Values ​​without price, by Eduardo Galeano at the WSF 2003

Values ​​without price, by Eduardo Galeano at the WSF 2003

By Eduardo Galeano

These days, numerous popular demonstrations are taking place in many countries at the same time against the warrior vocation of the masters of the planet. The world as it is, exudes violence from every pore and is subjected to a military culture that teaches killing and lying.

These days, numerous popular demonstrations are taking place in many countries at the same time against the warrior vocation of the masters of the planet. The world as it is, exudes violence from every pore and is subjected to a military culture that teaches killing and lying.

David Grossman, a former lieutenant colonel in the United States Army who specializes in military pedagogy, has shown that man is not naturally inclined to violence. Contrary to what is supposed, it is not easy at all to teach how to kill others. Education for violence, which brutalizes the soldier, requires intense and prolonged training. According to Grossman, that training begins, in the barracks, at 18 years of age. Outside the barracks, it begins at 18 months of age. From very early on, television dictates these courses at home.

His compatriot, the writer John Reed, had proven, in 1917, that "wars crucify the truth." Many years later, another compatriot, President Bush Sr., who had launched the first war against Iraq with the noble purpose of liberating Kuwait, published his memoirs. In them he confesses that the United States had bombed Iraq because it could not allow "a hostile regional power to hold hostage a large part of the world's oil supply." Perhaps, who knows, President Bush Jr. will sometime publish a misprint about his own war against Iraq. Where it says: "Crusade of Good against Evil", it should read: "Oil, oil and oil."

More than one errata will be required. For example, it should be clarified that where it says:

"International community" should read: "Warrior chiefs and great bankers."

How many are the archangels of peace who defend us from the demons of war? Five. The five countries that have the right of veto in the United Nations Security Council. And those custodians of peace are also the main arms manufacturers. We are in good hands.

And how many are the owners of democracy? The towns vote, but the bankers veto. A triple crown monarchy reigns over the world. Five countries make the decisions at the International Monetary Fund. Seven are in command at the World Bank. In the World Trade Organization all countries have the right to vote, but you never vote. These organizations, which rule the world, deserve our gratitude: they drown our countries, but then they sell us lead life jackets.

In 1995 the American Psychiatric Association published a report on criminal pathology. What is, according to experts, the most typical trait of habitual criminals? The inclination to lie. And one wonders: Isn't this the most perfect identikit of universal power?

What should be read, for example, where it says: "freedom of work"? It should be read: the right of businessmen to throw two centuries of workers' conquests into the trash can. You work twice as much for half: rubber hours, dwarf wages, free layoffs, and may God take care of accidents, illness, and old age. The major multinational companies, Wal-Mart and McDonalds, expressly prohibit unions. Whoever joins a union loses his job on the spot.

In today's world, which punishes honesty and rewards unscrupulousness, work is the object of contempt. Power disguises itself as destiny, claims to be eternal, and many people lose hope as if it were a tired horse. That is why the election of Lula to the presidency of Brazil goes far beyond the borders of this country: the victory of a union worker, who embodies the dignity of work, helps to spread the vitamins that we all need against the plague of despair .

So that it is not said that in Porto Alegre we meet the usual contreras and resentful ones, let us clarify that on something we agree with the highest leaders of the world: we too are enemies of terrorism. We are against terrorism in all its forms. We could propose to Davos a common platform. And common actions to capture the terrorists, which would begin with the sticker, on all the walls of the planet, of posters that say Wanted:

-The arms merchants are sought, who need war like coat manufacturers need cold.
-The international gang that kidnaps countries and never returns their captives is sought, although they collect multimillion-dollar ransoms that the underworld language calls debt services.
-The criminals who on a planetary scale steal food, strangle wages and kill jobs are sought.
-The rapists of the land, the poisoners of the water and the thieves of forests are sought.
-And the fanatics of the religion of consumption are also sought, who have unleashed the chemical war against the air and climate of this world.

Power identifies value and price. Tell me how much they pay for you, and I'll tell you how much you are worth. But there are values ​​that are beyond any quote. There is no one to buy them, because they are not for sale. They are off the market, and that is why they have survived.

Stubbornly alive, these values ​​are the energy that moves the secret muscles of civil society. They come from the oldest memory and the oldest common sense. This world of today, this civilization of everyone for himself and everyone to his own, is sick with amnesia and has lost the sense of community, which is the father of common sense. In ancient times, in the earliest times, when we were the most vulnerable critters in terrestrial zoology, when we did not go beyond the category of easy lunch on the table of our voracious neighbors, we were able to survive, against all evidence, because we knew how to defend ourselves together and because we knew how to share food. Today it is more than ever necessary to remember those old lessons of common sense.

Defend ourselves together, let's say, so they don't steal our water. Water, increasingly scarce, has been privatized in many countries, and is in the hands of large multinational corporations (soon, if we continue like this, they will also privatize the air: by not paying for it, we do not know how to value it and we do not deserve to breathe it. ) In order for water to remain a right, and not a business, a town deprivatized water in the Bolivian region of Cochabamba. Peasant communities marched from the valleys and blockaded the city. They answered them with bullets. But in the long run, after much fighting, they recovered the water, the irrigation of their crops, that the government had given to a British corporation. This happened a couple of years ago.

Defending ourselves together: talking about water, another more recent example. Oil moves consumer society, as is known, and, as is also known, it has bad habits. Among other hobbies, he is given to overthrow governments, provoke wars, poison the air and rot the water. Recently, the sticky and deadly oil slick covered the sea and the coasts of Galicia and beyond. An oil tanker broke in half and spilled thousands and thousands of liters of fuel oil, with the irresponsibility and impunity that have become customary in these times when the market rules and the State does not control anything. And then, faced with a blind state and a deaf government, which only shrugged, the secret muscles of civil society unleashed their energy: a multitude of volunteers faced the enemy invasion with bare hands, armed with sticks and cans and what could be found. The volunteers did not shed crocodile tears or make theatrical speeches.

Defend ourselves together and share the food: a ton of food and clothes recently arrived, by train, in the poorest corner of the Argentine province of Tucumán, where children are dying of hunger. And that solidarity consignment came from the cartoneros, the poorest of the poor in Buenos Aires, who earn their living by stirring the garbage but who are capable of sharing what little, what almost nothing, they have.

What is the word that is heard the most in the world, in almost all languages? The word I. I i i. However, a scholar of indigenous languages, Carlos Lenkersdorf, has revealed that the word most used by the Mayan communities, the one at the center of their sayings and living, is the word we. In Chiapas we say tik.

That is why this World Social Forum was born and grown in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, a universal model of participatory democracy: to say us. Tik, tik, tik

* Remarks by the Uruguayan writer at the third World Social Forum, Porto Alegre, on January 26, 2003

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