Review: A We without State

March 15, 2024

In her pamphlet, Un nosotrxs sin Estado (A We without State) (Ediciones OnA, 2023), Yásnaya Aguilar Gil writes about the idea of a world “not as a sum of national States…but as an ever-changing, collaborative and adaptable conglomerate of tiny social structures, as my community.” She speaks as a voice of the Mixe people, one of the nations “trapped within the Mexican State,” as she puts it.


Book available here

Her reflections begin with the word “Indigenous,” which comes from Latin and means “born in a particular place, native.” However, at the dawn of the Mexican State after its independence from Spain in 1821, “Indigenous” took a significant turn. It was now opposed to “mestizo,” a racial category that represented the political project of the ruling classes.

Then, “Indigenous” were the peoples who refused to accept the State as its government. Despite the fact that the Mayan, Mixe, Zapotec and other peoples are culturally different, they have all become “Indigenous.” The only thing they have in common is that they are “nations without a State,” the author argues.

This is not just a linguistic inquiry. By deconstructing this category, Aguilar Gil poses a critical look at the relationship of peoples/State. The Mexican State refers to itself as a unified nation—enriched with several cultures, but remaining as One. However, what lies beneath this “unity” is the oppressive nature of the State: only it can take political decisions, while cultural existence is recognized for everyone else.


This contradiction nations/State manifests in different forms. Since the 19th Century, the Mexican government has tried to incorporate peoples to its project—by forcing them to learn Spanish, the official language of the regime; by giving them money to break with their communal way of living and become wage laborers, etc. There has been resistance too. Several nations keep refusing to accept the rule of the State and take matters into their own hands, thus showing its unnecessariness—and the obstacle it is—to reproduce collective life.

Although the author’s point of view is focused on nations, her conclusions can be extended to other sectors of society which are oppressed by the State and want to get rid of it. This is where she brings up the idea of “an ever-changing, collaborative and adaptable conglomerate of tiny social structures” as a new form of self-government. A lot of things can still be discussed about these “tiny social structures.” However, the point is that we are provided with a different narrative to think about our relationship to the State: not as “belonging” to it, but being trapped within its limits, moving throughout its holes—like in a Swiss cheese—while we aim for freedom.

In her second essay of the pamphlet, “Tiny structures,” Aguilar Gil develops the question of “small action.” We should stop thinking only about “macrostructures,” she argues, referring mainly to the State, but we could extend this to the mass parties and organizations from the Left that envision the new society as a unified whole. “Think global, act local” says the author, meaning that fundamental changes can be made if we act in our surroundings, and that these actions are, simultaneously, a concrete way of transforming the society as a whole.

I consider this a revolutionary postmodern view, that is, one that doesn’t pose a sole or main line of action/thought. Rather, it emphasizes diversity and communication among this diversity, and therefore not giving up the idea of Unity. This Unity is not presupposed, but actually created in the interaction of the different subjects who want to build a new society.

Un nosotrxs sin Estado is a quite critical pamphlet. Its briefness, clarity, neat editing, copyleft and availability as pdf make it an all-around congruent document to be discussed in the trenches of the freedom movement.

The New Acropolis, March 11, 2024

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