New Internationalist

Tomorrow Begins Today

Issue 338

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Resistance / Zapatista

Tomorrow begins today.
Illustrations taken from the poster of the Encuentro

WELCOME TO THE ZAPATISTA LA REALIDAD.
When this dream that awakens today in La Realidad began to be dreamed by us, we thought it would be a failure. We thought that, maybe, we could gather here a few dozen people from a handful of continents. We were wrong. As always, we were wrong. It wasn’t a few dozen, but thousands of human beings, those who came from the five continents to find themselves in the reality at the close of the twentieth century.

The word born within these mountains, these Zapatista mountains, found the ears of those who could listen, care for and launch it anew, so that it might travel far away and circle the world. The sheer lunacy of calling to the five continents to reflect clearly on our past, our present, and our future, found that it wasn’t alone in its delerium. Soon lunacies from the whole planet began to work on bringing the dream to rest in La Realidad.

[image, unknown] Who are they who dare to let their dreams meet with all the dreams of the world? What is happening in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast that finds an echo and a mirror in the streets of Europe, the suburbs of Asia, the countryside of America, the townships of Africa, and the houses of Oceania? What is it that is happening with the peoples of these five continents who, so we are all told, only encounter each other to compete or make war? Wasn’t this turn of the century synonymous with despair, bitterness, and cynicism? From where and how did all these dreams come to La Realidad?

[image, unknown] May Europe speak and recount the long bridge of its gaze, crossing the Atlantic and history in order to rediscover itself in La Realidad.

May Asia speak and explain the gigantic leap of its heart to arrive and beat in La Realidad. May Africa speak and describe the long sailing of its restless image to come to reflect upon itself in La Realidad.

May Oceania speak and tell of the multiple flight of its thought to come to rest in La Realidad. May America speak and remember its swelling hope to come to renew itself in La Realidad.

May the five continents speak and everyone listen.

May humanity suspend for a moment its silence of shame and anguish.

May humanity speak.

May humanity listen....

Each country,

each city,

each countryside,

each house,

each person,

each is a large or small battleground.

These are some of the closing remarks made by Subcomandante Marcos to the First Intercontinental Encuentro – ‘Encounter’ – for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism. It took place in the town of La Realidad – ‘Reality’ – in Chiapas, Southeastern Mexico, on 3 August 1996 On the one side is neoliberalism with all its repressive power and all its machinery of death; on the other side is the human being.

In any place in the world, anytime, any man or woman rebels to the point of tearing off the clothes that resignation has woven for them and cynicism has dyed grey. Any man or woman, of whatever colour, in whatever tongue, speaks and says to himself, to herself: ‘Enough is enough! – ¡Ya Basta!’

For struggling for a better world all of us are fenced in, threatened with death. The fence is reproduced globally. In every continent, every city, every countryside, every house. Power’s fence of war closes in on the rebels, for whom humanity is always grateful.

But fences are broken.

In every house,

in every countryside,

in every city,

in every state,

in every country,

on every continent,

the rebels, whom history repeatedly has given the length of its long trajectory, struggle and the fence is broken.

The rebels search each other out. They walk toward one another.

They find each other and together break other fences.

In the countrysides and cities, in the states, in the nations, on the continents, the rebels begin to recognize each other, to know themselves as equals and different. They continue on their fatiguing walk, walking as it is now necessary to walk, that is to say, struggling....

A reality spoke to them then. Rebels from the five continents heard it and set off walking.

[image, unknown] Some of the best rebels from the five continents arrived in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. All of them brought their ideas, their hearts, their worlds. They came to La Realidad to find themselves in others’ ideas, in others’ reasons, in others’ worlds.

A world made of many worlds found itself these days in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

A world made of many worlds opened a space and established its right to exist, raised the banner of being necessary, stuck itself in the middle of earth’s reality to announce a better future.

But what next?

A new number in the useless enumeration of the numerous international orders?

A new scheme that calms and alleviates the anguish of having no solution?

A global program for world revolution?

A utopian theory so that it can maintain a prudent distance from the reality that anguishes us?

A scheme that assures each of us a position, a task, a title, and no work?

The end of history was declared, but the indigenous Zapatistas of the South Eastern state of Chiapas, Mexico weren’t listening. Instead, they held an encuentro that was a landmark moment when grassroots social movements from around the world recognized the commonality of their diverse struggles and began the slow process of building an international network of resistance to neoliberal globalization. The accounts of that encuentro are the closest thing this movement has to an internationale – not a manifesto, but an anthem of hope. The echo goes on, a reflected image of the possible and forgotten: the possibility and necessity of speaking and listening; not an echo that fades away, or a force that decreases after reaching its apogee.

Let it be an echo that breaks barriers and re-echoes.

Let it be an echo of our own smallness, of the local and particular, which reverberates in an echo of our own greatness, the intercontinental and galactic.

An echo that recognizes the existence of the other and does not overpower or attempt to silence it.

An echo of this rebel voice transforming itself and renewing itself in other voices.

An echo that turns itself into many voices, into a network of voices that, before Power’s deafness, opts to speak to itself, knowing itself to be one and many, acknowledging itself to be equal in its desire to listen and be listened to, recognizing itself as diverse in the tones and levels of voices forming it.

Let it be a network of voices that resist the war that the Power wages on them.

A network of voices that not only speak, but also struggle and resist for humanity and against neoliberalism.

The world, with the many worlds that the world needs, continues.

Humanity, recognizing itself to be plural, different, inclusive, tolerant of itself, full of hope, continues.

The human and rebel voice, consulted on the five continents in order to become a network of voices and of resistances, continues.

We declare:
That we will make a collective network of all our particular struggles and resistances. An intercontinental network of resistance against neoliberalism, an intercontinental network of resistance for humanity.

This intercontinental network of resistance, recognizing differences and acknowledging similarities, will search to find itself with other resistances around the world.

This intercontinental network of resistance is not an organizing structure; it doesn’t have a central head or decision maker; it has no central command or hierarchies. We are the network, all of us who resist.

This is an edited extract from Our Word is Our Weapon: Selected Writings
by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos (Seven Stories/Serpents Tail)

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The Restless Margins: some key moments of the global movement 1994-2001
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1997
Financial crisis hits Southeast Asia: IMF restructuring leads to protests across the region. Korean businessmen hold up signs saying: ‘I aM Fired.’ Social movements, from Indonesia to Thailand, link the crisis to economic globalization and the flight of transnational capital.
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25 November: Students repressed with teargas and imprisonment at anti-APEC protest, Vancouver, Canada, radicalizing a swathe of the student population there.
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1998
February
: The network of the People’s Global Action – against free trade and the WTO – is born at a meeting in Geneva. Teachers against privatization in Argentina, European road protesters, U’wa from Colombia, Indian farm leaders, create a globally networked platform against free trade.
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5 May: 70,000 Jubilee 2000 protesters ring the G8 summit in Birmingham, Britain to demand debt cancellation. The first ‘Global Street Party’ is held in 30 countries around the world.
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