Friday, May 19, 2006

The Demon of Will

Originally published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translated by irlandesa

The Demon of Will

Guillermo Almeyra*

It is time to close ranks in order to secure the release of all the prisoners, to the very last one, who have been brutally and arbitrarily jailed, as well as to secure the condemnation of the rapists, torturers, those who invaded properties and the kidnappers, and to expose those highly placed who ordered the violations of law and the murders in Sicartsa and in San Salvador Atenco. That is our primary task. But at the same time we have two other fundamental tasks: protecting our flank from other provocations and assessing what the tactical and strategic errors of the popular sector have been, in order to reorganize and reinforce it, and to discuss the ideological bases of the lynching of an unarmed policeman, which was used so much by television as an excuse for fascist attacks. Because the “strategy of tension” which the government is employing is not going to stop, instead it will be increasingly on the agenda - and now Calderón is saying that AMLO is behind Marcos’ mask - in order to extend the provocations as far as popular reaction will allow it.

Will is the worst of advisors. It is irresponsible to say, like Marcos, “screw the correlation of forces” (in a speech at UNAM), or to publish, in Rebeldía, “we agree, we’ll overthrow the government, we’ll throw the rich out, we’ll change the country” (something like Fox’s 15 minutes to resolve the Chiapas issue), or, as he repeated each time during his trip, “we’ll expropriate the banks,” “we’ll throw the rich out to Miami,” “we’ll overthrow the government.” It is irresponsible to maintain that the Other Campaign “stopped the construction of La Parota” – thus displacing the Guerrero ejiditarios and comuneros who are still confronting that construction – or made San Salvador Atenco visible.

The correlation of forces is fundamental, and attaining objectives depends on it and on the times, on combining, through alliances, with other sectors - with which one certainly has differences, but the differences are fewer than the points in common - and on the patient building of conscience and of organization in their own ranks. It is impossible, for example, not to see that the popular sector is confronting, and will inevitably be confronting, repression from the State, which is in the hands of exploiters (not of the “rich,” many of whom can be innocuous). It is a mistake to not put the Sicartsa situation alongside the one in Atenco, and, meanwhile, alongside the attempt to ethically lynch Elena Poniatowska or AMLO. It is delusory to ignore the national strike by 5 million workers and the breach between large numbers of the union leadership and the government with the argument that are all charros. It is absurd to appropriate the defense of the prisoners in San Salvador Atenco when, on the contrary, the broadest front possible must be constructed in defense of democratic rights and the Constitution.

It is irresponsible to “screw the correlation of forces” and to ignore the fact that the adversary thinks and acts, he has the power and he will defend it. That ignorant and arrogant advice led to confrontation (machetes against more powerful weapons) in order to defend eight florists whose situation could have been negotiated and, in any event, should not have led to providing an excuse for deaths, rapes, illegal searches, hundreds of prisoners, dozens of wounded, to the division of Atenco residents, to many of them fleeing. There are two reasons for the lynching of a fallen policeman (whose image was repeated ad nauseum on television and which, naturally, did not then lead to the savage images of repression). The main cause is hate, which has been well earned by the repressive organizations and their brutality (Sicartsa is the most recent case), which has now led to other acts of savagery such as the burning of police in various neighborhoods. But the other reason is lack of political conscience and of the idea of what the correlation of forces is.

And that is a problem of the Other Campaign and of the left. The end does not justify the means. You cannot fight the bourgeoisie with their own savage methods. Blind violence and hate should be eradicated, especially since we are fighting not just against capitalism and its horrors, but because we also want to build a new human being and a just society. Even if they were to impose war upon us, nothing, however, would justify torture, irregularities against enemy prisoners. In addition, it is a terrible commanding officer – and leads to bloody disasters - who only understands orders to advance and attack, and who does not take into account the media and immediate consequences of his actions.

The social movements in Mexico, without exception, from the indigenous of Chiapas and the rest of the country to the workers and campesinos, are going to great effort, on the other hand, to demonstrate that their struggles are not only legitimate but they are also legal. Those of La Parota, for example, insist that no one consulted them, that no environmental studies were conducted, that thousands of ejidos will be flooded, etcetera. Workers are seeking to defend their union independence, campesinos are asking for reform. In order to “overthrow the government (and) throw the rich (out of the country)” it is therefore necessary to violate neither consciences nor the times. To create consensus, to make alliances, to discuss how, with what, when, with whom. It is not fair to appear on Televisa with Loret de Mila, smoking, sprawled in an armchair as if at home, calmly answering insidious questions like a friend while, at the same time, calling for risky actions, “screwing correlation of forces,” because the bodies, whether for bullets or rape, are also being contributed by others.

[* Dr. Almeyra is a professor at UAM-Xochimilco, and, among an abundance of other accomplishments, is providing a workshop next month in conjunction with Mexico Solidarity Network ( .]