Gustavo Esteva: Punctuality


By: Gustavo Esteva

Punctuality does not have the appearance of being a very revolutionary virtue. On the contrary, it is associated with law and order, with those from above. But it also comes from below.

In modern society we learn from early on to be slaves to the clock. School prepares us for work to control our lives, to put every one of our minutes at the service of capital. And every day this domination through scheduling expands, which revolutionary winds should destroy.

But there is also another kind of punctuality. Those who completed the second level of the Zapatista “little school” would have learned what punctuality from below means, one between compañeros, the kind the Zapatistas learned about 30 years ago. They heard that at times it becomes a matter of survival and that it is indispensable within the organization.

Punctuality between compañeros and compañeras is first of all a sign of respect for others. But it is also and above all an expression of the collective will that is built collectively and is expressed in the time, in the times, along with responsibility, which is another pillar of the organization.

Current day punctuality means something more. We have to come together to confront the storm, to unite ourselves against plunder and aggression, to continually exercise solidarity and to walk hand in hand. We should be on time for the struggle and for change.

In this context, with a similar perspective, this Thursday the 12th begins a series of activities in Cuernavaca from the “Weaving together voices for the common home.” Since a small group of people, collectives and movements created this over a year ago, it has revealed itself as an effort to create harmony between our differences, to explore together the avenues to dialogue. The program is at:

In order to dialogue – according to Machado – listen first; and then, listen. It’s time to listen. It’s not just about hearing each other, but about being open to being transformed by the other. It is not the time for dogmatisms, fundamentalisms, vanguards, or sole truths. It’s time to open ourselves to all the differences and mentalities in order to identify points of convergence and learn together that we have a common home and that only together can we stop those who destroy it, those who rip us apart and separate us, and begin the work of reconstruction.

The Zapatista proposal to construct a world where many worlds fit was unanimously well received when presented 20 years ago. There are, however, significant reasons why nothing more has been done since then. If one takes the idea seriously it quickly becomes clear that we need to completely reconstruct all of our institutions, all of our day-to-day norms, the political ones as well as our own practices and behaviors. We are trapped in a society and ways of acting that have been conceived and configured from the imposition of one culture over others…and from a culture that isn’t ours, that was imported in order to impose it upon others.

That form of colonization deeply penetrated and now many Mexicans have been molded in that dominant culture. They understand it as their own. They defend all that it implies. In the current war, the one that they have submitted us to, they associate themselves with the enemy or they collaborate with him.

Recovering our own first of all means to recognize ourselves in our diversity, to know that we are different and that those differences don’t only refer to the cultural distances that exist between indigenous peoples and everyone else. There are also differences within each of the indigenous peoples and within different strata and sectors of mestizo society.

Instead of continuing to try to nullify these differences in a project that homogenizes us in exploitation and scorn, it is about celebrating them, affirming ourselves in them and finding the ways they can coexist in harmony.

The activities that will take place in Cuernavaca, Guadalajara, Oaxaca and Puebla on November 12th to 17th, and that will culminate in Mexico City from the 18th to the 20th, are created by conversations between organizations in the struggle in various parts of the country; diverse collectives and movements, and a distinguished group of intellectuals dedicated to critical thought. An anticapitalist and anti-patriarchal atmosphere will tend to prevail; some participants hold that capitalism is only the modern form of patriarchy. As experience demonstrates, there is no possibility of harmonious coexistence under that regime. In order to detain the current horror, when this regime has caused unprecedented extremes in violence against nature and the social fabric, the initiative is dedicated to weaving together different voices that are willing to unite in this struggle to build a common home.

It is an invitation to fulfill the date we have with history. The time has arrived. As León Felipe aptly put it, it is not important to arrive before or first, but all of us together and on time. And yes, it is only about that.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Translation: Chiapas Support Committee

Monday, November 9, 2015

En español:


One Comment on “Gustavo Esteva: Punctuality

  1. Pingback: CHIAPAS SUPPORT COMMITTEE Home of the Compañero Manuel blog on the Zapatistas & Mexico | Blog of Zapatista Support Group Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand

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