Let's regain our ability to dream!

19 July 2020 – Gina Vargas

Lea la versión en español aquí

We live in a world on the move ... for now not on the streets, but in intense connection, across borders, generating - as Matt Meyer points out in his contribution to this conversation - strategic thinking in the face of the current moment, and of the moments, uncertain and alarming, that are now coming. It forces us to a moment of introspection, of new critical reflection and shared solidarity in political relations and daily life. It invites us to think beyond what we know, or from what we have learned in this moment of global crisis, which has disrupted all forms of economic, social, subjective, emotional and, of course, political connection.

And it is also true that what we are experiencing is not just any crisis: we have called it a civilizational crisis. The Zapatistas call it, accurately, the "collapse of the system", to refer not to a simple crisis, not to an interruption of the existing order in a more or less limited period where, after a while, everything becomes rearranged. It is rather a context of chaos and of climatic and human destruction, expressed in the massive collapse of the dominant system due to its own contradictions, unstoppable aggression against biodiversity, increased injustices and inequalities, hunger, poverty, wars, genocides, ecocides, femicides, state terrorism, and more.

This collapse of the existing has gained greater visibility with the COVID-19, evidencing the scandal of inequality, impunity, the rejection of the hegemony of an entrepreneurial and undemocratic subjectivity, which is giving way to conservatism, fundamentalism, and neo-fascism, that now feel empowered.

It has also exposed structural, active, and naturalized injustices. It is a global crisis that has exposed human evils and inconsistencies, injustices, not only economic (the poorest, the informal who have lost jobs), the social crisis (entire populations without electricity or water, without systems of health), territorial (extractivism continues, without hearing the cry of nature), sexist and of active gender discrimination (violence, rape, feminicide against women, sex workers, and trans populations). Also, and dramatically, a denied, naturalized injustice that runs through our lives, our bodies, even our horizons of change: racial injustice, in a scandalous form that is embedded in our societies. The dismay and horror with which the entire world witnessed, live, the murder of George Floyd, a black American citizen, revealed not only the arrogance and unlimited impunity of white supremacy, It also forced us to recognize racism, but endemic, in our societies, in our cultures, in our bodies and territories, deeply rooted in the monopoly of western culture. It was exciting to hear, at the recent Global Assembly for the Amazon, one of the indigenous leaders recovering Floyd's cry: "The Amazon is crying: I can't breathe" -

As Antonio Gramsci would say, it is a moment of interregnum, in which the old is in decline, in collapse, and has not yet died. And the new is emerging, recovering what may be ways of foreshadowing other possible worlds, as stated by the World Social Forum. And it is expressed in the resistances, the rebellions, the mobilizations, the new subjectivities, the enormous ethnic, racial, sexual, and gender diversities, and new actors on the move, resisting returning to that normality that brought us here. A normality that wants to continue being and is expressed in a brutal way: obscurantisms, violence, fundamentalisms, violation of human rights, feminicides, extractivisms, and the destruction of the Amazon… All morbid symptoms of the ruthless attempt to continue its “normality” of accumulation by dispossession, of lands, bodies, and territories, and to deepen contempt for human rights and the rights of Mother Earth.

Today, precisely because of these rebellions, we are more, and we are territorial and global, and we are feminists, ecologists, afro-latinos, indigenous people, peasants, more inclusive  trade unionists, artists, youth, engaged in this process of movements of movements, recovering many other axes of hierarchy, that express the multidimensionality and intersectionality of the resistances, showing how social injustices are fed back from multiple milestones of exclusion, due to race, class, gender, sexuality, age, territory, disrespect for Mother Earth.

This reality makes it urgent to feed a civilizing paradigm shift, recovering and building other imaginaries in our ways of organizing, thinking, perceiving ourselves and others, to locate the conditions to continue expanding and feeding the movements of movements, anchored In a pluriversal perspective, that recognizes and legitimizes all other possible worlds, that seeks the sustainability of life, that fights for a life that deserves to be lived, that builds intercultural dialogues, that bets on a life that deserves to be lived. Indigenous worldviews, black worldviews, have enriched the horizon with a set of new epistemic, theoretical, and political categories, emerged and nurtured by experiences and imaginary of non-western life, complicating understanding  by recovering words that have their own meanings and revaluating denied realities, which so far had appeared to be non-existent. In doing so, they confront epistemic violence and structural racism that has historically kept them subordinate. Furthermore, they demonstrate that no group, worldview, or ethnic group has the right to impose their orientation, imagination, or production of knowledge.  And, even less, to assume these knowledges are those that arrogate the centrality of their power.

Thus, affirming the right to name themselves, other geopolitical keys are generated, rejecting categories seen as imposed and finding those that give more account of their reality, their feelings, their subjectivities, and that express political, historical, and epistemological positions. This is the case of the recovered use of Abya Yala (‘a mature, flourishing land’, in the Quecha language), alluding to a different geopolitical perspective than the way in which the colonizers defined the constitution of Latin America. Abya Yala is part of a living movement, which reinterprets history, recovers one's memories, connects sensibilities, and fights for the affirmation of territories, as a symbol of identity and a respect for the land that we inhabit, giving another sense of unity and belonging. The recovery of Abya Yala is undoubtedly a decolonizing act. Abya Yala's feminisms contribute to this construction, recovering all the diverse struggles, the spaces of rebellion, the intercultural and multinational forms of connection.

 The Afro-Latin peoples, discriminated by racism, by the denial of their origins, also confront the imposition of history, memory, and colonizing language, raising new ways of appointing themselves. Thus, Lelia Gonzales, a Brazilian black feminist (one of the first to place the importance of the interrelation between racism, sexism, classism in the lives of women) contributed the concept of Amefricanidad, denouncing the word Latinidad - or Latin American - as Eurocentrist, as a word which neglects or underestimates or denies the black and indigenous dimensions in the construction of this continent.

Recovering one's voice critically, containing and expressing - in other words - experiences of oppression, exclusion, and resistance, is undoubtedly a subjective, symbolic, cultural, and epistemological revolution, one which nourishes a new imaginary.  And this is expressed in many ways, such as the contributions of indigenous feminists from their vision, to some of the key feminist categories such as the recognition of the body as a political place, a holder of rights, to its ability to decide, to not be violated, not starving, to a healthy planet, etc. The slogan "... our body-land territory" expresses the way in which indigenous women appropriate, transform, and give greater meaning to the fight for the rights of the body and to the fight for the defence of the territory, which is dramatically threatened by dispossession, extractivism, forced migrations and the same violence against them  within their territories, as stated by Lorena Cabnal, indigenous Guatemalan of communitarian feminism. The articulation between all these dimensions is expressed in the phrase of one of the posters in mobilizations of indigenous feminists: "Patriarchy does to our bodies what extractivist economies do to our territories."

There are two fundamental keys to this search in all areas of our experiences and experiences, enhanced in an intercultural key: the recognition of our vulnerability as human beings, of our interdependence, breaking the egocentric, masculine, racist, and heterosexual individualism of patriarchal and colonial capitalism. And the recognition of our condition of eco / dependency, with nature and the planet as a whole. Another recovered contribution is that of Sumak Kawsay - Good Living -, a Quechua word referring to an ancestral worldview of life, which affirms the collective nature of the realization of the human being and the right to a harmonious, balanced, ecological, and ethical life, which confronts the individualistic, unbalanced, and unethical capitalist development model that does not look for the well-being of human beings but prioritises accumulation and profit. Undoubtedly, these approaches are also unfinished processes, which allow us to define what is good living also for women and sexual diversities, and the rights of women to decide on their own bodies, and everything that prevents the infiltration of patriarchy.

All this opens up a very complex horizon of struggles, because one dimension of the crisis cannot be confronted without simultaneously attacking the others. And that is something that requires space and cumulative force. In this long time, only this connection of intersecting and articulated agendas and aspirations will strengthen horizons and strategies towards profound changes. Turning again to the Zapatistas and their image of the hydra, when referring to the capitalism of a thousand heads, it is clear that it is not strategically enough to defeat one, because it grows again or is filled by the onslaught of the others ... that is, capitalism is not defeated with a single blow, or in a short time. Faced with the collapse of what exists, it is urgent to constantly nourish a change of civilizing paradigm and the emergence of other parameters for the ways of organizing, thinking, and perceiving ourselves and others.

And this process is underway. The dynamics that these diverse, vibrant voices place, questioning a world dominated by values ​​of profit and usury and not of well-being and care, are crucial at this time, enriching a horizon of change. And they lead us to "rethink our dance", permanently, dramatically expanding the transformation agendas to collective and connective action, evidencing - even more profoundly - the paradigm shift that these contributions bring.

Finally, referring to a positioning that inspires me: that the political and vital horizon of feminisms is an evident and unquestionable reality in the world. Its presence and contribution in Latin America is particularly visible, mobilized, diverse, transgressive, massive, young. For the same reason, it is destabilizing of the existing sexual and social structures. For this reason, patriarchal forces are trying to resist it with increasing violence. But we know that patriarchy does not act alone. So these struggles, making women's voices and proposals visible, are not only related to women's rights. Their agendas, broad and intersecting, are oriented to the urgent articulation of the multiple struggles around gender, racial, sexual, economic, political, cultural, subjective, and emotional issues, from where they opt for change - and to recover the ability to dream.

And this is a proposal inscribed on the horizon of what we call Feminisms of the South. This view provides the possibility of (re) valuing the knowledge practices of those who live beyond modern western rationality, valuing, as Xochitl Leyva affirms : “… the political, epistemic, ethical, theoretical, and life contributions of those who have supported rebellions, resistance, insurrectional mobilization patterns and anti-systemic, anti-patriarchal, anti-racist, anti-imperialist movements at different times and parts of the world." Further affirming that our place of enunciation is the South, understood not as a geographical place but as an action and condition of subject that gives fundamental importance to our local ways of developing practices and building knowledge.

From this position, it is clear that we cannot dream of changing patriarchy if we do not demonstrate its scandalous alliance with capitalism and coloniality. This way of seeing undoubtedly enriches and expands the dynamics and articulations, permanently enriched from its intrinsic connection with the movements of movements.