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Popular uprisings, left-wing and right-wing

Popular uprisings in Honduras, Haiti, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Colombia are part of a continental protest, the common denominator being the strong opposition to the financial policies imposed on these countries by the IMF. However, could they generate a social change one day?


Juan Digo García


Just as in the worst periods of colonialism, this entity which is supposedly international, but is actually controlled by the United States and Europe, is imposing financial strategies on countries on the periphery which cut the few social measures that the system allows.

These are also measures which widen the enormous social gaps in every respect, and strip back even further the little sovereignty that these nations have, through predatory lending. In this way, they reject any national project and, therefore, any regional integration which might let them strengthen themselves in the tough environment of the global market.

The results of these popular uprisings are different depending on the internal conditions of each country. However, they are all affected by similar factors which allow us to understand the outcome of battles won or lost in a continental confrontation which today, unlike previous eras, does not have the battlefield as centre stage. Today, the battle rages in big cities, due to rampant and chaotic urbanisation processes on the continent.

In almost all cases, the enormous dispersion of popular organisations has an impact and, above all, their difficult coordination is a factor that really weakens them.

It is not just that people in the countryside have lost ground to salaried urban sectors and small businesses, but also that the centres of opposition to the system have multiplied enormously.

Today, other links to gender, ethnicity or the region have thus been added to the traditional slogans of battling for the land and wages.

In principle, this is something positive and should not weaken the battle if it widens the forces of the popular opposition (especially to sectors of the new proletariat, intellectuals and the petty bourgeoisie in general).

Obviously, this happens only on the condition of generating coordination and alliance mechanisms at the same time.

However, in several cases it seems that the personalities of eventual leaders, or the generation of very specific interest groups, makes the necessary harmony in the popular movement more difficult.

This harmony only appears in certain situations (such as in the face of Macri’s violent cuts, the increase in Chilean metro tariffs or the suppression of fuel subsidies in Ecuador), but there has been no continuity and soon the unity reached will run the risk of being diluted.

However, one factor exists which would explain the greatest weakness in these movements: the lack of a political body to coordinate efforts, gather a range of opinions, smooth out contradictions at the heart of the movement and formulate a short-ranging programme as well as a strategic plan that can direct and enable good management of both victories and setbacks.

For various reasons, in the core of some leftists, and in general among the popular sectors, just mentioning the need for a political party arouses suspicion and even overwhelming rejection. It is not the same on the right, indeed, the right carefully protects the maintenance of this vanguard that coordinates the diverse interests that there are at its core and it deftly manages the social process to its benefit.

Despite multiple crises of the system, at practically all levels, the right continues making gains.

Its system is sustained not just by the brutal force of soldiers and police, but also the enormous methods of media manipulation that they have a monopoly on.

To a large extent, the right does not collapse due to the weakness of the opposing forces, who are not capable of sustaining a battle for long periods.

They are also not capable of neutralising the role of the politically backward popular sectors (which are bastions of the dominant class and are the most politically backward sector, very easily bought by the system), nor capable of responding in an efficient way to the occasions where a social revolution appears as an immediate and possible task on the horizon.

There are many tendencies at the heart of the popular movements which overvalue the role of  spontaneity.

This, as a cultural and social force which is enormously important in making big changes, is not capable of giving a definitive blow.

And, if it does, (for example, with an overwhelming triumph at the ballot box) it is not in the right conditions to ensure the continuity of the process.

This is a demonstration of the historic global experience, and the continent of Latin America is not immune to this.

Often this spontaneity, as an overwhelming force of mobilisation for the best of the popular energy, manages to offset the weaknesses of the organisation and the mistakes of those who direct it. But just for a few moments.

The administration of a process of popular uprising (like those that are recorded at the moment) demands high levels of organisation, in advanced bureaucratic ways, in line with the complexity of the modern social order.

Only a happy coincidence between spontaneity and organisation, in harmony between various forms of direct democracy and management arrangements (bureaucracy), guarantee that battles are won, and the war reaches a happy ending.

Consider, for example, the question of the adequate management of official violence mechanisms that, in so many cases, become a lifeline for the system (the case in Ecuador, no less).

Without the support of the armed forces, Moreno would not have survived. Neutralising the armed forces (as in the overthrowing of the Shah in Iran), and more often, winning them over to the popular movement (as in Venezuela) is a task that cannot possibly be left to passion alone.

Neutralisation and other similar tasks correspond to political authorities, forms of organisation, whether it is a party or a front.

Social warfare is something so complicated that it cannot be left to passion and, even less, to fantasy.

(Translated by Donna Davison – Email: – Photos: Pixabay

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