work on the issues presented above, in the training courses that we carry out with groups and organisations/social movements.

MTD is a nationwide movement that is organised around the question of work. In Rio de Janeiro it emerged in 2001, suffering, shortly thereafter, a process of reflux and demobilisation. In 2008, MTD-RJ initiated a process of reorganisation seeking to add old and new militants, which culminated in the formation of several groups of unemployed people in different locations in the city. Currently, MTD-RJ has nuclei being built in the slums of Costa Barros, Vila Cruzeiro and Complexo da Maré.

As it matured, MTD-RJ participated in a series of public demonstrations, such as the march for the 40th anniversary of the death of student Edson Luiz, and the action against agribusiness in front of the BNDES, in downtown Rio de Janeiro. In addition, it participated in the First of May, also organised in 2008, which took place in the Canal do Anil community.

With willingness and organisation, MTD-RJ seeks to articulate itself on the needs that all its members have. Constituting itself as an autonomous and combative movement, it aims to make the people achieve what they need for themselves. And a demand from the movement in Rio de Janeiro is also political education.

Therefore, the collaboration between the Popular University and MTD-RJ for this publication could not come at a better time. An important moment for the Popular University for the opportunity to work on political education in a very promising grassroots social movement. It is also important for MTD-RJ for the opportunity to conduct political education with activist, bringing important gains.

In this co-edition, we thought that a first and important step would be material that explained, in a simple way, the functioning of the capitalist system and offered a critical and current perspective in relation to it. At the same time, this material should offer more than just criticism. It should present constructive elements that could show ways and possibilities of how to fight capitalism and, also, give some perspectives of struggle in the medium and long term.

This is what we tried to do with the publication of this booklet. It will serve as support material for the collective of trainers at the Popular University, giving support to political education courses aimed at the base of social movements, among them the MTD-RJ.

The first part of Capitalism, Anti-capitalism and Popular Organisation was based, to a large extent, on the book Anticapitalismo para Principiantes by Ezequiel Adamovsky, published in Argentina. In this part, some excerpts were simply translated and others were modified, or even rewritten by us. In contrast, the second part was completely written by us.

There was a unique contribution from the comrades who worked with the illustrations for this booklet. First, those who designed for Adamovsky's book and which we reproduced in the first part: the United Illustrators. Then, other comrades who made all the other drawings: Zé Paiva from Portugal, to whom we give our most sincere thanks, El Brujo and Leandro Bonecini. The layout and graphic work were done by El Brujo.

It is absolutely essential for us to highlight the groups and organisations/social movements with which we are in contact and who have contributed significantly to the realisation of this material, either with ideas, or even with contact in daily militancy. They are (in alphabetical order): Assembléia Popular (RJ), Associação de Produtores Autônomos da Cidade e do Campo (APAC), Centro de Cultura Social Antônio Martinez (CCS-AM), Centro de Cultura Social do Rio de Janeiro (CCS-RJ), Conselho Popular (RJ), Floreal Cooperativa de Trabalhadores em Agroecologia, Frente de Luta Popu- lar (FLP), Frente Internacionalista dos Sem-Teto (FIST), Frente Popular Dario Santillan (Argentina), Grupo de Agricultura Ecológica (GAE), Lutarmada Hip Hop (RJ), Movimento de Mulheres Camponesas (MMC), Movimento dos Atin- gidos por Barragens (MAB), Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST), Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto (MTST), Movimento Nacional de Luta Pela Moradia (MNLM), Movimento dos Pequenos Agricultores (MPA), Núcleo de Alimentação e Saúde Germinal, Projeto de Reciclagem–Birimbau, SINDISPETRO (RJ), SINDISCOP (RJ), SINDISPREV (RJ), Tendência Filhos de Toda Terra (Omo Bogho), Universidade Popular, Us Neguin q Não c Kala, Via Campesina.

We hope that the reading will be useful!

Popular University
Movement of Unemployed Workers - Metropolitana RJ

Rio de Janeiro, 2008

INTRODUCTION

The workers face two enemies.

One of these enemies is quite evident. It is the bosses, business owners and administrators, the heads of public inspectors, the police and security guards who beat, arrest or kill those who rebel. There are no mistakes here. All these people take a stand against struggles, they themselves are hostile to the workers.

The other enemy, however, is concealed. It is those workers who take advantage of struggles to distance themselves from their colleagues and gain some power over their former colleagues, who resort to all pretexts to remain indefinitely in the positions for which they were elected, who will negotiate with the company's management and don’t take account of what was decided. Progressively, they stop being workers and become bureaucrats.

The process is always the same. They start by wanting it to be them, and only them, to direct struggles, to decide what to do and when to do it. Then, for example, if a company is occupied they are the ones in front of the offices, , as if by chance, never on the factory floor. If they have shown courage and tactical sense and have gained popularity among colleagues, they join the leadership of a union or run as councillors and permanently leave the working class. While union leaders control institutions that are often very wealthy, whose pension funds mobilise large sums. As city councillors or state deputies, they tend to perpetuate themselves in the state apparatus and their interests are identified with those of other politicians. And so, little by little, an authoritarian vanguard becomes a bureaucracy born among workers, this bureaucracy becomes an elite, and then this elite will feed the dominant classes with new members. The political life of Brazil in the last twenty years is a good example of this evolution, and the election of Lula to the presidency consecrated the last step of the process.

The history of the defeats of revolutions is very important to identify each one of these enemies and the danger they represent.

In some cases the workers were defeated by the overt enemy. This was the case with the military coups, when the generals or colonels mobilised against a grassroots government or against a situation in which the working class was acquiring dominance.

But in other cases, revolutionary processes were defeated from within. Then, when the workers managed to expel the bosses and the administrators and took ownership of the companies, when they managed to neutralise the army and arm themselves, they found that at the head of the companies were former colleagues of theirs who acted exactly as administrators and that the new army was commanded by former workers who perfectly imitated the generals. The vanguards had become elites and the elites were transformed into new ruling classes.

To struggle is like everything in life - you learn. And defeats are very important, because it is from them that we can learn the lessons.

If the workers do not want the apparent victories to escape their hands and become real defeats, if they do not want to expel the old bosses just to hand over the economy and the state to new bosses, they must learn to fight both enemies at the same time. And it is more difficult to fight against the hidden enemy than against the obvious enemy. When we confront the owners of the companies, they are already the owners of the companies, the managers and the high officials are already the owners and the police and the security guards too. But the hidden enemy is one born through our carelessness. Combative workers do not become bureaucrats and new bosses because they are evil and perverse people. They may even be full of the best intentions, but if the working mass, if the base of the struggles does not remain active and vigilant, then the comrades who are in charge of the struggles get disconnected and begin to defend their own interests.

In order that the struggle against the old bosses does not represent a creation of new bosses, one thing is indispensable – that workers never give up control over the struggle. Let the decisions be as collective as possible, so that each one can enjoy the experience of others and learn from it. If we don't learn to organise the economy and society, others will take advantage of our ignorance. When electing a comrade for any position, it is necessary that the performance of this comrade is followed and supervised and accountability is required. And it is convenient that elected representatives never stay in office for long, so that everyone has the opportunity to acquire management experience and to prevent the formation of a new elite.

Society's self-management is prepared for by the self-management of struggles. If we are unable to maintain control over how our struggle is organised from the start, we can be sure that we are creating new bureaucrats, which will rejuvenate and strengthen the ruling classes. If we blindly hand over the driving of our demands to those who present themselves today as professionals in the struggles, tomorrow they will be professionals in the administration of the economy and the organisation of the State. The way we organise ourselves is a reflection of the society we fight for. If we never forget this, we will be able to fight both enemies, the obvious and the hidden, at the same time.

João Bernardo

PART 1: CAPITALISM AND ANTI-CAPITALISM

WHAT IS CAPITALISM?

Firstly, capitalism is a social regime, or a form of organising social life. In order for people to live together society as a whole must have “answers” to a series of “questions”.

These “questions” can be answered in various ways; a social regime is the system of “answers” that organise a society. Throughout history, human beings have organised their lives in many different ways. Capitalism is just one of these historic forms, and it is very recent: it started developing just 500 years ago.

Capitalism is a social regime, a way of organising social life that started less than 500 years ago.

A SOCIETY THAT DOMINATES AND EXPLOITS

Throughout history many more or less egalitarian societies have existed. But capitalism is a social regime that dominates. A regime dominates or is dominating when there is a group of people who dominate over the rest, in a more or less permanent way. To dominate means to be able to obtain the obedience of other people; forcing them to do something or other even if it causes them suffering or discrimination. The dominated may obey the dominator through force, although they generally do so because the culture they were educated in taught them that this is right, or that this is the only way of living. This “culture of obedience” makes us believe, for example, that the domination imposed by capitalism is necessary and even normal. We learn this culture of obedience in schools, watching television and even from our parents.

There are various types of domination, according to the different relations between people. For example: there is gender domination when men dominate women, making women work for them, get lower wages than men or behave the way men want them to. This form of domination is called patriarchy, which is expressed in our society mainly by machismo, or in the belief that men are superior to women. Patriarchy existed in most social regimes of the past and it still exists today.

Other forms of domination can be established when, for example, whites dominate blacks, christians dominate muslims, one country dominates another, and they do this simply because they believe they are superior.

The main domination of capitalism is economic; when a minority of rich people dominate the poor majority.

When there is domination, there is exploitation. Whoever dominates is the exploiter, those that are dominated are the exploited. Therefore, besides dominating people capitalism also exploits them.

A SOCIETY OF CLASSES

As we have seen capitalism is a system that dominates and exploits economically, and for this reason we can say that it is a class system. This means that there is one class of people – the dominant class – that has the right to dominate the rest because of its place in society and because of its functions and attributions.

Class domination can justify and organise itself by means of various institutions, norms, habits and ideas. It was not an invention of capitalism. In the Middle Ages, for example, there were kings, nobles, priests and peasants. At that time, the kings declared that they were chosen by god, and therefore needed to be treated with privileges; the nobles, or feudal lords, were nothing more than inheritors of great properties of land, which they used to obtain resources by imposing taxes; and the peasants, the only workers from that society, had a large part of their agricultural production taken by force by kings and nobles, in the way that they were dominated, by force and by a culture of obedience, primarily taught by the priests.

In India it was thought that certain people were descendants of very important gods, and because of this formed a superior caste. The inferior castes have to serve the superior caste.

In the Soviet Union, the political chiefs and functionaries maintained that they had the knowledge and authority to command society, and for this reason had to occupy a place of privilege.

In all these cases, the society developed a whole system of institutions, norms and beliefs to organise, legitimate and protect the power of the dominant class. But the power of the dominant class in capitalism has a different form.

Capitalist society is the first in which the power of the dominant class is not determined by birth or by belonging to some closed circle, but fundamentally (even though not only) by economic differences between people.

THE DOMINANT CLASS (OR BOURGEOISIE)

The dominant class in capitalism is the bourgeoisie, which is defined by the quantity and type of economic resources it controls.

The bourgeoisie appropriates the means of production by means of ownership of the land, of the companies, the machines, of money, the banks, of access to knowledge etc.

But sometimes it can also control economic resources without needing to be the owner. For example, when the shares of a company are divided into thousands of small owners but just one group of big businesses controls the administration. This class, of those in control, can be called the “managerial class” or “coordinating class”.

To ensure its control of economic recourses the bourgeoisie also needs to control other resources: thus, they get into certain political offices, finance politicians’ campaigns worth millions, sponsor scientific and technological development, get academic and judicial posts, control the media, among other things.

The dominant class is defined, therefore, as the group that directly or indirectly controls the fundamental economic and non-economic resources of a society. By means of this control it obtains domination over the rest. This domination occurs when the dominant class makes us do what they want, or what is better for them, and not what the people want, or what is better for the people.
One characteristic of capitalism is that classes are not separated in a permanent and absolute way. There are not just two levels: the extremely poor and the extremely rich. Classes are divided into different and continuous levels of wealth that go from the extremely poor up to the extremely rich, passing through various levels in between. There is not much difference between one level and the next, but the distance between the rich and the poor is enormous, which produces a society of immense social inequality.

THE EXPLOITED CLASSES

Often, anti-capitalists discuss these questions fervently as they assume that everyone acts politically according to the class that they belong to. But then what about the fact that some teachers and workers from the middle class, or even people that came from the upper classes, were great revolutionaries; while some workers or poor people were big conservatives, reactionaries and allies of capitalism?

Identifying which class a person belongs to and with which class they ally is valid, but only until a certain point. In reality, outside the dominant class, defining social classes can be a deceptive thing if they are thought of as fixed and non-modifiable classes.

Capitalism is not a static system characterised only by class divisions, but a constant and daily process of separating people into different classes.

There are people who say that classes do not exist. They say that class division in the nineteenth century was clearer: bourgeois (those who owned the means of production) and the proletariat (the exploited workers). As the situation has changed a lot today and this definition can not cover all the layers of our society (all those we saw above), they say that class society does not exist. Or even that the concept of class is outdated. Could it be?

Just look at what we see around us: regardless of the fact that classes have become more complex and their division more difficult, we can not deny that there are those who like capitalism (the ruling class) and others who are suffering the consequences (the exploited classes). Some thinkers, as a reinforcement of new forms of struggle, claim that today the exploited worker, previously called proletarian, is in reality those who live in rebellion against the capitalist system. Many even with no place in the traditional productive sphere. Regardless of the class division that we use, it is possible to observe this great difference between the classes.

The exploited classes are defined as the group that is dominated by the dominant class. As the exploited classes don’t own or control the fundamental (economic and non-economic) resources of society, they end up being exploited by the dominant class. Regardless of how these exploited classes are divided, this doesn’t matter to us: the fact is that there are a few that exploit and many that are exploited.

CLASS STRUGGLE: THE CRISIS INHERENT TO CAPITALISM

As a class society capitalism carries a permanent tension in its heart: the class struggle. As domination and exploitation are present in every corner of society, so too is resistance.

Capitalism is implied not only in economic exploitation, but also in taking away from people their ability to do things, their freedom of movement, their ability to decide autonomously how they want to live. For this very reason, capitalism faces constant resistance; a struggle in which the oppressed seek to escape domination and exploitation and regain the ability to do things, freedom of movement, the possibility of decision-making.

The class struggle is this constant fight between domination and the will to free oneself from it. It can be more or less conscious, more or less politicised, more or less visible, but it is always there.
Class struggle is present when a worker goes on strike, but also when they leave their job in search of a less exploiting boss. It is present in a great revolt, but also when someone works slowly – due to not having managed to organise themselves with other exploited workers – even to the point of boredom. It is present in conscious and collective actions – for example, in a demonstration of unemployed workers or of homeless or landless workers – but also in individual and unconscious actions – like a youth who looks for a type of career that won’t put them in the condition of a wage worker or in a poor resident who, out of necessity, pulls an “izinyoka” to use electricity without paying for it.
The class struggle forces capitalism to permanently develop new forms of dominating, of exploiting and of dividing people. But people always find a way of join together again, to escape the domination and exploitation, of winning spaces of freedom.
For this reason the power of the dominant class can only be unstable and fragile, and needs to reformulate itself every day. Capitalism is a system that lives permanently in crisis because the crisis is inherent to it, besides manifesting itself continuously. Even if there are technical explanations, the cause of these economic crises that the system suffers is us, our ability to escape, to resist and to rebel against the capitalist system.

PRIVATE PROPERTY

In capitalism the dominant class builds its power by means of a series of beliefs and institutions that constantly have to change, adapt, or be eliminated by the class struggle. But there are some that are relatively stable. One of the most important is the idea that some resources that exist in the world can be private property.

Private property is also a human invention, that is, it wasn’t “born” with us. In the past, besides the property of the kings and feudal lords there were large areas of common use. In them, the peasants used the land together, dividing the result of the collective work.

Private property is nothing more than the right of exclusive use that a person has over any type of resource.
There are resources that still haven’t been privatised, such as the atmosphere. Fortunately, it is still not necessary to pay anyone for the air that we breathe. But capitalists also enjoy this situation and, because of this, they don’t worry about air pollution and, for example, keep very pollutive industries operational.

Private property produces perverse effects on society. What happens with the children of the exploited classes who are born into a world where they find practically everything closed? Where will they go? What will they do?

The property of something is private when someone robbed or deprived others of the possibility of utilising it. For example: when a property owner has a lot of empty houses or land and deprives us of the right to live there. The fact that these houses or land are private property, even if the owners don’t use them, gives them the right to deprive us of the right to live there, that is; they rob us of the right to live there.
Private property is not a new thing: since time immemorial exclusive rights already existed over some goods: a piece of land, the tools for working, etc. In capitalism this kind of right has extended to cover almost everything. Thousands of hectares of land and several lakes can now be private property, just like ports, businesses, music, ideas, genes, or millions of dollars in a bank. It also allows some people to take ownership, without paying anything, of the few things that are not private. For example: a company may contaminate everyone’s air and occupy our visual space with advertisements. Capitalism is a privatising machine.

COMMODITY, SALARY AND MARKET

Another key institution of capitalism is commodity. A commodity is anything that is produced to sell and to make a profit. There has also always been the buying and selling of objects in spaces that were called markets. However, in capitalism all space tends to turn into a big market and almost everything becomes a saleable commodity. Not just a fish or a pan, but also health, education, information and security. To have access to what is privatised it is increasingly necessary to pay, or make a purchase. This includes people’s time, which is also turned into a commodity.

The history of the transformation of time into a commodity may well be told by the evolution of the watch, a machine born seemingly innocent and useful. In the eighteenth century, when capitalism was gearing up for its great rush to the Industrial Revolution, the clock appeared with just the hour hand. In the following century, it was time for the appearance of the minute hand. This in order to better split time into fractions and steal them from workers even more efficiently. The days of up to 16 hours in the factories now had a precision ally. It was no longer day or night that dictated the rhythm of work. Time was no longer the natural, that of the seasons of the year, of longer or shorter nights or temperature variations. Workers had to obey the tyrannical beat of the watches, almost always regulated by the boss's time. Even before the end of the nineteenth century, in order to satisfy the speed of industrial production, the second hand was then invented.

Today an employer can buy labour time to use it for their own benefit in exchange for a wage. The difference between what the worker produces and what they receive as a wage is what is called surplus value. In capitalism the dominant class appropriates the surplus value that the workers and society produce.
In pre-capitalist societies the dominant class was content with demanding a tax or tribute from the population, without also wanting to control their time. In capitalism the dominant class doesn’t “demand” that anyone pay tribute or work for it.

This “obligation” is indirect. The people that were robbed of their resources have no choice but to hand over labour time “voluntarily” to the dominant class to get payment so they don’t die of hunger. This obligation that seems voluntary is called economic coercion.

So, capitalism can be defined as a series of habits, laws and political and economic institutions, and a whole culture, that guarantee and legitimate the fact that some people can deprive the rest of access to almost all kinds of resources, and that they can use others for their own enrichment. Taking over the work of others, the dominant class produces commodities to quickly sell on the market. Thus, it has a profit that allows it to accumulate ever greater wealth, in order to maintain and increase its power with it.

“PRIMITIVE ACCUMULATION”

Before capitalism, the large majority of men and women had their own means of production – land, animals, work implements – or divided them collectively with their neighbours. In this time, no one would have accepted selling their labour time to another person just to survive: there still wasn’t a need for this yet.

In this time, neither time nor work were considered commodities.

Therefore, the establishment of capitalism needed a long process of the expropriation of the means of production from the hands of the direct producers, of the riches and of the resources of entire peoples, and of the ability of the people to live in accordance with their own decisions and their own customs.
This process of expropriation is what is called primitive accumulation. In historical terms it meant, among other things, the expulsion of thousands of peasants from their lands in Europe and in other areas in order to force them to become city workers.

It also meant the colonial plunder of the riches of the whole world over centuries, the imposition of bloody colonial governments, the destruction of entire ethnic groups that refused to be forced into submission, etc.

There are those who believe that primitive accumulation was just an opening period of capitalism, a sort of “kick-off”. Others believe that, in fact, capitalism is a great and constant process of primitive accumulation that will only end when the system itself ends. In any case, it is clear that capitalism is a system founded on violence.

A GLOBAL AND EXPANSIVE SYSTEM

Although it had started to arise in Europe just five centuries ago, capitalism soon came to influence the whole planet; its expansive logic doesn’t seem to have limits.

The possibility of expansion is fundamental for capitalism; it’s its way of resolving its inherent crisis. Without expansion it would simply collapse.

NATION STATES

Throughout history capitalism expanded, creating institutions and social forms that didn’t exist before. Among its first creations are borders and nation states.

The notion that a political authority should coincide perfectly with a clearly defined geographic space and with borders is an invention of capitalism; this notion didn’t exist before.

In Europe, before capitalism, there were only a few cities and, between them, vast feudal territories. These cities did not belong, as happens today, to countries and in each one of them you would find a people with their habits and customs. Borders and states where then invented by the dominant class, which was interested in paying less taxes and profiting more with the sale of their goods.

The idea that the spaces occupied by a state should coincide with a nation, or, with a group of inhabitants or with a more or less homogenous culture and identity is also new.

Thus, capitalism imposes a language, unique and uniform laws and customs on inhabitants of large spaces that previously lived with different ways and cultures. The ideology of nationalism is part of this process. A few centuries ago, national identity didn’t exist.

The construction of nations also separated the inhabitants of distinct “national” spaces. By crossing one of the new borders people became foreigners and lost a lot of their rights. This whole work of standardisation and, at the same time, the division of people took centuries of wars and state violence.

IMPERIALISM

A second cycle of expansion was towards the “discovered” territories, starting in the fifteenth century. Through imperialism and colonialism the new capitalist nations each appropriated enormous regions and forced their inhabitants to work for them.

Motivated by the desire for profit the capitalists plundered gold and silver from America, enslaved millions of Africans, exploited Chinese workers, expropriated Indian peasants and many other similar absurdities for 500 years. Commercial companies, together with the nation states, were the main institutions that led this expansion.

Imperialism also produced the standardisation of the world. For example, the colonisers wanted to impose their customs on the colonised peoples because they wanted to make them similar; they imposed European languages and cultures on the colonised. However, there was also a division of people again according to criteria of nationality, religion or skin colour. All the non-whites were considered “inferior” and able to be exploited and enslaved. The stage of imperialism was also marked by war and state violence, and enormous suffering for most of humanity.

ECONOMIC GLOBALISATION

The third stage of capitalism’s expansion is the current one, which some call globalisation. Economic globalisation means a much greater degree of integration of production, distribution and exchange on a global scale. Each part of the same product is produced in different places in the world, products are imported and exported. The companies themselves organise in a transnational way.

In this phase, imperialism and nations have already completed a good part of their mission and new institutions have emerged to further capitalist expansion. Investments and transnational companies need to move freely without being affected by any national borders, and for this it is necessary to standardise certain rules of economic functioning around the world, and with them certain cultural issues of all nations.

Nation states can no longer fulfil all of these tasks and, on the contrary, are losing their power. To complement them private and (supposedly) public transnational institutions that regulate and organise life on a global scale have emerged. Some examples of these institutions are: the United Nations (EU), the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In economic globalisation capital has free flow between countries, which does not happen with people. A Mexican worker can be exploited by US companies, but he can’t leave Mexico and enter the United States. This is another reflection of capitalism that favours money instead of people.

INTERNAL EXPANSION

But capitalism didn’t only expand abroad. It also expanded towards the interior of regions that are already capitalist, further intensifying its presence. Rivers and lakes, squares and parks, schools and universities, theatres and spectacles are increasingly turning into commodities, invaded by the presence of publicity in every corner, and by dependency on sponsorship.

There are increasingly less attractive and safe public spaces, which is why people are forced to opt for private spaces that are already commodities. Something as simple as a walk through the square or main street of a neighbourhood tends to be replaced today by a visit to a shopping centre.

Through the invention of intellectual property capitalism transformed knowledge, which is an advance made by the collaboration of humanity, into a commodity.

For example: long before current toothpastes, the indigenous people that inhabited what is now Brazil used “joá”, which is a Brazilian tree, as a way to reduce problems with cavities in their teeth. The dominant class stole this knowledge from the people and turned it into a commodity that only they could produce and sell. The propaganda “teaches” that it is only with toothpaste that you can prevent cavities; bit by bit conditioning everyone to buy this commodity.

The same thing happens with maize and soya seeds; natural foods that are being modified by genetic engineering. That is, once again the dominant class uses technology against the exploited classes, turning something that belongs to everyone into private property. Farmers that reject genetically modified seeds are often surprised with their crops being contaminated by the plants of their neighbours, large landowners that use “transgenic” seeds.

And the oceans, humanity’s last spaces of common use, are being increasingly privatised. How many beaches are not already for the exclusive use of big tourism companies? Fish, once free in the oceans, have now become the private property of “marine farmers”, the fishing companies.

Capitalism also increasingly penetrates our minds and our social life, in the way that we work with increasing intensity and for less remuneration, and can only use our time in a way that makes a profit, because even in our “free time” we often take improvement courses, study things that we don’t like or that don’t interest us etc. to increase our technical knowledge and, consequently, our productivity, for the benefit of the bosses.

Expansion – external or internal – is essential for capitalism to survive its permanent internal crisis.

AND THE STATE?

One of the most difficult questions to understand about capitalism is what the state is and how it functions. The state is not neutral, but is on the side of the dominant class.

Before the twentieth century, the state was only repression. The laws that it developed and defended, serving to maintain the privileges of the dominant classes, were guaranteed by an “iron fist”.

The class struggle that shook the nineteenths and twentieth centuries contributed to the emergence of a new form of state, which is characterised by the implementation of “social welfare” policies that serve as a measure to contain the fury of the exploited classes.

Thereafter, it was found that the state could make important laws for the benefit of workers, including laws that apparently prejudiced the powerful. An intense debate began between the anti-capitalists that continues today. To what extent does the state depend on the dominant class? Does the state have any degree of autonomy?

A part of the anti-capitalists were confused when dealing with the question of the state. This part thought that the state could be a means for the emancipation of the workers (to be reached either by elections or by revolution). Another part of the anti-capitalists claimed that the state is an integral part of class society and should therefore be destroyed, together with capitalism, so that the workers can be emancipated. With the passing of history, this second part proved to be the most correct. An example of this was the Soviet Union, when a “socialist” system with a state showed itself equally, or more oppressive than, the capitalist system itself.

TO GUARANTEE ACCUMULATION

The role of the state has to do with at least two aspects: guaranteeing long term economic accumulation and ensuring the legitimacy of the system. Without the state, individual capitalists could not ensure the continuation of their accumulation of profit. For example: without state regulation businesspeople in the fishing industry would fish until they had finished all the fish.

However, this way of thinking of businesspeople would end up making all businesses run out. For this reason, the regulation of the economy is an essential function that the capitalist state performs to guarantee long-term accumulation. It may seem like the state harms the individual fishing businessperson when it imposes limits, but in reality it is benefitting the class to which it belongs.

TO ENSURE LEGITIMACY

Since capitalism is permanently threatened by the class struggle the state also has the role of making capitalist society appear legitimate. If the majority of people had the opinion that the whole system is illegitimate, then they would overthrow capitalism easily. When legitimacy fails, the state is also responsible for repression. But no system survives very long if it is based solely on repression: the state must always ensure the legitimacy of capitalist society.
For this reason, the state must maintain an appearance of neutrality at all costs. Even though it is capitalist from beginning to end, the state needs to appear independent, autonomous from any pressure from the powerful. That is why, on many occasions, the state even creates laws that may harm the short-term interests of the powerful. It is this appearance of neutrality that confuses many who try understand how the state works.

THE STATE AND THE CLASS STRUGGLE

As much as we know that the state and society are not the same thing, today's capitalist society relies on the state in order to survive and there is mutual influence between the state and society. Changes in society sometimes translate into changes in the state, and changes in the state usually translate into changes in society. And just as the class struggle is permanently shaping every corner of society, it also does so with the state. For example, when the state ensured the eight-hour working day, this was not only a change coming from the state, but also a change in the society that, mobilised, brought about this conquest in relation to the state.

The law of the eight-hour working day – which undoubtedly hurt the short-term interests of the businessmen – reflected the greater strength that the workers had in order to force the dominant class to accept their demand. The state had to make this law to ensure the legitimacy of the system, which was in danger because of the strengthening of the anti-capitalist struggles of the time. These struggles were very strong in Brazil in the early twentieth century.

The class struggle can change important aspects of the form of the state and its functions, in the same way it can do this with other aspects of society such as, for example, with a company, when the workers struggle for better wages or for a shorter working day.

A MACHINE TO SEPARATE AND HIERARCHISE

The state is also a machine for separating people and hierarchising the rights that they have. First, it separates human beings into lots of different political sovereignties, or, into countries that are under different states, separated by borders. The citizens only have political rights inside their own states and they loose them if they cross the border.

The human beings that a state defines as foreigners often do not even have the freedom to move freely throughout the territory.

GLOBAL SOCIETY, LIMITED RIGHTS

The nationalist ideology typical of capitalism makes us think that the space of society coincides perfectly with that of a state or country. However, if society if the set of relations that we establish between ourselves and with nature, it is clear that these relations do not end at the borders of the country in which we live.

Although we have not realised it, we are all interconnected in a positive or negative way. The functioning of production, commerce, the circulation of ideas, fashion and culture all connect people in the global space.

There is no such thing as a “French society” or a “Peruvian society”, as though they were separate and independent entities. The society we live in is global and interdependent.

States fragment, separate and divide global society, creating privileged human groups and geographic zones, and others that are oppressed. One of the functions of states is to limit our rights within boarders, so that we can not change the functioning of (global) society as a whole.

PUBLIC AND PRIVATE

The second separation that the state makes is between the private and the “public”. The constitutional and legal system establishes that there is an entire region of social life that society itself can not “touch” because it is private. No one – not even the state – has the possibility to legislate on what are considered an individual's private rights. In principle, there is no problem with this. The problem is that, under capitalism, only certain types of rights have this privilege to be defined as private (or even to be considered rights).

The line that separates a right from a mere demand, or what is public and what is private, is not fixed, and has been changed throughout history. For centuries, men and women have struggled to bring private privileges back to the public sphere, so that society can decide democratically whether to preserve them or not.

It is important to make a distinction between what is public and what is state-owned. People usually call a company public when it belongs to the state. However, a company is only public when it belongs to everyone who works there. A space is public when it belongs to the community. Universities would be public if all of the professors, students and staff managed them on their own and not like today, where they answer to a “boss-state.”

BUT WHY DON’T WE CHANGE ALL THIS?

Capitalism is an unjust form of social organisation that causes enormous suffering for the large majority of people: it produces poverty and exploitation, subjects human beings to passivity and limits their potential, it stimulates many forms of discrimination, breeds violence and fear, it is an attempt against basic rights and it destroys the planet. Anti-capitalists have been saying this for many years. So why don’t we change all this?

FALSE DEMOCRACY

In reality, we live in a false democracy. In the 19th century, when our ancestors began to struggle for democracy, they referred to it in its original sense: government by the people. At this time, the liberal elites strongly opposed the idea of democracy; liberalism has always been an enemy of democracy.

However, after decades of struggle the elite was forced to gradually concede the right to vote to everyone, regardless of their social class. The liberals then adopted the word democracy as if it was their word, but profoundly changing its original meaning.

It no longer meant “government by the people”, but only referred to an electoral system for selecting people who would occupy some state positions. Nothing else.

IT IS NOT GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE

In no way is the democracy of today government by the people. When we elect politicians to be our representatives we are giving them our right to do politics and to govern ourselves.

Giving politicians this right of ours means that they will make the decisions they think are best for the things that concern us. Just look: during election times they make a lot of promises, but when they are elected they only defend their own interests and never again show up to do what they promised us.

Government for the people by the people is done from the bottom up, in social movements, in popular struggles and not by giving our right to do politics to a professional politician that, when they “get there”, will only defend their own interests and forget about we who elected them.
Besides this, the politicians’ decision-making power is limited to the national territory and the issues defined as “public”. Fundamental aspects that affect our lives, like the international movement of capital, for example, can not be managed by politicians. Such a democracy as functions today does not reach the global level. It also does not reach all that the constitutions of countries – inspired by liberal ideology – define as private matters.

For example: if a pharmaceutical company registers a new drug that can save millions of lives and decides to charge an abusive price for it, with an exorbitant profit, setting a price that the poor cannot afford, this is a private matter and the State cannot intervene.

A DICTATORSHIP OF CAPITAL

Besides this, even in the limited set of questions where our representatives have decision-making power, democracy is very limited.
The powerful have many ways of shaping political decisions with legal mechanisms, such as donations to electoral campaigns and control of the media, or illegal mechanisms, such as bribery.
In fact, history shows that democracy and political freedoms end whenever a representative or a political movement intends to go against the interests of the ruling class. So it was with the deposition of governments that proposed some change in Latin America, when they were deposed and the military, along with the Americans and the ruling class, supported military coups that condemned the people to the years of bloody dictatorships that followed.
For these reasons, we cannot say that we live in a true democracy; in fact, we live in a dictatorship of capital, which allows us to elect some representatives and decide on some minor issues.

THE HEGEMONY OF THE DOMINANT CLASS

However, the problem is not only the lack of real democracy. The ruling class does not dominate only by deceiving and repressing us. Its greatest power is the transformation of its own ideology into the culture and “common sense” that we breathe every day.
This happens when the ideas, values and aspirations of the ruling class end up being the ideas, values and aspirations of the exploited. It is when we think and act as if we were the ruling class. This happens a lot. The ruling class has its hegemony when it manages to win the hearts and minds of the oppressed, when it manages to penetrate our most unconscious habits and our bodies. Nevertheless, there is always room to build resistance to this hegemonic model.

THE IDEOLOGY OF CAPITALISM

Capitalism is based on its own ideology, that is, on a more or less organised set of ideas. But an ideology is not only that. It is also a form of false consciousness, a vision that subtly and unassumingly conveys the message that society can only be organised in the way of the ruling class. Liberalism is the ideology of the bourgeoisie.

Liberalism holds that society is made up of individuals and that they have certain natural rights. The rights of individuals have priority over the sovereignty of the people: no decision by society can go against them. On the other hand, society and the state should participate as little as possible and leave things to work without bothering the individuals. The state should only intervene when a law is violated, or to offer some minimum basic services. But what makes liberalism an ideology is not what is said, but what is not said.

In theory, all human beings should enjoy their natural rights. But they don’t say that some of these rights are distributed unequally.

In theory, a person may have the right to own a piece of land, but if all the land is already owned by another person this right does not mean anything. If someone is about to die of hunger because others have appropriated all the food no law protects their right to life.

In liberalism the right to freedom means doing whatever you want without anyone putting any obstacles in your way. But not everyone has the same opportunity to do whatever they want. And what does freedom of the press mean when a few people control the large media networks?

THE CULTURE OF CAPITALISM: INDIVIDUALISM

The ruling class can only achieve its hegemony if it can transform its ideology into a general culture, into the “common sense” of the majority of people. Capitalism exists, in part, because it is in our hearts and minds: we all breath its culture every day. The culture of obedience.
The individualism of liberal ideology, translated into everyday culture, manifests itself in this strong selfishness that characterises many people today and in the isolation of men and women, each locked in their own affairs.

A lot of the violence and fear that characterises our societies comes from this selfishness, this urge to be more than others or to be above others. We are afraid of each other because we assume that others can do us harm in order to benefit themselves. A culture like this hampers the development of relations of solidarity and compassion and care for others.

THE CULTURE OF SUCCESS, PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION

The fact that a person can only enjoy many rights if they have the economic resources to do so is also reflected in a number of other norms in our culture. For example, the culture of production, the cult of “success” always considered from an economic point of view, and the stimulus to consumerism.

The fear of not having the resources that enable us to have such “success”, added to the possibility of using other people as instruments for our own benefit, is at the root of many traits of our culture. For example, contempt for the poor; much of the racial discrimination and other forms of discrimination and prejudice that exist in our society are because of this. It is difficult for people who were raised in a culture of this type to value other things such as love, friendship, solidarity, companionship, creativity, etc.

CONFORMISM AND PASSIVITY

The liberal idea that there is a “natural” order that should not be questioned is reflected in the conformity, passivity and valuing of obedience that is characterised, for example, in the education we have received since we are children.

To exist, the capitalist system needs to transmit these kinds of selfish, discriminatory and conformist values every day. This is done with education, literature, advertisements and the mass media. However, this does not mean making a plot to convey a single message.

The culture of capitalism spreads in an almost always spontaneous and unconscious way, not only because the media belongs to big business, but also because we carry this culture in our own minds. We transmit the culture of capitalism in the words we use, the expectations we generate in our children, in the things we want to consume and in many other ways.

A TOTAL SYSTEM?

The fact that we are all immersed and, to some extent, even shaped by capitalism does not mean that there is no way out. No system of domination and exploitation can be total, because resistance always accompanies any form of domination and exploitation.

Capitalism has to constantly reinforce its cultural messages and adapt its forms of organisation, precisely because the oppressed end up resisting and creating new values and ways of life that escape domination all the time.

PART 2: POPULAR ORGANISATION

TO STRUGGLE AGAINST CAPITALISM

As we have seen capitalism is a social regime of domination and exploitation. But if no regime of this kind can be a total regime then it is up to us to build an alternative to combat it; a form of resistance.

BUT HOW?

To build the struggle against capitalism we will have, necessarily, to think about organisation. There is a social force in the exploited classes that we can call elementary or even potential. For this social force to be able to combat capitalism it must:

Be organised
Be put into practice

It will be useless if this elementary and potential force is not organised and is not put into practice.

When this social force that is latent (at rest, hidden) in the exploited classes is organised and when it leaves the realm of possibilities and moves into the realm of practice, it becomes a real social force, which is the true possibility we have of combatting capitalism.

A RELATION OF FORCES

Capitalism, in this sense, is a system composed of habits, laws, political and economic institutions, and other symbolic representations. It fact it constitutes a culture. Today, this system is able to seriously limit anti-capitalist struggles.

It is fundamental that the exploited are able to counterpose their social force against the force of capitalism. The moment that this force of the exploited is bigger that that of capitalism, such a situation will enable a real social transformation based on solidarity and mutual aid; on freedom and equality. However, for the struggle to achieve the desired objective it is vital to think of a consequent and effective opposition, that is, to increase the social force of the exploited.

Only with a lot of organisation will it be possible to transform this elementary and potential force into a real social force. For this to happen it is essential to reflect on popular organisation.

WHY SPEAK ABOUT ORGANISATION?

Organisation is the coordination of forces with a common objective. It makes it possible to bring together those who defend the same interests and who, together, can permanently increase their social force.
Organisation multiplies the forces of the exploited; together, they represent not only the sum of individual forces, but a collective force, a social force.
For example, let's suppose you want to protest in front of a city hall because the state’s power wants or allows them to demolish the houses of a community. What would the difference be between going one resident at a time and, on the contrary, all going together? The fact that they are together, organised, would certainly give the residents a lot more strength. Collective force is much greater than the sum of individual forces.
The more social force the anti-capitalists have, the more capitalism will be threatened.

WHY SPEAK ABOUT POPULAR?

It is called popular because we are not talking about any organisation. We are talking about the organisation of the exploited classes, the organisation of the people who are suffering the consequences of capitalism. The exploited classes must organise themselves and coordinate the forces of all the dominated and exploited individuals who are victims of capitalism. Therefore, popular organisation has a class character, that is, it seeks to work with a class perspective.
Popular organisation seeks the unity of the exploited classes so that they struggle against the dominant class.
In this struggle the exploited must appeal to the support of the most combative sectors, with whom they have natural affinities, without, of course, neglecting to involve the sectors that suffer the most from the impacts of capitalism as much as possible in their organisation.
The popular character of the organisation occurs when a class character is imprinted on it, so that it stimulates and strengthens the class struggle. As we have seen, class struggle is the constant struggle between domination and the will to be free from it. The organisation, therefore, must be that of the exploited classes who, in the dynamics of the struggle, end up acquiring the taste for freedom and, then, becoming more clearly anti-capitalist.

CENTRE-PERIPHERY RELATIONS: RETHINKING EXPLOITED CLASSES

The conception of social transformation “by the centre”, that is, from the central elements of power of a society, that is, of the intellectuals, the rich, the state, the party or the army, is an authoritarian conception that, instead of solving the problems of exploitation and domination, simply substitutes the oppressors in place. Whoever uses the centre to change society doesn’t end up changing anything but the tyranny that is placed over society.

Social transformation must come “from the periphery”, that is, from below, from the exploited classes. These classes are much broader than the urban industrial proletariat, defined by some anti-capitalists as the “historical subject”. Today, the periphery of the world can be considered much more broadly: indigenous cultures and societies, small producers, skilled workers, peasants, the unemployed, the poor, wage earners, etc.

To build social transformation from the periphery is to seek popular organisation outside the centres of power, such as intellectuals, the rich, the state, the party and the army. This means stimulating popular organisation and, in this way, building an alternative for social struggle from the bottom up.

TO STRUGGLE AGAINST DOMINATION

Popular organisation is anti-capitalist and struggles against the domination of the exploited classes. This domination, as we have seen, is most evident in the economic sphere, but it is not limited to it.

To say that “social transformation must come from the periphery” means that the class struggle, translated into popular organisation, can take many different forms. It may be an organisation of indigenous people fighting against the destruction of their traditional values; or of native peoples of a country who struggle against the exploitation of a state/government (either theirs or another); peasants fighting for land or small rural workers who struggle to have a place to plant their crops. It may be an organisation of the unemployed who struggle against unemployment; of workers who have been marginalised by the system; or even of salaried workers. Ultimately, all of these sectors are the periphery of the capitalist system.

In addition, popular organisation can incorporate other demands into its list of demands and struggles: issues of ecology, gender (relations between men and women), communication, culture, race, sexual orientation, etc.

Popular organisation is a struggle against the domination of capitalism, but can include within it the fight against other forms of domination.

THE WILL TO FIGHT

To build popular organisation the will to fight is fundamental. This is because popular organisation will not be built spontaneously, “out of the blue”. Even though we know that many forms of class struggle arise spontaneously, it is useless to wait for an organised social force against capitalism to arise and to replace it without intention and effort.

To transform society and end capitalism a lot of work will be necessary. The will to fight, as an exploited class, is the surest way to sustain popular organisation as a permanent tool of struggle.

If the exploited want to transform society there is no other way: they, the most affected, need to be very willing to fight. Without this will the system will never change; it will continue to get stronger and stronger. On the contrary, if this will is transformed into popular organisation then there will be an important element to dispute the decisive “arm wrestling” against capitalism.

MASS MOVEMENTS OR SIMPLY “SOCIAL MOVEMENTS”

The best way to build popular organisation is to create and stimulate what some people in the past have called “mass movements”. Although many anti-capitalists use this term, the fact is that many (authoritarians) ended up thinking that the mass movement should be subordinated to the political party.
For the authoritarians the mass movement is only an organism that obeys the orders dictated by the party and, often, the people of the party that dictate the rules are far removed from social struggles. Or even, because of “bureaucratisation”, they begin to think and act in the opposite direction of the interests of the true agents of transformation, that is, the exploited classes.
Against this position of a subordinated movement, a “rent a crowd” that is not the vocation of free peoples and groups, the most suitable term for the group of workers in the process of organisation or already organised is that of “social movements”. We know that many social movements are still mere “masses” working for the benefit of all kinds of people, but we'll talk about that in a moment.

WHAT IS A SOCIAL MOVEMENT?

A social movement is a group of people and/or associated entities that have common interests for the defence or promotion of certain objectives in relation to society. These movements can be in the most different places and defend the most diverse banners of struggle. Almost always, and this is very clear in the programmes they defend, social movements are formed on the common basis of necessity. The country’s economic reality, especially that of a society with enormous injustices like Brazil or South Africa, serves as a factor of agglutination, of bringing together individuals belonging to exploited groups.
This condition of necessity, added to organisation and the will to fight, forms the tripod that supports the formation of social movements.
In Brazil we can identify a lot of social movements in existence today. Let’s see.

There are the landless movements that struggle against the big landowners and demand a fair distribution of land; the homeless, who are struggling for the right to housing and against real estate speculation; unemployed workers, who are struggling for decent jobs and new labour relations; and those of the communities (favelas/townships), which in addition to the weight of other necessities, suffer daily police violence in the place where they live. There are many others: community movements, movements to win free public transport and improve its quality, recyclable waste pickers' cooperatives, indigenous movements, student movements, trade unions, movements of feminists, blacks, gays, popular councils, artistic and cultural movements, environmentalists, etc.

But there is a problem: not all “social movements” are looking to build popular organisation with the aim of fighting capitalism. Many of these movements support capitalism and its values. In reality, then, these would be opinion or pressure groups to obtain reforms within the capitalist system, but that’s all. We can not call them social movements since social movements, in fact, are anti-capitalist.

In all spheres of society the struggle against domination appears, its main form being the class struggle. A social movement gives body to this struggle against domination which, being so broad, causes social movements to have the most different flags of struggle. Since capitalism has different negative effects on the lives of populations, many social movements exist as a way of resisting these effects.

FORCE TO GROW AND FIGHT

Social movements must grow increasingly stronger, with more and more people and more organisation. In order to obtain this strength it is essential that they are not “ideologised". This means that a social movement should not be anarchist, social-democrat, Marxist, monarchist, etc. It must not be subordinate to any ideology.
All those that want to struggle should be within the social movement, regardless of their ideology.
In a homeless movement there should be as many people who want to struggle for housing as possible. Everyone who wants to struggle for decent work should be in a movement of the unemployed. Everyone who wants to fight against machismo and patriarchy should be in a feminist movement.

One does not make a movement with a narrow and restricted ideological line, for example: a Marxist student movement or anarchist homeless movement, etc. A social movement is always organised around the issue for which it decided to struggle. Necessity is the great driving force.

However, this does not mean that among all the people who are inside a social movement there are not people of the most different ideologies. This is normal and will always happen. We can not prohibit people who promote a certain ideology from being in the social movement, nor prohibit them from carrying out propaganda. What must not happen in any way, however, is for one of these ideologies to dominate the social movement. A social movement is dominated (some say “captured”) when it no longer struggles around its issues, but only uses these issues to promote an ideology, a candidate, a party, an NGO, etc. In this case, the movement is being used, it is captured.

AUTONOMY: A SOCIAL MOVEMENT MUST NOT BE CAPTURED

The previous theme reflects on the autonomy of the social movement. It is essential for social movements to be autonomous. What does that mean?

It means that social movements must be autonomous in relation to the state, to political parties, to bureaucratised unions, to bureaucrats on duty, to the church. In short, it means that movements must be able to make decisions and act on their own accord. The autonomy of the social movement is the possibility for it to deal with its own affairs, independent of institutions and mechanisms of exploitation and social domination.

Social movements should not be transmission belts for individuals, collectives, groups, organisations or parties that want to be in charge of them. People who want to capture a social movement do not want to help it, they want the social movement to help them.

NOT EVERYONE WANTS TO CAPTURE

It is essential that those who make up a social movement know how to distinguish between those who approach the movement with the aim of capturing it and those who approach it with the objective of taking part in the specific tasks, decided in the deliberative forums. There is a big difference between these and the social movement must be very attentive, because people that want to help should always be welcomed. They will be able to contribute to the growth of the struggle, the social movement and popular organisation itself.

But how to differentiate between a person who wants to help the social movement from another who wants to capture it? It's relatively simple, as we'll see next.

STATES, PARTIES, BUREAUCRATS, ETC.

Whoever wants to capture it does not aim to support the social movement, but rather to be a boss, to command the movement, to make the movement serve their own ends. Such individuals adopt the principle that “you serve others better when you are serving yourself”.

A social movement should not be linked to a government politician or even to any sector of the state. Secretaries, deputies, councillors, the great majority of times, get close to movements because they want support from them. Support to sustain their policies, support to get more votes, support to have what they call a “social base”. The objective of the state, of the government, is always to make what we call a “social pact”; they want to placate the social movement, to make it fit into their system – of representative democracy.

Political parties also seek to capture social movements. Firstly, there are those who are inside the system of representative “democracy” (those who contest elections) and who seek in the social movement only a source of votes. It is very common for these politicians to approach social movements during election times, make promises, and then disappear. But there are also authoritarian “revolutionary” parties that look to the social movement as the basis for their theories of revolution. They believe they are the enlightened vanguard that must direct and command the social movement because they think themselves superior. It is the separation between manual labour – that of the humble wage earner or the unemployed – and that of the intellectual, who lives off of their theoretical production and feels they are in a position to express an opinion on the future of the worker. Almost always infantilising the working class for not having reached the “necessary consciousness”.

There are also other organisations that try to capture social movements: bureaucratised unions that want support for their actions, churches that seek flocks, etc.

All of these people must be kept away from the social movement because they do not defend the interests of the social movement, but their own interests. A social movements does not need commanders, leaders or people who want to use it for their own interests. A social movement needs people who want to support it and struggle together with it; but not to struggle for it, in its place. A place that is legitimised by the need for survival and the dignity of causes that promote true solidarity.

WHO WANTS TO SUPPORT THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT

Unlike those people that want to capture social movements, there are those who want to support social movements, which is very different.

These people are sympathetic to the social movement and consider its struggle to be just and so they come to it to give support. These people should always be well received by the social movement, because people who want to struggle with a social movement should always be welcome. Even people who come from the middle classes or who are not directly involved in the struggles of the movement should receive this treatment: someone who has a job can support the struggle of the unemployed, someone who has a house can support the struggle of the homeless, etc. This kind of solidarity is fundamental and must be welcomed by the social movement.

However, the individual candidacy to support the social movement must be conditioned to the attitudes of those who intend to act in this situation. The supporter, or even the organisationally legitimised militant, must demonstrate that they are willing to listen much more than to speak. They must familiarise themselves with the circumstances in which the natural members of the particular social movement in which they are acting live. As part of a whole, that is, of an organisation, they must grow with it and not define its direction and form in an authoritarian and vertical way. It is important to remember that a process of collective construction is always, and above all, a process of self-development. Over time, if the group's proper code of conduct is followed, and only from it, the supporter or militant will realise that the most important thing is to contrast their ideology with the reality of the group and not to try to reduce the social movement to their ideological certainties.

A social movement should welcome people who do not come to give orders, who do not want to be commanders or leaders. People who want to support the social movement, to struggle shoulder to shoulder, to discuss the issues of the struggle, offer their solidarity, help in times of crisis, help with organisation, must always have their strength added to that of the social movement.

COMBATIVENESS: NO TO THE SOCIAL PACT

For a social movement to point towards popular organisation it must be combative.

This means to say that, in its struggles against domination, it can not always obey the rules of the capitalist system. Let us remember that capitalism, through the State, is obliged to “guarantee the legitimacy” of the system. Therefore, one of the strategies that the State uses is to draw social movements into itself. They say that since we live in a democracy the movements can support a mayor or a councillor and make themselves heard in that way. They want to establish what is called a “social pact”.

A social movement must always incorporate class struggle and the class struggle does not take place within the state, but outside it. As the state is an arm of capitalism, when the state absorbs a social movement (we call it co-option), the movement no longer serves anti-capitalism, but capitalism. This recourse is very common, especially when “left” governments come to power.

A social movement must always remain combative, that is, it must uphold its banner of struggle (for work, housing, land, etc.) outside the state, just as any other form of class struggle is sustained. Staying combative also means not going into other bureaucratic schemes, discussing everything with politicians, with the union bureaucracy etc. A combative movement is one that wins conquests by imposing its social force and does not humiliatingly beg for crumbs from governments and bureaucrats. It demands and conquers with organisation and struggle.
It must know when to carry out a peaceful action or one with more energy, but a social movement must always be combative. To confront the injustices and the system of domination and exploitation head-on, without falling into the traps of capitalism.

DIRECT ACTION IN OPPOSITION TO REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY

Direct action is a form of political action that takes place outside the electoral system. This means to say that social movements should not entrust their action to “qualified” politicians that will be elected to later defend the interests of the social movement. Politicians always come around to get votes and after being elected they enter the “electoral machine” and never do what they had promised us.

It is very true that sometimes honest politicians, even well-intentioned ones, appear at crucial moments and assist social movements. But, despite the exceptions, the political class as a whole forms a cohesive and unified bloc for defending the interests of capitalism. Even those who enter the structures of state power with the aim of “helping the people” end up mixing the means with the ends and confuse more than they clarify the social movements. The terrain of party politics, within the framework of the state, presents some immediate advantage – and even so this is rare – but generally it doubles the danger. Thus, the efforts of the “parliamentary left” in favour of the working class – obviously that of the most committed part – in their sum do not emancipate social movements.

Direct action, on the contrary, is expressed when the social movement carries out its politics on its own, when workers themselves carry out their own actions of struggle against domination and exploitation. This always without relying on the bureaucratic and corrupt system of advisers, councillors, deputies, senators, mayors, etc. Much less associating programmes of struggle with electoral agendas.

A social movement that uses direct action acts outside the electoral system and represents the interests of the exploited who comprise it.
A social movement that uses direct action can carry out an occupation, a street demonstration, a strike, a street blockade, etc. There are many forms of direct action: all of them put the exploited classes at the forefront of the process of change and the demands that are made.
The responsibility for the movement’s victories must lie with the movement itself. It should not be given to politicians. Politicians defend their own interests and not the interests of social movements. Let us remember that “the emancipation of the workers will be the work of the workers themselves”.

IS DIRECT ACTION NECESSARILY VIOLENT?

No. Direct action can be peaceful or violent and we should always reflect on what is the best way to act. Often, having a peaceful street demonstration on an issue that you want to expose, that is, non-violent direct action, is the best way to achieve the desired ends. For example, sensitising the population to a certain issue. At other times, it becomes inevitable to use violence in response to the violence of capitalism. But it is good to remember that workers’ energy is always used for their defence, in favour of their survival, therefore it is, above all, self-defence. In this way it is also a right, provided for even in the civil codes of the bourgeoisie.

As we have seen capitalism is a system that is based on violence and, sometimes, it becomes inevitable to use a certain degree of violence for self-defence. For example, when the homeless are occupying a place and the police come to evict them, the use of force as a response, a direct action of resistance, is legitimate and always valid. It is enough for this – and this is a fundamental question – that the collective affected by this state violence is fully convinced of the value of the action. For this decision the political development of those in the social movement contributes a lot.

ISN’T DIRECT ACTION OFTEN ILLEGAL?

Because the state is part of capitalist society its laws are made so that capitalism continues to function the way it has been functioning. So, virtually anything that threatens capitalism is considered outside of the law. A clear, historical example was the first explicitly bourgeois civil code, approved by Napoleon Bonaparte in the early nineteenth century in France. He even had articles banning the organisation of unions and even workers’ demonstration by means of strikes. This set of laws served as a model for many others from then on. Still today the codes defend the authoritarian nature of the state and choose property as a guarantee of order.

For this reason, many movements that aim to combat capitalism undertake actions that are considered illegal. An action to occupy a property that doesn’t have a social function is a combative action of a homeless movement, and considered outside the law by the capitalists. Sometimes, the police attack and even arrest those who are mobilised for shutting down a street in a demonstration demanding employment.

Now the question is: why is having a property and not using it for anything allowed, but when people who have nowhere to live occupy it, it is not allowed? Why is it allowed to have high unemployment, but when the unemployed mobilise and close a street, it is not allowed?

What is more ethical and fair is almost never considered within the law. Movements must pursue ideals of ethics and justice, regardless of whether they are inside the law or not. Let us remember that those who make the laws are the capitalists and, except for conquests imposed by the class, they will work in the service of capitalism. For this reason, fighting for ethics and justice often involves doing something that is outside the law.

POLITICS IS NOT FOR THE POLITICIANS

Under the current system elected politicians, after being sworn in, make whatever decisions they want. When a politician is elected, in reality, you give the right to do politics to them and you only “participate” in the process every five years. This is not doing politics.
Politics is not what politicians do but, rather, the management of what is public, of everything, that is, the management of our daily lives.
Politics must be done by the people, properly organised, effectively deciding on everything that concerns them. The politics that social movements defend is one that is practiced today as a workers' struggle, organised from the bottom up, against the exploitation and domination of which they are victims. It is in the popular mobilisations that the prospects of significant social transformations in society lie. Politics in social movements is done by means of direct democracy.

DIRECT DEMOCRACY: WHEN EVERYONE TRULY DECIDES

Direct democracy is a form of organisation in which all those involved participate directly in the decision-making process, that is, a form of organisation in which everyone decides.

In direct democracy it is the people themselves who, gathered in an assembly, make their decisions. There are no leaders who command the movement, all members of the social movement discuss and make their own decisions. In short, everyone is a leader at the same time. Politics is done every day, in the struggle and in the organisation.

A social movement that uses direct democracy has permanent assemblies, has no chiefs and does not base its action on the election of politicians. Its assemblies are horizontal (egalitarian and non-hierarchical participation), have the participation of everyone in the movement and are the place where all decisions are made. Consensus is always sought, but in case of differences of views voting can be accepted, the majority winning.
In a social movement that works with direct democracy it is the members themselves who decide their demands, their forms of action, how they will deal with supportive people who want to help, and so on. Within the movement everything is decided in an egalitarian way: everyone has the same decision-making power. There may be various decision-making criteria, but they must always be established collectively.

ETHICS: A PRINCIPLE, A WAY OF CONDUCT

Social movement activists must behave ethically. But what is that?

Behaving ethically means that our conduct must be based on life principles that oppose capitalism and are based on cooperation, solidarity and mutual aid. Being an ethical person means not contributing to the individual and political injury of comrades of the struggle, supporting other activists, not having attitudes that create splits and unfair internal dispute. Being ethical is also being responsible. To a large extent, ethics is an everyday practice, more evident in concrete actions than in activists’ sometimes very carefully chosen words.

THE IMPORTANCE OF RESPONSIBILITY

Ethics and responsibility are basic values ​​and are radically opposed to the values ​​of capitalism.

A responsible activist takes initiative, assumes responsibility before the social movement and fulfils it, completes the tasks for which they were responsible to the collective and has attitudes that are consistent with the spirit of struggle. In short, someone who contributes to the social movement in the best way possible. Responsibility in a social movement is one of the most evident forms of activist ethics since, by fulfilling the task for which they volunteered or were mandated, the individual does not overburden others. They collaborate, in a solidaristic and crucial way, with the social movement as a whole, facilitating the achievement to the objectives previously determined by everyone.

In addition, a responsible activist does not have irresponsible attitudes: they do not have selfish attitudes that compromise the collective, they do not do things that harm the struggle, they do not fail to carry out important activities for the movement, they do not miss assemblies, etc.

Obviously, all recommendations apply to people with a regular life and who, in fact, are able to carry out the task in everyone’s eyes. The choice of activists for certain tasks is also a collective responsibility. The collective can not be irresponsible with the individuals of the social movement. This is a form of collective responsibility, therefore an ethics.

However, the placing of blame for incomplete tasks on certain individuals who, because of this, are branded and stigmatised by the rest of the struggle comrades happens in social movements, and not infrequently. In such cases, also frequently, the general lack of organisation, of each one in relation to all, finds in one activist the reason for the non-functioning of a whole structure. Such a situation, which reveals convenience more than responsibility, explains everyone’s mistake in terms of one figure. This is also an ethical deviation.

It is essential that values that are opposed to the values of capitalism are maintained within the social movement. Ethics and responsibility, besides being pillars of the social movement, must oppose the whole culture of capitalism that has created a society of unethical and irresponsible people. The struggle for ethics and responsibility is a struggle against the values and culture of capitalism.

SOLIDARITY AND MUTUAL AID

In opposition to the individualistic values of capitalism a social movement promotes solidarity and mutual aid. Instead of competing with each other and disliking each other, solidarity and mutual aid stimulate association with other members of the exploited classes, both in resistance and in the struggle against capitalism itself.

When an individual comes out of isolation and joins with other people who want to build a more just and egalitarian world, they are actually building class solidarity.

This solidarity becomes real, first, when one person associates with another to build a social movement. Then, when one social movement associates with another for a broader struggle. The exploited groups are very different and solidarity means uniting with other sectors, seeking for one to support the other, through a practice that we can call “mutual aid”.

THE STRUGGLE IS INTERNATIONALIST

When we affirm that the state is part of capitalism, it also means that nationalist sentiment must be rejected. Nationalism is the preference for, or strong defence of everything that belongs to the country from which one comes.

Throughout history, defenders of the capitalist system have always wanted to create a sense of unity around the country. For this, they use popular festivals and sports, such as the World Cup, to create what can be called “national identity”.

The real factor of identity with others is not by the country to which they belong, but by the class to which they belong.
There is nothing wrong with a like for sports or even cheering for the national team of someone's home country, but the problem is when one forgets that a worker’s identity must be a class identity and, instead, it comes to be understood as national identity. When nationalism overcomes classism, regimes such as fascism appear, in which even the exploited classes become capable of supporting regimes of domination and exploitation in the name of a national ideal.
Alliance must always be made with the exploited classes, whether they are in South Africa or abroad. When South African capitalism exploits the South African people, it is necessary to be on the side of the South African people. When South African capitalism exploits the people of another country, it is necessary to be with the people of the other country. If it is inevitable to have to choose who to make an alliance with, or what positions to defend, it is essential always to ally around class and never the country in which you live. National identity is part of capitalism and, since the people’s struggle is anti-capitalist, the affirmation of internationalism is more consistent.
An internationalist struggle occurs when the barriers of the State are disregarded and the solidarity of the social movements is established for all the struggles of other members of the exploited classes in the world. There is no reason to prevent “foreign” workers. If the foreigners are from the exploited classes they are also comrades. If they are from the ruling class they are quite probably enemies.

A CHANGE THAT IS ALSO CULTURAL

The social movement must be the preferred terrain for the development of a popular culture. As we have seen, capitalism is embedded in all spaces of society and its culture is spread in various ways: through the media, the schools we attend, etc.

In opposition to this the social movement must produce and develop a popular culture that supports new forms, languages and manifestations that translate values of opposition to capitalism. This culture can be stimulated with music, theatre, lectures, debates, meetings, social gatherings, etc. It will be essential for a change that must also take place within everyone, by means of popular education.

One should not wait for popular education to educate everyone in order to start struggling. However, it would be impossible to deny the absolutely fundamental role that education plays in all the activists of the social movement. It is essential.

TO BUILD A SOCIAL MOVEMENT OR JOIN ONE THAT ALREADY EXISTS?

Sometimes, people are in doubt when they want to mobilise as to whether the best alternative is to create a social movement or to join a social movement that already exists. What is the best alternative? In fact, any of the alternatives can be interesting.

When there is no social movement close to a person who wants to fight for a particular cause, they can look for other people who have an interest in this struggle and form a new social movement. From there, it is only to make sure that the social movement has the characteristics outlined here.

However, if there is already a social movement that fights for something that this person wants to fight for, there is no reason to create another movement. It can occur that this movement is captured, very bureaucratic, not combative, etc. In this case, the alternative is to join the social movement and seek to group together people whose conceptions are close to what is understood by popular organisation, and which is being presented here, within it. From then on, their goal will be to make this sector gains strength so that it can influence the rest of the movement.

The most important thing is to be mobilised. Forming a movement or joining a movement that already exists, causing it to have the characteristics that we think are correct are both possible and important alternatives. It is up to each one to choose. The key is to know that struggle, social mobilisation, is the way to demand something.

ESTABLISH THE STRUGGLE’S OBJECTIVES (SHORT AND MEDIUM TERM)

A social movement must always have its objectives of struggle in a clearly defined way. When we talk about it, we basically have three types of objectives: short, medium and long term. Regarding the short and medium term objectives, they define how far the movement wants to go in the short and medium term.
A movement without objectives goes in circles and has no focus. That is why it seldom achieves anything.
The objectives of struggle will vary according to the struggle of the social movement. For example, a movement against an increase in tuition fees may have as its main objective to prevent the increase from happening. In this case there is only one objective.

There may be more than one objective. When, for example, a union goes on strike and develops a “list of demands”. In this case the demands are the objectives of the struggle. They can be: winning a 10% increase for the whole sector, solving the problem of wage losses for the last three years, paid overtime, etc. For a land occupation movement they can be, for example, carrying out an urban occupation and getting housing. For a movement of the unemployed they can be: pressurising the government and winning an aid programme that creates some alternative income for the unemployed. And so on.

The fundamental thing when the social movement is going to undertake any struggle is to clearly set the short and medium term objectives. The short term is what the movement is going to seek right away and the medium term can range from six months to a few years ahead. To outline the objectives it is enough to answer the question: what do we want to achieve with our movement in a certain period of time (one stage)?

CREATE A MORE OR LESS STRATEGIC PLAN

The movement’s strategic plan is the path that will have to be carried out from “today” until the objective established for the next stage. In other words, it is to answer: how to achieve the objectives set?
The strategic plan must be developed by establishing stages, with one objective (or more) of struggle per stage, and by establishing the actions that will be taken to achieve each objective. At the end of each stage, the movement should always stop, do a self-assessment and see if it has progressed well or not. If all is well the movement continues with the plan. If something is wrong it makes the necessary modifications so that the path is right.
“More or less strategic” is said because there is also no point wasting time planning in the minutes detail and then not being able to do everything in practice. The important thing is to establish the general lines of the “thing” and to take action.

A PRACTICAL EXAMPLE

A homeless movement organises itself to fight for housing. People have nowhere to live and they think that occupying properties with no social function is a good way out.

The objective of struggle (short term)
- Occupy a property with no social function, providing housing to the movement's activists.

Strategic plan
- Set up four commissions: one to talk to the families that will be part of the occupation and establish a programme to integrate these families (1), another to identify and evaluate possible properties to be occupied (2), another to discuss how and when the occupation action will be (3) and another one that will try to create the whole working structure for the future occupation (4).

For this, it will be necessary to reflect on how many and which people will be able to assist in the tasks, which of these activities will be confidential and which will be treated in open assemblies, what the maximum number of families that can occupy the property will be, what the terms to add new people interested in the occupation will be. In short, a series of organisational issues that, if not well thought out and executed, will certainly compromise the short-term objective of obtaining housing for all the movement’s families.

We could detail the strategic plan in the following way, mainly from observation of the security question:

a) The first commission will establish a plan that will define with which families the commission will talk, stipulating in a transparent way the criteria for each family to join the occupation. It will also think about organising assemblies so that the families can get to know each other and establish bonds of solidarity between them, which will be very important in the future.

b) The second commission will go around the city looking for real estate likely to be occupied. It will be crucial to think strategically about whether the best alternative is to occupy a government building or a private building, check the building’s condition and facilities, see how it is closed off, how people can enter, etc. In the end, it will present one or more alternatives so that it can be decided which one is best.

c) The third commission, with the information from the second and knowing the movement, will think about what the occupation will be like. It will discuss the best time to occupy, that is, whether during the day or at night is best, what the occupiers will do, how they will enter the building, how they will see if there are no lights, etc. It will discuss whether the occupation will be on a weekday, or a weekend, etc.

d) The fourth commission will organise a structure with groups of occupants that can make the occupation successful, both in the first and most complicated moments, as well as after the immediate threat of eviction passes (if that happens). This commission will set up a structure of people that will be able to solve the place’s electrical and hydraulic problems, another one that will be responsible for a collective kitchen (if this is the case), the creation of a security commission, the allocation of rooms between the families and and so on.

It is very important to outline the objective(s), the strategic plan and periodically assess whether the social movement is on the right track. There’s nothing better than practice to see if the whole theory works!
The strategic plan can be broader and include medium-term objectives, the medium-term actions that will be taken to achieve these objectives, and so on. The main idea to keep in mind is: planning is absolutely essential.

ASSEMBLIES AND MEETINGS

All social movements that use direct democracy as an organisational method must, necessarily, have assemblies or meetings that are the movement’s deliberative instances, that is, they are the collective space for decision making.
A non-hierarchical social movement does not have a head that decides things and a body that obeys, so all issues of the movement must be discussed and resolved in the framework of assemblies or meetings, which are horizontal (equal and non-hierarchical participation); that is, everyone's opinion is equal. This condition directly defines the degree of organisation. Movements that allow the existence of an authoritarian leader or leadership are not sufficiently organised. A Mexican revolutionary used to say that the stronger the people, the less the need for leaders.
However, in order for the social movement not to lose its focus and not to make meetings and assemblies an end in themselves, some issues must be observed.

EFFICIENCY IN DECISION-MAKING

The social movement’s discussion and decision-making spaces must be a means and not an end in themselves. It may seem exaggerated to say this, but the fact is that there are people who think that the purpose of a social movement is just to hold meetings and horizontal assemblies.

No! Meetings and assemblies are only a means for the movement to discuss its issues and make decisions and, therefore, the meetings need to be effective. This means that they have to allow for the participation of everyone, a good understanding of the issues to be discussed, different positions on the issues and, especially, the making of decisions. No more than that.

There must be a concern for things to really be resolved and for the social movement not to get stuck in endless debate. For this, it is important that the agenda is well defined, that opinions are given in the shortest possible time, that people do not keep repeating ideas that have already been put forward and that the movement discusses factual issues. As stated, consensus must be sought, but if there is no consensus there must be a vote and everyone must follow the positions that win.

It is also important to think of an appropriate method for each type of decision. Decisions that are not very important must be decided without wasting time. Important decisions must take up more time from activists. In addition, there may be different criteria for each decision: the simplest can be voted on by a simple majority winning, those of medium importance can be voted on with more than 2/3 of the votes winning. Those extremely important decisions can follow the consensus method. It is essential to establish a ceiling, that is, a maximum period of time for each discussion and for the meetings and assemblies themselves. Nobody likes to spend all their time in meetings and assemblies.

DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION

Since the social movement advocates direct democracy, decision-making should be as democratic as possible, that is; it should facilitate an environment in which everyone's opinions and suggestions are heard, everyone has a similar level of information in order to be able to give their opinion, and decisions are not made through coercion or fear. For example, a movement can not make its decisions because one member threatens others or because they blackmail them.

It is also not correct for individuals or sectors of the social movement to be silenced or unable to voice their opinion or participate in decision-making.

Everyone should participate in both the discussions and the decision-making. For this, it is essential that everyone knows the dates and times of the meetings and the agenda that will be discussed in advance. In the end, the agenda can be agreed at the beginning of the meeting or assembly, but the ideal is for it to be defined earlier, so as to allow everyone time to consider the issues beforehand.

PRIORITIES, MODERATION AND ESCALATIONS

For decision-making to flow well priorities, knowing what is most important when making decisions, must be established. A social movement must spend more time on what is more important and less time on what is less important. It is often best to put the most important issues at the beginning, when more people are present.

It is always important to have someone to facilitate the meeting. The facilitator has no hierarchy over others, but helps to guide the issues and discussions, stimulates the meeting, facilitates decision-making and ensures that the objectives of the meeting are achieved.

Whenever something is decided, it is important that there are minutes recording what was decided, allocating the responsibilities for the pending tasks and setting dates for the completion of the pending tasks. The resolutions of meetings and assemblies (decisions, activities to be carried out) must always be monitored and undertaken by the social movement; obviously in a non-authoritarian way and observing the social movement’s ethical criteria.

PERSONAL RELATIONS

Personal relationships must always strive for an environment of cooperation and mutual aid in which members of the social movement see themselves as comrades in the struggle and treat each other as such.

The working climate must be pleasant, there must be mutual respect, conflicts must be resolved in a non-violent way and there must be trust between the activists.

This will make the struggle stronger and ensure that the personal side does not interfere with the political side.

We do not have to like everyone in the social movement personally, that is; we are not obliged to be friends with everyone, but we have an obligation to respect everyone who is a comrade in the struggle.

COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA

A social movement must have a sector or commission that will be in charge of the communication and media. This sector will be responsible for ensuring that the movement’s demands are made known to society.

We know that a large part of the media is committed to capitalism, but there are good people in this field who can help. The communication and media comrades should seek to establish a relationship with journalists, broadcasters, editors, etc. who are sympathetic to the movement’s cause and always keep them informed of the complaints that the movement makes, of the actions taken, of victories, police repression, etc.

In addition, the social movement must communicate with society and seek support directly, through independent media vehicles such as free/community radio stations, with the publication of posters and pamphlets, with open publication websites and all the communication structure’s that are not integrated into what can be called “mass media”.

The social movement always needs all of society’s support and this is why it must spread as much information as possible. To do so, it can use two ways. One, having good contacts with specific people who are inside the big media outlets. Another, using independent media vehicles. Anyway, the objective is to communicate the cause of the movement, make its issues known and seek the largest possible number of supporters and people sympathetic to the cause.

LEGAL SUPPORT

The social movement’s struggle generally implies repression. It has been shown here that one of the ways in which the capitalist system is maintained is through the state, which is in charge of “keeping things working”, that is; of maintaining class society and its privileges.

When a social movement is organised and establishes a struggle objective, it will mobilise people who are interested in a particular issue and, through direct action, it will lay its claim.

The greater the social movement’s social force, and the more it questions the roots of the capitalist system, the greater the likelihood of repression. So too, as the movement's activities and struggle increase, so does the state’s response increase, in the form of repression.
This can happen in different ways: the repression of street demonstrations by the police, the arrest of activists, lawsuits, etc. For this reason, it is fundamental that every social movement has well-established contacts with a “legal body” of lawyers that will provide support on legal matters.

Lawyers can help in many ways. Firstly, they can help as “consultants” to the movement, for example, by assisting a homeless movement to identify vacant government buildings or even helping to identify private properties with family disputes in court. This is in a situation that is not one of repression. When repression occurs, lawyers will be able to help the movement forward public complaints, which may prevent activists from being arrested, help to get activists released (in case of arrest), or even defend them in a possible action.

It is essential to remember that when there is mobilisation, invariably, the social movement ends up interfering with the privileges of bourgeois society and generally, the more these privileges are questioned, the greater the repression. The legal support of lawyers will be essential for the social movement, especially in situations of repression. However, it must never guide the political strategies or objectives of the struggle. It must not demobilise people by believing in a lawyer who will solve everything for everyone. Law is a bourgeois institution and one can not forget that, therefore legal support is secondary to the organisation of the struggle.

A FEW PRECAUTIONS THAT SHOULD BE TAKEN

Care must be taken not to let values of capitalist society engender the social movement. Positions that must be fought on a daily basis are: hierarchy and authoritarian positions; comfort and laziness to struggle; nationalism and the state’s defences; competition and individualism; slander and personal disagreements; racism, macho culture, homophobia and other prejudices of society; the drugs and alcoholism that alienate people and distance them from struggle; paternalism and charity, of people who “feel sorry” and who really only want to share the crumbs that fall from their tables. Great caution must be taken with this.

MEDIUM AND SHORT-TERM STRUGGLES

Invariably, the struggle of the social movement is for a concrete question, and it must be so. For example: one can be in a movement of unemployed people struggling for income generation; or among the landless fighting for rural settlements; one can even be in the communities, raising awareness of the counter-cultural message of hip-hop; in a union fighting for a wage increase, etc. These are the social movement’s short and medium term objectives.

Every social movement must have its short and medium term objectives, as they are the ones that will bring achievements that will make the activists’ lives less painful. It is not wrong to fight for jobs, land, housing or better wages. In fact, the search for these gains must always be present, as it is what motivates and mobilises the exploited classes. A movement that promises a good life 50 years from now does not attract people. It must always have the prospect of immediate victories.

ISN’T THIS REFORMISM?

It has been argued so far that the objective of the social movement is to build popular organisation that aims to defeat capitalism, that is; an anti-capitalist organisational model. How can an anti-capitalist movement fight for gains within capitalism? Isn’t this what is generally called “reformism”?

No. What characterises reformism is the political project and the perspective of struggle that a person, a group or a movement has.

When short and medium term gains are seen as an end, then we can characterise those who support this position as reformist. A reformist is someone who believes that capitalism can be improved and considers this as an ideal end.
For example: a person who thinks there is a solution to the problems of society within capitalism is a reformist person. However, this is radically different from someone who, mobilised around short and medium term struggles, has a political project and a long-term perspective of struggle.

A LONG-TERM PERSPECTIVE A long-term perspective of struggle is the conception of the ultimate objective, that is, an answer to the question: at the end of the whole struggle, where do we intend to arrive? Anyone who is a reformist argues that the end you want to reach is within capitalism. For example: a movement of the unemployed that thinks that after getting a job everything will be solved is a reformist movement. A movement of homeless people who think that the struggle when they get housing is over is a reform movement. And even an informal settlement movement that struggles to be recognised and accepted by its exploiters, sometimes in the figure of the state, can take the same direction. This is because capitalism will continue to exist and generate new excluded people. Exploitation and domination will continue.

But is the struggle not against exploitation and domination? So, even if it is mobilised around short and medium term issues, the movement must have what is called a long-term perspective if it wants to lead to the construction of popular organisation.

A long-term perspective exists when the movement thinks its short and medium term struggle is not the end. The end, for a movement that wants to fight against exploitation and domination, is to end capitalism, that is; to struggle to replace the capitalist system. The short and medium term struggle and long-term perspective are not mutually exclusive, but complementary.
For this reason, it is essential, always, in absolutely every case, to sustain this long-term perspective of combatting and overthrowing the capitalist system, pointing to the construction of a new society. The short and medium term struggles will serve the day-to-day gains, that will alleviate daily suffering, as well as being a school because one only truly learns in the struggle. This is a statement based on practice. For this reason, the memory of social struggles is important, as it forms the accumulation of experiences acquired by social movements over time.

DOES THIS MEAN BEING REVOLUTIONARY?

Yes. A movement that is organised around a short and medium-term struggle and uses it as a means to a greater objective, against capitalism, is a revolutionary movement.

The project of a revolutionary movement is linked to a conception of grassroots organisation that, the more mobilised and radicalised it is, the more it will point to a revolutionary perspective, that is, to overcoming the capitalist system.

A revolutionary is someone who argues that capitalism must be replaced by a new system based on equality and freedom.

DO WE WANT TO “TAKE POWER”?

The concept of “taking power” is outdated and misguided. This is because, when fighting a system of exploitation and domination, the objective is not the creation of a new system that exploits and dominates. The concept of taking power starts from the assumption that the problem is who is in power and not power itself – it is that idea of changing the king, without ending the monarchy.

In reality, the problem is not who occupies the State, but the State itself. Therefore, it is useless to think that if we take the power of the State, we can make the necessary change in society. In this sense, the state must be destroyed because it facilitates the domination of those exploited by the ruling class.

As we have seen, the state is an effective tool in favour of the bourgeoisie. Things are not changed by handing all the achievements of the class over to centralised power. The form of organisation of the state is centralised and tends to eliminate all other forms of democratic organisation defended up to now for the social movement. The recent history of Brazil, for example, shows that even when a union worker comes into the presidency of the Republic, things still do not change in favour of the social movements.

PEOPLE’S POWER

Many social movements speak of the creation of “people’s power”. Is this banner the most appropriate?

The concept of “people's power” is very broad. There are people who support it, and who have good ideas and concepts that are very close to those defined here as “popular organisation”. However, many others who promote “people's power” are thinking of it in an authoritarian way, such as constructions “by the centre”, dictatorial, exploitative and domineering forms.

The conception of people’s power that comes close to the popular organisation promoted here holds that power, in reality, is a relation of permanent political dispute between capitalists and anti-capitalists, and that building people’s power would increase the social force on the anti-capitalists’ side. Thus, starting from the social and popular mobilisations one would be contributing to the social force that would be imposed on capitalism. In this case, the idea of ​​people’s power is very similar to the one advocated here; the same thing with different words.

However, there are people who promote “people's power” by building movements that support vanguards detached from the grassroots, hierarchical relationships in movements, parties that overlap with social movements, people who seek to liberate society through the state, tyrannies and bureaucracies of all kinds. In this case, people’s power has absolutely nothing to do with what we call popular organisation.

THE NEW SOCIETY IT IS NECESSARY TO BUILD

Popular organisation points, as we have seen, to a long-term objective, which is the replacement of capitalism. This means creating a new social regime, that is, another form of organisation of social life.

As this is a long-term project, it is impossible to have absolutely everything thought out, but it is a case here of leaving some thoughts on the subject.

A CLASSLESS SOCIETY

Unlike capitalism, the new society will not have classes. There will not be those who dominate, who exploit, and those who are dominated, who are exploited. This new society will be based on solidarity and mutual aid and people will no longer consider themselves competitors but, rather, comrades.

In this way, solidarity will replace mutual mistrust and cooperation will eventually triumph over competition. Since private property, now the source of so many divisions in society, and the power factor of the bourgeoisie, will give way to collective ownership of the means of production (including land), distribution, exchange, of houses, etc.

Domination and exploitation must have been eliminated and although there will be conflicts, which are inevitable, the most important thing is to have a system that does not allow for a few to live well at the expense of so many others who live poorly.

WITHOUT PRIVATE PROPERTY AND WITH SELF-MANAGEMENT

For this new society to be founded on solidarity and mutual aid, it must not support the institutions of capitalism: private property and the state. In its place, as a form of social reorganisation, the system of economic self-management and political federalism should be implemented.

Private property must have been extinguished and no one will be able to employ other people and steal part of their wages (surplus value) anymore. In this model no person owns the means of production – machines, tools, land, sources of energy, etc. – because they are all collective.

To say that something is collective means that it no longer belongs to one person. When something is collective it belongs to everyone. Everyone involved in something owns it and makes decisions about how to use it together.
Let's give a practical example. Consider a chair factory. In the future society, the factory and everything that belongs to it – machines, tools, land, etc. – is collective property; it does not belong to one or more people. So a person cannot sell the factory, they cannot be the boss of others, they can exploit others. Everything in the factory is collective, and all workers are equal in decision-making power.
Everything that is resolved must be an agreement between the collective of workers that, in equality, will decide what to do with everything that concerns their work environment. This is called self-management, and it happens when decisions are taken out of the hands of the ruling class and go to councils of workers who make their own decisions about everything that concerns them.
This is not a dream, it has happened in some moments in the history of the West. In the Paris Commune, in 1871, the workers, besides taking over the factories, voted for their representatives according to areas of production. There were no higher wages and everyone had a rotating function; that is, they took on each other's tasks in different periods of the production process. It was also like this for more than 30 months in the Spanish Revolution, in 1936-39. A scene of innumerable experiences of self-management which, in certain regions, achieved results far superior to those verified in the previous conservative moulds. And that was during a civil war.

WITHOUT THE STATE AND WITH FEDERALISM

Since capitalism must have been abolished, the state must no longer exist either. Instead of national states the future society must be based on the free association between people. And this can happen in any territory, which is why the new society is internationalist.
In this model there is no longer representative democracy. People meet in councils and make their own decisions. When there is a need for coordination, a delegate is chosen who represents the council’s positions and agrees with others. All political functions are rotational and recallable (If base of the council desires it the representative can be removed from office at any time.). This is what we call federalism.
Federalism also has a historical memory. During the early years of the Russian Revolution, which began in October 1917, the workers and soldiers of the people decided everything in so-called soviets, or councils. These were the highest decision-making bodies. Subsequently, with the bureaucratisation of the revolution and the rigging of the soviets by a political party, this experience lost its original content.

TRUE DEMOCRACY

This society of self-management and federalism promotes true democracy, that is, true government by the people. In it, it is not the capitalists and politicians who govern, but the organised people themselves.
In a true democracy, the people govern themselves. They are sovereign, make their own decisions and are neither dominated nor exploited.
This “new democracy” should also guide a whole new conception of education and culture that educates people towards freedom and equality. In this way, stimulating a culture of solidarity and mutual aid, reinforcing this model of society in opposition to the previous one.

FREEDOM AND EQUALITY

The two basic values to be promoted in the future society are freedom and equality.

Freedom being the possibility for all people to develop all their potentialities, abilities, creativity without being dominated or exploited.

Equality being the possibility for everyone to choose which path to follow. Thus, there is no longer this gap between rich and poor and everyone has more or less the same level, because they have the same opportunities. This does not mean that we will try to standardise everyone, but that in such a system there is no inequality and there is no hierarchy. And, since property will be collective, everything will be organised in favour of everyone.

THE MEANS OF POPULAR ORGANISATION AND THE PEDAGOGY OF STRUGGLE

To conclude the material on popular organisation, there is an important reflection. All the means by which popular organisation is exercised must be in full agreement with the new society that is urgently needed to be built.

That is why the day-to-day struggles, in addition to bringing about gains, already highlight the ethical values of the new society that must be built. The whole process of struggle pointed out here allows us to conclude that it is essential to use the appropriate means to achieve the desired ends. In reality, the ends are in the means. Freedom cannot be achieved by restricting people's participation, nor equality by maintaining certain privileges; everything must already be transformed into the methods used in the struggle. The struggle itself, as has already been said, is an enormous source of learning, it is what educates the class.

And this is absolutely important: defending the coherence between means and ends. In the model of popular organisation the entire process of struggle – that is, the means – is consistent with the ends; which are the overthrow of capitalism and the construction of a new society. We can affirm that the means must be absolutely consistent with the ends that are to be achieved.

It is by struggling that one learns to struggle. In day-to-day mobilisation we learn things that no school can teach us. In practice, theory gets much better. So, get to work, let's leave the theory and start the practice!

OUR “HOMEWORK”

Build popular organisation!

Διεθνή / Αναρχικό κίνημα / Γνώμη / Ανάλυση Wednesday February 19, 2020 19:33 byZaher Baher

Αυτό το άρθρο επισημαίνει την αδύναμη θέση μας στους παγκόσμιους αγώνες ενάντια στο κράτος και το σύστημα. Λέει στους αναγνώστες ότι το σημερινό σύστημα είναι πιο προηγμένο και ισχυρότερο από πριν, μιας και δεν λειτουργούν οι παλιές μέθοδοι αγώνων, κάτι που ωφελεί το κράτος και το σύστημα.

Πρέπει να θάψουμε τους παραδοσιακούς αγώνες και να υιοθετήσουμε νέους

Αυτό το άρθρο επισημαίνει την αδύναμη θέση μας στους παγκόσμιους αγώνες ενάντια στο κράτος και το σύστημα. Λέει στους αναγνώστες ότι το σημερινό σύστημα είναι πιο προηγμένο και ισχυρότερο από πριν, μιας και δεν λειτουργούν οι παλιές μέθοδοι αγώνων, κάτι που ωφελεί το κράτος και το σύστημα.

Ο καπιταλισμός και ο πυλώνας του, το κράτος, έχουν αλλάξει τις μεθόδους τους για να αντισταθούν στο κίνημα της εργατικής τάξης. Το σύστημα με όλες τις δομές του έχει τροποποιηθεί και προσαρμοσθεί στην πάλη ενάντια στον ταξικό του εχθρό και έχει μάθει πώς να το εξημερώνει. Στην πραγματικότητα ο τρόπος με τον οποίο η εργατική τάξη αγωνίζεται εναντίον των εργοδοτών της και του κράτους έχει όντως ωφελήσει το καπιταλιστικό σύστημα.

Ο καπιταλισμός αναπτύσσεται. Από καιρό σε καιρό ανανεώνεται για να αντιμετωπίσει καλύτερα τα εσωτερικά προβλήματα του ανταγωνισμού και τα εξωτερικά για να πολεμήσει τον εχθρό του. Αυτή η εξέλιξη είναι πολύ προφανής, ειδικά από τη δεκαετία του '80, αλλά ακόμα η εργατική τάξη ή μάλλον οι μάζες αγωνίζονται με τον ίδιο τρόπο που αγωνίζονταν πριν από δεκαετίες.

Τα παγκόσμια μαζικά κινήματα του παρόντος, ιδίως τα Κίτρινα Γιλέκα στη Γαλλία, τα οποία συνεχίστηκαν για περισσότερο από ένα χρόνο, οι αμέτρητες διαδηλώσεις στο Ιράν, τα μαζικά κινήματα στον Λίβανο και το Ιράκ, που άρχισαν τον Οκτώβριο του 2019, δεν έχουν επιτύχει τίποτα. Αυτό δεν οφείλεται στο γεγονός ότι δεν είναι ισχυρά ή επειδή τα αιτήματά τους είναι άσχετα ή επειδή δεν έχουν υποστήριξη από διαφορετικά τμήματα της κοινωνίας.

Αν δούμε τις πρόσφατες διαδηλώσεις σε παγκόσμια κλίμακα, τις εξεγέρσεις και τα κινήματα, συμπεριλαμβανομένων των τεσσάρων χωρών που ανέφερα παραπάνω, εξακολουθούν να χρησιμοποιούν τις ίδιες παλιές τακτικές και μεθόδους για να ικανοποιηθούν τα αιτήματά τους. Σίγουρα, δεν μπορούμε να χρησιμοποιούμε τα παλιά εργαλεία και τις τακτικές για την αντιμετώπιση αυτού του πολύ εξελιγμένου συστήματος.

Το θέμα δεν είναι αν μπορούμε ακόμα να κερδίσουμε ή να πετύχουμε κάτι παραπάνω με την παλιά τακτική, το θέμα είναι πόσο μπορούμε να κερδίσουμε. Εάν η νίκη περιορίζεται στην αλλαγή της κυβέρνησης ή του συστήματος.

Ας ρίξουμε μια ματιά στις πρόσφατες παγκόσμιες αναταραχές λίγο πιο κοντά από τα Κίτρινα Γιλέκα, το Χονγκ Κονγκ, τον Ισημερινό, το Σουδάν, τη Χιλή, το Ιράν, τον Λίβανο και το Ιράκ. Η χειρότερη πιθανότητα είναι ότι ενδέχεται να ηττηθούν και να δοθεί ένα αρνητικό μάθημα που θα οδηγήσει σε απογοήτευση. Το καλύτερο αποτέλεσμα είναι ότι επιτυγχάνουν πολύ λίγα.

Γιατί γίνεται αυτό; Η απάντηση είναι απλή. Οι σπόροι της ήττας βρίσκονται μέσα στο ίδιο το κίνημα. Βγαίνοντας στους δρόμους, κάνοντας πορείες, συγκρουόμενοιμε την αστυνομία, καταλαμβάνοντας ένα μέρος ή μια κεντρική πλατεία στις κύριες πόλεις και μένοντας εκεί για πολύ καιρό. Είναι εντάξει να γίνονται όλα αυτά στην αρχή των διαδηλώσεων ή των εξεγέρσεων για πολλούς λόγους. Αλλά παραμένοντας εκεί για τόσο πολύ καιρό χωρίς άλλα σχέδια, είναι κάτι που δεν οδηγεί πουθενά τους διαδηλωτές. Αυτό το αδύναμο σημείο πρέπει να ληφθεί υπόψη και να δράσουμε ώστε να επιφέρουμε ζωτικές αλλαγές στις μεθόδους του αγώνα μας. Πρέπει να επεκτείνουμε και να μεταφέρουμε τον αγώνα μας στη μεγάλη πλειοψηφία των ανθρώπων, που με τη δική τους συμμετοχή θα δημιουργηθεί ένα μαζικό κίνημα με την υπόλοιπη κοινωνία.

Ο τρόπος που αγωνιζόμαστε δεν ισχύει πλέον και εξυπηρετεί περισσότερο το σύστημα, το κράτος και τις δικές του γραφειοκρατικές δυνάμεις. Όσο περισσότερο συνεχίζονται οι σκέτες διαμαρτυρίες, τόσο πιο ασθενέστερη θα είναι η ενέργειά μας και όλο και λιγότεροι άνθρωποι θα συμμετέχουν. Η ιστορία των αγώνων μας από τη δεκαετία του 1980 μας έχει δείξει πολλά και είναι γνωστή σε πολλούς από εμάς.

Το πιο αποτελεσματικό κίνημα του σήμερα είναι αυτό του Ιράκ που ξεκίνησε τον Οκτώβρη του 2019. Ανεξαρτήτως, όμως, από αυτό, οι διαδηλωτές πρέπει να επεκτείνουν και να διαδώσουν αποτελεσματικά τον αγώνα τους στις μάζες οργανώνοντάς τις σε τοπικές ομάδες και μη ιεραρχικές μαζικές οργανώσεις.

Πρέπει να συμμετέχουν οι άνθρωποι στις γειτονιές τους, στα εργοστάσια, στους χώρους εργασίας, στα σχολεία, στα πανεπιστήμια και στα γραφεία για να οργανώσουν τις λαϊκές συνελεύσεις. Να πραγματοποιούνται τακτικές συνελεύσεις για να αρχίσει και πάλι να ασκείται η πολιτική από τους ίδιους τους ανθρώπους, εξουσιοδοτώντας τους να αναλάβουν την υλοποίηση των δικών τους αποφάσεων για κάθε πτυχή της ζωής τους και των κοινοτήτων τους.

Κατά τη γνώμη μου, αυτό είναι ένα πολύ σημαντικό βήμα και σχέδιο. Οι παραπάνω μέθοδοι είναι απαραίτητες για μια μαζική κοινωνική επανάσταση. Λυπάμαι ποιυ πρέπει πω ότι χωρίς να κάνουμε αυτά τα πράγματα, η μοίρα του κινήματος στο Ιράκ, το Ιράν και το Λίβανο δεν θα είναι καλύτερη από αυτή που έχουμε ήδη δει.

http://Zaherbaher.com

Στην αγγλική του μορφή, το άθρο δημοσιεύτηκε εδώ: https://www.anarkismo.net/article/31753 Μετάφραση: Ούτε Θεός-Ούτε Αφέντης.

north america / mexico / anarchist movement / opinion / analysis Tuesday February 18, 2020 08:37 byWayne Price

**Many people regard anarchism and socialism as contradictory programs. This is based on the conception of "socialism" as state ownership of the economy. Yet historically, anarchists have regarded this program as "state socialism" or "authoritarian socialism." They have rejected such views in favor of "anarchist-socialism" or "libertarian socialism." This concept of anarchism as a variety of socialism remains important today in opposition to pro-capitalist "libertarianism" and to "democratic socialism"--that is, reformist state socialism.**

Many U.S. anarchists, or radicals interested in anarchism, are surprised to hear of “anarchism” as being “socialist.” Like most U.S. people they have learned to think of “socialism” as meaning state-owned industry—which would be the opposite of anarchism. (Similarly “communism” is usually thought of as Stalinist totalitarianism.) Also “the Left” is often interpreted as support for such state-oriented economic programs. This was the view of socialism propagated by the U.S. ruling class as well as by its opponents in the Soviet Union and similar states.

And yet, what sort of economy have anarchists advocated? They are anti-capitalist and want to take away the wealth and power of the capitalist elite. They want to replace private ownership of the means of production with collectivized, social, ownership—to replace economic competition with cooperation—production for profit with production for use—division into classes with a classless society, with no rich or poor, no specialized order-givers ruling over specialized order-takers. A chaotic, competitive, system would be replaced with overall democratic coordination (planning) from below. All of which is entirely consistent with the rest of the anarchist program of abolishing the state and all other forms of oppression: racial, national, gender, sexual orientation, and so on. What is this proposed non-profit, cooperative, economy but socialism?

In fact, virtually all anarchists, from the beginning, have called themselves “socialists” (and some have also called themselves “communists”). At the same time, they have always regarded themselves as “libertarian socialists” or “anarchist-socialists,” to the left of—and in opposition to—the “authoritarian socialists” or “state socialists.” Well before the Russian Revolution, they argued that—whatever the subjective desires of the state socialists—in practice that program would only create a form of state capitalism (with the state bureaucracy acting as the new, exploitative, capitalist class).

The first person to identify himself as an “anarchist” was Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Proudhon usually “described himself as a socialist….Although he criticized both centralized democracy and state socialism, he still considered himself a democrat and socialist….Like Bakunin and Kropotkin, he argued against state socialism and called for a decentralized, self-managed, federal, bottom-up, socialism: anarchism.” (McKay 2011; 23)

In his 1910 entry on “Anarchism,” written for the Encyclopedia Britannica,, Peter Kropotkin wrote, “As to their economical conceptions, the anarchists, in common with all socialists, of whom they constitute the left wing…consider the wage system and capitalist production altogether as an obstacle to progress….The anarchists combat with the same energy, the State, as the main support of that system….To hand over to the state all the main sources of economical life…would mean to create a new instrument of tyranny. State capitalism would only increase the powers of bureaucracy and capitalism.” (Kropotkin 2014; 164-5; my emphasis)

The great Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta was a younger comrade of Bakunin’s and Kropotkin’s. In 1897 he wrote, arguing against the “democratic socialists,” ”From 1871, when we began our propaganda in Italy, we have always been and have always called ourselves, socialist-anarchists….We have always been of the opinion that socialism and anarchy are two words which basically have the same meaning, since it is impossible to have economic emancipation (abolition of property) without political emancipation (abolition of government) and vice versa.” (in Richards 1984; 143; emphasis in original)

Malatesta had supported Kropotkin’s “anarchist-communist” version of anarchist-socialism, but he stopped using the “communist” label after the Russian Revolution. He still identified with that tradition and with the end-goal of a libertarian communist society. But he felt that the Leninists had given the term “communism” an authoritarian reputation. Instead, Malatesta referred to himself as a “revolutionary anarchist-socialist.”

Noam Chomsky cites the views of the anarcho-syndicalist Rudolf Rocker as indicating, “anarchism may be regarded as the libertarian wing of socialism.” (Chomsky 1970; xii) Chomsky further quotes one of the U.S. Haymarket Martyrs, Adolph Fischer: “Every anarchist is a socialist, but not every socialist is necessarily an anarchist.” (xii)

So, by theory and by history, mainstream anarchism is a wing of the socialist tradition. Some of today’s anarchists attack “socialism” and “the Left” for things—statism, authoritarianism, reformism, misuse of technology, sexism—which the classical anarchists had long since denounced. Yet the earlier anarchists were clear that they were not condemning “socialism” but “state socialism.” They regarded themselves as being far to the left of the authoritarian Left. Therefore they had seen no need to reject “socialism” as such.

Right Wing “Libertarians” and “Democratic” State Socialists

This argument may seem abstract and archaic, but there are also current reasons for U.S. anarchists to keep the term “socialist.” One reason is the growth of a “libertarian” pro-capitalist movement. Anarchists need to distinguish themselves from this trend which is relatively influential. It draws on some of the same motives that attract people to anarchism—opposition to drug laws, to gun suppression, to sex laws, and to other forms of state oppression. When anarchists speak about their views, they are often accused by Leftists of sounding like these pseudo-libertarians. Unfortunately, these right-wingers use the same label of “libertarian” which anarchists have used since the 19th century.

These “libertarians” range in views from Trump-supporting Republicans to the Libertarian Party to some who regard themselves as anarchists. As free-market absolutists, they oppose laws which protect public health or worker safety. Some are for a “minimal state,” while others call themselves “anarcho-capitalists” (which is not a thing). These latter are against the bureaucratic-centralized state but do not object to bureaucratic-centralized corporate monopolies. They would replace the state with private armies of “rent-a-cops” hired by the wealthy—which would, in effect, become the new state.

These pseudo-libertarians claim to be in the tradition of “individualist anarchism.” This tradition is somewhat distinct from the mainstream of revolutionary anarchism from Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin onward. Many anarchists (such as Emma Goldman or Daniel Guerin) have sought to integrate the insights of individualist anarchism with socialist anarchism. In any case, the individualist anarchists were never supporters of capitalism and sometimes called themselves “socialists”. One of their founders, Benjamin Tucker, wrote in 1893 of “the two principles…Authority and Liberty” as the basis of “the two schools of Socialistic thought…respectively, State Socialism and Anarchism.” (Krimerman & Perry 1966; 62)

Iain McKay argues, “Anarchism has always been a socialist theory and the concept of an ‘anarchism’ which supported the economic system anarchism was born opposing is nonsense.” (McKay 2008; 7; emphasis in original) So it is important for anarchists to identify as ”libertarian socialists” and “anarchist-socialists” in order to distinguish themselves from these phony, “libertarian,” supporters of exploitation and oppression.

Another current trend to which anarchists must relate is the rise of “democratic socialism” (or “social democracy”). Due to various factors, including the obvious failures of capitalism, a large minority has become attracted to this sort of “socialism.” A review of political polling over the last decade reveals, pretty consistently, that a sizable number (between 30 to 40 percent) favors “socialism.” While this is only a minority, it is about the same proportion of the population as that which supports President Trump! Importantly, young adults are most likely to have a positive view of socialism and a negative view of capitalism—from 40 to 50 percent. (Polling is summarized in Price 2018.) This is reflected in the significant position in the Democratic presidential primaries held by Bernie Sanders, despite his self-identification as a “democratic socialist.” It is also reflected in the rapid growth of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) to around 60,000.

What people mean by “socialism” or “democratic socialism” is very uncertain. (Sanders himself does not advocate expropriating the ruling rich, nor socializing major sectors of industry; his model, he says, is the Nordic countries, such as Denmark, which are capitalist countries with major welfare benefits—benefits which are now under attack.) The DSA itself is “multi-tendency.” It even has a Libertarian Socialist Caucus. But its predominant tendency involves using the electoral system of the capitalist state--by "democratic" they mean working within the electoral system of capitalist representative (limited) democracy. For most of them this means participating in the Democratic Party (right now supporting Sanders and some others, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez). This is in order to propose reforms which supposedly may lead to a socialist society. That is, they are reformist state socialists. Some of them regard themselves as “revolutionaries,” but they do not openly advocate overthrowing the existing state.

Not that “democratic socialists” openly propose a completely centralized, state-managed, economy. This is no longer possible even on the Left. They are also for workers’ management, consumer cooperatives, and local, municipally-owned, industry. Anarchist-socialists also include such concepts within their overall program of a self-managed economy—a program which can only be achieved through the overturn of the state. But for these “democratic socialists,” such ideas go together with nationalized industry and reforms enforced by the existing (capitalist) state. (See their proposals for a “Green New Deal”; Price 2019.)

Revolutionary anarchist-socialists should have a two-sided approach to this growth of interest in socialism. On the one hand, they should welcome the new, popular, hostility to capitalism and openness to alternate systems, summarized as “socialism.” This is not the time for anarchists to be rejecting “socialism.” Anarchists, too, are part of the socialist movement and have always been.

On the other hand, they must oppose all varieties of state socialism, both reformist (working through the existing state) and “revolutionary” (seeking to overturn this state and to set up a new state—the “dictatorship of the proletariat” or whatever). Anarchists are the authentic socialists, they must say. Reformist state socialists will only maintain the existing capitalist system—a system in crisis which can no longer provide significant reforms. Alternately, revolutionary state socialists (Marxist-Leninists) would, if successful, only create a new system of state capitalism.

The radical movement of the “sixties,” also began with a reformist program. The Students for a Democratic Society, the then-dominant organization, began as the youth group of the League for Industrial Democracy. This was a social democratic body which included Michael Harrington (who later started DSA). It was only over time that the youthful Left developed in a revolutionary direction—although one which was dominated by Leninist statism.

The pattern of movement from reformism to revolutionary socialism is likely to be repeated--this time hopefully toward libertarian socialism. The ongoing crises of U.S. and world capitalism will push the current radicalization further to the Left. The reformists will be unable to offer real solutions to the disasters which are looming over society. I am not proposing specific tactical directions (should anarchists join the DSA while opposing its electoralism and statism, or build independent organizations?). But revolutionary anarchist-socialists should be preparing for future developments by organizing themselves now.

References

Chomsky, Noam (1970). “Introduction.” In Daniel Guerin. Anarchism; From Theory to Practice. NY: Monthly Review Press. Pp. vii—xx.

Krimerman, Leonard, & Perry, Lewis (Eds.) (1966). Patterns of Anarchy; A Collection of Writings on the Anarchist Tradition. Garden City NY: Anchor Books/Doubleday.

Kropotkin, Peter (2014). Direct Struggle Against Capital; A Peter Kropotkin Anthology (Iain McKay ed.). Oakland CA: AK Press.

McKay, Iain (2008). An Anarchist FAQ; Volume one. Oakland CA: AK Press.

McKay, Iain (2011). “Introduction.” Property is Theft! A Pierre-Joseph Proudhon Anthology. (I. McKay ed.) Oakland CA: AK Press. Pp. 1—52.

Price, Wayne (2018). “The Revival of U.S. Socialism—And an Anarchist Response.”
https://www.anarkismo.net/article/30763?search_text=Wayne+Price

Price, Wayne (2019). “A Green New Deal vs. Revolutionary Ecosocialism.”
https://www.anarkismo.net/article/31250?search_text=Wayne+Price

Richards, Vernon (Ed.) (1984). Errico Malatesta; His Life and Ideas. London UK: Freedom Press.

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Neste 8 de Março, levantamos mais uma vez a nossa voz e os nossos punhos pela vida das mulheres!

Neste 8 de Março, levantamos mais uma vez a nossa voz e os nossos punhos pela vida das mulheres!

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