The fourth world war has begun by Subcomandante Marcos
- I found this wonderful essay in an anthology called THE ZAPATISTA READER, edited by Tom Hayden. Since his eyes opened up in about 2006 to the true nature of the Palestinian struggle, I feel a lot more comfortable reading anything with Hayden's name on it, and this particular volume is pretty good. I recommend it to anyone interested in the struggle of indigenous people in Mexico.
WHY WE ARE FIGHTING
The fourth world war has begun
A political earthquake
hit Mexico on 6 July with its elections. For the first time in almost 70 years, the Institutional Revolutionary Party lost its absolute majority in the Chamber of Deputies. It also lost several states and the
mayorship of Mexico City. In Chiapas, the Zapatista National Liberation
Army issued no directives about the elections, choosing instead to
withdraw to the sheltering greenery of the Lacandona Forest. From this
sanctuary the head of the ZNLA, Sub-Commandant Marcos, sent us this
original and geostrategic analysis of the new world picture.
by Subcomandante Marcos
“War is a matter of vital importance for the
it is the province of life and death, the road which
leads to survival or elimination. It is essential
to study it in depth”.
Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”
As a world system, neoliberalism is a new war for the conquest of
territory. The ending of the third world war - meaning the cold war -
in no sense means that the world has gone beyond the bipolar and
found stability under the domination of a single victor. Because,
while there was certainly a defeat (of the socialist camp), it is
hard to say who won. The United States? The European Union? Japan?
The defeat of the "evil empire" has opened up new markets, and the
struggle over them is leading to a new world war - the fourth.
Like all major conflicts, this war is forcing national states to
redefine their identity. The world order seems to have reverted to
the earlier epochs of the conquests of America, Africa and Oceania -
a strange modernity, this, which progresses by going backwards. The
twilight years of the 20th century bear more of a resemblance to the
previous centuries of barbarism than to the rational futures
described in science fiction novels.
Vast territories, wealth and, above all, a huge and available
workforce lie waiting for the world’s new master but, while there is
only one position as master on offer, there are many aspiring
candidates. And that explains the new war between those who see
themselves as part of the "empire of good".
Unlike the third world war, in which the conflict between
capitalism and socialism took place over a variety of terrains and
with varying degrees of intensity, the fourth world war is being
conducted between major financial centres in theatres of war that are
global in scale and with a level of intensity that is fierce and
The ineptly-named cold war actually reached very high
temperatures: from underground workings of international espionage to
the interstellar space of Ronald Reagan’s famous "Star Wars"; from
the sands of the Bay of Pigs in Cuba to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam;
from the frenzy of the nuclear arms race to the vicious coups
d’état in Latin America; from the menacing manoeuvres of NATO
armies to the machinations of the CIA agents in Bolivia, where Che
Guevara was murdered. The combination of all this led to the
socialist camp being undermined as a world system, and to its
dissolution as a social alternative.
The third world war showed the benefits of "total war" for its
victor, which was capitalism. In the post-cold war period we see the
emergence of a new planetary scenario in which the principal
conflictual elements are the growing importance of no-man’s-lands
(arising out of the collapse of the Eastern bloc countries), the
expansion of a number of major powers (the United States, the
European Union and Japan), a world economic crisis and a new
technical revolution based on information technology.
Thanks to computers and the technological revolution, the
financial markets, operating from their offices and answerable to
nobody but themselves, have been imposing their laws and world-view
on the planet as a whole. Globalisation is merely the totalitarian
extension of the logic of the finance markets to all aspects of life.
Where they were once in command of their economies, the nation states
(and their governments) are commanded - or rather telecommanded - by
the same basic logic of financial power, commercial free trade. And
in addition, this logic has profited from a new permeability created
by the development of telecommunications to appropriate all aspects
of social activity. At last, a world war which is totally total!
One of its first victims has been the national market. Rather like
a bullet fired inside a concrete room, the war unleashed by
neoliberalism ricochets and ends by wounding the person who fired it.
One of the fundamental bases of the power of the modern capitalist
state, the national market, is wiped out by the heavy artillery of
the global finance economy. The new international capitalism renders
national capitalism obsolete and effectively starves their public
powers into extinction. The blow has been so brutal that sovereign
states have lost the strength to defend their citizens’
The fine showcase inherited from the ending of the cold war - the
new world order - has shattered into fragments as a result of the
neoliberal explosion. It takes no more than a few minutes for
companies and states to be sunk - but they are sunk not by winds of
proletarian revolution, but by the violence of the hurricanes of
The son (neoliberalism) is devouring the father (national capital)
and, in the process, is destroying the lies of capitalist ideology:
in the new world order there is neither democracy nor freedom,
neither equality nor fraternity. The planetary stage is transformed
into a new battlefield, in which chaos reigns.
Towards the end of the cold war, capitalism created a new military
horror: the neutron bomb, a weapon which destroys life while sparing
buildings. But a new wonder has been discovered as the fourth world
war unfolds: the finance bomb. Unlike the bombs at Hiroshima and
Nagasaki, this new bomb does not simply destroy the polis (in
this case, the nation) and bring death, terror and misery to those
who live there; it also transforms its target into a piece in the
jigsaw puzzle of the process of economic globalisation. The result of
the explosion is not a pile of smoking ruins, or thousands of dead
bodies, but a neighbourhood added to one of the commercial
megalopolis of the new planetary hypermarket, and a labour force
which is reshaped to fit in with the new planetary job market.
The European Union is a result of this fourth world war. In Europe
globalisation has succeeded in eliminating the frontiers between
rival states that had been enemies for centuries, and has forced them
to converge towards political union. On the way from the nation state
to the European Federation the road will be paved with destruction
and ruin, and one of these ruins will be that of European
Megalopolises are reproducing themselves right across the planet.
Their favourite spawning ground is in the world’s free trade areas.
In North America, the North American Free Trade Agreement between
Canada, the United States and Mexico is a prelude to the
accomplishment of an old dream of US conquest: "America for the
Are megalopolises replacing nations? No, or rather not merely
that. They are assigning them new functions, new limits and new
perspectives. Entire countries are becoming departments of the
neoliberal mega-enterprise. Neoliberalism thus produces, on the one
hand, destruction and depopulation, and, on the other, the
reconstruction and reorganisation of regions and nations.
Unlike nuclear bombs, which had a dissuasive, intimidating and
coercive character in the third world war, the financial hyperbombs
of the fourth world war are different in nature. They serve to attack
territories (national states) by the destruction of the material
bases of their sovereignty and by producing a qualitative
depopulation of those territories. This depopulation involves the
exclusion of all persons who are of no use to the new economy
(indigenous peoples, for instance). But at the same time the
financial centres are working on a reconstruction of nation
states and are reorganising them within a new logic: the
economic has the upper hand over the social.
The indigenous world is full of examples illustrating this
strategy: Ian Chambers, director of the Central America section of
the International Labour Organisation, has stated that the worldwide
populations of indigenous peoples (300 million people) lives in zones
which house 60 % of the planet’s natural resources. It is therefore
"not surprising that there are multiple conflicts over the use and
future of their lands in relation to the interests of business and
governments (...). The exploitation of natural resources (oil and
minerals) and tourism are the principal industries threatening
indigenous territories in America (1)." And then come pollution,
prostitution and drugs.
In this new war, politics, as the organiser of the nation state,
no longer exists. Now politics serves solely in order to manage the
economy, and politicians are now merely company managers.
The world’s new masters have no need to govern directly. National
governments take on the role of running things on their behalf. This
is what the new order means - unification of the world into one
single market. States are simply enterprises with managers in the
guise of governments, and the new regional alliances bear more of a
resemblance to shopping malls than political federations. The
unification produced by neoliberalism is economic: in the giant
planetary hypermarket it is only commodities that circulate freely,
This economic globalisation is also accompanied by a general way
of thinking. The "American way of life" which followed American
troops into Europe during the second world war, then to Vietnam in
the 1960s, and more recently into the Gulf war, is now extending
itself to the planet as a whole, via computers. What we have here is
a destruction of the material bases of nation states, but we also
have a destruction of history and culture.
All the cultures which nations have forged - the noble past of the
indigenous peoples of the Americas, the brilliance of European
civilisation, the cultured history of the Asian nations and the
ancestral wealth of Africa and Oceania - all these are under attack
from the American way of life. Neoliberalism thus imposes the
destruction of nations and of groups of nations in order to fuse them
into one single model. The war which neoliberalism is conducting
against humanity is thus a planetary war, and is the worst and most
cruel ever seen.
What we have here is a puzzle. When we attempt to put its pieces
together in order to arrive at an understanding of today’s world, we
find that a lot of the pieces are missing. Still, we can make a start
with seven of them, in the hope that this conflict will not end with
the destruction of humanity. Seven pieces to draw, colour in, cut out
and put together with others, in order to try to solve this global
The first of these pieces is the two-fold accumulation of wealth
and of poverty at the two poles of planetary society. The second is
the total exploitation of the totality of the world. The third is the
nightmare of that part of humanity condemned to a life of wandering.
The fourth is the sickening relationship between crime and state
power. The fifth is state violence. The sixth is the mystery of
megapolitics. The seventh is the multiple forms of resistance which
humanity is deploying against neoliberalism.
Piece no. 1: The concentration of wealth and the distribution
Figure 1 is constructed by drawing a sign for money.
In the history of humanity, a variety of models have fought it out
over the erection of absurdities as the distinguishing features of
world order. Neoliberalism will have pride of place when it comes to
the prize-giving, because in its "distribution" of wealth all it
achieves is a two-fold absurdity of accumulation: an accumulation of
wealth for the few, and an accumulation of poverty for millions of
others. Injustice and inequality are the distinguishing traits of
today’s world. The earth has five billion human inhabitants: of
these, only 500 million live comfortably; the remaining 4.5 billion
endure lives of poverty. The rich make up for their numerical
minority by their ownership of billions of dollars. The total wealth
owned by the 358 richest people in the world, the dollar
billionaires, is greater than the annual income of almost half the
world’s poorest inhabitants, in other words about 2.6 billion
The progress of the major transnational companies does not
necessarily involve the advance of the countries of the developed
world. On the contrary, the richer these giant companies become, the
more poverty there is in the so-called "wealthy" countries. The gap
between rich and poor is enormous: far from decreasing, social
inequalities are growing.
This monetary sign that you have drawn represents the symbol of
world economic power. Now colour it dollar-green. Ignore the
sickening stench; this smell of dung, mire and blood are the smells
of its birthing...
Piece no. 2: The globalisation of exploitation
Figure 2 is constructed by drawing a triangle.
One of the lies of neoliberalism is that the economic growth of
companies produces employment and a better distribution of wealth.
This is untrue. In the same way that the increasing power of a king
does not lead to an increase in the power of his subjects (far from
it), the absolutism of finance capital does not improve the
distribution of wealth, and does not create jobs. In fact its
structural consequences are poverty, unemployment and
In the 1960s and 1970s, the number of poor people in the world
(defined by the World Bank as having an income of less than one
dollar per day) rose to some 200 million. By the start of the 1990s,
their numbers stood at two billion.
Hence, increasing numbers of people who are poor or have been made
poor. Fewer and fewer people who are rich or have become rich. These
are the lessons of Piece 1 of our puzzle. In order to obtain this
absurd result, the world capitalist system is "modernising" the
production, circulation and consumption of commodities. The new
technological revolution (information technology) and the new
revolution in politics (the megalopolises emerging from the ruins of
the nation state) produce a new social "revolution". This social
revolution consists of a rearrangement, a reorganisation of social
forces and, principally, of the workforce.
The world’s economically active population (EAP) went from 1.38
billion in 1960 to 2.37 billion in 1990. A large increase in the
number of human beings capable of working and generating wealth. But
the new world order arranges this workforce within specific
geographical and productive areas, and reassigns their functions (or
non-functions, in the case of unemployed and precarious workers)
within the plan of world globalisation. The world’s economically
active population by sector (EAPS) has undergone radical changes
during the past 20 years. Agriculture and fishing fell from 22 % in
1970 to 12 % in 1990; manufacture from 25 % to 22 %; but the tertiary
sector (commercial, transport, banking and services) has risen from
42 % to 56 %. In developing countries, the tertiary sector has grown
from 40 % in 1970 to 57 % in 1990, while agriculture and fishing have
fallen from 30 % to 15 % (2). This means that increasing numbers of
workers are channelled into the kind of activities necessary for
increasing productivity or speeding up the creation of commodities.
The neoliberal system thus functions as a kind of mega-boss for whom
the world market is viewed as a single, unified enterprise, to be
managed by "modernising" criteria.
But neoliberalism’s "modernity" seems closer to the bestial birth
of capitalism as a world system than to utopian "rationality",
because this "modern" capitalist production continues to rely on
child labour. Out of 1.15 billion children in the world, at least 100
million live on the streets and 200 million work - and according to
forecasts this figure will rise to 400 million by the year 2000. In
Asia alone, 146 million children work in manufacturing. And in the
North too, hundreds of thousands of children have to work in order to
supplement family incomes, or merely to survive. There are also many
children employed in the "pleasure industries": according to the
United Nations, every year a million children are driven into the sex
The unemployment and precarious labour of millions of workers
throughout the world is a reality which does not look set to
disappear. In the countries of the Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD), unemployment went from 3.8 % in
1966 to 6.3 % in 1990; in Europe it went from 2.2 % to 6.4 %. The
globalised market is destroying small and medium- sized companies.
With the disappearance of local and regional markets, small and
medium producers have no protection and are unable to compete with
the giant transnationals. Millions of workers thus find themselves
unemployed. One of the absurdities of neoliberalism is that far from
creating jobs, the growth of production actually destroys them. The
UN speaks of "growth without jobs".
But the nightmare does not end there. Workers are also being
forced to accept precarious conditions. Less job security, longer
working hours and lower wages: these are the consequences of
globalisation in general and the explosion in the service sector in
All this combines to create a specific surplus: an excess of human
beings who are useless in terms of the new world order because they
do not produce, do not consume, and do not borrow from banks. In
short, human beings who are disposable. Each day the big finance
centres impose their laws on countries and groups of countries all
around the world. They re-arrange and re-order the inhabitants of
those countries. And at the end of the operation they find there is
still an "excess" of people.
What you have now is a figure resembling a triangle: this depicts
the pyramid of worldwide exploitation.
Piece no. 3: Migration, a nightmare of wandering
Figure 3 is constructed by drawing a circle.
We have already spoken of the existence, at the end of the third
world war, of new territories waiting to be conquered (the former
socialist countries) and others to be re-conquered for the "new world
order". This situation involves the financial centres in a threefold
strategy: there is a proliferation of "regional wars" and "internal
conflicts"; capital follows paths of atypical accumulation; and large
masses of workers are mobilised. Result: a huge rolling wheel of
millions of migrants moving across the planet. As "foreigners" in
that "world without frontiers" which had been promised by the victors
of the cold war, they are forced to endure racist persecution,
precarious employment, the loss of their cultural identity, police
repression, hunger, imprisonment and murder.
The nightmare of emigration, whatever its cause, continues to
grow. The number of those coming within the ambit of the United
Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has grown
disproportionately from 2 million in 1975 to more than 27 million in
The objective of neoliberalism’s migration policy is more to
destabilise the world labour market than to put a brake on
immigration. The fourth world war - with its mechanisms of
destruction/depopulation and reconstruction/reorganisation - involves
the displacement of millions of people. Their destiny is to wander
the world, carrying the burden of their nightmare with them, so as to
constitute a threat to workers who have a job, a scapegoat designed
to make people forget their bosses, and to provide a basis for the
racism that neoliberalism provokes.
Piece no. 4: Financial globalisation and the generalisation of
Figure 4 is constructed by drawing a rectangle.
If you think that the world of crime has to be shady and
underhand, you are wrong. In the period of the so-called cold war,
organised crime acquired a more respectable image. Not only did it
begin to function in the same way as any other modern enterprise, but
it also penetrated deeply into the political and economic systems of
With the beginning of the fourth world war, organised crime has
globalised its activities. The criminal organisations of five
continents have taken on board the "spirit of world cooperation" and
have joined together in order to participate in the conquest of new
markets. They are investing in legal businesses, not only in order to
launder dirty money, but in order to acquire capital for illegal
operations. Their preferred activities are luxury property
investment, the leisure industry, the media - and banking.
Ali Baba and the Forty Bankers? Worse than that. Commercial banks
are using the dirty money of organised crime for their legal
activities. According to a UN report, the involvement of crime
syndicates has been facilitated by the programmes of structural
adjustment which debtor countries have been forced to accept in order
to gain access to International Monetary Fund loans (3).
Organised crime also relies on the existence of tax havens: there
are some 55 of these. One of them, the Cayman Islands, ranks fifth in
the world as a banking centre, and has more banks and registered
companies than inhabitants. As well as laundering money, these tax
paradises make it possible to escape taxation. They are places for
contact between governments, businessmen and Mafia bosses.
So here we have the rectangular mirror within which legality and
illegality exchange reflections. On which side of the mirror is the
criminal? And on which side is the person who pursues him?
Piece no. 5: Legitimate violence of illegitimate powers
Figure 5 is constructed by drawing a pentagon.
In the cabaret of globalisation, the state performs a striptease,
at the end of which it is left wearing the minimum necessary: its
powers of repression. With its material base destroyed, its
sovereignty and independence abolished, and its political class
eradicated, the nation state increasingly becomes a mere security
apparatus in the service of the mega-enterprises which neoliberalism
is constructing. Instead of orienting public investment towards
social spending, it prefers to improve the equipment which enables it
to control society more effectively.
What is to be done when the violence derives from the laws of the
market? Where is legitimate violence then? And where the
illegitimate? What monopoly of violence can the hapless nation states
demand when the free interplay of supply and demand defies any such
monopoly? Have we not shown, in Piece 4, that organised crime,
government and finance centres are intimately interlinked? Is it not
obvious that organised crime has veritable armies on which it can
count? The monopoly of violence no longer belongs to nation states:
the market has put it up for auction.
However, when the monopoly of violence is contested not on the
basis of the laws of the market, but in the interests of "those from
below", then world power sees it as "aggression". This is one of the
(least studied and most condemned) aspects of the challenges launched
by the indigenous peoples in arms and in rebellion of the Zapatista
National Liberation Army against neoliberalism and for humanity.
The symbol of American military power is the pentagon. The new
world police wants national armies and police to be simple security
bodies guaranteeing order and progress within the megalopolises of
Piece no. 6: Megapolitics and its dwarfs
Figure 6 is constructed by scribbling a doodle.
We said earlier that nation states are attacked by the finance
markets and forced to dissolve themselves within megalopolises. But
neoliberalism does not conduct its war solely by "unifying" nations
and regions. Its strategy of destruction/depopulation and
reconstruction/reorganisation also produces a fracture or fractures
within the nation state. This is the paradox of this fourth world
war: while ostensibly working to eliminate frontiers and "unite"
nations, it actually leads to a multiplication of frontiers and the
smashing apart of nations.
If anyone still doubts that this globalisation is a world war, let
them look at the conflicts that arose out of the collapse of the
USSR, of Czechoslovakia and of Yugoslavia, and the deep crises which
have shattered not only the political and economic foundations of
nation states, but also their social cohesion.
Both the construction of megalopolises and the fragmentation of
states are founded on the destruction of the nation state. Are these
two independent and parallel events? Are they symptoms of a
mega-crisis about to occur? Or are they simply separate and isolated
We think that they represent a contradiction inherent in the
process of globalisation, and one of the core realities of the
neoliberal model. The elimination of trade frontiers, the explosion
of telecommunications, information superhighways, the omnipresence of
financial markets, international free trade agreements - all this
contributes to destroying nation states and internal markets.
Paradoxically, globalisation produces a fragmented world of isolated
pieces, a world full of watertight compartments which may at best be
linked by fragile economic gangways. A world of broken mirrors which
reflect the useless world unity of the neoliberal puzzle.
But neoliberalism does not merely fragment the world which it
claims to be unifying; it also produces the political and economic
centre which directs this war. It is urgent that we embark on a
discussion of this mega-politics. Mega-politics globalises national
politics - in other words it ties them to a centre which has world
interests and which operates on the logic of the market. It is in the
name of the market that wars, credits, buying and selling of
commodities, diplomatic recognition, trade blocs, political support,
laws on immigration, breakdowns of relationships between countries
and investment - in short, the survival of entire nations - are
The world-wide power of the financial markets is such that they
are not concerned about the political complexion of the leaders of
individual countries: what counts in their eyes is a country’s
respect for the economic programme. Financial disciplines are imposed
on all alike. These masters of the world can even tolerate the
existence of left-wing governments, on condition that they adopt no
measure likely to harm the interests of the market. However, they
will never accept policies that tend to break with the dominant
In the eyes of mega-politics, national politics are conducted by
dwarfs who are expected to comply with the dictates of the financial
giant. And this is the way it will always be - until the dwarfs
Here, then, you have the figure which represents mega-politics.
Impossible to find the slightest rationality in it.
Piece no. 7: Pockets of resistance
Figure 7 is constructed by drawing a pocket.
"To begin with, I ask you not to confuse resistance with political
opposition. Opposition does not oppose itself to power but to a
government, and its fully-formed shape is that of an opposition
party; resistance, on the other hand, cannot be a party, by
definition: it is not made in order to govern but... to resist."
(Tomás Segovia, "Alegatorio", Mexico, 1996)
The apparent infallibility of globalisation comes up hard against
the stubborn disobedience of reality. While neoliberalism is pursuing
its war, groups of protesters, kernels of rebels, are forming
throughout the planet. The empire of financiers with full pockets
confronts the rebellion of pockets of resistance. Yes, pockets. Of
all sizes, of different colours, of varying shapes. Their sole common
point is a desire to resist the "new world order" and the crime
against humanity that is represented by this fourth world war.
Neoliberalism attempts to subjugate millions of beings, and seeks
to rid itself of all those who have no place in its new ordering of
the world. But these "disposable" people are in revolt. Women,
children, old people, young people, indigenous peoples, ecological
militants, homosexuals, lesbians, HIV activists, workers, and all
those who upset the ordered progress of the new world system and who
organise and are in struggle. Resistance is being woven by those who
are excluded from "modernity".
In Mexico, for example, the so-called "Programme for Integral
Development of the Tehuantepec Isthmus" is conceived as constructing
a large industrial zone. This zone would consist of industrial
factories, a refinery to process one third of Mexico’s crude oil, and
plant to make petrochemical products. Transit routes between the two
oceans would be built: roads, a canal, and a trans-isthmus railway.
Two million peasants would become workers in these industrial and
transportation sectors. In the same way, in the south-east of Mexico,
in the Lacandona Forest, a long-term regional development programme
is being set up with the object of making available to capital
indigenous lands that are rich not only in dignity and history, but
also in oil and uranium.
These projects would end up by fragmenting Mexico, separating the
south-east from the rest of the country. They are also framed within
a strategy of counter-insurgency, like a pincer movement attempting
to encircle the rebellion against neoliberalism that was born in
1994. At the centre are to be found the indigenous rebels of the
Zapatista National Liberation Army.
While we are on the subject of rebellious indigenous peoples, a
parenthesis would be in order: the Zapatistas believe that in Mexico
recovery and defence of national sovereignty are part of the
anti-liberal revolution. Paradoxically, the ZNLA finds itself accused
of attempting to fragment the Mexican nation.
The reality is that the only forces that have spoken for
separatism are the businessmen of the oil-rich state of Tabasco, and
the Institutional Revolutionary Party members of parliament from
Chiapas. The Zapatistas, for their part, think that it is necessary
to defend the nation state in the face of globalisation, and that the
attempts to break Mexico into fragments are being made by the
government, and not by the just demands of the Indian peoples for
autonomy. The ZNLA and the majority of the national indigenous
movement want the Indian peoples not to separate from Mexico but to
be recognised as an integral part of the country, with their own
specificities. They also aspire to a Mexico which espouses democracy,
freedom and justice. Whereas the ZNLA fights to defend national
sovereignty, the Mexican Federal Army functions to protect a
government which has destroyed the material bases of sovereignty and
which has offered the country not only to large-scale foreign
capital, but also to drug trafficking.
It is not only in the mountains of south-east Mexico that
neoliberalism is being resisted. In other regions of Mexico, in Latin
America, in the United States and Canada, in the Europe of the
Maastricht Treaty, in Africa, in Asia and in Oceania, pockets of
resistance are multiplying. Each has its own history, its
specificities, its similarities, its demands, its struggles and its
successes. If humanity hopes to survive, and to improve itself, its
only hope lies in these pockets which are created by the excluded,
the marginalised and those who are considered "disposable".
So what we have here is a drawing of a pocket of resistance. But
don’t attach too much importance to it. The possible shapes are as
numerous as the forms of resistance themselves, as numerous as all
the worlds existing in this world. So draw whatever shape you like.
In this matter of pockets, as in that of resistance, diversity is a
Having now drawn, coloured and cut out these seven pieces, you
will notice that it is impossible to fit them together. This is the
problem. Globalisation has been seeking to put together pieces which
don’t fit. For this reason, and for others which I cannot develop in
this article, it is necessary to build a new world. A world in which
there is room for many worlds. A world capable of containing all the
* * * * *
A post-script which speaks of dreams couched in love. The sea
rests at my side. For a long time it has shared my anxieties, my
uncertainties and many of my dreams, but now it sleeps with me in the
hot night of the forest. I watch its rippling movements in its sleep
and I am struck with wonder again at finding it unchanged: warm,
fresh, and at my side. The stifling heat of the night draws me from
my bed and guides my hand and my pen to summon up old Antonio, today,
as he was many years ago...
I asked old Antonio to go with me on an exploration up the
river. We took only a bit of stew to eat. For hours we followed the
winding riverbed, and in the end hunger and the heat began to get to
us. We spent the afternoon following a herd of boars. It was almost
night when we eventually caught up with them. Suddenly, a huge wild
boar detached itself from the group and attacked us. Summoning up all
my military know-how, I threw away my gun and climbed the nearest
tree. Old Antonio was unarmed, but instead of running away he placed
himself behind a thicket of canes. The giant boar ran straight at
him, with its full force, and found itself caught up in the
undergrowth. Before it could disentangle itself, old Antonio lifted
his big old stick, and with one blow provided our evening meal.
The next morning, when I had finished cleaning my modern
automatic rifle (a 5.56mm M-16 with a range of 460 metres, a
telescopic sight and a drum magazine holding 90 bullets), I settled
down to write my field diary. Omitting most of what had happened, I
noted only: "Met wild boar. A. killed one. Height 350 metres. Did not
While we were waiting for the meat to grill, I told old Antonio
that my portion would serve for the festivities that were being
prepared back at base. "Festivities?" he asked, poking the fire.
"Yes," I said. "Whatever the month, there’s always something to
celebrate." And I embarked on what I thought was a brilliant
dissertation on the Zapatistas’ historical calendar and celebrations.
Old Antonio listened to me in silence. Then, imagining that he was
not finding it interesting, I settled down to sleep.
While I was still half awake, I saw old Antonio take my
notebook and write something in it. The next day, after breakfast, we
shared out the meat and each went our separate ways. When I reached
camp, I reported back and showed the notes I had made in my notebook.
"That’s not your writing," someone said, pointing to the page in
question. There, beneath what I had written, old Antonio had written,
in large letters: "If you cannot have both reason and strength,
always choose reason, and leave strength to the enemy. In many
battles, it is force that makes it possible to win a victory, but the
struggle as a whole can only be won by reason. The strong man will
never be able to draw reason from his strength, whereas we can always
draw strength from our reason."
And down below, in smaller letters, he had written "Happy
Obviously, I was no longer hungry and, as usual, the Zapatista
festivities were indeed happy.
* Zapatista National Liberation Army, Chiapas,
(1) Interview with Martha García, La
Jornada, 28 May 1997.
(2) Ochoa Chi and Juanita del Pilar, “Mercado
mundial de fuerza de trabajo en el capitalismo
contemporáneo”, UNAM, Economia, Mexico City,
(3) The Globalisation of Crime, United Nations,
New York, 1995.
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