(Author’s note: This was written in the early part of 2010, my hopes being that it could have been published earlier.

In the various feedback I’ve received, two main things stood out. First, there is not a consensus amongst those queried for comments about the various topics, and in some cases contradictory responses about single issues were given. Second, for this essay to be anything close to definitive it would need  to be a series of books.

Without additional time to lengthen and restructure the entire essay and draw in the entirety of historiography and current thoughts, I’ve attempted to reconcile the problems as much as possible in the notes.

Accordingly, this document does not reflect the sole, comprehensive line of The Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism Movement(RAIM) on the matters discussed (see, ‘Fuck the Border, Support Mexican National Liberation‘ for our general program in support of Mexican national liberation). Rather it is being published as a resource and timely effort at education in service of revolution. My hope is that this essay can help contribute to a basic narrative surrounding the Mexican Revolution and the events since, as part of a wider anti-imperialist historical narrative. Certainly, this essay following is hardly all there is to be said about such topics. – Nick Brown)

This year, 2010, marks the centennial of the start of the Mexican Revolution, or La Revolucion. [1] It was one of the first major attempts at social revolution in the 20th century and one in many of only partially-successful or failed revolutions throughout the still-developing Third World.

Its age, the fact that it didn’t survive as a social revolution, etc, does not diminish its significance. Rather, the Mexican Revolution is part of the real cultural heritage of many millions of people, both in Mexico and the US. Additionally, the revolutionary project, the idea of achieving the more radical goals of the Mexican Revolution, is one of continued relevance and necessity today.

Background and Outcome of the Mexican Revolution

The Mexican Revolution erupted in 1910 with Francisco Madero’s Plan de San Luis Potsi and rebellion against the quarter-century-old regime of Porfirio Diaz. Diaz’s rule, lauded by many around the world, proved to be a paper tiger and collapsed after only a few short months of simultaneous revolts under a variety of leaderships. [2]

Like all revolutions throughout the 20th century, the Mexican Revolution contained agrarian and anti-imperialism aims. It was seen by many as a revolution of the common masses against the big landlords, the corrupt Mexican state and the foreigners (particularly Amerikans) gaining ever more influence in Mexican society. However, by the end of the decade, the radical aims would be cut sort as splits within the rebelling forces and US intervention led to a series of moderate, inevitably comprador leaders.

The most radical proposals put forward during the Mexican Revolution were done so in part by Emiliano Zapata of Morelos. The Plan de Ayala of 1911, which launched Zapata’s revolt against Madero, called for the return of communal and small-holding lands to those it was stolen from, breaking up monopolies to the benefit of common Mexicans and waging a form of total justice against those power holders who might resist. Sociologist and researcher into revolutions, John Foran, argues “the social revolution reached its apogee in late 1914 with the arrival of [Pancho] Villa and Zapata in Mexico City, and that it was militarily defeated in 1915-16 by [Álvaro] Obregon and [Venustiano] Carranza, who then laid the groundwork for the carrying out of a less thorough-going social transformation in the 1920s and beyond.” (Taking Power 34)

However, it wasn’t Carranza or Obregon who in the main reversed the growing wave of mobilization for social transformation. The United States had a hand in the outcome of the Mexican Revolution. Ramon Ruiz notes:

“The Yankee next door, Mexicans learned immediately, would not easily relinquish his stake in Mexico. To the contrary, investors and their government in Washington watched warily the course of the rebellion, and from the start, worked feverishly to keep it within the bounds of what they believed permissible. They distrusted social revolution and only belatedly tolerated halfway reform.[…] [H]istory amply documents sundry Ameri[k]an efforts to impede and stifle change in Mexico.” (The Great Rebellion 383)

At every turn of La Revolucion, the US attempted to direct the outcome in one manner or another. In 1910-11, the US did little to prevent Francisco Madero from launching his initial rebellion and undermined the Diaz regime by stationing troops at Mexico’s northern border. (Ibid 389) Two years later, the US ambassador to Mexico, Henry Lane Wilson, directly colluded with Victoriano Huerta to overthrown Madero as part of the Ten Tragic Days. (Ibid 391) Later, the US turned on Huerta, compelling his ouster, and by 1915-16 was backing Carranza against the more radical and nationalist factions led in part by Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. (Ibid 394)

Carranza, in turn, would preside over the writing of Mexico’s constitution in 1917. Rather than resolve the contradictions within Mexico, the Constitution of 1917 blunted them as the comprador-bourgeoisie regained an upper hand within the power structure of Mexican society. With the ascendancy of Carranza and marginalization of more radical forces, the vast majority of Mexicans lost an equal voice in deciding Mexico’s future. In the words of Ramon Ruiz, it was “a cataclysmic rebellion but not a social ‘Revolution’,” i.e, it accomplished minimal social transformation through great upheaval. [3] (ix)

One of the most immediate results of the Mexican Revolution was an influx of refugees into the United States. Already prior to the Revolution, Mexicans were migrating to the US in high numbers (Acuna 150). Combined with US labor demands during World War I, the Mexican Revolution culminated in the first great wave of northbound Mexican migration since the US’s invasion and occupation of Mexico in 1846 and greatly contributed to continuity between previously-existing and future Chicano communities in the ‘Southwest’ and throughout the US. It’s estimated that by 1929 there were nearly a million Mexicans living in the United States. (Taylor)

Unlike the waves of refugees which followed abortive revolutions in central and eastern Europe or the successful one in Cuba, the US played host to Mexicans of a diverse political blend. Nonetheless, the mass arrival of Mexican migrants also coincided with a “brown scare,” mob-violence and lynchings directed at the Spanish-speaking communities at a greater rate than faced by Blacks in the post-Reconstruction South. (Carrigan)

The Mexican Revolution and Today’s Context

Today, the world is not much different than 100 years ago. We can say that the main difference is one of degree. Whereas in the 18th, 19th and early-20th century, patterns of imperialism and dependent development emerged and solidified, in the late-20th and early-21st centuries, even greater interconnectedness and polarization have arisen as well as a host of other problems (largely relating to climate change and resources availability).  According to the United Nations, for example, the gap between to richest and poorest countries grew from 3 to 1 in 1820 and 11 to 1 in 1913, to 72 to 1 by 1992. (Human Development Report, 1999: Globalization with a Human Face, 38) Another report suggests the gap between the average incomes of the world’s richest and poorest 5% jumped from 78 to 1 in 1988, to 114 to 1 in 1993, and that, “an American [sic] having the average income of the bottom US docile is better-off that 2/3 of [the] world population.” (Milanovic, 88, 89)

This phenomenon and its social implications were described by a number of thinkers contemporary to the Mexican Revolution.  The controversial Black intellectual, William E.B. DuBois, explained with great prescience:

“[T]he white workingman has been asked to share the spoils of exploiting ‘chinks and niggers.’ It is no longer simply the merchant prince, or the aristocratic monopoly, or even the employing class, that is exploiting the world: it is the nation; a new democratic nation composed of united capital and labor. The laborers are not yet getting, to be sure, as large a share as they want or will get…[b]ut the laborer’s equity is recognized, and his just share is a matter of time, intelligence and skillful negotiation.” (The African Origins of War, 1915) [4]

Today, up to a fifth of the world’s population act as effective parasites upon the remaining eighty percent: a bourgeoisified First World minority existing through direct exploitation of labor, unequal exchange and modern-day plunder backed by military might. Contrary to the proclamations of bourgeois intellectuals and their followers, the necessity of revolution has not gone away. Instead, the modern equivalent of the archetypal proletariat is embodied by those exploited and dispossessed by imperialism in the Third World and, to a much lesser extent, those who suffer related national oppression.

Regarding the Mexican Revolution, its continuing significance and the revolutionary project focused in North America, the subject is two-fold. First are Mexicans, often exploited under the dual weight of comprador-capitalism and imperialism; and second, Chicanos, a group born of ties to Mexico and oppression within the US.

Chicanos and Mexicans

It is difficult, if impossible, to talk about Mexicans without talking about Chicanos, and vice versa. [5]  Their history, customs, and identity are related. For Mexicans, the US has been a refuge,  a source of seasonal work and often permanent home. Thus, Chicanos, those of Mexican descent born in the U.S. with no direct ties to Mexico, are a group very much in flux, born from the historic and ongoing migration of Mexicans into a territory and social structure dominated by Whites. [6]

Jeanne Batalova of the Migration Policy Institute noted, “In 2006, more than 11.5 million Mexican immigrants[sic] resided in the United States, accounting for 30.7 percent of all US immigrants and one-tenth of the entire population born in Mexico.” According to the same report, over a quarter of this group arrived within the last decade. (“Mexican Immigrants in the United States”)

In 2007, ‘Hispanics’ (a demographic term including those of Spanish and Portuguese-speaking, American descent, but mostly comprising of those of Mexican descent) accounted for 45.5 million people inside the US, making them the largest ‘minority’ group and 15% of the total population. This group is most significant in the southwestern region of the US (land seized from Mexico in 1846-48, henceforth referred to as Occupied Mexico). For example, in New Mexico, California and Texas, ‘Hispanics’ make up between 44 and 36% of the total population.  This group is also younger: the median age being 27.6 years of age compared to 36.6 in the population as a whole, and almost 34 percent of the ‘Hispanic’ population is younger than 18 years old compared with a country-wide average of 25 percent. (“US Hispanic Population Surpasses 45 Million, Now 15 Percent of Total”)

Inside the US, Chicanos live hardly equal to Whites. During the 2007-8 recession for example, the US Census Bureau reported that median household annual income dropped 2.6% to $55,530 for Whites and 5.6% to $37,913 for ‘Hispanics.’ (“Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the Unites States”) Additionally, Chicanos face a disproportionate amount of policing and imprisonment compared to Whites. The state of Colorado, for example, incarcerates ‘Hispanics’ at twice the rate of Whites (and Blacks at six and a half times). (Mauer, Washington 14) Similarly, Chicanos find themselves increasingly targeted as Mexican migrants are becoming even more criminalized inside the US.

Relatively speaking, Chicanos have it lucky. Their kin in Mexico often face the worst of imperialism: sweat-shops, sex trade, destroyed ecosystems, uprooted communities, disappearing traditional economies and an overall lack of opportunities.

While Mexico has long been held in a state of dependent development, this has only increased with the introduction of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994.

Subcommandante Marcos, a prominent representative of the Zapatista movement, called NAFTA a “death certificate for the Indian peoples of Mexico.” (qtd. in Campbell, “The NAFTA War”) Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution was formally amended to accommodate conditions of NAFTA’s enactment, thus rescinding what little legal protection indigenous people had over communal lands. Also under NAFTA, Mexico was flooded with cheap corn from subsidized Amerikan farmers, destroying the former’s rural economy. (Gutierrez) Thus in 2005, according to the US Department of Labor, the hourly compensation cost of Mexican production workers was $2.63 an hour, compared to $23.65 for their US counterparts. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)  Mexico was the hardest hit Latin American country during the recent economic crisis; the number of people in Mexico living on less the two dollars a day jumping from 44.7 million (42% of the total population) to 53 million (46%) between 2006 and 2010. (Mexico Solidarity Network) Though the official unemployment rate is one of the lowest in Latin America, around 20% of Mexicans find a living in the informal sector. (Cevallos)  Labor unrest in Mexico is increasingly heated. (Paterson)

Reclaiming History and the Future: Contemporary Movements

Neither Mexicans nor Chicanos have forgotten the Mexican Revolution and its radical potential.

Groups like the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional- EZLN) are well known for their struggle against the Mexican state. They emerged on January 1st, 1994 in the state of Chiapas to the shock and fanfare of many. Their initial ‘Declaration of War ‘ called for the “return of the land to those who work it” and quoted Article 39 of the Mexican Constitution in calling for the overthrow of the Mexican government. (First Declaration from the Lacandon Jungle)

Unlike many resistance groups, the Zapatistas have managed to capture significant world-wide attention. Thus, many interpretations exist of their movement. Early on, some analysts speculated on the EZLN’s ideological origins in Maoism, which seeks to build up base areas and create expanding liberated zones where reactionary forces are the weakest. (La Botz 38) The EZLN leadership has disavowed this interpretation, stating, “We don’t think like the Maoists. We don’t think that the campesino army from the mountains can fence in the cities.” (Marcos, qtd. in Henríquez and Petrich) The Zapatistas now claim they are fighting for autonomy and freedom in areas of Chiapas and have worked intensively at courting support of the local indigenous population. While some on the nominal left have lauded the EZLN, noting their insistence on not ‘taking power’ but instead fighting for ‘justice, freedom and democracy’ and ‘neutral political space,’ (Halloway) others have labeled such as strategy as “armed reformism” (EPR qtd in Weinberg 299) and the EZLN has been criticized as “the first post-modern guerrilla group.” (People of Color Organize!)

The Zapatistas are not the only group attempting to lead armed resistance against the Mexican state. The Popular Revolutionary Army (Ejército Popular Revolucionario- EPR) revealed themselves in 1996 with their Manifesto of Aguas Blancas, stating their aim as creating a “democratic people’s republic” in Mexico. (Lemoine) (Weinburg 208)  The EPR has been more prone to a focoist strategy of sabotage and coordinated attacks on state forces than the EZLN, and thus been more easily labeled terrorists by reactionaries. In June of 2007, the group briefly crippled the Mexican economy through coordinated attacks on the country’s gas pipelines, resulting in a crackdown from the Mexican state directed at a number of resistance groups, not just the EPR.  (Ibid 286) (Tobar) In the past, the EPR leadership has defended such actions, asking, “Whose pardon are we supposed to ask for not letting the government continue to murder people? And for our armed uprising? The government’s, perhaps?” (qtd. in Lemoine)  Other armed leftist groups include the Insurgent People’s Revolutionary Army (ERPI), formed from a 1998 split with the EPR, and the Triple Guerrilla National Indigenous Alliance (TAGIN), which has recently called for unity between various groups and an escalation in attacks. (Ibid) (Ross, “A Real Blast”)

Whereas armed groups in Mexico are attempting to push forward towards a second attempt at revolution, reformers and misleaders also pay homage to the ideals and iconography behind La Revolucion. Perhaps this is nowhere better illustrated than by the Revolutionary Democratic Party (Partido de la Revolución Democrática- PRD), the largest nominally-left grouping and one of the three main electoral parties in Mexico.

The PRD was founded in 1989 as a left-wing split, led by Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, from the historically-ruling Institutionalized Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional- PRI). Cárdenas is the son of the former Mexico President, Lázaro Cárdenas del Río, who, beginning in 1934, pushed through the last mildly-progressive reforms on the heels of the Mexican Revolution, including the compensated nationalization of the country’s oil industry in 1938.

The PRD became involved in civil unrest when its candidate for president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, narrowly lost the country’s 2006 presidential election and made charges of fraud. (Campell, “Calderon inaugurated while lawmakers brawl”) Cárdenas, who still leads the party, frequently refers to the Mexican Revolution, its unfinished nature and continuing relevance. “The revolutionaries fought for democracy, for equality and justice, for education, knowledge and culture, for a just and generous nation, for shared progress and a fair and equitable world order,” Cárdenas told an audience at the University of California, Los Angeles recently. “To build a new Mexico, the lessons we can derive from the Mexican Revolution show us the way.” (qtd. in Matthews)

Though the PRD often uses such lofty, ‘revolutionary’ language, their phraseology is not unlike that of the PRI: slogans to bolster and advance their own rule absent any revolutionary transformation. More than anything else, the PRD’s rhetoric shows how both the memory and goals of the Mexican Revolution  remain strong with the people. [7]

In Occupied Mexico and throughout the US, Chicanos continue to hold onto the Mexican Revolution, including its underlying values, as part of their cultural heritage. Beginning in the late-60′s, Chicano nationalism gave rise to a number of organizations, including the Crusade for Justice, La Raza Unida Party, the Brown Berets, MECHA, and the Centro de Acción Social Autónoma (CASA).  These and other groups and individuals took up a wide range of ends and means in varying locales to form a quite diverse and tumultuous movement. (“The Question of Youth and Revolution”) [8]

More recently, Chicano nationalism and its references to the Mexican Revolution have begun to reemerge as controversy over ‘immigration’ has spilled into the mainstream. In 1994, California’s Proposition 187, which barred access to public services (such as schools and hospitals) for ‘illegal aliens,’ engendered nationwide outrage and led to a march of 70,000 in downtown Los Angeles. ( McDonnell, Lopez)  Over a decade later, in response to US House Resolution 4437, Mexicans, Chicanos, other migrant communities, and their allies, a total of 1.5 million people in the US, staged massive protests on May 1st, 2006. Since then, International Workers’ Day, a holiday long ignored within the US, has been rechristened as a day of support for migrants’ struggles. (“Over 1.5 Million March for Immigrant Rights in One of Largest Days of Protest in U.S. History”) In 2010 and following the passage of Arizona’s SB1070, which gives the police the power to stop and question anyone who ‘seems illegal,’ rallies were held in over 90 major US cities, including one of 60,000 people in Los Angelas. (McDonnell, Watanabe)  Similar rallies in Denver drew around 10,000 people, mainly Mexicans and Chicanos, including many students. (Espinoza, McWilliams)

Whereas figures such as Che Guervara have long been icons within the post-60′s nominal left, Emiliano Zapata prominently occupies this role at such political demonstrations. At one of Denver’s most recent May Day rallies, two large banners featuring his likeness were on display, one reading, “Zapata Vive, Le Luche Sigue” [“Zapata Lives, the Struggle Continues”]. (RAIM-Denver, “Denver May Day 2010″) Similarly, an annual March for Zapata is held in Los Angeles. (LA Eastside) Especially during the earlier protests, Mexican flags have been prominently featured. As time has wore on and as reform-oriented coalitions have seized much of the control over the movement, their display has been discouraged in favor of Amerikan flags. In many ways, this symbolized the internal dynamic of Chicano movements, with Mexicano nationalist and assimilationist factions disagreeing on tactics and long term goals and vying for leadership over the broader movement.

Quickening situation

More to any other people’s struggle, that of Mexicans’ is connected to struggles inside the US itself. Due to the relatedness of Mexicans and Chicanos, it should be of no surprise that their respective revolutionary struggles are deeply affective of one another.

John Ross, author of El Monstruo, Dread and Redemption in Mexico City and 50-year resident of the country, recently stated, “Objectively, at this moment, Mexico is overripe for social upheaval.” (qtd. in Ross, “John Ross on ‘El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City’”) He argues that a big cause of unrest in Mexico lies to the north.

“Traditionally, escapers in México came north towards what they called the ‘safety valve.’ But they can’t get across the border now because of the way it has been militarized,” Ross was quoted as saying. “When you turn off the safety valve, you amplify the pressure on the situation.” (qtd. in Terrazas)

It should be of no surprise that the storm center of revolutionary struggle on the North American continent lies in Mexico. There, the masses face the harsh conditions imposed by imperialism and often struggle against its thuggish forces. However, conditions in the north (USA) greatly affect those in the south (Mexico).  A speculation-driven ‘financial crisis’ has eroded the confidence of Amerika’s largest body of oppressors, Whites, and provoked amongst them a fascistic backlash directed in no-small part against “illegals;” as well as resulting in even greater militarization of the border. Thus, not only has movement of Mexicans been greatly impeded, but remittances, Mexico’s second largest source of foreign income, have fallen dramatically, down 15.7% in 2009. (Castillo)

Under such conditions, unrest is likely to continue and grow in Mexico. However, a number of other factors need be present in order for a mass revolutionary movement to develop and succeed.

In Taking Power, On the Origins of Third World Revolution, John Foran reduces these factors to five: dependent development, followed by a economic downturn, exclusionary rule, a social culture and coalition of opposition which gains legitimacy amongst the population at large, and a world systemic opening. [9]

It is likely, if only possible, that these conditions will develop simultaneously and in relation to each other. A general degradation of US global hegemony and the effects this will have on the Mexican economy could conceivable lead to a political crisis within Mexico. Rather than the liberal democracy that imperialism traffics in, such a crisis can only be met with increasingly violent, repressive measures from the Mexican state and the US, resulting in the delegitimization of existing power structures and increased support for existing and new revolutionary organizations and coalitions inside Mexico.

Under such a crisis of open class warfare inside Mexico, it is safe to assume that class struggle in the US would also heat up, much of it in favor of reaction and intervention. In the wake of such reaction, an opening might present itself where Chicanos more widely identify with the struggle of Mexicans and, to varying degrees, the international proletariat. This tide of Chicano radicalism, combined with what larger revolutionary internationalist sentiment could be mustered in the US, would alone not be able to carry out a wider social revolution against the forces of reaction throughout the US. However, it might be useful in impeding reactionaries’ full ability to stifle the revolutionary struggle in Mexico.

While this scenario, a winding spiral of the preconditions of revolution described by Foran, may seem far fetched, it is far less so than the “end of history” theory put forward by Francis Fukuyama and many liberal supporters of the capitalist-imperialist system. Rather than entering into an age of peace and harmony as predicted by bourgeois theorists and new-age gurus alike, the world is becoming more unequal and more conflict-ridden. No doubt, it will be against a backdrop of global social unrest, in no small part directed against the imperialist bourgeoisie and its local agents, that any revolutionary struggle in North America, centered in Mexico, will likely develop and find fertile conditions for success.

Northern Stars

Already in the north, where ideas flow more freely, revolutionary Chicano and Third Worldist groups are pushing a political line and culture of broader internationalism of the oppressed and exploited, especially between Chicanos and Mexicanos.

Colorado-based Mexicana Resistencia, in describing the struggles of Chicanos and Mexicans writes:

“We use the term migration as opposed to immigration to challenge the US Settler colonialists’ dehumanizing and dominating view of legality that is based on stolen land and imperialism with the understanding that when injustice becomes law resistance becomes duty; in opposition to the reformist sectors in the non-profit industrial complex working on so-called immigration rights when in actuality they co-opt, pacify, mislead and misdirect our movement; to redefine the perspective as a movement of a people with our own occupied homeland as opposed to a movement into another country; to reclaim the North; to unite our people and political struggle; and to have self-determination in defining our issues and give direction against the oppressive conditions that confront us.[…]“

“Self-determination is based on a revolutionary nationalist culture of resistance with the objective of creating a reunited homeland and liberated future based on human need instead of profit motives.” (Mexicana Resistencia)

Groups such as the Third-Worldist, Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement (RAIM) also promote a revolutionary unity between Chicanos and Mexicans, and supports Occupied Mexico’s “reunification with a revolutionized Mexico,” as part of the “division and ultimate destruction of Amerika.” (“Fuck the Border, Support Mexican National Liberation”)

The Mexican National Liberation Movement (Movemento Liberacion National Mexicano-MLNM) stresses that Chicanos and Mexicanos are “one people divided by a militarily-imposed border,” and describes “socialist reunification with Mexico” as their ultimate goal. They support national liberation struggles throughout the world and its membership has suffered repression, including prison sentences for refusing to collaborate with a grand jury investigation into the Puerto Rican Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (Armed Forces of National Liberation, FALN). The MLMN describe US imperialism as their primary enemy: “We are fighting the biggest empire ever and we are right inside of it.[…] The revolutionary movement here will begin in the south.” (Tizoc)

While there is nothing to suggest any of these groups or their blend of ideologies currently have any mass following in the north, each does represent the kind of totalizing, revolutionary internationalism required as part of any modern, genuine, mass revolutionary movement. As the US becomes more reactionary, their message of unity with the Third World and rejection of the First may gain wider, marginal appeal inside the US. Neither should we discount the possibility of such internationalist messages percolating southward, into Mexico and beyond.

Sunrise

While an open split between Chicanos (or at least a section of them) and Amerika may be heavily influential as part of the revolutionary struggle in Mexico, we should not see it as the overarching factor, or as part of any ‘world systemic opening’ for another, more successful Mexican revolution. While glimmers of light may exist in an otherwise dark, northern sky, the ‘proletarian sun’ will mainly arise from the ‘global south,’ the Third World, and it is these convergent struggles to which particular revolutionary struggles, including that of Mexicans and Chicanos, are bound to.

In 1965, Lin Biao, a general in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and prominent leftist during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, described the situation similarly. In Long Live the Victory of People’s War!, Lin described the “proletarian revolutionary movement” as “for various reasons …temporarily held back in the North American and West European capitalist countries,” and stated that, “In the final analysis, the whole cause of world revolution hinges on the revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples who make up the overwhelming majority of the world’s population. The socialist countries should regard it as their internationalist duty to support the people’s revolutionary struggles in Asia, Africa and Latin America.” (49) [9]

Lin reasoned that expanding wars of liberation would create ‘world systemic openings’ for revolutionary struggle elsewhere and that China could play a pivotal role in aiding these struggles. He saw the revolutionary struggle as one of the Third World masses waging a ‘people’s war’ against capitalist-imperialism, principally that of the United States, and its executioners:

“The struggles waged by the different peoples against U.S. imperialism reinforce each other and merge into a torrential world-wide tide of opposition to U.S. imperialism. The more successful the development of people’s war in a given region, the larger the number of U.S. imperialist forces that can be pinned down and depleted there. When the U.S. aggressors are hard pressed in one place, they have no alternative but to loosen their grip on others. Therefore, the conditions become more favorable for the people elsewhere to wage struggles against U.S. imperialism and its lackeys.” (56)

Unfortunately, the policy articulated by Lin Biao was never implemented in  full by the People’s Republic of China. Six years after his writing, Lin disappeared under mysterious circumstances, while China began a rapprochement with the US and deepened its rhetoric against the USSR as part of the Sino-Soviet split. [10]

While much has changed since Lin’s writing, class struggle has not ceased. Were that the case, there would not be continued migration of Mexicans into the 21st century, nor would there exist the rising tide of anti-migrant, reactionary sentiment amongst Amerikans. Rather, the radical goals of La Revolucion have yet to be reached today.

In this regard, Mexico is hardly alone. Eighty percent of humanity lives on less that $10 a day; almost half live on less $2.50 a day.   The richest 20%, the First World, receives 75% of the world’s income and accounts for 76% of the world’s private consumption. Thus, 24,000 children die from poverty each day. (Shah) As the Leading Light Communist Organization (LLCO) has recently described, “The principal contradiction in the world is the First World versus the Third World, the global city versus the global countryside, the exploiter countries versus the exploited countries.” (Monkey Smashes Heaven. “The Sun Rises in the East and Sets in the West.”) [12]

According to LLCO, the world’s exploited masses must carry out a people’s war against reactionaries: seizing power and building institutions which serve and defend their common interests. This must be extended to a global scale, a Global People’s War, in which the imperialist First World becomes cut-off and encircled by the revolutionary forces of the Third World, the latter imposing a radical global democracy on the former. The LLCO has called for support and solidarity between exploited peoples worldwide and captive, oppressed nations in the US: “Justice will only come when Amerika and the First World are defeated, the land is returned, the imposed border is torn down, reparations paid.  Justice implies a society where the land and resources are organized to benefit humanity, not just a few, privileged rich countries.” (Ibid. “SB1070, The Continuing War Against the Mexicano People.”)

The next Mexican Revolution in perspective

The next Mexican revolution will not occur in a vacuum nor be significant unto itself. Rather, it will occur as part of the next wave of revolution, and its significance will be seen in relation to the international movement for liberation, away from a system of capitalist-imperialism and towards one controlled by the masses in their own interest.

In Mexico and elsewhere, the long-term viability of any revolutionary movement will be ultimately judged by whether or not it is ‘part of a worldwide people’s war waged by the peoples of the Third World, against the peoples of the First World.” (Ibid. “Points on People’s War”) The ability of the worldwide revolutionary movement to rally together and defeat the forces of imperialism, concentrated in the First World, is pivotal in the revolutionary struggle of the global proletariat as a whole.

For revolutionaries in the north and throughout occupied America, the struggle remains building an internationalist conception of revolution which explicitly rejects the First World and First Worldism (First World chauvinism/worship) and connects the struggle along the margins to that in the Third World. This means working to build a Chicano nationalist movement which identifies with Mexicans more than Amerikans, which actively seeks liberation of Occupied Mexico and above all seeks to unite with the struggle of the Third World-centered proletariat against imperialism and for a new world.

Ultimately, world revolution rests on those of the global South. However, this hardly negates the responsibility of revolutionaries in the North towards advancing effective strategies, championing the revolutionary struggle and undermining imperialism where possible. Just as the end of La Revolucion hardly suggested class struggle had ended in Mexico, the closing of the twentieth century hardly marked the end of revolutionary struggle internationally. One hundred years since the opening of the Mexican Revolution, Mexican society, like much of the Third World, has rarely been more poised for the outbreak of open class and people’s warfare. At the beginning of the 21st century, one hundred years after the start of La Revolucion, the vast majority of the world’s people, most Mexicans included, have, in the famous words of Karl Marx, “nothing to lose but their chains,” but “a world to win.” (86)

Notes:

[1] As the essay the explains, the Mexican Revolution was not a revolution in the full sense, i.e. it was not successful in overthrowing the existing economic and social order. Thus for our purposes, ‘Mexican Revolution,’ ‘La Revolucion’ and ‘the revolution years’ are synonymous and roughly correlate to the period between 1910-19.

[2] While this paper does not deal with the causes of the Mexican Revolution, they could be summed up as: the dependent nature of Mexico’s economy in which US investors increasingly controlled much of Mexico’s land and capital; the regime Porfirio Diaz had set up had become more exclusionary over time; the additional pressures created under the 1907 financial crisis; the political crisis created when Diaz recanted his public promise not to rerun for president; and the Diaz regime’s loss of patronage from the US.

[3] While certain political achievements were made through the Mexican revolution, such as the overthrow of Porfirio Diaz’s regime, some land reform and the writing of the Mexican Constitution, social demands of the broad Mexican masses were only partially, if at all, met. Moreover, the Mexican Revolution did not significantly alter Mexico’s path to becoming a nation exploited under capitalist-imperialism.

[4] W.E.B. DuBois wasn’t the only radical thinker of the time to highlight the fact that imperialism bought off it ‘own’ working-class. In 1916 Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin wrote, “The capitalists [of the ‘Great Powers’] can devote a part (and not a small one, at that!) of these superprofits to bribe their own workers, to create something like an alliance … between the workers of the given nation and their capitalists against the other countries.” (“Imperialism and the Split in Socialism”)

[5] There was not unanimous agreement on the use of ‘Chicano’ in this sense. Here on some views on the use of Chicano and its meaning.
One view is that because of historically different material circumstance and subjective inclination, there is a substantive difference between Mexicans and Chicano’s, the latter being so distinct that it constitutes its own nation.
Another view counters the first, stating that Mexicans are one people divided by an imperialist-imposed border. This view is in no small part a response to the legacy of ‘Chicano nationalism,’ which includes sell-outs, reforms and co-option into the Democratic Party while not achieving liberation of the Mexican people on either side of the border. This view sees the extolling of ‘Chicano’ as part of the legitimization of US claims to Occupied Mexico.
The final view and one that I hope comes out in the paper is that Chicanos are Mexicans. Just as we could talk about Mayans as being Mexicans, we can say the same of Chicanos: they are a socially/geographically-identified group within a larger. The use of Chicano in this sense is a matter of having clarity and accounting for the material and subjective differences between Chicanos and Mexicans, not to legitimize the root cause of the differences.

[6] Though we can generally say that today Chicanos are a group born from migration, this has not always been the case. The original Chicanos were Mexicans who stayed on their land in the North after the United States invaded their country and seized its northern half.

[7] The Revolutionary Democratic Party themselves should not be seen as able to carry through a social revolution in Mexico. Rather, they are contenders for power in an existing system, i.e. compradors in-the-waiting.

[8] This glosses over the history of late-60s/early-70s ‘Chicano Nationalism.’

[9] In Taking Power, John Foran discusses these five factors in relation to the 1910 revolution, arguing that Diaz had created a regime which grew exclusionary over time, as well as maintained Mexico in a state of dependent development vis a vis the US. When, Foran argues, Madero launched his revolution (hardly the first against Diaz), the US government essentially sat on their hands, allowing the regime to crumble. Conversely, the revolutionary coalition collapsed, in relation to the closing of the ‘world systemic opening,’ when the US firmly threw its weight behind Carranza.

[10] Lin Biao’s essay also deals with the political-military nature of carrying out the social revolution. This synthesis, in its details, was described as ‘People’s War’ in revolutionary China.

[11] The Chinese state claimed, one year after his disappearance, that Lin died in a plane crash near the Mongolian border after a botched coup plot against Mao Zedong. Though a plane did crash near the Mongolian border, there is no independent evidence or researched arguments that support the Chinese state’s narrative around Lin’s disappearance or the plane crash itself.

[12] This quote comes from the online journal Monkey Smashes Heaven, which has since become the official journal of the newly formed Leading Light Communist Organization.

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  1. […] Posts Raj Patel – The Value of Nothing / Jeremy Rifkin – The Empathetic CivilizationLong Live Mexico: In Commemoration of the 100th Year Anniversary of the Mexican RevolutionAntonio on Lowkey’s ‘Obama Nation’RAIM-Seattle: Thankkksgiving reportback on Olympic […]

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Mexican National Liberation, National Liberation, News and Analysis