Neither Dead nor Defeated: Anarchism and the Memory of Ricardo Flores Magón

Originally published on It’s Going Down.


Lee esta entrevista en español aquí.

On November 21, 2022, one hundred years after his death, anarchists gathered at the tomb of Ricardo Flores Magón in Mexico City, where clashes ensued with members of the Regional Confederation of Mexican Workers (CROM), leaving several compañerxs injured. In December, IGD contributor Scott Campbell interviewed Jaime, one of the anarchists present that day. The interview covers not only the events of November 21, but the life and legacy of Ricardo Flores Magón, the state’s attempts to recuperate his memory, and more.

How would you like to introduce yourself?

My name is Jaime. I’ll be speaking on behalf of those who took part in the action [on November 21], but which is not a collective. 

Can you speak to the importance of Ricardo Flores Magón? Who was he, what is the significance of his work and legacy?

Ricardo Flores Magón was an anarchist, born in Eloxochitlán de Flores Magón, Oaxaca, in 1873, and who, at a very early age, became aware of the political and economic situation in Mexico at that time. He had contact with anarchist and libertarian ideas; he read Bakunin, Kropotkin, and Malatesta. As well, his Indigenous Mazatec origin and the practices of Indigenous communities, such as solidarity and mutual aid, had a large influence on the formation of his thought and ideology. From a very young age, he began to fight, to combat, to organize against the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, which brought him persecution and repression. He, along with his brothers Jesús and Enrique, and people such as Juan Sarabia and others, founded a newspaper in 1900, called Regeneración, through the distribution of which a network of liberal groups was created that over the years evolved into an insurrectional network.

In 1905, the Regeneración group left Mexico for exile in the United States. By then, Ricardo Flores Magón and others had been imprisoned, had been persecuted, the Regeneración printing press had been confiscated, so they considered it unsustainable to continue the struggle in Mexico and went to the United States and settled in California. In 1905, they created the Organizing Junta of the Mexican Liberal Party (PLM), which is the political organization that guided or gave form to this organizational network. By 1906, it became an insurrectional network that encouraged and fomented armed uprisings in different parts of the country, primarily in Veracruz, in Chihuahua, in Acayucan, in Las Vacas, and so on. That is to say, Ricardo Flores Magón and others, such as Librado Rivera, Margarita Ortega, Jacinto Palomares, in short, a series of individuals, began to fight the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, but not to put an end to it and just install someone else as president.

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Oaxaca: Launch of the Campaign: “It’s Not Development – It’s Dispossession!”

Originally posted on It’s Going Down.

The following is a statement from the Oaxacan Assembly in Defense of Land and Territory, translated by Scott Campbell, regarding the launch of a new permanent campaign against extractivist, neoliberal megaprojects.

Launch of the Campaign: “It’s Not Development – It’s Dispossession!”

We, the communities and organizations that have joined together since 2019 as the Oaxacan Assembly in Defense of Land and Territory, today, November 20, 2021, on the 111th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, declare the following:

Thanks to the long struggles of our ancestors against the conquistadores, colonizers and invaders who for centuries tried to dispossess us of everything that gives us life and sustenance, the First Peoples of Oaxaca still retain our communal and ejidal lands, as well as our territories and autonomy as communities and municipalities. We are still here as Afro-Mexican, Amuzgo, Binizaa, Chatino, Chinanteco, Chocholteco, Chontal, Cuicateco, Ikoots, Ixcateco, Mazateco, Mixe, Mixteco, Náhuatl, Tacuate, Triqui, Zapoteco y Zoque peoples, and all the men, women, and others who have their blood in our veins and maintain their culture in our daily lives. We inhabit and work our ancestral territories, developing our own forms of knowledge and at the same time enriching the world with them, in a reciprocal and respectful manner. Thanks to this connection to territory, Oaxaca and all of Mexico has great cultural and ecological richness and diversity that those who seek to harm us so often boast about.

The peoples of Mexico today commemorate the invaluable struggle of our general Emiliano Zapata, speaker of the Nahuatl language and son of the people of Morelos, and our immortal Ricardo Flores Magón, Oaxacan and son of the Mazateco people, who together with thousands of Mexicans gave their lives for justice and for a dignified life for the peasants, the workers, the dispossessed, the Indigenous peoples of Mexico.

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Interview on Fidencio Aldama, Settler Colonialism, and Extractivist Capitalism

Above is an interview/conversation I had with Daniel for his D Report podcast. We discussed the case of Yaqui political prisoner Fidencio Aldama, the history of Yaqui resistance in defense of their territory, settler colonialism, and racialized neoliberal extractivist capitalism. For more details on the podcast, please see Daniel’s post here.

To Dismantle a Gas Pipeline and Sell it as Scrap Metal: A Story of Yaqui Women

The following article, translated partially by me from the Spanish version on Pie de Página, looks at the women-led struggle against the passing of a U.S. company’s gas pipeline through Yaqui territory in so-called Mexico. It also touches on the case of Yaqui political prisoner Fidencio Aldama, serving a 15+ year sentence related to resistance to the pipeline. For more information on Fidencio, visit fidencioaldama.org.

Text: Daliri Oropeza and Reyna Haydee Ramirez
Photos: Daliri Oropeza

The gas pipeline was already a foregone conclusion, at least that’s what the company, the subsidiary, and the government of Sonora thought. They were wrong. Yaqui women narrate how they have stopped this project.

Loma de Bácum, Sonora: A gigantic metal pipe can be seen at the bottom of a hole in the earth. The family of Carmen García look into the hole which was dug by the people of Loma de Bácum to remove the gas pipeline.

The people used an excavator they seized from the company IEnova, affiliate of the United States transnational, Sempra Energy. The company was building the gas pipeline without the approval of those who live there. A consultation was never carried out. So, after an assembly, the entire community went to where the pipeline was being laid. There, they excavated and cut out with a blowtorch nearly ten kilometers of pipeline, which they then took to Ciudad Obregón to sell as scrap metal.

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The Femicidal State

Originally published on It’s Going Down

By Celia Guerrero, Pie de Página
Translated by Scott Campbell

I want to pause and think about the correct words and also recognize the linguistic paralysis produced by the maelstrom of femicidal violence. Because this is not the first time the tsunami of immediacy has removed the possibility of stopping to reflect on the importance of choosing the words with which we form our discourse. And, I assume, I am not the only one who in the urgency to speak cannot even name what or how much it hurts while I try to reflect more deeply on what we are living through.

Among the feminist reflections sparked by the atrocious femicide of Ingrid Escamilla, there is one that barely resonates and is worth lifting up: we face the abandonment of being citizens of a femicidal state to which we continue to confer our security despite it repeatedly proving itself to be the very perpetrator of violence against women and the propagator of hatred against women.

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Glimmers Against the Horizon

For a little more than a year I lived in Palestine. This text is not about that time but rather a phenomenon I first encountered there. That would be, in an overarching sense, the experience of the normalization of the expectation of the abnormal event. In this context, an abnormal event refers to an incident or circumstance that is outside the range of normative human experience and often beyond the capacity of the human psyche to make sense of or healthily integrate. During my time in Palestine, abnormal events were occurrences such as the nighttime raids of villages or homes, killings, woundings, beatings, kidnappings, tortures, and home demolitions carried out by Israeli military forces or settlers. (This is limited to the West Bank and would be much more devastating if expanded to include Gaza. Also left out are scenarios such as protests, which one enters into knowing that Israel will utilize varying levels of violence.)

Israeli forces carried out these actions with a consistency accompanied by an intentional unpredictability. In practice, this meant holding in one’s awareness the knowledge that something bad was going to happen, and soon. There was no if. When, where, and how bad? were the ever-lingering questions. And, given the limited territory on which these events occurred, would it involve those one knows or perhaps even oneself? To daily hold the apprehension, dread, or anxiety of the knowledge of an impending but unknown calamitous event is psychologically and physically exhausting. Its presence festers in the background, tingeing even the most positive or enjoyable of activities with an ambiguous darkness, an ill-at-ease that can not be put aside. For at any moment, the phone may ring or text may arrive with the news that something has happened.[1]

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Translating Resistance

Recently, I happened across a news article that unexpectedly sent me drifting more than 15 years into the past. Upon arriving there and sifting through its dusty, neglected contents, I meandered back to the present following the thread of a certain activity that had its origins in that seemingly forgotten corner. Though it spanned years of time and thousands of miles of distance, the recollective detour lasted perhaps 30 seconds. When I came back, I found myself doing the very same act that I’d used to return me to the present: I was translating.

The article in question was about 12 rappers from the collective La Insurgencia who were recently sentenced to two years in prison in Spain for “promoting terrorism” due to lyrics about a now-defunct leftist group. Such a sentence for lyrics is of course absurd, but the Spanish state, especially since passing the Ley Mordaza in 2015, has excelled at zealously targeting political expression which does not reify its own power and image. Another radical hip-hop artist, Pablo Hasel, is currently facing 12 years in prison for the contents of his opinions and songs. Francoism hasn’t gone anywhere, as made clear by events surrounding Catalonia’s push for independence last year, it just wears the cloak of democracy.

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Mexico: Political Statement from the Autonomous Brigades After the Earthquakes

Originally published on It’s Going Down

Via Noticias de Abajo Medios Libres
Translated by Scott Campbell

To the people of Mexico

To the Indigenous Governing Council

To the National Indigenous Congress

To the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

To the National and International Sixth

We are individual and collective adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, EZLN and CNI sympathizers and people from below and to the left in solidarity with the suffering of our brothers and sisters, victims of the recent earthquakes and the predatory system that is only death.

As in 1985, those who claim to govern remain totally surpassed by reality. Today their wonderland can’t be seen, not even by them. Meanwhile, we are the ones from below who suffered the consequences of these natural and socio-environmental disasters. Like 32 years ago, today the Mexican people are the ones going into the streets and towns to help, to give what little they have to help the other, the one who suffers, the stranger, the brother. Some who have much contribute much. Among those who have little, they contribute what they can, sometimes everything that is in their hands. Those who have nothing give their heart and offer to serve were needed. They are the ones who fill the streets and coordinate to gather aid and distribute it. Small business owners support by giving food and drink to those who give their time and effort. True hope emerges from these smiles and glances of solidarity.

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The Seeds of Anti-Capitalist Revolt Found in Everyday Resistance: A Review of “Guerrillas of Desire”

Originally published by the Institute for Anarchist Studies

Back when I first began selling my labor for a wage in the wasteland of suburbia’s strip malls, I can recall the tedium of stocking shelves, summoning up insincere courtesy in the face of entitled customers and obnoxious bosses, comparing the stacks of money counted at the end of the day with the totals on our paychecks, and feigning adherence to whatever motivational façade management cooked up to mask the reality of our exploitation.

Yet I also remember, much more vividly and fondly, the latent and occasionally eruptive defiance among my co-workers. This included the constant collective complaining about the job, taking more and longer-than-approved breaks, working as little as possible, fudging time sheets, stealing, and the intermittent screaming matches with the boss in the middle of the store. Underpinning all these actions was an unspoken but broadly understood code of silence when it came to such transgressions and, when appropriate, expressions of support for them.

At the time, I didn’t think much about this, it was just how things happened and I’ve encountered similar experiences to varying degrees in every workplace since. Our actions weren’t guided by a political framework nor was there any attempt to organize them in a directed manner. It was more a spontaneous, innate reaction to experiencing the coercion of capitalism. I had cause to reflect upon this anew while reading Kevin Van Meter’s new book, Guerrillas of Desire: Notes on Everyday Resistance and Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible, published by AK Press and the Institute for Anarchist Studies.

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State of Mexico Manifesto: The Burning Voice of Those Who Resist on the Periphery

Somos el medio
Translated by Scott Campbell

April 10, 2017

Today we say: Enough!

Beyond the last metro station the buses depart for the end of the world…

We are from that horseshoe that surrounds Mexico City; that blankets it, gives it food, water and air to live.

We are the ones who work in the big corporations, in the gentrified and commercially valuable neighborhoods; who clean homes, offices, who make food sprout from the fields.

We are those people whose right to walk is an obligation and the bicycle a source of work; who see half our lives ground away in the guts of public transportation.

We are those who live behind the contaminated river, among massacred trees and under an enormous haze of filth.

We are those who are offered egg shells as homes and shopping malls as the only place to expand the spirit.

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