August 14, 2006 by cosmoakacitizensmith
I have never been too gone on Communism. My father came from Hungary to the UK during the Cold War, and I visited the place during the 1980s and became aware of how it worked there.
Waldir, Carmen’s boyfriend, who is sitting just to my left in the picture in the previous post, is a dirigente and I asked him about it.
I said my piece and told him that I mainly come from an anarchist perspective. I said I thought that the structures and organisation of the MST seemed to be in line with this way of doing things as they don’t involve having a state or government, unlike Communism or Socialism, which does.
He told me that in his view leftist groups and anarchists have a lot of common ground, and many of the leaders depicted on the banner had betrayed a lot of these revolutionary ideals.
He said that uniting on common ground is important and used the example of the Spanish Civil War. Anarchists, socialists and communists gained a lot of control at that time but they ultimately lost out to fascism because groups that should have been united against Franco were not.
Gibby and I explained our frustration with the left back home, particularly with the SWP and its hijacking of grassroots campaigns.
There followed a big discussion about politics. Gibby, fair play to him, was acting as the simultaneous interpreter, UN stylee!!! Most impressive!
I was interested in the relationship between the MST and the Brazilian government. Waldir told me that the MST does not support any party or government and hasn’t done since its inception. However, when Lula came to power many of them in the organisation were hoping for land reform, but Lula’s party, the PT, has been dragging its heels and not bothering.
He also told us that the state oil company, Petrobras, has done a deal with the MST. They will pay them money for any plants they grow that can be used for biodiesel.
It seems like a kind of one foot in the establishment, one foot out situation.
We talked about technology. One of the advantages of capitalism is that it can make huge leaps in technological development very quickly. Technology solves so many problems but can come at a high environmental and social cost. We discussed whether it was possible to make it more answerable in this respect. In the end we agreed that capitalism is here whether we like it or not and we have to work alongside it.
Waldir also explained that the MST were not interested in replacing the government, rather it wants to be a kind of parallel power.
I noticed people had started to drift off from the party as the music had stopped. I laughed and said to Waldir that we were driving everyone away by talking politics. He looked at me strangely and I wondered if I had offended him
I looked around me and a strange feeling came over me. Aside from the obvious cultural differences, there was something so familar to this situation. Sitting around playing guitar in the pissing rain in a camp full of politically-inclined people with scant resources trying make a stand. It could have been a protest camp back home.
Only it wasn’t. In this situation, people didn’t have homes or government handouts or jobs to go back to if babylon came in and cleared everyone off the land. This wasn’t some pissed up, hypothetical conversation I was having with a bunch of mates in a boozer in the UK.
This was about people’s lives, the only way they could make a difference and have some dignity and respect. We had been showered with so much kindness since we arrived that this basic fact hadn’t quite sunk in for me.
I felt very humble and overwhelmed the rest of day. Blimey……….