ricardo dominguez on 3 Oct 2000 11:48:03 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Prague: Marcos' Victory

NB:Aviles understates "Marcos' Victory." The demonstrations in Prague are
the offspring of a process of global activism that began at the First
Intercontinental Encounter in Chiapas in the summer of 1996. A second
Intercontinental followed in Spain in 1997. Then came themobilizaton
against the WTO in Genevan, then the one in Seattle, then Washington,
Davos and now Prague. It was the Zapatista Call for global grassroots
mobilization for the First Intercontinental that set the current worldwide
level of activism in motion.

Date: Sun, 1 Oct 2000 09:11:37 -0400
From: irlandesa <irlandesa@compuserve.com>
Subject: Prague: Marcos' Victory/Aviles
Sender: irlandesa <irlandesa@compuserve.com>
To: chiapas-l <chiapas-l@tierra.ucsd.edu>

Originally published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translated by irlandesa

La Jornada
Saturday, September 30, 2000.

El Tonto del Pueblo

Prague:  Marcos' Victory

*Jaime Avile's*

A Brief Dissertation on Cockroaches.

Regarding the meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary
Fund, which began in Prague on Tuesday, Luis Herna'ndez Navarro proposed an
unfortunate comparison between the President of the Czech Republic - the
playwright Vaclav Havel - the celebrated personality Franz Kafka, and poor
Gregorio Samsa, who was transformed, in a horrible metamorphosis, into a
cockroach.  By setting up police machinery in order to contain the protests
of European civil society against the summit meeting of the richest of the
rich, Havel, according to Navarro, had "turned into a neoliberal beetle."
No matter how one looks at it, the comparison is unfair…to Gregorio Samsa.

Many years ago, in a memorable essay on Kafka (The Aesthetic Ideas of Marx,
Era Publishing), the professor Adolfo Sa'nchez Va'zquez - recently honored by
the government of Rosario Robles Berlanga - described Samsa as a victim,
never as a tyrant.  Upon waking up in his bed, following a restless
night's sleep, and slowly becoming aware of his new condition, no longer a
man, but an insect, Samsa denounced this fate as being the effects of the
authoritarianism prevailing in his country and in his times.  A member of
the educated petit bourgeoisie, employed as a clerk by a huge bureaucratic
agency in which nothing made sense, deprived of any rights aside from the
absurd order which nonetheless granted him certain privileges (as long as
he didn't rebel, of course), Samsa exemplifies the castration and the
subjection of an individual and of a people in the face of the whims of an
autocratic and unapproachable government.  In that symbolic tragedy,
Sanchez Va'zquez traced the most degrading characteristics of the Soviet
dictatorship which would, many years after Kafka, impose Stalin's criminal

Havel, on the other hand, is not a victim, but rather a clear-thinking
moralist who fought the intolerance of the "currently existing socialist"
model through theater.  As an artist and as a political activist, he led
the final chapter of the resistance against Moscow's colonialism, and he
emerged from the battle victorious.  As Chief of State, he led the
partitioning of Czechoslovakia into two autonomous nations, and he did so
while successfully avoiding the spilling of blood.  In addition, a year
ago, he unhesitatingly supported the fight against the racist tyrant
Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia, but, at the same time, he opposed the NATO
bombing, an effort which coincided with that of many civil organizations
which are boycotting the World Bank and IMF meeting this week.

>From the Authoritarian "Democracy"

Unlike Gregorio Samsa, Vaclav Havel is a man of power, immersed in the new
rules of the game.  By promoting the conference of the multilateral
agencies which are responsible for the widespread misery of humanity in his
small Czech Republic, he did not undergo any metamorphosis:  he was already
a neoliberal politician when he took over government leadership, and, with
the backing even of US musician Frank Zappa, he began guiding the
transition of a planned or "socialist" economy towards the current "free
market" model. Those who today see him as a kind of Eastern European Felipe
Gonzalez have reached, then, tardy conclusions.  But, in their
determination to discredit, they overlook the fact that, prior to the
summit, Havel made a proposal of enormous importance which should not be
forgotten.  Although it has, thus far, remained on paper…

In effect, and in an attempt to dissuade the direct protests of thousands
of young persons from all over Europe, who had arranged to meet in Prague
in order to abort the witch's sabbath of the owners of the world, Havel
organized a dialogue between World Bank and IMF officials and a
representative committee of the demonstrating organizations.  The meeting,
as far as is known up until now (that is, nothing), has not been verified,
but the idea alone outlines the route for a path which should (even though
it still cannot be) followed, and which was pointed out a few months ago by
none other than Subcomandante Marcos.

In an essay entitled Oxymoron (in allusion to a literary form involving
facts or things which are contradictory in and of themselves, for example,
"a dark light"), the zapatista chief included an astute observation by the
Catalan thinker Ignacio Ramonet, the director of Le Monde Diplomatique,
which helps us see the following with clarity:  while democracy is seen to
be the most prized value within the framework of the "new world order,"
multilateral agencies - which express the interests of the richest of the
rich - enforce economic "development" programs every day which affect
millions of persons, altering or destroying their lives, changing their
destiny and that of their children, worsening poverty and marginalization
for the benefit of a handful of companies.  What is paradoxical about this,
Ramonet notes, is that these projects have never been subjected to a
consultation:  they are not voted on in a universal election, they are not
the matter of a plebiscite.  They are simply carried out, and there are no
democratic mechanisms for rejecting them or for subjecting them to any kind
of monitoring.

Attentive to these thoughts, which still do not form part of the European
political agenda, Havel offered to let the Prague demonstrators set up a
dialogue table with spokespersons from the World Bank and the IMF, so that
the latter could expound upon, and the former could ask questions about,
300 far-reaching programs related to problems with the environment, human
rights, employment, health, education, etcetera.  Unfortunately, the
Off-Prague - to call it that - was not possible, but the mere enunciation
of this goal now defines a political objective for social organizations all
over the world who are fighting to achieve a true democracy.

And so, the uprising that exploded in Seattle with the imaginative
mobilization of the de-globalized is beginning to have an increasingly
concrete program of action.  After Prague, everyone's task, all over the
world, will consist in multiplying forces, initiatives and mechanisms of
coordination in order to get the World Bank and the IMF to sit down and
discuss their "adjustment programs" with humanity, to impose new forms of
international arbitration and to force them to accept the judgments they
render.  They are barely the first stones of the foundation over which we
will have to raise the new historical project of the left, as an
alternative, in order to begin the next stage of civilization...