Viva La Via Campesina! Viva!

This morning I went on a march with La Via Campesina, the wonderful international peasant organization. Prior to the march, they released a press statement in which they set forth a sweeping critique of the current dysfunctional capitalist system:

La Via Campesina has called for mobilizations in Durban and around the world to demand a change of the entire capitalist system. The fight against climate change is a fight against neoliberal capitalism, landlessness, dispossession, hunger, poverty and inequality. The crisis of the planet requires that we take direct action. During the agro-ecology and food sovereignty day we will have public protest marches to the conference of the polluters, actions against multinational corporations like Monsanto undermining our seed sovereignty, which will culminate in a massive Assembly of the Oppressed to discuss ways of ending this unjust system.

Stirring and very brave words, these. Unfortunately they seem to be falling on largely deaf ears among both the global elites and the dominant NGO sector at the UN conference on climate change.

Despite this depressing background, the march was an amazing and completely uplifting experience. Here are some photos:

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The thing that makes the experience here in Durban so joyful and positive is the vibrant resistance culture that survives in South Africa. Only being present in the flesh can truly give one a sense of the electricity of being in the streets in Durban, but here are a few brief video clips that give a sense of this vibrancy. Check out the lyrics of this song, which explain why the singers are socialists:

 

And here’s an amazing song about solidarity:

 

During the march, the streets were turned into a political church, a theater of the spirit, by amazing choral singing. They also became a theater of resistance. Check out the gestures of defiance directed at our police escort:

 

And here’s a taste of the power of song as we marched:

 

Finally, here’s an example of the famous toyi-toyi, which used to scare the hell out of the cops during the apartheid era:

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