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Movimento dei Disobedienti
Ezequiel Marcos Siddig
(Translation: Tamara Mesri)
Luca Casarini is a leader of the former Tute Bianche (demonstrators dressed in white overalls that stood out in the Genoa protests against the G-8 countries last year). Today he is a spokesperson of the Disobedients' Movement, which, through civil protest, rejects neoliberalism's policies and has gathered together many of the different Italian groups that participated in Genoa last July. He talked to Ezequiel Siddig in Buenos Aires following the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil
EZEQUIEL MARCOS SIDDIG: Is the Disobedients' Movement globali- phobic?
LUCA CASSARINI: They say we are anti-globalization, but we are more pro-globalization than they are, because we fight for the globalization of human rights, the globalization of a dignified way of life.
Bush, Blair and other state leaders at the G-8 meeting in Genoa last year said that they are the people's representatives because they had been elected by the people, and that the demonstrators were not. What are your ideas about political representation?
We do not feel we are representatives of the people that do not participate in the movement. We believe that each of us is representative of all of us. What Bush, Blair and Berlusconi say about the representation issue is very strange. For instance, for the United States' election they need millions of dollars. Who has that money? Not everybody can run for the presidency.
The Italian Parliament's decision was to support Bush's war, Bush's and Bin Laden's, who are diferentes costados de la misma moneda (different sides of the same coin), because Bin Laden is also a millionaire, has power, and kills civilians. Ninety percent of the members of Parliament voted in favor of war at the same time that a poll carried out by the largest newspaper in my country (Corriere de la Sera) showed that 70 percent of the Italian people were against it. However, Parliament voted for war. What is democracy, then? Making an important decision without asking the people?
Could you be more specific about your conception of political violence?
The violence versus non-violence debate is absurd for us. Compared to G-8 countries, to the ones that kill 15 million people a year by letting them die of starvation, to the ones that prevent millions of people around the world from having running water because of the privatization of the sources, to the ones that make war with extra heavy bombs on a city that does not even know who Bin Laden is, how could one be more violent? It is impossible. This argument about violence against violence is purely ideological. The problem is how to let the conflict arise without driving the whole movement into a civil war, because that is what power wants. How can we be disobedient, how can we create while we violate the unfair laws, how can we create another law that is a Constitutional Law, as Argentinean people wish to? In Brazil, when you talk to somebody living in a favela (shantytown), he will tell you “my life is violence all day long because I am hungry and have no food.”
In that case, how can civil society build an effective counter-power able to challenge the political power of states and transnational enterprises?
The first thing we learn from Porto Alegre is we do not have the answer for everything, we have to experiment. However, we can learn from the experiments carried out by other movements around the world. The first thing to consider is that without the construction of a dual power there is neither a chance of experimenting with a new democracy, nor a chance to resist impositions and injustice. As there was not a strong radical protest movement in Argentina, nobody in the world talked about this country. This dualism, then, acts as a space for democratic experimentation, for resistance, because to resist injustice is the right thing to do so as to avoid its repetition. This dualism also functions as a stimulus to reach a kind of power that controls power, that works as a denunciation, as another voice that speaks to the media, that has another point of view different from power.
The second thing to consider is that this space—which I call a “space of the constituent revolt,” and that is temporary, not eternal, because it changes—must be used as a place to discuss issues such as municipal democracy. This was largely discussed in Porto Alegre. If this space is only used to protest, power will beat it weaponless. Weapons like the different social projects such as el trueque (barter) that you have in Argentina and that I will promote in Italy: four million people continuously experimenting with a new kind of market, not a mercantile one, but one based on solidarity. It is a project that will continue to develop because it is a concrete alternative to fight poverty. It has grown through small clubs that have been gradually gathering together.
Besides the value of experimentation, does the Disobedients' Movement have an explicit intention of “making the revolution”?
We have to think how to influence power. We are not going to take control over power, we are not looking for power, we are looking for a counter-power. We want to be in the streets, to be in touch with the neighborhood in a smart way, in permanent conflict, because we have a contradiction between political representation and society. The problem is how to inhabit this conflict. For instance, power tends to turn this conflict into war. If that happens, and a civil war starts, we are going straight to the grave, all of us. As it happened in Buenos Aires and in Genoa, power does not accept these forms of collective participation, because it is afraid of their range and the subsequent transformation it will cause within institutions.
During most of the 20th century, revolutionary movements thought that civil war was the answer to imperialism's war, and a way to liberation. In Italy, for example, it was the Resistance against fascism. Today, the empire has adopted civil war as an instrument, and capitalism has revolutionized this. In Brazil 137,000 people die per year due to violent actions. It is an un-declared civil war.
In all demonstrations, what the power does is to transform a radical protest into a military problem so as to block it. This is what happened in Genoa. The Cara- binieri killed a 23-year-old compañero, the first person killed in an Italian square in 24 years.
They looked like Latin American “fuerzas del orden” (forces of order).
That is why we have to reflect on this, because it means that we do not have to turn this space of revolt into a warzone. We have to think of the conflict in a different way. We call it “disobedience,” conflict and consensus, an action always open to experimentation, open to transform and rethink the movement. We could have gone to Genoa carrying molotovs and we decided not to, because it does not work against the bullets and the Carabinieri's trucks that chase demonstrators. We also had to confront the police force. We built barricades after they shot at us. But we are always holding ourselves back in order not to be dragged into a civil war. That is what power wants: for the conflict to become a war.
In Argentina, people are regaining the public space with totally different means and with opposition ideas, not with weapons. What is the difference between those leftist militants of the 1970s and todays transnational disobedients?
We saw what happened in Chiapas and it was very important for us, because it allowed us to dream again after the great repression during the 1970s in Italy. Zapatismo ruptured our classical tradition of the institutional Left, which was also a breaking-away from traditional marxism. Zapa- tismo redefined the idea of conflict. For example, Marcos's statement: “We do not want power”—it gives you another dimension, that of not confronting power with the same methods used by power, that is: army against army, deaths against deaths.
The second thing was that Marcos was not talking about social classes, not talking about the oppressor and the oppressed. He was talking to artists, to young and old people, factory workers, delivery boys, gays and lesbians, with a completely new language. He was talking about dreams, poetry, of an army that was born to dissolve. This made a great impression on me. This also had an influence on our perception about the revolutionary problem, about transformation of the world we live in. Of course “another world is possible” (the slogan of the World Social Forum), if we transform this one, not another planet. This must be understood in Porto Alegre. “Another world is possible,” but if power does not allow this, what are you going to do? This is another rupture. I believe that in Argentina you have a transverse political laboratory. White collars and blue collars together hitting cacerolas (saucepans).
We want another world in which there can be many worlds. It is a rupture with the theory that proletarian dictatorship will build a better society.
In the third place, we also thought that Marcos was talking from the situation of Mexican Indians. We realized that we had to start thinking about the ones that are in the worst social situation around the world so as to build a new society. Lastly, we have the Zapatista guerrillas breaking away from the Latin American guerrilla tradition. Words are weapons, we take weapons in order to speak. It is not the confrontation with the federal Mexican army. It is the political confrontation with neo-liberalism. The Zapatistas rose up on January 1, 1994, because NAFTA was going into effect. They understood the use of symbols in a society of symbols, of logo. It has tremendous power.
The Argentinean cacerolazos (banging of saucepans) will influence the world, because it is a new logo, an incredibly basic instrument: saucepans are in everyone's house, red flags are not. It is a way of saying that we can all protest, not only Marxists, Socialists, Anarchists, political activists, but all the people. Z