Gustavo Esteva: Complicity



By: Gustavo Esteva

 We lack words. No one manages to receive the magnitude and depth of the impact. The spirit is not prepared to take in something like Gaza.

We must get to the bottom of the issue. It is an easy out to attribute everything to a psychopathic tyrant, although there is that. The recent poll that indicates that 75 percent of the residents of Israel support what is being done may or may not be valid. But there is no doubt that a substantial portion of the population of that country back the policy that now arrives at this unsupportable extreme.

We’re not talking about blame, but rather about responsibility. It is what the new generations of Germans have had to assume: they had no blame in what their parents or grandparents did, but they must accept their responsibility. And if one deals with that, the issue does not end with Israel, or with the United States and its allies, thinking not only about their governments, but also about their populations. This concerns everyone. We’re talking about exploring our complicity.

We must confront with integrity the measure in which we are involved in these crimes. What occurs in Gaza now is but an insane and savage manifestation of a state of things in which we are immersed. We must ask ourselves about the measure in which we are responsible for what persists.

There are more or less conventional proposals. Do we buy products from Israel or its allies? Do you invest in that country’s institutions? Obviously, private corporations exist that obtain benefits in this situation and therefore one of the resources used in its moment against apartheid is appealing: the boycott that leads to disinvestment, a campaign explained well in Wikipedia. We can make up part of that campaign, avoiding buying those products and fighting those investments.

They are steps in the right direction but clearly insufficient. It is also useful to go out in the street to protest, be it in Tel Aviv or in San Cristóbal, or join the Latin March that took place yesterday, from the Río Grande to Patagonia. It implies painting limits, keeping a distance and denouncing. But that is also insufficient.

The state of things that produce the aberration of Gaza encompasses the political and economic system in which we live, that combination of irresponsible corporations with equally irresponsible governments, which have learned to ignore the will of their voters and continuously contradict their mandates. Their irrepressible destructive desire levels human lives and nature equally. Security is the pretext for the brutal use of force and the abuse of the governments’ capacities, although security is precisely the greatest evidence of the failure of the government system in the nation-state and the international institutions: they cannot fulfill that function, which is their primary obligation.

Without a doubt, it is a question of power. But one must take into account that power is not a thing, it is not something that some have and others don’t, which is there above, concentrated, because of which it can be dispersed or distributed, to “empower” those that lack that “thing,” power. Power is a relationship. We are all involved in the structures of power. We maintain a point. It depends on us whether or not a specific power relationship is maintained, if the state of things persists or not.

It’s not enough to say that were dealing with capitalism, to consequently make us anti-capitalists, as was proposed today in a thousand different ways in the “Transcending capitalism” gathering, organized by the Center for Global Justice in San Miguel de Allende.

It is necessary to go further still. Behind all that, the horror of Gaza, the migrant children or the outrages of all kinds of Mexico’s formal powers, behind capitalism and formal “democracy” and of all that state of things, behind modernity and post-modernity, are the mentality and practice of patriarchy. All that is an expression of a way of thinking, of acting, of being, that encompasses men and women, and has the appropriated name of patriarchy, in which the beginning of the end signifies control, domination, power, and it is exercised in the “male” tradition. It is its destructive impetus, which arrives at its extreme at the hour of its collapse. And if that’s what we’re dealing with, we are all accomplices. There is no way to wash our hands or elude our responsibility. It is time to thoroughly break with the mentality and patriarchal behaviors that affect so many men and women everywhere. Only in that way can we seriously begin to dismantle that whole abominable structure. That defines, for sure, the very nature of the Zapatista undertaking.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Monday, August 4, 2014

En español:

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