As I understand it, Chicano nationalism draws heavily from Indigenismo – an ideology of the settler colonial Mexican state that says that all the inhabitants of Mexico are indigenous, all are Mestizos, and so on. Such an ideology is fundamentally anti-indigenous as it seeks to indigenize Mexican settlers. The conception of Aztlan is similar – it is a land claim based on the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo – land taken from Mexico during the Mexico-American war. It’s worth noting that the treaty itself distinguishes between Mexican settlers in this territory and Indigenous “savages”.
While it is true that a section of the colonized proletariat of the America is from Mexico, I am convinced that they are not members of an oppressed Chicano nation. They are more often members of Indigenous nations in Mexico displaced from their homelands.
Chicano nationalism is ultimately a form of settler nationalism. It expresses the class interests of mainly Euro-Mexican settlers against Euro-American settlers. It disguises the legitimate claims for decolonization by oppressed indigenous and African nations in Mexico and the American Southwest, by pretending that all Chicanos are descendants of ancient Aztecs. It is extremely unfortunate that this ideology has taken hold in America’s prisons by people who are not connected to Aztec/Nahua people, culture or elders.
I’m not an expert in this, I’m still learning much about it. But I’m just letting you know that the issue is a lot more complicated than it seems from the outset. There’s lots of liberal carry-over on reddit where I see people lumping all POC together and assuming they are revolutionary. Which is just not the case.
Xipe of the Communist Party of Aztlán responds:
Chican@ revolutionary nationalism has often been misunderstood. Our belief is that this is due to the Chican@ Nation not meeting its responsibility in addressing a correct political line to the ICM (International Communist Movement) on the one hand and in the ICM’s mostly incorrect analysis of the social forces within these false U.S. borders.
To be clear the CPA does not draw heavily on indigenismo – which is steeped in metaphysical trappings. We draw heavily on materialism. As materialists we recognize that not all inhabitants of Mexico are indigenous – although according to Jack Forbes most are! What’s more We disagree with your understanding that Chicano nationalism believes all are “mestizos” in Mexico, the CPA(MLM) believes that the term Mestizo is actually a label deriving from the colonizers agit/prop that strips [email protected] of many features of nationhood. “Mestizo” is anti-materialist, that as Jack Forbes suggests, is better suited to describe many of the European nations such as Italy, Sicily, etc.
Our analysis overstands that the inhabitants of current day Mexico are a combination of bloodlines that include indigenous, Spanish colonizer, African and others. And yet blood quantum don’t define a nation. We draw from Stalin on the national question for what defines a nation and we thoroughly address this in the book Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán.
It seems to many that the political line of some Chican@ cultural nationalists is interpreted as the political line of the entire nation, this is incorrect. Our stance on land does not simply derive from the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, although we certainly cite this treaty in much of our agit/prop surrounding our struggle for national liberation. To rely simply on the colonizers treaty to validate our struggle for national liberation is akin to anti-imperialists within these false U.S. borders simply relying on the U.S. Constitution to validate its anti-imperialism. Although one can use the imperialists’ words and articles against them, we are not reformists who simply want our class enemies to re-word a document or follow its own law. We want a complete transformation of society and to free the tierra! Our lucha for land is for a Chicano Socialist Government not for permission from the colonizer to own acres of land under an imperialist rule.
Those who confuse Chican@ revolutionary nationalism with the settler need to study the development of nations, specifically the book Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, which includes the political line of the CPA when it comes to a nation. We ask those who are curious on our line to read the Chican@ Red Book (Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán).
Even if the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was never written our national liberation movement would be just. [email protected] developed in what is now the “U.$. Southwest” as surely as Africans developed in what is now Haiti to become Haitians. Our line is not anchored in us believing we are descendants of ancient “Aztecs” – although some actually are! We overstand that the term “Aztlán” was used 50+ years ago within the Chican@ movement as a rallying cry and point of unity for [email protected] of the time and we see the relevance of using it in our struggle today.
Revolutionary greetings Raza! The future of our nation relies on us all knowing the political standing of our people and for Chican@ groups and orgs. It’s essential that we keep our finger on the pulse of the people to closely follow our strengths/weaknesses in order to push our movement forward. A national liberation struggle exists in stages. Without knowing what stage we are in, we cannot respond or struggle to meet the demands of a given stage. For those reasons the Communist Party of Aztlán (CPA) has conducted this study and is releasing this Report of the State of Aztlán 2023.
Many years have transpired since a true materialist analysis has been given on the nation. There has been “statements” given by various Chican@ groups but none with political lenses. Political line is key for all that we do as revolutionaries, from our organizing food drives to giving a political analysis. Our political line is our foundation, without a correct line all of our work remains “in progress.” Every project or scientific study done amongst the Chican@ masses becomes efforts in perpetual transition or revision. Although we can expect all matter to remain in motion and in need of adaptation to given responses, we can also limit the need of playing Whack-A-Mole because of an incorrect line. For this reason Maoism plays a key role not just within the national liberation movement of Aztlán, but within the International Communist Movement (ICM) as well.
Our Moral Compass
The Chican@ nation today is engaged in a War for Independence. Make no mistake that within the folds of all the vicarious trappings that a capitalist society can muster there exists a war, a low intensity war but a war nonetheless between Amerikkka (aka the White nation) vs. Aztlán. This war is for the national liberation of our nation. We want land, we want freedom, we want to form our own government that is socialist in nature. But don’t get it twisted, as we used to say in the Barrio, We are communist revolutionaries who overstand that the innate contradictions within capitalism and thus imperialism demands that we strive for a communist future if we are truly for equality of all humyn beings.
One of the challenges that Aztlán faces today is in not enough groups or orgs raising the Communist banner. Today the Communist Party of Aztlán, Republic of Aztlán and ROA Brown Berets are the only unapologetically Chican@ Communist orgs repping communism proudly and openly.
Of course we believe that a communist world will not arrive today or in our current lifetime. Today we struggle for a socialist government, where state power is in the hands of the have-nots and led by a proletarian political line. This proletarian political line, the goal of which is a communist future, remains our moral compass.
Historical Materialism of Aztlán: Energy with incorrect line
In order to understand the development of the Chican@ Movement we must first describe a brief political overview of the movimiento. Marx taught us that historical materialism can help us gauge a phenomenon to then respond to it in a way which pushes a given struggle forward. We can learn from history in order to transform the future. For a true materialist analysis of the Chican@ Movement, let us look to the last wave of Chican@ resistance of the 1970’s.
Although there were groups that developed, such as the August 29th Movement, which were essentially communist, the Chican@ movement of the 1970s was for the most part a cultural nationalist formation. A collection of Chican@ groups and orgs that mostly sought better schools, jobs, and housing while fighting discrimination, police brutality and an end to [email protected] in Vietnam. Despite the great energy behind these movements, a push for a socialist government was not yet a topic on the Chican@ “kitchen table” for most groups. Reforms were at the helm.
Besides the student group MEChA, the largest formation was the Brown Berets. The Brown Berets has chapters across these false U.$. borders, it was militant as far as mobilizing against the state, particularly against the pigs and instilling a Chican@ nationalism throughout the Barrios. And yet the Brown Berets of the 1970’s had a political line that could not lead to Aztlán’s liberation and were actually not a socialist organization. They fought to reform the system not replace it with socialism. In fact the Brown Berets of the 1970’s had not one chapter that was openly communist, not a single one openly striving for a socialist government and not a single chapter studying Maoism. This should not surprise us because the inherent flaw in cultural nationalism is that it is reformist in nature and its “Lucha” leaves the settler colonialist economic superstructure intact and merely swaps culture. Brown Capitalism is fine to the cultural nationalist so long as a Brown Massa replaces White Massa on the plantation.
The essence of our oppression lies not simply in a greedy settler who don’t like our skin tone but loves our land, but in an economic system that enriches a minority at the expense of the global majority. A system that strips every drop of humynity from the conscience of a people in order to enrich a few. Capitalism teaches that profit is more important than humyn life.
The 1970’s taught the movement great examples of how to organize in the barrios, how to create a Chican@ student movement and resist the U.$. colonizer military. Many lessons are gleaned but it also taught us that resistance without targeting Capitalism is like having a new sports car without gas, it looks great, and has lots of potential but it cannot drive us to the liberation highway, or out of the driveway for that matter.
The 1970’s Chican@ Movement had the energy but it lacked communist ideology at the helm. Had the Brown Berets, MEChA and other Chican@ groups of the 1970’s been Communist-led, Aztlán may have launched a strong Socialist revolution given the other struggles of the times with the Panthers and others within these false U.S. borders and internationally.
Some correct line; not enough energy
Today’s Chican@ Movement exists and has slightly recovered from the U.$. government’s efforts to neutralize all resistance to colonization. The vanguard of the contemporary Chican@ Movement has identified Maoism as the leading line in the world today. No other ideology has advanced Communist thought as far as Maoism.
We see Maoism leading the struggles today in India, the Philippines, and sprouting in barrios within the U.$. Empire itself. Maoism has blossomed in Chican@ hearts like no other time in our nation’s hystory.
Maoism taught us that a new bourgeoisie develops within the Party itself. This is a great lesson for today’s Chican@ Movement as it would have been for the 1970’s. It reminds us that despite a leadership of any type the possibility exists of a leadership to become corrupt even after a socialist revolution. Many can see this truth play out today in the leadership of their own groups. In the case of both the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin and in China after Mao’s death this proved true.
The publishing of the book Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán in 2015 was akin to a nuclear missile being launched on the United Snakes. If we look at the political landscape of Aztlán pre-2015 and post-2015 we see a dramatic shift take place within the Chican@ nation. Pre-2015 Chican@ groups, especially the Brown Beret formation were still simply service groups working on reforms, toy drives, free lunches and coat drives. The language was of “Viva la Raza,” “Stop Police Brutality” and “Stop School to Prison Pipeline” which are all good campaigns. Post-2015 1,000 of the Chican@ Power books had been sold and distributed to people inside and outside prison. Revolutionary nationalism became a term that Chic[email protected] re-popularized. Many Brown Beret groups began studying the Chican@ Power book with some making it required reading for new recruits. Many Brown Berets began to identify openly as socialist and communist. Slogans such as “Free Aztlán” became popularized in Aztlán. The idea of secession and independence was revived in Aztlán. The Chican@ Power book was republished by Republic of Aztlán in 2021. Chican@ press, radio and other media was developed promoting Maoism and independence. Online Maoist groups were created for the Chican@ nation. Online Maoist study groups were developed for specific Brown Beret formations in various states. In 2022, the first Communist Party of Aztlán was founded and announced live on the FM dial on an East Oakland Chican@ Maoist Radio program/ YouTube channel called Free Aztlán.
As Materialists we cannot make an analysis subjectively. We can only come to a conclusion after reviewing the data from tests in the field. A review of the above developments helps lead us to our conclusion.
The Chican@ Power book is political ideology created for Aztlán. Chican@ Maoism, it’s what was the missing link, the igniter. The political line that the Chican@ Movement never had in a book written by and for [email protected].
The Chican@ nation has made a leap in consciousness, a development has taken place and the state is responding. It is responding by sending in its agents to employ COINTELPRO tactics to leaders of today’s movement. But it is also inserting agents amongst us to bourgeoisify our revolutionary momentum. These agents will have a group that claims to be revolutionary encouraging its members to vote in the imperialist elections for a U.$. President. That is no longer a revolutionary group, it is a branch of the Democratic Party.
The Chican@ Movement is at a crossroads. There is a revival with some energy. The political ideology exists and cadre have been trained that can push the momentum forward. At the same time we see the state employing a counter intelligence offensive on Aztlán to push it back. Security is needed now more than ever as the state begins to neutralize certain figures. We suspect imprisonment but they will also want to go past that to curtail any bigger leaps in our movement. We suspect the state will assassinate a key figure in the Chican@ Movement. What the state doesn’t know is our leaders realize and walk toward this possibility willingly from the first act of resistance against colonization. If leading the raza onto a real push of liberation means risking one’s life, it is an easy choice. In the spirit of Mao, I would say to die for the raza is heavier than Mt. Popocatépetl.
Chican@ Maoists need to separate the wheat from the chaff, as Mao said. It is apparent what groups are infiltrated by state agents. It’s important that these revisionists not influence the movement.
More study groups need to be launched pushing the correct line. Develop prison outreach because as the lucha heats up, members of your groups will be imprisoned.
Highlight that revolutionaries do not vote for imperialists. The Democrats have long infiltrated “grass roots” orgs to bring them into the fold and they continue today.
We need to continue teaching the next generation in order to keep that drum of resistance beating in the hearts and minds of our youth. Each one, teach one.
Our beautiful movement continues to develop. Do not let the many lives that have been sacrificed be made in vain. When they assassinate one of our leaders use it to push the struggle forward. When they imprison one of our leaders highlight this injustice and use it as a teaching tool for all freedom fighters. When they target and harass, agitate and propagate.
The Road to revolution is painted Brown. Dare to struggle, dare to win!
State repression is real in the United $tates of Amerikkka. The Chicano Nation has undergone colonization and occupation since 1848. In recent times our nation has developed in a way that calls for a higher level of organization. This demand launched the founding of the Communist Party of Aztlán, CPA (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist).
Three days after the announcement of the founding of the CPA(MLM) our Chairman JV was arrested on trumped up charges. It is no coincidence that the arrest of our Chairman occurred after this groundbreaking announcement. We believe that the agents of the state have studied the contradictions on these occupied territories and their threat assessment highlights the threat a communist party for the Chicano nation would pose.
Our Party has created a think tank to analyze the immediate attacks on the Party and on Aztlán. We realize that the revisionist Trotskyite and crypto-Trots like the CP-USA and RCP-USA are allowed to exist intact because they pose no real threat to colonization. The CPA on the other hand is a different story. For this reason our Party is forced to go semi-underground.
We will not publish the names of our membership, but we will stand by and struggle to free our Chairman of these false charges and illegal kidnapping. It is well understood that had our Chairman been a wanna-be capitalist or engaged in crimes against the people he would have been left alone. The minute he stands up for the raza, repression is rained down. This sacrifice was discussed and the necessity of the decision to announce the founding of the Party was decided.
Our Chairman is not only completely innocent, but was targeted by the state. This was COINTELPRO through and through. Our temporary loss of our Chairman out in minimum security is imprisoned Aztlán’s gain. The prisons are and always have been hotbeds of resistance, fertile grounds where revolutionary shoots thrive. The CPA will establish its presence and raise public opinion on both sides of the concentration kamp walls.