Outbursts or insurrections

Clara Figueiredo, Izmailovsky Market, Lenin_ 2067,60 rubles, Moscow, 2016


The governments that emerged from the ballot box never managed to shake the power of capital

A recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reveals that the ruling classes, which the organization serves, expect social upheavals around the world as a result of the pandemic.

The work Social repercussions of the pandemic, published in January, considers that history is a guide that allows us to expect eruptions that reveal fractures that already exist in society: the lack of social protection, distrust of institutions, the perception of incompetence or corruption of governments (https://bit.ly/3qVVhAV).

Thanks to its extensive resources, the IMF has developed an index of social unrest based on an analysis of millions of press articles published since 1985 in 130 countries, which reflect 11 events likely to cause social upheavals. This allows you to predict that by mid-2022 a wave of protests will begin, which is sought to be prevented and controlled.

The important thing is that the organism tells governments and big capital that the period that opens in the fourteen months after the beginning of the pandemic can be dangerous for their interests and that they must be prepared, but it adds that five years later the effects of the eruptions will be residuals and will no longer affect the economy.

The equation seems clear: the dominant classes are waiting for irruptions, they are preparing to face them and neutralize them, because for a while they can destabilize the domination.

One detail: the study does not even mention the results of any elections as risks for capital, perhaps because regardless of who wins, they know that the governments that emerged from the ballot box never managed to shake the power of capital.

Anti-capitalist movements must take good note of the system's predictions, so as not to repeat mistakes and prevent actions that, in the long run, wear us down without producing changes. I propose to differentiate irruptions from insurrections, to show that the former are not convenient, but the latter can be, if they are the result of a solid collective organization.

Outbursts are almost immediate reactions to offenses, such as police crimes; they generate an enormous and furious social energy that disappears in a few days. Among the eruptions is the one that took place during three days in September in Bogotá, following the murder by the police of a young lawyer with nine fractures to the skull.

The repression caused the death of more than ten demonstrators and 500 wounded, about 70 by bullets. The just wrath took place in the Immediate Attention Centers, police stations in the peripheries, 50 of which were destroyed or set on fire. After three days, the protest faded and there were no longer organized collectives in the neighborhoods most affected by state violence.

There are many examples like this, but I'm interested in pointing out that states have learned to deal with them. They excessively expose violence in the media, create study groups on social injustices, negotiating tables to simulate interest and may even remove some uniformed from their duties, sending them to other locations.

What is more common is for governments to accept that there are injustices, in general, and to attribute the violence of the outbreaks to the precariousness of youth employment and other consequences of the system, without addressing the root causes.

Insurrection is something different. An organized body decides its beginning, outlines the objectives and methods, the points of concentration and retreat, and in the collective dialogue decides the moment when the insurrection ends. The best example is the October 2019 indigenous and popular uprising in Ecuador. It lasted 11 days, was decided by the bases of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador and had the adhesion of trade unions and young people from the urban peripheries.

The violence was controlled by members of the organizations, who prevented looting induced by undercover police. It was decided to end it in huge assemblies in Quito, after the government of Lenín Moreno annulled the package of neoliberal measures that generated the mobilization. The indigenous and social movements parliament, created a few days later, was charged with giving continuity to the movement.

An insurrection can reinforce popular organization. In Chile, where they prefer to say revolt and not irruption, more than 200 territorial assemblies were created during the protests in almost all popular neighborhoods.

Massive and forceful collective action must strengthen the organization, because it is the only thing that can guarantee its long-term continuity. The dominant classes learned a long time ago to face upsurges, because they know they are ephemeral. If we organize ourselves, things can change, but we won't achieve anything if we believe that the system will fall in one fell swoop.

* Raúl Zibechi, journalist, is a columnist for the weekly Brecha (Uruguay).

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.


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