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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Haga Circular: Latin Americanist Anarchism, Dissident Labor, and the Uruguayan New Left, 1956-1976

  • Author(s): Kokinis, Troy Andreas
  • Advisor(s): Van Young, Eric
  • Monteon, Michael
  • et al.
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With less than 200 militants, the Uruguayan Anarchist Federation (FAU) played a key role both sparking and networking popular protagonism throughout the sixties and seventies. At their founding congress in 1956, the FAU broke from regional traditions of anarcho-syndicalism and pioneered an organizing strategy called especifismo, in which militants participated in and built up popular labor, student, and neighborhood organizations. The organization saw everyday people as revolutionary protagonists and sought to develop a popular counter-subjectivity by accumulating experiences directly confronting the market and the state. Militants argued that everyday people transformed into revolutionary subjects through the regular practice of collective direct action in labor unions, student organizations, and neighborhood councils. In other words, the working class was not objectively revolutionary, but came into being as such through an extra-parliamentary strategy that incorporated the regular use of anti-legal methods.

The FAU worked in coalition with the PCU, MLN-T, and other revolutionary organizations to support a unified Left project while simultaneously challenging hegemonic strategies, tactics, and discourses. Unlike other anarchist groups worldwide, which took to individualism and counterculture in response to Marxism’s popularity throughout the sixties, the FAU embraced Third Worldism and a Marxian class struggle strategy that made them a relevant force amongst popular social movements. Throughout the constitutional dictatorship epoch (1967-73), the FAU and its dissident labor movement allies controlled one-third of the nation’s unions in some of the most lucrative industries, especially in the private sector. I argue that the strategies and tactics promoted by the FAU, ones in which everyday people became revolutionary protagonists, offered the largest threat to maintaining social order in Uruguay and thus spawned a military takeover of the state to dismantle and deflate a vibrant popular revolt.

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This item is under embargo until September 11, 2021.