In December, Bob Price and I traveled to Mexico City with Nancy Kato to represent the U.S. and Australian sections of Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) in a series of formal and informal international gatherings that culminated in a two-day meeting of the Committee for Revolutionary International Regroupment (CRIR). Partido Obrero Socialista (POS) of Mexico hosted the get-togethers.
Capitalism’s long, downward spiral provided the backdrop to discussions on a wide variety of topics, including women’s unprecedented rebellion against patriarchal oppression and workers’ increasing anger over austerity, government corruption and repression. Especially important were discussions held by women comrades from Argentina and Mexico with Kato; these consolidated CRIR’s support for autonomous organizing by revolutionary women and unequivocal backing of a clear socialist feminist stance.
I left Mexico City optimistic that the global storm clouds now gathering are opening new possibilities for a socialist shake-up.
The POS International Conference. The first meeting was held in the former art studio of José Orozco, the renowned muralist of the Mexican Revolution. In a room flooded with natural light, Kato and I joined attendees from Argentina, Mexico and Brazil in assessing the political situation in each of our countries. Among the POS members, some of whom had traveled hundreds of miles from northern and southern Mexico to attend, were union leaders from Oaxaca who are on the front lines defending public education. Notable among guests were Arturo Campos, a long-jailed indigenous political prisoner from Guerrero; feminist contingents from Mexico City and Chihuahua; a three-woman Argentinian delegation from the Partido Socialismo y Libertad (PSL) and Mujeres por La Libertad; and a representative from the Brazilian Movimento Revolucionario Socialista.
Speaking for the Freedom Socialist Party, I summarized the key themes of the 2019 FSP Political Resolution (see text of resolution here). The Argentinians described the country’s deteriorating living conditions for workers and the poor due to escalating inflation, growing unemployment and an epidemic of violence directed against women. After four years of rule by a right-wing government whose austerity measures engendered growing rebellion, Argentina’s power brokers closed ranks to put forward a populist Peronist alternative to head off a major social explosion.
Juan Reséndez, speaking for the POS, described the crisis facing Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). After receiving an unprecedented 30 million votes, and despite having a majority in the federal legislature, AMLO has been unable to enact his neoliberal agenda due to the opposition of workers and campesinos who supported his election and, emboldened by his victory, now make their dissatisfaction known! A successful strike by 60,000 maquila workers and a revolt by campesinos, who surrounded and shut down the House of Deputies, have added to AMLO’s woes. His deference to Trump on trade and immigration have contributed to a nosedive in his popularity.
POS activist Eréndira Mungía from Oaxaca testified to the recent upsurge of feminist rebellion across Latin America. A new generation of young women is rising, she said, to protest government inaction in the face of sexual violence and murder. She cited as an example the mishandling of sexual abuse cases by professors at UNAM in Mexico City (for more on women, see Kato’s article here).
CRIR weighs the state of Trotskyism. The two-day CRIR meeting convened in the POS’s local headquarters — a third-floor apartment in a working-class neighborhood. The first item of business was an analysis of the state of the revolutionary Left in Argentina, Mexico and the U.S.
Silvia Zapata, a labor union activist and leader in Partido Socialismo y Libertad, described the crisis of Trotskyism in Argentina where the major parties have abandoned revolutionary politics and opted for electoral campaigns devoid of socialism.
A similar process has occurred over decades in Mexico. The revolutionary Left has been decimated by the emergence of the social democratic Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD), Cuauhtémoc Ruiz told attendees.
Bob Price, speaking for the FSP, detailed the rise of social democratic reformism in the U.S. where Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaigns and the sudden growth of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) have exerted a conservative pull on revolutionary organizations. Unfortunately, this is occurring, Price explained, while there still exists a high degree of sectarianism on what is left of U.S. Trotskyism.
CRIR members also discussed the decline of the social democratic, “Pink Tide” regimes in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia. Despite their anti-imperialist rhetoric, each regime put into place anti-working-class and neoliberal policies emanating from Wall Street and Washington, D.C. In this, CRIR disagrees with the neo-Stalinists who believe any criticism of these regimes is a capitulation to imperialism.
Protocols for dealing with sexual abuse. A principle strength of CRIR is that the current members are revolutionary socialist feminist parties. Each recognizes that, given women’s position under the patriarchy, no organization—regardless of how revolutionary sounding—is immune from the problem of the sexist mistreatment of women. Support for women is a fundamental prerequisite of building a revolutionary movement.
After learning of widespread sexual abuse on campus, in labor unions and left parties, CRIR drafted a set of protocols which would protect women’s rights to sensitive and fair treatment and present a method for groups to address this issue. These were discussed by the membership of each group and adopted in Mexico City. In the coming months, CRIR will publish the protocols as a tool for activists.
Continuing the Old Man’s work. CRIR delegates decided on several actions to strengthen our outreach and consolidate our functioning. Among them responding enthusiastically to the Brazilian Movimento Revolucionario Socialista and groups in Honduras and Chile that want to open communications with us. We also plan to launch a publication to address events as they unfold in the class struggle.
A post-meeting visit to the Trotsky Museum was a reminder of the importance of our work. The museum is the house where the great leader of the Russian Revolution was assassinated in 1940 while working tirelessly to regroup revolutionaries.
Durham, International Secretary of the FSP, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Committee for Revolutionary International Regroupment (CRIR) brings together revolutionary organizations of different countries to work toward founding a new socialist international. Read CRIR’s program here. Contact: CRIRinter@gmail.com.