In 2011, two women activists stood out enough to me that a penned a few words about them in When Women Lead.Linkage. This was one of those stories I'd intended to share a bit earlier, but just got too swamped at the wrong times, and hence my bookmark got buried. Of course it is useful to keep in mind that electoral politics is but one tactic among many, and yet many on the Left tend to write it off and write off those who choose to do so as sell-outs. What can be accomplished at the parliamentary level will inevitably be limited, and will require those who are elected as communists or socialists to make compromises in the process. Those outside agitators who are smart understand this, but also understand that without allies in power, they're limited as well. Better to have allies whose feet we can more easily hold to the fire when needed, than to be limited to the occasional spontaneous movement that folds the moment the police crack down. Better to be in a position to govern, to lead, and to put your ideas into practice than to be limited to armchair speculation and flamewars on blogs and message boards.
The first one, Asmaa Mahfouz, had been instrumental in a revolution and the ouster of Mubarek. The hopes and dreams of the revolution have been more elusive. Maybe one day.
Then there was the elected leader of the University of Chile's Student Union, Camila Vallejo. She and her colleagues shut down the University. For months. In August of that year:
Wednesday saw the start of a two-day nationwide shutdown, as transport workers and other public-sector employees joined the burgeoning student movement in protest.But unlike the US Occupy movement that began shortly after the Chilean general strike, Vallejo and her associates continued their political activities. And last Sunday as reported in The Guardian, Vallejo and comrades independent candidates Giorgio Jackson and Gabriel Boric and fellow communist Karol Cariola were elected to lower house seats in Chile's government.
Vallejo's political career is just beginning. At the top of her agenda is to pull Michelle Bachelet back towards her socialist roots and away from the neo-liberals should she manage to get elected to a second Presidential term.
When a spoonful of socialism is no longer enough, a huge dose of communism may be required.
Congratulations Camila -- and hope you are an inspiration to others of your generation around the world.