Dystopistics: the hydra and the coming storm. Narratives of the future in Zapatismo1

Received: September 26, 2019

Acceptance: February 24, 2020


The Zapatista Movement has developed an explicit discourse on time, a discourse that becomes radicalized to the point of the desire to reconfigure it into a rebellion carried out from the resistance. In this article, from the critical analysis of discourse (acd), the narratives of the future in Zapatismo are addressed, particularly the narratives subscribed in the allegories of the hydra and the coming storm. The concept of dystopian to highlight the feasibility and rational evaluation of possible scenarios of the socially failed.

Keywords: , , ,

Dystopistics: the hydra and the coming storm. Narratives of the future in Zapatismo

The Zapatista movement has developed an explicit discourse about time, which gets radicalized to the point its reconfiguration into a rebellion carried out from the resistance is desired. This article, from the Critical Analysis of Discourse (cad), will address the narratives of the future in zapatismo, particularly, the narratives endorsed in the Hydra and the Coming Storm allegory. The concept of dystopistics is proposed to highlight the feasibility and rational evaluation of possible scenarios of the socially unsuccessful.

Keywords: Temporality, zapatismo, future, dystopistics.


QCan the future be imagined and hatched in different ways? The Cartesian question about the arrangement of the world and whether this is the best of all possible worlds is becoming particularly necessary today in the face of the global predominance of the temporal capitalist hegemonic configuration and the evidences of an imminent planetary collapse: how could we fix the world? , Revolutionize it from a temporary approach? Fix it as a repair, as an ordering and as an ontological reorientation of our place in it. Fix it from the fundamental coordinates of its foundation, that is, from space and time. Temporality (time as a social construction) is constitutive of the social-historical. For Norbert Elias (1989), the perception and experience of time is being constructed socioculturally. This process involves the coordination of rhythms that make possible social ties, collective practices, and the degree and type of intersubjective relationships. There can be no investigation or reflection of the social without chronology and there is no neutral chronology. Zapatista narratives about time and the future warn of an imminent environmental collapse on a planetary scale, and also, dialectically, of the present as a turning point for a rebellion expressed in the formulation "Enough is enough."

To understand the Zapatista temporal configuration, we start from a two-dimensional approximation of time proposed by Guadalupe Valencia (2009): chronos as a measure and kairos as subjective experience. That is to say, of a chronological time that in turn is loaded with meaning, intention, subjectivity, memory and the future that are socially constructed. The concept of temporal field (Valencia, 2009) in which time is characterized as a network of intentionalities in which: 1) scale and repetition, 2) change and permanence, 3) moment and duration are stressed.

Zapatismo has developed an explicit and systematic discourse on time. His actions since the armed uprising in 1994 have been markers and signifiers of the temporal. Forgetfulness, memory, and a future drawn back into present action appear as a creative reformulation of past-present-future iterations (Kosellek, 1993).

The methodological approach proposed here is that of critical discourse analysis (acd), whereby the corpus2 made up of the three volumes of the text "Critical thinking in the face of the capitalist hydra" (ezln, 2015a, 2015b, 2015c).

Because the corpus made up of the three volumes of "Critical Thought Against the Capitalist Hydra" from temporality, Zapatismo, future, dystopian?

Because the Zapatista movement has been characterized both in its development and in the articulation of its imaginary of the future by the tactical use of the word and the silences (Velasco, 2003). Zapatismo has generated a vast “symbolic universe” that from a communicational performativity it has used as a resource for struggle. Zapatismo's discourse is a polyphonic discourse3 that can be analyzed through the heuristic power of critical discourse analysis (acd) and thus reveal complex webs of meaning and their corresponding opacities in confrontation with their practices.

I want to point out the relevance of the acd in studies on temporality. According to Ricoeur (2004: 115), regarding time and narration, “time becomes human time to the extent that it is articulated in a narrative mode, and narration reaches its full significance when it becomes a condition of existence temporary". The notion of narrative (s) is understood as a complex process of mediation between the action (or the prefiguration of the discourse) and the moment of reception or the necessary refiguration to account for the process of construction of the practices and the imaginary of ordering. social of Zapatismo. The narratives are not a replica of the action, but the construction (synthetic, sedimented and "filtered") of a previous plot that is articulated in a complex web of possibilities and intentions and that, in turn, will go through a receptive process of (reconfiguration. In other words, time becomes sociocultural temporality to the extent that it is articulated in a certain narrative way.

In a preliminary way, four characteristics of the Zapatista discourse are noted: a) it is a device of discursive innovation (creative language abundant in metaphors and neologisms) and oral tradition (as a characteristic of indigenous peoples, an instrument for resistance and a means of transmission in assemblies, seminars , etc.); b) innovative use of the web and tics as platforms and media for discourse; c) stylistic singularity of the language and discourse (use of irony, literary devices, etc.) of the Yes Galeano, before Yes Marcos, who has served as spokesperson and leader of the ezln ; d) polyphonic and open character of the discourse (set of voices that make up “Zapatismo” and that challenge rather than close the discourse).

Discourse analysis (Brown and Yule, 1993) allows us to approach societal reality, from language and its semiotic complexity, as a producer and product of meaning, as evidence of an ideological construct or as an empirical expression of a theoretical system to be built.

Discourse analysis presupposes a dynamic form of interpellation to subjects in the world and their representations, where languages are more producers than descriptors of the social subject and the societies in which it lives and is organized.

"Critical thinking in the face of the capitalist hydra" (ezln, 2015a) condenses in three volumes the voices of the Zapatista leaders, their spokesmen and their “thinkers”; of academics, journalists, activists, indigenous people, mestizos; of men and women from all over the world who sympathize and / or "are part of Zapatismo." The corpus it integrates a polyphonic set of narratives about the Zapatista epic, about its temporal configuration, its future narratives and its method: critical thought.

The acd, presupposes a multidisciplinary approach, insofar as it is part of a field of study that has been formed from other disciplines such as linguistics, pragmatics, anthropology, literary studies, narratology (a cross between fiction and factual) , semantics, sociology, oral communication studies, the philosophy of language and ethnomethodology (especially with the study and use of techniques such as Conversation Analysis).

For Gutiérrez (2004), within the discourse analysis, the current of acd It is the one that has a greater interdisciplinary character, since it studies, among other things, the ideological interactions that are established between discourses, their contextual situation and the institutions or social orders in which they are framed. "Studies through acd they require a deep knowledge of linguistic structures and concepts, as well as a knowledge of such relevant fields as sociology, anthropology, philosophy and psychology ”(Gutiérrez, 2004: 89).

The analysis acd it is described as an analytical work that breaks and decomposes the text and then sutures it and recomposes it again, in order to interpret it on a hermeneutical level. In a complementary way, as part of the language pragmatics, an approach was made with tools of ethnography in congresses and seminars convened by the Zapatista Movement and in one of its communities, belonging to the snail4 by Oventik.

For the pragmatic approach to language, he made use of the techniques of participant observation and dialogic conversations,5 since these techniques allow to know the conditions, the agents and the context in which the discourses of the corpus, which are presented orally and that, when compiled and printed, preserved this characteristic in their style, which is presumed important in the discursive construction of Zapatismo, as can be seen 1) in orality and narratives as construction exercises memory, 2) as an expressive and communicative resource of their actions, and 3) as an exercise of political imagination.

Considerations on the acd

Discourse was approached as a complex system of codes and units of meaning that includes ideologies, opposing narratives, polyphonic constructions,6 culture, contexts, and dynamics of social life (Manzano, 2005).

Perform a acd it implies:

  1. Identify the components that surround the discourse, which make its content, its purpose and its effect understandable, such as
    • the historical context.
    • the space-time context (diachronic and synchronic).
    • the interactive situational context.
    • the sociocultural context.
    • the cognitive context.
    • the explicit and implicit theme (the temporary setting in the uz7).
    • the agents involved (who generates it, for whom, on what and who, what power relations they describe and how they are inserted
      in them).
    • the constructs (what objects are being generated from that discourse, with what purposes and functions).
  2. Enter your dense content:
    • Ideology (values, attitudes, vision of the world ...).
    • Linguistic resources (expressions, metaphors ...).
    • Arguments (logic, heuristics, resources ...).
    • Persuasion techniques used.
    • Proposals for action, implicit and explicit.
    • Support and legitimation strategies (data, experts, tradition, networks, support bases ...).
    • Subsidiary theme and themes.
    • Means and channels of gestation and dissemination of discourse.
    • Code.
    • Forms and formats of the message.
    • Cotexts.
  3. Generate a complete model of the discourse that considers the relationship between all the elements analyzed, their genesis, their expression and their consequences.

The acd works with the paragraph, sentence and sentence as minimum units. The focus of the analysis is to identify and understand how the text conveys ideas and meanings that shape the knowledge and actions of the recipients of the information.

To analyze a text it is necessary to fragment it, separate and classify its components. In doing so, it is important not to lose sight of the relationships around the whole, its relationships with the context, and the present or potential dynamics of intertextuality. The fragmentation of corpus has gone through the elaboration of key concepts that led to three different themes (temporality [T]; dystopian8 [D]; critical thinking [P]) in the corpus and, based on them, observable units related to the temporal configuration and future narratives.

The following analytical categories are extracted from the three topics:

  1. Zapatista temporary configuration
  2. Zapatista future (utopian and dystopian)
  3. Hegemonic temporality in contemporary capitalism (capitalist hydra)

Instruments used:

  1. Structural analysis of the text
  2. Field diary
  3. Research journal
  4. Listings of items, detonators, talking points

The analytical categories were "deconstructed" in the following

  1. Thematic constructions
  2. Metaphors
  3. Discursive arguments
  4. Narratives
  5. Agents
  6. Practices
  7. Objectifications (objects and institutions such as agendas, assemblies, etc.)

Utopia and dystopia / utopian and dystopia

To the concept of utopistics by Wallerstein (1998), which supposes a guiding ideal of social construction whose basis is feasibility and results from a continuous adjustment between what is achievable and what is desirable, we must add that of dystopia, and by contrast, that of dystopia : a feasible imaginary of the socially failed. At present, an imaginary of social and ecological collapse on a planetary scale rationally prospected and that is verified in the scientific and empirical evidence.

If one agrees with Wallerstein that utopias are much closer to "daydreams" than to projects capable of becoming reality, something similar happens with dystopias, although more than "daydreams" we would be talking about imaginary of fear, of fears irrational or specters embodied in narratives of more or less dire, dramatic or tragic aesthetics. Dystopias, like their counterpart, utopias, are a type of mythical-religious narratives, but which, unlike the latter, eventually function as a moral warning, an absolute concretion of the punishment, or a tropological “scenario”.9 of the failed.

Although dystopia can under certain conditions lead to political mobilization, it is assumed that it does so more as a warning from the pathos than for more rational reasons. In pre-modernity, the mythical-religious discourse usually assumes the character of totalizing dualism, and from this point of view, oppositions are established between the desired or promised origin and destination (paradise, eternity, etc.) versus the loss (of paradise itself, innocence, the enjoyment of natural goods, etc.) or the feared fate (punishment, hell, "the second death", etc.).

Because it is a type of spectral imaginary, from pre-modernity to the present in the late modernity, the dystopia has turned out to be extremely malleable to be “concretized” in narratives ad hoc to hegemonic discourses as a means of control and social paralysis.

Dystopia is a narrative construction in which ideas, settings, events and characters can be found that function in a pedagogical way as effective devices for maintaining social order. Its warning function often leads (in speeches, but also in practices) to police surveillance of the State, the administration of violence and moral scrutiny. Although it seems that its “natural” environment is that of the fictional narrative as in literature (A happy world, 1984, Mechanical orange, etc.), dystopia also dwells in oral stories, legend, popular syllogisms, narratives of political projects, economic prospects and, above all, in totalizing ideological constructions.

But the Dystopistics it is another matter; This concept is proposed to designate an articulated narrative construction based on a serious evaluation of the present and historical problems. The Dystopistics It implies an analytical exercise –and from Zapatismo: critical– of the factors that intervene in the failed condition of a social system or construct. The DystopisticsUnlike dystopia, it can be truly terrifying, since it is not a specter at all, but rather a kind of "prelude" to a catastrophe that is not yet full in time or space, but whose spatio-temporal proximity is expected to be imminent. .

The Dystopistics it requires a sober, rational, and realistic evaluation of human social systems and their limitations, as well as the open possibilities of human ingenuity and error. The Dystopistics it does not communicate the scenario of an inevitable future, but it does communicate that of a future of probable or plausible (although uncertain) catastrophic conditions. Unlike the apocalyptic narrative (to which the Zapatista discourse also attends more widely), dystopianism distances itself from the association "future-destiny" and uses in its argumentative structure data and evidence that support its affirmations, which, although they function as Warnings are statements whose intention is action and not immobilization.

The crisis as an element of dystopian

The crisis is one of the themes of the Dystopistics. The crisis can temporarily be interpreted as a turning point in a historical period as a consequence of a heavy sedimentation of meanings, or a concentration of eventual ruptures that herald a major breakdown or rupture. The identification –and declaration– of a crisis is not easy, since it is an operation typical of the identification of contemporaneity that requires a distancing to elucidate the next.

What we peoples are beginning to experience / suffer has no known name. We are transitioning from one world to another: from the unipolar to the multipolar world, from the West-centered world to an East-centered world; from a capitalist world to a post-capitalist world that we still have difficulty visualizing (ezln, 2015c: 228).

Zapatismo establishes the crisis in the discursive mark of "Enough is enough!" or "worthy rage", but its transitive and uncertain character prevents solidifying - for the better (Utopistics) and for the worse (Dystopistics)- the future. This impossibility does not exempt the Zapatistas from their role as vigilantes at the posta de la cofa, of which they even warn - and they warn themselves - of the danger of "ceasing to see."

“Sup Galeano says that there is a catastrophe to come. I don't think so because it is the catastrophe that surrounds us. Undaunted we look at her ”(ezln, 2015b: 64). Here, under the rhetorical device of a false counter-discourse, the dystopian characteristic of the storm is emphasized.

The fever will not arrive next year, next month or soon, the fever has already started, the storm is here in the polar ice caps, in the cells of our bodies, in the jungle, at the bottom of the ocean, in the clouds, the bean plant, the chicken, the cornfield (ezln, 2015b: 110).

The storm becomes different geographies and also objectified, patent, visible temporality. Humanity is experiencing a civilizational crisis:

A process of exhaustion of a model of economic, productive and social organization… derived from a system that today, on an unimaginable scale in history, is sustained and expanded by the exploitation and destruction of work and nature; and, consequently, of life (ezln, 2015b: 113).

The hydra: capitalism and the planet in crisis or on a monster to understand an imaginary

This is a multifactorial critical moment on a global scale. The storm that already gives its first drips is characterized in the hydra as "global systemic" and awaits the ezln a scientific answer. "That is why we demand not only the definition of the storm, we also want to know its history, how it originated, how its trajectory has been, what feeds it" (ezln, 2015a: 288).

The title of the corpus alludes to a mythical monster: the hydra. A seven-headed monster whose strength is its decentration, its ability to generate two heads each time one is cut off. In the myth, the Lerna hydra was a ruthless aquatic snake that, in addition to its deadly heads, had a poisonous breath that made it even more dangerous. Her strange regenerative ability made it impossible for any human or demigod to kill her.

But Heracles-Yolao, however he wants, must carry out that job or suffer the sentence of always starting over: cutting off one head and giving birth to two more, ripping the wall until the crack deepens and ends up fatally wounding him. And before facing to destroy, they have to see the way to survive, to resist. So maybe it helps something to ask about the origin. As much of who faces as of what is faced. So you have to trace the Hydra, follow its trace, to know its ways, its times, its places, its history, its genealogy (ezln, 2015a: 282).

Legend has it that when he reached the swamp where the hydra was, Hercules covered his mouth and nose with a cloth to protect himself from poisonous breath. Hercules shot arrows of fire to bring the beast out of its lair. He faced her, but it was all unsuccessful. When Hercules realized that he alone could not defeat the beast, he asked his nephew for help, and he proposed to burn his necks to prevent new heads from growing. In this way, starting from a principle of distributed intelligence and cooperative action, while Hercules cut off each head, the nephew burned them one by one until he finished with the last, called "the immortal", which he crushed with a large rock that found on the way.

In accordance with the Zapatista narratology, the Greek myth tells that the defeat of the hydra (capitalism) is an undertaking that can only be achieved in a way: 1) collectively; 2) organized; 3) strategic (a plan proposed by the nephew) and 4) tactical (use of resources and unexpected conditions, such as the rock found).

Despite the secular language, it is possible to identify a mythical-religious construction where evil is embodied in capitalism and bad government from Mexico. There seems to be elements to consider the Zapatista journey as an epic that tries to transcend the search for only material justice.

The fight against the hydra continues and "has unleashed its own storm." There is talk of a storm that is experienced as a crisis of global capitalism and as a planetary crisis. The crises are framed in what is stated as the iv World War, a nomination that renames and re-signifies the spatio-temporal coordinates and that, when named in a novel way, challenge political affections, beliefs and positions.

The texts constantly resort to neologisms and renaming as a significant resource while reading. The Zapatista position "below and to the left" is explicit, without this meaning at all "traditional left" and without "below" leaving out intellectuals, academics, scientists, middle classes, and so on.

Parables10 and fables11 they are widely used. These narrative genres are reformulated with the uses of open-ended, uncomfortable question, provocative irony, or vindictive sharpness in the voice of the Yes Galeano, whose use of humor, irony, ambiguity and emotionality deserved a complete analysis in order to understand the discursive structuring of the corpus.

The texts call for the integration and organization of political forces on an international scale. The ezln calls for action (present) as the only way out to face the storm that is already occurring; but that will rage in the "coming storm" (future). The interpellation to that future is made at the beginning of the texts with abundant reference to the past and to the dead (taking their names as a reminder) who "continue to speak" through the remembrance of their actions.

Zapatismo is “an indigenous and non-indigenous organization,” affirms the Yes Galeano, therefore, his speech is an open one “formed in” and “addressed to” women and men from all over the world.

At corpus Significant episodes of the armed struggle of Zapatismo are also recapitulated, sometimes recounted from anger and pain, and sometimes with ease and a sense of humor. Epic narratives of the "smallest", the marginalized and the exploited are articulated, interspersed with the difficulties that - humorously reveals the His p- They happen to those who, being from the city, move through the jungle to bet in the middle of a shootout.

The Yes Moisés appeals to the construction of a social memory with a meaningful account of the conditions of misery and humiliation in which the indigenous ethnic groups of Chiapas lived and how they were dispossessed of their lands, first by the farmers and then with the reform of Article 27 that he privatized the ejidos. These conditions of injustice, extended over long historical periods, account for 500 years of injustice and exploitation, concatenating the locality and the historical proximity to a wide space-time field that in the corpus it goes back to the European colonization in America.

The San Andrés Larráinzar Accords are cited as the first betrayal of the bad government after the uprising in 1994. The failure is expressed through dialogue and the Zapatista retreat to refound the world. One where "many worlds fit" and whose autonomy is operated in a system where "the people rule and the government obey" through what they called Good Government Juntas. (jbg). In this context the conditions of a new imagined community for the Zapatismo that manifests itself in the Zapatista Rebel Autonomous Municipalities (marez) and the snails that contain them.

There is thus, in these texts, a description of the Zapatista Utopianism, its achievements and failures, its difficulties and how what reality has been presenting has been solved.

The Zapatistas reveal that theirs is a struggle that is also being waged inside and that sometimes goes against the same "uses and customs." We could exemplify this struggle in the prohibition of “drinking” in the Zapatista territories, or in other issues that cross the Zapatista discourse, such as the emancipation of women.

Zapatismo goes to a suggestive image because it implies the space-time crossing: the crack in the wall. A crack that is an indication of a crisis, of a systemic breakdown that, however, can only occur in a long, patient time frame.12 The Zapatista efforts are summarized as "stubbornness that the crack grows, because it does not close."

Critical thinking in the face of the capitalist hydra

In order to see the crack, to get closer to it, to be able to widen it, the Yes Galeano runs on a heuristic approach called critical thinking.

The Yes Galeano highlights the urgency of generating collective thought in order to monitor the heads of the hydra. Critical thinking is articulated with dialogue, with questions, and it is, according to Zapatismo, a collective undertaking.

The iv World War (ezln, 2015a: 42), say the Zapatistas, is the war waged by private financial interests to control the world. Capitalism has mutated from productivism to financialization, which has meant the prevalence of speculation over world trade; the "futures market" as an objectified arena of resources that do not yet exist; and the issuance of currency without any endorsement. The fetishization (commodification) and precarization of the future until its annihilation are two of the temporary consequences of this economic onslaught.

The hydra and the coming storm imply a dialectical conformity. They are crisis and warning of rupture; they are conditions of injustice and announcement of the struggles and resistance to overcome them. “The system is going to collapse, from that collapse two options may arise. Well, we say that it can be more than two, but that is not the issue now ”(ezln, 2015a: 258). That the system is going to collapse is a statement similar to the old unfulfilled prophecy of Marxism. The problem is that there are already signs that before the system collapses, people and the planet will do it first. The dystopianism that Zapatismo announces points to the breakdown of the capitalist system and the breakdown of the planetary ecological balance, the latter, by far, becomes an intensifying matter of “the urgent” and “the irreversible”.

The coming storm is already giving its “first drops”. Dystopia becomes dystopian, as problems in four great narrative strands found in the texts of the corpus and in contextual studies: 1) growing precariousness and impoverishment of large populations in the world; 2) increasing violence, marginalization and social polarization as a result of the widening of the gaps of economic and knowledge inequality; 3) an increase in capitalist extractivism in the form of financialization, and 4) an acceleration of the ecological imbalance of the planet.

The planet's ecosystem imbalance, enunciated under the decomplexing phrastic formulation of a synecdoche: global warming, involves a type of “reality” naturalized, hidden, minimized or “deactivated” when formulated in a polarized, ethically and politically manner. Polarization (Manichaeism, exaggeration or minimization) leads to immobility in two ways: 1) a supposed ineffectiveness of any type of action in the face of the enormity of the problem; or 2) denialism: the problem "does not exist" or is so minimal that it "does not merit" any type of action.

Juan Villoro, in the chapter entitled "The duration of impatience" (ezln, 2015a), asks the question about the era to which we belong. From a geological point of view, we are in the Holocene, although there is a designation that Villoro uses to emphasize our responsibility: Anthropocene. (ezln, 2015a: 16). The discursive nomination strategy, in this case, aims to incorporate a critical dimension to the time we live. Holocene is a neutral denomination in counterpart to Anthropocene, which points out how the human race has so altered the biosphere that it is at the point of collapse.

On the other hand, this era, Villoro affirms, is one without direction and, moreover, accelerated. He poses it under the metaphor of a locomotive. He asserts that the empire of consumption constitutes the body of the capitalist hydra (ezln, 2015a: 17).

Villoro highlights the metaphor of the locomotive to represent progress and its characteristics of consumption and acceleration. The locomotive without direction (without construction of meaning) is also the locomotive in which “some travel”, and others only “see it pass”. Here it is convenient to stop, to explain that, although there are times subsumed in others, there are also as mechanisms of exclusion. There are times that are "outside", alien to the processes and dynamics of modernity. Time as progress is also the "container" (as a computer system of power correlations) of those who are in the locomotive, voluntarily
own or not.

Symbol of modernity and speed, the locomotive dwarfs territories by carrying goods and messages from north to south and from east to west. The stations are the arrival and reference points of the thriving economic centers. Passengers travel (although less than goods and services, as can be seen in the release of tariffs but in the worsening of border obstacles for human mobility), and goods travel giving the illusion of perennial availability, breakdowns begin. cycles and space-time coordinates are undone.

Symbol of power –in the sense of power-strength–, the locomotive advances displaying the sensation of unbeatenness, while inside it “the underdogs” of the world incessantly shovel coal to make it run at a constant, exhausting, inhuman rhythm. Dehumanization of some for the excess of the elites.

Inequality, impoverishment, violence and injustice

Modernity and its notion of progress is not for everyone or for everyone, as it is based on the indices of impoverishment and economic inequality:

Oxfam revealed in 2014 that 85 people around the world have the same wealth as half of the world's population. By January 2015, the number had dropped to 80… Our country is immersed in a vicious cycle of inequality, lack of economic growth and poverty. Being the fourteenth economy in the world, there are 53.3 million people living in poverty ... Thus, while the GDP per capita grows at less than 1% per year, the fortune of the 16 richest Mexicans multiplies by five (500%). … Mexico is within the 25% of the countries with the highest levels of inequality in the world (Esquivel, 2015: 5).

As set out in the corpus, the neoliberal system has unleashed a gradual process of impoverishment and economic inequality and a good part of this phenomenon is explained in contemporary times, due to a growing mutation of capitalism towards financialization: “Now financial capital uses fictitious money without any backing. It demands profit obtained by various methods. One is the appropriation of future work, which remains committed to the banks ”(ezln, 2015a: 322). The appropriation of the future (work or goods that do not yet exist) is the basis of the current capitalist war. Regarding this future at risk, the Zapatistas warn: "More credit does not mean a better life, it means pawning the future for generations" (ezln, 2015a: 323). And they continue, regarding this risk: "Under this logic of capital, nations will put their natural resources as collateral." (ezln, 2015a: 323). The future is canceled, compromised in the natural resources available in the countries. The Yes Moisés does not doubt about the future: "The situation is fucking ... It's going to get worse" (ezln, 2015a: 341).

We call this new transformation "the financial unification of the world" (ezln, 2015b: 30). New characteristic of capitalism in contemporary times. Financial capital over productive capital has disrupted production cycles, natural cycles, and the rise of crises.

Industrial and extractivist capitalism have "financialized" themselves by speculating the value of natural resources or existing or imagined, present or future goods, regardless of the work or knowledge deposited in production (when there is such). Through increasing financialisation, capitalism has achieved the unthinkable: roll back the future to process and sell it.

In the Zapatista configuration, time that is built from dignity is simply life, and life is time. Not infrequently, when addressing issues such as labor justice, salaries, education, etc., the important thing is lost sight of: the experience, use and administration of the life time of individuals and societies.

"Not being social lives in a state of siege and exception, it is the time and space of the populations that are built in the imaginary as surpluses" (ezln, 2015c: 90). "Not being" as opposition to the citizen recognized by the State. Large populations are wiped out or tamed, treated as waste in the capitalist system. When the lives of "the underdogs" of Mexico and the world - in the Zapatista way - are treated unworthily or even eradicated through strategies of systematized violence, a web of injustices is established that divide citizens into first-class citizens, second-class citizens. and those reduced to the category of waste. The no future it is evident in the violence that not only eradicates life, but also in the abuse of excessive power that is installed in necropolitics and terror as strategies of submission. "Way to describe our times: today we are already dead, we just need to be killed" (ezln, 2015c: 134).

Zapatismo has dignity as its enclave, hence seeking conditions of justice in people's lives. Dignity cannot wait, and your claim is immediately updated as "Enough is enough!" The future shrinks from the immediacy of an intolerable indignity. A different retraction from that operated by capitalist fetishization. The Zapatista temporal narrative is opposed to the capitalist narrative in the sense that time do not is money. The future is not the object of a transaction as it happens in the agreements of loans, debts and interests in the capitalist and financial system.

Life time cannot be reduced exclusively to productive working hours and leisure time (which becomes time as an extension of work or time dedicated to consumption). In addition, working time has become more complex. They are not linear or easily delimited processes at all. In contemporary times, the generation and acquisition of ideas and knowledge is part of continuous temporal processes and of a complex intersection of different agents, institutions, fields and capitals.

“Workers face greater exploitation and dispossession every day, that is, greater poverty. Every day they work harder and longer; Today a worker generates his salary in 7 minutes ”(ezln, 2015b: 47). At the same time that the incorporation of knowledge for production increases, exploitation increases in a temporary inequality (the time of acquisition of knowledge is not valued), which is specified in a growing economic inequality.

The inequality of knowledge increases at the same rate that technology develops (coding itself in its accesses and restrictions) and new discoveries are made, because the Zapatistas warn that “the storm that is coming is not the product of barbarism but of… progress. ”(ezln, 2015b: 47). Leveraged progress in the uneven accumulation of knowledge:

The inequality of knowledge is even greater than that of wealth ... [there is] a rise in ignorance and a deepening of the gap between those who possess knowledge (certain types of knowledge, such as scientists) and those who do not. possess… it is more likely that globally the aristocracy of knowledge and the aristocracy of money develop in parallel… A gloomy utopia, which can only be fought with a utopia of education (Augé, 2015: 114-115).

Was it from knowledge or was it from ignorance? Both, if you want to play at naming “eras”. On the one hand, it is easy to corroborate the enormous amount of technology, knowledge and expert systems that are produced. Every time, those who have access to technology, use more systems without having the slightest idea of their operating principles. So, paradoxically, what is known (wanted and bought) and what is unknown (but manipulated, consumed and discarded) grows, generating a dynamic of dependence on the producers and owners of knowledge. Needless to say, why then the narratives of the future in late modernity have to do with an aesthetic of the future technology.

Fewer than ten transnational corporations own “expert knowledge systems” that are used or consumed by the rest of humanity. Neither Latin America nor Mexico paint in the production of scientific or technological knowledge, according to what is measured in the refereed publications or in the patent registry, respectively.

According to De la Peza (2013), in the last 40 years the investment of the Mexican government in the production and generation of science and technology is around an average of 0.4% of the GDP. Countries such as Sweden, Japan, the United States, Korea, Germany and France invest between 2 and 5 percent of their respective GDP in this area.

In countries like ours, capitalist progress, more than a utopia in progress, is a kind of dream of a minority group, a myth that, despite being a failure, they aspire to access.

Is it possible that the duration has a limit? It would seem that, in the manner of the Holocene, its passing competes with eternity. However, since January 1, 1994 we know that time can be rethought (ezln, 2015b: 18).

The revolutionary struggle of ezlnit is fundamentally a rethinking of the times. A warning, a break. January 1, 1994 is a date that the Mexican government wanted to mark as the country's entry into modernity, but which reveals another temporality, according to the Zapatista discourse: that of dignified rage, that of the rebels. that have not been taken into account. The data reveal without any doubt or nuance that there is a backwardness, accumulation of violence and systematically managed forgetfulness. Duration has limits, and as has already been analyzed, in Zapatismo it is argued that it is through awareness and particularly critical thinking that it is possible to rethink the directionality of time. The limit is marked in the "Enough is enough!" Zapatista, but also in the evidences of an imminent global ecological collapse.

Have we reached the point of no return (Sartori & Mazzoleni, 2003) with respect to overpopulation, global warming, waste production, shortage of drinking water, pollution of the seas, soil degradation and the advance of the desertification?

“The Earth is giving unmistakable signals of widespread stress. There are limits that cannot be exceeded ”, points out the philosopher and environmentalist Leonardo Boff (2009). Boff cites the wake-up call from the Secretary of the un, Ban-Ki-Moon, who warned in 2009 that we would have about ten years to overcome a planetary ecological catastrophe. Boff states that we are already reaching "the limits of the planet." He states that various ecosystems on earth are reaching the point of no return in reference to desertification, the melting of the polar caps and the Himalayas, and increasing acidity of the oceans. Boff concludes that there is no technique or economic model that guarantees the sustainability of the current project. It asserts that what we already experience is a phenomenon of "imminent overshoot and collapse."

Among contemporary environmental discourses, scientific discourse increasingly takes on the adjectival bias of "apocalyptic scientist", which turns out to be a particularly alarming discourse (described as alarmist by deniers), because in addition to announcing an end of time (with expressions such as the end of an era, of the human species, of the Anthropocene, etc.), unlike the mythical-religious discourse of pre-modernity, this discourse is based on scientific evidence and rational speculation, which allows the modeling of complex systems of socio-environmental variables.

In contemporary times, scientific discourse limited to the argumentative formulation of 1) evidence and 2) rationality has been insufficient to influence large-scale decision-making, due to the weight of the financial power of large corporations that have influenced the economic and political performance of States and international bodies with strategies such as the creation and financing of ad hoc think tanks, information concealment and practices (legal and illegal) of lobbying in parliaments and congresses, especially in powerful countries.

Another reason for the scientific impotence for political action (understood here from the Bourdelian approach of an inability to convert scientific capital into political capital) is an apparent gap between statistical, mathematical and specialized language, and the meaning - and motivations - that this finds in the individual social actors, collectives, institutions and ngo. Although, in contrast, it is possible recently to verify a growing scientific discourse that appeals to the pathos (affections, feelings, fears, motivations) in the mouth of the scientists themselves.

The management and conservation of natural resources is a complex issue that involves variables of the biophysical, socioeconomic, cultural and geopolitical order. Under this interdisciplinary perspective (Stiglitz et al., 2008), at the request of the World Bank (bm) and the United Nations (un), the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (ma) made up of some 2,000 scientists from 95 countries, he undertook the task of answering what had changed in “environmental services” (note the capitalist narrative by enunciating ecosystems and natural elements as “services”) in the last 50 years, “ how it had affected human well-being ”(note also the anthropocentric perspective) and the prospects of this relationship.

It was started from a premise that permeates the positioning of the bm: consider natural resources as “ecosystem services”, that is, as benefits that people obtain and that constitute the so-called human well-being. These so-called “services” include the provision of food, water, energy, wood and fiber; regulation services; cultural services that provide recreational, aesthetic, “spiritual” and “other benefits” spaces and landscapes; and "support services" such as soil formation and photosynthesis.

The conceptualization of "service" (renewable and non-renewable) presupposes "a provider" (the ecosystem or network of these), "a user" (who has the power and resources to access the provider's "goods") and "a price ”Of use or consumption, which under certain methodologies (usually biased, such as with derived costs, offshoring or speculation in the futures market, etc.) is assigned one or more types of value: monetary, cultural, political ... Although the political, ethical, economic and cultural positioning of the bm and the un It is debatable, the study has served as a starting point for a global analysis that has concluded that:

  • 60% of the ecosystems (15 of 24 analyzed) have been deteriorated.
  • In the last 50 years, the environment has degraded more than in any previous period.
  • The land for fewer types of crops has been increased, which has generated loss of biodiversity.
  • Welfare levels have increased, but so has economic inequality.
  • The consequences of environmental degradation hit the poorest more, since they "depend more directly on the environment."
  • The extinction of species is a thousand times greater than those recorded in fossil history, and is projected to increase by up to ten times more in the next 50 years (Stiglitz et al., 2008).

The analysis revealed that air quality, access to drinking water, fuels and fishing have decreased, while food production and aquaculture have increased.

Is another scenario for the future possible for the socio-environmental problem? Is a rebellion scenario necessary whose premise is an ontological redefinition that reconfigures our place in the world and the world as something more than a service provider and the place we inhabit?

There is an environmental component to the Zapatista struggle that is cultural, historical, and significant. The Zapatistas call themselves "children of the land," not their possessors, users, or beneficiaries. They affirm that their color –the color of the skin of native peoples– is “that of the earth” and that “the earth is life”. Life that is transferred not from a “provider or service provider” but from “a mother who feeds her children”.

In the zapatista congress ConCiences It was repeated that "no one has the right to leave a polluting footprint greater than their lifetime", that is, a basic time formula was proposed on our environmental impact. The earth and our life involve an equation of “temporary scissors”, as Blumenberg (2007) would say, that is to say, our individual chronology is reduced and very limited in relation to the planet; wanting to adjust the rhythms of nature and history to the retelling of an individual life is crazy, a nonsense that nevertheless occurs when we use future resources and leave an environmental impact of hundreds of years.

In the cultures of the Mesoamerican indigenous peoples and in Zapatismo, the earth is considered the mother, the depository of history and memory; it is subject to law (there are penalties if it is attacked) and its sense of ownership is totally different from capitalist private property. “And beyond, the land receives fierce, ferocious and already irremediable jams. Wounded, the first mother staggers, fragile, helpless, vulnerable ”(ezln, 2015a: 232). Irreparable damage to the global ecosystem is in sight, however, the predation processes continue and increase according to statistics. The earth is exposed here as a victim, as a defenseless being, as an entity violated by us and the capitalist system.

For the Zapatistas, the land is inhabited, it is lived with, it is respected, food is extracted from it, but it is restored and rewarded. The stay in it is "temporary" and the inheritance rights over the habitation and use of the land are strictly regulated and subject to review.

The land (nature or the environment), since Zapatismo, has a strong cultural component embedded, because in addition to being territory and the place where networks of meaning are woven, it is the place where they “rest” –but also live and continue to act - the dead (heritage, memory and historical legacy) and where life germinates as “food, struggle and dignity (dignity germinates where historically the poorest and indigenous peoples have been denied by of the hegemonic powers) ”.

From the perspective of the original peoples and Zapatismo, the land is a living and complex being that also possesses dignity, and therefore is subject to rights that are made clear in the rules and regulations instituted and in force in the Zapatista autonomous communities (Fernández , 2014). For example, it is established that “it is not allowed to hunt any animal if it is not to eat it” and “it is only allowed to cut down a tree if it is going to be used for a domestic need and not for sale. If they are cut down for a justified need, two must be sown ”(Fernández, 2014: 465). These small examples are cultural vestiges that oppose the conceptualization of nature as a system of "resources" that can be identified and managed from monetarization or use value.

Dignity is raised from Zapatismo –but also from other alterworld groups– as a process of de-objectification (de-objectification) of the human being, that is, of the emancipation of the ontological configuration that reduces it to a machine of producing and buying in which it it has converted the productivist and consumer logic of capitalism.

"This is probably the last historical opportunity to free planet Earth from barbarism and death" (ezln, 2015c: 342). We are therefore, according to Zapatismo, at a critical moment without precedent in history.


The Zapatista temporal configuration is articulated as a hybrid set (construct and substrate of different historical and cultural temporalities), complex and emerging (new, under construction, uncertain, unfinished) of representations, practices and meanings of social organization, whose base is, according to his speech, human dignity and the dignity of the Earth (the planet).

Based on a historical reinterpretation, Zapatismo takes the future back to the present practice in living without delay its aspirations and social values synthesized in dignity. The ideal Zapatista scenario of organization of social relations, being under construction, is made feasible through tactical adjustments, enabling the concretion of an imaginary of inclusion, equity, justice and freedom. In accordance with the concept proposed by Wallerstein, this tactical process has been called Utopistics.

Starting from a dialectical and critical argumentative structure called critical thought, the Zapatista utopianism proposes a temporal aesthetics (as an arrangement of the world) and a narrative of the future opposed to the scenario posed in the practices and narratives of the capitalist hegemonic temporality, inscribed in the allegories of the hydra and the coming storm, allegories synthesized in the concept that has been proposed here as Dystopistics.

The Zapatista temporal configuration and its future narratives (Utopistics and Dystopistics) are part of an aesthetic shown here as the set of formal expressions that communicate their particular arrangement of the past, present and future world. At corpus Analyzed, from a polyphonic discourse, not always coherent and even contradictory, the Zapatista discourse gathers different voices that show its plurality and a certain type of unity that is not univocal, but is representative of the visions and actions that make it up.

Dystopistics is a narrative construction articulated from a serious evaluation of present and historical problems that implies an analytical and critical exercise of the factors that intervene in the failed condition of a social system or construct. In Zapatismo, it is described as an imaginary of collapse rationally prospected and verified in scientific and empirical evidence to the point of becoming a cancellation of the future.


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Carlos Octavio Núñez Miramontes He has a doctorate in Social Scientific Studies (iteso); Master in Management and Development of Culture (UdeG) and graduate in Communication Sciences (iteso). Conacyt fellow (2015-2019). Diploma in journalism; diploma in advertising photography; studies on Critical Discourse Analysis; specialized studies on time as a social construction; genetic epistemology and construction of study objects; Marx's Materialist Dialectic seminar in Capital; Human Rights Observer for the Frayba Institute in Chiapas. orcid: 0000-0003-4097-6828

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