Sunday, June 03, 2007

Something on the Intergalactic

the intergalactic (circa 1996)

This came my way and I'm passing it on, reflections from a group calling themselves "Cronopios Autónomos Rebeldes"...

In the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, the EZLN proposed bringing about a new “Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism.” The preparations – a long process that will take time – have already begun. We have already celebrated the “First Encounter between the Zapatista people and the peoples of the world” in Oventic in December 2006- January 2007. The preparations for the “Intergalactic” Encounter are and will be in the hands of all of us. For that reason we think that it is necessary to involve more struggles, more movements, organizations, collectives and individuals all over the world, who have experiences of struggle and proposals that we should know about.

That is why we, adherents of the Sixth Declaration and the Zezta Internazional, want to find a way to help spread the word about the call to participate in the preparations for this intergalactic encounter. We, along with many others, need to continue networking so that many struggles in our countries and in others may know about this call and be able to participate, if they are able and willing, in the preparations for this gathering.

On January 30, 2006, Insurgent Lieutenant Colonel Moisés, in the name of the Intergalactic Commission of the EZLN, said very clearly: “Let us work for and plan the core of our call to action, an anticapitalist and antineoliberal call. We welcome proposals that reflect what’s on people’s minds!” If this call to action is going to come out of the Intergalactic itself, we have to begin to build it. We need something that can serve as an instrument, to work with, to inform and to try to involve many from all over who could enrich the preparation of this Intergalactic Encounter.

Why a new Intergalactic? Is another one necessary? We know the historical significance of the first Intercontinental Encounter in July-August of 1996. Its energy and inspiration was rooted in the “Ya basta” (Enough is enough) of January 1, 1994, in the impact of the armed resistance and the path of the Zapatista struggle in its first two years of public life. This encounter crystallized, on a world level, an awakening, a shaking off of many years of disappointments and resignation. It announced the great mobilizations of the altermundistas (another world is possible) that gathered strength after Seattle, in December of 1999. From this new perspective the adversaries of neo-liberalism were now visible; neoliberalism no longer dominated without having to confront resistance from the rest of the planet.

Then came the World Social Forum, first in Porto Alegre and after that its different annual editions. With all the criticism that one might make of it, the formation of the WSF marked an important stage. It served to analyze the disasters of neoliberalism, to create consciousness that “another world is possible”. Now the World Social Forum is looking for a second wind, and no one knows if it will find it. Moreover, we may be entering a moment of reorientation of world dynamics that is no longer the neoliberalism of the 80’s and 90’s, against which the World Social Forum was fighting (but we’ll leave this for another occasion.)

In this context, another Intergalactic makes sense. But in order to be successful, it can’t repeat the Intercontinental Encounter of 1996, or the WSF. What are the new steps that could lead to another Intergalactic Encounter?

1) An anticapitalist struggle. Among the most important aspects of the Sixth Declaration, we find the expression of a clearly anticapitalist stance. To go from an anti-neoliberal to an anticapitalist one is not just a matter of vocabulary. It means to pass from the stage of awakening and resistance to a perspective of offensive attack against an entire system. It means to go beyond the ambiguities of the WSF and the altermundismo (anotherworldism): There are several tendencies in this movement, one of which denounces the excesses of neoliberalism, whole holding that it is possible to humanize capitalist globalization and control it, by means of the recovery of the nation-state.

But the way forward is not to try to domesticate global capitalism or to return (which is impossible) to the earlier phase of the capitalist system (of the so-called “welfare state”). What we reject, what oppresses us, exploits us, dehumanizes us is the capitalist system in its current form or in any new (or old) version that might come out of it. What unites and defines us is our “no” to capitalism; our consciousness that a society based on commerce, on profit and money, robs our lives and we end up dispossessed - dispossessed of our work, our time, our humanity, our sharing, and our dignity. This is for everyone, for all those who have nothing and are poorer than poor, and also those who might seem to have a little more, but who also end up losing everything in the wild gambles of a society that multiplies egoisms and egocentrisms, depressing solitude, false hopes, absence of community and of communication, loss of meaning... What’s more, capitalism is incapable of halting the destruction of the planet that it is provoking: for the first time in history, humanity’s instinct for self-preservation, in danger of disappearing, may be the best ally of the anticapitalist struggle. The anticapitalist struggle is, after all, the struggle for humanity. The struggle of those from below and to the left is at the same time the struggle for all of humanity.

This implies that the Intergalactic, besides coming up with proposals for the next steps in the fight against capitalism, has as its task to begin to make an alternative to the capitalist system believable again. An anticapitalist project does not make sense if we are not capable of asking ourselves: What kind of society do we want? Without worrying about names, without having to draw up plans and programs, we need to begin to discuss the possible organizing principles, the values of this society, by definition very Other.

2) Autonomy. The experience that gave rise to the first Intergalactic was the defiant “Ya basta” of 1994. What the Zapatistas have to offer as sustenance for the new Intergalactic is the experience of autonomy, the work of the Juntas of Good Government, since August of 2003. The Encounter of December 2006 – January 2007 made it really clear: we are not speaking in a vacuum; our reflections arise from this construction of self-governance of the rebel peoples, of their heroic successes and their daily difficulties. This is what makes it possible to imagine another Intergalactic Encounter.

It is not about reproducing what the Zapatista peoples have done; their struggle is, for several reasons, an exceptional experience. (It was an armed uprising that created the space for this autonomy and allowed it to be protected during so much time.) It is about understanding that it is possible to begin to build forms of self organization, from below, from ourselves. It’s no longer about asking the State to solve our problems; it’s not about waiting, without being able to build anything, for the day of the Revolution (identified by taking over the power of the State). It is about beginning to do now what is possible to do (first and foremost rehumanizing ourselves, de-fetishizing our heads and our lives.)

Above all, it is very important to interconnect the two points that we believe are fundamental to the inspiration that the Zapatista struggle offers: the anticapitalist perspective and the construction of autonomy. In the first place, autonomy is not only self organization; it only makes sense if it moves forward in an anticapitalist perspective, in a perspective of individual and collective freedom. In the second place, it is clear to us that autonomy cannot reach full realization while it is surrounded by the forces of the Market and exposed to the aggressions of a market economy. It is a matter of advancing, but also of posing the question: How far is it possible to go? The project of autonomy (from now on) makes sense because it is linked to an anticapitalist perspective (and at the same time because it sustains that perspective.)

3) A planetary struggle. We consider this consciousness of having a common enemy to be a legacy of the earlier phase, as is the analysis of many of its features (to be revised, however, in order to take into account recent developments.) Also the conviction that in the face of a planetary enemy we need to construct struggles, actions, planetary consciousness. We know this, but it is always useful to remember that there is no anti-capitalist outcome that is only local or national and that it cannot work with a simple solidarity among local, national or regional struggles. For this reason another Intergalactic makes sense.

But then there is the question: What has this planetary struggle been and what can it be now? This struggle is not going to be created by an Intergalactic or any other type of encounter. It has to arise out of the multiple experiences that exist in the world, among which is that of the Zapatista peoples, with the construction of autonomy. Also the experiences of the indigenous movements of all of Latin America, of those who have nothing, of those of us who are and feel ourselves to be dispossessed, deprived of a life of dignity and meaning. The first step, then, is to recognize each other in all of these differences, to listen to each other in order to be able to...

4) Build collectively. In the process of recognizing Others the image of diversity emerges as necessary for the struggle. The effort to see the other is by definition already collective, with a full collective consciousness, since it arises from the recognition of a diverse reality in action and in practice. It is not merely rational or mental comprehension, but the conjoining of the imagined with action, and with that, the possibility to move forward. It is a consciousness and, by being collective and autonomous, it is constructed, that is, it does not follow patterns or previous directions outside of the conditions of the struggle of the exploited and dispossessed, although their memory, their experience are guides that allow them to move forward.

Identity in these struggles is the identity of the ways in which people have suffered. Since the first Intergalactic Encounter we have looked for ways to come together; the idea of networking was the form in which we have made visible the planetary dimension in an antineoliberal context. Now the anticapitalist dimension pushes us over the edge, into the very heart of the problem. We need, then, a process of collective construction, starting with recognizing Others, a necessary condition for it to be collective. Listening to each other is already a way of imprinting a new character on the forms of struggle and one of the seeds of the society that we aspire to. Listening to each other has its reflexive, reciprocal, collective form. For that reason it is imperative that we open or build those spaces of recognition, not from an “in order to”, but rather from a “for the sake of,” that is, from the inner being of the social subjects, taking on the construction of this collective work, the collective word as opposed to the objectifying individualism of capitalism.

What is the nature of the exploitation, the plundering, the segregation, the oppression, the dehumanization, the destruction of vital forces in our areas, regions and villages?: Perhaps this is the concrete question out of whose diverse answers the organizing anticapitalist options can be woven, on a planetary level and from a collective effort. We can’t skip over this stage of recognition in the new Intergalactic. The 1996 Encounter called for us to build networks against neoliberalism to save humanity. Now it’s a matter of destroying capitalism, on the part of all those from below and to the left.

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