At the end of July last summer two members of the Irish Mexico Group braved a hostile immigration service, difficult travelling conditions and a heavy troop presence to attend the Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and against Neoliberalism in Chiapas, South Eastern Mexico. The Encounter took place in five specially constructed centres deep in the rainforest heartland of the Zapatista rebels. Over three thousand people from outside the Lacandona region attended, coming from 47 different countries.
The encounter was divided into five tables of discussions, covering many aspects of the struggle against the neoliberal economics which are setting the direction for most national governments and causing social devastation across the world. As the topics were wide-ranging and the participants coming from many political backgrounds, a single “platform” was never going to be produced, but the discussions did unite people in dialogue.Mark Connolly
The second, “intergalactic” gathering took place in the Spanish state this summer. The organisers wrote:
“We live in a period when human relations are intensely colonised. Everywhere the same social system subjects humanity to the law of money and homogenises life, generating poverty and devastation. Faced with the ruins inflicted by this relentless machine, resistances arise from other ways of life, yet these seem condemned to isolation. The time has come to break the vicious circle which prevents humanity from bringing together its unease, its struggles and the will for change.”
The meeting was geared towards creating a non-hierarchical “network of resistance”, connecting up “all people (organised or not) who feel discontented with the life that is imposed upon us.” They wrote:
“If we are unable to construct a relationship between struggles, giving to them harmony, a learning process, a system to grow together from the idea that they are connected, all the questions won’t go beyond simple political discussions. The idea of the network is ... a new organisational way we have to fill up with our own utopias, values and understanding of humanity and politics.”Tim Howells
This is part of a report from one subgroup (with 80-100 people from 15-20 countries) of the second Encounter
Creating alternative spaces for production and social life is good in itself because these spaces enable relations that are outside of and beyond the market. They also can put limits to capitalist expansion and support creation of spaces in which struggles can grow and be protected. We can learn through this how to create many visions of ways to organise our lives and production. The satisfaction of needs outside of direct control of the capitalist market enables us to fight capital on a terrain that is more favourable to us. These forms of alternatives can develop out of traditional forms of work, but some traditional forms involve exploitation and also must be abolished. Many forms of third sector work (supposedly depending neither on the market nor the state) are not true alternatives to capitalist work, but instead are a new form of lower-waged capitalist work […]
Our struggles are much stronger when they are combined so that each particular demand is not isolated or coopted. We need to create a process of building on and enriching our struggles that includes careful study and honest discussion. It is also important in this process of work to transform the relations between women and men in both personal and political lives. This means that men, not only women, assume the responsibility of this struggle […]
We have agreed to create networks as a fundamental form of organisation, rather than parties or other forms of organisation. We see these networks as horizontal and participatory, as ways of living in part the future we are struggling to make, though we recognise that the construction of the networks as such will not solve the problems of power and democracy in the ways we organise ourselves. But we have many questions about the best ways to proceed: - how can we build upon existing networks? - should we set up our own network and undertake struggles specific to our own network so that people will take the Encuentro even more seriously? - how should we begin networks - locally, regionally, nationally, globally, or by subject or some combination? - how can we include struggles not represented by participants in the network? - how can we create new ways to link struggles and networks and support each other? - how can we best use a mix of electronics and print media to reach people? - are there limits to networks as a form of struggle, and if so, what more do we need to create? […]
We come together to help make a world of dignity and humanity. The richness of our discussions, the warmth of our exchanges, and the humanity of our experiences and struggles have demonstrated to us that we are dignified subjects. But this dignity is taken away from us when the capitalist work machine uses us for its purposes. We have outlined the general elements that could give voice to a strong collective NO! to this inhuman way of life. But we also know that there are many YESES!, many different but compatible visions of ways to exercise power on our lives as dignified human beings. The creation for the flowering of these YESES!
On these foundations we must now develop, discuss and debate strategies that we can use in our different circumstances to create a world of justice, direct democracy from below, and dignity. We expect that the next Encuentro will focus on the question of strategies and build on the work we do between now and then.
One NO! many YESES!
31 August 1997,
Madrid, Spanish State,
Third Planet from Sol.
An Caorthann (The Rowan Tree)
Irish green-alternative magazine
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