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By Sergio Rodríguez Lascano
After almost a year and 45 thousand kilometers traveled, the Other Campaign culminated its first phase on December 10 with the celebration of a national consultation on the programmatic definitions that will be carried out in the following phases. With the Sixth Declaration, Zapatismo presents us with a new challenge: to work backwards.
After almost a year, the Other Campaign culminated its first phase on December 10 with the holding of a national consultation on the programmatic definitions that will be carried out in the following phases. A more thorough assessment has yet to be made, but after 45 thousand kilometers traveled there are already some obvious achievements: the formation of a national network for the defense of political prisoners; the creation of a national network of sex workers, the strengthening of the National Indigenous Congress, the regrouping of young punk-anarchists, the formation of the Conference of Anti-Capitalist Political Organizations of the Left, etc. As Delegate Zero himself pointed out: the fundamental base of the Other Campaign are the Indian peoples, youth and women. Not bad in a country whose political system fundamentally looks down on Indian peoples, youth and women. Next: an article that seeks to establish some theoretical aspects of the meaning of the Other Campaign.
1. The fundamental defect of traditional politics, be it of the right or of the left, is that it conceives political activity as something exclusive to the state. Therefore, as something that can only be fully understood by a handful of specialists, since the ordinary citizen not only does not have the capacity to participate and decide but if he is left in total freedom, usually what he will to do is kill your neighbor.
This is how Nicholas Machiavelli put it: "It is necessary that whoever has a Republic and orders its laws presuppose that all men are evil, and that they will put their perverse ideas into practice whenever the opportunity to do so freely arises" 1. In practice, what was involved was to exercise a kind of “monopoly of political decision” that had as its fundamental support “the monopoly of legitimate violence”. That is, the control of the police and military forces.
In the vision of representative democracy, the parliament or the president thinks for the whole of society and the only benefit of this is to sanction, from time to time, by means of their vote, the maintenance or not of this or that party or of this or that individual. Politics becomes an activity reserved for a handful of insiders who, to further complicate matters, increasingly depend directly on economic power, either in its "legal" form or in the form of organized crime or, more commonly , in a combination of both, that that and nothing else is capitalism today.
The Zapatista proposal from the beginning, but more clearly now, represents the search to give back to the people, especially the workers of the countryside and the city (the majority), what by right corresponds to them: the monopoly of political decision , that part of the assumption that professional politicians (turning to Machiavelli) are bad, and that they will put their perverse ideas into practice whenever they have the opportunity to do so freely.
2. The problem of whether the only form of political expression is through a political party is not a theoretical problem, but above all a practical one. The new form of disorganization that neoliberalism has generated has created its opposite: the new form of organization of the social and the political, as two spheres that are not separate, but intercommunicate and often mean the same thing. By breaking the wall that separates these two human activities, the result is the emergence of many movements, which occupy the space of politics against the dislike of professional politicians and some left-wing intellectuals, who feel violated by the existence of people simple ones that reflect on their practice and elaborate theories that put old conceptions in check, and that seek to impose their times of confrontation. The emergence of this kind of theory without papers, the undocumented in the political space, allows the existence of a great initial lack of control both for the power and for some parties, militants and theorists of the left.
The questions from power multiply: How do you negotiate with so many people? How are alliances negotiated? How is hegemony established? How is order established? How are hierarchies reestablished? How are the institutions enforced?
The movement, for its part, has other more transcendental questions and begins its siege seeking the creation of some answers. Especially in the face of the terrible quatrain — exploitation, dispossession, repression and contempt — he already has something to face: justice, reappropriation, solidarity and dignity.
We are in the middle of the spring of the peoples. It is true that it can give vertigo, but living that experience to the full is the only thing that can solve that vertigo. Only a few years ago, it seemed that capitalism had no enemy in front. Today, in the great streets of the megacities the time and space of power are challenged; for example, the NO to the European constitution as it happened in France. Or in Bolivia, where a crowd throws off presidents and seeks to reorganize itself. Or in Mexico, where tens of thousands are already part of the Other Campaign.
3. The other policy seeks to establish its political-theoretical frameworks in relation to its practice. In this sense, for example, the discussion about who and how a program is developed is illustrative: In the other policy, the program ceases to be a cluster of demands and becomes a sign of common identity. A program, no matter how correct its elaboration, is still a text directed to power, if it is not elaborated by a social (social) subject (many subjects). The program does not exist before the subject. In the other policy, the self-creation of the subject is the creation of the Program (now with capital letters). And the space of its creation is no longer the parliament or the electoral campaign or the meeting of "wise men" who form ad-hoc commissions, or the meetings of social leaders, but the place where people live, work, meet, meet. have fun, study, organize.
And then, "what we want is what we are going to build."
Because what we name begins to exist. These men and women of the underground have proposed not to change a president, nor to put one party in place of another, but to build another country, another world, where there is neither bottom nor top. These underground characters are nobody for the society of power. Nobody is invincible because he is invisible, because he is inexplicable and elusive.
The inhabitants of the subsoil are no longer willing to give way, nor lower their heads in the face of power. That is not just any transformation. It certainly doesn't matter much to those who, from the right or the left, rate people based on how they receive their in-depth analysis of the "big national issues." But it has great significance for the construction of the other grammar which, of course, are basically many grammars: that of rebellion.
In that space, dignity occupies the place of honor. The powerful, the capital, the Empire have a great enemy in front of them and, despite what many might think, it is not a candidate for the presidency, or a leader of the masses, much less a party, or an army. revolutionary or rebel, or a Subcomandante. It is about the people, who every day get off the subway, get on trolleybuses or minibuses; the tens of thousands of indigenous people and peasants who arrive every day in the city or go to work in the United States; the millions that generate the wealth of this country; the millions that produce food; the Zapatista communities that have said enough and are building new spaces for coexistence, achieving a modification of their social relations; the emuli of Gavroche de los Miserables by Victor Hugo, children of the barricades of Oaxaca. Despite the fact that they are the majority of this country, they did not show themselves much, they came out when they wanted to demonstrate against an injustice or when they wanted to claim their rights. Down below a series of communicating vessels is being woven that seems to now surface with their own words, their own demands and with their own organization. The exit is below and to the left because above and to the right there is only death, hypocrisy and misery.
4. At the base of the new rebellious thinking is the need to listen. “The objective of the Other Campaign is to listen to all those people. Listen, that's the spirit that animates the Sixth Declaration of the Jungle. Those we invite to prepare and carry out the Other Campaign, we invite them to prepare and build a listening space, a new one, an unprecedented one, a very different one, as we Zapatistas say. A space that is the place where the word is born, where it grabs its way, its way of naming injustice, exploitation, contempt, repression, discrimination, pain and also its way of naming struggle, resistance, not letting go, not giving up. Returning again and again for what legitimately belongs to us: Democracy, Freedom and Justice ”2.
With this, Zapatismo is reflecting on what was its own experience since the EZLN was formed in 1983, with the indigenous peoples of the north, the highlands and the jungle of Chiapas. As they have insistently told it, when they arrived in those places what they carried with them were big words: program, strategy, tactics, party, socialist revolution, and so on.
In the confrontation with the Indian peoples, these young revolutionaries had the ability to listen to what they were told: that their word was harsh, that that way no one would understand them, that the best thing was for them to be quiet and listen. And then it took about ten years, they say, until they caught the way of the communities.
We, the left that comes from a different experience, normally have or had (the blows of life teach) a hypothesis of power, a program, a strategy, a political instrument. The basis of our theory was almost never our people, but other peoples and other times. Our conception was based on an analogical design, with which we impoverished not only our experience but the real process of the various peoples in question.
With the Sixth Declaration, Zapatismo presents us with a new challenge: to work backwards. Listen, let the people speak and from there create the space of the new word, which will allow to establish the anti-capitalist and anti-neoliberal program and the vision of building a new Constitution, which does not mean anything other than to build a new country, different.
But equally important is the indication of the space where humble and simple people make their political decisions. The other policy does not privilege the meeting, or the assembly of wise men who have a political line for no matter which country in the world (that is, for none), or union or social leaders with thirty years as general secretaries. The idea is to start the other way around. There where people live, work, have fun, play sports, get together, coexist, organize; there in the public space increasingly violated by capital and by the system of domination; there the thought, action, program and practice of the other left will be rebuilt.
5. The other policy seeks to build its global proposal, its National Fight Program, from the micro-stories that are being told during the tour that is being carried out. In these micro-histories the great stories of capital are condensed, that is, the great processes of destruction. Nothing and no one can replace the process of awareness that means naming the monster. In this dynamic of knowing oneself, evaluating oneself and naming their contender, a social energy is generated that cannot exist when it is thought that political consciousness is introduced from the outside and that those who listen are passive objects that are waiting for the good news of the word revealed. In daring to name, to define, to tell, to relate, to analyze, the strength of the identity that is being created, that is being generated, is shown.
It is still a story in a low voice, which does not manage to silence the impressive noise of the professional politicians show, but which, little by little, when joined with other stories, are forming a powerful chorus that opens a gap in the field of domination, showing its will, its vocation for not allowing its continuity. The strength of these micro-stories and these little stories is that they speak to us, they speak to each other, about something that is common to all of us and, therefore, they become our stories, our stories. All this is shaping a common space from where we begin to reconstruct our great history and our great story.
6. The other policy establishes a fundamental ethical principle: its starting point is found in the assumption that its privileged place is among the most exploited and the most oppressed. Of course, this decision does not have to do with strengthening the mechanisms of division that have been established from the power of money to make workers believe that there is always something else to lose. One of the tragedies in the field of the exploited and the oppressed has been the failure to understand the responsibility that one has with the most disadvantaged. Capital has always generated fear towards the poor foreigner, or towards the ragged migrant, or towards the woman who demands her rights, towards the different, the other, the sick, the one who carries some kind of contagion, the ugly, the “ distorted ”, the one who wears huarache, the one with black eyes who does not smile, and so on.
The other policy opens a space for expression towards all those human beings where they can raise their faces and see others like them and with others who, perhaps without knowing it, will very soon be like them. The other policy opens a space of dignity where the conditions exist for the “others” to tell their pain, name those responsible for it, find their allies and gain the trust they lacked.
7. The other politics recovers the idea that there is a conflict (many conflicts) that cannot be passed under the table with the sole purpose of making people believe that the art of politics is to avoid conflicts. Furthermore, the other policy identifies four conflicts as the basic ones (few can bargain to Zapatismo for the ability to synthesize and order in few words, diaphanous and precise, great phenomena): exploitation, dispossession, contempt and repression.
By listing these four conflicts, it is suggested that the art of politics consists of locating the space and time of confrontation, while traditional politics eagerly seeks to blur the conflict by locating a space and time of disagreement. There the space is the polls and the time on July 2. Confrontation and disagreement. In the first there is exploitation, in the second an unequal distribution of wealth. In the first there is dispossession, in the second there is help for the poor. In the first there is contempt, in the second there are some excesses. In the first there is repression, in the second there is the rule of law.
8. Logically related to the above, the problem posed by the other policy is not to answer the typical paternalistic and welfare question: what do we do with the poor? But an essential question: What do we do with the rich? The first question has no way out without solving the second. Poverty, beyond the demagogic projects such as “zero hunger” in Brazil, or the two that have been implemented in Mexico in this six-year term (Progresa by Vicente Fox and the universal pension by López Obrador, both legitimate heirs of Solidaridad de Salinas de Gortari) is not the result of a poor distribution of wealth, but both poverty and the distribution of wealth are the product of a system of exploitation and dispossession. Saying the above is seen as a banality, but as a dear Swiss friend said: "the amnesia of banalities speaks more of the forgetful than of the forgotten." Solving the problem of the existence of 11 people who own more than a billion dollars — and who appear in Forbes magazine's list of the 500 richest men in the world — is easier than solving the existence of 65 million poor people who they live on less than three times the minimum wage. Because, now yes, as Machiavelli said: "it is evil not to call evil evil."
9. Traditional politics has done nothing but interpret what people want and need when, in the other policy, what it is about is to generate spaces so that workers in the countryside and the city can have a monopoly of the political decision, taking up the old political precept that says: “what affects everyone must be resolved and decided by everyone”.
Some years ago, Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos wrote the following: “This is our struggle, Old Antonio tells me. Our strength is born in the mountain, but it is not seen until it reaches the bottom ... And answering my question as to whether he thinks it is time to start, he adds: "It is time for the river to change color." Old Antonio is silent and stands up leaning on my shoulder. We go back slowly. He tells me: ‘You are the streams and we are the river… You have to go down now…’ To add later: ‘when they go down the streams have no return… except under the ground’ ”.
The Zapatistas (the stream) go to a new encounter with a much larger river (workers, peasants, indigenous people, women, homosexuals, lesbians, sex workers, exploited children, etc.) that crosses Mexico from Tijuana to Reality. This other Zapatista policy has no return.
1. Machiavelli, Nicholas. Discourses on the first decade of Tito Livio. p. 37. Editorial Alliance. Madrid. 1987.
2. Summary of Subcomandante Marcos in the meeting with social organizations.
* Sergio Rodriguez Lascano is an economist and director of Revista Rebeldía, and collaborator with the IRC Program of the Americas www.ircamericas.org