Seven Reasons to Support the CNI-EZLN Proposal

Gilberto López y Rivas

Ever since they made public the consensus proposal of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), to integrate an Indigenous Gobierno Council for Mexico, whose spokesperson will be registered as an independent candidate for the 2018 presidential elections, we have given the task of participating in the round tables, conversations and workshops to various adherents to the Sixth Declaration, in order to reflect, analyze, expound, and of course debate this singular political action, in its multiple dimensions, challenges and commitments.

We are dealing with another of the initiatives that come from the indigenous world, and, in particular, from Zapatismo and its close associates, for the purpose of articulating the resistances from below and to the left in order to confront that storm of civilizational scope that constitutes current capitalist globalization and that is expressed in a re-colonization and war of conquest of territories, natural resources, disposable human beings, destruction of nature, which are leading the human species and known life forms on a course to their possible extinction. That is, the current struggle of the indigenous and non- indigenous peoples goes beyond the worn out and dismissed schemes of left and right content, and is situated in the dichotomous position of being in favor of life or death. Rosa Luxemburg, who didn’t live the nightmare of Nazi-fascism or of the current form of criminal and militarized capitalist accumulation set forth almost a century ago, now the disjunctive of socialism or barbarism.

Within this context, what are some of the reasons to assume the CNI-EZLN proposal as our own?

1. It’s an idea discussed in depth by the Zapatista Maya communities, and afterwards by the more than 40 expressions of the original peoples that make up the CNI. It is not the fruit of a group of notables that think for the rest, but rather the result of horizontal deliberations of innumerable assemblies that analyzed it until reaching its approval under one of the principles of “govern obeying: convince and not conquer. It is not an “occurrence” of a determined person, nor does it have concealed governmental promoters that the institutional left and the anonymity of the social networks seek to “denounce.”

2. The integration of an Indigenous Government Council for Mexico is maintained in several decades of de facto autonomous experiences, in the entire geography of our dejected national territory, which contrast notoriously with the corrupt, illegitimate and discredited governments at all three levels and powers of the “partidocracy” that have produced a fed up citizenry and a profound crisis of so-called representative democracy. It’s evident that the group currently in power does not represent the interests of the people and of the Mexican nation, and yield governments of national betrayal that have renounced the exercise of sovereignty, and have delivered the country, its territory, labor force and natural and strategic resources to the transnational capitalist corporations, and have docilely submitted to the economic, political, ideological and military domination of the US, the hegemonic armed branch of global imperialism. The Indigenous Government Council and what results from it, is the embryo of popular representation and national sovereignty, starting from what Article 39 of the Constitution, still in effect, establishes.

3. The Indigenous Government Council and the independent candidacy of Compañera María del Jesús Patricio Martínez come from the sector of the exploited, oppressed and discriminated against that has for decades forged a strategy of resistance against capitalism. The autonomy that it institutes is, at the same time, a practice of government and doing politics radically different than what we know, without bureaucracies, intermediaries, professional politicians and caudillos. Despite the structural precariousness, the counterinsurgency war of attrition, the paramilitaries, organized crime, repression and criminalization of their struggles, these self-governments have shown their ability to organize the peoples in a process of reconstitution, awareness, participation of women and youth, strengthening of ethnic-cultural, national and class identities, through the collective and autonomous appropriation of community security, imparting of justice, health, education, culture, communication and economic and productive activities, as well as the defense of territory and its natural resources.

4. In a country in which the corruption and generalized cynicism of the political class rule, indigenous proposal is founded on the notable ethical congruency of its postulants. The EZLN as well as the CNI have practiced what they preach for decades, and have made the principles of not selling out, not giving up, not betraying, not supplanting or taking advantage of other peoples’ struggles a reality. The “for everyone everything, for us nothing,” is a reality throughout all these years. These organizations have been establishing the popular power of govern obeying, without asking anything in exchange and, despite the difficult living conditions, they have been in solidarity with all the struggles of those below.

5. The candidacy of an indigenous woman goes beyond a politics of quotas and feminist positions that don’t take into account the triple oppression that indigenous women have suffered and the cultural specificity in which they demand full rights. It is situated as a clear response to the reigning patriarchy, from a new face gender politics, whose origin we find in the EZLN’s Revolutionary Law of Women.

6. It’s a proposal inclusive, not only of the indigenous and with the indigenous, which makes the vindications of all the exploited, oppressed and discriminated of the earth its own, regardless of their ethnic or national origins and cultural characteristics. It’s not an essentialist or ethnic proposal. The proposal addresses all the peoples of Mexico, including the one of the majority nationality, that world where we all fit.

7. The initiative does not divide the partisan left; as Paulina Fernández points out, it places it on exhibit, and she would add, in all its racism and wretchedness.

English Interpretation by Chiapas Support Committee

The Pro-Capitalist “Left”

Gilberto López y Rivas

The openly anti-capitalist posture of the CNI’s initiative has provoked very different reactions. It’s useful to examine them by reflecting on what it means today to be against what capital says and does.

The most common reaction to the initiative considers it irrelevant. It is not seen as a real threat. It provokes indifference woven with scorn and rejection. It is seen as settled that the majority of the people will continue enclosed in the capitalist prison, as much by daily dependencies on the system as by their dreams, still formulated in their breast. The conviction would prevail that, despite all its defects, capitalism is to remain and nothing better has been found; rather, the conviction that the strength and characteristics of the dominant regime makes openly confronting it foolish. Whether or not one has a critical position with respect to capitalism, this indifference leads to seeking some form of accommodation with forces that seem unbeatable. The open struggle against capital, like that of the CNI, would lack viability and would be mere illusory rhetoric and even demagogic.

Those who pretend to place themselves on the left of the ideological spectrum often adopt that posture. Their cynicism is scarcely hidden under the umbrella of realism. Pablo Iglesias, of Podemos, pointed it out without shades: “May they stay with the red flag and leave us in peace. I want to win” (Público, 26/06/15). His position is not far from what the so-called “progressive” governments of Latin America adopt. The Marxist García Linera celebrates dependent capitalism, developmentalist and extractivist from Bolivia because, according to him, the fruit of exploitation is distributed there among the people. Mujica, in Uruguay, would have changed his dream of transforming the world through the good administration of capitalism. To Lula, his policies were “all that the left dreamed should be done” (La Jornada, 3/10/10). “A metallurgy worker –said with pride– he is making the greatest capitalization in the history of capitalism…” (Proceso, 1770, 3/10/10) The Brazilian “left” supported his alliance with businessmen and corporations, as does the Mexican “left” by supporting similar alliances with AMLO, which would only seek, according to his own words, to smooth the sharpest edges of neoliberal capitalism.

An argument along the same lines that seeks to be more subtle considers that, unless anti-capitalism achieves a global majority, which seems impossible in the foreseeable future, it would imply renouncing all the fruits of the scientific and technological advances of human history, which capitalism would have absorbed into its production and would now determine necessities and general desires.

There is before all else a clear awareness of the current danger in the anticapitalist posture. The slide into barbarity is no longer a theoretical disjunctive, like that which Rosa Luxemburg proposed a hundred years ago: it’s an immediate threat, already completed in many parts. Fighting against capital is now an issue of survival, because what it does to the environment puts the human species in danger and what it does to the society and the culture destroys the bases of our coexistence and intensifies all forms of the reigning violence.

The fight against capital demands, before all else, recognizing that our necessities are not an imposition on nature, but rather the fruit of dispossession. What we suffer today is similar to that of the comuneros that need housing, food and jobs when in the beginning of capitalism their means of subsistence was expropriated from them. Our desires already have the form of merchandise. Having won first place globally in the per person consumption of cola drinks means that the thirst of a very wide sector of Mexican society has been given a capitalist form.

Recuperating desires and necessities is a necessary step in the struggle against capital. It’s the step that gave Via Campesina, one of the largest organizations in human history, when it maintained that we must define for ourselves what we eat… and produce it. Recuperating the desire for one’s own food, cultivating it on recuperated land or in the backyard of a rented house in the city, implies breaking with the social relations of capitalism, simultaneously recuperating the means of production and autonomous decision-making ability in a central dimension of subsistence.

The Zapatistas have the highest degree of self-sufficiency in all aspects of daily life, without falling into relationships of capitalist production. They did not renounce buying machetes, bicycles or computers on the capitalist market, in which they also place products to satisfy needs and desires that they define more autonomously all the time. It’s about a realism very different from that practiced above.

Their open and decided struggle against capital recognizes without nuances or reservations that “it lacks what it lacks.” Without prescribing recipes for everyone or taking refuge in any universal doctrine, they insist on the need of organizing ourselves, which in practice means that each one, in their time and their geography, must learn to govern themselves and to construct their world beyond the capitalist prison.

Only like that, not with complicit accommodations, can we avoid the barbarity towards which it’s leading us. And this position, against what the pro-capitalist “left” thinks, continuously extends to common people, sometimes because of the mere struggle for survival under the current storm, and other times in the name of old ideals.

English Interpretation by Chiapas Support Committee