Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Para todos todo, para nosotros nada"

This is the indigenous rally cry and flag of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). The cry (in Spanish) translates into: Everything for Everyone, Nothing for Us.

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."

"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."
The usual knee-jerk reaction to the latter quote will deride the anti-Americanism being pressed.

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).




pserean said...

Interesting article...
even more interesting is s.marcos.

very eloquent.

revolutions abound or attempt, and most of the time- we're unaware.
do you think things fail because we're too centred on certain groups of people? as opposed to ideologies? not political movement-but actual all encompassing ideology?


Ana said...

Kia ora Brother

I found this post to be affirming, enlightening & uplifting.

Zapata Vive Vive La Lucha Sigue Sigue.

Respect & Reagards

Ridwan said...

Salaam Pserean.

Thanks for your comment. There are indeed revolutionary struggles all around us and not all of them are focused on seizing power from those in government.

Power struggles are very one dimensional and almost always about the circuitous nothingness you pointed out in an earlier comment.

Marcos is revolutionary because he signifies beyond narrow state power.

His revolution is not about about shifting chairs at the table of power that Malcolm X critiqued.

True revolutionaries like him (and Malcolm and even Gandhi) are not focused on seizing power but redefining power as a value that is subject to our humanity.

Just my 2.5 cents (again).

Much peace to you,

Ridwan said...

Kia Ora Sista Ana!

Thank you kindly my sista for looking in on me and leaving a comment.

I trust you and your loved ones are well over there in occupied australia.

Viva Zapata and Zapatistas indeed!

Onward! Sista Ana.

ps. I really like your new blog look.

Anonymous said...

i came across an article and am reminded of this "“Profit” is not in itself evil, but when “profit” is driven by greed and avarice, it is simply violence." I am not necessarily against globalization but it needs to be driven by equity and ethics.Such asymmetrical concentration of power and values is dangerous and the risk of homogenizing diverse cultures and traditions for political and economic gain very real. I agree riddy, it goes much deeper. press on :)laila

Ridwan said...

Thanks a ton Laila. Points taken.

I will "press on" ...


Anonymous said...

thanks for the explanation.

(i was wondering about terms of muslim countries.... and our inherent failure in garnering support.of course, politics and corruption are pretty much stealing the show. which is why islam- as the pure idea that must source every other idea- is never quite successful in the application. not islam, sorry. but the portrayal of it by government forces. everything with a loud voice.
we live in a land begging for dawah- yet we haven't unlocked the potential. i often wonder if it's because we will always make an uproar for muslims only- and ignore the injustices elsewhere.
so that we become a constrained group - as opposed to a promise of humanity- for muslims and nonmuslims. we have taken the source of ideals and given it a name that speaks of a nation, without speaking of people.
you know? so onlookers always remain apart. i feel like muslims have become a political party and ...lost the ideal.

fell off a tangent there.

(but that being said- i like your blog. the openness of it that extends beyond muslim injustice and probes further.)


Ridwan said...

Thank you kindly pserean. You raise very important points and issues.

In South Africa we mostly have a disconnected Muslim ummah in my thinking.

Part of the problem is the manner that Islam has been reduced to a personal religion only.

I will be bold and lay a lot of the blame at the door of the apolitical Tablig movement with its inconsistent and contrived gender views and contained interpretation of Islam.

The origins of Islam was in revolution and not just piety of self and purpose.

The individual and her/his place in God's design is not the central thesis of Islam.

Justice is.

The Prophet (PBUH) took to the battlefield for justice and for all the imperfections that accompanied his mission, the greater result was overturning unjust practices such as slavery and inheritance rights for women (gender inequality), for example.

In so doing there was "no compulsion in religion" as the Qur'an says.

Those who wanted to revert became Muslims and those who did not were not compelled.

The principle of justice drove the revolution that started Islam, and is Islam (the way of life).

In SA and beyond this view of Islam as a rightly guided revolution that frees women and men and stands for justice against those who would keep us in literal and figurative shackles is all but lost.

During the anti-apartheid struggle many Muslims joined and fought alongside black revolutionaries who were not Muslim in the fields and the courtrooms and private spaces of this country.

Many more just joined the sidelines preferring rather to derive a small piece of the racist imbalance and praying for redemption from personal sins and misgivings.

To me, this is not Islam.

Islam is also not about killing indiscriminately and flying planes into buildings or demeaning women and other belief systems.

There are rules of warfare and engagement in the Qur'an. And never ever is an army or act of warfare to be launched at civilians or the places where they live and work.

As a revolution and a way of life Islam is about balance as Omar Mukhtar taught the Italian fascists in Libya.

Mostly, Islam is not apolitical.

Where injustice stands it is the duty of every Muslim to stand for justice as taught in the Qur'an ... be that inside or outside Islam.

Yo, and you thought you went on a tangent.


Peace to you sista,

Anonymous said...

don't apologise!
it was a good tangent to follow.

i have to admit- i laughed when you mentioned the tabligh movement.
i once told my father-
So n So is not a very nice man. He goes for jamaat every month and he's an absolutely inconsiderate, rude, patronising individual.

my father just looked at me and said-
yes. you may be right. but imagine him without ANY tabligh.


(i know youre rolling your eyes. i just know it.)


Ridwan said...

Salaam pserean:

I suspect your dad is most likely right. No movement is without good, if even unintended :0)

The prolific academic, Mahmood Mamdani, references the Tablig(h) movement in his book "Good Muslim, Bad Muslim".

The reference is not pretty and would most likely catch the local adherents off-guard.

Mamdani speaks to the long standing fact that the Tabligh movement was in part funded by the CIA in previous decades.

Some may say that this disproves my point that they are apolitical.

My point is that they are decidedly focused on depoliticizing Islam.

Their version of Islam is happy with counting credits to get into heaven while all around them people suffer great injustices.

What is their official position on the American/British genocide being waged in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, someone may ask?

They have no official stand. At the personal level you might hear misgivings but as a movement they are severely disconnected.

In this sense the Tabligh movement is a conduit for pacifying Muslims and they are no threat to anyone.

Well except Muslim women.

Ok ;0) ... I'm done dissing them ... promise.

Thanks for reading and commenting my friend. Your presence here is greatly appreciated.

Be well.