Esteva: It was an atrocious year
Indigenous peoples protest climate change in Paris.
By: Gustavo Esteva
In Mexico, the moral degradation, cynicism and corruption of the political classes became more and more evident, while the combined violence of legal and illegal forces continuously increased. Thus, a structure was consolidated that inside and outside the institutions seeks to subject the population to control and smother resistances and rebellions, inside of an undeclared state of exception.
Something similar, with very different degrees and modalities, occurs in the world. In the face of the political changes in Argentina or Venezuela, the persistent Brazilian political crisis, or events in Greece or France, betrayals, errors or weaknesses of the “lefts” are denounced or it warns about restorations or assaults on power from the “rights.” It characterizes what occurred as a setback of popular forces and a rise of capital, of its state administrators and the social sectors that support them. Trump would confirm this interpretation: millions of Americans support positions that even The New York Times classifies as fascist, at the same time that, in the United States and Europe, social behaviours that clearly have that character multiply. Just as 12 million Germans voted for Hitler in 1932 and 17 million in 1933, the media and other factors would be leading large groups to support governments and politicians of the “right,” even against their own interests. Thus the popular forces would be turned back and the neoliberal constellation would continue winning.
The Paris Agreement can be useful for illustrating what occurs and for trying to explain it. The conference that produced it was the result of the prolonged public demand to confront climate change. What they signed wasn’t good; the governments publicly proclaimed its merits and many applauded it without reservation, but it was rather a deceptive farce. Grain, for example, which represents a very qualified and respected opinion, pointed out that the agreement it not legally binding in the goal of reducing emissions, does not advance de-carbonization, it supports the industrial agricultural model, the generator of 50 percent of the emissions and protects that these will continue by means of actions that supposedly compensate them. The most serious is that, under the excuse of carbon “seizure,” it will now be openly supportive of geo-engineering, which for many is the principal cause of climate change.
Grain, as well as a good part of the demonstrators present in Paris, emphasized that what’s important is changing the “system,” not the climate. Since we’re talking about that, it doesn’t seem reasonable to ask it of the very same “system,” ensnared as it is in a destructive logic that it cannot stop by itself. As is continuously denounced, it’s killing the hen with the golden eggs and rapidly undermining its own basis for existence. The problem is that its suicidal behaviour increasingly puts at risk the survival of the human species and life on the planet and can only be instrumented with a growing authoritarianism. First, an immense global effort was exerted to hold the conference, and later to make the decisions that are lacking. Does that make sense? Why continue trusting in the superstition that those governments and institutions are going to make decisions contrary to the interests of those who control them, that 1 percent that Occupy Wall Street denounced?
That would be the year’s principal lesson, which we are far from having learned. Awareness is more general all the time that the current predicaments cannot be overcome inside the framework of ideas, policies and practices that they produce; in other words, inside the current “system.” It’s not enough to change policies or modify the ideological composition of those who are in charge of the institutions. Nor is it sufficient to reform them. It’s illusory and superstitious to continue hoping that the “system” will correct itself, with the same or other leaders, as Paris and all the other cases prove. Therefore, we need to withdraw our trust from the same representation regimen and its electoral dispositive. We also need to withdraw from mere social mobilization, if it is only capable of producing the replacement of leaders, as the result of the Arab Spring demonstrated or of inducing marginal changes in the orientation of policies, as is proven everywhere and was proven in Paris.
At this point, the atrocious year allows a crack of hope. It’s underway everywhere, a reorganization from below that step by step transforms resistance into emancipation. The need for the apparatuses of capital and the market is dismantled and for its state administrators and new social relations are forged. Little by little, devices capable of stopping the dominant horror are established, so that the organized people themselves, not their representatives, leaders or delegates, realize the changes that are lacking. It’s not about another superstition or about mere utopias. It begins to be reality.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Monday, December 21, 2015
Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee
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