The caravans of the political hucksters and their entourages of people obligated to accompany them, if they want to keep their precarious employment in some town or government branch, are being repeated every weekend throughout the country.
Several decades ago these caravans overflowed with energy and political passion. This year they are paltry expressions of a colonial system that is crumbling fast. What they lack in numbers and enthusiasm is being substituted for with outsized vehicles and scandalous sound systems.
It is a reflection of the inevitable withering of political parties once they have accepted as valid the electoral competition for the management of the colony, control of the budget and opportunities for patronage. Above all, the owners of the Parties – the rival segments of the colonial oligarchy – their servants – the parasitic political elite – haggle over the chance to take a place at the colonial feedlot so Wall Street can throw them some scraps in exchange for supporting the enormously lucrative, corrupt, illegal and odious colonial system.
That parasitic political elite contents itself with participation in the electoral fund as well as the increasingly sparse donations from those that obtain obscene profits from a regime that has denied a future to the broad masses of workers and marginalized.
“The chicken have come home to roost”
The rigid logic of the system based on profit imposes some limits on those that attempt to avoid its contradictions. The colony, its corrupt ‘order’ favoring the engorgement of a tiny minority of privileged along with the dependence and alienation of the immense majority, has been reduced mainly to the circulation of so-called federal funds as well as the growing indebtedness of the territorial government.
This colonial order has hit rock bottom and it has become necessary for Washington to find a viable solution to the undoing of its principal territory; one in which three million American citizens live.
The crisis led them to an ‘easy’ solution: naming a plenipotentiary Junta to take over the administrative aspects of the colony and impose on all – debtors and creditors alike – a solution, if not perfect – at least capable of 1) rebuilding the territorial order on a neoliberal basis, and 2) returning the territory to debt markets.
It is easy to say. However, it is another matter to put this into practice. Restoring the colonial order on a neoliberal basis requires not only rejecting what remains of muñocismo – the reformist consensus that sustained the support of the masses for the regime of capitalist exploitation – but also denying the American citizens of the territory the paltry labor rights that are recognized in the United States.
Will the workers in Puerto Rico accept a return to the conditions of exploitation that our grandparents endured in the sugarcane fields? Those that prefer to respond in the affirmative citing the alleged passivity, opportunism and disintegration of the workers’ movement argue against historical evidence. Only the reactionary force of a Pinochet can impose once again on the workers a return to shameful conditions of exploitation that the working class has overcome.
What is to be determined is not if the workers will oppose the imposition of the neoliberal order in the territory, but the degree of intensity, combativeness and militancy of our opposition. Communists argue that the resistance of the workers to the imposition of the shackles of colonial super exploitation that our grandparents endured will lead to a renewal of a pre-revolutionary stage in Puerto Rico.
The dialectic of repression and revolutionary eruption
The Empire can take measures to mitigate, imposing palliatives upon the social upheaval as it begins to threaten its political rule in the territory. That could contain the volatility provoked by the absence of a minimum sense of democratic legitimacy with the Wall Street Junta.
However, an Empire so arrogant is likely to appeal to the force of repression, initially carried out by the territorial government and its police as well as the local apparatus of the FBI together with federal courts. This thinking is rooted in the idea that what failed them in Vieques was not crushing the movement before it built up energy.
This would then open a more expansive stage for revolutionary forces: one in which the radicalized workers’ movement will lead a broad revolutionary and anticolonial front that demands a radically democratic process of legitimate self-determination.
It is impossible to predict the political forms that will sprout from these struggles. The working class will certainly develop new organisms to guide our struggles and get us closer to the reins of a process of self-determination as well as the forging of a new political order. The working masses will be energized within those organs of proletarian power and begin to look towards a future in which they start purging themselves of the corrupt vices of the past and forge a new society in which the private appropriation of the labor of others is ended.
Revolution or servitude!