In honor of the 18th Anniversary of the January 1, 1994 Zapatista Uprising, A seminar was held in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, mexico entitled Planet Earth: Anti-Systemic Movements. Below is the 2nd report from La Jornada.
Anti-Systemic Movements; Together at the Margin of the State
** Zapatista Communities, example of new forms of government
** Indigenous and politicians, opposite poles of institutional democracy
By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy
San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, January 1, 2012
The current anti-systemic movements “can keep together in a profound dialogue at the margin of the State and its economy,” like the Zapatista communities have done “creating forms of teaching and government,” Javier Sicilia pointed out during the third day of the International Seminar of Reflection and Analysis that is being held in this city.
Paulina Fernández and Gustavo Esteva, from very different focuses and with very different talents, agreed with Sicilia in his evaluation of the experience of Zapatista autonomy and government as an element of great exemplarity at this moment in which, he would confess later –although in absence– Pablo González Casanova, “the 99 percent is going to win.”
A brief message from Marcos Roitman, sent from Madrid, was read at the first session. Besides demonstrating his “adhesion” to the seminar, he reiterated his support for the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, its initials in Spanish), “a weapon of critical thought” for reaching justice, liberty and democracy, by making alternatives to the governments of markets in the world possible.
In what turned out to be a true critical undressing of the rapacity of the politicians of all signs and the deforming role of the legal parties in democratic practice as pure business, Paulina Fernández, who has been studying closely the real and daily functioning real of autonomous Zapatista governments, contrasted with data and examples these two diverse and ways of exercising the responsibilities of government and representation.
She related straightforwardly the experience “of Compa Jolil” and the motivations that brought him to participate in an autonomous municipal council, opposing the scandalous numbers that the politicians and rulers cost us, with their salaries and benefits, be they in positions of representation in the government or in the party structure. Billions of pesos, decomposition and lack of commitment are a demonstration “of what is done to the democracy that they have imposed on us,” in a country profoundly unequal.
At an opposite pole is the experience of the indigenous “compa” who the researcher has been able to accompany and get to know throughout two years of being a “consejo” (council member), as the Zapatista communities call those who perform the functions of government. Without pay or the need to “know how” to govern, the indigenous participate for election by their communities in structures of collective deliberation and decision whose only reason for being is service. Fernández pointed out “the immodesty” of many of the politicians that postulate themselves as a candidate without having rendered accounts for their prior functions, or with still pending accounts. “They’re looking for the immunity that protects them for the fraud of their previous position.”
“All the compas enter all the jobs,” she next emphasized. They carry out a “different government.” She has seen Jolil working for two years “in power,” where “has grown as a Zapatista and as a person, without being corrupted.” She attributes this achievement to the clear objectives of the EZLN’s struggle and to the communities that, “without surrendering,” maintain “the moral firmness of the Zapatista organization.”
Gustavo Esteva, absent from the Seminar for health reasons, just like Doctor Pablo González Casanova and the philosopher Luis Villoro, sent a paper in which, continuing their recent reflections in the pages of La Jornada, locates the current moment not “at the edge of the abyss,” because “we already fell in it and the bottom is not seen.”
Sharing with Fernández the disqualification of the so-called institutional “democracy,” where the elections are “a three-ring circus,” while “the monstrous and absurd war plan of Felipe Calderón transpires, which converts a public health problem into one of national security,” which has ended in “a civil war without clarity among the gangs at war,” Esteva asks repeatedly: “How did we let it get to this point?”
Citing Subcomandante Marcos, he emphasizes how it is destroying the social weave of a country where “scandals of the very rich and the very poor” dominate. Referring to Iván Ilich as the cardinal author, in consonance with Sicilia and Jean Robert, Esteva thinks that the antidote against “fundamentalist belief” in a democracy where “the elections serve to define who will be in charge of squeezing the trigger,” it is in new attitudes, “alternatives to the Walmartization of the world.” What could be “another left” fed by the worldwide protests, the Occupies and indignados that were heard yesterday in this seminar.
The poet Javier Sicilia referred to “the new poor” from the certainty that change will only come if “new wine is not poured into old wineskins.” Comparing the Zapatista Movement and the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, he emphasized their similarities, because “they are born from the idea that one can transform the conditions imposed by the State.” They are, he said, “new forms that are a prelude to what is developing in the midst of the present disaster.”
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translated into English by Chiapas Support Committee
Monday, January 2, 2012