EZLN: roots of the new world
By Raul Romero
In memory of David Ruiz García
Eric Hobsbawm, one of the leading Marxist historians, wrote that the nineteenth century began in 1789 with the French Revolution and ended in 1914 with the start of World War I. He named this period the Long nineteenth century. Hobsbawm himself said that the twentieth century had begun in 1914 and completed in 1991 with the breakup of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). He called that period called the Short XX century. We recall, in an outrageous summary, that for Marxist theorists the history of mankind is the history of class struggle. In this sense, the long nineteenth century was characterized by the imposition of liberalism as a hegemonic ideology, while the short twentieth century was marked by the struggle between liberalism and socialism.
Following this line, the XXI century, which started in 1991, has been characterized, at least in the first two decades, by the resistances of the peoples of Latin America. This has been emphasized by other thinkers such as Noam Chomsky, Immanuel Wallerstein, Pablo González Casanova and Boaventura de Souza. In this "historic change", the struggles of the Indian peoples against exploitation and domination, against imperialism, but also against international and intranational colonialism, are a distinctive feature. In this regard, it is worth highlighting two events in particular.
The first of these took place in October 1992. To mark "500 years of indigenous resistance," the peoples of different countries of the continent mobilized recalling the start of the genocide, also known as the "Conquest." In Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Mexico large demonstrations were held. The names of Evo Morales and Rigoberta Menchú began to take on great relevance. In Mexico, about 10 thousand indigenous people marched in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, throwing down the statue of the conquistador Diego de Mazariegos.
The second event is better known: the public appearance of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) on January 1, 1994.
So the twenty-first century did not come alone, at her side came the new world. It had already begun. It showed its first signs in Cuba, where Che could see the new man. It was taking shape with the passage of history until the time arrived, its time.
As lightning illuminates the darkness – the darkness of a "crumbling world" – the new world began to unfold. When it was assumed that there was no possibility of an anti-capitalist world, the Zapatistas of Chiapas erupted into the "theatre of the oppressor" to prove the opposite: that another world was possible.
The new world has as its main feature being anti-capitalist. In it, the peoples are the leading subject of the construction of a social and economic model that is not based on exploitation or accumulation. Life and community are opposed to merchandise and the individual, the supreme paradigms of capitalism. At the same time, they exercise their right to govern themselves, creating a form of people-government where the people command and the government obeys.
In the new world people are aware that there is no "principal contradiction," but economic and cultural contradictions which are linked and are manifested in multiple relations of oppression. Thus, the peoples create horizontal social relations in which they subvert old patterns of domination including those prior to capitalism. The oppressive relations of class, race, gender, age, nature, among others, are eliminated or are in the process of becoming so.
The new world also comes with a new political culture that is deeply democratic and plural. It is composed of many worlds, there is no role model to emulate or vanguard to follow. There is no dominant ideology, on the contrary, difference is one of its main driving forces. In contrast to the world which is collapsing, ethics and dignity are the foundations of the world which was born with the 21st century.
An intelligent and dynamic system, the new world is in constant transformation, always learning from its mistakes.
The Zapatista Caracoles are the most complete version of the new world. But, like an archipelago emerging from below -and to the left- this new world also appears in Cheran, in Santa Maria Ostula, in Wirikuta, in Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina…
The lords of money and death who dominate the cracks in the old world are afraid. As in the past, they are afraid of the new, the different. Their privileges, built with the blood and the pain of the "wretched of the earth" are at stake. This is why they resist and manufacture wars of extermination. This is why they murdered the teacher Galeano and destroyed the school and hospital in the Caracol of La Realidad.
The roots of the new world are strong, they have been growing from below, always from below! Its most visible shoot, Zapatismo, shelters us and many others. They teach us that the struggle is not against their "paramilitary brothers" but against the system. What matters is justice, not revenge. We have to learn with them and from them. Let us be new women and men, let us make the new world the characteristic of the XXI century.
Photo: La Realidad, 2014, by Sari Dennise.