August 24, 2009
Honduras: pre-revolutionary situation? `The people are resisting day in and day out.' By Ricardo Arturo Salgado, translated by Felipe Stuart Cournoyer
August 22, 2009 -- Pre-revolutionary situation? Some analyses of the situation in Honduras are fairly static. We have to differ with many local and foreign analysts who have tried to understand the situation in Honduras by imposing pre-existing parameters and by using basic concepts of the Marxist dialectic without any scientific criterion. Many have seen a failure of the Honduran grassroots resistance, failing to understand that historical materialism is not a mathematical formula where only variables change, but rather, a way to interpret reality objectively.
When it comes to analysis it is difficult to get away from "models" and comparisons with this or that previous experience. Many even speak of a pre-revolutionary situation as if the movement of social forces at any moment could convert itself into a kind of recipe with pre-determined levels, like today insurrection, tomorrow pre-revolution, the day after insurrection, and so on. But history that follows formulaic patterns or models is not credible.
The reality of the situation with Honduras' social movements is fairly complex, but clearly reflects the class struggle between the national bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Now, of course, we conceive of the proletariat as an ensemble of diverse forces that are chemically impure; an ensemble in which are present labourers, campesinos (rural workers who represent the majority of workers in the country), grassroots churches, professionals, feminist groups, students, teachers, informal workers, the unemployed, and a lot more. Class position is decisive. In this country if you are not a member of the oligarchy or one of their lackeys, you’re proletarian.
Lack of organisation and maturity? Some have said that the lack of organisation and maturity of grassroots movements has been a key factor in their "incapacity to take advantage of this conjuncture to take power". This ignores that the maturity and organisation of resistance forces is not measured by their capacity to take on the army henchmen of the bourgeois state and defeat them in the short run. It is measured by their capacity to react and coordinate the masses, something that has been demonstrated from day one of the coup. The fact that we did not make the news every day is related more to the criterion of "news" held by communications media than to the movement’s daily actions. In Honduras, the people are resisting day in and day out.
It would be dogmatic to pretend we have a perfect movement. The national leadership has made a huge effort to keep the masses from reacting with violence. It’s also been clear that there are those who prefer to take their own path and act on the margin of the plans of the resistance. Others work a lot under the guidance of the organised leadership. However, to the extent that the movement has been growing, discipline, organisation and consciousness have been strengthened. We are moving on from reacting in favour of a leader to the clear necessity to found a new country. In all this we clearly see the dialectic of the resistance’s nature and its path to victory.
Now what makes for a victory? Many have affirmed that the process will lead to a sad, mediated outcome in which the dictatorship and its accomplices end up strengthened, with President Manuel Zelaya tied hand and foot, powerless to do anything. What's behind that interpretation? Is the idea that everything depends on whether the constitutional president comes back, or doesn’t? This kind of pessimism is glued to old experiences and underestimates the people’s capacity to carry on their struggle. It does not seem very scientific to put "fatal terms" on social processes.
There are essentially two possible short-term scenarios for what may happen in the country: a) the president returns; and b) the president does not return to his post. No matter the scenario, the struggle will continue because the ultimate goal is the re-founding of our nation, not just the return of President Zelaya.
It should be clear that the current stage of the struggle requires mobilisation for the restoration of constitutional institutions and lawful government. This is so because letting this coup survive intact would be a grave error given the precedent it would establish for the future of Honduras and of Latin America. It seems clear that the imperial right sympathises with this strategy; one sign of that is the recognition and support of the Honduran fascist regime by private enterprise in Guatemala; without a doubt that country is the next target of the counterrevolutionary continental resurgence.
National Constituent Assembly
The next stage aims to take the power in order to realise a National Constituent Assembly to re-define the legality of the country. This struggle will follow the electoral path because, among other reasons, taking the road of armed struggle would result in legitimising the arguments of the right. The imperial media would find it easier to demonise and isolate our movement, just as they have done with the Colombian armed movements.
In no way can the conditions that have come about in this country be considered a defeat. On the contrary, we have gained a lot, and every day this becomes more and more evident. It cannot be said that this comes late; it’s simply an event happening when it must happen. Once again, it is not dialectical to think that revolutionary movements come about like cultural fashions.
If objective, we will see that pre-revolutionary moments do not exist. The conditions of struggle in Honduras are rooted in a revolutionary process whose aim is to attain a different society, more just, more equitable, progressive and revolutionary.
We must not, either locally or internationally, fall into despair because of what we see in the daily press, or in the day by day experiences of this revolution that at times seem to raise our spirits, and at times cause great scepticism. Now the path is laid down and come what may, we are going to follow it through to final victory.
[Ricardo Arturo Salgado is a sociologist and researcher who lives and works in Tegucigalpa, and is an active participant in the national resistance movement against the coup.]
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