We think it’s possible to organize to transform
the world, no from above, not taking the power
and from there, taking measures. We think that
the key is to organize from below to reach
achievements, satisfy needs. How will we do it,
I don’t know, but I’m sure that we can work it out.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
A month ago, some of the cooperativists here at Cráter Invertido, had the opportunity to participate in the seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra” organized jointly by Unitierra (University of the Land) and Zapatista Army for National Liberation. The seminar, that took place between the 3rd and the 9th of may in San Cristobal, Chiapas, brought together a lot of researchers as well as agents involved in various struggles around Mexico but also in other places of the world.
The seminar, offered the opportunity, not only to learn and listen from the experiences but also, to gather up information regarding the way each one of them is organizing within their cooperatives, collectives, organizations or communities in order to enable us, to take what works and to engage in creating whats necessary to fight against the life impose by neoliberal model. The capitalist hydra, as many of them explained, is composed by many heads, knows no limit and it’s willing to walk on anyone who dares to struggle. This is why it’s important for us to organize but also, to learn how precisely this multiple head monster is changing, to be able to keep up to the fight, to know how this model operates, the seduction forms it may take, and the way it creates and models subjectivities.
This brief reflection wants to depart from some questions that arouse when planning to write about this. When thinking about the experience we can’t stop wondering, even though for some, it might be evident, why are this efforts important? Why is it relevant to create this knowledge-experience spaces? And finally, why is it important to build a common ground of experience and information within the struggles each one of us is facing?
First we need to state: the seminar was an anticapitalist gather up between people of many contexts, struggles and positions. No differences where made, anyone who wanted to join could do so. Looking back into the zapatista movement, we found an important component we can’t miss: their constant sharing will. It’s not about, as major Moisés stated, offering models to depart from, or giving autonomy and struggle recepies as one can take home and start their organization based on their model. For them, it’s about offering the seeds, it’s about jointly harvesting the land departing from experiences of many other people; is about sharing the mistakes they have commited and how they have managed to resolved them but above all, it’s about sharing a way of being in the wortld, existing, deffending what is our right, the land, the right to well-being but, above all, the right to live. Capitalism implies a death project. We are facing a model that works within forms of territory explotation and deprive, death, assesinations, fear, and many other strategies they have manage to create. Today, in Mexico, we are facing a non-state or rather a criminal-state. What started in Ciudad Juárez as a sort of experiment, has today become the main law. People are being deprive from their lands, from their rights. In the city, we have to face violent day to day dinamics. No work, no possible access to a home, police and goverment constant repression, self-explotation in order to live, labour journeys that take up to 13 hours but not only that, we have to face how their laws get into us, shape us. As capitalism works not only through violence, but by seduction as well, we are facing a system that gets into our daily life routines, our emotions, our sentimental relationships.
This is an effort then to give account that other ways of living are possible. It’s an effort to invite people to organize, to show them how others have manage to do it from their own contexts. It’s an effort to open up the space to create a common ground based in resistence; the goverment is not going to solve the problems for us or as Vilma Almdrea stated, we can’t actually sit down and negotiate with our own killers as in hoping the are really going to do something about it.
Today the State is nothing but another institution subyugated to business and criminal power . The awareness face this situation is needed but also, raising consciousness that if people dare to organize, other ways of living might become a reality. As major Moisés stated, the seminar, them the zapatistas, are:
“interested in knowing how to resist and confront the many heads of the capitalist system that exploits us, represses us, disappears us and steals from us. Because it not just in one place or in one way that the capitalism oppresses. It oppresses you if you’re a woman. It oppresses you if you’re a white-collar worker. It oppresses if you’re a blue-collar worker. It oppresses if you’re a campesino. It oppresses if you’re a young person- it oppresses you if you are a child, It oppresses you if you’re a teacher. It oppresses you if you’re a student. It oppresses you if you’re and aritst. It oppresses you if you think. It oppresses you if you’re human, or plant, or water, or earth or air or animal” (http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2015/05/14/on-the-elections-organize/).
It is then an effort but also an ethical responsability, a collective obligation, to think, understand, to struggle, to resist. Learning how others have done it is , means not discarding any experience, means learning from others but also turning back to us, to our spaces, to our needs, to our own struggles. It’s not theory away from practical experiences, it’s praxis what they are putting over the table. They then created a praxistical space to harvest critical thought. Major Moisés said “that is why we, the Zapatistas, don’t get tired of saying organize yourlselves, let’s organize ourselves, each person where they are, let’s struggle to organize ourselves, let’s work to organize ourselves, let’s begin by thinking about how to start to organize and let’s gather together in order to unite our organizations for a world where the people command and the goverment obbeys” (http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2015/05/14/on-the-elections-organize/).
Here in Mexico, as in many other parts of the world, we are facing a centralized state education. What does this mean? Education takes place from and for the neoliberal state. If zapatista’s struggle assumed the need to create another pedagogical model for their own to unlern-relearn is because education imposed by the goverment implies educating the people to continue to replicate the model they have imposed on us. State education is completely out of context, it has also created as another way to continue the political control they have on us. Education means, in many ways, educating to participate in the neoliberal state, means education to submission, apathy and indifference. This seminar made possible to open up an alternative pedagogical space where communitary knowledge enrichs resistance processes.
If we want to fight this acumulation by despossession model they have stablish as the normal panorama, we need to keep on creating this alternative learning gather-ups. The struggle is for freedom, for life and not for reinstating their power models. Anywhere from where we might be standing, self-educating ourselves to resist means sharing construction models, recognizing that we have rights and if the goverment is not willing to obbey, then is on us to create our own models to live upon a basis of well being. This space meant then, a breeding ground on resistance and rebelion experience, an oportunity to look back at our own experience to nurse it. M. Moisés said that:
“Resitance 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 carring out actions or whatever it is that we need to do. (…) 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” (http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/2015/05/26/resistance-and-rebellion-i-words-of-subcomandante-insurgente-moises-may-6-2015/).
So this was a space to jointly organize, is was a space to pick up various tipes of seeds, to feed resistance and to harvest rebellion, to clearify whom are we all fighting and what are we fighting for. It’s a space to share practice and mistakes, but to discover that others are also facing struggles and that uniting them can mean strengthening our own fights by collectively acting. They opened a space of hope, knowing that no matter how much terror they produce, how much devastation they carry on, there are still struggles being germinated, emancipations taking place.