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e-flux conversations

Decolonization as the Horizon of Political Action

You speak of a world that is yet to come. Most of us are not ready to sacrifice the happiness we can access here and now, however artificial, shallow, or environmentally dangerous it may be, so I keep doubting your politics in secret. How on Earth will you convince the world to live your vision?
—Maja Borg, from the voiceover of her film The Future My Love (2014)

We have to acknowledge that the significant political leverage required to simultaneously block the economic exploitation of our people and homelands while constructing alternatives to capitalism will not be generated through our direct actions and resurgent economies alone. Settler colonization has rendered our populations too small to affect this magnitude of change. This reality demands that we continue to remain open to, if not actively seek out and establish, relations of solidarity and networks of trade and mutual aid with national and transnational communities and organizations that are also struggling against the imposed effects of globalized capital.
—Glen Sean Coulthard, Red Skins, White Masks

I want to begin with a fictional scenario that crystallizes the perils and possibilities of our present moment:

Last night, the Acapulco Diamante tourism complex in Mexico—with over 150,000 rooms in its multiple apartment buildings, luxury housing complexes, and international hotels spread across five kilometers between the Mayan Palace and the Princess Hotel—was peacefully taken over by ten thousand displaced families from various zones in Guerrero (mostly from Tierra Caliente), escorted by two thousand vigilantes from the mountains of Guerrero and commandos from the armed wing of the ERPI (Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People). The uninvited intruders are environmental refugees, as their homes and lands have been destroyed by extreme weather and megaprojects such as mineral extraction and hydroelectric dams. Some have been displaced to cheap suburban-like housing areas, where they have been made dependent on government aid, debt, and corporate forms of subsistence. This has made them estranged them from their lands and autonomous means of subsistence. By peacefully taking over the Acapulco Diamante tourism complex, they seek to fulfill their human right to “modern” commodities and infrastructure, which they will use to reinvent their communal forms of living. What remains to be seen is how they will gain access to health care, education, and jobs.

The takeover, executed in collaboration with the tourism complex’s employees—waiters, security guards, maids, and gardeners, who politely escorted shaken tourists to the bus station and airport—takes place after years of planning by a team of international environmentalists, leftist guerrilla strategists, Palestinian architectural decolonists, radical cultural producers, biologists, environmentalists, an international team of anthropologists from indigenous communities, and community leaders representing one hundred of the nearly four hundred ethnicities still surviving across Mexico. The interdisciplinary team has taken up the task of organizing communal forms of living in the complex, following the desires, needs, and concerns of the natives of the mountains in Guerrero. Their goal is to reconvert the Acapulco Diamante tourism complex into a sustainable habitat by restoring the ecology of the area; one of the first tasks is to turn the pools at the luxury hotels into fish farms. Technology and know-how have been imported from Gaza to build a desalinization and water-treatment plant, and from Belgium to build a solar energy system. Also underway in the fabrication of simple biodigestors designed by a Mexican artist to produce methane gas. A Norwegian NGO is providing financial aid to help feed the community until they are able to grow and harvest their own food, but they are also accepting donations. A group of concerned cultural producers from Mexico City has arrived to show solidarity and collaborate with the community, eschewing the model of “intervention.” They have been asked to help transform the hectares of golf courses into arable land where papaya, banana, maize, quinoa, and wheat will be grown. A team of French-Algerian anthropologists who grew up in the Parisian banlieues has come to help the community settle.

Read the full article here.