By: Gustavo Esteva
Words are not enough. None of them manage to get close to the magnitude and profundity of the impact. The spirit is not ready to take in something like [what has happened] in Gaza.
We must get to the bottom of the issue. It is an easy solution to attribute everything to a psychopathic tyrant, although there is one. The recent survey which indicates that 75 percent of the residents of Israel support what is being done may or may not be valid. But there is no doubt that a substantial portion of the population of that country bacs the policy which today reaches this unbearable extreme.
We are not speaking of blame, but rather of responsibility. It is what the new generations of Germans have had to accept: they hold no blame for what their parents or grandparents did, but they must accept their responsibility. And if one deals with that, the issue does not end with Israel….. or with the United States and its allies, thinking not only about their governments, but also about their populations. This concerns us all. We are talking about exploring our complicity.
We have to face courageously the extent to which we are involved in these crimes. What occurs in Gaza now is but an insane and savage manifestation of a state of things in which we are immersed. We must ask ourselves about the extent to which we are responsible for what persists.
There are more or less conventional proposals. Do we buy products from Israel or its allies? Do we invest in that country’s institutions? There are obviously private corporations which profit in this situation and therefore one of the resources used in its time against apartheid is appealing: the boycott that leads to disinvestment, a campaign explained well in Wikipedia. We can be part of that campaign, avoiding buying those products and fighting those investments.
They are steps in the right direction but clearly insufficient. It is also useful to go out in the street to protest, be it in Tel Aviv or in San Cristóbal, or to join the Latino March that took place yesterday, from the Río Grande to Patagonia. It implies drawing a line, keeping a distance and denouncing. But that is also insufficient.
The state of affairs which produces the aberration of Gaza encompasses the political and economic system in which we live, that combination of irresponsible corporations with equally irresponsible governments, which have learned to ignore the will of their voters and continuously contradict their mandates. Their irrepressible destructive desire levels human lives and nature equally. Security is the pretext for the brutal use of force and the abuse of the powers of government, but security is precisely the greatest proof of the failure of the government system in the nation-state and the international institutions: they cannot fulfil that function, which is their primary obligation.
Without a doubt, it is a question of power. But one must take into account that power is not a thing, it is not something that some have and others don’t, which is there above, concentrated, because of which it can be dispersed or distributed, to “empower” those that lack that “thing,” power. Power is a relationship. We are all involved in the structures of power. We argue a point. It depends on us whether or not a specific power relationship is maintained, if the state of things persists or not.
It’s not enough to say that were dealing with capitalism, to consequently make us anti-capitalists, as was proposed today in a thousand different ways in the “Transcending capitalism” gathering, organized by the Centre for Global Justice in San Miguel de Allende.
It is necessary to go further still. Behind all this, the horror of Gaza, the migrant children or the abuses of all kinds of Mexico’s formal powers, behind capitalism and formal “democracy” and all that state of things, behind modernity and post-modernity, are the mentality and practice of patriarchy. All that is an expression of a way of thinking, of acting, of being, which encompasses men and women, and has the appropriated name of patriarchy, in which the archy part of the word signifies control, domination, power, and is exercised in the “male” tradition. It is its destructive impetus, which arrives at its extreme at the hour of its collapse. And if that’s what we are dealing with, we are all accomplices. There is no way to wash our hands or elude our responsibility. It is time to thoroughly break with the mentality and patriarchal behaviours that affect so many men and women everywhere. Only in that way can we seriously begin to dismantle that whole abominable structure. This defines, indeed, the very nature of the Zapatista undertaking.