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'A revival of collectivist solidarity' -- Hugo Blanco, veteran Indigenous revolutionary, on Occupy Wall Street

October 30, 2011 -- Ecosocialists Unite -- Hugo Blanco led a successful peasant revolution in Peru for land rights in 1961 when peasants were being killed by landowners. Praised by Che,  Blanco -- then a leader of the Fourth International -- was captured and placed on death row. He lived due to an international campaign of solidarity launched by figures like Jean-Paul Sartre.

Now in the his late 70s, he publishes Lucha Indigena ("Indigenous Struggle"). The uprising in Peru of the Awajan and Wampis and other Amazon people, of the Aymara and Quechua, have shown that Indigenous and workers can organise to challenge the destruction of the Earth and to build a democratic alternative to capitalism.

Hugo Blanco argues that the revolution must be global and that the Occupy movement shows that people in the global North are joining the revolt against the 1% and for a democratic, ecological society for the 99%.

This Lucha Indigena editorial on the occupy movement and the global fightback against neoliberalism has been roughly translated by Derek Wall and Martin O'Beirne.

* * *

The global movement against neoliberalism grows ever larger  

By Hugo Blanco

The wave of rebellion against neoliberalism was started by Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who, in protest against sustained police harassment and looting, emptied fuel on to himself and lit a match. The flames of that fire are now spreading around the capitalist world.

First, they bought about the insurrection of the Tunisian town that eventually demolished the government.

Egypt was next and there too the government was overthrown.

The movement then extended to other Arab countries, where the fight is ongoing. NATO intervened in Libya to gain control of the incoming government and similar is expected in Syria.

The rebellion jumped to the door of the sun in Madrid with the name 15M (it began on May 15), extending to Greece and many other cities and European countries, and recently to New York taking the name of Occupy Wall Street. This latest development is appropriate as it is the worldwide financial centre.

From there it spread to many other US cities.

Then on October 15, a tsunami of global protest against the capitalist system spread to 951 cities in 82 countries. The brilliant slogan of the North Americans is “We are the 99% against the 1%” (the 1% that governs the world to satisfy it’s own narrow egotistical endeavours).  

Neoliberalism  

Neoliberalism reduces leisure, replaces human labour with automation and increases the age of retirement; which on one hand harms the elderly and on the other the young because it diminishes job opportunities. In the rich countries of the so-called "First World" prior to the crisis brought about by the financial companies and banks, the attitude of governments was to reward the banks with money from the public purse. Now, before the new economic difficulties, instead of increasing the tax on the millionaires, they load the debt onto the majority of the population, reducing the budgets for health, education and other public services like support for disabled people, the elderly and single parents.

In order to create money numerous public workers have lost their jobs and then in turn their houses, or they have lost houses because repayments simply became too high. In either case many of them still have to pay to settle the debt.  

In the so called "developing" countries, the situation of hunger and misery is getting worse. Peru has been desindustrializado’, which means the wages stagnate but prices for other things rise, that is the relative wage decreases. In addition the tercerizacion or services in which workers are not contracted to the factory in which they work but to another company creates a disconnect so workers are less able to negotiate a pay change.

'Development'

Another burden faced by the poor countries, besides global warming, is the effects of the extractivist economy that provides millions for the great multinational companies. Mother Earth is knocked down with great insensitivity by hydrocarbon extraction, open-cut mining, highways and fast roads, the agro-industry, dams etc. All this in the name of "development" and "progress". To this end there are many "dealings" between politicians and multinationals. The peasantry and Indigenous and non-Indigenous suffer the despoilation of water and the soil, sinking into greater misery. That is the reason they gave their lives in protest in Bagua, Islay, Juliaca. 

In Arab countries, these evils have been added to by dictators who ruled with impunity, without allowing any criticism, committing every imaginable outrage. The governance of the world and of countries is less and less by states,  which are becoming increasingly weak. Gradually governance by corporations is gaining strength. Wars are driven by the arms industry.

There is more and more privatisation, not only in poorer but also in richer countries. The privatisation of education has led to the struggles of the Chilean and Colombian students. The combatants in war are increasingly employed by private companies. Prisons are also in the hands of private companies. In Peru, state control of railways, the post and roads belongs to the past.

Uprising

It is against all of this that the peoples' uprising began with the "Arab spring" and spread to the "First World" with the Spanish indignants and to Occupy Wall Street" The rebellion present in the rest of the world is the same as we find with the struggles in our country, Peru, especially in defence of water and life. Although the rebellion is not yet sufficiently organised to demonstrate its effectiveness against the current system, much has been achieved.

One aspect worth mentioning is the revival of collectivist solidarity that characterises the world's Indigenous communities, such as the Aymara and Quechua ayllu (commons system) against individual egoism that is promoted by the capitalist system.

The organisation of indignants in Spain and the United States' Occupy movement shows that in the areas occupied, there are not leaders but good organisation, there is responsibility for food, rubbish collection, library, health care, child care, signing for the deaf,  translation. Furthermore, solidarity grows in Greece: the striking doctors provide free care, electrical system employees reconnect those who have been disconnected for non-payment. We read: "The popular neighbourhood assemblies rather than designing on paper 'an alternative' are making everyday organised solidarity for those who are on strike, for those who are suffering most from the economic crisis, for neighbours, for the most weak."

In Madrid, the community expelled the police who sought to capture an illegal immigrant, to cries of "No human being is illegal." Also in Spain, home evictions of those who were no longer able to pay their mortgages were prevented by the movement. In Granada, there is a movement called "Stop Evictions Granada." In a sign that read: "You interest me much", it is seen that selfishness is artificially introduced and that human nature is united.

Some people criticise the lack of leadership. We see it as a merit, not as a deficiency, which has reached a profoundly democratic organisation in which all rule, in which the concept has passed of the hierarchical class society, that one is born to rule and others to obey.

Another criticism is the lack of a finished program. There is no "elite" and decisions are made by consensus, this leads to necessarily slow progress, but the main thing is said, the fight is 99% which is crushed by 1% of world's population. As Vandana Shiva, the Indian activist, has said, as repeated by intellectuals who signed a document supporting the movement in Madrid: "The G8 should be replaced by full humanity, G7, by the billions". The rest of the program is moving slowly but solidly, as shown above.

Conclusion

Karl Marx said that as the working class face off directly against the bourgeoisie, they are becoming the vanguard of society's struggle against capitalism. We believe that this was completely right and a matter of time. He also taught us that to see reality was better than reading a hundred books. Following this recommendation, we open our eyes and see a fierce attack from capitalism to all of humankind.

Let us repeat what was said above: For increasing global warming leading to the extermination of humanity -- by the strong attack on nature in so many ways: open-pit mining, hydroelectric plants, food processing, oil extraction, construction of roads, atomic energy, holes in the ozone layer, industrial water pollution, etc..

And also with budget cuts for health, education and other social benefits with funds re-routed to private business, whose only interest is profit, higher prices, poisoning the population with GMO and chemicals produced by the food industry, house evictions, power outage, etc..

Thus, all humanity is being directly attacked by capital in multiple ways. Each region, each uprising has its own character.

We are taking the first steps in that direction, through our collective struggles in defence of water and life, the "Arab spring" of indignation, the Occupy Wall Street movement.

These movements show that it is still possible to save our species from extinction.

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