home up prev next
menu down strt end

Alternative Resistance Manifesto

NB: This Manifesto, published by groups in South America and Europe, is very "Zapatista" in many ways. Not only does it correspond to Marcos' call at the end of the Intergalactica for a network of resistance to neoliberalism but it expresses much of the same spirit of weaving a global fabric of resistance and struggle.

Originally published in Spanish by the Network of Alternative Resistance

Translated by irlandesa redux
[truly, truly worth reading - irl]

Inaugural Manifesto

1. Resisting is Creating
Contrary to the defensive position in which rebel and alternative groups and movements often find themselves, we believe true resistance must include the creation, here and now, of the ties and pioneering alternative forms of movements, groups and persons who, through an activism for life, overcome capitalism and reaction. We believe that we are witnessing today, at an international level, the beginning of a counteroffensive, after a long period of doubts, backward steps and the destruction of alternative forces. This setback has been widely taken advantage of by the forces of neoliberalism and capitalism in order to destroy a good part of what one hundred and fifty years of revolutionary struggles have built. Thus, resisting is creating the new forms, the new theoretical hypotheses and practices that will meet the current challenge.

2. Resisting Sadness
We are living through a period that is profoundly marked by sadness. Not just the sadness of tears, but also, and above all, the sadness of impotence. The men and women of our time are living in the certainty that life's complexity is such that the only thing we can do, at the risk of making it worse, is to submit to the discipline of economics, self-interest and egoism. The social and individual sadness wears us down and convinces us that we no longer have the means of living a true life, and so we submit to the order and discipline of survival. The tyrant needs the sadness, because in that way each one of us is isolated in his own small, virtual and disturbing world. But, at the same time, men need the tyrant, in order to justify their sadness. We believe that the first step to be taken against sadness (the manner in which capitalism is present in our lives) is the creation of concrete ties of solidarity. Breaking the isolation, creating solidarity, is the beginning of a commitment, of an activism that no longer operates "against," but rather "for" life, happiness, through the liberation of potency.

3. Resistance is Multiplicity
The struggle against capitalism, which cannot be reduced to the struggle against neoliberalism, implies practices of multiplicity. Capitalism has invented a single, one dimensional world, but that world does not, "in itself," exist. It requires our submission and our agreement in order to exist. That unified world - which is a world become merchandise - is opposed to the multiplicity of life. It is opposed to the infinite dimensions of desire, of imagination and of creation. It is opposed, fundamentally, to justice. That is why we believe that every struggle against capitalism that is trying to be global or all-encompassing remains trapped in the structure of capitalism itself, that is, globalism. Resistance should start from and develop multiplicities, through the creation of ties of solidarity and help. In no case, however, should it be a management or structure that globalizes, that centralizes, those struggles.

4. Resisting is a Dispersed Center
A resistance network that respects multiplicity is a circle that contains, poetically and paradoxically, its center in all parts.

5. Resisting is Not Desiring Power
One hundred and fifty years of revolutions have taught us that, contrary to the classic vision, the place of power, the centers of power, are, at the same time, centers of minimal power, or impotence. Power deals with management, so to speak. It is not, in itself, able to change the social structure from above, if the potency of the real ties in the base do not allow them to do so. Potency is, then, by its nature, separate from established power. That is why we think that what happens "above" is in the order of management, and politics, in the noble sense, is what happens "below," in the arena of constituted power. That is why alternative resistance will be powerful as it abandons the trap of hope, that is, the classic political mechanism of deferring the moment of liberation– invariably to a "mañana," to a later. The "liberating masters" are asking us for obedience today, in the name of a liberation we will see tomorrow, but mañana is always mañana. This is why we are proposing to the liberating masters (political commissars, bureaucratized leaders and other sad activists) liberation here and now, and obedience mañana.

6. Resisting the Serial
Power maintains and develops sadness, aided by the ideology of insecurity. Capitalism could not exist without serializing, without dividing, without separating. And separation triumphs when, little by little, people, towns, nations exist obsessed with insecurity. Nothing is easier to discipline than a town of sheep convinced that they are, each and every one of them, a wolf for the other. Insecurity and violence are real, but only insofar as we accept them. That is, that we accept this ideological illusion that makes us believe that we, each one of us, are individuals isolated from the rest. The sad man lives as if he had been flung onto a set: the others are extras. Nature, the world and animals are "useful," and each one of us is the central and sole protagonist of our lives. Then the individual is no longer a person, the individual is a fiction, a label. The person, on the other hand, is each one of us, but on the condition that we open our eyes to the reality of our belonging to this substantive everything that is the world. It is about rejecting the labels of profession, nationality, civil status, unemployed, employees, handicapped, etcetera. It is behind these labels that the power is trying to unify and standardize the multiplicity that each one of us is. But we are multiplicities, mixed with multiplicities. That is why the social tie is not something that has to be constructed, but rather assumed. Individuals, labels, live and reinforce the virtual world. They receive news of their own lives through the television screen. Alternative resistance involves giving a place to the reality of men, women, nature. Individuals find themselves like sad sedentary beings, trapped in their labels and roles. That is why the alternative involves assuming a libertarian nomadism.

7. Resisting Without Masters
The creation of a different life must involve, fundamentally, the creation of alternatives, of ways of life, of ways of desiring. If we desire what the master has, if we desire in the same way the master does, we will be condemned to repeat the famous revolutions, but, this time, in the physical meaning of the word "revolution," that is, a full circle to a same point. It is then about inventing and creating new practices and images of happiness, in the concrete. If we think that one can only be happy in the individualist way of the master, and we ask for a revolution that satisfies us, we will be eternally condemned to changing masters. A communism must be created, not out of necessity, but out of the pleasure brought by solidarity. It should not be shared in the sad way, that is, because we are obligated. The pleasure of a fuller, more free life must be discovered. In the society of separation, of atomization, that is, in capitalist society, men and women do not find what they desire: they must be content with desiring what they find. Separation is separation, of one from the other, as well as of each of us from the world, of the worker from his product, but, at the same time, each one of us from us, separated, exiled from our very selves. It is the structure of sadness.

8. A Politics of Liberty
Politics, in effect, in its deepest meaning, is connected with emancipating practices, with the ideas and images of happiness that are derived from them. The political is fidelity to an active search for liberty. In contrast to that idea of the political, politics arises as the management of the situation as it appears to be given.

Management is a moment, it is a task, it is one aspect. But this one element tries to be everything. It claims the all of politics. It demands all the attention, and it hierarchizes priorities, limiting, halting and institutionalizing the vital energies that transcend it. Management is representation, and representation, as such, is only part of the real movement. This – real movement – does not require representation in order to exist, and the former – representation – on the other hand, tends to confine the potency of representation.

Revolutionary politics is that which pursues liberty at all times, but not associated so much with men or institutions, but rather as a constant evolution that does not allow itself to be tied down, to lose, to be embodied or institutionalized. The search for liberty is tied to the creating of the real movement, of the practical critique, of constant questioning and of the unlimited development of life.

In this sense, revolutionary politics is not the opposite of management. In any event, what the politics are opposed to is separation and the deification of management. The latter, as part of everything, is part of politics. Management, when it tries to be the everything of politics is, on the other hand, the precise mechanism of the virtualization that is plunging us into impotence.

Politics as such is nothing other than the harmony of the multiplicity of life in permanent conflict with its own limits. Liberty is the deployment of its abilities and strengths; management is just a limited and circumscribed moment in which this deployment is represented.

9. Resistance and Counterculture
To resist is to create and to develop counterpower and counterculture. Artistic creation is not a luxury of man, it is a vital necessity, of which the great majority find themselves deprived. In the society of sadness, art was separated from life, what's more, art is increasingly more separated from art itself, because it is possessed, made rotten, by mercantile values. That is why artists understand – perhaps better than many – that resisting is creating. We are also directing ourselves to them, so that creation might overcome sadness, that is, separation, so that creation might free itself from the trap of money and recover its place in the heart of life.

10. Resisting Separation
Resisting is, at the same time, overcoming the capitalist separation between theory and practice, between the engineer and the worker, between the head and the body. A theory that is separated from practice is transformed into a sterile idea. That is why there are a myriad sterile ideas in our universities. At the same time, practices that are separated from theory are condemned to disappear, exhausted, fated to self-reabsorption. Resisting, then, is creating ties between theoretical hypotheses and practical hypotheses. Everything that knows something must also know how to transmit itself to those who wish to free themselves. In this way we create relationships, the ties that empower theories and practices of emancipation, turning our backs to the siren songs that propose that we "concern ourselves with our own lives." In that way, we respond that our lives – because they are no longer just about survival – extend beyond the limits of our own skin.

11. Resisting Normalization
Resisting means, at the same time, deconstructing the falsely democratic talk that attempts to deal with the excluded sectors and people. The "excluded" do not exist in our societies. In our societies, we are all included in different ways, in ways which are more or less degrading and terrible, but included. Exclusion is not an accident, it is not an excess. What they call exclusion and insecurity is what we should see as the very essence of this society which loves death. This is why fighting against labels implies our desire to make contact with the struggles of the so-called "abnormals" or handicapped. Different persons and ways of being exist. Labels act as mini-concentration camps, where each one of us is defined by a given level of impotence. What interests us is potency, liberty. A handicapped person exists only in a society which accepts the difference between the strong and the weak. If we reject this, which is barbarism, we will not be able to retain the classification, the selection, of capitalism. That is why the alternative implies a world where each one of us assumes his or her fragility, and where each one of us develops what he can, with others and for life. We know, for example, the incredible richness of the deaf culture, created once men and women of courage learned how to break out of the prison of medical taxonomy. Similarly, the struggle against the psychiatrization of society, and so many other struggles which, far from being small struggles for a bit more space, are real creations which enrich life. For that, we are also inviting groups in struggle against the medical-social normalization discipline to resist with us.

There are similar occurrences with the forms of the subjects themselves in the educational systems. Normalization operates here as a constant threat of failure or unemployment. On the contrary, there exist parallel, alternative and diverse experiences regarding schooling, in which problems tied to education are deployed in a different logic.

The handicapped, unemployed, pensioners, marginalized cultures, homosexuals: these are all forms of sociological classification that operate to separate and isolate, based on impotence, on what they cannot do, rendering unilateral and poor what is multiple, rich, what can be viewed as full of potency.

12. Resisting Retreat
Resisting is also rejecting the temptation of a retreat to identity, which separates nationals from foreigners. Immigration, the migratory flows, are not a problem. They have been a profound reality of humanity forever, and will be so forever. It is not about being philanthropically good to foreigners. It is about desiring the richness that mestizaje produces. Resisting is creating ties among those "without" – without homes, without work, without papers, those without dignity, those without land, all those without who do not have the "right skin color," the right sexual practices, etcetera. A union of those without, a fraternity of those without, not in order to be "with," but in order to build societies where those without and those with no longer exist.

13. Resisting Ignorance
Our societies, which purport to being scientific cultures are, in reality – from an historical and anthropological perspective – the societies which have produced the highest level of ignorance that the human odyssey has known. If all societies have technicians, our society is the first to be actually possessed by technology. Ninety percent of our contemporaries are incapable of knowing what happens between the moment they push the buttons and the moment in which the desired effect is produced. Ninety percent of our contemporaries know nothing about almost all the means and mechanics of the world in which they live. Thus our culture produces ignorant men and women, who, feeling exiled from their environment, are able to simply destroy it. The violence of this exile is such that humanity, for the first time, finds itself facing the real and concrete – perhaps inevitable – possibility of its destruction. They tell us that, given the complexity of technology, men should accept it without understanding it. The ecological disaster, however, demonstrates that those who believe they understand technology are far from managing it. It is urgent that collectives, groups, socialization forums of knowledge, be created, so that men can once more have their feet in the real world. Nowadays, genetic technology is putting us on the edge of a selection among human beings according to criteria of productivity and profit. Eugenics, in the name of the good, dehumanizes humanity. They tell us, from the screens that order our lives, that we can already proceed to cloning a human being, and our sad, disoriented humanity does not know what a human being is. These are deeply political questions which should not be left in the hands of technicians. The public man should not turn into the technical man.

14. Resistance is Constant
Resisting is affirming that, contrary to what we might believe, liberty will never be a point of arrival. Hope, paradoxically, plunges us in sadness. Liberty and justice exist only in the here and now, in and through the paths which build them. There is no good master or utopia fulfilled. Utopia is the political name of the very essence of life, that is, constant evolution. This is why the objective of resistance will never be power. Power and the powerful are themselves condemned to not being able to distance themselves too far from what a people desire. That is why it is always a slave mentality to believe that the power decides what is real in our lives. That is why the sad man – we would say – needs the tyrant. It is not enough to ask those men who hold power to dictate such and such a law, separate from the practices of the social base. We cannot, for example, ask a government to dictate laws of solidarity with foreigners if we do not built this solidarity in the social base. Law and the power, if they are democratic, should reflect the state of the real life of society. That is why our problem is not whether the power is corrupt and arbitrary. Our problem and our challenge is the society that this power reflects. Our task, as free men and women, is to see that ties of solidarity exist, of liberty and friendship, which truly prevent the power from being reactionary. There is no liberty other than the practice of liberation.

15. The Alternative is Struggle
One cannot truly be anti-capitalist and accept, at the same time, the images of happiness and fulfillment which the system itself generates. If one desires to be like the master, to have what the master has, one is in the position of being a slave. The path of liberty is incompatible with the master's desire. It is exactly from the resistance that other images of happiness and liberty arise, alternative images, tied to creation and communism.

Desiring the master's power is the opposite of desiring liberty. And liberty is to become free, it is struggle. The building of ties increases potency. Capitalist separation diminishes it. The struggle for liberty is now communist struggle to recover and increase potency. Capitalism, on the contrary, operates by abstraction, by serializing and reification, breaking down ties and plunging them into impotence. That is why the struggle for liberty and democracy is a constant becoming, never finding a definitive incarnation. That is why the struggle is always finding potency, building ties, nurturing the desire for liberty in each specific situation.

16. Worker Resistance
Resistance and the creation of new societies demands that we look at the same time at the question of the so-called revolutionary subject, that is, the working class, messianic character within modern historicism. Contrary to what postmodern sociologists say about complexity, the working class is not disappearing. The workers' function has simply been displaced and arranged geographically. Thus, if there are numerically fewer workers in the central countries, production has been displaced to the so-called peripheral countries, where the brutal exploitation of men, women and children guarantees enormous profits to capitalist companies. And so, in the central countries, through evoking insecurity and fear, they propose national alliances to the popular classes, in order to better exploit the third world. We are saying that capitalist production is a dispersed, unequal and combined production. That is why the struggle, the resistance, must be multiple, but, at the same time, one of solidarity. Individual or group liberation does not exist. Liberty is conjured only in universal terms, or, said in another way, my liberty does not end where another's begins. My liberty, rather, does not exist without the other's. We think that, if a revolutionary subject does not exist, multiple revolutionary subjects, of all sorts, do exist. These days we are seeing the flourishing of coordinadoras, collectives and workers groups, inundating group struggles with their demands. These struggles must, in each singularity and in each specific situation, transcend the master's labels, that is, they must reject the separation between the employed and unemployed, between nationals and foreigners. Not because the employed person, the national, the man, the white, is being charitable with the unemployed, the foreigner, the woman, the handicapped, the minor, but because every struggle which accepts and reproduces these differences – it must be said clearly and once and for all – is a struggle, however violent it might be, that respects and reinforces capitalism.

But the workers' function is displaced in another sense. From the classic factory as a privileged physical space constituting value, to the social fabric, in which capital assumes the task of coordinating and subsuming each and every one of the social activities. Value is dispersed throughout all of society. It circulates through all the multiple forms of work. Capitalist accumulation is expanded to the entire society, and, therefore, it can be sabotaged at any point in the circuit, through acts of rebellion. Work adds value to the world in multiple ways, through the combination of a complex of purely technical, professional, administrative and creative tasks, whether manual or intellectual. In the base of the entire process is the strength of cooperation as the productive force of value.

17. Work and Not Working
Part of the building of the hierarchies and classifications that they impose on us stem from the confusion of the technical division of work and the social division of work. We understand two different things under the notion of work. On the one hand, a constituent activity, anthropological or ontological, of man, the totality of social relationships that make us up, the materialistic perspective of society and history. But, on the other hand, work is that duty, alienating, that modern slavery under which capital separates us into classes. It is that which makes us suffer when we have and when we have not. Abolishing work in this latter sense is to realize the possibilities of the communist idea of work, in the former sense.

The hierarchies that are founded in the one dimensionality of life regarding alienated work, in employment, are those which should be broken up, opening up the multiplicity of the knowledge and practices of life.

Work, from the ontological perspective, the totality of activities that effectively give value to the world (technical, scientific, artistic, political) are, at the same time, a source of radical democratization and a definitive and total questioning of capitalism.

18. Resisting is Constructing Practices
Resisting is not, then, having opinions. In our world, contrary to what is believed, there is not a "single way of thinking." There are innumerable different ideas. What happens is that different opinions do not imply really alternative practices. Those opinions, therefore, are only opinions ruled by the single way of thinking, or by the single practice. This mechanism of sadness, which makes us have different opinions and single practices, must be stopped. Breaking with the world of the spectacle means no longer being spectators of our own lives, spectators of the world. Attacking the virtual world – this world that needs to discipline us, to serialize us, that needs each and every one of us to be in front of the television at the same hour in order to inform us – is not, then, saying how the world, the economy, education, should be, in an abstract way. Resisting is building millions of practices, of resistance groups that will not allow themselves to be trapped by what the virtual world calls "seriousness." To be truly serious is not to think globally and confirm our impotence. To be serious involves building, here and now, the networks and ties of resistance that will free life from this world of death. Sadness is profoundly reactionary. It is understandable, but it is still reactionary. Sadness makes us impotent. Liberation is, ultimately, also liberation from the political commissars, in short, from all these bitter and sad liberating masters. That is why resisting is also this invitation to create networks that will take us out of isolation. The power wants us isolated and sad. We know how to be happy and in solidarity. It is in this sense that we do not recognize activism as an individual choice. We all have a particular level of commitment. Activists and independents do not exist. We are all tied together. The question is in knowing, on the one hand, what degree of commitment one has, and, on the other, what side of the struggle one is committed to.

19. Connecting is Empowering
It is absolutely essential to reflect on our practices. To think about them, to make them visible, intelligible, comprehensible. To be able to conceptualize what we are doing is part of the legitimacy of our constructs, and, in addition, of the socialization of knowledge between those who think doing, and those who do thinking. To ourselves be readers, thinkers and theoreticians of our practices, in order to avoid our becoming impoverished with normalizing readings. To be capable of valuing our work.

20. Resisting is Creating Ties
This manifesto is not an invitation to join a program, or even less an organization. We are simply inviting men an women, groups and collectives, who feel themselves reflected in these concerns, get in contact with us, to tell us your experiences and concerns, in order to begin here and now to destroy the isolation.

We are asking those in different countries who receive this manifesto through different means to photocopy it or to distribute it through whatever means they have at their disposal.

For our part – without limiting ourselves or rejecting methods such as the Internet – we think it would be better if this manifesto could circulate more concretely, from hand to hand.

All those who, singly or together, would like to make comments or proposals, to send them to us. We are committing ourselves to seeing that they are circulated through the NETWORK OF ALTERNATIVE RESISTANCE. While not proposing to build a center or directive, we are putting the entirety of the RRA's contacts at the disposal of compañeros and friends, so that these projects and dialogues do not become concentric.

21. Collective of Collectives
Many of our collectives and groups have magazines or publications. One can often find experiences and knowledge in them that could be of benefit to other groups. The RRA is proposing to accumulate them and to put this liberating knowledge at the disposal of other groups, which will be able to help and to empower the compañeros' struggles.

Hundreds of struggles are exhausted by isolation and lack of help. Hundreds of struggles find it necessary to, so to speak, start from zero. And each struggle that fails is not just an "experience." Every struggle that fails reinforces, emboldens the enemy. Thus the necessity for our helping ourselves, for creating "solidarity rearguards," so that each person - who is struggling in his or her own way, anywhere in the world, in his or her own circumstances, for life and against oppression – will be able to count on us, as we hope to be able to count on you.

22. Active Anti-Capitalism
Capitalism will not fall from above. That is why there are no small or large programs in the building of alternatives.

From the Autumn of Buenos Aires, 1999.

Fraternal greetings to all the BROTHERS OF THE COAST* Internet Contact. "Brothers of the coast": greetings to pirates. Unlike the corsairs, traders, slave traders and mercantilists of the seas, the pirates were communists, and they created free communities.


El Mate (Argentina)
Mothers Association of the Plaza de Mayo (Argentina)
Amauta Collective (Peru)
Malgre' Tout (Paris, France)
Che Collective (Toulon, France)
Collective Against Expulsions (Liege, Belgium)
Social Center (Brussels, Belgium)

Designed by

home up prev next
menu down strt end