Against Capitalism: Decentralized Action. Free Media—Paid Media Version 3.0
The rage that we have is against capitalism
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés
A year after the debate over free media opened by the interventions of subcomandante Galeano and Moisés on August 10, 2014, we share some reflections about the work we carry out in our space and means of communication. By sharing and working collectively, we have been building networks, practices and collective solidarities that allow us to speak of a flourishing free media: next to the existing space, multiple experiences of free communication are born, and together we can expand the struggle against the dishonesty and death that capital and its servants impose. Furthermore, the free media is driven by the arbitrary closure of the scarce critical spaces that exist in the commercial media and by the criminalization of the profession itself. In Mexico, the level of repression has escalated and members of the free media do not escape it. As such, one vital task is to strengthen and expand the networks that respond to violence, incarcerations, and disappearances. In this text, we revisit our general ideas over free media and we propose the creation of the Information System of Resistance (SIR) as a step forward in the coordination of our spaces and as an invitation to the direct participants of struggle to be part of the informative tasks that are so urgent and necessary against the war of extermination that we are suffering.
Part 1: The many modes of being free media
1. Why are we different from paid media?
Paid media is the one that receive remuneration and sell its information and communication services. Free media, on the other hand is the one that informs and communicates in order to construct another world, another society.
The paid media turns communication into a commodity; generates profit through media companies. These forms of media reproduce the capitalist organization of communication in its essence: the hiring of employees, the profit as main goal, and the dependence on the power of money. This organization of “media companies” allows an important generation of messages that, however, arrive incomplete or altered to the consumer public. This is one of the primary weaknesses of paid media: they only emit messages that are profitable, information and knowledge can be manipulated, therefore, by media companies, as their monopoly allows them to lie and continue to make profits. The omissions also generate profits: in a mafia-like relation with political power, the paid media chooses not to communicate certain events. Disinformation, manipulation, lies, and silence are the common practices of the paid media.
2. A Horizon for Free Media
Free media, understood as the one that has done away with the basic relation of capitalism—namely, converting communication into a commodity that generates profits—seeks non-capitalist modes of generating information and knowledge. Four practices that have opened up pathways of free media toward non-capitalist organization are: the re-appropriation of technologies, independence from the grand service providers of communication, independence from the state, and a direct relation with society. These practices create an “internal rhythm” that models every free media, more concerned with building an autonomous manner than belonging to or participating in outside circumstances. Free media does not work by the logic of media efficiency, according to immediacy, but is created together through dialogue: the wage relation of the media companies with its employees is replaced by the construction of agreements, through collectives and consensual practice about what, how, and to who communicate.
We build communication and dialogue with those who struggle. Until now, our principle function has been to witness: we organize ourselves so that the word of those that are struggling is spread far and wide and remains constant in our search for a better world. There would be no free media without the direct participation in social struggles: the people that make up the free media are part of the struggle not only because we are freeing communication but because free media is in direct opposition to the buying and selling of media as is done by the media companies.
3. Against the commodification of communication
Another substantial difference with the paid media is that free media is for the free circulation of information and knowledge: copyrights are crucial links of the capitalist chain and therefore, we work to collectivize the results of our media activity as a means to create better communication. Any practice that limits communication works in favor of capitalism. If dialogue and diversity are the colors of our world, we should favor the free circulation of the messages and diffusion of the technologies that allow us to communicate. We do not fight the media monopoly by creating a label “free media” but through the direct liberation of communication: free circulation of speech and information, free access to the means of communication. Thus, we want to stop being media and become spaces of free and direct communication; to suppress specialization and creating conditions to strengthen social dialogue.
4. What should be our attitude to the workers of the mass media?
The idea that those workers are mercenaries at service of the media businesses is the first approach that serves to banish the attracting attention of free media. However, if we stayed on just this one statement we would lose sight that, like other workers, the majority of the communication professionals are subject to insecurity, poor living conditions and risks provided by organized crime in the form of authoritarian governments and criminals. Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries to exercise journalism. The organization Article 19 has documented 88 assassinations of journalists in 2000-2015 period. Above the majority of professional communicators are the kingpins of the truth (López Dóriga, Alatorre, etc.) and their masters, the business owners of the mass media (Slim, Azcárraga, Salinas Pliego, etc.): these are our enemies. We should try to weave ties of solidarity and exchange of knowledge with communication workers in order to enrich and amplify our autonomous experiences in free media. The attacks on journalists and free media create common grounds of action against institutional violence.
Part 2: Our proposal
1. We need to link with each other, and we can do this by:
a. Exchange of materials: trying to quickly make available the material we produce as well as support each other in their diffusion.
b. Create spaces and modes of sharing knowledge. Improve the forms in which we create and share knowledge; for example through mixing various forms of expression (add video to audio and vice versa, create printed versions of electronic content, etc.)
c. Create networks of response to, and the monitoring of, repression acts.
d. Secure the lines of communication between us: working towards anonymity and the encryption of our communication networks.
2. To link on a basis of respect and recognition of the differences in our work
Decentralized action needs to respect the differing visions and practices as a starting point for healthy and creative relations. Instead of wearing ourselves out with arguments that are generally sterile and fruitless, we propose the flourishing of ideas and practices of all the spaces and individuals. We need to rescue what we have in common and let our practices serve the advancement of the struggle against capital. We should do away with strict recipes and recognize the differences in the context on which we are all located: know that in the cities exists better access to free media material but we suffer from isolation, while there are more close-knit relations in many of the rural communities but there is limited access to media and communication technology.
3. To privilege collective and anonymous construction
Do not give way to prominence but search forms to produce more valuable information and establish platforms of collective diffusion. We propose to turn further away from the logic of mass media that privileges individuality of the “communicator” or certain groups above the collective work of the many other medias. The debate on whether or not to imitate the paid media because they have massive social reach and influence is open. Our posture is that the means of communication should tend to disappear so as to become the collective information and knowledge of the people who struggle.
4. Building autonomy
The Zapatista reflection leaves us, first, with the task of thinking and building the survival of the free media and then, autonomy. In general, our spaces of communication have grown through acts of giving: we have expelled from our spaces salaried work: we have never charged for an interview or for opening our microphones to struggle. Our space is maintained through collective work, voluntary cooperation and donations that don’t carry specific interests. But capitalism and its favorite son, money, constantly returns through the window: although we are not paid or sell our work, equipment, internet, transportation, food, and our everyday lives, force us to obtain some money for the means and infrastructure of communication. Let’s leave now with this question: How can free media be autonomous?
The extermination war, along with the social crisis that we are living through is what unites us and demands that we move forward to collective work. We propose to work collectively in order to consolidate and expand the work of free media, in a perspective born from spaces of free communication in all parts of the country that are able to link people of Mexico and the world that struggle against the capitalist monster. Our radio is ready and occupying a place in a struggle that is, without doubt, one of the most important of modern times.
Part 3: Building an Information System of Resistance (SIR)
In his text “Medios”, subcomandante Galeano proposed a historical task for the revolutionary organization: tear down the entire building of capitalism, all the way to the ground and construct another horizontally. In this task it is essential to know where and how to strike. Trying to translate these ideas into practice, the free media launched this modest proposal, which seeks to combat one of the nodes of power of the paid media: specialization.
The paid media concentrates the information of our societies and transmits it in a partial way, deformed and dishonest. One of its great powers is to have the resources to know what is happening inside the country and throughout the rest of the world. The free media has the word that is grounded in struggles, but our reach, unlike the networks, is limited because we are a few people carrying out a giant task.
The Information System of Resistance (SIR) is a proposal for collective work in order to generate networks of information of social struggles in Mexico and the world. Following the experience of the social struggles that have created their own spaces of communication, as is the case of the EZLN, the CGH at UNAM, various indigenous communities in all parts of the country, we propose the creation of a network of messages that allows the diffusion of what’s being happening in the geography of social struggle. We think that EZLN and diverse communities have generated the minimal conditions to create a network like the one we propose.
1. We invite those involved in social struggle, activists, rebels, organized neighbors, to draft a paragraph, a page, a text, a letter, a photo, a video, on the subject they want to communicate. For free expression, there are no happenings or thoughts that are more important than others. What is sought is to break the isolation we live in and to recognize that it is just as valuable to do this in the neighborhoods as it is in an occupied land or on the barricades.
2. Record it with whatever means available: from paper and pencil to cellular telephone, tape recorder, computer, or camera. In the case of audio messages our mailbox is (Ké Huelga phone number 525584214102). For other materials our email: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Circulate your message through: photocopies, bulletin boards, email, Facebook sites and/or by contacting other free media. For our part, we commit to include in our Internet site and in our radio programs all the messages that reach us.
If each social struggle in the country carries out this collective work, we would have enough material to portray the reality of our struggles and, through these means, we can strengthen the ties between organizations, collectives, and individuals in movement.
Some initial indications:
So that the information can be properly communicated, there needs to be certain elements: indications of time and place; indications of what is being spoken of and who did it. These four elements allow understanding of: when, where, what, and who as the basics of the message to be understood by the recipient. The rest will come gradually.
Postscript: As a proposal, the SIR is just a modest idea for the struggle and is based on one practice used by media and free spaces of information to crack the wall of paid communication: decentralized action. It is free creativity, rising listeners, narrators, rebroadcasting of all types, everywhere, through the means everyone can in reach. What gives meaning to this collective work is the common goal: to know the face of our struggles, in each own way. Our world is one of diversity.
Ké Huelga Radio
Free, social and against power
We want to grateful to Ryan, C and H. for theirs help so that these words reach more people