Zibechi: Emancipating the peoples is necessary for a change


Raúl Zibechi

Raúl Zibechi

By: Fabiola Palapa Quijas

The Uruguayan writer and journalist Raúl Zibechi (Montevideo, 1952) considers that the history of Latin America has been centered on the union, the party and the State. Nevertheless, he points out that those institutions difficultly can confront a process of profound change.

In that regard, he maintains that a change in the political culture is necessary so that the emancipation of the peoples is a reality, in which new collective subjects participate, and the woman has a relevant role.

We have been witnesses to the plunder of governments for favoring capitalist mega-projects, and from there the importance of achieving a change in the political culture, but with the security that: “human cultures, the ways in which human beings act and relate to each other, doesn’t change by decree and doesn’t change from one day to the next,” he explains to La Jornada.

The collaborator of this newspaper just published the book Decolonizing critical thought and rebellions: autonomies and emancipations in the era of progressivism [1], published (in Spanish) by Bajo Tierra Ediciones.

In that work he asks: why do revolutions reproduce the political culture of the dominant classes over and over again?

At the same time, he describes how the power still preserves a colonial form where the communitarian forms of the indigenous peoples and impoverished urban communities are maintained as resistances to the decomposition of life provoked by the mode of capitalist production.

Marxism and Euro-centrism

Regarding the idea of decolonizing thinking, Raúl Zibechi opines that: “capitalism in the world, what we call accumulation by dispossession, by plunder or by robbery, a category created by the Marxist theoretical geographer David Harvey, is an update of colonialism because today capitalism functions in that same way, appropriation of the water, of the land, expelling entire communities by means of mega-projects, big hydroelectric infrastructure works, open sky mining, soy mono-crop agriculture and a ferocious urban real estate speculation.”

He adds that it is one of the motives that led him to reflect on the political economic model that has created accumulation by dispossession, where the population, instead of being integrated, as occurred in previous periods, is an obstacle to overcome, as happens when a mega-work is carried out and the population is displaced.

Zibechi is also interested in the concept of decolonizing, because the hegemonic political culture in the Latin American lefts and in persons like him, who has a Marxist formation, is a Eurocentric notion.

“I trained in Marxism, in Lenin, and the Euro-centric thought that has much validity in Latin America must be textured with traditions that don’t come from elucidation, but rather from the Afro-descendent cultures, from the indigenous cultures and from the cultures of the popular sectors.

“In our culture, in the political culture that we need today the tequio (community work) and the tianguis (public markets), which were the hitching posts, must play an important role, because they are traditions, the political cultural traditions of resistance belonging to our continent, which have something to say in this history.”

Death, blood, violence

For the author, the social movements today are the central element and determinant in the political economic cultural change that we need. “They are the change makers and part of what I understand as decolonizing is that now the states are not the subject the changes, but rather the social movements.”

With respect to the Mexican situation, the Uruguayan activist expresses that: “somebody or somebodies decided to convert Mexico into a terrible place with deaths, with blood, with violence and militarization.

“I see that the movements and popular sectors of Mexico are experiencing a drama perhaps greater than that of the Mexican Revolution and the wars of Independence. I fervently wish that the popular movements are capable of overcoming this difficult peril, but one must not lose optimism because the ultimate thing that we could lose is the smile and the will that things be another way.”


[1] Descolonizar el pensamiento crítico y las rebeldías: autonomías y emancipaciones en la era del progresismo


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/08/19/cultura/a05n1cul


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