The movement of the indignados began in the Lacandon Jungle:
Pablo Gonzalez Casanova
Pablo González Casanova, now nearly 90, is a former rector of UNAM
(National Autonomous University of Mexico). A sociologist, academic and
researcher, he is one of Mexico’s most respected intellectuals. This
article was his contribution to the recent seminar “planet earth:
anti-systemic movements” held in Chiapas on the 18th anniversary of the
(Many thanks to Neli for her translation of this very difficult article)
** “The good living of some must not depend on the bad living of others”
** “The 99% are going to win”
** “The Zapatista movement walks through the whole world, not as an
echo, but as the voice of the same thoughts and desires”
If we consider the knowledge and actions of a worldwide movement such as
the “indignados”, we soon notice theoretical and practical problems
considerably different from those raised within academia, parties or
governments. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to enrich our
knowledge through the questions people ask and the answers they are given.
Theories and practices that come “from below and to the left” genuinely
criticize power, when it is seen as different from society, and when it
is separate from society.
The new peoples’ movements propose a democracy that corresponds to the
decisions of the people, and that if it becomes distant from the people,
it ceases to be a democracy.
Impoverished and excluded “indignados” and “Occupy movements” formulate
theories that contain strong empirical support. These consist of
explanations and generalizations, based on a great quantity of
experience. Knowledge, arts and techniques that correspond to the
knowledge and the ways of being of the people; that knowledge which the
anthropologist Andrés Aubry so exalts, in which, instead of the
individualistic “I”, the Tojolabal “we” appears, that concept rescued by
Carlos Lenkersdorf for the philosophy of human solidarity.
Theories and practices have much of the particular and also of the
universal …And I do not exaggerate. Think of the huge “indignado” and
“Occupy” mobilizations which are struggling for another possible world.
Today –two admired English professors write–, the mobilization is
gigantic. Never before has one of this magnitude been presented, and all
the mobilizations (they add) “began in the jungles of Chiapas with the
principles of inclusion and dialogue”.
Thus we see that “from below and to the left”, and from the tropical
forests, a movement is arising that not only fights to defend the rights
of indigenous peoples, but also for the emancipation of all human beings.
And this universal movement, amidst all its differences, faces similar
difficulties. Moreover, it finds similar solutions through the creation
of another world and another culture, so badly needed, which the peoples
of the Andes call “living well”, whereby “the wellbeing of some does not
rely on the bad living of the rest”. (el vivir bien de unos no dependa
del mal vivir de otros”.
To the contributions provided by the American Indians, many more are
added, corresponding to the experiences of different cultures and
histories, which all make up the world history of the struggle for
freedom, justice and democracy; the slogan the Zapatista movement uses
walks through the whole world, not as an echo, but as the voice of the
same thoughts and desires.
And there are the Greek youth fighting against the tribute of foreign
debt; the movements of the Arab spring that the military cannot force to
compromise; the Spanish “indignado” assemblies that articulate vital
interests that the system can not satisfy; the young Americans occupying
Wall Street as the centre of corporate power we all struggle against;
the young Chileans who give up their lives so their schools and
universities are not taken away.
In all these demonstrations there is a lot in common. All, or almost
all, agree with “inclusiveness” and “dialogue” and, in increasing
numbers, with the idea that corporate capitalism is the source of all
the problems that affect and threaten humanity.
They also agree that the solution is democracy from everyone, for
everyone, and with everyone, which is not delegated; some call it
democratic socialism or the socialism of the 21st century, and others
just call it democracy; and it is that and much more, it is a new way of
relating to the earth and human beings … a new way of organizing life.
And it is in the midst of the richness and novelty of this global
movement that a series of reflections coming from below and to the left
have been understood, and a response arises seeking the triumph of the
indignados and the poor of the earth.
The richness of the reflections and calls is huge; it demands attention,
and a deepening study; I here list briefly some of these calls which we
must now work on:
1. Above all the call to lose fear, which the Zapatista movement has
highlighted as a requirement for thought and action.
2. To not only think of “what to do”, but “how we do it”.
3. Setting out with whom -we do it- in the different circumstances.
4. To clarify our internal differences with a new style for discussion
5. The complete rejection of the logic of charity. And also the logic of
paternalism, as both of them disguise manipulation. Charity and
paternalism are the good side of the authoritarian culture.
6. Combining the struggle for the rights of the peoples, workers and
citizens with the struggle to build an alternative society in which good
government collectives practice “governing by obeying”. Give detailed
examples to clarify what constitutes the practice of governing by
obeying. (mandar obediciendo)
7. Take the necessary steps for the project of emancipation to be truly
inclusive, and to provide a space for the respectful treatment of
differences in race, sex, age, sexual orientation, religion, ideology
and level of education.
8. Redefine the concepts of liberty, equality, fraternity, justice,
democracy … Redefine them in everyday life here and now.
9. Clarify that networks are not only networks of information. Clarify
that networks of collectives and of collective systems have been and
will be organized, which will: enable horizontal organizations to
predominate over the market and the state, encourage cooperation and
solidarity against the individualism of the market, and allow those
responsible for governing by obeying to follow the guidelines set by
horizontal organizations and never even for one minute to feel above
them. At the same time create centralized and decentralized
organizations, like the EZLN, like the police from the people of the
southeast, and like the municipal autonomies.
10. Deepen and promote solidarity and cooperative systems through flows
and exchanges that bring production, consumption and services closer
together, eg education, health, social security.
11. Constantly update knowledge about contradictions within the
emancipation movements themselves, and not only update about external
12. Encourage respect for the dignity and identity of individuals and
peoples, without falling into individualism or provincialism, and before
cultivating universal emancipation.
13. Combat Manichaeism [belief in religious or philosophical dualism],
and renew the type of discussions that invoke the classics to understand
the here and now, and include their narratives and reflections in the
creative memory of our generalizations.
14. Recognize that, in all great movements, the people – for reasons of
enormous importance – do not favour violent revolution but massive
peaceful occupations of society and the earth.
15. Realise that the 99 per cent of humanity is going to win this
struggle, and that its triumph, and the society that will be built, will
depend on the ecological creation of a sustainable land system, able to
meet the vital demands of a growing population when currently hundreds
of millions suffer from hunger and cold, and able to prevent the
continuation of an economic and political system in which the industry
of war is the main engine of the economy.
16. Identify how to fight and win peacefully in a “broad spectrum” war,
as designed by the Pentagon. If one of the “spectrums” is an armed and
violent war, we can fight in the others, which cover information
technology and cyber war, the war on education, the war on culture, the
economic war with foreign debt and derivatives, the social war which
destroys the fabric of the community, family and class; the
pseudo-scientific and ideological neoliberal war, cynical, re-colonizing
and neo-fascist: the war that destroys the biosphere, and the war that
sows terror and which accompanies the immoral war intended to co-opt,
macro -corrupt and subject a human race which has given up and sold out.
17. Insist that the poor of the earth and those who are with them must
challenge the broad-spectrum war in all possible peaceful spectrums: in
the realm of education to think and do, in the realm of the economics of
resistance that takes care of bread and water, home and hearth, services
of health and security: the social fabric of family and community, and
of a working class that rebuilds the essential union of regulated and
unregulated workers; in the ideological struggle against the
corporations, the yellow leaders and the gangs who hide their predatory
war behind other no less infamous wars – like those against terrorism,
drug trafficking and confusion … And to be ever more aware that the
current war of intimidation and corruption seeks above all the plunder
and dispossession of the communal lands, the farmers’ fields, the
national lands, of the forests and mines, the oil reserves and
groundwater, the soil and subsoil, the coasts and land. And not
satisfied with oppressing the poorest of the poor and the inhabitants of
the margins of the world, they are more and more openly impoverishing
the middle class and depriving them of their rights, and the youth and
children of the world of their future.
Alongside the outraged (indignados) of the earth we must stand against
the new policy of the carrot and the stick, of corruption and
macroeconomic repression that corporate capitalism employs, with its
allies and subordinates. Against their plans of intimidation and
universal corruption, we will brandish the moral struggle and the
courage of the people. We will do it, we know that there are more of us
all the time, and that more and more people throughout the world are now
struggling for what in 1994 seemed to be only a “post-modern indigenous
rebellion”, but in reality was only the beginning of a human
mobilization considerably better prepared to achieve the liberty,
justice and democracy we all deserve.