Gustavo Esteva: The New Era

Baby Zapatista on Dec 21 in San Cristóbal

Baby Zapatista on Dec 21 in San Cristóbal


By: Gustavo Esteva

And the band kept on playing.

The sinking of the Titanic was unavoidable. To ignore it was foolish. But the band kept on playing.

His performance on the first day is a blatant illustration of this peculiar kind of blindness. It shows the gap that has opened between the political classes and the people, and it also reveals their dangerous detachment from reality, the irresponsible and short-sighted way in which he is preoccupied with mafia-style interests in the short term, while ignoring the depth of the economic, social and political crisis in which we find ourselves.

His discourse about the country is currently showing the worst symptoms of a populist authoritarianism that has been installed against all odds. It is conceived as a triumph of optimism over irresponsible reality, with the evident intention of generalizing this blindness. The band will continue playing until the instruments and musicians sink with the ship.

It is particularly difficult not to hear the roar of the collapse, which is observed worldwide and has been precipitated very sharply in Mexico. Those who have climbed the ladders of political power, however, will persist in their self-interested deafness… while they can, for as long as they can.

But the rest of us cannot continue to be deaf. We need to respond.

“I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so,” Subcomandante Marcos said years ago. The Zapatistas have repeatedly warned us of what would happen if we did not respond. We did not respond. It happened. They described in various ways the mess we are in today. They anticipated, before anyone else, the series of crises that have been happening and the destruction that they would bring to the political classes, to the country itself, to the social fabric… They offered with strength and clarity options for change, without dogmatism or imposition. We did not take them.

The new call from the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) needs to be heard by all those who, from below, try to resist the dominant horror and to create another possibility. If only it could be heard by those who still harbor the fantasy that an electoral change might be enough to remedy it all, those who can only think and organize within the framework of the political parties and institutions and that still believe that anti-capitalism is a bad word.

It is useful to show again that the emperor has no clothes. They may see it and dare to say it out loud to those who believe it is possible to continue in denial.

While listening to the din of the collapse of the dying world is inevitable, no less because the noise is all-encompassing and is experienced daily through suffering in the flesh, it is not so with the sound of the world that re-emerges. You need different ears in order to hear that.

We are not looking at another version of what we know. It is not a new twist, a bend in a familiar path. It is something new and radical. Its deep roots in the past are not dedicated to reproducing the past, or even worse, making an impossible attempt to return to it. It is something different.

As was seen last Friday, the new world will be built with hope, joy and celebration, through the discipline that is learned through their own order, autonomy. Only then, through organic discipline, which is woven from below by their own will, it is possible to propose the elimination of coercive power and authority, the condition in which a hierarchical position is used to impose action.

In dark times like these it is a blessing to know we can rely on them. As Chomsky, Wallerstein, Gonzalez Casanova and many more said long ago, the Zapatista political initiative is the most radical in the world, and probably the most important. That was yesterday, that night of the first of January 1994, which triggered a wave of anti-systemic movements throughout the world and woke us all up. They continue doing so today, when they are once again an inspiration to do what is needed.

The end of an era has arrived. The evidence is accumulating daily. Nothing can stop its conclusion. But it will acquire an apocalyptic form, deepening the immense natural, social and cultural destruction that has been characterizing its agony, unless we are able to resist such horror. And in these circumstances, the only valid and effective way to resist is to create an alternative. We all have to do this, each in his or her place and way. We need to dissolve the economic and political relations which trap us in the old world, while being increasingly aware that the dignity of every man and every woman and every human relationship must of necessity defy all existing systems. That is what today is about.

Originally Published in Spanish by CGT Chiapas

En español:

English translation by the UK Zapatista Solidarity Network for the:

International Zapatista Translation Service, a collaboration of the:

Chiapas Support Committee, California

Wellington Zapatista Support Group

UK Zapatista Solidarity Network

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: