August 2003
volume 1, issue 2


The Conspiracy of Silence - Dialogical Ethic and the Virtual Configuration of Emerging Nets

“Our truth that, we recognize before anyone, is not the truth of everyone. Words don't kill, but can be more lethal than bombs. It is the words, and not the arms of the zapatistas, that the government is afraid of."

- EZLN communiqué

It has been said that the EZLN is a postmodern guerilla. This interpretation is originally rooted in the fact that the EZLN (in many ways the first local revolutionary proposal of the new millennium) disseminates diversity, multiplicity, emancipatory imagination and revolutionary creativity.

The armed struggle of the zapatista movement has gone as far as to change the stereotype of the Latin-American guerrillas into a new vision, much more alive, empathic and mythical. Its vision harkens back to the concept of revolution as Romantic character: novelistic, poetic and adventurous, a character that was typical to the social ideas of the Nineteenth century. All this on account of a considerable effort of communicative reflection and consciousness that encompasses the language and symbols of political revolt.

This reflection, this communicative consciousness around the importance of language, this understanding of the process of communication as political action. Its translation of the zapatista experience into a new subjectivity in politics has opened the door for new forms of social interaction and participation. It has opened the door for new forms of communication. I refer here to the creation of a communicative ethic and a proposal for the organization of autonomy based in this epistemology of the Net.

Away from superlative temptations and the traditional position of the vanguard that dominates most forms of guerrilla organization. The EZLN bet on the independence of the civil society in the search for the construction of a democratic model. They bet on the large participation of diverse political forces and popular sectors. Their many calls for the creation of the Convencion Nacional Democratica, the open and public calls in communiqués and their declarations to the press that show an intention of respect for the principle of autonomy as the political building proposal of the civil society. The power of the mobilization of the zapatista discourse and its echoing is based in a pluralistic conception of democracy.

Traditionally, guerrilla movements instrumented armed actions over long periods of time in order to bring down governments, with the final goal of taking power. The EZLN takes up arms to propose a dialogue and political collaboration with the civil society. The EZLN project creates a proposal that is dialogical and ethical, it understands the autonomous and diverse configuration of the social subjects that flow in the many different ebbs and webs that conform the social body. Much more than a traditional populist vanguard, the EZLN jumps into the public sphere as a participant in the complex, multiple and plural civil movement with whom its trying to create a political, social and economical alternative to the current power structures of Mexico and the world. In this sense the EZLN talks, in a new and old language, acting as a translator or bridge between the Indian peasants and the civil society.

At the beginning of the uprising is the EZLN, some sectors of civil society, and the written press- they function as the central actors to mobilize public opinion. Before the irruption of zapatismo, public opinion was defined and controlled by the private interests of the owners of the media and the government. The zapatista phenomena extended to multiple forms of visual and electronic communication--photography, film, video, the internet; a whole iconographic universe. All the while, the EZLN produced something unique in these times of electronic free market: informative nets, informal discussions and open forums of reflection about the situation in Chiapas. So, while the government and techno-structure of the State strive to isolate and disappear the conflict and the reality of the armed revolt, symbollically and physically, from the public space- through alternative media, the informative activism of solidarity groups and a grassroots dialogue, the zapatista media phenomena emerges. It makes it possible to spread true and alternative information to the national and international opinion about the international war in Chiapas and its deep-rooted injustice.

The zapatista strategic and political use of communication has developed and then used a new model for alternative information that utilizes all forms of social channels. This is maybe the most important Mediatic contribution of the Zapatista Army, one that connects social process and thinking with the systematic epistemology of the Net. The EZLN has come to form by intuiting a clear vision of a contemporary reality that is at the same time complex and virtual, the social and cultural conditions of a new political scenario in which we move in symbolic terms and where it is necessary to project with creativity and imagination an "intergalactic" ideological warfare against neoliberalism; all of this based in the proliferation, the diversity, the creative and democratic use of information by the civil society.

The informatic development of channels of solidarity with the EZLN (in social spaces like Aguas Calientes) are relevant as a reflection of a different and new communicative social order. The logic of the Net is a platform and system of self-organization for the community that makes possible original forms of political organization as suggested by the EZLN’s communicative structure. In other words, it is the logic of the Net that is actualized because of its emancipatory potential, its likelihood to create new alliances and its building qualities for the making of new communities within the virtual culture. The war in Chiapas heralded political model is more informal, spontaneous, of the everyday. Forms of emancipation that the ecology of information offer are an informal and open social network of solidarity and intersubjetivity.

In the global Babel, Chiapas opened a mediatic discussion about the Indigenous Problem, all this fueled by the serious political crisis revealed in the uprising. Across the symbolic space created by the zapatistas, Indigenous political movements have learned to build new forms of civil resistance and social opposition. The mediatic resistance of the EZLN is another embodiment of an alternative for the cultural resistance of the Indigenous people in their intentions for unfolding a symbolic war that aims once again for the respectful and just recognition of their difference.

The recovery of language for the politics of communication empowers the construction of a discourse of social participation, one that is based in the dialogical and transparent nature of the word when it's shared and built with intersubjectivity and as a grass roots form of democracy. The nature of this discourse in its plurality and diversity guarantees the authenticity of meaning and the intention of this political communication as a channel for a transparent development of public participation and action. Because of this, the informatic discourse of the zapatistas breaks the structures of official power, corporate media and institutional politics, intersecting the agency of a logic that is truly public and therefore engages in a true dialogue.

"The bombs which are to fall in Iraq seek also to fall on all the nations of earth. They would also fall on our hearts, and thus universalize that fear which they carry within. This war is against all humanity, against all honest men and women. This war seeks that we should know fear, that we should believe that he who has money and military force also has right. This war hopes that we shall shrug our shoulders, that we shall make cynicism a new religion, that we shall remain silent, that we shall conform, that we shall resign, that we shall surrender...that we shall forget..."

Communiqué from the EZLN, which was read during the demonstration in Rome, Italy, on February 15, 2003.

As people in all corners of the world recognize the immense threat, coercion and destruction that the dreams of empire and eternal war dreamed by the Bush-Cheney junta bring upon the future and survival of humanity, the zapatista model of communication is already an organic and activated form of global multiplicity in discourse, struggle, solidarity and rebellion.