Letter from Mexico, September-October 2018: Next in the struggle

September 19, 2018

From the September-October 2018 issue of News & Letters

by J.G.F. Héctor

The Zapatistas called for a gathering Aug. 3-5 in Chiapas of the support networks that participated in trying to register María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, spokeswoman of the Indigenous Governing Council, as an independent candidate for the presidential election in Mexico.

While the discussion of the support networks was mostly poor—focused only on the technical difficulties of trying to collect signatures for Patricio—the gathering ended with a significant communication by Zapatista Subcomandantes Moisés and Galeano.


Subcomandantes Galeano and Moisés at the gathering in Chiapas. Photo: Fernanda López for News & Letters.

The Zapatistas proposed a new step in the struggle: “That the Indigenous Governing Council cease to be only Indigenous and only national in scope” in order to include “the struggle of all the oppressed, marginalized, disappeared [in a word], of all the calendar and geographies that delineate the map…of rebellion and resistance across the planet.”

The communication also contained a profound view of social uprooting which we want to comment on here. (An expanded, three-part version of this document—entitled “300”—can be found in its English version on www.enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx.)

Moisés and Galeano posed that “capitalism is the dominant system at the global level.” Based on this premise, they analyze the global and local objective situation. They correctly remark: “Without its most essential commodity (the labor force), capitalism is impossible. A capitalist world where consumption prevails and exploitation doesn’t exist is [only] good for science fiction.”

We won’t discuss all the elements of their analysis, which go from a characterization of the State as “part of the problem, not the solution”; to a critique of the “Left extractivism” of so-called progressive governments; to a description of the electoral victory of López Obrador in Mexico as a “social counter-revolution,” that is, as the emergence of a “‘new pensamiento único” [single thought] which will repress and persecute the revolutionary movements that don’t align themselves with the “Left” in power.

Here, we want to remark on the “methodology” of this communication. Moisés and Galeano pose clearly that “reform is no longer possible…there can’t be a good capitalism (we think that possibility has never existed), and it must be destroyed entirely.”

In order to overcome the contradiction between capital and labor, as well as all the other contradictions in capitalism, the Zapatistas pose the total uprooting of the system.


Zapatista supporters at the gathering in Chiapas. Photo by Fernanda López for News & Letters.

Who can do this? The subjects from below. How? The Zapatistas speak of their own methodology of emancipation:
“We continue to walk with two feet: rebellion and resistance, the ‘no’ and the ‘yes,’ the ‘no’ to the system and the ‘yes’ to our autonomy, which means that we have to construct our own path toward life. Our path is based in some of the roots of the original (or indigenous) communities….This is our way, but we think that for other histories and identities, it may be different. That is why we say that Zapatismo can’t be exported, not even throughout the state of Chiapas. Rather, each calendar and geography must follow its own logic.”

Moisés and Galeano are speaking of the particularity of each struggle, which “can’t be exported.” At the same time they are referring to something “universal”: “the ‘no’ and the ‘yes,’” the double rhythm of historic transformations. This dialectical unification of Particular and Universal (a Universal that is recreated in every particular struggle) is the one that can help solve the contradiction of a movement that “neither absorbs nor annuls differences, but rather gives us a chance to be with others who share the same struggle.”

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