"Cierra tus ojos y observa lo que ves" _ "Close your eyes and observe what you see" _ Najm ud din Kubra. [Persia SXII]


Abu Ali

OVNI2005 Archivos del Observatorio


The word resistance is starting to gain currency in places and cultures all over the world, joining those that have never stopped practicing it. Resistance implies negation, the blocking of a process or power, but it also contains an affirmation: that there are other ways of doing, thinking, living. Minorities and majorities marginalized in their own land practice it in various active and passive ways. Today, this practice is bringing together very diverse cultures and peoples, some totally unconnected, that are starting to become aware of each other, to talk of each other amongst themselves in this struggle.

These resistances with their different origins and languages are being exercised against the expansion of a hegemonic " single thought " , a single way of understanding history and progress. This is often called " the West " ,...an amorphous, symbolic concept that initially referred to Europe, in particular the old European powers called the " western powers " , and then as the economic system expanded, to the United States of North America and even its allies in the Far and Middle East. Now the West seems to refer to an economic system and the culture it produces rather than the geographic sense.

What seems certain is that the Western imaginary needed to construct itself in opposition to another even larger and less exact invention: the Orient. The idea of " the Orient " was born as a result of the expansion of the " colonial powers " , and applied equally to the entire area ranging from the Maghreb to the Far East. As a new object of desire, it joined other previously conquered " uncivilized " territories, " indigenous peoples " , or the elusive " el Dorado " , etc...

It's important to recognise that the idea of the West itself was also constructed through the negation of its own diversity and heterodoxy, the violent negation of its own history(ies), and required the invention of an imaginary and exclusive genealogy in which one period succeeded the next, unopposed: classical antiquity, the Roman empire, Christianity, rationalism, the enlightenment, positivism, capitalism...all of them reinterpreted as gentle stereotypes with no violence or edge, ready for identity consumption. And so the " classical " was redefined as aristocratic origins already dominating the proto Orient or the " Persian enemy " , the Roman empire as a cruel but unifying force, Christianity as a sometimes fanatical and hypocritical but in the end civilising force, the Enlightenment as liberating and humanist in spite of its despotism and colonising approach to knowledge. And to top it off: the idea of never-ending, linear, acritical progress; and of capitalism as the ultimate guarantee of freedom ... The gradual technological hegemony is added to the succession and has arrived to test its raison d'etre and its power.

This genealogical construction rests on the global society of consumption, and its hard core that has concentrated in the web of interests of the giant oil, pharmaceutical and military industry companies, which project a spectacular world through the mass media. A way of colonising desire and fears through images and slogans, but above all a mechanism for reversibility, in which not only success and triumph but also tragedy and disaster, even our own, are instantly turned to profit through the spectacle of consumption. In this process, the idea of a single economy based on permanent and aggressive growth and the dogma of technological euphoria play key roles. Even moderate voices calling for sustainable models don't try to depart from this radical economic model, they may modulate the degree of aggressiveness, but not growth itself. The global society of consumption is so because it consumes to the point of extinction not just products but also natural resources, people and communities.

This expansive economy is generating a state of permanent conflict with many fronts: obviously military interventions, repression, occupation. But also in the field of food: local products are increasingly playing a minority role (whether marginal or elitist) and the presence and accessibility of global processed products is increasing on the free(?) market. The concept of intensive and industrialised agriculture is literally being imposed, an idea in which all processes: genetically modified seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, etc...form a single package... The planet's natural resources are coming under the prism of private property and exploitation, not just raw materials and fuels but also water, on which speculating investments are starting to converge. Public and private medicine is infiltrated by the interests of the pharmaceutical giants, not only in the virtually undisputed empire of chemical medicine, but also in the concept of what public health implies, fighting, discrediting or ignoring preventative practices and their inescapable link with education. In fact, the education system's most utopian end seems to be ergonomic adjustment to the needs of " the market " . To introduce content or practices that are not necessarily even critical, just foreign to these needs, is perceived as noise, an obstacle.

The mass media is mainly fed by ready-made news from the few major news agencies. As a group, their effect is a constant resetting of events, which are presented as a series absurdities. They propagate the idea of a hyper-privileged West in contrast to an " underdeveloped " and always suffering world, that could only possibly be of interest as a tourist destination (and, in fact, " tourists get to the places where armies don't " ). In this way, day by day, they create a single perception of poverty and wealth. The third-world media image of a boy soldier participating in incomprehensible wars, that touches the consciences of so many, never finds its parallel in the increasingly common image of a western child devoting hours to violent videogames, with some of the best-selling games being versions of military training programs.

But in these areas too, resistance persists and is growing, not always ideologically or consciously, and in ways that are different because they respond to specific contexts, cultures and traditions that vary widely from each other. We should then speak about resistances. Some of these arise from western critical thought, the remains of shipwrecked liberating ideologies, alternative practices, new foundations and connections... Others arise from the indigenous rhizome that extends unevenly throughout the world and knows that constant aggression against the earth and nature is a self-destructive process, destroying our resources and also our knowledge. Other radical resistances arise from cultures, like the now-demonised Islamic culture, a culture that is barely known and which has suffered almost 10 million victims (1) in the last decade while the West remained largely silent,... and from many other positions, religions and practices that increasingly need the awareness of the others and mutual respect. A key dialogue for accepting our knowledge and practical diversity and for self-criticism in relation to the totalitarian, exclusive aspects that exist in almost every culture. In this respect Europe and by extension the West, in spite of the majestic role it has assigned itself in the history of humanity and the construction of freedom and human rights, can hardly claim to have a model record in terms of racial, religious or national tolerance, even compared to neighbouring cultures. Paradoxically, even some parts of current critical thought and activism too easily reproduce and extend ethnocentric criteria.

OVNI 2005 Resistances will program and then include in the Observatory Archives a series of audiovisual works (155), mostly independent documentaries, media archaeology, agit-prop,.. that tell us of different forms of resistance and conflicts. From their diverse origins and backgrounds, these resistances are confronting single thought and its aggressive economics, a hegemony inherited directly from colonialism and ethnocentrism that seemed to be things of the past, but have taken on new strength with the expansionism of the USA and the empire of transnational corporations. Its hard core is the new world order, or the more recent and precise new American century. But these resistances cannot be reduced to anti-Americanism, as this only represents the tip of an historical and economic iceberg which is much deeper and larger, though not always visible.

In most of the works we've compiled over the last two years we discovered the expression " resistance " , as a call to action and as a reality in progress. In the Zapatista autonomies communities " Resistance " and " Water and Autonomy " , in the Mapuche indigenous people " Marici Weu " (we will win one hundred times over), in Bolivia " Fusil, metralla, el pueblo no se calla " , in Argentina " la tierra es nuestra " and in the path taken by Venezuela " La Revolucion no será Televisada " and " Pueblo y lucha en la 4rta Guerra Mundial " ,...in the anti-globalisation movements " Turbulences " , and " Miami Model " in the protests against the IMF and the FTAA, ..in the Palestinian intifada " Who is the Terrorist " , " Gaza Strip " , " Arna's Children " and " We are Allah's Soldiers " , in the antizionist resistance in Israel " Democracy isn't Built on Demonstrators Bodies " , in the Iraq occupation " The Real Face of the Occupation " and " Iraq. In the name of Freedom " , and in the whole Arabic and Islamic world " American Campaign to Suppress Islam " ,...in the underemployees of corporations " Mayday. San Precario " , in the people who lose their rights when they cross borders " Crossing Borders " , " Paralelo 36 " ... and in the more local conflicts in our own city, which reflect the speculation and spectacular culture being imposed all over the world, " El Forat de la Vergonya " , " Patarem el Forum " ...

OVNI 2005 will also include presentations from special guests and projects: Berlin's Globale FilmFestival, Rogelio Lopez Cuenca talking about " El Paraiso de los Extraños " , Gema Martín Muñoz presenting " Critical discourses and alternative voices from the Arab world " and John Young and Deborah Natsios talking about their cryptom.org project, a web site that publishes documents banned by governments all over the world, specially those relating to freedom of expression, cryptology, double-use technologies...(see program).

All of these resistances, which represent only a small part, also outline a map of possible references and dialogues that are becoming increasingly important among these different traditions and heterodoxies. An invitation to think, build other worlds, discover existing worlds that are hidden by screens of ignorance and prejudice, by stereotyped images of the other. As an old woman in Argentina protested, " the other is me " . To stereotype others is to stereotype ourselves.

In the 18th Century, the andalusian mystic Ibn Arabi wrote: " freedom unites us, unity frees us " , a statement that can me read on many levels, one which could be: Freedom unites us as free women, men and communities, and this unity frees us.