dorset chiapas solidarity

December 25, 2015

Words of the EZLN in the seminar “Critical Thought Against the Capitalist Hydra”

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:18 pm

 

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Words of the EZLN in the seminar “Critical Thought Against the Capitalist Hydra”

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New page on this site: https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/critical-thought-against-the-capitalist-hydra/

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20150727-portadaycontraportada

 

 

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Volume One: Participation of the Sixth Commission of the EZLN in the seminar “Critical Thought Against the Capitalist Hydra”

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Reading Material for the Second Level of the Zapatista Escuelita

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This page provides the index to the book “Critical Thought against the Capitalist Hydra. Volume One: Participation of the Sixth Commission.”

Links are provided to the English translations of the entries. Seven items have not yet been translated. Links will be provided when these translations are done.

If you believe there is a need for a webpage with all these entries running consecutively in the form of a book, please let us know.

https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/critical-thought-against-the-capitalist-hydra/

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November 22, 2015

Escuelitas Zapatistas, an invitation for us to organize

Filed under: Autonomy, Ethics, Indigenous, Zapatista, Zapatistas — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:08 pm

 

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Escuelitas Zapatistas, an invitation for us to organize

 

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Sub Galeano (aka Marcos) at the Seminar on Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra

By Carolina Dutton

The EZLN, through its Sixth and International Commissions, will announce a series of initiatives, of a civilian and peaceful character, to continue walking together with the other Native Peoples of Mexico and the whole continent, and together with those who, in Mexico and in the entire world, resist and struggle below and to the left.” (The EZLN announces its next steps) Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, December 30, 2012.

From the beginning the vision of the Zapatistas has been to construct their autonomy together with the people of Mexico and the world. Massive support from the Mexican public and world opinion saved them from being wiped out by further massacres in 1994. Later that year they organized a national democratic convention in Chiapas. In 1995 they held a consultation with the people of Mexico to ask the people in all parts of the country about indigenous culture and the steps Mexico needed to take towards dialogue and democracy from below. They also presented their 13 demands for land, housing, work, food, health, education, culture, information, independence, democracy, liberty, justice and peace, which are not just for them, but rather for all people from below. More consultations were done throughout Mexico in 1999 and the March of the Colour of the Earth visited 13 states of Mexico in 2001. Then came the 6th Declaration and the Other Campaign in 2005-6. The Escuelitas (Little Schools), which began in 2013, are their most recent way of reaching out to others struggling against capitalism and working to create another world. In Level 1 of the Escuelitas, the Zapatistas permitted us to participate in their resistance and thus be directly connected to them. In Level 2, they connect with us by sharing online, so that the many who can’t go to Chiapas can learn from the Zapatistas’ experience organizing and building their organization in clandestinity.

In the first level of the Escuelita, we lived in Zapatista villages and the compas shared with us their everyday resistance and their construction and practice of autonomy, mostly from 1994 to the present. We worked with our host families on their everyday economic activities, everything from carrying water and collecting firewood to tending the cattle, cultivating the milpa [1], coffee and sugar cane. We visited their autonomous schools and health centres and learned about autonomous government. Our host families sometimes shared their history with us around the dinner table, how things have changed for them now that they live autonomously, and their participation in the uprising. We were given readings, which were testimonies of many Zapatista women and men who had served in various levels of civilian autonomous government.

The second level of the Escuelita has been conducted entirely online. The readings emphasize the need to organize our communities to resist the capitalist hydra economically and politically. We were given the link to a video where the Zapatistas shared how they formed their organization and how they organized and recruited new members, educated, encouraged, and protected each other as a clandestine organization beginning as early as 1983 up until the 1994 uprising, when they became public. The video consisted of testimonies from those who had been and some who still are both local and regional responsables [2] during clandestinity. Responsables spoke from each of the five Caracoles, or centres of Zapatista regional government: Caracol 1 La Realidad, Caracol 2 Oventic, Caracol 3 La Garrucha, Caracol 4 Morelia, and Caracol 5 Roberto Barrios.

The Zapatistas made it very clear their reasons for sharing this precious information. They hope that learning how they went about organizing will give us ideas and help us organize in other parts of Mexico or in our own communities in many parts of the world.   They are very aware that they cannot do it alone, that they need us to organize too, but that we may need to do it in our own way depending on our unique situations. We are all in this together and we need not only each other’s support but also each other’s vision.

In the Escuelita 2 video the local and regional responsables during the EZLN’s 10 years of clandestine formation shared with us their tasks and sacrifices. The local responsables coordinated the organization’s work in the communities. They observed how people participated in the community and recruited new members who exhibited responsibility and understanding. They were in charge of orienting new members and raising their consciousness to understand why their lives were so hard and the necessity to struggle and to study in order to prepare the struggle.

The responsables also coordinated local security. Women were especially important for security since they usually stayed in the community and were aware when people who didn’t belong there were present. The responsables, both men and women, also convened meetings and assemblies. Sometimes meetings took place in the middle of the night on stormy nights when people would not be seen or heard as they left home and travelled to a safe meeting place.

Local responsables also organized the training and equipping of the milicianos. [3] They also organized collective work, which was necessary to free up time for those with other responsibilities in the organization as well as to earn money to buy necessities for the struggle including boots and weapons. The sewing collectives sewed uniforms. The women collectively made tostadas and women and men collectively grew the food for the milicianos and insurgents. Many women and men had responsibly for this collective work and for security but the responsables oversaw the collectives in their area and communicated information about any problems and needs to the regional responsables.

The regional responsables oversaw the work of the organization in wider regions. They oriented the local responsables, prepared and encouraged the milicianos and raised the consciousness and understanding of members of the organization. In isolated areas compas often became discouraged so the responsables organized fiestas so that the members in a region could meet each other and see how many hundreds and thousands of compas were committed to the struggle. The Zapatistas love parties, all without drinking alcohol, which was against the EZLN’s rules.

So why have the Zapatistas decided to share this information with us now? They want us to organize too in our own way. They need people all over Mexico and the world to organize and to be in touch with them. It is the only way our movements can resist the capitalist hydra whose tentacles reach all corners of the earth and all aspects of life. I think they also want to share this history with their youth. An entire generation has grown up since the uprising that did not participate in building the organization and preparing for war. Zapatista resistance now requires creativity and sacrifice but it is very different. It is important that the youth know what came before, what has changed, and the ingenuity, discipline and sacrifice that went into building the organization they have always known.

Our exam to pass Escuelita 2 consisted of 6 questions, questions which each of us had to write and ask the Zapatistas. As Subcomandantes Moisés and Galeano explain: “The questions are important, as is our Zapatista way, they are more important than the answers… What interests the Zapatistas are not certainties but the doubts because we think that certainty immobilizes, that one is still, content, sitting still and not moving, as if we had arrived or we already knew. On the other hand, doubts, questions, make one move, search, not be still, not be in conformity, like day and night don’t pass, and the struggles from below and to the left are born of inconformity, of doubts and restlessness. If one conforms it’s that one is waiting to be told what to do or has already been told. If one is not in conformity, one searches for what to do.” (Second Level of the Little School, July 27, 2015).

Notes:

[1] A milpa is much more than a field of corn. It is a diverse area of cultivation. The dominant plant is the basic grain of the people, corn. Beans grow up the corn stalk, different forms of squash creep along the ground and many medicinal and culinary herbs grow in and around the milpa.

[2] A responsable is the person responsible for a certain task or group of tasks. In the context of early EZLN organizing the responsable seems like more of a political operative or organizer.

[3] The milicianos were and still are somewhat like the National Guard in the US. They have military training, but are not insurgents, and can be called to active duty in an emergency.

 

http://compamanuel.com/2015/11/21/escuelitas-zapatistas-an-invitation-for-us-to-organize/

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September 16, 2015

Mexican Independence Day is No Big Deal for the Zapatistas

Filed under: Zapatistas — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:37 am

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Mexican Independence Day is No Big Deal for the Zapatistas

By: Ramor Ryan

Subcomandante Marcos rides horseback in front of the Zapatista support base members in La Realidad during an homage to fallen compañero Galeano, who was killed in a paramilitary attack on May 2, 2014. | Photo: Tim Russo/Upside Down World

Subcomandante Marcos rides horseback in front of the Zapatista support base members in La Realidad during an homage to fallen compañero Galeano, who was killed in a paramilitary attack on May 2, 2014. | Photo: Tim Russo/Upside Down World

16 September 2015 

As Mexico celebrates El Grito amid crisis, the Chiapas rebels quietly organize.

On Sept. 16, 1810, the rebellious Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla delivered the Grito de Dolores (“Cry of Dolores”) in the town of Dolores, as a proclamation of Mexican independence from the Spanish crown. Hidalgo urged resistance to the “bad government” and ignited a revolutionary war leading to the “Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire” on Sep. 28, 1821. Mexico celebrates its independence from Spanish colonial rule on the anniversary of El Grito every Sept. 16 with an outburst of patriotism and general revelry.

But while El Grito is mere pageant now as government officials across the nation take the stage to lead the renditions of “Viva Mexico!” many also have in mind Hidalgo’s urge to resist the “bad government.”

Last year, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in the wake of the disappearance of 43 student activists from the Ayotzinapa teacher’s college by security forces, demanding justice and railing against impunity and corruption. The response of the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto was to ignore the protests, and attempt to block independent investigations into the atrocity. In a damning indictment of the government’s handling of the worst human rights atrocity in recent memory, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights released their report this month, roundly dismissing the government’s official story.

Throughout 2015, the killings, repression and impunity have continued, with the assassinations of photojournalist Rubén Espinosa, activist Nadia Vera and three associates in Mexico City creating an international scandal and bringing people out onto the street once more. In July, notorious drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán escaped from prison (again), with suspected official complicity, as the links between top ranking officials and drug criminals become ever more apparent in what many call a “Narco State.”

As Mexico’s institutional crisis intensifies — alongside increasing levels of economic precarity — Mexico seems poised for another “grito” of resistance to the “bad government.” And who better positioned to deliver a new rallying call than the long-standing Chiapas-based rebels, the Zapatistas?

Where Are the Zapatistas Now?

The Zapatistas marched en masse 13 Ba´ktun, or Dec. 21, 2012, marking the end of the 144,000 day Mayan long calendar and the beginning of a new era. Photo: Tim Russo/Upside Down World

The Zapatistas marched en masse 13 Ba´ktun, or Dec. 21, 2012, marking the end of the 144,000 day Mayan long calendar and the beginning of a new era. Photo: Tim Russo/Upside Down World

Contrary to their detractors who say they are no longer a player on the national agenda, the Zapatistas have been keeping themselves very busy, albeit taking a low profile. Twenty-one years since the 1994 armed uprising, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), remains intact and has consolidated a large swathe of territory under de-facto autonomous control. Its local support base has grown over the two decades, as witnessed by their largest yet public mobilization in December 2012, with 40,000 masked indigenous rebels marching on San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, representing the thousand-plus rural villages and communities affiliated with the movement.

“But where are the Zapatistas now at this moment of national crisis?” ask the critics. As ever, the Zapatistas are doing it their own way and in their own time. They are not issuing a new “Grito,” no grandstanding, but instead engaging in a meditative process of critical thought with other social movements. The current strategy is based around promoting education among the base of support through regional-wide Zapatista “Escuelitas” or Little Schools, and secondly, convening seminars around critical thinking with the participation of a wide array of Mexican and international social and protest movements. They also continue to draw thousands of outside supporters into their autonomous territory through their anniversary celebrations, the last being the year-end Festival of Resistance and Rebellion Against Capitalism.

A new Zapatista publication Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra (July 2015) outlines the analysis occurring within the movement. The book is the product of an activist seminar by the same name held in San Cristóbal de las Casas in May 2015 and attended by a couple of thousand participants, including families of the Ayotzinapa students, and many leading left intellectuals. While recognizing that Mexico is entering into a stage of unprecedented crisis — or, “a storm is coming,” as one prominent Zapatista, Subcomandante Moises, noted —  heading inexorably into systemic breakdown, the Zapatistas are engaging in critical thought as a means towards finding solutions. “Critical thought is not the thought that speaks of catastrophe,” pointed out renowned intellectual John Holloway, a participant in the seminar, “but the thought that looks for hope inside the catastrophe.”

Identifying global neoliberal capitalism as the problem, the historic rebel leader, Subcomandante Marcos (now re-named Galeano in honour of the Zapatista teacher murdered by paramilitaries in May 2014) explained the use of the term “hydra.”

“This capitalist system is not dominant in only one aspect of social life, but rather, it has multiple heads, that is, many forms and ways of dominating in different and diverse social spaces,” he said. And with his inimitable wit, the masked rebel commander added – “I’m sorry, but this thing of ‘the State’ is much more complicated than the twisted lines in Game of Thrones.” As ever the Zapatistas do not provide ready-made answers, but ask questions, insisting that their role is not to give instructions, but to provoke thought. “There is no single answer,” according to Subcomandante Moises, “there is no manual. There is no dogma. There is no creed. There are many answers, many ways, many forms. And each of us will see what we are able to do and learn from our own struggle and from other struggles.”

It is a process that is about bringing people who resist together under a “one no, many yeses,” and of creating a “seedbed” of ideas from which solutions to the crisis will blossom. The only directive given by the Zapatistas is that people must organize collectively.

Against All Odds

Zapatista youth and women form much of the current support base of the rebel organization. Photo: Tim Russo/Upside Down World

Zapatista youth and women form much of the current support base of the rebel organization. Photo: Tim Russo/Upside Down World

The Zapatistas have been pushing a similar message for many years and organizing various initiatives. In 2006 they launched The Other Campaign, advocating participatory democracy and criticizing the electoral process. That campaign began on Sept. 16, to coincide with El Grito, and managed to mobilize hundreds of thousands in mass events held across the country before petering out after a few months as the country was gripped by an overwhelming wave of narco-related violence. Nine years on, the Zapatistas are taking a different approach.

Critics may insist that the Zapatistas have become irrelevant, but 21 years after the initial uprising, and against all odds, they are still here, the embodiment of resilience and implacable rebel determination. They haven’t been defeated, co-opted or sold out. More poignant still, their ideas have currency not just in global social movements but also in front-line struggles as witnessed in Kobanê, Syria, as the Kurdish defenders embrace a similar practice of direct democracy, forging direct links with the Zapatistas.

Leading Latin American analyst Raúl Zibechi, talking recently, places them in a wider historical perspective: “The Zapatista experience is a historic achievement that had never existed before in the struggles of those below, except for the 69 days that the Paris Commune lasted and the brief time of the Soviets before the Stalinist state reconstruction.” It would be folly to underestimate the Zapatistas at this point in time.

Ramor Ryan is author of Zapatista Spring (AK Press 2011) and Clandestines: The Pirate Journals of an Irish Exile (AK Press 2006).
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Mexican-Independence-Day-No-Big-Deal-for-Zapatistas–20150915-0035.html

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August 30, 2015

Universities, organizations and groups present the EZLN book “Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra.”

Filed under: Zapatistas — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 1:43 pm

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Universities, organizations and groups present the EZLN book “Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra.”

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Chiapas, Mexico. August 22nd. “We are not making a party or an organization, we are making an observation. For this view we need concepts and not wishful thinking; we need practice with theory and theory with practice; we need critical and not qualitative analysis,” affirm the EZLN, in the text “Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra.”

The book, which collects together the participation of the Sixth Committee of the EZLN in the seminar of the same name last May in San Cristobal de las Casas, will be presented both nationally and internationally, by collectives and individuals adherents to and supporters of the Sixth, and students from the Zapatista escuelita.

In this first volume the Chiapas insurgents share their word through the voices of Comandantas Miriam, Rosalinda and Dalia and the Support Base Lisbeth and the Listener Selena, under the heading “Towards a genealogy of the Zapatista struggle.”

Subcomandantes  Moisés and Galeano also expressed their word in the text, explaining about the Resistance and Rebellion of the Zapatistas; their Political Economy; their view over the capitalist hydra; the coming storm; and words in memory of the Zapatista teacher Galeano and the Zapatista philosopher Luis Villoro Toranzo.

At Nemi Zapata

At Nemi Zapata

The presentations will take place next Tuesday 25th August at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the UNAM and the ENAH in Mexico City; on the 27th in the Cideci Unitierra in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas; on the 29th in the Tlanezi Calli Community Centre at Iztapalapa in Mexico City, and on the 30th in Escobedo Sur # 414, in the city of Monterrey, and on the 31st at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the UANL, in the same city.

“As Zapatistas, our first instinct is to ask questions, but now in the question, you can choose if you seek certainties or more doubts. Like a challenge, as soon as is met, can lead to another. As if the different explanations were the launch pad for further explanations,” they explained in the Rincon Zapatista Zacatecas and the cultural space “Viejo Antonio” last August 18th, reflecting on the text of the Chiapas rebels.

Collectives and individuals have released the text in Colombia and Argentina; as well as Querétaro, Guadalajara and Puebla, according to the collective Pueblos en Camino.

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“And if, as is our Zapatista way, the end is also the beginning, we have to have more and better seedbeds; to make a place for practice, but also for self-reflection on this practice; understand the need for theory and the urgency for critical thinking,” point out the Zapatistas in the foreword to the text.

“To look outside, we need to look inside. The consequences of what we see and how we see it, will be an important part of the answer to the question: what next?” add the indigenous Zapatistas of Chiapas.

Times and locations of presentations: http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/

Sin-título1

http://www.pozol.org/?p=11126

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August 23, 2015

“They are poor-poor”

Filed under: Women, Zapatista — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:57 pm

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“They are poor-poor”

Sylvia Marcos speaking at the seminar, with the Zapatista women, Selena and Sub Galeano. Photo courtesy of Jorge.

Sylvia Marcos speaking at the seminar, with the Zapatista women, Selena and Sub Galeano. Photo courtesy of Jorge.

by Sylvia Marcos

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. 10 August 2015.

We are in the Seedbed Seminar convoked by the EZLN few weeks ago. A young Zapatista woman, aged 17, explains how she understands autonomy, freedom and struggle. Her name is Selena. She speaks standing next to Subcomandante Galeano, with a smile that can be discerned through her balaclava and which shows the brightness of her mischievous eyes. We know that she is content and happy, and without a hint of shyness or shame at being in front of an entire auditorium full of intellectuals, university professors, her compañer@s in struggle, we feminists, and next to the Sub.

Selena is, with Eloisa, Lizbeth and other women, one of those young Zapatistas who were born and grew up in autonomous education. She is now sitting at the end of a long row of Zapatista women, her elders, Comandantas Miriam, Rosalinda, Dalia … and another young woman, Lisbeth.

Selena talks to us about her experience as a Zapatista teenager. Woman and girl. What do girls in that age group talk about these days? What are their concerns? Their hopes, their proposals? What do they expect in the immediate future?

Recently, I heard something through the mouth of Malala, the Pakistani girl, Nobel Peace Prize winner, also 17, bombed by the Taliban and rescued from death. While she was recovering in England from the attack on her face and body, she spoke with uneasiness about her meetings with young people her age in that country. Stating that their only concerns were of the type: “Which sandals shall I wear today?”, “What colour lipstick suits me best?”

It seems that this banality is the common denominator of the young people of this age. For example, if we go on the Internet, we find portraits of girls from Mayan communities who look all decked out in “dressmaker” clothing, modernized skirts and blouses based on their traditional blouses (huipiles) and petticoats, as Selena ironically observed during the seedbed. Will these be the ambitions of girls aged 17-18, today?

Selena, like all the compañeras, carries a piece of paper with notes written with a ballpoint pen, of the kind that runs in the wash and stains. She squeezes the papers while looking at them sideways, to remember what she has prepared to say tonight.

Selena

Selena

That took place during the great session specifically devoted to women at the seminar-seedbed convened by the EZLN, and held in CIDECI last May. In this session those of us who were speaking included a Kurdish woman, a Latina immigrant in the United States, the Italian historian Silvia Federici, whose speech was read in her absence; as well as six Zapatistas, there were also we three feminists: Mariana Favela, Margara Millán and Sylvia Marcos. This whole world in a session that lasted 5 hours. As for Selena, she had to talk near the end, just before Sub Galeano.

I feel close to all of them. My notes also come creased, edited and rewritten over. The original is on a computer, but it is very old and sometimes does not do what I ask, it gets stuck and blocks and will no longer process. For example, I typed dicotómico [dichotomous] and it “corrected” me to totémico [totemic]. Yes, she is an old lady … .but I like her because she is not a super tablet, which would force me to un-think, to write fast and to learn so many new clicks that it would reduce the time I have available for reflection.

So we listen to Selena:

“I will be explaining to you, actually I will read it to you… more about the youth, both Zapatistas and non-Zapatistas.”…..”We as Zapatista youth are facing a low intensity war that the bad government and the bad capitalists wage against us. They put ideas into our heads about modern life, like cell phones, clothes, and shoes; they put these bad ideas into our heads through TV, through soap operas, soccer games, and commercials, so that we as youth will be distracted and not think about how to organize our struggle.”

It is the covert low intensity war, installed in the intricacies of interpersonal coexistence. Reproduced         and magnified by the media, television and novels, advertising and even sports. Selena’s critical mind reveals this hidden war and brings it in to everyday existence, to daily life. In the lucid thinking of this young woman, the battle also has to take place here in the everyday, in what seems innocent, harmless, in what is not necessarily manifested as the brute force or even murder which is frequently suffered in the communities. The low intensity war is not only registered through extreme violence. It is also waged within subjectivity, to imbue the youth with consumptions and values ​​that distract them, alienate them, dominate them mentally and emotionally. Selena discovers this, analyses it, and sees it clearly.

She speaks to us about the influences of the consumerist media and the futile and ephemeral fashions that also reach inside the Zapatista zone. The models of shoes with pointy heels and platforms advertised, for example, by the New York singer Lady Gaga. Fashions that penetrate through the porous border of Zapatismo and which, although they arrive somewhat modified by a useless and fleeting consumption, exercise a power and seduction over these young women who, Selena tells us, have to walk in the mud, the moist fertile soil in their communities “to struggle and to organize ourselves.”

Selena explains why she rejects these models and also the boots, which, she says, are absolutely unsuitable for their context. How will we walk on these lush and fertile but slippery paths with these contraptions on our feet? “The heel will get into the mud and we’re going to get stuck, and we’re going to have to use our hand to get the shoe out.”

“We Zapatista youth have not often fallen for this….. we buy the kind of clothes the poor wear, which as you can see is how we are dressed right now. Yes, of course we buy boots, but they are work boots, the kind that resist the mud.”

A little later, Selena reflects aloud. She remembers her compas as they return after work outside Zapatista territory and sometimes abroad. She says they are very conceited, as if they think a lot of themselves, and feel superior to those who stayed at home. They think they are rich because now they have their latest model cell phone, their smart phone, or i-phone, their leather boots, their city shoes. Luxury goods make them believe that, after what they have done, they are now more important.

Selena, Sub Galeano and Sylvia Marcos

Selena, Sub Galeano and Sylvia Marcos

Selena looks thoughtful but speaks sharply about those young people who go out of Zapatista territory and then return with these ways of acting, of perceiving themselves, of thinking, of consuming, of behaving. These people, Selena says, “not only continue to be poor, but now are poor-poor.” The word is expressive: they behave as if they are rich, but they have lost something and, therefore, are poorer than before.

Selena, with her keen perception, borders on philosophy. There are thinkers who say that destitution arrives destroying poverty and there are philosophers who agree. Conversely, conscious poverty can be a form of power, it can come to present aspects of abundance. This young Zapatista echoes those reflections. Poverty is not a fault or a failure, nor necessarily a condition to be escaped. Poverty and frugality were the ideals of many fighters, thinkers, writers and saints. Not only in the Catholic or Christian tradition, but in many spiritual traditions: Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian. It is also true that the experience of poverty, by the limits it imposes, protects nature from capitalist economic predation and greed. Many revolutionaries have chosen poverty as a path. The reality of so many people dying of hunger in some parts of the world while in other countries food is being wasted and destroyed is an obscene and intolerable fact to which we have, unfortunately, agreed to be anaesthetized.

But within Zapatismo the values ​​go against the infamous capitalist consumption. For this reason this young Zapatista woman has managed to escape the consumerist temptations of her age and gender. Not only does she not yield to these pressures, but she can also see them from the outside. She watches her compas who return, she sees how they act, she assesses them, confronts them and wants to correct them.

“We work in full consciousness,” a compañera told us in La Garrucha.

And we keep listening to Selena: “But on the other hand, youth who are not Zapatistas are those who most often fall for the tricks of the bad governments,” she explains to us. “They abandon their families, their community, and they go to work in the United States, or to Playa del Carmen, just to be able to buy a cell phone, a pair of pants, a shirt, or a pair of trendy shoes. They leave because they don’t want to work the earth, because they are lazy,” and she adds, asking herself:

“Why do we say they are poor-poor? Because they are poor like us; but they are also poor thinkers because they leave their communities and when they come back they bring bad ideas with them, other ways of living.” “We Zapatistas are poor, but rich in thinking…..we don’t change our thinking or our way of life.” We have the wealth of our traditions and customs, Selena tells us.

“We are ‘poor-rich.'” Some synonyms surround ​​Selena’s idea: rich can mean: abundant, valuable, lush, excellent. But these, believing they are returning rich, are only poor-poor.

“… To us, as Zapatista youth, it doesn’t matter to us how we are dressed, or what kinds of things we have. What’s important to us is that the work we do is for the good of the community. That is what we Zapatistas want……: that there are no rulers, that there are no exploiters, that we as indigenous people are not exploited.”

This article is dedicated to Movement for Justice in El Barrio, New York

Article originally published in Spanish on http://desinformemonos.org/

Selena’s Words at the Seminar “Critical Thought against the Capitalist Hydra” on May 6th 2015, can be found in English here: http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2015/05/25/words-of-companera-selena-listener/

Selena’s Words in Spanish: http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2015/05/06/companera-escucha-selena-6-de-mayo/

See also: http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/12455           http://desinformemonos.org/2014/06/la-voz-del-futuro-jovenas-luchadoras-zapatistas/

Originally published in Spanish: http://desinformemonos.org.mx/2015/08/son-pobres-pobres/

Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

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August 17, 2015

Decolonizing critical thought and rebellions

Filed under: Zapatistas — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:05 pm

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Decolonizing critical thought and rebellions

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By: Gilberto López y Rivas /I

Raúl Zibechi’s most recent book, Decolonizing critical thought and rebellions, autonomies and emancipations in the era of progressivism,recently published in our country (Mexico) by Bajo Tierra Ediciones(2015), constitutes a solid and profound contribution to the debate about ideas within the ambit of resistances and the anti-capitalist autonomic processes, as well as a large-scale critique of the progressivisms of the so-called institutionalized lefts, considered by the author as even a “new form of domination.”

It is divided into four sections preceded by an introduction: 1) Societies in movement, 2) Movements in the progressive era, 3) Progressivisms as new forms of domination, and 4) Below and to the left. The work is founded on the author’s experiential knowledge of important anti-systemic movements in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, Uruguay and, especially, in Mexico, starting with the Zibechi’s coexistence with the process of the Maya peoples grouped together in the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN).

The introduction is key to comprehending the extensive 375-page text, and it begins with the impactful and little known story about the massacre of at least 200 Algerians and the arrest of another thousand in Paris in October 1961, as well as about the cost in human life and those tortured in the war for liberation, which according to reports from the National Liberation Front (Frente de Liberación Nacional), “of a total of between 9 and 10 million inhabitants, one million Algerians died, while another million were tortured.” Zibechi points out that there was never any punishment for murdering Algerians and that this is the climate in which Frantz Fanon reflected, considered as the “zone of non-being (…) where the humanity of those beings is violated day after day, hour after hour. The present state of Fanon’s thinking is recovered upon questioning hegemonic critical theory, in other words, Soviet Marxism of the 1950s and 1960s, and for thinking and practicing resistance and revolution from the physical and spiritual place of the oppressed: “there where a good part of humanity lives in situations of indescribable oppression, aggravated by the re-colonization that the neoliberal model supposes.” Zibechi maintains that a strategy continues being necessary that attacks the “inferiority complex” suffered by the colonized, and he asks: “Of what use is the revolution if the triumphant people are limited to reproducing the colonial order, a society of dominators and dominated? Because of that, broaching the question of subjectivity is a strategic political issue of the first order, without which the dominated repeat the old history: occupying the material and symbolic place of the colonizer, thus reproducing the system that it fights.” Criticizing the liberating role that Fanon attributes to violence, upon “elevating the people to the place of leader,” the necessity of bringing up the problem of subjectivity as a political priority is revisited, “thus breaking with the centrality of the economy and with the exclusive role conceded to the conquest of power and to the recuperation of the means of production and of change through the theory of revolution.”

Starting with these ideas, Zibechi develops aspects that he considers central, and that are certainly present in the texts that make up the volume: autonomy and dignity, power, reproduction and family, community or vanguard, identity, collective production of knowledge and the creation of a new world. He points out that those that live in the “zone of non-being” cannot be autonomous in an oppressive society, since violence is daily life and society doesn’t recognize them as human beings. Therefore, the colonized (Fanon), those below (Zapatistas), must create safe spaces to which the powerful cannot accede. At the same time, the autonomies of the indigenous peoples, campesinos and mestizos must be integral; that is, approach all aspects of life, from food production to justice and power. The dominated cannot appeal to State justice, but must create their institutions. In this way, the processes of change cannot be ordered around the current states. Autonomous processes are founded on democratic powers, not state (powers), and are anti-colonial because they destroy the subordinate relationships of race, gender, generation, inherited wisdom and power, constructing other new ones in which differences co-exist without any one of them being imposed.

The movements of the “zone of non-being” are counted in families. The fundamental political step is the passage from reproduction in the family home to collective reproduction in the movements, modifying the immobility of the dominated society, renewing their blood and their spirit (Fanon). Reproduction is where the society of those below can make “an effort on their own behalf.”

Fanon also continues in his denunciation of the elitism of the lefts, including the notion of a party that he considers “imported from the metropolis.” His rejection of an organization centered on the most conscious elites and organized on the basis of their ability to negotiate and become imbedded in the state apparatus. They have no need to destroy it, since they hope for a place in the system’s shadow. Zibechi emphasizes that Zapatismo, to the contrary, proposes to organize the entirety of the people. The EZLN inverted the colonial logic of the lefts, by placing itself at the service of the communities; that is, “from a revolutionary vanguard to governing by obeying; from the taking of Power of those above to the creation of power in those below; from professional politics to daily politics; from the leaders to the peoples” (sub Marcos). Zapatismo travels this path of decolonizing critical thinking, Zibechi maintains, revitalizing traditions of a community character, and starting from their wisdom, they teach that a revolutionary theory separated from reality and placed on top of it (reality) is not necessary for constructing a new world.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Friday, August 14, 2015

En español:http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/08/14/opinion/020a2pol

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July 20, 2015

Seedlings within the Storm: The EZLN organizes the Seminar on “Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra”

Filed under: Zapatistas — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:59 pm

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Seedlings within the Storm: The EZLN organizes the Seminar on “Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra”

Seminar "Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra", May 2015 © SIPAZ

Seminar “Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra”, May 2015 © SIPAZ

On the night of New Years Eve, the cold and rain had descended on the Caracol II of Oventik in the Chiapas highlands. During the conclusion of the “First World Festival of Resistance and Rebellion against Capitalism,” in the presence of the families of the forcibly disappeared 43 students from the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés shared these words:

“Critical thinking is necessary for the struggle.
Critical thinking they refer to as theory.
We say no to lazy thinking that conforms itself to whatever exists.
No to dogmatic thinking that tries to become Rule and impose itself
No to trickery that argues by using lies.
We say yes to the type of thinking that asks, that questions, that doubts.
Not even in the most difficult conditions should the study and analysis of reality be abandoned.
Study and analysis are also weapons of struggle.
But neither practice by itself, nor theory by itself is enough.
Thinking that does not struggle does nothing but make noise.
A struggle that does not think repeats its mistakes and does not get up after it falls.
Struggle and thinking unite in those who are warriors, in the rebellion and resistance that today shake the world, even if their sound is one of silence.”

Precisely seeking to unite critical thinking and struggle, from May 3 to 9, 2015, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) invited members of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), adherents and non-adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, Mexicans, and foreigners to participate in the Seminar on “Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra.” The title of the event, characterizing the present stage of capitalism, evokes the marine monster from Greek mythology, the hydra, which has numerous heads that are doubly reproduced with each one that is lost or cut off.

A day before the beginning of the event, a homage from the EZLN was presented at the caracol of Oventik dedicated to the philosopher Luis Villoro Toranzo, who died in March of 2014, and for José Luis Solís López (Galeano), who was murdered in May of 2014 in La Realidad, municipality of La Realidad. The event emphasized the necessity of keeping the struggles alive of the deceased comrades – through the organization and construction of alternatives to the capitalist system.

The Seminar was held at CIDECI-Unitierra in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, with the participation of over 1,500 people from different parts of Chiapas and the world. They requested leave from their jobs, sold food in the streets to cover their travel expenses, and skipped classes at school to be present, challenged, and provoked by dozens of speakers. Amidst the diversity of voices and perspectives, many questions were covered, including the roots and characteristics of the capitalist hydra today, the political economy of communities, agroecology and transgenic crops on indigenous and campesino lands, feminism, and the way in which the Zapatistas are working toward autonomy. Academics, activists, and male and female commanders participated, with Subcomandante Moisés and Subcomandante Galeano (formerly Marcos) facilitating and closing the sessions.

The speakers at the seminar offered “seeds” so participants could choose the ones that serve them in their present context. These seeds serve not only for critical thinking but also struggle and resistance. It was a week full of an honest and difficult naming of the present reality. The Zapatistas expressed clearly that critical thought is the attempt to understand the Storm in which we find ourselves, because “it no longer is as it previously was.” The Zapatistas challenged the audience, holding, in the words of Subcomandante Moisés, that it is not the time merely to walk, but rather to “trot.” The Subcomandante asserted that it is not enough to respond to injustice with marches, actions on social media, protests, and so on, because these actions will not succeed in changing the present situation. From this point on, the Zapatistas stressed the importance of understanding how and in what way the capitalist hydra has changed, and of truly understanding the roots of the Storm.

It was stressed, nonetheless, that amidst this storm, hope lives on. To promote it, the Zapatistas emphasized the importance of the organization of the civil society. Within the present electoral context, Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés remarked: “whether you vote or not, organize yourself. And well, we Zapatistas think that we have to have good ideas in order to organize ourselves. Which is to say, we need theory, critical thought.” He closed the event by affirming that “Our tasks and obligations are great, such that the comrades will leave with much to think about and to imagine. Go and speak to the rest of your comrades wherever you live, because at other times and using different forms, we will have to find other ways of working together.”

SIPAZ REPORT – SIPAZ REPORT VOL. XX Nº 2 – JUNE 2015

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July 9, 2015

Gilly: the financial unification of the world

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:53 pm

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Gilly: the financial unification of the world

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Contribution to the seminar on Critical thought versus the capitalist hydra at Cideci.

By: Adolfo Gilly

Oventic, Chiapas, May 2, 2015

Compañeras and compañeros of the EZLN, relatives of Luis Villoro and of the Zapatista teacher Galeano, fathers and mothers of Ayotzinapa present here:

Before everything I want to thank you for the invitation to participate in the opening of this seminar “Critical thought versus the capitalist hydra,” in the midst of big spaces, houses and trees of Oventic, under this sky that changes without stopping between sun, clouds and the winters that pass and come and go while the land always remains.

I also want to thank you for the warm reception that this organized town gave those of us that arrived recently. We were only able to see the eyes of many of you, but surely you know that’s where the soul becomes visible. Then…

What I bring to say to you today comes from some very recent lines: the opening words from “The time of dispossession” (El tiempo del despojo), a small book about these adverse times that, by means of the editor, should not delay appearing in Mexico. [1]

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In the world and in Mexico, we have entered a new epoch of capitalism or, in other words, of the domination of capital over work and nature. This domination totally encompasses the current unequal and interwoven global civilization that defines the mode of existence of human societies in this 21st Century.

We cannot address its description, its investigation and its laws of movement as if we were dealing with implantation, over pre-existing social relations, of a new economic model, as they usually say, or of a group of public policies named neoliberalism, in the same sense in which in the middle of the last century (the XX) one could talk about policies and laws on legal and contractual regulation of the relations between capital, labour and the land –then called Keynesian– inside the framework of existing relations within the States and capitalist societies.

We don’t forget either that that regulation had as an undercurrent the cruel exploitation of a colonial world now transfigured into politically independent nations, although economically and politically subordinate; a new world where the relationship of domination between human beings and between nations has been modified, although it is far from having disappeared.

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If we take the metaphor that you propose to us for describing capitalism –the Hydra, a mythological monster with multiple heads which, if one is cut, two or more sprout up in its place–, we could say that the socialist and colonial revolutions that shook the 20th Century: Russia, China, Vietnam, Korea, India, Cuba and so many others, were cutting many of those heads of capital. But from this, over time, were born or reborn others in the same place as the old ones: the world of the new capitalists and the new rich in those nations, now owners of the money, the properties, the modes and the power.

However, let’s not go astray or deceive. It’s certain, there is no more Soviet Union, there is no more socialist China, there is no more socialist Vietnam. New rich, very rich, new capitalist and dominant classes emerged in those countries and they make up the present world. But also the old empires with their colonial dominions disappeared: in the still recent past they were swallowed and destroyed by the tide of colonial and anti-imperialist revolutions that swept the entire planet.

The peoples that made the revolution remain. The experience remains, the pride remains. The old humiliation that was overthrown remains, the history and the memory of vindicated and recuperated dignity remains. With this humanity, new in life and old in experience, you have the new rich that make their accounts and try to impose new forms of rule on thousands of millions of new salaried workers, on those dispossessed of their lands and homes, on migrants and those unprotected by all of the powers.

It is the unheard and unprecedented turbulence of the world of these times, where workers of the cities and fields are learning and inventing new forms of organizing, while capital designs and puts to the test new exhaustive forms of domination over workers and of destructive exploitation of nature.

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We are facing a new form of the domination and subordination relationship: the universal domination of the world and rule of finances –global financial capital– over societies and economies, however diverse their cultures may be, their forms and degrees of organization and development, their different property rights and products; their relationship to nature; their political, religious and state systems; the configurations inherited and current of our societies.

All other forms of existence and reproduction of capital –the capitalist hydra, as you call it– and other existing social relations of course do not disappear. They remain subordinate to the financial form and subsumed in its planetary domination still in expansion. This modifies and subordinates nations, societies and human lives; their internal and external relations; their ways of living, of hoping and of imagining; and their relationship to nature, the planet and the universe as a given, thinkable and attainable reality.

It’s a new world, turbulent and expansive, but not a happy world. Full of conflicts and subject to unprecedented threats about its very existence and full of unhappiness because of the destruction of ancient customs, solidarities, securities and routines, this world also presents itself as a promise, today denied, of enjoyment of its fantastic discoveries, inventions and possibilities of enjoyment already present.

At the same time and moment of such a vision and temptation, reachable in appearance, it rises up before the immense majority of the seven million human beings as the denial and deprivation of that fullness of life and enjoyment, an immense humanity that sees and lives the destruction or degradation of their living worlds, their material inheritance –lands, waters, air, roads, cities, towns, barrios, forests, vegetable and animal life– and their immaterial civilizing inheritance of human relations: solidarities, cultures, beliefs and affects.

We call this new grand transformation: the financial unification of the world: a single domination (itself fragmented) over all the other immediate and existing ones and, by necessity, mediated by them; a universal and abstract (thing-like, according to the terms of Bolívar Echeverría; bestial, according to the hydra’s image; not human in either case) over all other rulers; a ruler you can’t grasp onto, despotic and material over human societies; divided by tears and violent conflicts between those who detain it, the different factions –national and territorial– of finances and their armed bodies; and exercised by reduced power and money elites, owners of weapons that for the first time make thinkable and possible the destruction of the human species and of other multiple forms of life on the planet. One single domination, but divided by contrary and irreconcilable interests; and over a single humanity, but torn by beliefs and interests, nations and ethnicities, dispossessions and migrations.

*

adolfo-gilly-385x310In the middle of the 20th Century, in 1955, the publishing house Presence Africaine published a memorable writing of Aimé Césaire, “Discourse on colonialism.” It begins like this:

A civilization that proves incapable of solving the problems that it creates is a decadent civilization.

A civilization that chooses to close its eyes to its most crucial problems is a wounded civilization.

A civilization that uses its principles for trickery and deceit is a dying civilization. […]

We must study how colonization operates to de-civilize the colonizer, to brutalize him in the true sense of the word, to degrade him, to awaken him to buried instincts, to covetousness, violence, race hatred and moral relativism.

At the end of this de-civilization, Aimé Césaire discovers its refined product: Nazism. It would reveal, he says, the very distinguished, very humanistic, very Christian bourgeois of the 20th Century that carries a Hitler inside and ignores the fact that Hitler inhabits him. Even when it censures him for his own ignorance, Césaire adds, at bottom that man does not forgive Nazism.

What he cannot forgive Hitler for is not the crime itself, the crime against the human being; it is not the humiliation of the human being as such. It’s the crime against the white man, it is the humiliation of the white man; it’s the fact that he applied to Europe the colonialist procedures that until then had been reserved exclusively for the Arabs of Algeria, the “coolies” of India and the blacks of Africa.

Colonization: bridgehead in a civilization of savagery from where, at any moment, the pure and simple negation of civilization can flow.

Upon reaching this extreme point of the elocution that, he says, installs us squarely in the middle of howling savagery, Aimé Césaire has touched the key word of all rebellions, that last resort that when it is committed to the extreme through the inhuman mode of a domination it cracks and makes everyone jump: the humiliation imposed, the humiliation lived and the humiliation suffered.

That surprise usually begins through low voices and small gestures: for example, the voice and gestures of a man whose son was murdered in Cuernavaca in these times, one among fifty thousand deaths, killed in these Mexican lands in the last five years, at the rate of 10,000 per year, and that day he said that we are fed up and he started to go around and join grievances and pains along Mexico’s roads. Or through the voices loaded with the pain and rage of the mothers and fathers in Guerrero whose 43 sons, all teachers college students, were disappeared in Ayotzinapa by the police, a body armed with state power; and those mothers and fathers confronted this power and began to go around throughout Mexico and the world saying and demanding: Alive you took them, alive we want them. Two of them, one mother and one father, are among us today and we have heard their demand and their voices.

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In this process of financial unification of the world we also note the slowly obliged formation of a new historic subject in fields, mines, seas, skies and cities, the global worker:

The global worker in formation is acquiring and refining in hard struggles for his affirmation and his existence a new subtlety in the creation of unpublished forms of customs in common, shared knowledge, organization, solidarity, resistance and rebellion. The rebellion of women against male domination, with different features according to [different] societies and cultures, but with a similar profile as to the state of protest and insubordination against the dominant state of things, is part of this process and in specific cases or moments it is also the dominant feature.

The global worker as unified humanity is not a utopia. It is a secular process characteristic of this civilization, in formation in the large migrations and in scientific and technological marvels, while at the same time the planet borders on catastrophic war and ecological destruction. […] In order to perceive it, it’s enough to open the window, travel the highways and sharpen the gaze and the senses.

At the end of the initial writing of this volume we list:

Nothing was easy before and nothing will be easy tomorrow. We come from the great universal disaster at the end of the 20th Century, the one that consolidated and made more ferocious the new and old wealthy of the earth, the one that also engendered the new furies of the old and modern condemned of the earth.

Don’t come to us with it’s the time of hope. Now is the time of rage and fury. Hope invites waiting; rage invites organizing. There is a time for hope and a time for rage. This is the time of rage. After rage comes hope.

And these lines close the latest writing:

In today’s world, reasoning with lucidity and working for justice leads to indignation, fervour and rage, there where the spirits of revolt are nourished. Because the present state of the world is intolerable; and if history tells us anything it’s that, in due time, it will not be tolerated anymore.

So be it, it will be our hope.

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  1. Adolfo Gilly y Rhina Roux, El tiempo del despojo – Poder, trabajo y territorio, Ediciones Itaca, México, 2015.

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Originally Published in Spanish by Pozol Colectivo

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Friday, June 5, 2015

En español: http://www.pozol.org/?p=10800

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/06/05/opinion/014a1pol

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June 20, 2015

EZLN: The Method, the Bibliography, and a Drone in the Mexican Southeast.

Filed under: Marcos, Zapatista — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:50 pm

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EZLN: The Method, the Bibliography, and a Drone in the Mexican Southeast.

Words of Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano at the May 2015 Seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra”

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The Method, the Bibliography, and a Drone Deep in the Mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Sub Galeano, May 4, 2015.

Good day, or good afternoon.

This time around I won’t take up a lot of your time so that you can enjoy the artistic exposition and rest a little, since the seminar/seedbed is going to become more and more complex each day. So I’m going to limit myself to just a few pieces of advice that of course you will not follow, and to telling you the most absurd story that I can remember.

The way that we have organized our participation is that Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés and I will be taking turns.

It’s like a division of labour: I’ll confuse you, and he’ll clarify.

I’ll say things in a complicated form, and he’ll tell you them in a more simple form.

We are going to do it that way because there are many ways in which critical thought can be presented, and we think that it’s important to learn and attend to all of those ways.

That’s because this is not about gaining followers for one line of analysis or another, or about the way one line of analysis or another is articulated. Rather, this is about provoking ideas, thoughts, discussion, and debates. It’s not to defeat a supposed ideological opponent, but to respond to the question that all of us [i] will end up asking: What’s next?

We Zapatistas think there are a series of basic concepts that are worth analyzing. And there are also a series of fundamental presuppositions.

For example, this seminar/seedbed has been convoked as a meeting of critical thought versus the capitalist hydra.

So with that in mind, we are taking as a given that:

1. The current dominant system is capitalism, and that its logic is that which dominates the world.

2. That this capitalist system is not dominant in only one aspect of social life, but rather, it has multiple heads, that is, many forms and ways of dominating in different and diverse social spaces. To put it in the terms of the little girl called Zapatista Defence: That stubborn-ass capitalism doesn’t take a bite out of you in one place, but in many places.

3. There is a disconcerting element in this Capitalist Hydra. If you understand the Hydra as a mythological animal, you know that it has many heads, and that if you cut off one head, two more are born, and that one of these heads is like the heart of the Hydra, “the mother head,” to give it a name. But there is another hydra, a small animal that not only reconstructs its destroyed tentacles, but also adapts, mutates, and is capable of regenerating itself completely from any one of its parts.

Those who attended the Zapatista Little School and studied the textbooks perhaps remember that we went on and on about the many ways that the system has to attack us. And that these ways often transform themselves.

Maybe there will be a chance later to come back to this, but for now, it is enough to point out that we are not referring to a mythological monster or an animal of the genus of the hidrozoos hidroides—a predator of less than two centimeters long— but that we are referring to a real monster. And it is one is the most bloody and cruel known in reality or in fiction since humanity became divided into dominators and dominated.

Of course there may be someone out there who insists that capitalism is not the current dominant system, or that it is but only in the economic realm, or only in the political realm or only in that of gender.

Or there may also be someone who insists that it is the State that is the mother head of the Capitalist Hydra, and not the social relations of production where there are those that have capital and there are those that have no more than their own abilityto work.

Or those who say that these struggles against the Hydra’s various heads are secondary and subordinated to the primary struggle, whatever that may be. For example, that the struggle over gender is secondary, and the struggle over political power is primary.

That’s fine. You can make your arguments, analyze and allow them to CONFRONT reality.

That is why we are here. To launch, from below and to the left, a debate that abounds in ideas and analysis and does not reduce itself to name-calling. That is, there is no reason to convert this into some version of a social networking site where the exchange of name-calling can’t exceed 140 characters.

4. There is an element here that is not explicit but which is fundamental: practice. What called us to begin this theoretical reflection—because we do hope to have more seminars/seedbeds—is not the need to increase our cultural baggage, to learn new words, or to make good arguments in order to hook up or delink from others, or to demonstrate that we can be even more unintelligible. What’s at stake here—and then for everyone in their own time, place, and way—is the transformation of reality. That is why it is we, the Sixth, who must amongst ourselves [ii] take on the responsibility to maintain and give potential to this reflection. This is simply because while many things make us different, there is one thing that identifies us all: we have decided to challenge the system. Not to improve it, not to change it, not to give it a makeover, but to destroy it.

And this destruction is not achieved through thoughts—although of course, there will surely be someone who says that we must unite our minds and repeat “disappear, disappear” with true faith and persistence. No, but thought can help us understand what we are up against, how it works, what its ways are, its calendar, its geography. To use an expression from the Little School: the ways in which it attacks us.

5. Although we begin from the assumption that the capitalist system is dominant, this is accompanied by the certainty that it is neither omnipresent nor immortal. Resistances exist, whether we know about them or not. The system does not impose its dominion in a straightforward way without disruptions. It encounters resistance above, yes, but those resistances below are the ones that really threaten it. As we have said: we are not talking about something that could be, we are talking about something that we are already doing. And I think it is clear that in this we are not only talking about Zapatismo.

6. “Neither theory without practice nor practice without theory,” we have said. In saying that, we are not talking about a division of labour: those who think on one side, those who act on the other. What we are pointing out is that those who do theory should also have a practice. We’d almost say that it should be by scientific method, but critical thought has that particular venom: if it’s only thought, it doesn’t manage to be critical. And those who are working on that practice should be reflecting on that practice. This is not only because if one depends on a theorist to explain things for you and tell you what to do, then you end up, well, how should I say it? You end up anxious about whether or not you should vote. But also, and above all, we should keep in mind that our struggle doesn’t have a defined timeline. On the contrary, it will span entire generations. These theoretical reflections that we provide should serve those who follow us when our calendar comes to its last day. They will be, in a word, their inheritance.

7. Neither lazy thought nor dogmatic thought nor deceitful thought. We don’t know about you, but if we Zapatistas were lazy in our thinking, we would belong to an institutional political party. And if we wanted a dogma, we would subscribe to a political sect—oops, I meant to say, a religious sect. And if we wanted to swallow massive amounts of bullshit, we would govern ourselves by the rules and orders of the paid media. Critical thought has as its motor the act of questioning. Why this and not something else? Why this way and not another way? Why here and not in another place? As we Zapatistas say, one walks by asking.

8. There is no 8, because I already told you, I wasn’t going to use a lot of time, and I still have a few more things to tell you today, including an anachronistic story.

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A few moons ago, in one corner of these mountains of the Mexican Southeast, a group of us, compañeros and compañeras of the General Command of the EZLN, met. Our objective was to intersect or share information that we had gathered both inside and outside the communities.

That’s how we do things. It’s not the analysis of one person that determines what we are going to do or not going to do, but rather an exchange of analysis, reflection, and thought. This is what the compañeros and compañeras who are the bases of support have accurately called a “sharing.”

I hope that there is time and a way for me to elaborate on this later. But for now it is enough to say that it wasn’t always like this.

In that meeting there had been something that each of the reports had in common. Each one noted changes or alterations in the economy of counterinsurgency in the communities, at the local level, and at the national and international levels as well.

After talking and listening, we came to the conclusion that what we saw was the same thing: a profound crisis was approaching—not only an economic one, although it was also economic. A storm, in fact.

Synthesizing that early morning’s sharing:

The signals?

One. – An economic crisis like never before. What we are seeing now are just the very first rains. The worst is yet to come. The economists up above have claimed that the turbulence will be overcome in a few months. At the latest, a few years. They are not allowed to tell the truth: that they have absolutely no clue where this crisis is headed. And that’s because it turns out that it is not only an economic crisis. It has to be multiplied by the unnatural environmental disasters, seeing as they are the effect of a man-made cause: the transformation of everything, including the most basic and elementary of things —water, air, sun and shade, earth and sky—into commodities. And from there, the exploitation of these things, far behind the most elementary logic. And not only that, there are also the planned catastrophes, but we will talk about those later.

Another. – The loss of legitimacy of the “traditional” institutions (parties, government, judicial system, church, army, police, media, family) and the absolute lack of an effort to recover them.

One more. – A corruption so scandalous in the political classes that it borders on psychopathy. The level of degradation is such that even the true Power—that of money—is shocked by it. So shocked, in fact, that it fears that what the arbitrary tyranny of money couldn’t do, the corruption of those who govern will: provoke a rebellion.

And another one. – We are faced with a reality that can be synthesized today in one word: Ayotzinapa. For us, Zapatistas, Ayotzinapa is not an exception, but the rule. What we see there is the family portrait of the system at a global level.

It has been said that organized crime or narco-trafficking has permeated politics. But the truth is the reverse: the traditions and customs of a corrupt political class (like the Mexican political class in the case of our country, but there are other nations that comply with the same measures) have been transferred to organized crime.

How can I put it? Do you realize how in the media and entertainment industry, the genocides and serial murders are presented without feeling, with a kind of numbness? Well, the modern political class isn’t like that, they aren’t numb. They perceive perfectly what is going on and they have emotions. The only thing is they aren’t emotions of shame or remorse or contrition. No, they take joy in what’s going on. We are not faced with something mechanic that tortures, kills, dismembers, disappears, or exhibits a victim. We are talking about relishing a crime, about feeling and enjoying the power of evicting a person from their home, of dispossessing them of their land, of taking away their things, of imposing upon them terror, of making them see their fragility. Of emphasizing their defencelessness. Of humiliating them. Disdaining them. Crushing them. Murdering them. To kill them in life and also in death. And all of this for no other reason than because they can, because they want to display their exercise of Power and its managers across the entire axis of the social pyramid: from the tycoon to the head of the family. Passing through along the way, governors, legislatures, judges, police, informers and snitches, supervisors, floor managers, overseers, and foremen.

For example, there are those who think the way in which the federal Mexican government and the political class has faced what has happened in Ayotzinapa has showed their weakness, their clumsiness, their incompetence. Perhaps. But what we see and think is that they went about it delighting in each of its steps. We think they savoured every tear shed by the family members. That they celebrated the families’ rage and impotence. That they found pleasure in reading or listening to every testimony of the survivors, of the mothers and fathers of those who are missing. If the great majority of people were horrified and moved, above there was only delight. Those government officials in charge of the issue such as the Attorney General, practically gorged themselves on the tragedy. Today we are not faced with the removed, affluent class from before that delegated to others (police, army, paramilitaries) the act of concretizing the crime. No, those in power today are not satisfied with a seat in the VIP box’s first row. They want to feel the direct pleasure of disposing of lives, of belongings, of histories. With hitmen and police on either side of them, there stand today’s heirs of real Power.

Another another. – Although the old structures of political and economic power still appear once in a while in order to spew out some bit of nonsense, they are but shells of what they once were. The majority of the big, previously national companies are not merely brand names for the large global capitalists today; all of them, absolutely all of them are tied to and submissive to the international banking institutions. Ironies: always fearful of those below, they were dispossessed by those more above than they. Cultivating paramilitaries (the “Brigada Blanca,” or White Brigade in Mexico, the “GAL” in the Spanish State) for the dirty wars against those below all over the world didn’t work. Now they console each other in the always decadent social pages of newspapers, magazines, frivolous programs, and through Facebook for those seeking the most economic option.

While those nostalgic for yesterday’s economic power fight amongst themselves and regroup whenever the common people appear to be rising up, the great monarchs of money—those who instead of appearing on Forbes’ list of the richest have a seat at the table of advisors for the stock traders of the large banks and department stores—assume their positions. Those who really rule acquire lands, bankrupted businesses, and “qualified staff.” The work of “cleaning up the ranks” will be done by businesses who, although they don’t know it yet, will also go bankrupt. Then the big guys come in without the restraints of unions, collective contracts, or loyal staff.

The supposedly national repressive apparatuses, erected with the alibi of defence in the face of an external threat and the necessity for internal control, genuflect ridiculously before their superiors in the metropolis. That part about destabilization fed by foreign interest was true, but the internal threat was not dressed in the uniforms of the guerrilla, but in suits, ties, and imported bodyguards. They didn’t carry firearms or Molotov cocktails or instruction manuals for subversion, but rather credits with infinite instalment terms… impossible to pay off.

Are you all shocked by the scandals that appear and have appeared in the mass media and social networks? Are you scandalized by Peña Nieto and Videgaray’s mansions? By the corruption of the governments across the globe? Well if you really want to be terrified, then get an interview “off the record” with someone from the mass media. Reverse the rules. Instead of being interviewed, ask the questions yourselves. Don’t ask them about what has come out publicly; ask them about what has been silenced. But not because it was censured, but because it didn’t even appear as something worthy of investigation or worthy of print. Then you will know what it is to vomit out of disgust and terror. If you want, stay and listen to their justifications (reasons of the State, people are not prepared to hear the truth, all of the truth—well, really not even just a part of the truth—we were threatened, our titles were at stake, as well as our projects, our work, our lives.)

One more and that’s it. – The crisis that is coming is not going to send a telegram, and it won’t be announced on monuments or on a poster board. No, it puts a foot in the door before you manage to close it. It squeezes in through the windows, emerges in the cracks. It slips in between the news about the currently fashionable scandals. You know what they say about the revolution not being televised. Well, the crisis is in fact televised, but it looks like no one is paying attention.

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The crisis cannot be hidden inside a blue VW bug, or under a beige poncho. It can’t be jailed, or disappeared, or murdered. It can’t be put on the list of disappeared. It can’t be negotiated in the halls of Congress, in the United Nations, or in the International Monetary Fund.

Oh true, crises like this one don’t come alone. They are accompanied by all the acrobats of history: prophets, leaders, supreme saviours, new religions, the ‘change begins with oneself.’ The ‘help yourself and I will help you.’ The ‘think positively.’ The “Smile we’re gonna win.” The “We will be your worst nightmare.”

Culture? Art? Science? These will be clandestine activities if they remain independent. If they are of the paid arena, they will be worth less than the tip the valet parking guy receives at the latest hip club. Ironies: terrified by piracy (we prefer to call it “alternative production”), these people will become employees of the large entertainment industries. That is, they will produce whatever those who pay them order them to.

Now then. What if this isn’t the case? What if this is just a Zapatista hallucination? What if local and national free enterprise can continue its buoyant step into a bright future? What if the international banking institutions don’t really prey upon the goods of families, countries, and continents? What if global capitalism does indeed recognize differences and diversity?

What if the parties of the left do in fact prioritize their principles and programmes over their eagerness for official posts? What if those who govern moderate their rapaciousness and dedicate a good part of their loot to reconstructing a social security net? What if this is just a passing rain shower, a few dark clouds that will drift on by themselves?

If all this happens—that is, if nothing happens—would it have done you damage to be organized? Would it have so disturbed you to have taken, along with others [iii] your destiny into your own hands? Would it have been such a bother to have listened to others, similar to or different from you? Would you be poorer, less of a person? Would you feel empty, incomplete, useless?

The world, your world, would it be worse or better?

-*-

Now, let me return to that meeting I was talking about in one of our corners.

After we saw that yes, the situation is indeed bad, we went on to the part we call the deliberative phase.

We decided two things. One was to prepare ourselves for an era of economic crisis. The other, to inform our compañeroas of the Sixth and ask otroas [others] from the Sixth and elsewhere what they were seeing.

The first point didn’t present much difficulty. Already organized in resistance, the Zapatista communities could confront these problems because it is in fact what they already do and do collectively.

The second was more complicated. Two monumental obstacles were in front of us: the geography and the calendar.

As Zapatistas we have the fortune of having compas in the most diverse geographies. Although it was possible to convoke an international event as we have done before, the reflexive character that the situation merits would have been very difficult. Even so, although we could construct the space of analysis and reflection, it would need to be centralized. And this would mean that only some people could be there, and that many, the majority, couldn’t. Money wasn’t the only problem. It’s also about each person’s work and struggle in their own places.

And that isn’t even to mention the difficulties of the calendar.

So we thought we would get it started and ask our compañeros, compañeras and compañeroas of the Sixth to continue the process. To go about building this space in their own places according to their own times and ways.

That is how the idea of this seminar, really a seedbed, came about. So that the little girl, the Zapatista Defence, doesn’t think that we are here training priests.[iv]

-*-

Ok then. Now for the advice:

Many years ago, these sharings or exchanges were not possible, at least not directly. Contact between our different zones was very sporadic and superficial. The bridge through which we communicated was the EZLN, and in particular, through the General Command. That’s where the various information reports were delivered, that’s where they were evaluated, “crossed,” and compared, and where what was to be done or not done was decided. Of course, there also was not that much to evaluate. We were dispersed, and the isolation that protected us also limited us.

We grew. A movement like that of the Zapatistas has that curse: to grow. And I am not referring to growing in quantity, but rather in problems and challenges. That is how our history is made, and how we make our history.

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We Zapatistas think that in order to understand something, one has to know its genealogy. That is, its history. In other words, how it became what it became.

Do you remember that part about the choice between seeing the tree or the forest? Well, as Zapatistas, we see the roots.

We have said this before, but I am going to remind you of it now: Our rebellion is our “NO” to the system. Our resistance is our “YES” to something else being possible.

We have also pointed out that our meta-theory is our practice.

Alright then, you already know that, down the road, the level of seriousness of a theoretical reflection is judged by its quantity of bibliographical references. They say and they write, “as so-and-so points out in such-and-such book.” It may sound a little strange, but the more so-and-so’s mentioned in a theoretical text, it is considered more serious, more respectable… and more boring. Nooo, I’m just kidding, not really. It’s very good to read and hear these thoughts. Although sometimes it turns out that one learns what so-and-so thought but who knows what the actual author thinks. And so one [v] thinks, “Well then, if they were to tell us what that other person said, they should have just submitted the other text, or used that scientific method known as ‘copy and paste.’”

In the end, what I want to tell you is that in everything that we write and say, it is the Zapatista resistance that constitutes our bibliography.

Perhaps you hadn’t realized that, although I think that maybe you have.

Now you have here your own drone, in order to get a look at the span of Zapatista resistance. Of course some of you, [vi] will say that you have been in Zapatista communities and you already know about their resistance. But I’m not talking about the resistance of a community. I’m talking about Zapatista resistance as a collective effort. Resistance viewed from the inside.

OK, the drone you will have the privilege of listening to now is named Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés. Because of his previous work and his current job, he knows better than anyone the genealogy of Zapatista resistance. Its history, how it became what it is, this idea that brings us to say, as you heard yesterday, hay lum tujbil vitil ayotik.[vii]

Listen to him. Read him. Through his words, you will be able to see a terrible and marvellous history. You will understand that this is like having a subterranean drone and you will have the privilege of a gaze from the deepest parts of Zapatista resistance.

What I am going to tell you, surely others will say or write better than I have, with more hard facts, better arguments, and more profound conclusions.

But what he is going to tell you, you are not going to find anywhere else. Not even by talking with him. Because he presents himself to you as a collective, and it’s precisely through him that we speak as a collective.

So my advice to you is, don’t miss the sessions where he talks.

Of course, we are not going to tell you exactly when it is his turn to talk and when it is mine. That is because I don’t want to be up here alone talking about cat-dogs, cracked walls, soccer and basketball.

Here I am going to tell you an anecdote. When, on May 2, when you all left Oventik, it started to rain. A huge storm. But the bases of support stayed there, dancing, and playing sports. I was in a corner listening to the narrator because they have something like a sports broadcaster who narrates the game. Then came the awards ceremony. Do you know the name of the team that won the women’s basketball tournament? They are called “The Defeated.”

Sherlock Holmes and Euclid, typos, planned catastrophes, gender defeats, Iolaus [viii] giving a hand. War, always war.

That is why we are doing a survey of which invited guests have the highest popularity ratings so that I can put myself into position where I can at least say to Doc Raymundo “Chin up, doc” and he, noble and generous, will reply, “Chin up, Sup.”

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Mexico, May 4, 2015.

From the Diaries of the Cat-Dog.

Note: I tried to put this story in Twitter form but I couldn’t. See, I saw on Twitter the other day one user [ix] who put out a whole communiqué in fragments of 140 characters. No, I wasn’t angry, I was envious because it turned out better for him than for me. Okay, here goes:

“The Ship”

I should warn you that the stories of the Cat-Dog are very other. I’ve said it before—in contrast to those traditional stories that begin with “once upon a time…” Zapatista stories (and not just the stories, but that’s not the point here) begin with “There will be a time…” And as it turns out, the stories of the Cat-Dog begin with: “there is a time…” This means that the stories of the Cat-Dog are very modern because they happen in real time. So, here goes.

“There is a time…

A ship. A big one, as if it were a nation, a continent, an entire planet. With all of its crew and its hierarchies; that is, its above and its below. With its disputes over who commands, who is more important, who has the most—the standard debates that occur anywhere there is an above and a below. But this proud ship was having difficulty, moving without clear direction and with water pouring in from both sides. As tends to happen in these cases, the cadre of officers insisted that the captain be relieved of his duty. Complicated as things tend to be when determined by those above, it was decided that in effect, the captain’s time had passed and it was necessary to name a new one. The officers debated among themselves, disputing who had more merit, who was better, who was best.

The commotion was heard in the deepest part of the ship, below the water line where the majority of the crew lived and worked. Even though they weren’t seen, they were important. In plain terms, the ship moved thanks to their work. The commotion above was nothing new for those below. They knew that every once in a while, those above fought over who would be captain. None of this mattered to the owner of the ship. It could be whoever, what interested the owner was that the ship produced, transported, and collected commodities across the oceans.

Among those who worked below there was a group that was set apart for being very other. Because they were men, women, and otroas, we will call them “Loas Otroas.” Loas Otroas were small beings, dirty, ugly, bad, poorly spoken, and worst of all, they didn’t comb their hair.

Since the rest of the ship didn’t know that there were people there who couldn’t be accommodated in the structures and diagrams they had been shown, they tended to say that Loas Otroas were really Martians who wanted to take over the ship and take it to another galaxy. Fortunately, the captain of the ship heard these rumours and named a commission of distinguished intellectuals to provide a scientific explanation for the disturbing existence of Loas Otroas. The intellectuals met in an exclusive meeting space built especially for these kinds of things, and after a few days and a hefty salary, they presented the results of their study. “Loas Otroas, they said, are not Martians. In reality, they are made in China. The Chinese manufactured them there in China and sent them to planet Mars, so that from there they would end up on the boat and sabotage the industry of combs, brushes, shampoos, gels, barbershops, and beauty salons.” The captain of the ship congratulated the scientists in a confused tweet, as tweets tend to be. Specialized journals announced and circulated the discovery.

Nah, that’s not really true, but if it seems like an absurd explanation, there are worse ones in the paid mass media.

But getting back to the ship.

Loas otroas, as they were, were always cursing those above and getting into mischief to irritate the officers. Meaning, every so often they were organizing another rebellion. So, the officials presented great speeches about interplanetary threats; they exchanged gazes, calculating together how to take advantage of the occasion, and they gave the order to create order among the disordered, that is among Loas Otroas.

Loas Otroas called on other people to rebel, but the great majority of those below did not respond to this call. What’s more, and not on few occasions, they applauded when one of Loas Otroas was taken on deck and, amidst the great discourses of the officials on the rationality of command and the irrationality of rebellion, made to jump overboard.

Were there sharks? Those who worked below didn’t know. What’s more, they only knew what happened above and outside when the officials gave them information. But even with their losses, Loas Otroas kept on with that discourse of “neither master nor boss, nor god nor ruler,” and other equally anachronistic ideas, like that one about “the boat should belong to those who propel it.” The ship, for its part, continued its erratic swaying from one side to the other, without anything seeming to affect it. And every so often, unoa otroa was taken up on deck to be thrown into the sea. What were they accused of, judged and condemned for? This didn’t matter to the executioner. It was enough for them that this being was dirty, ugly, bad and rude, to know that he or she was guilty, even if just guilty of being who they were. But this time, something unusual happened. The dispute among the officers over who would be captain had created so much noise and chaos that no one had bothered to serve up the usual discourse and praise for order, progress, and fine dining. The executioner, knowing only how to follow existing patterns, didn’t know what to do; something was missing. So he went to look for some officer who could comply with what tradition dictated. In order to do so without the accused/ judged/condemned escaping, they sent him to Hell, that is, to the “watch post,” also known as “the Crow’s Nest.”

The watch post is at the top of the tallest mast, and was seen by all of the crew as a punishment. Maybe because of the wind, the rain, the sun, the cold, or the stormy gales, the “crow’s nest” was considered a branch office of hell. From there, enemies were sited, unknown vessels were caught creeping up, monsters and catastrophes were seen coming; prosperous ports where commodities (that is people) were exchanged came into view, as well as incomprehensible islands populated by Loas Otroas. Whatever notice was given from that post was received by the officers with anger and displeasure. If what was in sight was an enemy ship, the captain gave over everything without a word, and then later, with the cadre of officers, toasted the progress the looting had brought onboard. Yes, it sounds stupid, but that is how everything worked on the deck of this ship. If what was sighted were monsters and systemic catastrophes, those in charge celebrated modernity… or post modernity, depending on the fashion decreed by the newest navigation manuals. If what was sighted were unknown vessels creeping closer, leaflets and pamphlets were quickly distributed among the crew.

In these leaflets, the crew was called upon to view the panorama optimistically. They called for meditation, personal self-improvement, and love for one’s neighbour. “Change begins with oneself” tended to be the title of these papers which were produced in great quantities… and which almost no one read. The announcement of arrival at the port of immediate destination was received with more disagreement and dissent than with bother or annoyance. From the profits made from the buying and selling of commodities, the officials gave a few crumbs to those below. As the profits were large and the handouts below small, there was plenty of money for the officials to build huge new cabins for themselves or adorn the nautical museums with splendid statues praising their lineage.

If someone is listening to this story and thinks everything on this ship is extravagant and irrational, they wouldn’t be wrong. For all the lifestyle habits created above to manage society’s interactions, with its rules of etiquette, good manners, and hierarchies, the whole of all this doesn’t cease to be abhorrent or abnormal. A serious analysis of the organization of the ship would conclude that the fundamental absurdity of life on the ship is that what maintains it afloat is below the water line, in the lowest part of that proud ship. Despite scientific and technological advances, nuclear turbines, 4G-LTE tablets, super high definition images, and fast food, the principle motor of this ship is human.

If whoever is listening to me pays attention to the organization of the ship that I am describing, they will realize that despite the fact that it is those below who are making it possible for the ship to sail, who are producing not only the necessary things for the ship to function but also the commodities that give purpose and destiny to the ship, they don’t have anything other than their capacity and knowledge to do this work. They also don’t have the possibility of deciding anything about the organization of this work so that it completes its objective; it is the officers above deck who decide this. Of course, taking care of appearances, every once in a while they simulate the taking into account of the opinions of the sailors—male and female, because on this boat there is gender equality in working one’s ass off. For this task, they would organize a curious game that consisted of presenting to the sailors various colours, and asking them to choose one. The colour picked by the majority was used to paint the body of the ship, and they would even install a special flag to identify it. But nothing really changed: the owner continued being the owner and was the one who chose the destination and determined the organization of the ship. I say this was “before” because this cadre of officers was attentive to modern advances and soon replaced this process with that of surveys: ‘What colour do you like the best?’ Fortunately, modernization did not extinguish a sense of shame of those above deck and they continued on with the formalism of voting for which colour was the prettiest.

However, the sea winds were agitating the boat more and more frequently. More enemy boats appeared with greater frequency and are more aggressive. If whoever is listening to me thinks that the cadre of officers, by reason of their supposed abilities, would see a way to deal successfully with these new threats, you are mistaken. So busy are they pulling profit from the small portion allotted to them, that these officers have indeed become more and more agile, yes, but principally in discovering 1001 ways to take a little more, not only from what they can steal from those below, but also what they can snatch from their peers. The issue is that those who should be responsible for guaranteeing the internal organization of the boat so that it complies with its function, have by their actions resigned their duty. The ship sails, as it has for a while now, on pure inertia.

But let’s get back to the protagonist of this story and its bitter destiny in the crow’s nest.

That this branch office of hell was located above was just one of those paradoxes that populates the geography of the current sea. Contrary to what one might think, the being in question, loa otroa, climbed up with enthusiasm, agile as indeed those below tend to be. S/he climbed with admirable skill up the tallest mast and settled into the narrow vigilance post.

Following an unknown impulse, unknown at least to the person who tells the story and those who listen, this strange being did not wallow in self-pity; rather, s/he took advantage of this privileged position to look.

It was no small thing what this gaze took in.

Loa Otroa looked toward the deck and paused a moment on the slogan that the owner of the ship had engraved in bronze on the front of the boat: “Bellum Semper. Universum Bellum. Universum Exitium.”

Loa otroa did not know Latin. Me neither, actually. But someone has done a translation and we can say that it is something like “War Always, Universal War, Universal Destruction.”

While we look for the way to get the translation to Loa Otroa, s/he continued there above, observing what happened on deck. Over there for example, was a stage full of little flags of one colour. Over there a little further, another with flags of the same colour, and another, and another. It’s curious because from close up, it looks like they are a lot of different colours and shapes, but at a distance you can see that all the stages have the same design and the same colour. Bored, Loa Otroa looked to the horizon. S/he shuttered and sharpened her gaze to confirms what s/he has seen. Loa Otroa climbed back down to deck and went through the hatch to the bottom part of the ship.

Once there s/he looked for a notebook and begins to draw incomprehensible signs. S/he called Loas Otroas and shows them the notebook. Loas Otroas look at each other, look at the notebook, and look at each other again, speaking a very ancient language. Who knows what they saw because there is no translator on hand. But after a little while like that, exchanging gazes and words, they begin to work feverishly.

The End

I know, I was just as indignant as you are now. “What do you mean ‘the end’? What did s/he see from the watch post? What did s/he draw in the notebook? What did they talk about? Then what happened?”

But the Cat-Dog just meowed barking, “We don’t know yet.”

Later he barked meowing, “Those who call themselves social scientists should learn how to use those four words.”

Thank you.

[i] The text uses “todos, todas, todoas,” meaning “everyone” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.

[ii] The text uses “nosotroas” meaning “we,” see endnote i.

[iii] The text uses “otros, otras, otroas as” meaning “other,” see endnote i.

[iv] Seminario, which we are translating as seminar, can also mean seminary. See the reference to this in an earlier EZLN text by Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano: http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2015/05/03/el-muro-y-la-grieta-primer-apunte-sobre-el-metodo-zapatista-supgaleano-3-de-mayo/

[v] The text uses “uno, una, unoas,” meaning “one” see endnote i.

[vi] The text uses “alguno, alguna, algunoa” meaning someone, see endnote i.

[vii]“How good it is, the way we are now.”A reference to a phrase used in Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés’ talk from May 3, 2015: http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2015/05/14/on-the-elections-organize/

[viii] Greek mythological figure, Iolaus was the nephew of Heracles who helped his uncle slay the Hydra of Lerna.

[ix] The text uses “usuario, usuaria, usuarioa,” meaning user, see endnote i.

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June 19, 2015

Looking sideways at capitalism

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 10:05 am

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Looking sideways at capitalism

by Chiapas Support Committee

Sup Galeano with children

Sup Galeano with children

The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) sponsored the Seminar on “Critical thought versus the capitalist hydra” from May 3 to May 9, 2015. A star-studded cast of left intellectuals participated either in person or by sending papers to be read by others. Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés and Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano (formerly Marcos) issued their words, as did Comandantas Miriam, Rosalinda and Dalia. Compañeras Lizbeth and Selena also gave their word. More than 1500 people registered to attend the Seminar.

Before the start of the Seminar in the Caracol of Oventik, the EZLN paid homage to Compañero Galeano, the teacher, and also to Compañero Luis Villoro.

Prior to the start of this anti-capitalist gathering, SupGaleano issued an important communiqué called, in English, “The Storm, the Sentinel and the Lookout Syndrome,” [1] which puts the purpose of the Seminar in perspective, or better said, it puts the purpose of the Seminar into a Zapatista perspective.

The Storm

“We, the Zapatistas, see and hear a catastrophe coming, and we mean that in every sense of the term, a perfect storm.” However, he also says that others don’t see it coming, they don’t see what the Zapatistas see. He elaborates: “We see the tendency to resort to the same tactics of struggle, to continue with marches, real or virtual, with elections, surveys and rallies.” As if nothing has changed in the last 20, 40 or 100 years! We think they have the Lookout Syndrome.

If you do the same thing over and over again and it doesn’t work, maybe you should try something different!

“We Zapatistas look sideways. We pay more attention, climb to the top of the ceiba (tree) in order to try to see farther, not to see what has happened, but to see what’s coming.” And what they see is “something terrible, more destructive than ever.” But, Galeano admits, they can be mistaken. So, they want to hear what people from other geographies are thinking, what the compañeros, compañeras and compañeroas of the Sixth are thinking. That’s why they called for the Seminar, to share ideas.

Ceiba tree with house for looking sideways at capitalism

Ceiba tree with house for looking sideways at capitalism

The Sentinel

Every military installation has lookout towers, guard posts, watch posts, or whatever you may call them, a place where members assigned to that military installation take turns (shifts) at guard duty. Their role is that of the Sentinel: to survey the surrounding area to know who or what is out there; and to sound the alarm in case of an attack or other event. The EZLN is no different; its military members call the guard post the “posta” and take turns carrying out the role of the Sentinel, or lookout. But the important thing is that the Sentinel must be vigilant for signs of danger. If something big and destructive is coming, then the Sentinel must alert everyone to the imminence of the coming storm.

Galeano says that, according to the Zapatistas, theoretical reflection and critical thought have the same task as the Sentinel. “Whoever works on analytical thinking takes a shift at the guard post.” The problem is that the Sentinel, or lookout, can become overwhelmed, overtaken by the task of critical observation and can develop the Lookout Syndrome.

The Lookout Syndrome

After a while the Sentinel “exhausts” his capacity for vigilance. This is what the Zapatistas refer to as the Lookout Syndrome. It consists of: “a) not keeping watch over the whole, but only one part of the whole, and b) when the lookout ‘tires,’ he does not perceive the changes that appear in the zone being watched because those changes are imperceptible to him; that is, they don’t merit his attention.” Because being on lookout duty reproduces the same images over and over again as if nothing ever changes until the lookout doesn’t want anything to change and repeats that: ‘everything is fine and nothing bad is going to happen.’

One way of counteracting the Lookout Syndrome is indirect observation or peripheral vision, also known as “looking sideways.” So, the Zapatistas are inviting people to the Seminar to look sideways with them at what is coming.

Looking sideways at voting

With mid-term elections taking place in Mexico during June 2014, let’s see what thoughts looking sideways at elections produced.

The Zapatistas have not been into voting for a long time. It makes sense for them because they have declared war against the Mexican government and have their own local and regional government. But what should everyone else do? Subcomandante Moisés says you can go ahead and vote, but don’t expect anything to change. We assume he means change for the better. And, indeed, if citizens are looking for fundamental progressive change in Mexico by means of the ballot box, they may have a very long wait! But, Moisés points out that whether you vote or not, you must definitely organize. If you want positive change you have to organize!

On the other hand, what if you live in the United States? We have a presidential election in 2016 and candidates are already announcing their candidacy, starting to raise money and taking positions on issues.

Immanuel Wallerstein, a United States sociologist and left thinker, submitted a paper that addressed, among other issues, voting in different electoral systems. He seems to agree in principle with SupMoisés about not relying on elections for any fundamental progressive change. However, in countries where people have won certain benefits from the government, like social security in the U.S. or universal health care in Canada and Europe, perhaps it’s worth voting to hold onto those benefits. Remember when George W. Bush tried to privatize (take away) social security? If one party is proposing to cut social benefits, Wallerstein suggests that it’s definitely worth voting for the party that doesn’t want to take them away (this assumes there is such a party). Hmm…

Looking sideways at the Storm

SupGaleano did not say in “The Storm, the Sentinel and the Lookout Syndrome” what kind of storm the Zapatistas see coming. Is the storm coming to Chiapas, to Mexico, or to the entire world? Will it come from war, climate change, drug-resistant diseases, one or more natural disasters or the depletion of our natural resources? We thought that perhaps the branches of the ceiba tree obstructed their vision.

And then, the “words” SupGaleano spoke on May 4 were posted on the EZLN’s website in Spanish. (As this is written, those words have not yet been translated into English.) His words give us some answers to those questions. In Spanish the comunicado is entitled “El Método, la bibliografía y un Drone en las profundidades de las montañas del Sureste Mexicano.” [2] It translates as: “Method, bibliography and a Drone in the depths of the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.”

SupGaleano says that the storm is a profound economic crisis, but not only economic. It stems from the complete domination of the world by international banking, but also from the loss of legitimacy of “traditional” institutions (parties, government, judicial system, church, army, police, communications media, family). Additional factors contributing to the crisis are the corruption of the political class and destruction of the environment. The latter is due to privatizing or “the transformation of everything, even fundamental needs -water, air, light and shade, land and sky-, into merchandise.”

SupGaleano goes on to sum up this profound crisis, this perfect storm as follows:

“We are facing a reality that is synthesized today in one word: Ayotzinapa.  For us Zapatistas, Ayotzinapa is not the exception, but rather the current rule.  It is the family portrait of the system on the global level.

It has been said that organized crime or drug trafficking has permeated politics.  It has been the reverse: the uses and customs of a corrupt political class (like the Mexican political class), […] were transported to organized crime.”

And the antidote for this profound crisis: ORGANIZE! Prepare yourselves! The dominant message of the EZLN’s Seminar is to organize. While Galeano uses examples from Mexico, he applies the control of international banking, privatization of our shared environment, corruption of the political classes and the loss of legitimacy of traditional institutions globally.

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Mary Ann Tenuto-Sánchez

June 18, 2015

NOTES:

1.https://compamanuel.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/galeano-the-storm-the-sentinel-and-the-lookouts-syndrome/

2.http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2015/05/04/el-metodo-la-bibliografia-y-un-drone-en-las-profundidades-de-las-montanas-del-sureste-mexicano-supgaleano-4-de-mayo-de-2015/

https://compamanuel.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/looking-sideways-at-capitalism-2/

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June 13, 2015

EZLN: Resistance and Rebellion III

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 7:13 pm

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EZLN: Resistance and Rebellion III

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Words of Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés at the May 2015 Seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra”

May 8, 2015

Good afternoon compañeros, compañeras, brothers and sisters.

Perhaps by continuing our explanation of how resistance and rebellion are weapons for us you will better understand some of the things that our compañeros and compañeras here at the table have talked about.

Through our resistance and rebellion, we have come to understand that by putting resistance and rebellion into practice we confirm that we will not allow in our struggle what happened in 1910, when so many of our fellow Mexicans died. Who took advantage of that situation?

Our resistance and rebellion teach us that it was the carrancistas [followers of Carranza], the obregonistas [followers of Obregon] and the maderistas [followers of Madero], all landowners, who took advantage of the situation to govern, to put themselves into power. And that bunch of bastards who are in power now are the great-grandchildren of those same people, and so it is our resistance and our rebellion that tell us that we must govern ourselves.

But our resistance and rebellion also tell us that just because we, people of the same race, are the ones who govern, does not mean—and we have said this from the beginning—that just because we call it a Junta de Buen Gobierno [Good Government Council], does not mean that this government by its very nature is good. Rather that we must monitor it, take care of it, keep watch over it.

That is why I’m saying that what the compañeros and compañeras said is true. Even if we bring indigenous people to power, if the people are not organized below to monitor their government then we will get even bigger rats than before. Because a poor indigenous person has never seen the kinds of things, so many things, that he or she sees in that governing office,. So that’s what happens to us in that position. Thus it is important not to just trust. We have to actually be organized to monitor our government. That is why we say it is the people who rule.

When I say that we need to watch over our government and that we need to be alert and all of that, we do this through our practice of struggle, of resistance and rebellion. We don’t leave our autonomous governments to govern alone, we are very other in this sense. Of course, each one of us has responsibility in our work areas, so we learn that it isn’t just the compañero and compañera authorities who have to be good at thinking through proposals, we all have to become good at this.

So the way it works is that our authorities have meetings, for example in one of the Autonomous Municipalities in Rebellion. And there may be 15-20 people in a meeting among the compañeros and compañeras from all the work areas: health, education, agro-ecology, commerce and these kinds of things. So one of the compañeros or compañeras in charge of a given area says, “I am having such-and-such problem,” to the collective gathered there, that is, all of the rest of the authorities who are in charge of other areas. So they begin to discuss the problem among all of the authorities. That’s why we call it collective government. And from there ideas begin to come out, proposals. But that doesn’t mean that whatever they come up with is implemented directly.

They can’t simply implement these ideas straightaway because first they have to go to the municipal assembly of authorities. That is where all of the comisariadas [local land authorities], agentas [local authorities], comisariados and agentes gather. There the compañeros present their proposal for solving the problem. Among them—the compañeros who are authorities, the assembly members, and the authorities of the communities, men and women—use our Zapatista law as their guide. There they might say, ‘oh we already know that’s allowed because it has already been discussed; our communities have already accepted that before so we can decide here that this proposal can go forward.’ And the compañeros and compañeras, comisariados, comisariadas might then approve the proposal. But the compañeros and compañeras who are authorities know when to say ‘we can’t decide here that we are all in agreement. We have to go consult our compañeros and compañeras in the communities.’

When the municipal authorities or the Junta de Buen Gobierno launch or present their proposal in the assembly, the assembly of authorities, the way they do things goes like this. Pretend that we here are in what we call the maximum or highest-level assembly. Here is where we have the first round of discussion about the problem. When we feel we’ve got to the point where we can’t go any further, and we haven’t found a solution, we divide up into regions. So we would divide everyone here in this room into 10, 15, 20 regions in order to go discuss it. Then we come back to the assembly and talk again until we find a solution.

If we don’t find an answer through that discussion because it just couldn’t be determined here, we take the proposal to the communities—the discussion is extended to every single community. We have to find a solution and that solution can come from a community, from a particular group, or it can come from an individual – something that a compañero or compañera suggests – or it can come from a whole community. Then that word, that opinion, that thought goes all the way to the highest-level assembly until we decide which proposal is best for resolving this problem.

So you can see here that the autonomous authorities do not do what they do alone. That is, their work is discussed and considered by all of the compañeros and compañeras bases of support in the communities. For however good a government or Junta de Buen Gobierno they may be, they can’t just make their own policies. Rather, what they propose has to be approved by the people, by the communities. The communities thus know from the very beginning what it is that is being proposed, what it is that their authorities want to do, and how they intend to do it.

This way of doing things has meant that our authorities can’t just do whatever they want, whether that’s at the zone level, in the Junta de Buen Gobierno, the MAREZ, the Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities in Rebellion, or at the level of the local authorities. There are always assemblies locally in each community. No local authority can do something without the local assembly knowing about it. It is the same thing at the municipal level. They cannot launch any project without the community being informed. It is the same at the level of the Junta de Buen Gobierno. They cannot begin or launch any project or work without informing and consulting the thousands of men and women.

So compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters, if we say no to a given proposal or project, it is not necessarily because it is bad, but rather because we have our own processes. For example, regarding the work relations with some NGOs that are still working here, they think that if they ask me and I say no, it’s just me saying no. And if they ask me and I say yes, then that’s good enough. But the reality is that there are thousands of us, so it takes a long time to discuss the project, to decide whether we want to accept it or not, or how we want it to be. This takes awhile. And when the answer is given by our people and then the people from the outside who offered the project or proposal say well no, we can’t offer it any more, the moment has passed, it’s no longer possible, well then, that’s that. That’s what our resistance and rebellion is for. If there’s no project from the outside, we will just continue working.

Within our resistance and rebellion, there are two things that the compañeros of the communities and their three levels of government never let go of, things that can’t be bypassed. One, the progress on everything that has been agreed upon in the community has to be reported back to the community: how is it going? For whatever kind of work we do, health, education, agro-ecology, and all the other kinds of work, there has to be an account or report: What is happening? How is it going? Why is that happening? How did you resolve it? What are you doing now? At the same time, there must be reports on all of the funds that have come in and on what has been spent.

In the practice of our resistance and rebellion, the compañeros and compañeras have been innovative in the practice of accountability, where the Junta de Buen Gobierno or the MAREZ must provide clear accounts. The compañeros and compañeras asked how can we be certain that what the accounts say is true, even though it is compañeros and compañeras who are doing them, even though they carry the name of Junta de Buen Gobierno. But do we know that they’re right?

So the compañeros and compañeras innovate. They get creative because there is a lack of trust, so they have to figure out how to create trust. So they created the rule for the Junta de Buen Gobierno, where there is a lockbox or whatever you call it there where the money is kept. They decided that the Junta de Buen Gobierno can’t take money out of the box without the presence of the Vigilance Commission. The Vigilance Commission is made up of the community bases of support who are taking their turn there in the caracol. Every day, every month, every year you can find them there with the Junta de Buen Gobierno and the Information Commission, which is the compañeros and compañeras who are comités [Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee, CCRI] or who are candidatos or candidatas to be CCRI, or suplentes or suplentas to be CCRI.

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So these two commissions accompany the process any time that the box is opened, not that box that holds the dead but that of the money. Then one of the two commissions asks:

“So let’s see compa from the Junta de Buen Gobierno, how much do you need?”

“Well, I need 15,000 pesos.”

“Let’s see.” They take out the 15,000 pesos and give it to the compa. “Count it so that later you can’t say that it wasn’t all there.”

So the compa from the Junta de Buen Gobierno counts it and goes to buy what they need. Upon their return in the afternoon, they meet with the two commissions again and the compa from the Junta with the two commissions look together at the accounts. They check how any money has been spent, or whether there is anything missing.

So that is how we create trust in the accounts presented by the Junta de Buen Gobierno. This accounting and presentation of information happens every six months, every three months, and every year. But because the process is controlled, because the Junta is not just on their own, there are people who can confirm that the accounts are accurate.

It is through our resistance and rebellion that we have found a way to do justice. It is one part of how we… let’s see, how could I explain it? By carrying out this process without doing politics, we could say, without giving political talks to the partidistas, but instead by resolving their problems, it’s clear that we do not sell justice, that justice cannot be bought. And in doing justice there is no fee; people aren’t charged for justice. So then the partidistas realize and decide, well let’s go to the Zapatistas because if we go to the [state] officials, we’ll need money.

So by doing justice within our resistance and rebellion, we are doing what we call neutralizing, because then those non-Zapatistas [who come for resolution of their problems in our justice system] do not act against us. But this is not because we’re doing political work per se. We’re just acting [on principle] and that is what they see.

Another thing that we do that has contributed to the construction of our resistance and rebellion is that we don’t try to force people to be Zapatistas or bases of support. In our community practice, that is, in each community, we talk to others, those who aren’t partidistas, because in the communities there are people who are partidistas and people who aren’t partidistas. So we talk to them and if they want to join us in our school, which is part of the Zapatista education system, they can do so without paying.

All they have to do is fulfil the community agreement regarding how that community supports their education promotor or promotora [like teacher, literally promoter]. Each Zapatista community does this differently. The community may work in the promotor or promotora’s vegetable garden or cornfield to collect the fresh corn. They may collectivize and give beans to the education promotor or promotora. So the brothers who aren’t Zapatistas but want to send their kids to our schools can do so as long as they fulfil this community determined requirement. Those brothers who aren’t partidistas can then send their children to the Zapatista autonomous school.

The result of this work is that when the compañeros and compañeras have a celebration in the communities, for example November 17, which is the anniversary of the creation of the Zapatista army in 1983, during those celebrations, the Zapatista children and the little boys and girls whose parents are not partidistas participate all together. They recite their poems or give small speeches or performances so their parents can watch.

During these parties the partidistas don’t participate, unless they happen to play the keyboard. But their children don’t participate. So then the parents whose children are in the autonomous Zapatista school take up the task of talking to the partidistas, saying why don’t we just run off the official teachers? Because look at my son, my daughter, she already knows how to read and write. She can already give a small speech. And look at yours, your son and your daughter—they don’t know how. So what are we going to do? Why would we be against the Zapatistas? So then they start to talk about it and the partidistas see that what the others are saying is true.

These are all things that our rebellion and resistance have created for us, have made possible for us. And I’m going to keep telling you about it because it is thanks to this resistance and rebellion that we are fighting. We’re demonstrating that one can take action without a gun. This is the important thing in these cases. But that doesn’t mean that we’re saying that the guns are not useful.  One day they will be useful.

I want to repeat here compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters that there cannot be resistance or rebellion without first being organized. Because organization is people, it’s women and men, it is communities. So if there is no community, no people, if there aren’t men and women, then what do you have? Perhaps you have an artful way of speaking. Or you are good on the soapbox, as we say. But without people, that just vanishes into nothing.

So how do we make what a poet says into organization and practice? How do we put into organization and practice what a singer sings? How do we practice and create a new organization from what an artist illustrates? These are the questions, help me make a list of these things. This is the point. This is why we organize.

Because our resistance and rebellion (inaudible), it is with this resistance and rebellion that we have achieved our form of education. That includes the programme or the topics of study, let’s see, how do you say that? Who is a teacher here? The study materials. It is the compañeros and compañeras in the communities that have to decide what kind of education they want for their children. I remember a discussion with some compañeros who invited me to talk with them about what materials their young people were going to study. And one of the things they said was, well, in social science, the system says we’re supposed to talk about the bullet train. But what bullet train is going to come through here? No, what we have to think about is what we need in social sciences here in our autonomous municipality. Here in our zone of rebellion. And I said, yes, good compañeros and compañeras. That’s how we have to think about it. And they said:

“We want them to study history because in the SEP [the state school system], in the education that the government provides, they tell us that Mexico already had its revolution. That that’s why Zapata died. So we want our kids to study the real history.”

And I asked the compañeros and compañeras, well what do you mean by that? And they said:

“Well, we want our young people to wake up.”

“But how?” I asked them again.

“Look,” they said, “how do the different eras of modes of production or society function? These different things, like feudalism, slavery, capitalism, imperialism, and we don’t know how many more.”

And then the compañeros and compañeras said:

“In the time of slavery, how did politics work? How did ideology work? How did the economy work? What were the social and cultural realms like? How were things in that time? We need to know all of this to awaken children. So that they know.”

And I answered the compañeros and compañeras: “I don’t know. I didn’t study that either. I didn’t study at all compañeros and compañeras.” And they said:

“So how should we do it?” And I said:

“Well, let’s see who can help.”

Here in Mexico there are a lot of students and sometimes they come down here, so we suggested this, that what we wanted to know about was how society and the mode of production worked in each of these eras.

“There’s not a book about that. We don’t know either.” They responded.

Does anybody here know? Because that’s what we want. What was the feudal era like? How did politics work in that time? How did ideology work in that time? How did the economic, social and cultural realms work in that time? Because now we compañeros and compañeras know about capitalism, now about neoliberal capitalism, and now we can describe how the political, ideological, economic and social realms work.

So that’s why I’m telling you that with our resistance and rebellion we have a new form of education, a new form of health care. It is our resistance and rebellion that have taught us how to do these things, but we also have failures.

Look, before when we hadn’t yet suggested or clarified to the NGOs what I explained to you the day before yesterday, we built things like clinics, or mini-clinics, because they provided funds to do so. And what was understood was:

“Ah a clinic. How great! Now we’re going to have healthcare.”

But about 4 or 5 years ago, we realized this wasn’t true, because it implied organization and when the compañeros wanted to organize themselves… well, why am I telling you about this? Because, well imagine that we have here the clinic or the mini-clinic. And the communities are here five to six hours a day trying to get this clinic running. And the health promotors or promotoras come in shifts to attend the clinic. But at the same time we had started the work of what we call the three areas: which are medicinal plants [also midwifery and bone-setting]. And the compañeros and compañeras were learning what plants work for what kinds of things – cough, flu, parasites, pain, diaorrhea, vomiting – all of these kinds of things. So, pure and simple, we weren’t going to the clinic. So the compañeros and compañeras began to say:

“What is the purpose of the health promotor going to the clinic? We’ll just have to feed them. But that’s not actually working for us. What is working for us is the promotora who works with medicinal plants.

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So this changed things for us. And this is where what we were talking about yesterday comes into play. We began to re-organize ourselves and at the same time re-educate ourselves. So what we did was that the compañeros that were the promotores carried out a campaign. They gathered things like the ultra sound machine, the equipment for pap smears, the lab equipment, and the dental equipment and went to the communities. They organized themselves by municipalities or by regions and went to carry out these services. So in that process they were able to detect who had what kinds of problems – hernias, tumours, appendicitis and these kinds of things. So it was no longer just letting the doctors who support us know what was going on. And we were also able to support the doctors, because this way they would already know what the patients had. It would be there on the film or on the x-ray or on the ultrasound.

So this really is a new kind of health [or healthcare] for us because we are able to detect our compañeras and compañeros’ health problems beforehand, before the doctor. And also of course the partidistas’ health problems.

It is through our resistance and rebellion that the compañeros have the freedom to practice what they think at a local level. For example, there are communities that began to create what they call the BAC. So, we asked them what that was and it turns out that it is the Autonomous Community Bank. That is, it belongs to the communities; they themselves created it.

And it is through our resistance and rebellion that we are improving our communications media. That’s what we call it. That includes the Zapatista autonomous community radio that the compañeros of the Junta de Buen Gobierno themselves run. They use these radio broadcasts to transmit what they want the Zapatista and non-Zapatista communities to know.

It is through our resistance and rebellion that we practice a new democracy. That is where the compañeros, the communities, and the authorities try new things altogether. Sometimes we fail on those things but we realize when it happens so that we can see how to improve them.

For example, and this is really important, one of the changes that we had to make in order to improve was the following. Before, we mentioned that there is a new education where the children really do learn how to read and write and do maths, so these young 18 or 19 year olds are named as authorities because they have these skills. So when the assembly meets, all of a sudden its all young people. The municipal council and also the MAREZ, are all young people. But it was a mistake to have all young people in there because they haven’t had the experience of being an older Zapatista; they don’t know what it was like during the times of clandestinity; the effort, the sacrifices and everything that required; the incredible courage and everything it took to rise up in 1994. The young people haven’t had that experience. Things have been very easy for them.

So the communities realized that this wasn’t working and they began organizing the young people to have their own school that teaches them their work – their task, their duty, their obligation, what it means to be a Zapatista authority. But this school is for all of the communities. All of the men, women, and young people so that they understand what their task and their duty is when they are chosen to be an authority.

Within this democracy one of the ways that we experiment with how to do things and help the compas is, for example, and I don’t know what to call this, if its direct or indirect or somewhat direct, you’ll have to figure out which one it is; but for example let’s say that here in this room we are the authorities and among ourselves we know everyone, we know which compañero or compañera is concerned about the work, is really interested in the work, who wants and is able to help and orient others. We see who doesn’t just talk about those things and but is really able to practice them.

So, what we do here is propose that a compañero or compañera be a member of the Junta de Buen Gobierno, if that is what we are choosing someone for. Now we here are authorities and because we know each other we propose that particular compañero or compañera, but we don’t decide that here. Rather, we have to take that proposal to the communities and that is where we explain that we, as assembly members, think that this compañero or compañera will be a good choice to do this work because we have seen this or that.

And then the communities say, because this is what the communities ask us, “is it true what you say about this person? Because it will be on your head.” And that is where we as authorities have to be truthful about things; if we really have seen that the compañera is interested and concerned and has demonstrated that she can orient and support others, then that is how the authorities help the communities choose people. It’s not because a given compañero or compañera runs their own campaign.

For example, how do the communities monitor or keep watch over their authorities. So the Vigilance Commission is in the caracoles at all times (inaudible). They monitor or keep watch over the authorities, but the compañeros and compañeras, they have in their head and heart the importance of the task of keeping watch over their authorities. Very recently, a member of the Junta de Buen Gobierno – because they have shifts – well this member had finished his shift and was in his community, and went, I don’t know where, to make some purchases in the city and someone saw him there with a Tecate [a brand of beer] in his hand, but he was in the city. But so then that compañero or compañera who saw him notified the Junta de Buen Gobierno that so-and-so was seen with a Tecate, which is to say that our compas pursue their authorities wherever they go. They keep watch over them.

So for example, in democracy, how, even in the children’s classes, do we go about teaching them this, so that they understand why their parents are in meetings?

The teachers say:

“Okay kids, our festival is coming up” -for example May 3. The community celebrates a festival on May 3, and so the teacher says “and you children, what are you going to do?”

“Well we want to have a piñata or we want to do a skit or a bit of theatre,” the kids start to say and they consult with all the children about what they want to perform.

Dances, theatre pieces, piñatas, or whatever they want to do.

So the kids start to learn how to organize themselves. That is in addition to the fact that they accompany their moms and dads in the assemblies. Here one thing that we have learned in our resistance and rebellion is that we can’t be afraid to go to the community and suggest our proposals – however difficult it may be. The compañeros of the Juntas de Buen Gobierno are learning this also; that however difficult it may be to do, we must go to the communities and make our proposal so that they talk about it, they think about it, and that they learn because we don’t want a situation where the compañeros and compañeras – because they think they understand what the people in the communities want – launch initiatives without telling the communities. I don’t know if you understand what I’m trying to say here.

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So let’s take me as an example. Let’s say the compañeros and compañeras have seen me, and they know and I know that I can hit upon exactly what the people want. And so because they have seen me, I start to think a lot of myself and I get a big head and I begin to launch initiatives that I think are good without consulting the communities. So the compas say we are not going to permit that, because for however much we may understand and really nail what is needed, we still have to go to our communities because if we don’t, then we start to create a bad culture. We start to create a bad culture all over again. I started to think about this when the compa Zibechi was talking because it is true what he said. The ex-president of his country showed a nice face towards the outside but inside, who knows. Because as we Mexicans say, you can see the face but you can’t see the heart, and well, he told us how it really was.

That’s one of the things we have detected from within our resistance and rebellion and have said that we are not going to allow; that the people must be informed, the people must be consulted. So that’s what our resistance and rebellion has allowed us. It gives us time to invent things, to create things, to imagine. We don’t have an instruction manual and this is the truth. There is not a book for this. Our manual is evaluating our work to see how to improve it. Our manual is the actual problem that arises. It is how we have to resolve this problem; and that is how we advance, confronting those problems and resolving them with an imagination in our practice. So that’s the thing about our resistance and rebellion. We don’t give up. We are very stubborn. We don’t just let something go. We have to resolve it. We have to find the solution. So we have to understand our resistance and rebellion as if the shots, the bullets were real. As if the bombs were real. That is, we have to understand it as a war in order to confront the enemy, meaning we have to take it seriously. Because this is one of the ways that we defeat the enemy, finding solutions for how to better our own self-government. What we mean by that is that the struggle, the fight, is not just with weapons and bombs, but also on the political terrain, the ideological, the economic terrain, and everything else.

Our resistance and rebellion exists because we are working on them, because we are organizing them. Because we are there alongside our people—struggling, supporting, orienting, improving. At the same time, our resistance gives us security and simultaneously helps us keep watch over ourselves, take care of ourselves. And like I told you, this resistance is alive and active because we are working on it. We really consider it one of our weapons of struggle. Because, for example, our actual guns have been resting for the past 20 years, but if we don’t take care of those guns then they become useless. But we do take care of them, so they are just like they were in 1994. They are still useful because we are still taking care of them.

So our organization, our rebellion and resistance is what makes us, what allows us to take care of ourselves, what gives us safety and security. And we have to keep improving them as we are able through our work. Our resistance and rebellion has helped us see that if the political parties hadn’t split us into many different parts, things would be a little different. Because the political parties divide us, and then so do the social organizations that are co-opted by the political parties, which are like the sharks or attack dogs of the political parties. Then those social organizations also divide and provoke, and they continue to do this. I’m going to give you an example here of how we confront this problem and what we have seen as effective.

You will remember, and if you don’t I will remind you of Zinacantán, and what happened in Zinacantán, where the perredistas—members of the PRD—cut off the water supply to our compañeros who are bases of support. And when we went to take water to our compañeros, the perredistas attacked us with rocks, clubs, and bullets. What happened happened, and the Junta de Buen Gobierno, as a solution, bought a little piece of land where there is a water spring and gave it to the compañeros who are bases of support.

But here is the example of what I mean by the political parties dividing us, dividing our communities. Because what happened then was that a group of former compas left; they stopped being Zapatistas and so the compas bases of support said, “well we are not going to give them water any more, because now they are no longer a part of us.” And they went to suggest this to the Junta de Buen Gobierno, but the Junta said to the compañeros:

No compañeros, water is life, so we cannot tell them that we are not going to let them have water, even though when we went to give water to you, our bases of support, the perredistas shot at us. But that is not how we do it. We are just going to invite them to take care of the water and to respect the trees that we have planted there, so that they grow and also protect the water.”

There are a million things that I can tell you in this regard, of how they fuck with the communities, of how the political parties divide us, but this is how we combat that. Sometimes being humble works and sometimes it doesn’t. Because what the compañeros did in that case, in letting the perredistas access the water, that was about humility.

It is through our resistance and rebellion that the compañeros of the Juntas de Buen Gobierno and the MAREZ made an agreement across all levels of authorities to carry out the sharing or the exchange. Because there was an internal exchange or sharing and that helped us to create, to invent among all of us, what became the Little School. This process gave us a lot of strength because the exchange that the compañeros held with all the MAREZ, theJuntas de Buen Gobierno, is what demonstrated that they are true teachers.

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And this is where we see that what happened upon the arrival of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation in 1983 is real. Because at that time, the first compañeros insurgentes and insurgentas, well when they came they were very square or rigid, but upon arriving and through our interaction with the compañeros and compañeras of the communities, this rigidity was dismantled.

Because in the communities they were already in resistance. They lived in their communities and it was immediately clear that the compañeros and compañeras of the communities were already in resistance. For example, there were communities that named their own comisariados despite the fact that the municipal president demanded that he got to name that position. They weren’t bases of support at that time in 1983, and even though some communities said ‘what the municipal president says doesn’t matter, what counts is what we say,’ there were also other communities that did go to the municipal president so that he would name their comisariado.

So at that time, there were these two types of communities. Since there were communities that were already in resistance, there it was a task of reinventing more forms of resistance.

So compañeros, compañeras, brothers and sisters, that is our experience. It is a small experience, like this little corncob that the compas from the north gave us.

So, evaluate from where you are what makes for a good seed and which seed is not good and can’t be put into practice. Then decide what is the first thing you have to do, and then the second, and the third, and the fourth and so on.

There is one more thing I want to tell you because what we are saying here is real. I remember in the year 1985 the commander, the person in charge of the section I was with, got us together one day and explained: we are the Zapatista Army for National Liberation. Each section was made up of 4 people, so the 4 of us turned and looked at each other and said, “we are the Zapatista Army for National Liberation, the 4 of us.”

He told us: here we have two options. We are going to work, and if we are going to work, it will have consequences, because we’re going to grow. We are going to convince the people, and there are going to be many many compañeros and compañeras, but for this we need to be very careful with security. Or, we are not going to work, that is, we are not going to do political work and we are going to be here getting very bored of each other’s faces month after month and year after year because we didn’t want to work.

So one has to think carefully about which option they choose.” And that is what we did. We began to work and by the year 1986 there were battalions of insurgentes and insurgentas. There were battalions of milicianos and milicianas.

But don’t forget compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters, if that is what you decide to do, that we start like this, small. But if we work, we grow, and if we don’t, then we are ever smaller and we die without really doing anything.

All right then compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters, that was our participation for this session about resistance and rebellion. We leave it to you to see what is useful for you and what is not. And the first thing to do in order to achieve what you want to do, what we recommend, is that the first thing is to organize yourselves, because if there is not organization there isn’t anything.

Thank you very much compañeros, compañeras.

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June 11, 2015

Wallerstein: Elections can minimize the damage from the right

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:22 am

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Wallerstein: Elections can minimize the damage from the right

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Elections can minimize the damage that the right inflicts, Immanuel Wallerstein says at EZLN seminar

By: Elio Henríquez

San Cristóbal de las Casas

The United States sociologist and historian, Immanuel Wallerstein, asserted that one must “use electoral tactics defensively” and although “it’s clear that victories” in the elections “don’t transform the world, it’s also true that they must not be underrated because they can be an essential mechanism for protecting the immediate needs of populations all over the world against the loss of benefits already acquired.”

Those “electoral battles,” he said, “must be developed within the logic of minimizing the damage that the global right is still able to inflict by means of control of the governments of the whole planet.”

In a position paper that he sent in writing to the seminar titled Critical thought versus the capitalist hydra, organized by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), which was held in this city, he maintained that “we must not underrate this kind of battle because we all live and survive in the present and no movement can tell people that survival isn’t relevant in the short term.”

He clarified that it implies that “those electoral tactics be assumed exclusively as a pragmatic matter,” because “none of us ought to think that winning State power is a way of really transforming the world; but the decision about which is the lesser of the evils, must be analyzed case by case and moment by moment.”

In his paper titled “The anti-systemic movements and the future of capitalism,” read and translated by the social scientist Carlos Antonio Aguirre Rojas, investigator from the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM), he said that: “this decision depends in large part on the electoral system with which we’re dealing. A system in which the winner takes it all must be confronted differently than a system in which two rounds (runoffs) exist or a system of proportional representation.”

Besides that, he added, “there are many different partisan or sub-partisan traditions inside the global left and although the majority of traditions are relics from a previous era, many people still continue voting according to these traditions.”

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He emphasized: “Then, if state elections are only a pragmatic issue it is crucial to create alliances that respect these traditions seeking the 51 percent that, pragmatically speaking, counts a lot. But it’s very clear that we won’t ever jump for joy in the streets when we attain winning in these state elections, because the electoral victory nothing more than a simple defensive tactic.”

Considered one of the most important U.S. intellectuals on the left, Wallerstein recognized that individuals and movements exist that think that the electoral processes “are crucial,” but another part “considers that they are totally irrelevant.”

After asserting that one must “incessantly pressure towards greater democratization,” he stated that: “at least during the last two centuries, what movements on the left and the people have demanded most loudly from the States can be summed up in the word ‘more,’ in other words, more education, more health care, more income that guaranties a certain standard of living, and these demands not only are popular but also immediately useful in the everyday life of the majority of the people.”

He exposed that: “the conquest of ‘more’ also reduces the possibilities of the incessant accumulation of capital, because of which “these demands must be continuously maintained, because here the point of ‘too much’ will never be reached.”

The United States analyst asserted that: “although it’s clear that expanding all these functions of the ‘Welfare’ State will always pose questions about the efficiency in expenses, corruption or the creation of omnipotent or irresponsible bureaucracies, questions that we must resolve, that should not impede us from continuing with those basic demands for more, much more”.

In this sense, he emphasized, “it’s crucial that the popular movements facing governments of the center, center left, sometimes called progressive that they have participated in electing, not excuse them from the satisfaction of these demands for more health care, more education, more income, because the fact that they’re dealing with a friendly government and not with a government openly of the right, does not mean that we should lower our arms and stop fighting forever.”

Very much to the contrary, he continued, since by “pressuring those friendly governments we oblige opposition forces on the right to look towards a position on the center left, while if we don’t pressure them we push those governments of the center left towards positions on the center right.”

He emphasized that: “if it’s very clear that they could come to present certain special circumstances in which we would have to ignore these affirmations, the general rules with respect to democratization are clearly those of always looking for more, for much more.”

At 84 years of age, Wallerstein also said that: “the anti-systemic movements now are found in the midst of a ferocious fight around what our future can be,” because the world capitalist system is in the “structural crisis” phase.

In his opinion, “a real parting of waters exists in the programs of the left parties and social movements of the whole world in the period that encompasses from the 1960s of the last century until today.”

In the 1960s, he indicated, the programs of the movements of the old left placed their emphasis on the change of the economic structures and up to a certain point on the socialization or nationalization of the means of production, but they said very little and at times nothing in regard to the inequalities that didn’t have a class foundation.

“On the other hand today, almost all those parties and movements or their respective heirs put forth proposals that refer to gender, race and ethnic inequalities. Many of those programs are terribly inadequate, but at least those movements now feel that it’s necessary to say something with respect to these inequalities.”

He stated that on the other hand, “virtually no party or movement exists today that considers itself as being on the left and that continues defending the socialization or the nationalization of the means of production and a large number of them are proposing to move towards other horizons. And this is a healthy turn that some salute and others reject but that the majority accepts.”

He considered that: “that from 1968 until today an enormous quantity of attempts have been accumulating to create alternative strategies proposed by different movements, old and new, which has also created a healthy change in the relationships that between them guard that group of different anti-systemic movements in the sense that the mutual denunciations and the vicious struggles of the past have been considerably abated, which is a positive development that I believe we have underestimated.”

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Saturday, May 9, 2015

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/05/09/politica/013n1pol

https://compamanuel.wordpress.com/2015/06/10/wallerstein-elections-can-minimize-the-damage-from-the-right/

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June 9, 2015

EZLN: Resistance and Rebellion II.

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:32 pm

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EZLN: Resistance and Rebellion II.

Words of Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés at the May 2015 Seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra”

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May 7, 2015 (evening session)

Good evening, compañeros, compañeras, brothers and sisters.

It seems like a splash of cold water on our faces was indeed what we needed, because now we are definitely getting some thought-provoking ideas.

So we will need to translate this from Spanish to Tzeltal, Tojolabal, Tzotzil, and Chol, and from there a joint response will arise, because there are some things proposed by the compañeros at this table that we are interested in discussing.

We continue with our words of explanation and discussion on what resistance and rebellion mean to us as Zapatistas.

For us, as an organization that resists and struggles in rebellion, we first need to be clear on why one would resist and rebel. If we are not clear on the “Why?” the “For what?” and the “From what?” we simply cannot go forward.

For us, resistance and rebellion give us life. Why? Because we are clear on the “For what,” the “From what,” and the “For whom.” So we carry out what we’ve agreed upon and see if it brings us results, or better, if it brings us the results we wanted.

That’s how we are able to see that when resistance and rebellion are organized, they give life. And it is precisely because of resistance and rebellion that we are now here speaking with you. If it would have been otherwise, if ferocity had surpassed our sense of rebellion, we wouldn’t have paid attention to what happened next, the movement of January 12, 1994 [the civilian mobilizations calling for a halt to the war]. And if we hadn’t paid attention to that, who knows where our bones would be spread now; we wouldn’t be here speaking with you all.

So it is thanks to our rebellion and resistance that we were able to understand that movement, and that’s why we are here with you. But it’s also thanks to rebellion and resistance that we have been able to construct something for ourselves as Zapatistas, something small, tiny, like this [he holds up two fingers pressed together]. Can those in the back see this? Ah no? Well that’s exactly the point. This is how we began—small—so small you can’t see it, but if that resistance and rebellion is organized, it starts to multiply.

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When this thing was that small, we used to say amongst ourselves, “One day, we’re going to speak with all Mexicans, with brothers and sisters, compañeros and compañeras from all over the world.” Well, here it is. That now exists in reality. But for this to happen, one must resist and rebel.

In talking about resistance and rebellion, we’re not saying that there’s only one way. That’s why we say not to copy, that it’s not about copying. But for us, the Zapatistas, our self-government—that is, our autonomy to govern ourselves—is thanks to resistance and rebellion. If we would have dedicated our energy only to bombs and bullets, to military efforts, then compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters, we wouldn’t be here right now, and that’s the truth.

But because it was understood that resistance is also a weapon in the struggle, and that organizing resistance was important, we are able to be here today and you can see this in our actions; that’s how we are battling capitalism. For us, resistance and rebellion has no end. That’s how we understand it in practice, because through our resistance and rebellion we can meet our needs.

For example, we found an answer to the lack of education available to us, we found our own [education] promotores, and we figured out how to feed those compañeros and compañeras. And with the problem of health, we sought out and trained compañeros and compañeras. Then we found they needed more support and assistance because it’s also a question of specialization in health, as it isn’t always the same medicines that work; there are always new types of illnesses. So we had to resolve that issue also.

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In each instance, with each step we take to resolve each problem, we have to again organize our resistance. As a joke we used to say, “Why was it again that we wanted autonomy?” So our answer to that was, and you have already noticed how we talk around here, “To fuck over capitalism!” And then, again how we talk here, “The thing is you have to work really fucking hard to build it!”

So that’s why we say that it never ends. With each step that we take, we construct, and this is always accompanied by resistance and rebellion, organized, of course.

Resistance and rebellion guide our laws as Zapatistas. Through resistance and rebellion, we create and improve our laws and accords, always through assemblies in the communities, always through democracy. That is to say, through the thought and the voice of the people.

The justice we create is strengthened by our resistance. Here I want to give you some examples because it’s really necessary to have resources. First, we are clear amongst ourselves what it is to create a justice that is different from the capitalist system, but in putting it into practice we start running into difficulties. For example, in the case of a murder: under our theory our law states that if I am the murderer, then I need to work not only to provide for my family but also to provide for the family of the person I murdered.

Once this actually happens the problems arise, because when you put the murderer to work you need to give him the tools. But then he might escape; some have in fact escaped. So you would have to kill him so that he doesn’t escape, but we wouldn’t do that. Why? What’s the problem? Well, because there isn’t a jail where all the work that would need to be done would be inside. That is, everything the murderer needed to work would have to be inside the jail, as well as some way to convert this work into maize, beans, everything that is necessary in order to eat and to distribute food to the family who suffered a loss and the family responsible for that loss. But this doesn’t exist; there aren’t the resources for that. So what’s the system’s problem? In some jails they do have these resources, but they are stolen by the same people who mete out justice, or who say that they mete out justice.

So what do we do when this type of problem arises? Because it has arisen in the past. What the compañeros do for now is mediate while the murder is being investigated. The authorities speak with the family that suffered the murder and the family responsible, and that is how the information is shared and communication carried out. While the investigation is going on, sometimes the family responsible for the damage might say, “We will give them 40,000 pesos,” and then the authority says, “It’s not up to me to accept. I will need to ask the family that suffered the damage because we as authorities can’t put a price on a life.”

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So this is why the authority plays a mediating role. The authority goes and relays the offer to the family that suffered the damage and it goes back and forth until an agreement is reached. That’s how it has worked and how we resolve things today. And it’s there where resistance and rebellion come in—because as I was saying yesterday, it’s not enough to have strength and rage in the face of the enemy, in the face of capitalism—there are also things that we know we cannot do, such as stealing. We know perfectly well why there is theft, and why there is violation of laws. Where do those problems come from? Because there are violations when there is theft.

So all of these things need to be investigated because a lot of times these problems arise with drugs and alcohol, with drunkards. So what the authorities do is carry out an intense campaign in the communities to prevent this from happening, to prevent violations committed by drunks or drug addicts by reminding them how difficult things will be for them if they commit crimes; this includes preventing them from killing as well. So where this does end up happening with is the partidistas [political party followers or members].

So then we end up having problems because it turns out that we end up taking care of the partidista murderers, feeding them and policing them to make sure that they don’t escape. That’s why we say that Zapatista justice is for everyone, no matter who you are. It’s a nice thing to say but in practice it’s not easy to do because now you’re talking about taking care of someone for a week where you have to heal them, feed them. And watch out because his family might go complain that you’re violating his human rights because you’re not feeding him. So then this became a problem for us Zapatistas.

I tell you this, compañeros and compañeras, not so that you become discouraged or demoralized. It’s so that you can you can take note that in order to govern yourselves you must organize yourselves, and recognize all it takes in order to govern yourselves.

What we did in order to resolve that problem was that we said to the partidistas, “You know what, Mr. Comisariado [local authority], we are going to resolve this case, we are going to investigate it and everything, but you all need to keep the murderer over there in your community, or take him to that government you believe in, the bad government.” So then the partidista family says, “No, we want to resolve the problem here because there [with the official government] we won’t know where they will hold him, we won’t know how they will violate the family’s rights, and we also don’t have money to go back and forth, and on top of that, there’s the money needed for an attorney.”

So what we say is that they will need to jail them and be responsible for them in their community, so that the partidista community realizes how much work it is, how many resources it requires, and what a problem the murderer is because you have to take care of him, you have to feed him, and this makes for a lot of work. And so we have educated the partidistas like this, and little by little we see them fighting drug addiction. Where this is really hard for them is in those places where this problem is really out of control; they even tell us, “We have already picked him up and taken him to the government maybe four or five times, but the bad government doesn’t know what to do with him either and just lets him go.”

It is in our resistance and rebellion, where we’re forging a path, where we’re seeing how to put into practice and improve implementation of our seven principles of lead by obeying, that we say that the people rule and the government obeys.

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Here I want to give you all an example of what we experience with “the people rule and the government obeys.” For example, in a municipal assembly, which can be three or four regions—with each region having dozens of communities, which is why we call it an assembly of the autonomous municipality—the authorites of the MAREZ [Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities in Rebellion] put forward a proposal perhaps for a cooperative or a collective work project. Then it circulates among the communities and when the time comes to see what the people think, then the majority say, “Yes, we are in agreement,” and there are one or two communities that say, “We are not in agreement.”

So a discussion begins where we ask them to give us their reasons, and to see if it’s clear what is meant by collective work and what the goal of collective work is. Then the communities that are not in agreement present their argument: “It’s because we are very far away, we have a lot of expenses.” And so from there the municipality, that is, the authorities and the communities that are in agreement, begin to think of a way to make collective work a closer possibility for those who say they don’t agree. I’m not sure if you all understand me.

So then the discussion goes back over to the community that was not in agreement, and then the community authority comes back and says, “The community still doesn’t want to.” So then the assembly, the majority that does agree, asks him, “But why?”

– “Well, it’s because the people rule.”

And then the discussion begins once again and they reply:

– “You are mistaken, compañeros from X community, you are mistaken. You’re understanding things backward. We who make up the majority here will rule because the majority of the municipality’s communities are in agreement.”

So then the authority returns to the community to say that the majority, the voice of the people, is what rules, and you all must obey. The authority has to explain it until they’re finally convinced. The municipal authority has to go directly to the communities to explain things, and during the visit the authority observes many things. Sometimes when the municipal authority visits the community and speaks directly with the bases—complying with what our seven principles say about convincing the people, not defeating them—the municipal authority realizes that the community authority has not been explaining things well, because he’s the one who doesn’t want to do the collective work project. Then the community automatically punishes its authority because he was supplanting the community’s voice.

That’s why I was telling you all that about self-government, it’s not that we can’t do it, but that we must struggle a lot to do it. We have achieved it through our resistance and rebellion because we do a lot of political work, ideological work, a lot of explaining about how we see capitalism, and a lot of evaluating of how we are doing as an organization.

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That’s where we realize that the only thing we can do is struggle with all of our will and a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of work, a lot of effort, and a lot of sacrifice. That is, a lot of resistance and a lot of rebellion. That’s how we’re going to be able to keep on struggling because we know full well that capitalism is not going to let us live in peace.

Our resistance and rebellion has given us the strength to put this into practice—to exercise collective freedom—because a lot of things that we come across on our path, in our governing process, we are figuring out how to resolve and improve from within our freedom. For example, there’s what I was saying earlier about the zones training a new generation of young people because that’s what allows us to understand things, but we don’t stop with just understanding. We have realized over these last 20 years that if all we do is say things, then nothing will get done.

So once when we discover what is important, what is necessary, once the decision is made by the people to move forward on that work, we begin to put it into place. First we have to take into account the voice and the decision of the people, and from there we begin the work. Because we have to try it and see if it works out, kind of like experimenting; that’s how we go about improving things.

That’s why we say that our resistance and rebellion is what has helped us improve our practice of freedom in what we want to do. For example, the compañeros and compañeras of the communities have the freedom to replace an authority who does not comply with the community’s rules, or to reprimand or punish an authority who doesn’t comply with the rules.

Our resistance and rebellion have given us the freedom to create, invent, and imagine how to make our government work better in order to have a better life, and that is what is helping us figure out how to keep improving how we govern, how to keep improving the work of our autonomous governments.

With our resistance and rebellion, the Zapatista people, men, and women now have the right to speak their word, that is, they have the freedom of expression. And they have the right to be heard, whether they are in agreement or not, they still have the right to be heard.

But at the same time, the people, men and women of free expression, are also free to think and propose, free to present opinions on what they think is a good idea or not, free to make proposals on how things could improve or on a new way of doing things; they have the freedom to study, think, and present new proposals. They are free to analyze and then say if they agree or don’t agree, they are free to discuss in order to reach the best possible agreement, the one with the most advantages, And for that, things have to be thoroughly discussed. And finally, our people have the freedom to decide which ideas will be put into place.

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Within our resistance and rebellion, we have discovered something thanks to the practices of the compañeras. When we speak of the three areas of health—midwifery, bone setting, and medicinal plants—it was the compañeras who said that we need to rescue that past culture where medical doctors weren’t necessary (because indeed, we had no access to them before), where the people lived with the help of plants, roots, leaves, and hulls. One day they said why are we going to throw our tears into the grave, packing the earth down over our dead, burying all their wisdom and intelligence there; we need to rescue it.

So we reflected on that and were able to understand it in the political sense. What was that sense? We said, “What happened in 1810? What happened in 1910? When Villa died, when Zapata died, the struggle ceased with them.” That’s what happens when things are concentrated in just one person, the rage, wisdom, intelligence, the art, the art of struggle, of fighting. We said, “Why is it just us, the political leadership of the clandestine committee?” And so we began to think about what to do.

So, from within our resistance and rebellion we said, “So that this doesn’t happen to us, we need to give our inheritance to our compañeros, that is, to the new generation. But this inheritance is not about land, a cow, or even a louse or a flea, right? No, it’s about struggle, about the organization—the EZLN, and about autonomy.” And in the process of that experience, reflecting on the how and what and all that, one of our compañeros and compañeras said,

– “But we’re still missing something, compas.”

– “No, I think we’re ok.”

– “No.”

– “But what’s missing?”

– “We still need to know what the Sixth, the Other [the Other Campaign], will have as inheritance.”

We then begin asking, “What Other, what Sixth?” because there isn’t an organization that speaks for it. It’s not like the autonomy that already belongs to the communities and is their form of organization, where they govern themselves, women and men, and the EZLN as an organization is also there, keeping on. So then, what Other, what Sixth? Or who exactly from the Sixth? So the answer was, “We’ll have to get to that later, compas.”

So now as a collective we have started to see what to do. And with that resistance and rebellion we see that it’s true what the compas are saying: “What?” “How?”

We don’t have anything to give as inheritance, on the contrary. It is our compañeros and compañeras from the communities who have an inheritance to provide to the compañeros and compañeras, those from the Sixth who are willing to engage with the truth. That’s how the Little School was born, and that’s what I mean that it’s the compañeros and compañeras who provide the inheritance.

But before that all happened, before they became Little School teachers and guardianes, we had heard what I was telling you about the compañeras, where they said that we needed to rescue things and not bury them. And it’s true, we would cry for our family members when they died, but we buried their wisdom and intelligence with them. I don’t know, we said something about how we should not be selfish, that we have to teach the compañeros and compañeras. And we are not going to live forever, even if the enemy doesn’t kill us, even if we don’t die in an accident, the fact is that we are all going to have to leave sometime, we are all going to have to return [to the earth] sometime.

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So then we started to reflect on why it’s always us with the microphone. “Why is it always me?” we asked ourselves. “Why are we going to be afraid of the people?” Just like how they are the ones who govern now, it should be the same with this issue. And if we’re going to provide an inheritance then it should be complete: they, the compañeros and compañeras, should be the teachers.

So we had to organize this and encourage them, and the truth is the compañeros from the communities are going to know what to do when we’re no longer here. That’s the point, you know, that we needed to give them the space to do it, and it turns out they know how to explain things better than we can, that’s the truth. I’m an insurgent, I’m in the encampment, I’m not in the community. They are the ones who live it daily, not me. I’m in the camp, giving the orders, of course.

It was through our resistance and rebellion that we understood how to resolve this problem of giving orders. The previous way of doing things wasn’t the fault of the compañeros, those who have carried forward these 20 years of governing, and it wasn’t our fault either, because it was necessary at the time, we trained and prepared ourselves to follow orders. In the military orders have to be followed and not debated. There is no democracy, and that’s how we prepared the compañeros milicianos and milicianas, that’s how we were able to control thousands of combatants; it worked not to argue over orders. But when the time came to construct autonomy, it was difficult to change our thinking, because governing is not about orders but about agreements.

But when we’re organized, we can create and undo, and this can be seen in actions. We had to do political and ideological work once again in order to make sure the compañeros understood. That’s why we say that each thing has its purpose, its function, and these are not the same. It can be done, but it requires organization.

Because we think and believe that…this is why I told you this morning that “I don’t like being up here.” But the way that we’re organized is that what our people ask us to do we have to do. We who have been many years here up in front, we want the compañeros to also be there, now that we have given them the space, we want them to take this place. But the compañeros say, “The things is that we have a hard time speaking Spanish.” And so we have to do what the compas say.

It’s our way of walking, working, struggling, with our resistance and rebellion. Because we think that this way, we who represent are not indispensable, that everyone must learn, practice, and carry out these tasks so that before one goes, before they return to where we all must go [the earth], they have confidence in the compañero or compañera who will take over. Like a doctor giving a medical consultation, we provide support by drawing on our own experiences. Because it’s not the same to have the compañeros and compañeras just sitting there and listening; when they take the microphone and talk, then you see it’s like the compas say—now his hand isn’t shaking, but just a little while ago it was. Because it’s true, it’s not the same thing.

So what is needed is for the compañeros to practice, and to have us there helping them because once we’re dead we can no longer be consulted. Or can we? So there it is. It’s not the same when you are next to them, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, during the moments of your life and you can say, “Listen compañero, compañera, you think it’s okay how I have it here written out? You think it’s okay how I am going to explain it, discuss it, guide it?” And so that’s how we support each other, that’s how we help.

That’s why we say that we are very other. Because we move as if trying on a shoe, or clothes—you measure and see if it fits, try it on, and if not then you keep looking for the one that fits. That’s how we are compañeros, compañeras, brother and sisters, that is what our resistance and rebellion is about.

We’ll continue tomorrow.

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May 27, 2015

EZLN: Resistance and Rebellion I

Filed under: Zapatista — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:14 pm

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EZLN: Resistance and Rebellion I

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Resistance and Rebellion I.

Words of Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés at the May 2015 Seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra”

May 6, 2015

Good afternoon, compañeros, compañeras, brothers and sisters.

I am going to talk to you about how our resistance and rebellion are our weapons.

Before we begin talking about resistance and rebellion, I want to remind you that we are an armed group. We have our weapons, as one more tool in the struggle, that’s how we explain it now. Our weapons are a tool of struggle, just like the machete, axe, hammer, pick, shovel, hoe, and other such things. Each of these tools has its function, but the function of a weapon, well, if you use it, you kill.

So in the beginning, when we rose up at the dawn of the year 1994, a movement of thousands of Mexicans from all over the country emerged, grew to millions, and pressured the government, the baldy—that’s what we call him, Salinas the baldy—to sit down and dialogue with us, and at the same time urged us to sit down to dialogue and negotiate.

We understood the call of the people of Mexico. So we gave the order to retreat from violent struggle. It was then that we discovered, through the compañeras—because in combat our people died—but the compañeras were developing what we might call another way to struggle. Because the government, a month later, a year, two years later, wanted to buy us off, as we put it, they wanted us to accept aid and forget about struggle.

Many of the compañeras spoke and they asked why and for what our compañeros died that dawn of 1994. Just as our combatants, men and women, had gone to fight against the enemy, we had to see those who were trying to buy us off as our enemy as well. It was important not to accept what they wanted to give us.

So that was how it started. It was very difficult to make contact between the zones because the whole area was full of soldiers. Little by little, we were able to pass the word from compañeros in one zone to another about what the compañeras were saying, that we should not accept what the bad government was handing out. That just as our combatants had gone to fight the enemy that exploits us, we as bases of support also had to fight this enemy by not accepting its handouts. And so little by little, in this way, this idea spread throughout all the zones.

Today we can give many different explanations for what rebellion and resistance are to us, because they are things that we discovered a little at a time, practicing through our actions, such that now we can actually, as they say, theorize these ideas. Resistance for us is to stand firm and strong, to respond to any attack from our enemy, the system. Rebellion for us is to be fierce in our response and our actions, according to what is necessary, to be ferocious and valiant in carrying out our actions or whatever it is that we need to do.

We discovered that resistance is not only resisting one’s enemy, refusing its crumbs or leftovers. Resistance also means resisting the enemy’s threats and provocations, even, for example, the noise of the helicopters. Just hearing the noise of the helicopters can make you afraid, because your head is telling you that they are going to kill you, so you start running and that is when they see you and shoot you down. So the key is to not be afraid, to resist, to be strong and firm and not run when you hear the noise. Because the fucking helicopter noise does, in fact, scare you, it alarms you, but the key is not to be afraid and to stay calm.

We realized this, that it isn’t just about refusing [aid]. We also have to resist our own outrage against the system—and this part is difficult and good at the same time—we have to organize this resistance and rebellion. What is the difficult part? There are thousands of us who employ the weapon of resistance, thousands, and there are thousands of us also who know how to control our rage and convert it into struggle. These are both difficult, which is why I began by saying that in our form of struggle we find our weapons.

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What we have seen is that organizing these two weapons of struggle helped us to open our minds and our way of looking at things. But this only works if resistance is organized– if one knows how to organize it and begins from a point of already being organized, because there is no resistance or rebellion without first having organization.

This requires a lot of political and ideological work, a lot of talking and guidance in the communities about resistance and rebellion. I remember an assembly of compañeros and compañeras where we were talking and the compañeros and compañeras were comparing peaceful political struggle to violent struggle. So some of the compañeros and compañeras asked, what happened to our brothers in Guatemala? Thirty years of violent struggle and what situation are our brothers in now?

Why does resistance within a peaceful political struggle have to be organized so well? Or why do we have to prepare our military resistance? Which will better serve us?

We realized in that discussion that what it is that we want is life, just as we said when Mexican civil society held that mobilization on January 12, 1994; they wanted our lives preserved, for us not to die. So how do we do that? What else do we need to do to resist and rebel?

There we realized that one thing we’d have to do was resist the mockery that people made of our form of governing, our autonomy. We would have to resist provocations from the army and the police. We would have to resist the problems caused by social organizations. We would have to resist the information that comes out in the media, all that stuff about how the Zapatistas are over, that they no longer have any strength, that the defunct Marcos is negotiating under the table with Calderón, or that Calderón is covering his health care costs because he is dying… well, he’s dead already, he did die in the end, but not because he went to Calderón for a cure, but rather to give life to another compañero.

So all of these psychological bombardments, we could call them, are meant to demoralize our bases, and they make for a bunch of things that we have to resist.

Later we discovered the resistance in each one of us, because we began to take on various tasks and responsibilities, and problems do arise at home—maybe this doesn’t happen to you all, or maybe it does, or maybe it’s even worse for you—but problems arise and we have to learn to resist individually, and at the same time collectively.

When we resist individually we think about the questions that come up about my dad, my mom, my wife, of “where are you?” “what are you doing?” “who are you with?” etc. Right? So one has to resist doing something bad, beating one’s wife who then abandons her work, and then later there are complaints, there isn’t any corn, or beans, the firewood isn’t gathered, there are problems with the kids, and all of these kind of things happen as a result. That is where resistance is individualized.

When we resist as a collective, it is done with discipline, that is, through agreement. We make an agreement regarding how we are going to deal with different types of problems. A recent example: in February, a group of people that aren’t Zapatistas were living on recuperated lands. We hadn’t said anything to them, but they got this idea that they wanted to be the owners of the land, so they started the process to legalize the land in their name.

And it became clear that Mr. Velasco was telling them they needed a certain number of people in order to do this, so these people started to look for others to be members of their village, and people began joining and they were armed. They grew to 58 people and then they started to invade the land that belongs to the compas, recuperated land. So the compas said, “we’re not going to allow this.”

“How many are there?”

“Well, close to 60.”

“That’s enough to justify our going in with 600 people, armed, and finish them off, given all the problems they’ve caused.”

They had poured a liquid over the compas’ pasture that burns the grass, they killed a stud and destroyed some of the compañeros’ houses. So the compas were already really pissed and rebellious, they had really had it. But this is when the other compas intervene:

“Remember, compañeros, we are a collective,’ they say to the 600 that are gathered there:

“Remember the orange? What have we said about what happens if you poke a hole in a piece of fruit?”

“Ah yes. But do those assholes understand things like that?”

“No, we are not going to let the ways and times of those assholes be imposed on us. We have our own way and time.”

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So what happens to an orange or lemon if you poke a hole in it? It rots the whole barrel of fruit. And what does that mean in this situation? That whatever we do will affect the rest of our organization. That’s the thing. So we have to ask the bases of support if we are going to respond with violence, or another way. Since we were already thinking about this, we were already practicing this idea that we’re talking about now, our bases didn’t permit a response like the one suggested above.

So we said to the compas: those people who are really rebellious, mad, really pissed off, they’re not going in. Tell their representatives that they’re not going because if they do they’re going to kill somebody, so it’s better that they don’t go. Tell their representative so he knows and can inform them; making sure they know is his problem. Also, the people who are really scared are not going either. The only ones going are those who understand that they must go, not to provoke, but to work the land, to plow the cornfield, build a house and everything else. So at dawn, the 600 [compas] went to the land, unarmed. They coordinated among themselves to retake control of their land.

This is how we control both rage and fear. We gather, explain, talk, and make the issue clear, because the truth is that the great majority of compañeros are not going to allow that kind of violence.

We have been developing this resistance for 20 years. At the beginning it was difficult because we often face difficult situations and need to know how to resolve them. I’m going to give you an example of how hard it is to change things, okay? Under Salinas’ government, they sponsored “projects,” giving out cash or credit, and the compas were receiving these projects. Imagine, milicianos, corporals, sergeants, Zapatistas accepting these handouts. So a good half of this money goes to what? Bullets, for our weapons, and equipment, and the other half goes to buy a cow like it was supposed to. So they would buy what they were supposed to with just a part of the funds, which is why the government stopped giving them out, even to the brothers who are partidistas [political party followers or loyalists].

So the compas came up with this idea, the one I have been telling you about, that we should agree on this practice of refusing stuff from the government. It was really hard, but the compas understood. They said yes, we’re going to do this, we’re going to resist. The downside of this was that sometimes when we are supposed to have a meeting, they say “ah no I can’t come, I don’t have any transportation money because I’m in resistance,” which is really just an excuse, it’s not that they don’t have it, it’s just a cover, a pretext.

But we started taking seriously this thing about refusing anything from the system, and we found that it meant that we had to work hard on our mother earth, doing the kinds of things that I have already told you about in these days we have been together here. That is where the compañeros began to see the fruits of their labor and they realized that it’s better to work the earth and forget about that stuff the government gives out.

We began to see that resistance and rebellion gave our organization security and sustenance. We began to practice all kinds of things, like the example I have been telling you about, of not talking to the government; none of our bases talk to the government, not even when there is a murder. We discovered that with resistance and rebellion we could govern ourselves and with resistance and rebellion we could develop our own initiatives.

Each zone organizes its own resistance, on economic, ideological, and political terrains. Some have more possibilities in particular areas than others, so we experiment. For example, the compañeros of Los Altos [the highlands] have to buy corn most of their lives, they do grow some but very little, and they have to buy it. So what we have done is have other zones take their corn and sell it to the compas in Los Altos so that they don’t have to buy it from the government store. So the money from the compas in Los Altos goes to another Caracol rather than to the government. Sometimes this works out well, other times it doesn’t, but even when it doesn’t work out, at least it’s a bad thing that we produced ourselves. For example, the corn is transported in tons, so one time the compañeros in charge of collecting the corn weren’t checking it and the compa bases of support, the bastards, put a bunch of rotten corn in the middle of the package, and since the other compas didn’t check it, it made it out and was transported. But when it got to its destination where it would be consumed, they checked it over and saw thatcompas were selling rotten corn to other compas.

So we have been correcting these types of problem, to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen. If we are going to be in resistance, the resistance has to be really well organized. A kind of exchange, like bartering as they say, didn’t work for us, because we can’t take tons of pears or apples from Los Altos to sell in the Jungle, and that’s what the compas produce a lot of there, vegetables [fruits]. So that doesn’t work for us, and now we are discussing how we are going to do this, we’re about halfway through the process of organizing that.

I’m going to give you a series of examples.

In 1998, the government came in and dismantled the autonomous municipalities, that was when Croquetas[i]—Albores—was still governor. In [the municipality of] Tierra y Libertad, in the Caracol I of La Realidad, the judicial police came in and destroyed the building that housed the autonomous municipality’s governing offices. The compañeros milicianos[ii] were the most emphatic in wanting to fight the judicial police—who were really soldiers disguised as police—and they were told that they couldn’t fight them. It was the compas milicianos who were most enraged that they were destroying the building where we housed our autonomous government.

So we went to the communities to see what they thought, and the communities said: let them destroy it, our autonomy is here, we have it here among us, the building is just a building. So we had their support and with that on our side we gave the order that the milicianos should not respond and make the organization pay the cost of their rage, and the milicianos and milicianas responded “fucking authorities.” But we began to see that sometimes the rage of the base doesn’t help us get where we need to go, and sometimes it is the CCRI [Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee] or the regional authority, or others that end up paying the price.

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Another example was when the army destroyed our first Aguascalientes. It was the same situation, we insurgents and milicianos were ready [to fight] because we knew that if they took a part of what we had, it would feel like total defeat—we thought very militarily then. Because in the military if you lose a battle, you’re fucked and you have to recover lost ground, but it requires double the effort. So again, what guided us was this question:

“What do we want, death or life?”

“Well, life.”

“Then let those assholes do what they’re going to do; we’re not going to kill them, but they’re also not going to kill us.”

“But what do we do if the ambush is already starting?”

“We have to send word ahead.”

So we had to get out of the way, and in doing that we avoided a lot of death, on our side and also on that of the enemy. In one of the ambushes authorization was given for a response, and that’s where General Monterola fell—he was a corporal then, but later we made him a General.

It also happened that way in the Caracol of Garrucha when the autonomous municipalities were dismantled, in the autonomous municipality of Ricardo Flores Magón. The same thing happened, the order was given not to respond to the violence that the enemy and the government wanted. That’s also how we have managed to endure so many provocations from the partidistas—those who let themselves be manipulated.

This is what has happened to the compañeros, in the placeswhere these attacks and provocations have been particularly harsh, the caracol of Morelia, the caracol of Oventik, of Garrucha, and of Roberto Barrios; the paramilitaries have been particularly cruel there in Roberto Barrios, Garrucha, Morelia, and Oventik.

For example, in San Marcos Avilés, our bases of support are constantly harassed. What the paramilitaries do is try to force you to fall for a provocation, it’s clear that they have been well trained by the government and the army, because they will frustrate you every possible way, taking your coffee, your beans, your corn, pulling up whatever you plant, cutting down your plantain trees, carrying off the pineapple you grew; they just annoy you. Until one day our bases said enough is enough. The good thing is that this rebellion and resistance is organized collectively, so the compañeros and compañeras bases of support from San Marcos Avilés went to the Junta de Buen Gobierno [Good Government Council] to say: we have come to say that we can’t take it anymore, we don’t care if we die, but if we do we’re going to take them with us.

So that’s when the Junta de Buen Gobierno and the Clandestine Committee [CCRI] called the compas together and explained: we’re not going to tell you no, we are first and foremost an organization; second, if any of you survive whatever happens, you’re not going to be able to go home, you’ll have to go into hiding because those assholes are not going to let you live, what they want is to finish off the bases of support. So what you have to do is create a document and a recording and we will get that to the government, so they know that their people there are going to die and so are we, and there you have it, whatever happens happens.

Later we tried to find one more way to deal with the problem. The compañeros and compañeras made their recording and we found a way to get it to the government, and it is still there, still valid. So the government, we know, I think gave money to the partidistas that are there, and they calmed down, because that’s how the government works. For whatever they want to do, they provide a “project” or distribute a little bit of money, that’s how the government has always worked. Who knows what they’re going to do now because they’re not going to have a government like that anymore.

We mention this about how we resist, because we have tried… well, we ask ourselves why would we kill another indigenous person. This idea enrages us, if I told you exactly how we talk about it in our assembly, well its horrible, because we begin to insult the government every way we can think of. We are filled with rage because they are so incredibly manipulative; and also because, and pardon my language, because they are idiots, male and female, that let themselves be manipulated to go against their own people.

For example, these people from the ORCAO. One part of the ORCAO is now coming to realize that what they are doing is totally wrong, but there is another part that nobody is interested in, but that gets paid and keeps making threats. A month ago the compañeros from Morelia had to resist what the ORCAO was doing. The CIOAC? Well you can imagine, they’re the ones behind what happened to the compa Galeano and what happened in Morelia, that’s the same CIOAC Histórica. So, because we want life, and thanks to our forms of resistance, we have not fallen victim to the government’s manipulation and resorted to killing each other.

We have also resisted those who come here—visitors come from Mexico City—and tell us or tell our people that we are reformists because we aren’t waging armed struggle, or others who come and tell us that we are extremists. So who are we supposed to believe? No, one must resist this kind of talk, and our answer is: it’s one thing to say things and another thing to do things, because saying them is very easy, I can stand here and yell about what to do, but once you’re here on the ground it’s something else altogether.

Thanks to our resistance, compañeros and compañeras, sisters and brothers, we don’t say that weapons are no longer necessary, but we have seen that disobedience, if it is an organized disobedience, works; the government can’t enter here, thanks to the compañeros and compañeras. We see that we are going to continue to be able to improve, to organize our resistance and rebellion even better, demonstrating that we do not ask permission of anyone.

Rather, we agree among ourselves about what it is that we have to do, and that is what encourages us, as does the generation that is now with us, those who are 20 years old, the young people of today. They say: we are firm and ready, but teach us how to do what is required, how to govern ourselves. So now the zones, through the organization of their resistance and rebellion, are training a whole generation of young people, men and women, so that they can truly carry out what we have already said here, that word that has been around for centuries and forever—and seems religious but isn’t—rebellion. Because it really is for always and forever and thus we need the new generations to prepare themselves so that the grandson of those large landowners like Absalón Castellanos Domínguez or Javier Solórzano can never return here.

So we have a great task in front of us to improve this process. This doesn’t mean, compañeros and compañeras, brothers and sisters, that we are renouncing our arms, but rather that with this political, ideological, and rebellious understanding that constitutes our perspective, we have to turn this resistance into a weapon of struggle.

The compañeros of the Juntas de Buen Gobierno are telling us that we need another body, so we asked among the compas of the CCRI, “why are they saying this compañeros, compañeras? And they said “now we understand why the Juntas de Buen Gobierno had to be born.”

They talked to us about it, explained it. When the MAREZ, the Autonomous Zapatista Municipalities in Rebellion were only loosely organized together—we could say it that way, because some had projects [from outside groups] and others no, some had nothing at all – then the Junta de Buen Gobierno was formed and began to regulate the municipalities so that their access to projects would be equal, even. Now the Junta de Buen Gobierno is realizing that there is an unevenness again. Some have more projects because they are more easily accessible, near the highway or closer in general and others are very far away and so don’t receive anything. But we as the Junta de Buen Gobierno, they say, can’t decide to create a new body, we have to follow the will of the assembly, and during the exchange between the zones they have to discuss if in fact this is the moment to create another body. Because we are also right now organizing this resistance and rebellion against the storm that is coming. And the compañeros are also saying: this is the moment, this is the time for a new body, because we are going to have to begin to act in resistance and rebellion on an inter-zone level. The thousands of Zapatistas have to fight together in their resistance and rebellion, so they have to be organized. But it is thanks to this terrain of struggle of resistance and rebellion that we have some guide for how we will carry this out. And that will be our tool, because we are not going to ask anyone for permission. For us, that era in which they [above] refused to recognize the Law on Indigenous Rights and Culture is over, we’re done with that. If they do not want to respect that, well that reality becomes our tool.

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All right compañeros, we’re going to continue later with this part about resistance and rebellion, with more examples, but throw some cold water on yourselves to wake up.

[i] “Croquetas,” or doggy biscuit, was the nickname assigned by the EZLN to Roberto Albores Guillén, whose bloody tenure as governor of Chiapas lasted from 1998-2000.

[ii] Member of the EZLN’s civilian militia or reserves.

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