We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Friday, July 31, 2015

“Extractivism creates a society without subjects”: Raúl Zibechi on Latin American Social Movements

Click here to access this interview with one of the most influential activist thinkers in Latin America, translated and posted on Upside Down World.

I think this give us rather brief, but informative observations to bring us up-to-date on radical political movements in Latin America, particularly in South America. Zibechi explains that most of the previous activists organizations have been integrated or absorbed into more social-welfare oriented capitalist regimes that have themselves been integrated within neoliberal structures, but the latter have reached their limits in creating a better life for most people and fall far short by condemning most people to live as poor objects in a world governed by transnational corporations located in New York, London, etc, rather than "subjects" who are in control of their lives. It's the difference between being passively acted upon by outside forces or being an actor participating in vital decisions that affect your life and the lives of people near you. (If you need an illustration of people who insist on being subjects in a hostile capitalist world, read about the Zapatistas.) Thus, he sees a new cycle of radical activism ahead.
Progressivism in Latin America, which broke out around 10 or 15 years ago depending on which country you’re talking about, produced some positive changes. But I think that cycle has come to an end. While there continue to be progressive governments, what I am saying is that progressivism as a set of political forces that created something relatively positive: this has ended. ....
...Latin America stands at a crossroads: either it changes into a political movement advocating real change reaching the structures of society – ownership of land, tax reform targeting the rich – or these governments simply become conservative, which is a process I think has already begun.