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Tribal warfare… or just Nazi bullshit?

24 April 2008

Guanabee” is required reading – especially if, like me, you’re on the verge of old farthood, and are rapidly in danger of falling into cluelessness. Otherwise, like other old farts, the only way I could make any sense at all out of the sudden burst of “anti-emoismo” in Mexico was to fall back on some neat little construction of how Mexico and the world works.

Mexico is not a place where anything happens for just one reasons. I didn’t think guanabee’s magisterial decision that the violence was just “macho bullshit” spread by one VJ was the complete story … Blaming the whole thing on a VJ is much neater than John Ross’ attempts to fit the event into a Marxist box, but neither seems to work completely. In Mexico, you usually have to cut through several layers of history to make sense of anything, and – with the anti-emo outburst – political history seemed a good place to start.

I’d intially noticed that outside of the Zona Rosa the anti-emo activities were all in conservative regions. However, in Mexico City, the punks later denied responsibility, and blamed the attacks on un-named outsiders. Videos I saw, and photos from around the country convinced me that the punks were not involved. Outside Mexico City, the attackers looked more like “juniors” and rich kids than the blue collar, anarchist punks I know.

And, the punks never struck me as violent. I also remembered that a few years ago, darkeos and, of all people, skateboarders, were being blamed by then Secretary of Gobernacion Santiago Creel (now PAN’s senate leader) for anti-government actions. But then, the urban tribes – even if its pop culture that defines them – all have political agendas. Or are suspected of having them. The punks are working class anarchists, and the darkeos basically have given up on political change, and damned if I know what the skateboarders think… but pop culture (guanabee’s province) and the byzantine world of Mexican politics (something I have a nodding acquaintance with, but is still confusing as hell) were both at work here.

So, in the comments to guanabee’s post, I laid out a few thoughts on the political issues – which led one poster (with no return email address) to accuse me of pushing some “agenda.” Like… maybe being the Mex Files, I think the truth is out there…. way out there?

Francisco Mejía “Los skinheads y su rabia contra todo y todos” in yesterday’s Milenio (23 April 2008 ) adds a few pieces to the story… and hits a couple of my hot buttons.

I’ve always accepted that there are fascist tendencies in PAN, and that fascists, and that Mexican social conservatives are – like the “religious right” in the U.S. — likely to ally themselves with unsavory characters. And, having just had to revise some work on the Cristeros, I’ve been struck by the resurgence of interest in what had been the last gasp of the Clericialism in Mexico. PAN, while an outgrowth of that 1920s-style terrorist campaign, is a modern political party, and their attempts to spin that history seemed reasonable.

I’ve also been worried by the increasing pressure on Mexico to turn to a military – or at least oppresive – solution to “problems” (in Mexico’s case, the narcotraficantes). The danger is that under the guise of stopping “deviance”, totalitarians – see Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Mugabe – find it much easier to blame the social unrest on social outsiders — gays, religious minorities, foreigners. In a closed society, like Stalin’s Soviet Union, it’s fairly easy. In more open ones – like 1930s Germany, or today’s Mexico – the reaction has to “subcontract” the job. I doubt the skinheads will become Mexico’s Sturmabteilug , but it bears watching.

A skinhead in el Chopo tianguis is a soul in pain, a warrior in red or black boots, a closely shaved head with a tuft of hair at the back of the crown, the red boots or good, a shining bald spot head, a tuft of black hair in the crown, estoperoles [decorative grommets] with which he tries to reflect back a world not of his making; seeking one that goes more with muscle shirts and biceps, shoulders and backs tattoed with swasticas, crosses, death’s heads, the flag, flames, the eagle and other things. He is a National Socialist, back from a meeting at a house in colonia Moctezuma, setting forth to strike, and enraged at everything. By everything.

A sense of rage – anger against everything and everyone – is the skinhead’s currency. There are those who say there are very few skinheads in Mexico, that they are not real. But they exist: are few are “reds” who say at the same time they are democrats, but others who are fascists – rudeboys, made in Mexico.

They walk by the Chopo, they are trained in Moctezuma, run and work out in the early mornings in Bosque de Aragón; the eat and party at a club on the outskirts of Tacube, but they also attend seminars in houses in the most exclusive neighborhood in the city: Polanco.

In these places… and others… many young people between 27 and 25 are preparing themselves to change our country, and save it from the reds and Communism.

Reliable sources say they meet in a house owned by a well-known PANista family of the Seventies, located on the north side of calle Francisco Espejel, “close to calzada Ignacio Zaragoza in colonia Moctezuma.”

“They have already staged public fist-fights by way of practice,” sources say. One remembers what happened in the El Chopo tianguis in 2001. The latest was the attack on the emos. They [the skinheads] accuse their enemies of seeking to rob them of their identity, appropriating their clothing, their style and their motivation.

The skinheads salute el Chopo with a “Sieg heil!!!!” bashing their way in with arms covered with swastikas. Hard looks. Boots to protect them from the hot asphalt at two in the afternoon. One of them is wearing 22 rings on his wrists and fingers. They’ll fight them all. Against them all. Their forebearers are the punks of the Seventies.

With the “punketos” its a fight to the death here in Mexico who the skinheads say, “are supported by Marxists.” The skinheads talk about the punks who meet at el Chopo. “They are already domesticated.”

Among themselves, on their internet pages, they define a true skinhead as “a soldier with the commitment to train themselves physically, morally, ethically, politically and philosophically. To be a true skinhead is not only to wear Doc Martins boots, a bomber jacker, be bady shaved and see some Hollywood movie, or spend Saturdays drinking beer with low-lifes…”. The discourse ends thus: “We are alwyas facists, proud Mexican skinheads.”

The skinheads meet daily for training, mostly on the east side of the city, for directed study of Hitler’s writings, the Cristero struggle in Mexico and other texts on “re-awaked National Socialism.” They hold the ideology of a “pure race.”

In the corridors of the Chopo tianguis you can find all types of clothing, minds, forms of being, affliliations, phobias and more; but these young people walk around as if they are not part of it. Here everyone fits in — punks, rockeros, metaleros, hardcoreros, rudeboys, darketos, góticos anarcos – even hippies and nostalgic Communists.

Juan, a kind-hearted anarchist says, “There aren’t many in Mexico that identify with the skinheads.”. His criticism is that “true punks are anarchists who favor tolerance and fight against fascism. But they [the skinheads] have turned the ideals on their head. They act like Nazis and like to fight.”

They all read something. Juan reads Bakunin, Malatesta and Proudhom. Everyone here has their own parish, their own chuch. He says “anarchism is part of the counterculture… it’s a way of life and relating to it. It’s a different aesthetic and ethic [from the skinheads].”

Juan says he is familiar with all the tribes. To him, the goths are nihilists. Their vision of the world is nihilistic, and “they appear in black because they’re dead to life. Society has killed them. The torn clothes, the black and the buttons affirm that the Mexican left doesn’t exist. The skinheads work underground. They imitiate the look, but they’re true bastards.”

In Tacuba, behind the Metro Station, skinheads drink beer and dance to ska, reggae, oi, punk and hard core. Those are the rhythms. The lyrics celebrate the working class and call for social change. Some accept fascism, others maybe not. The first group says they are against democrats and reds, but they like sex and alcohol. All of them “hate everything” Most say the working class was invented by Hitler. That’s why they are for him.

They do not want to “red punks” and they seem to mean it: “No small group, organization or collective will be able to stop to us in our fight to rescue to our beloved nation from the claws of the Jewish Comunism and the revolting new world order. ¡¡¡Salve victoria!!!

Various young people interviewed at el Chopo, where there were demonstrations in support of tolerance for the persecuted emos, says the fascist skinheads are “supported by someone on the right with a big wallet,” who is responsible for the calls to persecute the emos.

Few of the punketos at Chopo do not remember the brawl ( “la madriza”) of Sepember 2001 provoked by neo-nazi skinheads, 25 of whom showed up at the corner of Aldama and Guerrero [the street corner outside el Chopo tianguis] with knives and hooks. Records at the time spoke of rumors circulating hours before the confrontation that the “fachos” were going up against the punks.

The skinheads wear red boots, black clothes, a hollow look in their eyes. But like other youths who only drink Pepsi, they come by Metro to walk around el Chopo like any other “superstar”. Once in a while.

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