Revolutionary Communist Organization, Mexico

We Need to Overthrow This System, Not Try to “Democratize” It: AMLO, the EZLN and the Revolution We Need

| Revolution Newspaper |


Mexico City—“Humanity needs revolution and the new synthesis of communism.”


Revcom editors’ note: On July 1, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, won the election for president in Mexico. The following is a translation of an extensive pamphlet put out by the Revolutionary Communist Organization (OCR), Mexico, in April of this year, before the election. Much of the pamphlet is a polemic against AMLO. These latest developments could be part of further sharpening the very intense contradictions between U.S. imperialism, now headed by the Trump/Pence fascist regime, and Mexico.

We live in a world of unjust wars that kill and dislocate millions of people. Half of humanity is submerged in crushing poverty. Women are cruelly oppressed and subjected to male supremacy. Inequality is becoming increasingly abominable. The ecosystems that sustain life on our planet are being destroyed. Mexico and other countries are facing capitalist and imperialist projects to expand mining, pipelines, fracking, tourist development, and luxury condominiums that lead to the expulsion of indigenous peoples, peasants, and the poor in general, and devastate the environment. The Mexican State commits and covers up murder and disappearances. It tortures and unjustly imprisons hundreds of thousands of people, especially people at the bottom of society and those who oppose this system’s crimes.

How can we fight against these horrors? How can we put an end to all this unjust and unnecessary suffering?

How can society be changed? Should we “take power” in the existing State, as some people argue, or “change the world” without taking power, as others claim? Or will it take a real revolution?

In response to the question, how can we change society, sometimes there is some debate between two relatively different positions: “take power” in the current State, or try to achieve changes “without taking power.”

Partisans of “taking power” from within or “changing the government” say that the existing State can be “democratized” and political and economic reforms achieved by changing the person and party or group heading the current State. Previously this was expressed in trying to elect Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas of the PRD [Party for the Democratic Revolution]; now they seek to elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and candidates of his Movement for National Renewal (MORENA).

Other people, like the leadership of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), assert that instead of “taking power” what’s needed is to organize autonomous or alternative projects “from below” to achieve “good governance” and certain political and economic reforms. They argue that those who “rise to power” become oppressors of the people. Under the current State, they have a point, as can be seen in the many cases of people, even some originally with good intentions, who by joining the State apparatus became part of the problem, not the solution.

Supporters of AMLO and MORENA answer that those who don’t seek to “take power” only contribute to everything staying the same and can’t change anything important in society, and they, too, have a point. If the State is left as it is now, it will continue killing, disappearing, torturing and oppressing people, among other horrendous crimes.

What these two positions have in common is the terms of the argument: whether or not to come to power within the existing State. Neither talks about the need to destroy the existing reactionary State. Neither talks about overthrowing the existing predominantly capitalist system. Both seek change within the present economic system. This is more obvious in the case of AMLO and MORENA, who, as we can see, have assured the big Mexican and imperialist capitalists that they will respect and promote their interests. Despite its somewhat “anti-capitalist” rhetoric, however, the EZLN’s position of not fighting to put an end to the current State would also necessarily mean not putting an end to the economic and social relations in force that this State maintains and protects. As we will see, this position seeks to pressure the capitalist State not only “from below” by expanding and spreading “autonomous or alternative projects” but also “from above” through alliances meant to force the State to tolerate their existence and grant reforms within the deadly current system without a fundamental change in the situation of the vast majority of people. So, both positions accept the continuation of the existing political and economic system and only seek changes in that context.

Therefore, and regardless of the intentions of the defenders of these positions, the latter are not going to achieve any meaningful change, because the horrors and fundamental problems in this society are due to the nature and dynamics of the capitalist-imperialist system reigning in the world and the predominantly capitalist system, under imperialist domination, that reigns in Mexico.

This system can and needs to be overthrown and replaced by a new socialist system through the revolutionary struggle of millions of people, which succeeds in overthrowing the current State, which defeats and dismantles it. This is the necessary precondition for establishing a new revolutionary State, completely different from the capitalist State, together with a new economic system, new political and social relations, and the corresponding new ideas and culture to eliminate all forms of exploitation and oppression, so as to finally emancipate humanity throughout the world. This is the only way to achieve a fundamental change.

As Bob Avakian, the architect of the new communism, points out,1“You want people not to be shot down on the streets, time and again, by the police, with the killers then being exonerated in one form or another—usually outright, ‘justified homicide’? You want that to stop? You have to have a different state power. Why do we want state power? Why do we keep talking about it? Because we don’t want these outrageous things, and everything that they are a concentration of, to keep on happening to people—when it’s totally unnecessary as well as outrageous and egregious. You want to put a stop to rape, you want to put a stop to impoverishment of people, all the other horrors in society and the world today? You have to have a different set of social and economic relations, and you have to have a different set of power relations that corresponds to and backs that up and furthers it. You have to have a different culture and ideology. And you’re not going to have them if you don’t have a new state power—yes, a radically different state power, but state power. It’s that basic.”2

Karl Marx, who developed for the first time a scientific understanding of the development of human society, summed up important teachings on the problem of the State. From the experience of the bourgeois revolutions of the 19th century and the experience of the Paris Commune, the first proletarian revolution, he summed up the need to break, smash the “bureaucratic-military machine” that is the bourgeois State. He emphasized that it is necessary “no longer, as before, to transfer the bureaucratic-military machine from one hand to another, but to smash it, and this is essential for every real people’s revolution."3

Why can’t we seize the current State and use that power to change society or pressure “from below” on that State so it acts in the interests of the people?

On the one hand, because that State is and has been since its inception a dictatorship of the big capitalists and landowners over the masses of people. Take the example of the armed forces and police, the backbone of this dictatorship. Among many other crimes, they treacherously killed and drowned in blood both Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa and their armies to establish this State, massacred the students in 1968, mounted the “dirty war” of the 1970s, as well as the massacres in Acteal, El Charco, Aguas Blancas and many more. In recent years and in collusion with drug traffickers, they have carried out a real war against the people under the cynical banner of “combating organized crime” with countless murdered, disappeared, and tortured, as in Ayotzinapa, Nochixtlán, Tlatlaya, Tanhuato, and so many more cases. Is it possible that such institutions, organized, trained, and indoctrinated to exercise reactionary violence against the people in the interests of the ruling classes, serve, on the contrary, to defend the people’s interests against those ruling classes? Of course not. It’s only necessary, in the words of Marx, to break such institutions and create new and qualitatively different armed forces through the actual revolutionary struggle of the people to overthrow this system and build another radically different and much better system.

But the most fundamental reason is that the State (as well as the social relations, the prevailing culture and ideas, etc.) correspond and have to correspond to the economic relations that are the basis of society and set the framework for everything else. The State exists to maintain and defend the functioning and stability of the economic system: in this case, a predominantly capitalist economy, dominated by imperialism, and the interests of the classes that are the owners of the main means of production (the big bourgeoisie, imperialists and landowners). For example, why does so much poverty persist after so many alleged campaigns against poverty? It is not simply because of the State’s actions and the corruption of the authorities, but because of the functioning of the predominantly capitalist economic system. In short, the majority of the people are poor for the same reason that the capitalists are rich: because they exploit us. If it were to implement policies and laws that undermine the functioning of these economic relations and the stability of the ownership and power of these ruling classes, the system would stop, there would be convulsions and crises, and there would be a serious clampdown to re-impose and reinforce the “law and order” of capitalism. The only alternative in the real world is to overthrow the State by means of an actual revolution, confiscate the properties of the ruling classes, and create new socialist relations.

Avakian has illustrated this with the example that under capitalism, there can’t be a “right to eat,” because the dynamics of capitalism create unemployment and poverty, and if you do not have money, you cannot get the food you need. Therefore, “So even right down to something as basic as ‘the right to eat’—people don’t have that right under capitalism. If you were to declare it as a right, and people were to act on this and simply started going to where the food is sold as commodities and declaring ‘we have a more fundamental right than your right to distribute things as commodities and to accumulate capital—we have a right to eat’—and if they started taking the food, well then we know what would happen, and what has happened whenever people do this: ‘looters, shoot them down in the street.’”4 People do not have a right to eat, and the capitalists do have the right to only pay a salary when there is profit for the employer, and to throw people out in the street when it suits them.

Some argue that important changes are possible following the example of governments like Hugo Chávez and now Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Lula da Silva in Brazil, etc. These social democratic governments in different degrees have been “uncomfortable” for imperialism (especially the U.S.) and sections of the big bourgeoisie (of the private sector) in those countries. To an important degree, these governments have been based on the development and export of oil and natural gas, which temporarily provided more resources to the State that allowed for the expansion of social programs and temporarily improved the standard of living for a section of the poor. But capitalist exploitation continues to operate, within and dependent on the world imperialist capitalist system, without any rupture with this system, and therefore there can be no fundamental change in society. As we have seen, there are economic crises that are endemic to capitalism, and in particular the fall in oil and gas prices caused upheaval, unemployment, and high prices in those countries. Relying on fossil fuels for “national development,” in addition to deepening dependence on the imperialists5 (for investment of capital, loans, technology, and markets) and increasing imbalances and the impact of economic crises, also contributes to aggravate global warming that is already destroying ecosystems and human lives and will lead to catastrophic consequences for life on the planet if the use of these fuels is not drastically reduced. (And their use is a central element of the AMLO program, as we will see shortly).

If we really want to change the world, we do have to take the power—but not the old power of the current ruling classes. That power must be shattered, to erect a new revolutionary State, a new socialist economic system, and new corresponding social relations to eliminate the horrors and great inequalities of this system. With this revolution, it will be possible to fight to eliminate the oppression of women, indigenous peoples, Afro-Mexicans, LGBTTI6 people, overcome the differences between the countryside and the city, between intellectual work and manual labor, and class distinctions in general, as well as supporting this same revolution in other parts of the world. Without this revolution, the same system will continue to destroy human lives and the planet in which we live.

2018 Elections: Neither with AMLO will there be any fundamental change

The constant bombardment of the “spots” of the candidates and the “news” of the media try to make us think that nothing more important happens in the world than the presidential election. All the institutions of the system want to coax you to vote, to “participate” in the electoral process, so that you act and think only within the “options” of this system; so that you do not see the dictatorship of the ruling classes, disguised as the “free expression” of “the people’s will.”

The truth is that all the candidates and parties represent this system; they contend to be the male head (or female head) of the State of this capitalist system under imperialist domination, winning the support of important sections of the ruling classes. That is why we see the presidential candidates López Obrador [MORENA], Ricardo Anaya Cortés [PAN, National Action Party] and José Antonio Meade Kuribreña [Institutional Revolutionary Party; PRI], appearing in all the important meetings of associations of big businessmen and interviewing the most influential circles—each one trying to convince them that they represent the best “offer” to defend their economic and political interests, who is better able to provide security, stability, efficiency, and “prosperity” for this system and the classes that rule.

In his third presidential campaign, Andrés Manuel López Obrador has gained greater acceptance among important sections of the ruling classes, and the attempts to disqualify him in the media (“Putin’s protégé,” “Mexico’s Maduro,” etc.) have so far backfired more against the slanderers than affecting AMLO. The anger with the government of the current Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and the PRI, and to a lesser extent with the PAN (through the former government of Felipe Calderón), is so widespread and so deep that AMLO maintains a considerable advantage in the polls just three months before the election. The investigations of some imperialist banks concede that given the society’s “fedupness,” perhaps the AMLO victory would be the best option to contain the widespread indignation and maintain “stability”. Even Antonio Solá, advisor to the Calderón campaign in 2006 who invented the slogan that AMLO “is a danger to Mexico,” declared that “he is no longer a danger.” In addition to the changes in the political situation since 2012, AMLO has also modified his proposals: for example, he now says that he will not revoke the energy reform, but only review the contracts and act in courts in cases where they detect corruption.

The difference with other representatives of the capitalist-imperialist system is that López Obrador represents a section of the big bourgeoisie that wants to modify a bit the way in which the economy operates. But like the others, this will not make any change in the basic relations of ownership and power, exploitation, and oppression of the vast majority of the people. As is well known, he proposes less privatization in the energy sector, more oil refining and gasoline production in the country, more social programs, more austerity in government and less corruption (which will be more a slogan than a reality, in the light of the corruption that characterized his government in Mexico City). Because of these partial differences with the policies that have prevailed in the last decades, this arouses concerns among other sections of the big capitalists on the one hand and hopes for an important change among sections of the people, on the other. These false illusions will be truncated if AMLO gets into the presidency, and it’s best to cast off these illusions once and for all.

His campaign so far illustrates that an AMLO government would not represent any break with this system, but would loyally serve it. First, there is the alliance with the Social Encounter Party, a fundamentalist evangelical party that opposes the right to abortion, contraceptives, gay marriage and their right to adopt, and other rights for LGBTTI people. This type of alliance with openly reactionary forces is not only to try to win the elections but is also necessary to be able to govern in this society. In addition, AMLO has said that there are no “substantive differences” with this fundamentalist force, thus legitimizing the attacks and hatred that this party incites towards women and people of different sexuality. AMLO himself promotes the morality of the Bible, which is patriarchal to the core, in addition to justifying slavery, the killing of your enemy’s babies, and all kinds of horrors.7 Throughout the world, the growth of religious fundamentalism in these times of social crisis is considerable, with the support of powerful sections of the ruling classes that seek to reinforce the oppression of women under patriarchal authority, as the cornerstone of the “union” of the society under its rule. López Obrador also says that issues of abortion rights, reproductive freedom, and the rights of LGBTTI people should be submitted to “popular consultation,” giving openings to the Catholic church, evangelical fundamentalist churches and other reactionaries to try to suppress these recently gained minimal fundamental rights and reinforce structural oppression and hate crimes against women and LGBTTI people.

López Obrador’s cabinet proposal includes several very direct representatives of the big bourgeoisie, whose presence assures that class that their interests will be protected. The appointment of Víctor Villalobos Arámbula as the Secretary of Agriculture (Sagarpa) is a big blow against the peasants and the fight against transgenic corn. As an official of PRI and PAN governments and as an official since 2010 of the agricultural body of the Organization of American States (OAS), Villalobos has been an attack dog for Monsanto and other transgenic companies, as well as big synthetic biology companies and agribusiness.

AMLO appointed Alfonso Romo as coordinator of his “2018-2024 Nation Project,” and he is the main operator to connect López Obrador with the big capitalists and the imperialists, and to convince them to support him. Romo is a big Mexican businessman who sold his seed company to Monsanto in 2005, remaining in charge and working for Monsanto for a while. He then invested his fortune in Synthetic Genomics, a transnational synthetic biology company that, among other looting, took unique microorganisms from Mexican national waters.

The presence of these two representatives of the big bourgeoisie in his campaign leaves no doubt that an AMLO government would promote agribusiness and would probably open the door to transgenics, as other supposedly progressive governments have done. “On the issue of transgenics in Latin America, the governments that have most pushed their use are the governments of Lula da Silva in Brazil, Kirchner in Argentina and José ‘Pepe’ Mújica in Uruguay.”8

Alfonso Durazo, private secretary of Vicente Fox while the latter was in the Presidency, and also his spokesman, was appointed to the Ministry of Public Security. He heads the “Advisory Council to Guarantee Peace,” in charge of developing López Obrador’s security proposal, with the participation of Manuel Fastlicht, entrepreneur of the big bourgeoisie, father-in-law of Televisa’s president, Emilio Azcárraga Jean, and Alejandro Gertz Manero, Secretary of Public Security in the Vicente Fox government.

Esteban Moctezuma Barragán, Secretary of the Interior under former President Ernesto Zedillo, who was responsible for launching a military offensive against the EZLN during the negotiation period with the federal government in 1995, and currently president of the Azteca Foundation, would be in charge of the Ministry of Public Education.

As Secretary of Tourism, the proposal is Miguel Torruco Márquez, a tourism entrepreneur, the Mexico City Secretary of Tourism under Mancera, and father-in-law of the kids of Carlos Slim.

All these nominations indicate that an Andrés Manuel López Obrador government will represent the same ruling classes and the same imperialist capitalist system, despite the limited changes it might be able implement. If some followers of Morena feel betrayed by these decisions, it is important that they learn that it is not that AMLO changed, that he had just “betrayed” what he previously represented, but that they had been fooled by the sugar-coated phrases and promises of AMLO, because they did not detect that the content behind these statements corresponds to the interests of the big bourgeoisie and the imperialists, to the continuation of the same system.

A good example of López Obrador’s misleading phrases is the justification for his promise of a “clean slate” for Enrique Peña Nieto and his current government in general. The objective is to reassure those who have been their opponents in the ruling classes that there will be continuity without ruptures for the system. At the same time it is an attempt to agree with those who have committed big crimes against the people, not only to be allowed to win the election, but also to be able to govern. AMLO is absolving not only corruption on a big scale, but also blood crimes such as Ayotzinapa, Nochixtlán, Tlatlaya, Tanhuato, and countless other crimes by State forces; he promises absolute impunity for these assassins and their godfathers in power. Then he tries to disguise this complicity of not prosecuting them, with the justification that “revenge is not my forte” and “I do not hate anyone.” It’s really a vile arrangement, for the good of the system. Putting Enrique Peña Nieto on trial for his crimes would not be revenge, it would be justice.

In addition to promising impunity for the atrocious crimes of the current government and incorporating recognized reactionary businessmen and politicians in his cabinet proposal, López Obrador has welcomed into Morena all sorts of vile bourgeois politicians from the PRI, PAN, and PRD. All these deals and haggling by AMLO and Morena with the other electoral parties, big businessmen, and influential forces in general are the daily bread of bourgeois politics, both to win the elections and to govern in the current system.

AMLO, Head of Government of the Federal District, Good Servant of the System

If the AMLO government in the Federal District in 2000-2005 is examined, there is abundant evidence that it served the needs of the system and big capital, and did not change anything fundamental for the oppressed.

In his campaign now, AMLO says repeatedly that he will not use the armed forces and the police to repress the people. However, under his government and the policy of “Zero Tolerance” that he adopted, the police repressed time after time, as do the forces of the State in every society based on exploitation. To mention just a few examples:

  • On November 14, 2001, 150 antiriot police savagely attacked a march of peasants and others from San Salvador Atenco (just one of several attacks they suffered under that government).
  • On September 1, 2003, the police stopped buses full of students training to be teachers on their way to a protest against the closure of another teacher training school, brutally assaulted them and detained 108 students.
  • The capital police twice repressed protesters against the imperialist war against Iraq: on March 22, 2003, they attacked protesters at the U.S. embassy, and again in the massive demonstration on April 12 they beat women and men equally, and they kidnapped at least 27 demonstrators, beat them, stole their belongings, and then released them at various points in the city. The police told the people that “we have the order from above to fuck them up.”
  • On January 23, 2003, Nadia Ernestina Zepeda Molina, a student of the CCH Oriente, 18 years of age, was detained at random by 30 hooded policemen of the police Sagittarius Group; they beat her savagely, sexually abused her, forced her to do naked squats, and planted 300 grams of cocaine on her. The AMLO government protected the police and Nadia was sentenced to five years in prison. Because of the mass mobilization, she was finally released, but the crime went unpunished. Nadia reported that in prison she met 10 other women who suffered the same thing at the hands of this police group.

AMLO promises that when he gets into the presidency, he will put an end to impunity. However, it was precisely impunity that characterized the actions of his prosecutor’s office in covering up the political murders of Digna Ochoa and Pavel González. They discarded all evidence of murder, declared that they were “suicides,” and decreed “non-existence of criminal doing.” Digna Ochoa was a courageous defense attorney for environmental peasants in Guerrero (and other cases of political repression), who had suffered previous attacks on her life. The most likely executioners of Digna would be thugs of the cattle overlord, drug-trafficker, and illegal logger, Rogaciano Alba, at the request of the army, or assassins of this armed body; because Digna was the first lawyer who managed to interrogate soldiers of the army in a civil trial, that provoked the military’s anger. Pavel González was an activist and student of the UNAM [Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México], whose body was hung from a cross in El Ajusco, with traces of torture caused before his death. Although the first forensic doctor who examined his body refused to comply with the “orders from above” to describe his death as “suicide,” it was so decreed by the authorities of AMLO’s capital government. He had been threatened with death previously by “thugs” of the extreme right and El Yunque.

Why do capitalist governments, including the AMLO government, almost always conceal the political assassinations committed by State forces and other reactionaries? Because the capitalist system needs to terrorize the oppressed and its opponents to maintain “order.” The murderers are following orders for this purpose, and that is why they are protected. It is hypocrisy and complicity if one denounces this type of crime against the people when they are committed by the governments of the PAN and the PRI, and is silent when they are committed by an AMLO government.

His supporters argue that AMLO increased social programs, which is true—and it is also true, as he himself admits, that the other parties of the big bourgeoisie emulate several of these programs. In reality, repression and social programs are, after all, two sides of the same coin: they are two forms used by the rulers coming from all the bourgeois political parties to try to maintain control over the exploited and oppressed majority in this system dominated by a handful of big foreign and Mexican entrepreneurs. AMLO showed this in No. 19 of his Compromisos [Commitments] with the big businessmen: “We will fight poverty for humanitarian reasons and to avoid frustration and outbursts of hatred and resentment.”9 Among politicians of this system, the “war against poverty” is as eternal as poverty itself, and is reduced in fact to certain crumbs, certain social programs that have precisely the purpose of “avoiding frustration and outbursts of hatred and resentment” by the poor, who are poor for the same reason that the big businessmen are mega-rich: because they exploit them. Social programs and repression are, in short, “the carrot and the stick” that are used to defend the current system of big inequalities and injustices.

AMLO’s capital government greatly favored the big imperialist and Mexican capitalists, despite his rhetoric at that time of “the poor come first.” As the business group “Despierta México” [Wake Up Mexico] emphasizes by confirming now its support for his candidacy to the presidency, “Andrés Manuel López Obrador... turned the Federal District into a leader in direct foreign investment...”10 And so it was that: “ 2006, 41.2% of the companies with foreign participation registered in Mexico were in the Federal District... In this regards, the countries with the highest investment in the Federal District in that year were the United States (62.4%), Spain (16.7%) and Holland (7.31%).”11

An example of what AMLO calls “incentives for private investment” (both foreign and Mexican investment) was “the granting of discounts of between 25 and 100 percent on the payment of taxes on payroll, property, property acquisition, and registration rights in the Public Registry of Property.”12 The much-vaunted “Renovation of the Historic Center” [of Mexico City] was made based on creating conditions to make attractive for big capital that area of the city. This “renovation” meant advantages and lucrative profits for big businesses like Carlos Slim’s CICSA and Sheraton hotels, while street vendors, franeleros [people who watch your car while you go about your business], small businesses, and other “undesirables” were expelled and repressed.

Responding to the interests of construction companies and other interested companies, and with the usual justification of “attracting more investment,” Andrés Manuel López Obrador gave the go-ahead to the current real estate boom by issuing Proclamation 2 that allowed constructing buildings in “four demarcations with the idea of making the city grow vertically” (Proceso, No. 2134). Then this was extended to the whole city under other supposed “leftist” governments of Marcelo Ebrard and Miguel Ángel Mancera.

The incessant capitalist competition among the construction companies in Mexico City has led them to build increasingly taller buildings, due to the high price of land. (The land becomes more expensive due to the over-centralization of the productive apparatus and the population characteristic of capitalist development.) Both governments and companies ignore the verifiably unstable subsoil in the former lake area where Mexico City is built, because the dynamics of capitalism do not allow for taking into account the nature or the welfare of the people. This does not enter into the earnings and growth calculations; what dictates is the needs of capitalist accumulation.

All this set the stage for a much bigger tragedy with the earthquake of September 19, 2017. It was mainly the tall buildings, several of which were recently built, that collapsed, causing hundreds of deaths in Mexico City and other states in the central part of Mexico. From the point of view of the interests of the people, it is madness to “vertically grow” a city in an earthquake zone; but from the point of view of the ruling classes and the functioning of the capitalist system, it is completely “rational.” To make matters worse, several of these buildings were built with materials of very poor quality, yielding higher profits for construction companies but homes and workplaces much more dangerous for people.

The government of López Obrador in the Federal District was the government of a political representative of the ruling classes that met the requirements for such a government: create conditions conducive to the accumulation of big capital and keep the masses under the domination of the predominantly capitalist system through a combination of repression and social programs. There is nothing surprising here: The very dynamics of the capitalist economy and the structure and nature of the State that defends and promotes it demand that this be the case, whoever is in charge of that apparatus.

The Elections Under This System Are a Trap

Elections are like a card game with the deck fixed. If you play, you cannot win, because the ruling classes control the whole process. As we have pointed out, the State has to serve the economic base of society and has to protect the political system and the social relations and ideas that correspond to the economic relations (or the mode of production), so that the system works and does not tear up the society. That is why the ruling classes control the whole process of electing the head of State and the other political representatives of the system.

Who chooses the candidates? People and groups that have power and a lot of money and play an important role in the system. They decide to support some and oppose others. Huge amounts of money for advertising (and vote buying) flow to the “chosen ones.” This was admitted by Alfonso Romo, right-hand man of López Obrador, at a meeting of executives of companies, diplomats, and academics convened by the Mexican Council of International Affairs (Comexi). Speaking of the victory of the PRI in 2012, he said, “And look where we are. And I ask: Is not this also the fault of the private sector? Who were we who put him (Enrique Peña Nieto) in?” (Proceso No. 2156, page 23, our emphasis.)

The main media (which are propaganda organs of the ruling classes) present some positively and others negatively, spread scandals about some and silence others, and often State institutions intervene directly to disqualify one and shore up another (like the attempt to deflate AMLO in 2006 or the threat of investigating Anaya for corruption now). In addition, the institutions that organize the elections and the courts that certify them are part of the State apparatus, which has the purpose of maintaining the system and the monopoly of power of the ruling classes.

If it turns out that in certain circumstances the elections get off track and a male head (or female head) of State comes to power who takes measures that are not acceptable for the dominant sections of the ruling classes (and in oppressed countries like Mexico, especially for U.S. imperialists), they launch economic and political attacks to isolate and undermine the candidate, and often resort to the Armed Forces to remove the candidate. Look how these “knights-errant” of democracy have no objection to organizing coups d’état to remove “duly elected” governments, if they pose obstacles to imperialist interests! So they removed Salvador Allende in Chile, Jacobo Árbenz in Guatemala, Mossadegh in Iran, Sukarno in Indonesia, and they are trying to do it now with Maduro in Venezuela, although none of these rulers actually proposed getting out of the current world capitalist-imperialist system. Recently, the (former) U.S. secretary of state, Tillerson, from Mexico called for a military coup in Venezuela to remove Maduro, in the name of “restoring democracy,” that is, to restore a form of bourgeois dictatorship more to his liking.

Elections Do Not Determine the Basic Decisions of the Government, Nor the Direction of Society

The electoral propaganda and debates center on frivolities and empty promises, while evading all analysis of essential questions. When has an electoral debate been seen about the systematic and brutal structural oppression of indigenous peoples, or of women? On the murders of young people and the absence of any encouraging future for them? How about a debate on the imperialist domination of Mexico and the world and the role of the Mexican State as an attack dog for this domination, especially for the United States, hunting Central American immigrants, or besieging uncomfortable governments for the United States? Global warming and the destruction of the environment? The systematic torture, arbitrary detention, forced disappearance, and murder carried out by the police and the Armed Forces? The deep collusion of the Mexican State, and the United States, with organized crime? Never. But they insist, “You can decide the country you want.” No, you can only choose between candidates who represent keeping all this.

In addition, the elections do not determine what the government is going to do. Let’s take a look:

  • 2000—There was a vote for a promised “democratic transition”, and there was no such thing. The Vicente Fox government promised to respect the “freedom of speech” and “resolve the situation” with the EZLN “in fifteen minutes,” but it started with the brutal repression of demonstrators against the World Economic Forum in Cancún and the rejection by the Congress of the COCOPA Law, with which the EZLN expected the autonomous municipalities to be legalized. It only changed which party gave orders, oppressed and stole, sitting in their seat of power.
  • 2006—Calderón’s campaign promised “clean hands” and to be “the president of employment.” None of this happened. Corruption followed and the global capitalist crisis of 2008-2009 led to higher unemployment. The most important “change” of his six-year mandate, the “war against organized crime” (in reality, against the people), the “change”, was never mentioned in the presidential campaign. It was decided by the political representatives of the ruling classes of the U.S. and Mexico, and launched by Calderón as soon as he took office. The militarization of Mexico intensified and more than 100,000 people were murdered under his government, mainly young people.
  • 2012—The vote for the PRI (aside from the bought votes) was in part important because of the false illusion that it would reach an agreement with the drug traffickers and thus reduce the reactionary violence. In fact, it continued with the dismal policy already decided by the ruling classes, and the murders and disappearances have surpassed by thousands even the previous six-year presidential mandate—with 46,000 dead in 2017, the deadliest year in history.

Important decisions are not made through elections. They are taken by the head of State, in consultation with other fat cats in the ruling classes, and in particular under pressure from the U.S. government, in accordance with the needs of the system and the policies they consider best to maintain and strengthen it.

Elections Serve to Legitimize the System

Elections are the main mechanism to legitimize the system and the State that represents it. They pull us into a process in which all options represent the same system and the same monopoly of political power by the capitalists, imperialists, and landlords. If you let yourself be fooled that this way you can change things, in reality you are only contributing to prolong and validate the continuity of hell itself. Think of all the ways they try to get us involved in their electoral circus. “You can decide the government you want;” “If you care about your country, you have to vote;” “If you don’t participate, you can’t complain;” or if you voted for the candidate that ended up winning, you can’t complain either, because “you elected him.” In addition to the massive propaganda that tries to deceive people, many people are forced to vote (among the more than 25% of the population that is enrolled in government programs), on pain of losing the meager allowances or services that they receive.

Why do they care so much that we participate in the elections? Because this is how they train us to think within the limits of this system and involve us in a process that gives them a stamp of approval on all the injustices and atrocities that they commit. They tell us, “This person at the head of the State represents the will of the people, and what they do is what the majority wants.”

The elections are disguised as a government “elected by the people’s will,” which in reality is a dictatorship of these ruling classes. Whoever wins the presidency shall act in accordance with the functioning and dynamics of the capitalist-imperialist system, and all the unnecessary and inadmissible horrors that this entails will go on and on.

“Change the World, Without Taking Power” Will Not Dismantle Capitalism or Change the World

Unlike those who seek positions in the current State, as we have already pointed out, the leadership of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) and others maintain that they do not take power but organize, “from below,” autonomous or alternative projects to achieve “good government” and certain economic and political reforms. They affirm or suggest that by adding more and more autonomous localities, the needed change can be achieved without defeating the forces of the current State and sweeping away the capitalist system. Since they do not propose overthrowing the current reactionary State, their efforts are aimed at pressuring the State to accept the existence of “autonomous and alternative” projects and to grant certain reforms within the current deadly system. For more than a decade, the EZLN has declared itself “anti-capitalist,” but never proposes another mode of production that would replace capitalism; at the same time, they continue to affirm that the problem is “bad government” and the solution is “good government,” which they try to create within the same system, “from below,” with the Juntas de Buen Gobierno (JBG; Boards of Good Government) and autonomous municipalities, but also “from above,” as we will see below. While AMLO, as we have mentioned, is a political representative of a wing of the ruling classes, the EZLN and other supporters of not taking power hold an intermediate position representative of the middle classes: They criticize and denounce the “bad government” but they are not in favor of going to the “extreme” of fighting to overthrow it.

After all, they share with the supporters of positions in the current State the basic goal of trying to “democratize” and reform the bourgeois State and the predominantly capitalist system in Mexico that this State defends and protects. In fact, from the beginning the EZLN has claimed the historical slogans of the 18th century bourgeois revolution of “Democracy, freedom, and justice,” and continues proclaiming them today.

As Engels says, “The great men, who in France prepared men’s minds for the coming revolution, were themselves extreme revolutionists... Now, for the first time, appeared the light of day, the kingdom of reason; henceforth superstition, injustice, privilege, oppression, were to be superseded by eternal truth, eternal Right, equality based on Nature and the inalienable rights of man.

“We know today that this kingdom of reason was nothing more than the idealized kingdom of the bourgeoisie; that this eternal Right found its realization in bourgeois justice; that this equality reduced itself to bourgeois equality before the law; that bourgeois property was proclaimed as one of the essential rights of man; and that the government of reason, the Contrat Social of Rousseau, came into being, and only could come into being, as a democratic bourgeois republic. The great thinkers of the 18th century could, no more than their predecessors, go beyond the limits imposed upon them by their epoch.”13

Those who seek to democratize and reform the capitalist system even in the 21st century also fail to get beyond the limits of thinking of three centuries ago. Never mind that never, nowhere, has any capitalist State, no matter how democratic, ceased repressing and killing people, defending and strengthening the oppression of women and oppressed nationalities. It does not matter that the current capitalist-imperialist system, in addition to the exploitation, poverty, misery, and reactionary wars that have ALWAYS characterized it, has taken humanity to the precipice even of its possible extinction, either by the rampant global warming and destruction of the world environment, or because of nuclear war. No! You will have to keep trying to reform the capitalist system so that it meets its democratic promises, although three centuries of trying precisely to do that have always ended in failure!

As Bob Avakian points out, “In a world marked by profound class divisions and social inequality, to talk about ‘democracy’—without talking about the class nature of that democracy and which class it serves—is meaningless, and worse. So long as society is divided into classes, there can be no ‘democracy for all’: one class or another will rule, and it will uphold and promote that kind of democracy which serves its interests and goals. The question is: which class will rule and whether its rule, and its system of democracy, will serve the continuation, or the eventual abolition, of class divisions and the corresponding relations of exploitation, oppression and inequality.”14

“Democracy” on the basis of capitalist relations, no matter how democratic the forms, will always be bourgeois democracy, democracy at most for the ruling classes to govern, oppress, and suppress the workers, peasants, and middle classes, as happens, not only in Mexico but also in the most “democratic” capitalist republics. The liberation of the people will never be achieved through attempts to reform and democratize the current State but by breaking, shattering that old State, and establishing a new proletarian State, through the revolutionary struggle of the masses led by a revolutionary communist party, to emancipate the formerly oppressed masses and serve the advance of the world revolution, as well as suppress attempts at capitalist restoration.

Further, it’s a farce and a trick to proclaim yourself “anti-capitalist,” when in reality you are fighting to reform and not get rid of the capitalist system. The only real “anti-capitalism” is to fight to abolish all capitalist economic relations. This struggle also requires struggling to overcome the division of society into classes, along with all the corresponding social relations (like the oppression of women, oppressed nations and peoples, the division between manual and mental labor, etc.) and the corresponding ideas (male chauvinism, national chauvinism, the “me first” outlook, etc.). Marx scientifically showed, and experience since his time has confirmed, that the only path to achieve this is communist revolution that leads to establishing socialism as a transition, along with the advance of the world revolution, until reaching communism, a society with no classes or exploitation or oppression of any kind in the whole world.

Although this struggle is difficult, particularly in the current world situation, it is with this ruler that the EZLN and all political forces must be judged, because, frankly, the only way to escape from the horrors of the capitalist-imperialist world is to put an end to capitalism-imperialism with the goal of a communist world and the emancipation of all humanity.

A fundamental problem with the position of the EZLN and others that propose to fight for a change without taking power, is that it leaves the current criminal State intact, and therefore it can’t stop the horrors that the system throws down; it can’t liberate indigenous peoples and the people in general, it can’t liberate women, it can’t eliminate poverty among the majorities, it can’t stop the destruction of the environment, nor achieve a fundamental change for humanity. This only leads to prolonging the predominantly capitalist system in Mexico and the capitalist-imperialist system in the world, with all the unnecessary suffering this entails, in exchange for achieving, at best, some limited improvements for a small group of people.

The problem with the EZLN’s position is not autonomous projects in themselves but the idea that their proliferation can lead to basic change without the need to overthrow the reactionary State, confiscate the property of the ruling classes, and establish socialism as a transition to communism.

The Zapatista project for an autonomous Chiapas and autonomous municipalities such as Cherán in the State of Michoacán, and community guards and police in Ostula, Michoacán, and in the mountains of Guerrero, among others, have arisen from the righteous resistance of indigenous people and peasants, their need to defend themselves from the attacks of the system just to stay alive. They have taken back some land, curbed the cutting down of some forests, and resisted and stopped (or postponed) some attempts by big capital to dispossess communities and destroy the environment. They have defended themselves, to some extent, from organized crime and the forces of the State, and to not let themselves be smashed by the war of extermination that capitalism-imperialism is waging against the native peoples. These struggles are brave and provide important lessons, and insofar as they continue fighting against the ravages and injustices of this system, they should be supported by all those who hate oppression and want radical change.

Nevertheless, wrenching some autonomy on the local level under this system is not a solution. Self-government projects will not make the predominantly capitalist system disappear. It will also continue assaulting indigenous peoples. It will continue killing and destroying until it is overthrown.

Any autonomy that affects the interests of the system and the ruling classes will be attacked by them, and they won’t stop until that autonomy is disrupted and made to serve their needs, or forcibly destroyed. The State and its paramilitary gangs have unleashed murder, imprisonment, and continuous harassment against the autonomous municipalities and police forces. For example, in Ostula in 2010 and 2011, organized crime working in collusion with the State murdered an average of one community member every two weeks.

It’s very good to organize self-defense and self-government when the conditions make it possible to do so as part of resisting the system, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking it would be possible to spread “self-government” throughout Mexico until the fall of the State and the disappearance of the capitalist system of exploitation. The capitalists, imperialists, and big landlords will never give up their property and power peacefully, and the State, which is their instrument of repression, can never be reformed to take the side of the people.

In addition to being under military siege, the autonomous municipalities are politically and economically “bombarded” by the system that has them surrounded. Very few changes can be implemented as long as capitalism continues to dominate all of Mexico: The main means of production remain in the hands of the capitalists, who continue exploiting and destroying, they continue dominating everyone with their political and military power; and oppressive relations and the capitalist ideology continue to predominate in society in general. Under these conditions autonomous projects can only involve very small sections of the people. As they try to keep their footing in the sea of capitalist exploitation in which they exist, the State uses coercion to force them to cooperate in some way and not “get out of line” by fighting against the system.

Therefore, focusing on maintaining a “self-government” within the confines of the current system is in contradiction with exposing and consistently fighting against all the crimes of the system and especially with fighting for a revolution that is the only thing that can put an end to all these crimes. Why? Because if you fight consistently against the system, the system will come to try to wipe out the limited autonomy that it has tolerated for some time.

One example of this is what the EZLN did in February 2001, when they were on their way to Mexico City for the Cocopa Law to be approved in Congress. At the same time, there was very brutal repression ordered by the Presidential General Staff on the protesters against the World Economic Forum and the imperialist globalization in Cancún. The EZLN did not say one single word against this repression, although they made public pronouncements every day when it occurred. Keeping silent about this crime meant not bothering the then Mexican President Vicente Fox, who introduced the Cocopa Law for approval, or the congressmen who were called on by the EZLN in its Fifth Declaration “to legislate for the benefit of all Mexicans. To rule by obeying the people... by means of approving the Cocopa Law.” As Miroslava Breach (a journalist murdered in 2017 for exposing the collusion of political authorities with organized crime) said, “silence is complicity.” Furthermore, calling on the Congress of the Union to “rule by obeying the people” is an example of trying to reform the current State, and refusing to recognize that in fact the deputies and senators do “rule by obeying,” but by obeying the ruling classes.

Since shortly after the 1994 Zapatista uprising, there has been an agreement, at least tacitly, where the State tolerates, without granting the EZLN official recognition, the Zapatistas’ Boards of Good Government in return for the EZLN limiting itself to “civil and peaceful struggle.” This doesn’t mean that the State is no longer harassing them. The State has continued to attack them in various ways, such as giving more benefits to surrounding communities, and arming, training, and whipping up paramilitary bands to attack and murder Zapatistas. The EZLN, in turn, works with the reactionary State in matters such as organizing elections, reporting or turning over “criminals” to the authorities, and turning in “smugglers” of migrants who fail to heed a first warning. (The Zapatistas label “smuggling” migrants a “crime against humanity”.)15

As is known, in 2016 the EZLN organized a National Indigenous Congress and convinced it to participate in the 2018 presidential elections with an indigenous woman as its independent candidate. They declared their aim was not to win the elections and “come to power” but to generate “a process of combative reorganization, not only of native peoples but also workers, peasants, employees, tenant farmers, teachers and students, all the people whose silence and paralysis is synonymous not with apathy but the lack of a call to action... A movement could be generated in which all the downtrodden converge, a great movement that will shake up the whole political system.”16

Why call on “all the downtrodden” to gather signatures for the National Electoral Institute (INE) and participate in elections instead of organizing to expose and resist the atrocities committed by this system, independent of and in opposition to the electoral process? Why aim to “shake up the whole political system” instead of unmasking and resisting the whole capitalist economic and political system in struggle that is independent of the system’s institutions, struggle that contributes to forging the consciousness, organization, combativeness, and leadership necessary for both strengthening the independent resistance and making the necessary preparations for a real revolution?

Seeking to have an independent candidate on the ballot and participating in the presidential election is sending the ruling classes a clear message that the EZLN continues to commit itself to staying within the system’s rules of the game for “political struggle.” This is why the ruling classes welcomed the EZLN’s campaign. It was very remarkable how the politicians (except AMLO and Morena) praised this campaign, the bourgeois media gave it favorable publicity, the Navy came very quickly to attend to the injured in the car accident in Baja California, and then President Enrique Peña Nieto expressed his condolences right away for the death of the young activist. On the other hand, this effort at electoral campaigning pulled people who were already looking with disgust at the bourgeois elections to return to participate in the electoral process, or to apply for their voter’s credential and to get into it for the first time, thus contributing to give more legitimacy to this circus.17

María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, the independent candidate for the presidency, elected to represent the Indigenous Council of Government, explained, “This is a proposal that we are carrying out, of governing differently and that it will be the organized people whom that government obeys. Only if we organize ourselves can we win, otherwise, we can’t; they will continue destroying us, they will continue dispersing us, and they will continue imposing those deadly projects which is what they have brought to our peoples... It was necessary to participate in this celebration of the rich, but not to come and be like them, but to demonstrate to them that indigenous peoples want to continue living and we want them to respect us, and we want them to not keep intruding in our territories to harm us, to exterminate us.”18

It is necessary to organize ourselves and resist, but it is a false illusion to believe that if we are simply organized, we can prevent them from continuing to “impose those deadly projects,” among many other crimes, or to make the “rich... respect us.” The competition among the capitalists themselves forces them to continue expanding their businesses and projects, under penalty of being defeated in the competition among themselves and going bankrupt. At times the organized struggle of the people can wrench certain concessions from the class enemy. One example is the physical, nonviolent defense of Atenco [a small community near Mexico City whose members waged a mass struggle to stop the expropriation of their lands to build an airport in 2002]. That struggle won broad support throughout society and was able to halt the airport project, an important victory. But before long the combined forces of the three levels of the State [with the PAN in the presidency, Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI as the governor of the State of Mexico where Atenco is located, and the PRD, in which AMLO was still active on the municipal level] took vengeance, killing two people and raping two dozen women, and now they’re coming back with a new airport plan. Also, even if an attack in one particular place is beaten back, the system continues driving an enormous number of peasants and indigenous people from their land in other places.

As many people have pointed out, the situation for indigenous peoples is worse now than in 1994 [at the time of the Zapatista uprising]. Big capital, organized crime and the State’s armed forces are intensifying the plunder of natural resources and the expulsion of the peoples from their land, and autonomous projects face brutal repression. All this is true. It’s indispensable to organize and strengthen the resistance, but if that’s done based on reformist illusions, that will only disarm the people, weaken their capacity to resist, and lead to demoralization.

If the resistance is really going to strengthen the fight for emancipation, it must be guided by the simple truth that “The State isn’t negligent, it’s criminal” [in opposition to the claim that the State should be pressured to assume the responsibilities it is now neglecting, like protecting people’s lives] and casting off the illusion that somehow the State can be made to obey the people [as stated by the Zapatista slogan that the State should “rule by obeying the people”]. Instead of begging the ruling classes to “show us respect,” we should be driven by and spread the spirit of “fuck the whole system.” What’s needed is resistance that is really independent and aimed at the system and its State. And the revolutionary communists should work to clearly explain to everyone just why the State is committing and covering up these crimes, and how these are rooted in the nature and functioning of the capitalist system. Such resistance can win partial and temporary victories, it can inspire and educate the people and create much better conditions for revolution, but it can’t bring an end to all this system’s horrors. We have to tell the people the truth, and explain that it is possible to stop all these atrocities if and only if there is a communist revolution. That’s why we say, “Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.”

The EZLN Fights to Reform the Current State and Capitalist System

Throughout its history, the EZLN has stated that the problem is “bad government,” and the solution is a “good government,” and it has tried to achieve “good government” both “from above” and “from below,” within the capitalist system itself.

To make this clearer, let’s look briefly at its political history:

  • the first Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, they said the problem was “the dictatorship that we suffer, monopolized by the party in power and headed by the federal executive branch that today is held by its maximum and illegitimate chief, Carlos Salinas de Gortari...” and therefore, “we ask the other Branches of the Government to devote themselves to restoring the legality and stability of the Nation by deposing the dictator.” That is, they call on Congress and the judiciary, which are branches of the bourgeois government apparatus, to depose Salinas, because of the electoral fraud of 1988.
  • In the Second Declaration, they convened the National Democratic Convention (CND) to make “proposals for a transitional government and a new national law, a new Constitution that guarantees legal compliance with the people’s will;” they declare “the possibility of peaceful transition to democracy and freedom faces a new test: the electoral process of August 1994.” They exclude from the CND those who oppose the elections, and call to vote “not for the PRI, nor for the PAN,” a shameless way of supporting the PRD and its candidate, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas.
  • Third Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, January 1995: As is customary, the EZLN denies the political leadership they gave with respect to those elections and blames other forces for their own position. They declare: “The pre-election process of August 1994 brought hope, in broad sections of the people, that the transition to democracy was possible by the electoral path. Knowing that the elections are not, in the current conditions, the path for democratic change, the EZLN ruled by obeying the people by stepping aside to give opportunity for fighting to the opposition political legal forces." According to this, “ruling by obeying the people” means to call on people to vote, to veto people who argue for not voting, to support (under the table) the PRD and Cárdenas (a political representative of the “left” wing of the pro-imperialist big capitalists),19 and foster the false illusion that a democratic reform of the government could lead to a major change for the lives of the people.
  • Fifth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, July 1998: They call to fight for the Cocopa Law and celebrate the bigger presence of the PAN and the PRD in Congress, as an achievement for the people, and they foster the false illusion that these political representatives of the ruling classes could “rule by obeying” the people. “These are times of the Congress of the Union.... in the Chamber of Deputies and Senators there is a new correlation of forces that hinders the arbitrariness of presidentialism and aims, with hope, at a true separation and independence of the powers of the Union. The new political composition of the lower and upper houses poses the challenge of dignifying the legislative work, the expectation of turning it into a space at the service of the Nation and not the president in office... We call on the deputies and senators of the Republic... to legislate for the benefit of all Mexicans. Let them rule by obeying the people...”
  • 2000 presidential elections: The EZLN once again promotes electoral illusions. Seeing that Cárdenas was not going to win the presidency, they appeal to the deputies and senators: “We hope that the next Legislature... will not carry out its work tied to commitments with its party leaders or with the elected Executive, but with the Mexican men and women who, whether voting or not for their candidacies, form the Mexican nation for and with which they will have to make laws.” Again, instead of exposing the reactionary nature of the elections and the system they legitimize, regardless of the candidate who wins, the EZLN reinforces and encourages the most cretinous parliamentary illusions.
  • Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, 2005: After more than a decade of alliance, at least tacitly, with the PRD, the EZLN criticizes it for having “betrayed” them and distanced themselves from that party. However, it does not criticize the political goal that was the basis of this alliance: to democratize the current State. As we pointed out at the time, “From the talks between the EZLN and the leadership of that party on May 15, 1994, there was a de facto alliance and a division of labor between these two political forces. The PRD was in charge of the democratic transition ‘from above’ and from within the electoral and governmental system, and the EZLN was in charge of the democratic transition by means of exerting pressure ‘from the outside’ and ‘from below,’ including through the autonomous municipalities that were expected to be legalized and expanded through the Cocopa Law.”20 They call again for a new Constitution that recaptures the spirit of the 1917 Constitution (which is a bourgeois constitution that, among other things, enshrines capitalist private property),21 they launch “The ‘Sixth Declaration,’” they reaffirm that they “are not fighting for power,” and they launch the “other campaign,” which is praised by the media and politicians of the big bourgeoisie, because it represents another step on the road to devoting itself to the “civil and peaceful struggle;” that is to say, “the fight” to reform the current system and thus reinforce and prolong its ruthless domination.

In the real world, it’s impossible to put an end to repression and all the other horrors we experience and build a new economic and political system without exploitation unless the old system ruling over us is destroyed. Only a revolutionary people’s war can win the liberation of the people and lay the foundation for a new liberating society that would be a base area for the world revolution. Subcomandante Galeano [the Zapatista leader formerly known as Marcos] calls “dogmatic” and “sectarian” anyone who says this, but it’s the truth, and it’s what we all have to do if we want real emancipation for the oppressed and ultimately all of humanity.

In turn, the vision “Change the world, without taking power,” or as the EZLN says, “we are not fighting to take power,” is deception. What’s really at stake is not how best to reform the current system, but how to make a revolution of millions that overthrows the old State, creates a new revolutionary State, and a new economic and political system that is no longer based on exploitation; is no longer governed by the savage competition of the big capitalists for maximum profit, but by the fight to overcome all the contradictions inherited from class societies, and finally to emancipate all humanity. Not fighting for power in this sense means accepting the permanence of the current system with all its horrors and only seeking to mitigate them a little for a small minority of the people.

In this era of global warming and nuclear weapons, of great deprivation and misery alongside affluent wealth, of enormous and advanced means of production that operate with the work of millions but are monopolized by a few, the future of humanity depends on finally overcoming the historically antiquated capitalist-imperialist system. The very development of this system has laid the material foundations for a higher and much better society, and the intensified contradictions of the system have no other resolution in the interests of the vast majority.

This is an arduous and difficult struggle, but in it we have the new communism developed by Bob Avakian on the basis of summing up the big positive lessons as well as the errors of the past socialist revolutions, analyzing new conditions and learning from other spheres of knowledge to achieve a qualitative advance in the scientific method and approach for making revolution and emancipating humanity, laying the basis for a new stage of communist revolution that is so urgently needed by the oppressed masses.22

The Revolutionary Communist Organization, Mexico, is fighting to apply this new communism and has established the strategic orientation and initial basic program for the liberating revolution Mexico needs.23

It’s time to cast off the false illusions that it’s possible to democratize and reform this outmoded and inhuman capitalist-imperialist system whether by working inside or outside the bourgeois State. What’s needed is to devote ourselves to the urgent and most basic need of the oppressed masses, a real revolution to sweep away this system and finally contribute to the emancipation of all humanity.

Revolutionary Communist Organization, Mexico

April 28, 2018


1. Bob Avakian is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, and a leader in the international communist movement. [back]

2. Bob Avakian, Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon, “Part 1: Revolution and the State,” available at [back]

3. Karl Marx, “Letter to Kugelmann,” April 12, 1871. [back]

4. Bob Avakian, op. cit.; also quoted in BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, p. 15. [back]

5. For example: “Venezuela accounts for some 12 percent of the U.S.’s daily oil imports, and plays a certain strategic role in the U.S. ability to project power in the world. But the other side of the equation is more telling, illustrating an aspect of Venezuela’s structural dependency: that 12 percent share of U.S. oil imports accounted for by Venezuela represents 60 percent of Venezuela’s total oil exports!” Source: Revolution #94, July 1, 2007, available at [back]

6. LGBTTI = Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender and intersexual. [back]

7. For further documentation and scientific analysis of the Bible, monotheistic religions, fundamentalism, and morality, see Bob Avakian, AWAY WITH ALL GODS! Unchaining the mind and radically changing the world. Insight Press, Chicago, 2008. Available from Insight Press. [back]

8. Silvia Ribeiro, “Party politics, transgenics and peasant communities,” December 19, 2017, in Spanish. [back]

9. “Commitments of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, pre-candidate to the Presidency of the Republic, at the Business Forum in Saltillo, Coahuila,” January 17, 2012, at Our emphasis. In Spanish. [back]

10. Cited in “The second wind of López Obrador,” February 12, 2012, In Spanish. [back]

11. Jorge A Schiavon, “Local diplomacy of the Federal District (2000-2007),” in Working Document Number 172. CIDE, August 2008. In Spanish. [back]

12. Miguel Ángel Vite Pérez, “Reflections on the social development of Mexico City, in Intersticios, Revista Sociológica de Pensamiento Crítico, Vol. 5 (2), October 2011, pp. 290-291. In Spanish. [back]

13. Frederick Engels, “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific,” C. Marx, F. Engels, Selected Works, Volume III, Progress Publishers, Moscow. [back]

14. Bob Avakian, BAsics, 1:22, RCP Publications, Chicago, 2011, p. 17. [back]

15. Subcomandante Marcos, “Read a video,” cited in La Jornada, August 24, 2004. In Spanish. [back]

16. Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés and Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano. A story to try to understand. November 17, 2016. ( In Spanish. [back]

17. Under certain exceptional circumstances, at times it can be necessary to participate in bourgeois elections as a subordinate part of exposing the falseness of bourgeois democracy and the need to overthrow the whole system. This is what the Bolsheviks did at certain points in the Russian revolution, for instance, when the 1905 revolution had been defeated and elections were instituted for the first time in the country’s history. There is no such necessity to participate in the 2018 Mexican elections at a time when broad sections of the people are repudiating all of the bourgeois parties as the same crap. On the other hand, the participation of the EZLN in these elections was not intended to expose the electoral farce and the whole system but, as mentioned, it objectively contributed to legitimize it. [back]

18. “Words of Marichuy in the Meeting with the Mayo People in Cohuirimpo, Sonora,” January 13, 2018. In Spanish. [back]

19. The pamphlet Revolution, Yes! Elections, No! documents this in detail. Pamphlet in Spanish by the People’s Research Center, 1994. [back]

20. “On the EZLN, The People Need Proletarian Revolution, Not the Democratization of the Existing State,” Aurora Roja No. 13, February 2006, page 11, in Spanish. It can be downloaded at [back]

21. See “The Bourgeois Character of the Constitution of 1917,” Aurora Roja No. 13, in Spanish. [back]

22. See Bob Avakian, THE NEW COMMUNISM, The science, the strategy, the leadership for a, actual revolution and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation. [back]

23. See Revolutionary Communist Organization, Mexico, The Liberatory Revolution, Strategic Orientation and Basic Program, Editorial Flor de la Sierra, Mexico, 2015, in Spanish. [back]

Let’s get down to basics: We need a revolution. Anything else, in the final analysis, is bullshit.

Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t unite with people in all sorts of struggles short of revolution. We definitely need to do that. But the proffering of any other solution to these monumental and monstrous problems and outrages is ridiculous, frankly. And we need to be taking the offensive and mobilizing increasing numbers of masses to cut through this shit and bring to the fore what really is the solution to this, and to answer the questions and, yes, the accusations that come forth in response to this, while deepening our scientific basis for being able to do this. And the point is: not only do we need to be doing this, but we need to be bringing forward, unleashing and leading, and enabling increasing numbers of the masses to do this. They need to be inspired, not just with a general idea of revolution, but with a deepening understanding, a scientific grounding, as to why and how revolution really is the answer to all of this.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 3:1

Get a free email subscription to

Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.