Gustavo Esteva: Seedbed


By: Gustavo Esteva

A mural in La Realidad depicting Compañero Galeano (left) and Subcomandante Pedro (right).

A mural in La Realidad depicting Compañero Galeano (left) and Subcomandante Pedro (right).

The seminar on “Critical Thought versus the Capitalist Hydra” came to an end. In the closing plenary ceremony, this Saturday, we received the news: they were repressing the compañeros in San Quintín. What we had been analyzing was confirmed in the most unfortunate way. As Subcomandante Moisés emphasized, that announced that at best we no longer had the time that we thought we had; that the storm intensifies and attacks us and that sorrows join us together. We still haven’t healed from Ayotzinapa, and we continue waiting for our 43, and that arrives. And that it demands, if we learned anything at the seedbed (seminar), an immediate reaction from us for finding how to warn each other, how to take care of each other and how to weave our stories.

I believe that no one feared the pen or the word when he dealt with characterizing horror. We were charged with emotion, but also with analytical and historic rigor. We were able to show many heads of the hydra and also the form in which to cut off the ones that multiply. It was clear to us that, despite such brilliant, multiple and solid analyses, we still lack a lot: we just started. But at least it was possible to tend the theoretical and practical soil on which one can plant the seeds of knowing that we learned and to cultivate it, each in their own way, in the nurseries in each place that it may be possible.

The immediate task was clear. Upon returning home, without irresponsible haste, but with a sense of urgency, we must multiply the seedbeds. Those who have collectives, assemblies, spaces of reflection, autonomous forms of thinking and acting, we must share in them how much we learned, be it for venturing into new paths that are opened or for touring once again, with renewed eyes, what we have traveled a thousand times. Those who lack those spaces need to create them, although it may be with two friends or close friends.

One of the seedbed’s most important things was to find exact agreement on the gravity of the moment. From the most diverse positions, on a broad spectrum in which important differences became evident, recognized the immense dangers that weigh on us, an us that now is entirely general: no one escapes.

And yes, it was fascinating. But the truth is that we arrived at the gathering restless. What to do before such an overpowering circumstance, so immediately catastrophic, a condition that leaves no room for optimism and barely for hope. We asked each other the old question again, because we know that the old answers no longer function, but still weigh: imagination is paralyzed when one radically abandons them.

We did not get an answer. We heard many. That is the nature of the resistances and rebellions of today. They do not consist solely in opposing something, for resisting the aggression of any of the heads of the hydra. It was clear to many of us that participated in the seedbed that the only effective way to act is to multiply the no, the radical rejections to how much they attack and repress us, and in that same operation multiply the yeses, the different ways of constructing the new world. I believe that many of us also learned a central lesson: not to cling tightly to a position about what can be better.

Again and again, in the words repeated by Subcomandante Moisés, the Zapatistas took away from us the urge and capacity to idealize them and they also made us see that we should not imitate them. It was necessary to practice that almost surgical operation. The emotion of being in Zapatista territory, the impression that the Escuelita left in many participants, the 30 years of achievements, the vitality of an initiative that seems to be the world’s most radical and important, and even the very fact that the Zapatistas called us to this seedbed with their traditional sense of political opportunity, all that together led to losing a sense of reality. Although it would be viable and sensible to reproduce this experience as such, in the places of each one that does not now have the time that they had.

One of the most difficult challenges, of the many that we have, is how to share these reflections and even the sense of urgency with compañeros and brothers that appear distracted, who don’t perceive or feel the gravity of the current situation, who still harbor hope that things will soon return to normal and that, therefore, still cling to the usual paths. How to find the simple terms that will permit sharing without offending and to open this to wake up other minds and hearts in those with whom we need to be united?

We came with many burdens on our shoulders, but they are shoulders renewed and full of courage. We can walk around and even trot with that new weight.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Monday, May 11, 2015

En español:




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