MARCOS: THEM AND US VI. Gazes
VI. – Gazes
1. – Gaze to impose or gaze to listen.
For once I will be able to say
Without anyone saying otherwise
That it is not the same to desire
As it is to covet something
Just as they’re not the same words
Said to listen
And said to be obeyed
Nor is it the same to speak to me
To tell me something
As it is to speak to me so that I shut up.
“Fourth Search” in “Searches and Other Poems” from the publishing house that has the good sense to call itself “No Name.”
Thank you and hugs to María Luisa Capella, to Inés and Francisco
(thank goodness for the dignified blood that beats through their hearts)
for the books and the lyrics guide.
To gaze is a form of asking, we say, we the Zapatistas.
Or of searching…
When one gazes at the calendar and at the geography, even though they might be far away from each other, one asks, one interrogates.
And it is in the act of gazing where the other appears. And it is in the gaze where that other exists, where its profile as strange, as outsider, as enigma, as victim, as judge and executioner, as enemy….or as friend is drawn.
It is in the gaze where fear nests, but also where respect can be born.
If we don’t learn to gaze at another’s gaze, what is the point of our gaze, our questions?
Who are you?
What is your history?
Where do you hurt?
What are your hopes?
But it doesn’t just matter what or who is gazed upon. Also, and above all, it matters from where one is gazing from.
And to choose where to gaze at is also to choose from where.
Or is it the same to gaze from above at the pain of those who lost those whom they love and need, due to absurd, inexplicable, definitive death, as it is to gaze at it from below?
When someone from above gazes upon those below and asks himself, “How many are there?”, in reality he’s asking, “How much are they worth?”
If if they aren’t worth anything, what does it matter how many there are? To get that untimely number out of the way there are the corporate media outlets, the militaries, the police, the judges, the prisons, the cemeteries.
And for our gaze, the answers are never simple.
To gaze upon ourselves gazing at that which we gaze at, we give ourselves an identity that has to do with pains and struggles, with our calendars and our geography.
Our strength, if we do have some, is in this recognition: we are who we are, and there are others who are who they are, and there is other for those of us who don’t have a word to name it and, nonetheless, is who he is. When we say “we” we are not absorbing, and in that way subordinating, identities, but rather high-lighting the bridges that exist between the different pains and distinct rebels. We are the same because we are different.
In the Sixth, the Zapatistas reiterate our rejection of any attempt at hegemony, that is, all vanguardism, be it that we’re out in front or that they line us up, as they have throughout these centuries, in the rearguard.
If with the Sixth we seek out people like us in their pains and struggles, without the calendars and geographies that distance us mattering, it is because we know well that the Ruler  isn’t beaten with just a thought, just one strength, just one directive (no matter how revolutionary, principled, radical, ingenious, numerous, powerful, etc. that directive might be).
It is the lesson of our dead that diversity and difference are not weaknesses for below, but rather strength to give birth, on the ashes of the old, to the new world we want, that we need, that we deserve.
We know well that that world isn’t just imagined by us. But in our dream, that world isn’t one, but rather many, different, diverse. And its richness lies in its diversity.
The repeated attempts to impose unanimity are responsible for the machine going crazy and getting closer, every minute, to the final minute of civilization as we know it up to now.
In the current phase of neoliberal globalization, homogeneity is just mediocrity imposed like a universal uniform. And if anything sets it apart from Hitler’s craziness, it isn’t its goal, but rather in the modernity of the manners in which it is achieved.
And yes, it’s not just us that seeks the how, when, where, what.
You all, for example, are not Them. Well, even though you  don’t appear to have any problem allying themselves with Them to… deceive them and bring them down from the inside? To be like Them but not so Them? To lower the machine’s speed, to file down the beast’s fangs, to humanize the savage?
Yes, we know. There’s a mountain of arguments to support that. You could even come up with some examples.
You tell us that we’re equals, that we’re in the same situation, that it is the same struggle, the same enemy… Hmm…. no, you don’t say “enemy,” you say “adversary.” Sure, that also depends on the context.
You tell us that we must all unite because there is no other path: either elections or weapons. And you, who in that false argument justify your project of invalidating all of that which does not subject itself to the reiterated spectacle of the politics from above, you give us an ultimatum: die or give up. And you even offer us the alibi, because, you argue, since it’s about taking Power, there’s only two paths.
Ah! And we’re so disobedient: we didn’t die, nor did we give up. And, as was demonstrated the day the world ended : neither electoral politics nor armed struggle.
And if it’s not about taking Power? Better yet, and if the Power no longer resides in that Nation-State, that Zombie State populated by a parasite political class that pillages the nations’ remains?
And if the voters that you obsess over so much (that’s why you’re captivated by the multitudes) don’t do anything but vote for someone who others already elected, as time after time They demonstrate while they have fun with every new trick they play?
Yes, of course, you hide behind your prejudices: those who don’t vote? “It’s due to apathy, disinterest, lack of education, they play into the hands of the right”… your ally in so many geographies, in not just a few calendars. They vote but not for you? “It’s because they’re rightwing, ignorant, sellouts, traitors, dying of hunger, they’re zombies!”
Note from Marquitos Spoil: Yes, we sympathize with the zombies. Not just because we look like them (we don’t even need makeup and we’d still kick butt in the casting of “The Walking Dead”). Also and above all because we think, like George A. Romero, that in a zombie apocalypse, the craziest brutality would be the work of the surviving civilization, not of the walking dead. And if some vestige of humanity were to remain, it would shine in those who are already the pariahs, the living dead for whom the apocalypse begins at birth and never ends. Just as is happening right now in any corner of any of the worlds that exist. And there is no movie, nor television series that tells its story.
Your gaze is marked by disdain when you look at something (even if it’s at the mirror) and of breaths of envy when you look above.
You can’t even imagine someone who would be interested in gazing at that “above” for no other reason than to see how to get it off of him.
Gaze. Towards where and from where. There is that which separates us.
You think that you are the only ones, we know that we’re one more.
You look above, we look below.
You look at how you can make yourselves useful, we look how to make ourselves useful.
You look at how to lead, we look at how to accompany.
You look at how much is won, we look at how much is lost.
You look at what it is, we look at what it can be.
You look at numbers, we look at people.
You calculate statistics, we calculate histories.
You talk, we listen.
You look at how you look, we look at the gaze.
You look at us and you ream us out for where we were when your calendar was marked with your “historical” urgencies. We look at you and we don’t ask where you have been during these past 500 years of history.
You look at how to take advantage of the current situation, we look at how to create it.
You worry about broken windows, we worry about the rage that broke them.
You look at the many, we look at the few.
You look at insurmountable walls, we look at cracks.
You look at possibilities, we look at that which is impossible only until the eve.
You look for mirrors, we look for crystals.
You and we are not the same.
You look at the calendar of above and you use it to condition the spring of the mobilizations, the masses, the party, the multitude’s rebelliousness, the streets bursting with songs and colors, chants, challenges, those who are already many more than just one hundred and thirty-something , the full plazas, the ballot boxes anxious to be filled with votes, and you run quickly because clearly-they-lack-revolutionary-party-leadership-a-politics-of-ample-and-flexible-alliances-because-electoral-politics-is-their-natural-destiny-but-they’re-very-young-they’re-bourgeois-petitbugies-kids- / -later-lumpen-hoodrats-crew-prole-number-of-potential-voters-potentials-ignorant-novice-ingenious-naive-clumsy-stubborn, above all, stubborn. And you see in each massive act the culmination of the times. And afterwards, when there’s no longer crowds anxious for a leader, nor ballot boxes, nor parties, you decide that it’s over, no more, to see if there will be another occasion, that we have to wait six years, six centuries, that we have to look the other way, but always at the calendar of above: the registration, the alliances, the positions.
And we, always with a crooked gaze, we surmount the calendar, we look for the winter, we swim upriver, we pass through the stream, we arrive at the spring. There we see who begins, those who are few, the lessors. We don’t speak to them, we don’t greet them, we don’t tell them what to do, we don’t tell them what not to do. Instead, we listen to them; we look at them with respect, with admiration. And maybe they never notice that small red flower, which looks just like a star, so small that it is barely a pebble, which our hand leaves below, close to their left foot. Not because that’s how we want to tell them that the flower-rock was ours, the Zapatistas’. Not so that they take that pebble and they throw it at something, at someone, although there isn’t a lack of willingness or reasons why. Rather, maybe because it is our way of telling them, them and all of our compas in the Sixth, that the homes and the worlds begin to be built with small pebbles and later they grow and almost nobody remembers those little pieces of rock that start out so small, so nothing, so useless, so alone, and along comes a Zapatista, and she looks at the pebble and she greets it and she sits down beside it and they don’t speak, because little rocks, like Zapatistas, don’t speak… until they do speak, and then it becomes a matter of if they shut up. And no, they never shut up, what happens is that sometimes there’s not anyone to listen to them. Or maybe because we looked beyond the calendar and we knew, before, that this night would come. Or maybe because that’s what we told them, even though they don’t know it, but we know it, that they’re not alone. Because it’s with the few that things get started and restarted.
You didn’t see us before… and you still don’t look at us.
And, above all, you didn’t see us watching you.
You didn’t see us watching you in your arrogance, stupidly destroying the bridges, digging up the roads, allying yourselves with our persecutors, disdaining us. Convincing yourselves that that which does not exist in the media simply does not exist.
You didn’t see us watching you say and say to yourselves that you were standing on solid ground, that what is possible is solid terrain, that you cut the moorings of that absurd boat of absurdities and impossibilities, and that it was those crazies (us) who stayed adrift, isolated, alone, without a destination, paying with our existence the being principled.
You could see the resurgence as part of your victories, and now you ruminate it as one of your losses.
Go, continue on your path.
Don’t listen to us, don’t look at us.
Because with the Sixth and with the Zapatistas it is not possible to look nor listen with impunity.
And that is our virtue or our curse, depending on where you’re looking towards and, above all, from where the gaze is extended.
(to be continued…)
From any corner of any world.
Reoffenders. Sevilla rock group, Spanish State. Manuel J. Pizarro Fernández: Drums. Fernando Madina Pepper: Bass and vocals. Juan M. Rodríguez Barea: Guitar and vocals. Finito de Badajoz “Candy”: Guitar and vocals. Carlos Domíngez Reinhardt: Sound tech. Rock version of “I call you freedom” in a video dedicated to the heroic struggle of the Mapuche People.
Eduardo Galeano narrates a story from Old Antonio: “The History of the Gazes.”
Joan Manuel Serrat singing “The South Also Exists” by Mario Benedetti, in concert in Argentina, Latin America. When he stops singing, Serrat goes behind the curtains and brings Mario Benedetti, so beloved to us, out to the stage (minute 3:01 onward).
Translation from the original Spanish by Kristin Bricker.
1. In previous parts of “Them and Us,” the Ruler referred to the United States government.
2. In the original Spanish it isn’t clear if this is supposed to be translated as plural “you” or “they,” which in this case is written the same in Spanish.
3. Refers to December 21, 2012, when the Zapatistas staged their silent march on five cities in Chiapas.
4. Refers to the #YoSoy132 movement against Enrique Peña Nieto, sparked when 131 university students organized a protest against his visit to their campus. Following the protest, the media asked, “Who will be number 132?”, leading to the “I Am 132” movement.
5. Mexico’s elected term.