Ordering (somewhat) the systemic chaos

Supporters of former president Jair Bolsonaro storm Brazil’s capital to protest the new administration of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, who defeated Bolsonaro. Sérgio Lima/AFP/Getty Images

By: Raúl Zibechi

The systemic chaos is so deep and the monopolistic media that misinform are so naturalized, that it’s difficult to make a clear composition of where we are, an inescapable step to trying to decipher where we are going. Even knowing that the attempt may fall short or go terribly wrong, here are some ideas about what we experience.

On the global scale, the analysis of the think tank European Laboratory of Political Anticipation, in its Bulletin 171, seems correct: “A new macroeconomic and geopolitical paradigm continues to take shape and we believe that the European Union will mainly be weakened, behind its historical protector, the United States, which preserves its world power together with a China at the crossroads and a flourishing India.”

Next, it emphasizes that “Latin America runs the great risk of succumbing once again to US influence, without this preventing it from relaunching dynamics of cooperation within its continent.” In short, Europe and Latin America will remain subordinate to the United States and, therefore, will have the most difficulty finding their place in the new world.

Secondly, we must look at what’s happening in the daily life of our societies. The Brazilian portal Passapalavra writes about the extreme right: we are facing a large social movement that “is born of the barbarism of territories increasingly managed by the direct violence of a standard of behavior that is far from the logic of social rights,” anchored in capitalist practices that commodify [everything] from popular territories to our “commodity bodies” themselves.

Protesters use police barricades to smash windows and gain entry to Brazil’s Supreme Court. These protests have been compared to the January 6 insurrection in the United States. Sérgio Lima/AFP/Getty Images

The author of the text, urbanist Isadora de Andrade Guerreiro, asserts that progressivism is not capable of reading that which is outside the dominant institutions. The world of crime (understood as the whole of accumulation by dispossession), dilutes the boundaries between worker and criminal, between legality and illegality. Once that cohesive world of wage society has dissolved, “through the ongoing wars,” society is in the process of reorganization.

This criminal mode of production needs new institutions, with other forms of political and social legitimation. We could say it another way: Accumulation by dispossession/extractivism/fourth world war, generates new political forms and institutions, which are taking shape on the rubble of the old republics and decaying democracies.

AMLO with Mexico’s top military officials.

In a third dimension, between both proportions, between the macro and the everyday, the militarization of our societies does not stop growing, in a complex and for now irreversible process, which is born above and is reproduced below. Militarization affects the entire society; it’s the form that capitalism is producing in this period of dispossession. At the top we have the “Mexican model,” [1] as Silvia Adoue, a teacher at the MST’s Florestán Fernandes School, names it, for which the armed forces are assuming new structural roles.

Militarization is imposed on state-owned companies and control of the Amazon, as in Bolsonaro’s Brazil; but public order and even universities are also militarized, as in Peru today. The objective, in all cases, is to shield the mode of accumulation: open-pit mining, monocultures, large infrastructure works, to facilitate the appropriation of the commons and the flow of commodities.

Based on these three perspectives (global, local and intermediate), we can come to understand how the ruling classes are reshaping the system, by force of arms, to sustain a new system perhaps not so capitalist, maintaining colonialism and patriarchy. This is first and foremost.

Davos protester.

The progressivisms are accomplices of this process by promoting militarization and militarism. This left talks about the right, the ultra-right and even about fascism, so as not to talk about the armed apparatuses of the State; in other words, of the nucleus of the nation-State that oppresses the peoples, which is intrinsically colonial-patriarchal.

It’s the armed forces that breed paramilitary groups and drug traffickers, directly or indirectly, by providing them with weapons, training and trained experts like retired military personnel, placing logistics and intelligence at their service.

The electoral left does not have a policy towards the armed forces, it subordinates itself to them and avoids its responsibility by blaming all the ills on the right and, when it fails, it limits itself to shouting “coup” without mobilizing.

I understand that it’s not easy to face armed packs, legal or illegal. It’s even more difficult to do so by avoiding the armed confrontation that caused so much pain in the past. That’s why we must create a new policy, which is capable of confronting the “permanent state of emergency” in which peoples survive.

[1] TheMexican Model” – see Laura Carlsen’s excellent article on the Militarization of Mexico in Counterpunch: https://www.counterpunch.org/2023/01/13/the-militarization-of-mexico/https://www.counterpunch.org/2023/01/13/the-militarization-of-mexico/

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Friday, January 27, 2023, https://www.jornada.com.mx/2023/01/27/opinion/010a2pol and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: