Discussion of New Path - a Manifesto from India
Justin Podur, a member of En Camino, was in India recently and met one of the members of a new political initiative called New Path. New Path recently published their manifesto in Kafila:
Impressed, Justin shared the manifesto with another member of En Camino, Manuel Rozental. Manuel was very impressed by the positions and ideas expressed in the manifesto and wrote the following comment about it. We are hoping to have a dialogue and an exchange with the members of New Path about their exciting initiative.
Below is Manuel's comment:
Thank you for this New Path Manifesto from India. I read it carefully and would love to do it again. In fact, I would like it to be discussed. I would love to read it and talk about it with you and others collectively, carefully, thoroughly and for the discussion to
1. Address the contente in terms of the overall position and priorities.
2. To look into specifics once the big picture is examined
3. To have the above lead into how to engage with them and others in exchange, contact, debate and action.
In this spirit, I would love to share it with others, with whom I spoke as I read it and to whom (amongst others) I was telling what I write to you now. Of course, I would like the New Path promoters to get some of this feedback, which I provide under a premise: affection and gratitude as I was at home reading this breath of fresh air!!!
Having said this as a proposal and while we think about doing this if you agree, I have a couple of initial points on fundamental issues to make, once I underscore the fact that I feel an identity with the Manifesto:
1. The Crisis of Capital and Modernity is either not addressed or not fully and directly. The inevitable path to crises, recurrent crises and the fact that the current one has very specific characteristics and poses enormous risks and challenges to a world system. It is within this crisis, the current one, that we are observing not only specific trends and dynamics within capital, but also, that these trends, factions and dynamics could be giving birth to a new world-system, worse or better than the current one.
I belive that the recognition, or lack of recognition, of this crisis and of this world-system has enormous consequences on any real New Path for it not to become yet another repetition, a renewed old path. I say this with absolute respect and I mean it as an application of knowledge brought in by experience, which we seem to deny or ignore recurrently. If we try to change the system, but we can´t recognize what the system is and how we are within it, we will end up reinforcing it with every proposed change or transformation. I see this threat in the manifesto, while I perceive also, the potential to overcome it. The threat is a consequence of not clearly perceiving that modernity, the utilitarian, deterministic, rationality is inseparable from Capital and that modernity and capital feed each other for the purpose of greed and accumulation. Theirs is a crisis of accumulation, as well as and inseparable from another crisis, the crisis of hegemony, of modernity. The manifesto addresses the first crisis, but its language and proposals don´t seem to recognize the profound cultural crisis. The other world view.
The relations of production are at the root of Capital, yes, but Capital and these relations are rooted and depend on social relations that make accumulation legitimate: a utilitarian relation that subdues everything to production and transforms the world into an economic system, whose problem is distribution. If distribution was fair, the rest would be fine. Well, even for distribution to be fair and for production to become collective and peoples´based, our relations with each other and life as a whole would have to be transformed. We would have to be different beings. Humanity would have to transform History itself and our owm understandings of our places in and within life and nature. In other words, control of production, yes, but by whom and for what?
2. Because of this weakness (in my perspective), the solution and the path ahead become simplistic. Join every struggle for collective power, dismantling the current control over forces of production by capital, while at the same time dismantling othe forms of discrmination and abuse. While production is essential, it is one of the means. The thought process is modern, hence inseparable from Capitalistic trappings. What is proposed is a transformation whereby Capital is destroyed, while modernity is left untouched. This will fail for the very same reason that they so eloquently illustrate regarding the state. Taking over power will only end-up supporting the co-optation of those who enter the State as the institutions belong to Capital. Taking power over the means of production without overcoming the structure of modernity, will, at best, generate collective exploitation of the planet for better distribution. Even this cannot happen unless it is different human beings, different mind-frames, transformed territories of the imaginary to which production is subdued. We cannot continue to have economy and production as a primary end to which all others are subdued. This is what Capital achieved and it is how it controls and remains. It is how it takes advantage of every crisis and revolution.
The challenge facing us is a new world, which we can´t even name, as our very language belongs to the world-system to be left behind. How to not separate any longer material well being, production and distribution from life itself, which is all encompassing. This is what comes out on the Pachakutic, the Andean indigenous principle whereby, eventually, societies transform themselves from within under another way of livng. This is the Sumka Kawsay (Buen Vivir), good-living, a principle and goal whereby societies and territories weave under the only viable System, not Capital, not Communism, but a Mother Earth System. Not one where people live on tree branches (although that too if it so happens to be the best way for some), but where the essential relationship with Mother Earth is not as a "means of production", but as nourishing, home, caring etc.
So this is the one big point I would like to contribute more thoroughly and in conversation to an excellent document and position. I fear that there is a weakness in it that might threaten its enormous potential and, as you know, this does not come from my head, but from the experience and struggles of many who have taught us in this and other parts of the world. We need everything they state and we agree with their analysis and views,but it could all lead to more of the same if control of production is the only goal because this goal is limited and controlled by the very system that needs to be changed. It is not that production and means of production do not need to be controlled by peoples and taken away from Capital. This has to be done for sure. These are essential means for an end brough about through diversity. That new world of worlds where enslavement under means, relations and dynamics of production is overcome, is our collective, revolutionary and unifying goal.
John Hollway in Crack Capitalism has worked on this but, to put it simply, every category we assume as truth, for now, is a given from the system that oppresses us. We wear a mask, since birth and from the birth of history. Behind the mask there is a distorted being. One we wouldn´t even recognize whould we take the mask off. One so weak and bizarre from being silenced that, removing the masks would expose confusion and estrangement. We are within Capital. From within, of course, we fight against it (even when we claim more pay, better hours, becoming elected to power, forming a revolutionary party or for women´s rights or to change relations of production). But, we have to struggle beyond it, out of its terms and conditions, beyond ourselves, yet finding this amongst and within us and in-practice. Facing a world-system crisis, where even our most essential words and understandings are cracking, we need to weave threads and patterns and experiences where another world becomes possible and we take off the mask the system has imposed forever to weave our faces and paths with mother earth, in our collectives everywhere so that what we cannot name becomes Good Living under principles and ways of life that are seaking to find one another. This is what I read into New Path. A wonderful invitation that can`t be limited in the end to production, unless production means something beyond means of production and distribution. Something like what the Zapatistas have called for or what we have heard on the indigenous and popular Mandate or the Freedom for Mother Earth struggle. Not just taking over land, but freeing it. The latter, would actually translate and share everything I have tried to propose.
I would like to work with the New Path.