Reconstructing hope

Photo from the EZLN Roundtable April 5-15.

By: Gustavo Esteva

How do we contend with the mood that is spreading, molded by the mixture of fear and false hopes instilled by the verbal incontinence and theater of the candidates and political parties?

The oppressive repetition of the horror seems to be accustoming us to it. Each day we learn of a new aggression in Myanmar, Palestine, Syria…. Daily we add data to the obscene accounting of our assassinated, kidnapped, tortured, and disappeared which makes Mexico one of the most violent countries in the world. Each day we learn of new pains of our countrymen in the face of ethnic cleansing now practiced with migrants across the world: millions of those who are on the del otro lado [U.S. side of the border] no longer dare to complete daily activities for fear of deportation; hundreds of thousands that do not know the country they were born in discover they no longer belong to the society where they have spent all of their lives.

This month horrific information was added to the daily news of climate change. A very respectable group of scientists warned, with very solid foundation, that the increase in ultraviolent radiation is seriously impacting all life on the planet, and of course, human beings. They have identified the cause: the irresponsible experiments of military geo-engineering that converts the climate and the planet into a weapon to be used in the war being waged. (Marvin Herndon, et. al., Journal of Geography, Environment and Earth Science International,14 (2): 1-11, 2018).

The country that we had has been undone before our eyes. Little is left of it. Capital, with the enthusiastic complicity of the political classes, reigns free in the social reality. The mask of the dominant regime has fallen and thanks to Mr. Trump is more and more difficult to deny its nature and characteristics, its racism and sexism.

Added to the gravity and extent of the economic crisis, that has a growing majority of Mexicans under the so-called poverty line, is the daily dispossession, almost always violent, of land, water, territories, rights, everything that we had achieved over centuries of social struggle. This barbaric and destructive process has been realized with the enthusiastic complicity of the political classes, while the deterioration of all institutions persists.

For capital, the entire population was seen as, actual or potential, labor. A few decades ago it created a disposable class: those people it has no possible use for, now or in the future. What we are experiencing now is a mechanism that disposes of those “disposable,” not just expelling them from the economic system or from their lands, but also eliminating them in physical terms.

This situation principally affects the poorest, but also, increasingly, the middle classes, whose number is continually reducing. The economic threat in general combines with the criminal violence to generate a fear each time more general and intense, which the mainstream media continually makes worse.

It’s easy to understand, in these circumstances, that many people resort to well-known defense mechanism of denial. Closing our eyes serves as the first line of defense against the anguish provoked by what occurs, that in many cases leads to desperation. Candidates are employing that moment of fragility, that psychological refuge, to insert their promises. They vaguely warn of the approaching catastrophes and then suggest that the solution is within everyone’s reach: just vote for the right person the first of July.

Not one of the threats underway, many of them completed now, will disappear after that date. They will continue to advance and deepen the processes that they produce. To fall for those immoral promises is just another form of denial, it’s not daring to see the gravity of our predicament, it’s not wanting to recognize what is evident: no change of functionaries will resolve the problems that we are facing.

What’s needed is great strength to confront with feet firmly on the ground what happens. It is what the Indigenous communities demonstrated in October 2016, when they timely recognized the danger of extinction to which they were exposed and they decided to take the offensive. It is an offensive currently underway that has achieved what they wanted in this period and in a few days will enter into a new phase.

The key to what is coming is our capacity to recuperate hope as a social force. We need to trust our own capacities to reconstruct society from below and to make unnecessary the rotten apparatuses of the market and the state. We need, above all, to fight against the patriarchal condition of all institutional apparatuses along with the attitudes and practices that form the dominant regime which are deeply internalized in all of us. All of this seems at times very small, even insignificant, and at other times seems colossal. The important thing is that it is always within our reach. For that reason, it is possible to reconstruct hope, which is the essence of popular movements.

Translated by Center for Convivial Research and Autonomy

La Jornada, April 23, 2018


Manolo Callahan

Center for Convivial Research and Autonomy



One Comment on “Reconstructing hope

  1. Pingback: CSC Events | Blog of Zapatista Support Group Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand

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