Translated by Red Star Publishers.
The Foundation of the Communist Party of Mexico and the Communist International
The Communist International (CI) was founded in Moscow, in March 1919 under the leadership of the Bolshevik Communist Party of the USSR, headed by Lenin and Stalin, two years after taking power in Russia. This was a result of the betrayal of the socialist cause by the Second International, which placed itself on the side of imperialism and its bourgeoisies, by legitimizing World War I, claiming that this was the defense of the bourgeois homeland. Eight months later in that same year, the Mexican Communist Party (PCM) was formally constituted.
In those years, the international class struggle and particularly the ideological struggle within the Second International, between social democracy (headed by the German Social Democratic Party) and the communists (represented by the Bolshevik Communist Party of Russia), synthesizing the positions between class conciliation and proletarian revolution. This led to the important task of developing an international proletarian organization that consistently defended Marxist theory and practice. Thus, organized communist parties assimilated this need, and, in November 1919 the PCM (Mexican section of the Communist International) was founded. Communist leaders of the International took part in that event and in the process of building the Party.
The intervention of the CI in Mexico contributed enormously to establishing the bases and clarifying theoretically and practically the doctrine of scientific socialism elaborated by Marx and Engels. It also showed how to learn from the valuable experience developed by the Bolsheviks led by Lenin and Stalin, who consistently applied Marxism and had recently seized power through the socialist revolution in October (today November) of 1917.
The PCM was founded after the holding of the Socialist National Congress in August-September 1919, one among other efforts that tried to bring together the majority of those who supported the socialist cause. It is important to keep in mind that those who considered themselves socialist were not ideologically homogeneous, nor were they clear in applying Marxism. This was due to a strong influence of anarchism, as well as of liberalism as a bourgeois ideology recently given a boost by the victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution of 1910-1917 in Mexico and that, in 1919, was marking its culmination as a revolutionary process.
The formation of the Party did not go through a pure or linear process. It was influenced by the revolutionary, socialist-communist theory and practice of the CI, of the parties that had just been formed, headed by the Bolshevik Party, but it did not cleanse them of the influences that weighed down on the newly formed Communist Party. The PCM had a heterogeneous membership; formally they were communists because that was how the Party was defined. But among these members there was confusion: tendencies of petty-bourgeois or bourgeois socialism derived from the bourgeois-democratic revolution of 1910. However, the Marxists or communists who were a minority in the PCM barely grasped the consistent Marxist theory and practice, which came in its most developed form through the CI.
As we saw, the fight against anarchism and opportunism had not developed in Mexico as it had at the time of the First and Second International (particularly in Europe), or as the Bolsheviks had experienced in the formation of their own Party. This process of discussion and struggle in Mexico would have to be undertaken within the PCM itself, with the elaboration of its political and programmatic line and with the struggle that later developed against anarchism and bourgeois positions within it.
Marxist literature and its influence came late compared to other countries in Europe and even Latin America. Later Mexico with the Communist International and the building of the Mexican Communist Party tried to take a firmer step forward with the theory and practice of Marxist socialism and communism, with the whole baggage that it would have to deal wth throughout its existence until its its extinction, going through several stages and processes. The socialist ideas in Mexico spread around the 1870s, through the leaders of the Paris Commune, of anarchists like Proudhon and Bakunin, or the utopians like Fourier.
The Communist Process in Mexico
The first textile industry was built in Puebla in the first third of the 18th century, and later more industries of the same type and others were developed, with technology from the United States and other countries. These were set up in various states of the country. In this process of growth of the working class, the first class struggles were taking place in the textile industry, influenced by one of the first political groups, the Student Socialist Club. This took place in 1865 and later in the Great Workers Circle of Mexico (1871). The Proletarian Circle “La Social” became a revolutionary expression of the proletariat, of the workers and plantation laborers, “influenced by Fourier and the Christian anarchists.”
The process of development of the working class, which was going from the artisanal workshop to capitalist industry, showed the limitations that this had when considering in its organization only the struggle “to overcome technological backwardness and for technical training along the path of class struggle.”
In 1878 the Mexican Socialist Party was formed,-whose objective was to “take by legal means the political power of the republic and establish the law of the people.” It was with this Party that the idea of communism spread mainly among the peasants, with its publications and even by participating in an uprising that was finally put down.
In 1884 the Mexican edition of the Manifesto of the Communist Party of Marx and Engels was printed in the workers’ newspaper called “The Socialist,” which was an important effort in spreading it.
In 1904 the Socialist Workers Party was founded as an anarchist variant, since “classical” anarchists were against the idea of building any Party. In 1906 the Great Circle of Free Workers, formerly called the Mutualist Savings Society, was organized with its press “The Social Revolution.” In 1906 the Mexican Liberal Party appeared, of essentially liberal origin, headed by the Magon brothers, which adopted anarchism (later, they would make this a variant, strongly influenced by radical liberalism). In these times the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz carried out a systematic and bloody repression against strikes, organizations and their leaders; several of them carried out political activity in hiding, such as the historical strikes of Río Blanco and Cananea, which were brutally repressed. These sparks contributed to the bourgeois-democratic revolutionary uprising of 1910.
In Mexico under the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, where the pace of capitalist development was marked, organizations continued to appear that would represent the struggle of the working class, such as the Mexican Typographic Confederation in 1911, which would become the Confederation of Graphic Arts. In that same year the Socialist Workers Party of the Mexican Republic appeared, or the Socialist Workers Party (POS) as it was also known.
It is noteworthy that, in the POS, there were members, even though they were not the main force, who already knew about the international workers movement and scientific socialism, since in their publication “The Socialist” there appeared Marx’s slogan used in the International Workingmen’s Association: “The emancipation of the workers must be the task of the workers themselves.” Finally, the ideological expression that would predominate would be anarchism. From the POS two tendencies arose, which were combined in the House of the Worker, which was essentially anarchist: one would be known as the House of the World Worker (COM), linked to some currents that gave in to the bourgeois State, and the Light Group. The leaders of the COM played an opportunist role within the working class during the 1910 revolution, since they made up the “Red Battalions” subordinated to Venustiano Carranza (1914). This was one of the bourgeois expressions of the Mexican revolution, which fought the forces of peasant leaders Francisco Villa and Emiliano Zapata.
In 1916 there were already other local socialist parties, among them that of the Yucatan headed by Felipe Carrillo Puerto stood out. In 1917 another Socialist Workers Party appeared, headed by Luis N. Morones, a personality who would be linked to the new State that emerged from the Mexican revolution, which deepened the control or corporatization of the working class, at the service of the development of capitalism.
In general, the organizations of the working class that were built in Mexico always marched at the tail of the bourgeoisie that had just taken power. At the same time, this bourgeoisie had assimilated the world socialist process so well that it even used socialist language in its speeches to project itself as an advanced social class to entrap the proletarians. In Mexico, “socialist” was a term used interchangeably by different parties, even being used by the governments emanating from the bourgeois revolution saying they were identified with communism: Álvaro Obregón, Plutarco Elías Calles, Emilio Portes Gil or Lázaro Cárdenas. Even in 1924, the Border Socialist Party was founded with open sympathy for Calles. The Revolutionary National Party itself in its founding process came to propose that it be called the Mexican Socialist Party. Finally, it became the Party of the Mexican Revolution (now the Institutional Revolutionary Party).
In August of 1919, the Socialist National congress was held, attended by workers associations and organizations, such as the Mexican Workers Regional Confederation, and socialist parties, such as that of Michoacán and Mexico. From this Congress the Socialist National Party was derived, from which one of its splits was called the Communist Party of Mexico.
The Foundation of the Mexican Communist Party (PCM)
A few months before the founding of the PCM, there was already the Communist Party of Mexico (PCdeM), which was dissolved in 1921, an organization that also called itself communist but was in conflict with the PCM. Both claimed to be the Party and it was the work of the communists of the International who were in Mexico that helped to develop a process to establish the existence of a single Communist Party. Starting from 1921 the International and the PCM managed to march forward with a single organizational movement. It was at its First Congress that the PCM decided to call itself as the Communist Party of Mexico (PCdeM). This name was maintained during the 20 following years, then returning to the name PCM.
It was at the Second Congress of the CI that it resolved the conditions of admission to its ranks or to be a section of it. Among all the parties that thus committed themselves to respect these conditions and make them concrete, the PCdeM took them up in its First Congress and thus became the Mexican section of the Comintern or Third International. Since its foundation the building of the Communist Party was watched by the nascent Mexican bourgeoisie that was victorious in the 1910 revolution (Carranza and others later), by U.S. imperialism (E. Gale) that had the main capital investments in the country and by the anarchist petty-bourgeoisie, which also wanted to influence it. Another factor was the CI itself that sought to consolidate a strong Party for the seizure of power. Borodin and Katayama contributed to that, representing the interests of the proletariat of the International in the communist tasks in Mexico.
The relationship between the CI and the PCdeM was established by the cadres sent to the country, as well as by the direct relationship through the congresses held throughout its existence as well as in the direct communication with the Executive Committee of the CI. The political and programmatic line, as well as the tactics during the International’s influence, was developing according to the conditions of the Party and the class struggle in the country, as well as the general and particular orientations for Mexico issued by the CI.
In the first elements of its Program, the PCdeM showed the anarchist influence that affected the Party, establishing an anti-electoral attitude; but already in the 1920s it drew up tactics of participation supporting the candidacies of Obregón and Calles. In the workers’ movement, it could not defeat or influence the governmental reformism that affected the first organizations of the working class and peasant, the Regional Workers Peasants Confederation of Mexico (CROM) that would become the official trade union federation and on which the bourgeoisie would build the Mexican Labor Party, an organization of the labor aristocracy. However, the PCM developed an important influence and leadership among the railroad workers, miners and oil workers, from which the first general secretaries of the Party came.
The CI played an important role, since it helped the Mexican communists to study and deepen their understanding of dialectical and historical materialism, the history of Mexico and the world, a situation that did not exist and was reflected in the characterization of the Mexican revolution, which was initially presented as a political riot.
In 1922, the League of Agrarian Communities was organized, influencing the creation of the National Peasant League in 1926, which was the most important independent peasant federation before the 1930s. In 1923 it participated against the rebellion of Adolfo de la Huerta, in defense of the revolutionary regime.
The anarcho-syndicalist and bourgeois influence in the ranks of the Party was fought to the degree that the study of Marxism was broadened and deepened. Marxist literature grew due to the influence of the CI in our country. Communist publications were reproduced that gradually formed the basics of study and training of Party cadres and the masses through “El Machete,” the Central Organ of the Party, and other publications and direct talks.
In 1927-1928, the PCdeM supported the re-election of Obregón, with the aim that he could reverse the return of the counter-revolution expressed by Calles. Obregón’s assassination took place at the same time as the fall of the CROM. These were the years in which the labor unions were influenced by the Party and their party membership grew, the greatest years in the Party’s history.
The influence of the CI in the application of Marxism did not exempt the PCdeM from errors and misunderstandings in its concrete application. The PCdeM did not go through the discussion and rupture with the Second International, an experience that it did not undergo and only learned the results of that experience. From the First to the Fourth Congress of the International, there was a Mexican section consistent with its line; deviations of the PCdeM occurred from the Fifth to Seventh Congress of the CI, where the PCdeM was adopting another line that was moving away from Marxist-Leninist positions. It is a fallacy that these deviations were due to Stalin. On the contrary, after Lenin’s death, Stalin contributed to clarifying and orienting the Bolshevik Party of the USSR itself from within, as well as with its permanent influence in the CI, on the fight against Trotskyism and against Bukharin and Zinoviev, who were defeated on both fronts, in the USSR and in the CI.
In 1929 the Unitary Trade Union Federation of Mexico was founded, faced with the official federation, the CROM, and the anarchist General Federation of Workers (CGT).
Also in 1929, the PCdeM decided to participate in the elections with a communist candidate – a general – for the presidency of the republic, through the National Worker Peasant Bloc, while supporting the failed rebellion of Escobar against Calles-Portes Gil. This action unleashed repression, forcing the Party to act from underground.
In 1934, it organized the League against War and Fascism, against the offensive of the global financial oligarchy that had been established in several countries. At the same time, the first historical crisis of the Party, that would not be the only one, took place, although previously there had been problems of internal organization and unity.
When it was possible to head the Federation of the Workers of Mexico (CTM), it missed the opportunity to occupy the Secretariat of Organization and Propaganda, ceding it to Fidel Velázquez, who years later would become the longest-serving leader of pro-boss unionism, represented in the CTM.
At this time, the intervention of Earl Browder, Secretary of the Communist Party of the United States, took place, whose influence made the Party veer towards opportunism. This was expressed in the policy of alliances with the forces of Cardenas, in the erroneous application of the tactics of the Popular Front. This took place from 1934 until 1939, when it made a mistaken characterization of the transition from the Maximato [the period from 1928 to 1934, when Calles, although not president, was the maximum leader – translator’s note] to Cardenas, the rise of fascism, the Party of the Mexican Revolution (PRM) and Lázaro Cárdenas, who would lead the subsequent government. This politics led the Party to subordinate itself and lose its political and ideological independence from the bourgeoisie of the country, as it lost influence among the working masses. It also led to the degeneration of leading cadres and members who later would be at the service of the Party of the bourgeois.
The orientations of the Sixth and Seventh Congresses of the CI, which was characterized by the building of the Popular Front in the fight against leftism and opportunism, showed that it was a correct tactic that had positive results in several countries. In Mexico, not only was it poorly applied, but it subordinated the PCdeM to the bourgeoisie headed by Cárdenas.
In the 1940s, particularly in its Eighth Extraordinary National Congress, expulsions of leaders were carried out where the differences did not vary greatly, as the new leadership essentially maintained the same opportunist policy and later deepened it. This continued until 1943, the year in which the Communist International was dissolved. This process led to the adoption of Browderism, which modified the organizational structure of the Party.
For the Party, the 1950s were the policy of “Peace and National Independence,” collaborating with the government. At that stage, the Marxist-Leninist line became more blurred that, once adopted, could also be observed in its electoral participation. And in this process of greater degeneration of the Party, the influence of the 20th Congress of the CPSU, held in 1956, was decisive.
After its Thirteenth Congress, in the 1960s, programmatic policies continued to be adopted that responded more to conciliation than to revolution: that the revolution had to be peaceful; thus the basic distortion of revolutions, whose nature is violent, was sown. They adopted slogans for a Democratic National Liberation Front and for a Democratic Revolution of National Liberation. It maintained a mass presence grouped in federations such as that of peasants and students, highlighting the participation of these latter. And in the debate between the CPSU and the Chinese Communist Party, they deepened their adherence to Khrushchev’s line, which they had already endorsed since the 20th Congress of the CPSU.
At the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, with the growing repression there appeared armed movements from which the PCM demarcated itself. At the same time, in the face of the pressure of the movement as a whole the regime established political reforms in which they stabilized the system faced with a scenario of revolutionary crisis; this was a strategy of class conciliation and repression. By 1975, the Party already took the path of abandoning the revolutionary struggle, to enter the “democratic” struggle. They defined acquiring the electoral registration of the Party; this period marks their adherence to Eurocommunism. It was in 1981 at its 20th Congress when its existence as a Mexican Communist Party was terminated, to become the Unified Socialist Party of Mexico, which in turn became the Mexican Socialist Party and finally the Party of the Democratic Revolution.
The Press of the Communist Party
“El Machete” was the central organ of the Communist Party and existed from 1924 to 1938. At the beginning it was led by prestigious plastic artists of the Party. It was read aloud in broad circles, in part because a large part of the population was illiterate. El Machete tried to stay as the Leninist press of the Party, a role that it largely fulfilled.
The Influence of the Third International in Mexico
The CI or Third International was the result of the process of struggle of the working class that began since the emergence of capitalism in the world, when Karl Marx and Friederich Engels, together with other proletarians from other countries, were given the task of organizing the First Workers’ International or International Workingmen’s Association. Marx and Engels played a leading role in this organization, which functioned from 1864 to 1872, one year after the defeat of the first proletarian revolution, the Paris Commune.
While the First International emerged in London, United Kingdom, in that year, in Mexico, capitalism had barely appeared. It was transitioning from its independence from Spanish colonialism to liberalism or nascent capitalism. It was forming what we know today as Mexico, which formally took place in 1824, under the name of the United Mexican States (earlier, during the independence struggle it was called Mexican America or the Mexican Empire).
The Second or Socialist International developed from 1894 to 1914 (the year of the outbreak of the First imperialist World War). This was the second organizational effort of the working class. Now this was undertaken with the influence of the socialist theory elaborated mainly by Marx and Engels. Engels, without Marx’s valuable company, undertook the task of continuing the effort to develop proletarian internationalism and took the lead until the end of his days. Mexico in that period already had a not very powerful industrial development, mostly in the textile, oil and mining industry, but it was mainly dependent on foreign capital (from the U.S. and England) as well as a working class strongly repressed by the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, without Marxist influence and without its Communist Party.
The Comintern (1919-1043) arose precisely from the political, ideological and organizational rupture with the Second, Socialist International, which had betrayed the interests of the proletarians by voting for credits for the imperialist war, placing themselves on the side of the bourgeoisies of their countries, for their inconsistency and hypocritical stand on socialism.
The Communist International thus emerged with a Marxist definition, breaking with false, petty-bourgeois or bourgeois socialist positions. It arose with the perspective of defending socialism, that of the Soviet Union and the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is why, with the strong effort of the CI, the communists in Mexico, on a clearer basis of theory and practice, undertook the task of fighting for the proletarian revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariat, scientific socialism and communism. Unfortunately, they were not able to achieve this during that period, among other reasons due to the deviation and degeneration of the PCM for just over half of its existence, which led to its dissolution in 1981.
The experience of the development of the three internationals, of the discussion about capitalism, the struggle of the working class and socialism that took place with those efforts and in those countries, did not take place in Mexico at the same time and with the same intensity. This experience came later, as did the theory of scientific socialism, developed by Marx and Engels.
When the Communist International was founded in March of 1919, the bourgeois revolution in Mexico, which had begun in 1910, was coming to an end. The First World War had ended; the Russian socialist revolution had been victorious for two years and, in 1918, the revolution in Germany had been defeated. These were among the most outstanding international events.
By the year 1919, in Mexico capitalism was just beginning its development, as was seen with the revolution that had just concluded. In that sense, the development of socialist-communist ideas and practices in our country were scarce, because by then the working class was beginning to appear on the scene, concentrated in these first factories and largely moving from the craft workshops to the nascent enterprises. That is, the working class was beginning to develop as a class. On the other hand, the socialist and/or communist theory almost did not exist and what did exist was a confusing idea of this, partly because of the lack of literature on the matter and the existence of anarchist theory that had arrived and imbued itself in the proletarian sectors in the process of formation.
The foundation and construction of the Comintern came to play an important role on the situation that confronted the working class in Mexico, both in its development as well as its class consciousness. It was with the CI that the Mexican communists could better elaborate their strategy and tactics in a consistent manner, leading the proletariat to its goals of emancipation.
The Need for a Marxist-Leninist Party in Mexico and the World
The efforts to build or rebuild the Communist Party were not achieved from within, but rather from outside and things were advancing. Several attempts were undertaken and are still being undertaken to achieve a Party of the working class. In this effort our Party has determined its great task, beginning by continuing to deepen its study of Marxism-Leninism, in the practical construction that we are carrying out in this direction and in the need to recognize the existence of efforts that other organizations are making. We are confident that on the basis of dialectical and historical materialism, of the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin and of consistent practice, we will achieve the objectives of liberation of the working class and of all the exploited and oppressed.
In that sense, our Party in Mexico is assimilating the experiences developed in these one hundred years of struggle of the communists and the proletarian masses. It is contributing to the historical objectives of the working class at the side of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO), in an effort to build the Marxist-Leninist International, which unites the proletarians of the world to realize the world communist revolution and the emancipation of humanity victoriously and definitively.
Today, in the context of the 100 years of the founding of the Communist International and the Communist Party of Mexico, as well as of the 102 years since the triumph of the Great October Socialist Revolution, we communists, Marxist-Leninists, the consistent socialists and revolutionaries of Mexico have a responsibility towards history: to organize the socialist revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariat and to build scientific socialism and communism.
Communist Party of Mexico (Marxist-Leninist)