Esteva: Disputing politics


By: Gustavo Esteva

It will be a year of intense political dispute, in the midst of war. But the dispute among the politicians will be irrelevant. What will be important is disputing politics itself, reclaiming it.

On the surface, attention will be on the politicians. There will be advances of the 2018 presidential contest and elections for governors, municipal authorities and deputies in more than a third of the country. Electoral propaganda will conceal the void. The maximum distribution of the irrelevant will dissimulate the absence of a debate about what’s important, particularly about the ominous perspectives of environmental and social disaster that hover over us. All over the country it will continue becoming evident the distance between the discourse of the political and economic leaders and the real conditions of the population and the country.

In the world of politicians, nobody dares to recognize the state of things. They intensely dispute to win government positions, under the superstition that once in them they will be able to govern… and that they will do it for the common good. They are not able to recognize that they could only win soft jobs and privileges and a marginal influence on what happens, at the price of becoming accomplices of all kinds of corrupt acts and of the destruction of the natural and social life to which all governments are dedicated. It cannot be any other way. In today’s world, all the “governments” have to subordinate themselves to the logic of capitalism… and one cannot govern with capitalism, if by government we understand regular behaviors and events functioning for the common good.

There are many ways of dealing with the capitalist hydra. All the following adjectives fit: cruel, ingenuous, efficient, blind, incompetent, skillful, populist, fascist, xenophobic… But all, because of the very structure of the governments, as much the state apparatus as what continues to be called democracy, are subordinate to the logic of capitalism and therefore to its corrupting and destructive impetus. Few politicians dare to react before anticapitalist postures in the terms of the leader of Podemos, in Spain, who declared last June 25: “May you hold onto the red flag and leave us in peace. I want to win.” And that way he won what he won: the sacred right to complain. His position is not mere cynicism. It’s about a realistic attitude in the electoral game: in order to win it is indispensable to sell your soul, because once above it isn’t possible to hold on to it. It is pure demagogy to maintain that once in the government it will be possible to really be occupied with the common good and to preserve decency and an ethical sense.

Because of that the real dispute is in another place: it is the struggle to justify political activity, drawing away from the stench of the electoral fight and on the other hand occupying ourselves with resisting and constructing: resisting the dominant and destructive horror, more blind and aggressive all the time, and constructing the new world, a world that leaves behind the capitalist mode of production as well as its form of political existence, the “democratic despotism” that prevails in the nation-states and the international institutions.

Resistance and construction of the new, each time more inseparable, in practice demand being busy day after day, tirelessly, in homes, families, communities, collectives and organizations of all kinds, for dismantling capitalist social relations and the political relations that make them possible.

The dominant regime, with its two-faced politics and economics, now organizes an unprecedented devastating war against life in all its forms. It is not the will of a few politicians or capitalists that enrich themselves from it: it is an inertia in which they themselves are prisoners. Therefore it’s useless to pretend that the substitution of some (others) could stop that war. The only way to achieve that is to dismantle its basis for existence through the construction of political and economic autonomy.

The EZLN says well in its January first comunicado that: “a bloody night… extends over the world (…) It’s clear that the worst is coming (…) We must organize ourselves, prepare ourselves to fight, for changing this life, for creating another way of life, another way of governing ourselves, the peoples (…) There is nothing now to trust in capitalism (…) Now only the trust among ourselves remains… Therefore we must unite more, organize ourselves better for constructing our ship, our house, in other words, our autonomy, because it’s what is going to same us from the storm that approaches (…) It’s the time for reaffirming our conscience of struggle and for committing to continue forward, cost what it may and whatever happens (…) It is not the time to get discouraged or for getting tired, we ought to be firmer in our struggle.”

In the face of what is coming, the temptation to surrender, sell out and give up is great. It has many faces and justifications. There doesn’t seem to be any other option than to adapt to what exists… There is no other way, is said continuously. But there is! And that other plural way, difficult and uncomfortable but valiant and imaginative, that option of resistance and construction, appears each time more as the only form of surviving the general war that is currently unleashed against everything that’s alive and will be intensified this year to unprecedented levels. There is no place for optimism, but we begin the year full of hope. The voice of the EZLN is not marginal or isolated. It finds resonance in the entire world. At the end of the day, we are the most.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, January 4, 2016

Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee


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