There is an intense debate among the vanguard, political organizations, and feminist groups, transcending national frontiers, regarding the denounce made by a student, of sexual abuse by a professor of the Political and Social Sciences School at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
The professor, Sergio Moissen, is not any professor: he is a leader and voice-person of the MTS – Socialist Workers’ Movement, Argentine PTS’ and International Women’s Movement Pan & Rosas’ sister organization, which claim to be Trotskyists.
This is an extremely serious matter and demands for the organizations that call ourselves revolutionary Trotskyists to have a clear stance, not only because of what this implies for the ones that struggle harshly, on a daily basis, against male-chauvinist oppression and all type of oppression –systematic and naturalized by this capitalist system that we fight against from every trench–, but also because the MTS qualifies the professor’s dismissal as the expression of a “political and moral harassment” campaign by the institution’s management as part of a “summary trial”.
To our understanding, this matter is of utter importance because it questions the morals and methods of the revolutionary, to the interior of our organizations as much as facing the exploited and oppressed movements.
Capitalist barbarianism: male-chauvinism destroys us
We live in a decadent, decomposing society. The numbers on violence against women are terrifying. One thousand million of women, so one out of three in the planet, has been beaten, forced to have sexual relations, or subjected to some type of abuse. In Latin America and the Caribe, the daily femicides average is 12 women. This is official U.N. data, an institution of those who rule the world, and only on violence. So it is worth to ask: how many cases of violence against women remain anonymous? How many humble workers, harassed by their superiors, are forced to remain quiet to not lose their jobs? How many cases of young women forced to be mothers are not part of the official statistics? How many women die because of unsafe abortion? Capitalism in decay does not only maximizes the exploitation of workers as a whole, as it relies on the existent oppressions, deepening them and pushing those oppressed sectors to the limit. All oppression –women, Black, immigrants, LGBTIQ– have historically been, and still are, used to divide workers, to confront them with each other, to reduce their strength and unity in struggle. The best example of this is no one else than Donald Trump, president of the main imperialist power, and his xenophobic, male-chauvinist, homophobic policies.
Thus, for the revolutionaries, it is a duty and a principle not only to struggle against exploitation but also against the double standards, against the bourgeois ideology behind –and sustaining– oppression. It is our duty to fight male-chauvinism in all its expressions, from the most violent and nefarious ones to the most subtle and imperceptible ones. And this is not a women’s task, it is a task twice as important for those who call themselves Socialist revolutionaries, even more if they are men.
What should a political organization do in a situation like this?
We agree with the 9 feminist organizations that declared support to the Chilean young student who denounced the abuse, as women cannot stay quiet in front of these events. And it is necessary to acknowledge that, in most cases, men take advantage of their position of power; because this student-teacher relation is not balanced – although it should be: the student has a relation of subordination, and even more if it is a she.
In his defense, the MTS states that: “Sergio is a known social activist and fighter, professor of the mentioned subject in this School for 4 years. He participated of the Movimiento por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad [Mexican Indignados Movement], of the #yosoy132; he was arrested on June 10 of 2013, together with other activists, by the repressive forces of Mancera; and he traveled to send his and his organization’s solidarity to maquila workers in struggle, in Ciudad Juarez, hit by femicides and violence against women; and he was also candidate of the Fórmula 5 Anticapitalista for the Constituent Assembly, in 2016”.
To be part of the combative left, to be a militant, and to support the struggle against male-chauvinism does not mean you cannot incur into male-chauvinist acts. A revolutionary party is not so because it does not reproduce male-chauvinism acts inside it – because that is inherent to the decay of the capitalist, imperialist society that permeates us. A party is revolutionary for how it reacts in front of these male-chauvinist situations; for how it fights male-chauvinism to the inside of the organization; for how it educates and prepares its members and the working class on this battle. And if it does that, it will come out strengthened, because it will show it implements the program it preaches. On the contrary, if a party does not proceed this way, it faces the risk of collapsing as a revolutionary party.
For the truth not to sound like an excuse, Sergio Moissen should be the first one, together with his organization and the feminist movement Pan & Rosas, to ask to form an Independent and Classist Committee, integrated by people of the movement organizations and by students, men and women of unquestionable morals, to carry an investigation on the objective facts and give a verdict, which he should accept.
In its statement of May 31, the MTS states that, since March, they have made their own commission, as “the goal was to know his version first-hand and take action, given the importance we give to the struggle against male-chauvinism and all type of oppression inside and outside our ranks. From there, we carried a serious, deep investigation” which determined that “we did not identify a situation of sexual harassment or abuse by Sergio.” But they did not make the Commission and its conclusions public to the University community, as demanded by the seriousness of the denunciation.
The affected woman, which is not militant of this organization, insists that there was abuse. Therefore, it is not correct, serious, or deep –neither is it part of the moral and methods of workers democracy, to make unilateral use of the internal mechanisms of the organization of the one acussed to carry an investigation, as you cannot be part and judge at the same time. An Independent Committee is not only necessary as it makes part of the tradition of the revolutionary movement, because it has to do with our morals and methods to confront accusations like this clearly and transparently, separating the moral accussation of the organization’s policy. Workers’, students’ and social movements’ organizations have their methods and morals precisely to organize the struggle and defend a class program. Therefore, we cannot let the legal mechanisms –be them governments or their institutions- to unilaterally judge things related to social movements.
Professor Sergio Moissen was fired from the University by the management afterwards, and the MTS, in front of this, declared: “Sergio Moissen’s termination – in a “fast track” vicious process and without the Judicial [Department] of the School to carry a real defense, shows that this acussation, sadly, was used by the autorities as much as by a segment of Feminism known as separatist, to carry a campaign against us. We demand the end of this moral and political harrasement campaign against our comrade, and the end of defamation against the MTS and Pan & Rosas.” But, if this was the situation, the MTS and Pan & Rosas should have been the first ones, months ago, to propose an independent investigation.
This MTS’ stand has two essential problems. The first one is that to affirm that his dismissal is the result of a political persecution hides the fact origined this situation, which is the abuse of a student. So, even if the university used any opportunity it had to quickly fire a known social activist, this does not exclude the fact that the denounce against him is really serious. Second, for other political organizations to criticize/denounce the MTS does not respond to a previous intention of “exposure” or calumny, as the MTS accusses the “radical feminists” of doing. We think it is reckless to equal the denounce of a student, supported by so many organizations, to what the management of the University did.
If, once the investigation was carried by the Independent Committee, the ruling is to absolve Professor Sergio Moissen, proving this was a unfounded accusation and this is a case of political persecution, we will be the first ones to join the campaign for his restitution.
Leaders are the most monitored and demanded ones
On the contrary, to cover up a leader and, through it, to damage the image of the organization as a whole, makes part of the degeneration of the methods and morals of the revolutionaries, putting the “unquestionable” value of the “chiefs” above the interestes of the class and oppressed ones. We live in a decadent, putrid society, and the presures of a “naturalized” male-chauvinism affects our comrades. Before that, we need to accept the truth, face it, and accept the sanctions dictated by the movement. These morals and methods are completely opposed to the bourgeois justice based on a double-standard and convenience of its class interests.
We cannot build a healthy revolutionary organization without fighting all the bourgeois ideologies and practices, to our interior and among workers’ and youth unions and popular organizations. We cannot build a healthy organization by minimizing and covering up the mistakes of our own comrades. It is appropriate to mention that, in 2012, the British SWP, a well known and respected Trotskyist party, exploded because of male-chauvinism: two female rank and file members acussed a leader of rape, and the leadership’s reaction was to protect the leader, trying to blame the victims. The organization’s morals, the spine that holds trust and action, was tested. Sadly, the SWP did not pass the test: the organization exploded, divided, and lost decades of valious work for the revolution. Revolutionaries must be coherent and consequent with what we say and do.
Unfortunatelly, the FT [Trotskyist Fraction] is developing a questionable behavior
Before a similar case by another professor in Argentina, at the University of Buenos Aires, the PTS – which had a member in the Directive Board of the School, and before this body’s decision of separating the acussed professor under the charge of abuse of a student, decided to abstain from voting. Also, in February of this year, a leader of the PTS Youth, Nacho Borelli, Counselor of the Social Communication Career in the UBA – Social Sciences school, was publically accused by his former partner of sexual abuse. In front of this extremely serious acussation, the party did not make any public statement. They proceeded just like with Moissen, saying that they had evaluated the case internally, confirming that there had been no abuse, only harrasemrnt, trying to ease the consequences. Nacho Borelli was separated from his charge in school.
In Brazil, a few years ago, a leader of a São Paulo University Workers’ Union, militant of the back-then LER (today, MRT-FT) was acussed of sexual abuse by a union’s cleaning worker. The leadership of the union proposed to conform a Movement Committee to investigate the denounce. After three months of investigation, the Committee determined that most probably the abuse did happen. Before this conclusion, the political organization in question began attacking and desqualifying the sentence of the Committee, under the main acussation that the Committee was using a moral issue to politically attack the leader and the list he was part of for the Union Election. It is worth to mention that, since day one, the LER presured the Committee with lettersand signatures defending the inocence of the leader. Unfortunatelly, the cleaning worker was fired from the union because of the presure against her, forcing a solidarity campaign supported by the movement that was sure about the injustice that had just taken place.
To rescue the methods and morals of workers in struggle
We call the feminist, students and workers’ organizations –directly involved or not with the School of Political Sciences- to joint in defense of the methods and morals that can and should be implemented by social movements and organizations, by themselves, in order to not leave the future of the political organizations of the UNAM in hands of the University management.
Let’s constitute a Committee of the broadest political spectrum, with moral authority in their place of struggle, whose resolutions are presented, debated and accepted by the local organizations, contributing and adding –in spite of the tragedy that this process represents- to a new praxis among activists.
We will not end male-chauvinism, racism, or homophobia in this society unless we transform it fully. But if we do not fight all of this on a daily basis, in an accurate and exemplary way, we will corrose our organizations from the inside, turning our daily practice into something completely apart from what we defend.
GSO México – Women’s Secretariat: PSTU Argentina, PSTU Brazil, MIT Chile, International Women’s Secretariat
Translation: Sofia Ballack.