I have been thinking through indigeniety issues in southern and eastern Africa recently and find myself struck by the similarity in struggles among indigenous peoples across the globe.
The Zapatista struggle against domination and neo-colonialism in Mexico looks a lot like the San struggle for recognition and traditional rights in Botswana and Namibia, for example.
I was drawn to consider the following two quotes by Subcomandante Marcos (pictured) of EZLN in Chiapas, Mexico.
The first relates to the use of force and war in indigenous struggle and the second is a scathing critique of American neoliberalism and its imperialism through globalisation:
"We don’t want to impose our solutions by force, we want to create a democratic space. We don’t see armed struggle in the classic sense of previous guerrilla wars, that is as the only way and the only all-powerful truth around which everything is organized. In a war, the decisive thing is not the military confrontation but the politics at stake in the confrontation. We didn’t go to war to kill or be killed. We went to war in order to be heard."The usual knee-jerk reaction to the latter quote will deride the anti-Americanism being pressed.
"All cultures forged by nations—the noble indigenous past of America, the brilliant civilization of Europe, the wise history of Asian nations, and the ancestral wealth of Africa and Oceania—are corroded by the American way of life. In this way, neoliberalism imposes the destruction of nations and groups of nations in order to reconstruct them according to a single model. This is a planetary war, of the worst and cruelest kind, waged against humanity."
But there is so much more.
Marcos is pointing to the manner in which real difference is being erased for purposes of domination.
It is also a critique of how natural diversity is unbalanced by the oppressive sameness of capital driven neoliberalism and its hegemonic globalisation.
An unbalancing that is made to be "common sense" in Gramscian terms.
"That's just the way of the modern world," some would argue.
But is it really the only way? Or even, the right way?
It is becoming clearer each day that we cannot sustain lives built around neoliberalism with its greedy, and sameness, emphasis on massive and domineering consumption.
There is decidedly more to life than just a McBurger with or without fries and a soft drink.
It is a small wonder then that so much of indigenous struggle is similarly focused, inside and outside of armed resistance.
For more See "What the Zapatistas Can Teach us About the Climate Crisis" by Jeff Conant (August 3, 2010).