To all of the individuals, groups, collectives, and organizations of the CIG Support Networks:
To the Networks of Resistance and Rebellion or whatever you call them:
To the National and International Sixth:
It’s the middle of the night.
It’s cold out.
At this crux in time—when it is neither day nor night, neither inside nor outside, neither shadow nor light—you find yourself unable to sleep, in that uncomfortable state of insomnia that makes you vulnerable to memories: the piercing memories of all the things you did and didn’t do, the long list of your failures and the much shorter list of successes.
You ask yourself, not without cause, what this is all about…
You’re still trying to grasp the meaning of that phrase, “Everything is impossible right up until it isn’t,” which you heard-read in that disconcerting nano-mini-micro short film at the so-called “cinema for reading.” That film (?) was kept tightly lidded for the last 30 years (literally, it was in a sardine can) and was presented at the impossible cinema by an equally disconcerting beetle dressed as a knight-errant. Its title (of the film, that is), “The 69th Law of the Dialectic,” is hardly rational either. It’s a film consisting of a single phrase, without images or sounds, leaving everything else to the imagination of whoever attends its…showing?
In any case, everything is absurd here. Here? Where the hell are you? You don’t really have time to ponder that because somebody rushes you along:
“Come on,” the little girl says to you.
You have no idea what to expect—it could be anything at this point—but you’re guided out of the absurd movie theater, once again by the little girl leading you by the hand, though now you’re surrounded by a whole band of kids, mostly little girls in their wool skirts and colorful blouses, barrettes fruitlessly pinned into unruly hair. You begin to walk with them up the natural slope of the mountain, through the mud, rocks, and fog, picking out the path, always the path.
At the foot of the wall, where there is just a smattering of old, worn posters and graffiti, you intuit a kind of spiral, like a pathway leading toward the inside of a caracol… or toward the outside. Every step is like a station: the fake happiness of the fake happy family; the Grand Finale as simulation; the screen’s provocation as an impossible bridge.
The omnipresent, indestructible, unquestionable wall continues to insist that thinking is not allowed, that everything is as it is and that’s it—the only thing left to do is settle in wherever and however you can. Eternity is just that, after all: eternal. The present moment may change, but its frivolous and superficial logic is permanent and anything else is impossible. What’s more, it’s impossible that you would think, imagine, or dream that anything else is possible.
You walk. You remember.
The little girl had asked if the films that nobody watches cry, which is just another way of asking about all the pain and rage in the world that is ignored and unknown—because of the blindness and deafness imposed by the wall. I mean, who asks a question like that? She does, that and many other questions, including questioning the very existence of the wall. The wall…you look at it more closely now: it’s taller than you can see, taller even than what you can see through your binoculars, so enormous it’s not even worth measuring. Measure for what? Its construction is solid, its appearance impeccable—well,
If you step back a bit you can see that the wall is full of both cracks and graffiti, so many that you can’t really tell them apart. Only up close, from a shortsighted perspective, does the wall seem solid. From up close you can’t even read the gigantic graffiti scrawled across the rough surface:
“Though the path will be long, we’ll continue on”: the little girl reads the graffiti on the wall that doesn’t say anything itself, mutely resigned to the successive administrations who send work crew after work crew to erase or cover over that writing, to silence and exterminate it.
“I hadn’t even seen it,” you apologize.
“Understandably,” the little girl responds, and adds, “but here we still are, keeping on.”
How far from the wall do you have to be to be able to see it? You think you just thought this to yourself, but the little girl responds, “Far.”
“But how far?” you insist.
“Like 500 years away,” she answers, smiling maliciously.
As if by coincidence, the words of a rap begin to keep pace with the footsteps of the kid gang who walk with you:
“We came from so far, far in every possible sense
In silence, we came with strength
From afar, each of us carrying the weight of our walk
light amidst the ruins of a burned-out world3
Is that sound coming from inside or outside? Is that the soundtrack of your anachronic, absurd, and irremediable trip?
Partly out of shame and partly out of curiosity, you now examine the graffiti more closely. A recent tag, with small, hurried letters, reads:
“Basic Lessons of Political Economy:
One: Capital does not know how to read. It does not pay attention to social networks, media, polls, votes, referendum, videos, government programs, good or bad intentions, moral lessons, laws, or reason. Capital only knows how to add, subtract, multiply, divide, and calculate percentages, interest rates, and probabilities.
Two: Capital only cares about profit, the highest and the fastest profit possible. Like all predators, capital has a good nose for blood and destruction, because these imply money, lots of money. War is a business, the best business.
Three: Capital has its own judges, police, and executioners. In the world of the wall, these inquisitors are called “markets.”
Four: The markets are the bloodhounds of the great hunter: capital. In the world
of the wall, capital is god and the markets are his disciples. The police, armies, prisons, mass graves and forced disappearances are his faithful followers.
Five: One cannot tame, educate, reform, or subordinate capital. One can only obey it…or destroy it.
Six: Ergo, what this world needs are heretics, scarlet witches, magicians, and sorcerers. With the heavy load of their original sin, rebellion, the wall will be destroyed.
Seven: Even so, what happens next has yet to be seen: if what comes after capital will put up another wall, or instead open doors and windows, the bridges this world needs and deserves.
The graffiti and cracks continue, up and down over hills, valleys, and ravines.
The caracol retracts into its own shell, with a few very small communities and scattered houses peeking out over the highway. A sign alerts you: “You are now in Zapatista territory. Here the people rule and the government obeys.”
You ask yourself: What is it that keeps these people alive, against all odds? Are they not the eternal losers, always on their knees while others build governments, museums, status, and “historical triumphs”? Are they not the victims of every possible catastrophe, the cannon fodder of every revolution staged to save them from themselves? Are they not strangers in their own land, the object of mockery, disdain, handouts, charity, government programs, “sustainable” projects, and revolutionary programs, proclamations, and directives? Are they not the irremediably illiterate who must be educated, led, ordered, ruled over, subjugated, subordinated, dominated, and c-i-v-i-l-i-z-e-d?
Why don’t they obey when they are told what to say and how to say it, where to look and how, what to think and not think, what to be and cease to be? Why don’t they lower their gaze in the face of all these threats, both those that promise annihilation and those that promise salvation (which is really the same thing)? Why are they smiling?
And why did they assign you a whole kid gang as guide while you’re here? In fact, where are they taking you now, after that torturous walk along the wall? Are they taking you to what made possible that childish laughter, that is, those children’s lives? The response is a few words: “Look how things are: we had to cover our faces in order to be seen, cease to have names in order to be named, gamble the present in order to have a future, and in order to live…we had to die.”
What is being built here? Where is their unease, anxiety, their sense of defeat? Where is their bitterness at their own inferiority? Why their obsession over land, their insistence on defending it, taking care of it, keeping it? And why so much dance, music, color, noise, so many visits and exchanges, such effort and determination in the sciences and arts? Why do they do things their way and shrug at the rest? Don’t they realize they lost?
Wait a second. Lost? Who? Clearly not these people.
“Here we still are, continuing on,” reality scrawls across the wall.
And here you are, with one foot in one reality and the other in another: that which is being built in the mountains of southeastern Mexico under the disquieting flag of freedom by people so small, so normal, so common, so like any other [otro, otra, otroa], so priceless and so without price.
“Zapatista communities” they are called and they call themselves.
Without realizing it you find yourself in front of another sign. This one looks old, or maybe new, or maybe timeless:
Welcome to La Realidad4
Given all of the above (and by that we mean the last 25 years), we extend this invitation to the National and International Sixth, the National Indigenous Congress, the Indigenous Governing Council, and all those who supported, support, and will support the CNI and the CIG:
First: To a Gathering of Networks of Resistance and Rebellion, of CIG Support, or whatever they’re called, to be held at the “Footprints of Memory: Subcomandante Insurgente Pedro Stayed True” Center, located on recovered land outside the community of Guadalupe Tepeyac, MAREZ (Autonomous Zapatista Municipality in Rebellion) San Pedro de Michoacán, December 26-30, 2018, with the following agenda:
– Results of the internal referendum as set out in the August 2018 gathering
– Analysis and evaluation of the current situation in each of your worlds
– Discussion of what comes next
Arrival and registration: December 26, 2018
Analysis and discussion: December 27, 28, 29, 2018
Closing: December 30, 2018
Register your participation for the Gathering of Networks at: email@example.com
Second: To the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Beginning of the War Against Oblivion, to be held December 31, 2018, and January 1, 2019, in La Realidad Zapatista, home to the caracol “Mother of the Caracoles of the Sea of our Dreams,” Selva Fronteriza Zone of Zapatista territory.
Register your attendance for the 25th Anniversary Celebration at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ll await you here, because while the path may be long, here we continue on.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés. Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano.
Mexico, 17 days into November of 2018
Caracol is literally snail or conch, but also the name for the Zapatista centers of self-government.
La Realidad, literally “reality,” is the name of a Zapatista community and site of one of the Zapatista caracoles.