Latin American Anarchism

 juntoscreando.jpg picture by adam_freedom

 A street mural by a Chilean anarchist cultural/muralist group (Read an interview with them in Spanish here).

  There’s a rich history and tradition of anarchism in Latin America that is still largely waiting to be translated and brought to the attention of the left and others who focus on the region. Below is a review by Chuck Morse of negations.net (also staff with AK Press) of three Spanish language works on the history of Latin American Anarchism by authors from the region. While none of the books reviewed are comprehensive treatments by any means, each work has a strong focus on the heavy role that anarchists played in the labor movement of Latin American countries as well as the tranformative cultural impact that anarchists had as well. You can also check out the Latin American Archives of negations.net, with .PDF of over 50 issues of several anarchist publications from 1917 to 1940 including Alborada, Hombre de America, La Humanidad, Nervio, Prometeo, and Suplemento Quincenal La Protesta.

 

Latin American Anarchism

(From The New Formulation, February, 2003)

Review by Chuck Morse (original link)

Cronica Anarquista de la Subversion Olvidada by Oscar Ortiz
and Contribución a una Historia del Anarquismo en América Latina by Luis Vitale
Santiago, Chile: Ediciones Espíritu Libertario, 2002

Anarquismo y Anarcosindicalismo en América Latina
By Alfredo Gómez
Paris: Ruedo ibérico, 1980

Anarquistas en América Latina
By David Viñas
Mexico City: Editorial Katun, 1983

– – –

  There are important reasons for anarchists in English-speaking parts of North America to study the history of Latin American anarchism.

  One reason is political. We need to form principled, collaborative relationships with our Latin American comrades to fight global capitalism globally and, to do so, we obviously need be able to identify our real comrades among the countless groups in the region that make claims upon our solidarity. Should we “defend the Cuban Revolution” or toast Lula’s social democratic victory in Brazil? Should we adopt the Zapatista ski-mask as our emblem or devoutly align ourselves with small anarchist groups? A genuine confrontation with these questions requires a deep appreciation of the history of Latin American opposition and certainly the anarchist movement has played a significant role in this history.

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Especifismo, Social Insertion and Recent Anarchist Organization

Workermeeting.gif picture by adam_freedom

  A new edition of the “Especifismo Reader: Anarchist Organization and Praxis” has been made publically available. Topping 120 pages, the updated reader includes several newly translated pieces such as the short political statement “Who We Are, What We Want, The Path We Follow” by Coletivo Comunista Anarquismo in Brazil, the article “Anarchist Advances in Uruguay and Brazil” and the “Interview with the Rio de Janeiro Federation” not included in the first edition of the reader,  as well as several excellent though yet to be translated pieces in Spanish. The next steps for this reader are the inclusion of several more pieces by Latin American anarchists and a organization in Mexico, as well as a section of articles called “Towards a North American Especifismo,” with pieces written by North American anarchists influences by the Especifismo Latin American Anarchist tradition. 

  One of the key concepts of the Latin American Anarchist tradition of especifismo is “social insertion.” I admit there is a bit of a funny sound to it, but this is the concept they use to define the relation to mass struggles and movements. To them anarchist involvement in the social struggles must be firmly rooted, argues for anarchist values rather the conversion of movements to “anarchism itself” or a specific political line, and which aims to build popular power (horizontal power and “of the base” I think are similar concepts from Latin American traditions that readers might also be familar with).  

  My friend Nate of What the hell…?  blog takes up the topic with a response/reflection piece after reading several pieces by written by especifist groups as well as my own piece included in the reader above,  “Especifismo: The Anarchist Praxis of Building Popular Movements and Revolutionary Organization in Latin America.” With heaps of comradely respect I feel Nate is missing some of the arguements and the context for the discussion on especifismo and in some part I think he is perhaps pointing out sections of the writings that are unclear and can lend themselves to misinterpretation. Check out his thoughts and my response and I encourage folks to leave comments on his page with their own.

  In fact, Nate is on a bit of a roll as of late. Here’s another discussion posting on contemporary anarchist politics with Nate’s review and comments on the mission statements and points of unity of current anarchist organizations in North America. Even better is that it includes links if you would like to read more. Next, is his piece discussing the importance of mass organizing work, along with a draft an article where he hopes to better lay out his perspectives on this. Finally, he writes reviews/quick responses  to several of the Furious Five Revolutionary Collective, a 2003-2005 Anarchist-Communist collective based out of San Jose, CA that was influenced by the ideas and writings of the Latin American Especifist anarchists. Their writings are archived on this blog

Reader on Especifismo

Mujer20Zapatista2.jpg picture by adam_freedom

 

An informal reader has been put together on especifismo, the anachist tradition and practice from Latin America that speaks for the need to form specifically anarchist orgnaization and for ‘social insertion’ within social movements. With similarities to the currents of Anarchist-Communism and Platformism, the especifists argue for a particular understanding of the charactor of anarchist organization and relationships with social movements. With roots going back to the period of dictatorships in the 1980’s, knowledge of the especifist tradition has only reached North America within the last several years.

The reader can be found here and begins with introductory articles (though I think the second one it could do without) and is followed with a series of interviews and translated documents and theory peices. Other projects to translate and gather documents and history related to this tradition are underway.

Below is the table of contents for the reader:

Introductions

  1. Especifismo: The anarchist praxis of building popular movements and revolution organization in Latin America – Adam Weaver
  2. Building a Revolutionary Movement: Why Anarchist Communist Organization? – Adam Weaver

The organizations

  1. The Social Question: Latin American Anarchism and “Social Insertion” – Michael Schmidt (Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation, South Africa)
  2. NEFAC Interviews The Federacao Anarquista Gaucha (FAG Brazil) – Red Sonja (North Eastern Federation of Anarchist Communists-Boston)
  3. Who We Are, What We Want, The Path We Follow – Coletivo Comunista Anarquista (Brazil)
  4. Anarchist Advances in Uruguay and Brazil -from Rojo y Negro (CGT, Spain)
  5. The Principles of the Forum of Organized Anarchism -Fórum do Anarquismo Organizado (Brazil)

Theoretical discussions

  1. The Need of Our Own Project – Libertarian Socialist Organization (Argentina)
  2. The Specific Organization – Jaime Cubero (Centro de Cultura Social, Sao Paulo)
  3. Materialism and Idealism – Anarchist Collective of “Zumbi dos Palmares” Forum of Organized Anarchism (Brazil)

Theory, Ideology, and Historical Materialism – Internal Education Secretary of Libertarian Socialist Organization (Brazil)

Article Reposts: A New Old Left and the Left States of Latin America

Everybody Wants A New Old Left

By Elliot Liu, http://www.linesblog.com/

Left_1.jpg picture by adam_freedom

A response piece by Elliott Liu of APOC-NYC to two proposals for new directions, along with cohesion and regroupment among the socialist left. The first piece, Which Way Is Left is by Freedom Road Socialist Organization, a nationwide soft/post-Maoist group formed during the 1980’s with the merger of several New Communist Movement remnants. The second, Manifesto For A Left Turn, was put together by a collection of professors from the east coast including Stanley Aronowitz and Rick Wolff. This piece makes me look back on my own attempt to respond to the resurgence of party building attempts in the left, which can be found here and is sorely in need of a re-write.

While I have major differences with the proposals put forward in Which Way and Manifesto, I know [the] anti-authoritarian movement in the U.S. has a long way to go before it can demonstrate that building struggle from below is more effective than strategies that rely on parties and the state. To critique the latter approach carries with it an implicit challenge: to build new kinds of horizontal power, capable of meeting people’s needs while outmaneuvering or outfighting the state form. We have our work cut out for us.

Everybodywantsanewleft.gif picture by adam_freedom

 

Lessons Learned: Latin American Left Has Much to Teach Obama Supporters

Written by Daniel Denvir
January 2009, The Indypendent

ObamandLA.jpg picture by adam_freedomAn interesting, but sadly all too brief overview on the election of left-wing governments across Latin America and their relationship with social movements. Raises interesting parallels and questions about the relationship between Obama and left social movements in the US.

In this context of ambiguous electoral victories, movements throughout the hemisphere have come to the conclusion that despite the importance of electing and defending progressive governments, real change cannot come without struggles in the workplaces, schools and streets. Workers making windows and doors in Chicago and landless farmers occupying oligarchs’ landholdings in Brazil and Bolivia legislate their own reality. While social movements in the U.S. should fight to hold Obama accountable for his business friendly tendencies, we must also fight to transform the political landscape from below. After all, it was the massive social movements of the 1930s and not the president’s ideological disposition that pushed FDR to enact his New Deal reforms. But an “inside-outside strategy” holds both promise and pitfalls, as movements navigate the blurry line between critical engagement and cheerleading. As Uruguayan writer Raúl Zibechi writes, “In love as in cooptation, you need two.” The same goes for social change.

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