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Oaxaca and the critical lessons of the Paris Commune October 23, 2006

Posted by raved in Commune, Oaxaca.
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A number of references to the Paris Commune have been made by left groups writing about the APPO. One of them is the Socialist Workers League (LTS). Below is a comment that first appeared on the Yahoo Group, Argentina Solidarity, in response to an article by the LTS.

The LTS allusion to the Paris Commune needs to go beyond a general historical analogy and apply some of the critical lessons.

The main problem of the Paris Commune was not the lack of numbers or lack of arms and will to fight, nor the formation of democrat insitutions, but the lack of a revolutionary party as a centralised command that could apply Marxism to the situation and concentrate the armed forces of the commune to hit the enemy where he was weakest at the critical time.

The regrouping of revolutionary Trotskyists today is the necessary condition for the survival of the Oaxaca commune and the Mexican revolution.

To follow the advice of Trotsky in relation to the Paris Commune a revolutionary vanguard party today would clearly fight for the leadership of the commune against all the ‘petty bourgeois’ who vacillate, lack confidence in the masses and seek to do deals with the bourgeois parties etc. A revolutionary vanguard leadership would centralise the actions of the commune.

Those revolutionary Trotskyists who are involved in this struggle have the heaviest responsibility, but those who arnt directly also have a clear responsibility to inform themselvse and raise their program.
Oaxaca is a test of what remains of revolutionary Marxism.

The vanguard would also certainly fight to join forces with the rank and file of the CND which has mobilised a large section of the masses in defence of the Obrador. I disagree with David about the march to Mexico City. As the national centre this is where the struggle will ultimately be decided. The succession to the presidency is clearly the critical date for the bourgeoisie to assert its class rule. The march
should aim to split the masses from the reformist project of the CND and extend the occupation by building barricades there, and also in Atenco etc.

But Oaxaca and and CND movements will not develop unless the big battalions of the unions come out in strike action building for a national general strike to close down the strategic sectors of the economy. In Mexico today this is where the bourgeoisie that serves US imperialism is weakest and where the commune should be making its strongest campaign. Necessarily this will mean the exposure and
replacing of the union bureaucracies that serve the bosses state.
Without the support of the big industrial battalions, the reaction will build, isolate and try to smash the communes.

The main demands must be for a general strike to make ‘many Oaxacas’ i.e. communes or soviets everywhere, armed and organised in popular militias, calling on the ranks of the military to break with their officers, with the perspective of a workers and peasants government.

Failing that, the demand for an anti-imperialist sovereign CA to reform the 1917 constitution is necessary as a fall back position. I would expect however, that if the defence of the Oaxaca commune develops national-wide backing, the level of repression will be such as to rapidly push the struggle towards direct workers, peasants, indigenous, womens, students etc democracy. In this context a CA will
be a trap set by the bourgeoise to contain and defeat the revolution.

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