I remember being a 12-year-old boy caught in the middle of a violent brawl between the police and workers in protest, tear gas pouring from the sky as I tried to escape the conflict with others. I remember walking through the streets following the end of the clash and looking down to see a tear gas canister on the floor.
I lifted it. It was still warm.
This moment would end up being the first time in my life that I saw the iconic phrase, "Made in the U.S.”
The first thing “Made in the United States” that I ever held in my hands was a tool of state repression used against my people.
Just like millions of other Latinxs, I lived through many tumultuous years in my home country. I saw firsthand how Neoliberal policies destroyed our economy, created more poverty, encouraged corruption, and violently repressed dissenting opinions. As this was happening, Latinxs residing in the United States were fighting discrimination and labor grievances; things like the Bracero Program were initiated before my time and had beckoned workers from Mexico, who’d later be met with low wages and miserable working conditions.
Many years would pass before I would end up living in the United States of America. Here I learned that, just as is the case back in my home country, there are both good and bad people. But I would also come to understand that, in the United States, education, the mainstream media, music, and movies are all a constant program of indoctrination.
I would come to learn that “Socialism” had been a word demonized by a society blinded by a Capitalism that kept their collective mind abducted, and their lives enslaved by debt.
Misinformation has reached unprecedented levels, and this is a primary problem that we must address.
Currently, Latinx Americans account for approximately 18% of the entire U.S. population, being the largest minority in this country. It is projected that by the year 2050, we will be 30% of the population, and it is very likely that by the year 2075, we will surpass “whites” as the majority in this country. This is a reality that can already be seen in many schools in large cities such as Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, and Miami. Latinxs are changing the face of this country, and in a little more than half a century, that face will go from being a George Washington, to a more colorful Moctezuma or a Tupac Katari. It is impossible to deny that Latinxs will play a fundamental role in the future of this country, and therefore the entire world.
These facts bring with them an enormous responsibility, and a responsibility that we must learn to face: we as Latinx Americans must begin to play much more of a leading role in the political, social, and economic decisions of this country, our country.
In order for this to happen, we must begin to disseminate novel, revolutionary, and bold ideas; ideas that can change the world. For hundreds of years we have seen what Capitalism has to offer: war, destruction of the environment, extreme poverty and extreme wealth, racism, fascism, colonialism, inequality, and apathy. Some say that this isn’t true, and that Capitalism with regulation can be good and can help create a prosperous “middle class.” But as history teaches us, this has already been tried, and failed.
In the 1930s, President Roosevelt appeased the country with reforms that were historic, but not transcendental. These were reforms that benefited the creation of a mostly white middle class while the suffering of other ethnic groups and/or races both inside and outside of the United States was ignored. Regulations and taxes were imposed with the hope that a Great Depression and such economic inequality would never be felt again, but these regulations and taxes alone did not work in the end. If these decades of Keynesianism have shown us anything, it is that Capitalism cannot be controlled by regulations or taxes.
Even with a hundred chains on its neck, Capitalism, little by little, has slowly lifted these chains one by one, broken free, and is now more voracious than ever.
The struggles that a power-hungry model like Capitalism brings are not new to us. Even though we are incredibly diverse, we face the same challenges. From the Mapuches in southernmost territories, to the Zapatistas in Mexico, all of our territories have been subjected to economic, political, and social oppression. Today in the United States, we face the same challenges with slightly different dynamics or nuances. These dynamics under Capitalism have concurrently shaped the evolution of Latinx existence in this country, and not for the better.
In the 1800s, with newly acquired land from Mexico, i.e. Texas, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming, so too did thousands of Mexicans become “Americans” by way of wars and treaties. These people were treated as second-class citizens, suffering segregation and lynching in the background of inhumane labor force exploitation.
However, Mexicans would go on to prove to U.S. colonizers that they know how to fight; by the time the 1960s came around, the United Farm Workers Union demanded dignity in the fields and won with an unapologetic roar of Huelga. In 1947, over a decade prior to the blockbuster Brown v. Board of Education ruling, Mendez v. Westminster ended the segregation of school children in the California school system by ruling that “separate-but-equal” schools violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.
The 2008 financial crisis was the last popular sign to the world that Capitalism is an unsustainable economic system, a system in which human beings become numbers in an accounting book, and the government an intermediary in the looting of people's resources in favor of the plutocracy that controls it.
The catastrophe of climate change is yet another sign that Capitalism is an immoral production system that does not respect life itself or the delicate balance that allows our species to live on this planet.
The resurgence of more outright fascism, racism, and xenophobia is another symptom of a frenzied capitalist system.
Even with these monumental challenges, this historic context also presents a unique opportunity to apply a different system; a new system; a human, moral, and efficient system.
Let’s not repeat the same mistake, and stumble over the same stone...
Let’s not fall into the fallacy of a “regulated Capitalism”...
Let’s not waste a new opportunity...
A historical need has arisen to educate on, spread, and defend socialist principles among Latinxs in America. Principles clearly communicated by Karl Marx and other Socialist theorists – a key one being that workers must be in control of their own labor power and all of the surplus that they produce – have been distorted, and even dogmatized by many on the “Left” to the point that some interpretations of said principles have fallen into the category of quasi-religious teaching.
Many, including myself, have even believed that Socialism is nothing more than the transfer of the means of production to the State. However, history has shown us the errors in this interpretation, just as it has shown us the errors in others. Great superpowers, as well as smaller countries seeking the socialist promise of equality and democracy, have all fallen to bureaucracy, inefficiency, and corruption under global Capitalism. We must remember that the idea of the State alone being the controller of the means of production is nothing more than another form of Capitalism: State Capitalism.
State Capitalism betrays the fundamental idea of Socialism. It simply replaces private Capitalists with Capitalist bureaucrats without modifying the productive relationship that makes Socialism possible: workers being owners responsible for managing the means of production in a democratic fashion. Various governments throughout the course of history ushering in shifts to State Capitalism has meant that some authoritarian, inefficient, and corrupt governments can still hide behind false “socialist” rhetoric. It has also facilitated the imperialistic intervention and economic warfare of Capitalism, allowing for the destabilization and collapse of many other sincere attempts to achieve a socialist society. For this and many other reasons, these state capitalist governments or projects have not prospered.
A socialist society must be built from below by the people, not from above by a government. As Marx explained, once a popular base exists, a superstructure, of which systems of governance are a part, is inevitable.
That is why the concept of Dual Power is so important.
Socialists must not only aim to obtain political power through elections that, at present, are designed to maintain the hegemony of the capitalist parties. Rather, we must face a novel strategy, that of empowering our communities with the creation, maintenance, and improvement of socialist institutions such as federated worker cooperatives.
The worker cooperative must be one of the fundamental instruments in the development of an economic base that offers strong roots and abundant fruits for a future socialist society. Cooperatives, as Marxian Professor Richard Wolff explains, are a key part of the “cure” for Capitalism. They offer the opportunity to develop means of production that belong to the workers themselves and the communities that are using them, and at the same time can be fully democratic spaces. Worker cooperatives use the vote of each employee in the fundamental decisions: what to produce, how to produce, when to produce, and what to do with the surplus of that production. From an internal standpoint, this makes them diametrical opposites of capitalist firms, where the profits for the owners can only be generated through the legalized theft of the surplus produced by the workers, with workers simultaneously having no power of decision over the company.
There is no doubt that democratic and cooperative worker relations would be very successful within Latinx communities here in the United States, especially considering our deep commitment to hard, honest, and responsible work. Worker cooperatives are a real and concrete first step towards the construction of a socialist model that replaces Capitalism and its greed.
At the beginning of this revolution, we do not need “socialist” governments, laws, or banks. We need our labor and a commitment to our ideals.
This could bring us closer to creating democratic enterprises (which must be connected through federations), socializing land ownership, developing financial institutions without a profit motive, changing our models in health and education, and finally allowing the human species to abandon the present, archaic model that only seeks profit and power accumulation. We could finally advance to a new society: a society where the primary concern is the common good of the people and the environment; a society that is truly free and democratic from its foundation.
These are the types of ideas that must be made available to our people. They are ideas that present clear solutions to the problems that Capitalism generates today. Latinx American Socialists must put in the work to ensure that these ideas reach our communities, our families, and our hearts.
At first, it may seem like a monumental job. Where do we start? What resources can we offer? However, there are some organizations that are already in the process of creating many new resources, examples, and platforms.
One of these organizations is Black Socialists of America.
Black Socialists of America understands that the road to Socialism is a road that one group cannot reach alone, and that we must all walk together. They understand that joint work must be carried out in cooperation, equality, and fraternity, and that walking together, shoulder to shoulder, means that nobody is before or behind anyone. They understand that we can only succeed together, and it is for this reason that they are willing to work with us in the creation of a fully independent Latinx American Socialist organization dedicated to the dissemination of this information and resources to Latinx communities in the United States and around the world.
This is not something new.
Many people in the past understood that solidarity between human beings is fundamental for the advancement towards a just society.
Martin Luther King Jr. maintained contact with Latinx leaders like Cesar Chavez, and sought to mobilize Latinx groups to participate in the Poor People’s March before being assassinated. And without the solidarity and eventual incorporation of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), mostly composed of Delano Filipino farmworkers, the UFW would not have been a formidable force sustained by solidarity. In the aforementioned Mendez v. Westminster case, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed amicus curiae, joining the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) during its appeal. Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights attorney who would later win Brown v. Board of Education, assisted in writing this amicus curiae. Also filing an amicus curiae was the American Jewish Congress and the Japanese American Citizens League. The Rainbow Coalition between Blacks with the Black Panther Party, Latinxs with the Young Lords, and “whites” with the Young Patriots Organization is another example of interracial/multiethnic cooperation. These are examples of solidarity and joint work that we must learn from.
Our message must be clear and inclusive: Socialism is everyone's job. It won't be easy or quick, but is definitely worth all our efforts.
This is the kind of solidarity that can help us build a truly fair society; it is rooted in the idea that – in reality, and despite this system of white supremacy – before being “white,” Black, or Latinx, we are all human beings. This solidarity is not sought after with the aim of minimizing the valid and unique needs of each particular group and/or identity, but rather to have people from different backgrounds empathize deeply with one another, and work together to address aforementioned needs.
The division is a capitalist and colonialist strategy. Only a human solidarity and interracial/multiethnic Socialism can face a capitalist system that flourishes with division, disinformation, and discrimination.
It is for all of the reasons outlined here that I, along with other Latinx comrades, feel the time is right to launch a new organization:
Latinx Socialists of America
Our people must know this information.
The future of our communities, the country, and the world are at stake.
We cannot miss this opportunity.
It is time to move to an active and organized movement that allows us to tell the world about the Socialism of the future.
If you are interested in moving forward with myself and other Latinx comrades within the United States in this initiative, please send us an email containing a brief bio and information on how you’d like to contribute: