By: Raúl Zibechi
They toured the continent for months: Mexico, Colombia, Rio de Janeiro, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina. In all of them, similar situations are directly observed, which are added to the data that are arriving through other channels. Broadly speaking: disarticulation and degradation of social relations; state, para-state and narco-violence; great difficulty for movements and peoples to construct.
Perhaps this breaking is the way the systemic storm is presented to us, compounded by climate chaos and the collapse of nation-states. It’s not easy to establish a comprehensive narrative, but there are common situations beyond the differences between geographies.
The reasons why our societies are breaking up are diverse, encompassing both the material and the spiritual.
Poverty grows permanently and constantly, a consequence of the voracity of the most concentrated capital that leads the population to unsustainable living situations. Meanwhile, governments only manage poverty with social policies that seek to tame the popular classes and indigenous and black peoples.
The accumulation by dispossession/fourth world war against the peoples is part of this impoverishing model but, above all, it helps to explain the violence, the forced displacements, the theft of lands and the occupation of territories by the armed gangs that, by doing violence to peoples, favor the plans of capital.
Drug trafficking is one of the forms that the collapse of the system assumes, but we must be clear that it is used by the powerful against any organized movement, as the experiences of Colombia and Mexico teach. Drug trafficking was not directly created by capital and the states, but once it emerged, they have learned to direct it against our organizations.
The progressive governments that managed all the countries I am visiting and now do so in Colombia, accelerated the decline by deepening extractivism but, at the same time, by disorganizing the movements. They did this in a double way: appropriating the discourse and its ways of doing things, while launching armed gangs against the very peoples and social sectors that they intend to soften with social policies.
Both policies are complementary and are intended to facilitate the entry of speculative capital into the territories of the peoples, to convert life into merchandise.
The decomposition phase of our societies, links between below and entire peoples, is entering an acute phase by impacting even rural communities that previously seemed almost immune to these destructive and violent modes of capital and states, which work side by side to meet those goals. We are facing structural and systemic characteristics of capitalism, not specific deviations.
To the extent that we are facing relatively recent processes, the peoples and social sectors have not yet found ways to stop and reverse the destruction. At this point some considerations.
The first is to note the gravity of the situation, the high degree of decomposition not only of the organizations, but of the social bases in which they are referenced and rooted. Because the panorama can be summed up this way in almost all regions: societies and communities in decay and organizations threatened or co-opted by the system. Both facts are enormously destructive.
The reflection on the ways to remain what we are: peoples and social sectors that resist and build. The EZLN has adopted peaceful civil resistance to confront the armed gangs and to continue building the new world. It is a very difficult path, which requires will and discipline, perseverance and ability to face violence and crimes without falling into individualistic attitudes.
I believe that the ways adopted by Zapatismo, undoubtedly consulted and decided by the support bases, can serve as a reference throughout Latin America, because we face similar problems and because we must draw conclusions from the wars decided by the vanguards, which cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people from the native peoples, blacks, campesinos and popular sectors.
Not repeating errors is wisdom. In various interventions, the EZLN has placed as examples the wars in Guatemala and El Salvador. In them, and this is my own [opinion], the attitude of the vanguards did not benefit the peoples, who paid for decisions they had not made with thousands of dead, and then entered into “peace processes” without consulting them, but saving the interests of the leaders and cadres.
I understand that those of us below owe ourselves, in these difficult moments, an in-depth debate on the ways of confronting the war from above. Without giving up or selling out, but taking paths that allow us to avoid war and to continue constructing without falling into provocations.
For details and links to the Saturday discussion in the above flyer: https://chiapas-support.org/2022/08/12/chiapas-capitalism-organized-crime-state-violence-and-community-resistance/
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Friday, August 12, 2022, https://www.jornada.com.mx/2022/08/12/opinion/016a1pol and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee