The other face of the war

By: Gustavo Esteva

There is immense cynicism, ignorance or incompetence in the Mexican government and in the government of Trump. But it’s not just that. It’s also a perverse operation.

Social polarization in the United States was always there. But, it appeared as something isolated and marginal in the media; the violence continuously exercised against those below, with a very marked line of color and of gender, didn’t seem to exist. What one sees now is an open confrontation between diverse sectors of the society that becomes more radical and violent all the time. It’s not something that emerged accidentally. It’s a social climate that Mr. Trump created and that stimulates the public presence of what wasn’t accustomed to showing itself and makes evident the large extent of the racist and sexist substrata that has always defined United States society.

In Mexico, the index of polarization is vast. Citizen irritation grows continuously facing blockages of streets and highways, and the countless marches and occupations. A lynching occurs every week. Domestic violence accentuates, as does the street fighting. In many parts of the country we are already in the worst kind of civil war, when we don’t know who is fighting against whom. Forms of self-defense expand at the pace of the endless proliferation of all kinds of criminal behaviors, which often show atrocious levels of human degradation. Clandestine graves are discovered every day, in which authorities and criminals compete for numbers and horrors.

None of that is acceptable; it’s not a state of affairs with which we ought to coexist. But neither should we see it as something circumstantial or pathological. What’s happening today is that the nature of the dominant regime and how it divides and confronts us becomes more evident than ever.

Greek society, which coined the term democracy, was misogynist, sexist and excluding. It granted some participation in public decisions to a certain number of male citizens. Besides women and slaves in a position of open subordination, it excluded numerous “barbarians,” who it considered babblers because of not speaking a Greek language.

U. S. society, which modernized democracy, had those same characteristics. Its lines of color and gender were very marked. Those who shaped the Constitution and the political system were misogynist and had slaves, conceding political participation to men with certain characteristics and excluding a broad strata of society, particularly those who were not white or male.

None of this has been left behind. The fact that women, blacks and other sectors have won the right to vote and some occupy prominent positions has not eliminated the features of that political regime that continues being called democracy, but is irremediably a dispositive of oppression and subjugation for the majority of the population.

At present, to the extent that the discontent spreads and the parties as well as the dominant regime lose legitimacy and credibility, its operatives resort to a perverse mechanism: they stimulate or artificially provoke confrontations between different sectors of the population. It’s the other face of the current war. It’s about seeing the enemy among us so that we don’t occupy ourselves with the dispossession. The current war kills, disappears or incarcerates growing numbers of people and takes away ever wider layers of what they still have: lands and territories, the means of subsistence, productive capacities… or all kinds of rights, pensions, benefits, working conditions. In order to avoid confronting the perpetrators of the dispossession, it makes us confront each other, for example, in the not always peaceful confrontation between parties and candidates that divide peoples and communities in ways that can be very intense.

No experience, however, no evidence of the real character of this regime, is able to persuade everyone of the need to abandon it. A deep- rooted imaginary persists that permits expressing profound discontent with the state of things and being aware of the regime’s deficiencies that no one can save… but without going beyond that. One could say that by criticizing its natural extreme an anguishing sensation of emptiness is produced, which makes you return to the comfort zone.

Step by step, every day, we are dismantling that imaginary. We are showing that the extremes to which the governments are going are not circumstantial or temporary anomalies. We reveal that they are not just cynical, ignorant or incompetent, nor merely corrupt and irresponsible. They are all that but they are also the source of many of our confrontations and divisions. It’s increasingly clear that no candidate or party can correct that regime or put it at our service. Dismantling it becomes more and more a condition of survival. Only we can stop its destructive impetus. And that is, precisely, what begins to be profiled as a real possibility, to the extent that it spreads across the land, in towns and barrios, the organizational momentum that the proposal of the National Indigenous Congress and the Zapatistas has unleashed. We get together every day, and we organize.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, August 28, 2017

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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