8.7 Analysis of the data
This paragraph contains the analysis of the data through narrative, Interdiscursivity and discourse analysis.
8.7.1 Narrative analysis
Margaret Somers' version of narrative analysis is of interest, since she has developed a series of categories that are relevant for the social sciences. She indicates that narrative should not be seen only as a representation of the social world. Rather, narrative defines a social epistemology and a social ontology. She uses narrative to connect two recent concerns in the social sciences: the emergence of a wide-spread identity politics and a subsequent scholarly focus on the construction of identity on the one hand and a new approach to narrative on the other. She also relates narrative to the issue of power. The dominant narrative tends to exclude social minorities. The production of counter-narratives is then a crucial strategy in the hands of the minorities to include themselves in public narrativity (Somers 1994:605). A salient example of this kind is "The Wind of above versus the wind of below", produced by the EZLN, in which the position of the indigenous people gradually changes from an oppressed victim to a militant subject (Montessori 2000:3).
To analyse narrative, Somers distinguishes four dimensions of narrative. The ontological dimension contains the stories that define the identity of social subjects. This can be a precondition for defining purpose and action. In this sense, narrative and identity are mutually constitutive. For the purposes of this paper I will analyse this dimension in terms of the identity of the agent and the role they assume in order to make their preferred strategy happen. I will also add "evaluation" as a subcategory to the ontological dimension, i.e. the expression of values in terms of what is considered good or bad. The second dimension refers to public narratives that relates to cultural and institutional formations that are larger than the individual. These formations can vary from one's family to the church, the government or the nation. Metanarrativity refers to the master narratives in which people are embedded as contemporary actors in society. An example would be the knowledge-based economy, which gives direction to how educational institutes must function, but also to concepts such as lifelong-learning (Jessop 2002:128-9). Metanarrativity has the paradoxal quality of denarrativization, since these narratives tend to be built on abstract concepts such as "social forces". A salient example would be the concept of change within the neoliberal discourse of globalization. Change tends to be presented as an anonymous event that forces political leaders to act in certain inevitable ways.
Conceptual narrativity contains the concepts and explanation constructed by the social researcher. These may include categories such as spatiality, temporality, relationality and historicity. It also includes a link between narrative and the social world (Somers 1994:617-20). Within spatiality I will suggest adding a subcategory of "projection in the future": the way in which both discourses project their favourite image of the future in space.
Based on the analysis of the data and the purposes of my analysis, I will include one extra dimension: the epistemological dimension to indicate what knowledge is conveyed about the world that is represented in the narrative. I will insert this dimension directly after the ontological dimension. Furthermore, I will point out relevant linguistic features that contribute to the production of a particular vision.
184.108.40.206. The discourse of the government
The general narrative of the government is about an internal call for change combined with a profound external transformation that affects and could be a potential threat to Mexico and its sovereignty. Based on this situation the president determines the best strategy: modernisation. This includes a series of new measures, new legislation, a new attitude and more cooperation with other states, while maintaining national sovereignty. It also includes a modification of the state.
220.127.116.11.1 Ontological Analysis
In the First Informe, President Salinas presents himself as the legitimate leader of the country and the Mexican people. He gives voice to the Mexican people by claiming that there is "a voice that demands change throughout the Republic" (I,14-16). He thus constructs the Mexican people as a singular unity with a general, unanimous will. Throughout the first year of his presidency he is committed to make this change happen and to translate this call for change into a strategic direction: the "modernization of Mexico". He also proposes a National Development Plan that consists of three new agreements with respect to a) the democratic process b) price stability and c) improvement of the productivity of the people (I,145-51). There is a relation between a general representation of the people that demand, and the president who translates this demand into a new policy: modernisation. In terms of evaluation, the past is described in negative terms (see appendix 1). The line of separation between these two realities is the project of modernisation, through which the country will become the positive, competent nation capable of facing external challenges, while maintaining its sovereignty.
18.104.22.168.2 Epistemological dimension
The discourse expresses absolute knowledge. The president knows exactly what changes the people want. He knows what the needs of the poor are and he knows how to achieve necessary changes - through modernisation. Linguistic features that construct this discourse of absolute knowledge are the following: the use of the present tense and of the third person singular and plural of "to be". By describing how the world IS in a particular way, this discourse excludes all potential variations or tendencies. For events that happened in the past, the use of the definite past is used, which is also a clear indication of clearcut events. Knowledge is also expressed in future sentences, in which the president predicts a course of events: "Not all nations will survive as sovereign states" (I:64-65). The power of prediction is the result of asymmetrical power relation (Fairclough 2003:171). It is a paratactic discourse that is built of coordinate sentences and clauses. It is characterised by a continuous series of declarative assertions. Sentences tend to combine a series of nouns or adjectives that have an additional value to an original statement. For instance, in the paragraph about "the voice of change" there are a series of additive sentences, connected by conjunctions such as "also", "and" and a series of nouns that indicate the topics where change is required (see appendix 2). A series of clauses connected by a semi-colon is another way of adding details to a concept. For example, the achievement of modernisation is described as: "to put general interest above individual interest; give more to those who have less; to base on rational agreement; in practicing the law and in practicing liberty" (I:127-30). The use of the superlative "best" (as in "this is the best way to confront external challenges") excludes potential alternative solutions. Frequent use of the definite article indicates the same singularity. Throughout the two informes the president textures a difference between a negative action or attitude (situated in the past) and a positive action or attitude situated in the present and "owned" by the president. The president does not justify or explain the source of his knowledge - he just knows. He expresses a high level of commitment: "I commit myself to perform this change" (I,26). Mental verbs, such as "to recognize", "to know" are frequent in both the first and the third informe.
22.214.171.124.3 Public Narrative
Salinas represents the country as a unified entity that has its roots in its national history: Independence, Reform and the Mexican Revolution (I,30-33).1 Change has been a continuity within the tradition of the Mexican Revolution. The present and urgent cry for change is not new, but an intensified expression of this dynamic attitude. The strategy of modernisation implies a state reform that should become less bureaucratic in order to serve a mixed economy. Mexico is up for change, which implies a new democratic relation between citizens and the government, based on open dialogue. The president emphasises that the strategy of modernisation is nationalist in nature. It should defend Mexico's sovereignty: "not all nations that we know today will survive as sovereign states" (I,64-65). It should also lead to more justice in the country. In his third Informe, the president announces the implementation of TLC and the modification of article 27. He also defines contemporary nationalism. Nationalism in Mexico has a tradition of adjusting itself to changing circumstances. The president rejects two kinds of nationalism: the frozen kind of nationalism that only looks at the past and the oppressive nationalism of oppressive European states in the 1930s. Contemporary nationalism should achieve four basic objectives. It should defend the nation's sovereignty, it should respect liberty and justice and it should further develop the democracy. Salinas emphasises the unity in Mexico, stating that there are "no cultural divisions that break the national will" (III,169-70). Also, nationalism should break the barrier of poverty. In that sense, nationalism is synonymous to solidarity, which coincides with the name of the national program launched by Salinas: Programa Nacional de Solidaridad.2 This narrative dimension emphasises continuity. It does so explicitly: "The difficulties of the recent past were the incentive to give an extra dimension to the tendency to transformation that has always been there" (I,35-7). Linguistically, a sense of continuity is expressed through the verbal system; the use of the present perfect tense, which in Spanish, as in English, expresses duration. The same holds true for a construction like ha ido viniendo "it has been coming on its way", which also expresses continuation.
The call for change is situated in the context of a big worldwide transformation that takes place at an extraordinary velocity. It includes increasing competition and a technological revolution. It is a change without borders, that does not respect ideologies, nor different levels of development. This change also implies a threat.
"Not all countries that we know today may survive as sovereign states" (I,56-57). External change, then, is articulated as a potential threat to the survival of Mexico as a nation-state. Transformation of the state and economy is necessary to protect the sovereignty of Mexico against a hegemonic threat from abroad.
126.96.36.199.5 Conceptual Narrativity
What do these texts tell us about the orientation of the president? It is time now to look critically at the way in which this discourse fixes elements in terms of temporality, spatiality, causality and relationality.
The discourse of the president is directed at the Congress and the Mexican people. He backgrounds his own personality. In seven occasions he uses the 1st person singular pronoun. In five cases he refers to himself as the leader who commits himself, suggests new strategies or to propose a new plan and who gathers information by listening to the voice of the people. In one case he refers to his personal weekly visits to the poor. These visits lead him to question himself: "I ask myself, who do we protect within our borders?" (I,270-1) The president uses an inclusive we to express processes that he has decided on and that the population now has to fulfil. The inclusive we indicates a uniform willingness of the people and the president to achieve the transformation that the president has suggested. Otherwise, the discourse is strongly de-personalized. The president presents himself as the leader of an abstract people, represented only once in the abstract formula: "the demand of change is persistent throughout the republic" (I,14-16). This could be considered as a simulated dialogue in its most abstract form (Fairclough 2000). On one occasion he mentions the poor and the indigenous people. These are also represented as a uniform group with uniform demands in terms of services, jobs, etc. Otherwise, the president seems to be surrounded by autonomous processes. In contrast to the de-personification of the people, these processes are being personified. This is clearly the case with change, as will be pointed out in the next section. The same phenomenon occurs with "modernization" and "Mexico". Modernization has intrinsic qualities that imply a certain directionality. "Modernization is not an abstract concept (.). It refers to the incentive to modify the way in which our country is organised. (.) It implies a compromise between common initiative and personal superation (.). Its orientation is directed to the irrenouncible goal to improve the strength of the country by unity, democracy and social justice, as the only way to affirm the sovereignty of Mexico". Modernisation also requests a new attitude: "to face the changing condition of the present with optimism"(I,138-40). In terms of the Mexican Revolution, we see the following examples: "The Revolution wanted to create a strong state, but also an emancipated society, master of its own destiny. It wanted strong workers, it achieved agrarian reform (.) it promoted industrial development (.) but it has never insisted on state-monopoly" (I, 163-79).
By back-grounding human agency and personifying social forces, the President constructs an image in which he is surrounded by autonomous processes, some national and some global in character. These forces point in one uniform direction, understood by the president: transformation.
The discourse is situated in the last decade of the 20th century. This decade is marked externally by global change and internally by a demand for change. The dynamics of the time requires a redefinition of the concept of "nationalism" in Mexico. This requires a transformation, since the old answers provided by the Revolution are not sufficient to tackle contemporary challenges: "Now that we are confronted with these new external and internal circumstances, the majority of the reforms of our Revolution are no longer effective" (I,187-9).
Linguistic features: In both the internal and the external case, the concept of "change" is being personalised. The internal call for change is represented as a general, assertive, but abstract voice: "In the entire Republic, the demand for change is persistent, definite, urgent. The voice for change demands justice, security" (I,5-7). Change not only has verbal qualities, it also has material autonomy in the sense that "it brings forward new challenges". It has intrinsic characteristics: "there is no change that does not keep in mind the essential lessons of the past. But there is no change that only contemplatively evokes the past" (I,44-47).
External change is represented without agency: "In the last year, a big world wide transformation has occurred. The old, post-war situation has been replaced by a less predictable, multipolar, highly competitive scenario" (I 56-8). The presentation of external change as a fact rather than the result of human agency coincides with the representation of change in neoliberal discourse.3
Spatiality in this discourse, is projected in the future. The president creates a new space for Mexican politics. In the new situation, the role and capacity of the state will be diminished, so as to allow a mixed economy to emerge. The new society will also imply a new relationship between citizens and the government, based on dialogue. Modern society implies strong economic integration with foreign economies, through different free trade agreements, most remarkably NAFTA with USA and Canada.
The discourse of the president places change and transformation in a historical perspective. The Mexican people have always been a dynamic people, adjusting their work to changing situations. Change, then, is nothing new. Only the intensity and urgency of change is new and provoked by external development. The Mexican Revolution requires change and transformation to achieve its goals. Every proposal for change is discursively authorised by the Mexican Revolution, as in: "Nothing is more alien to the Mexican Revolution than the immobility toward the many things we have to do" (I, 113-4).
Internal and external conditions provoke an urgency to change. The best strategy is modernisation. This involves a series of reforms, and requires new attitudes and new values. The most outstanding reforms are state reform, participation in NAFTA, the modification of the ejido system and the implementation of the National Program of Solidarity.
188.8.131.52.5.6 Preliminary conclusion
The ontological narrative of the president depicts a singular vision of Mexico and the Mexican people. He affirms that there is a cultural unity, a uniform call for change, a continuous - be it flexible - line from the past to the future. The poor have one voice and one set of needs: services, health and education. The epistemological dimension is equally singular. The president possesses the absolute truth. He perceives the internal and external factors that call for change, and he decides on the only possible strategy to deal with this situation: modernisation. The epistemological dimension is important in the sense that the president constructs himself as the bearer of absolute knowledge and -thus- absolute power. Through the construction of one singular road to the future, it deletes all potential alternative strategies, as well as the social subjects that might hold alternative views.
184.108.40.206 Narrative analysis of the discourse of the EZLN
The EZLN narrates the story in which Mexico is being dominated by a dictatorship, led by an illegitimate president accompanied by a bunch of traitors and criminals. The idea is to organise an interim government that should then form a just and democratic government that includes and respects ethnic minorities in a pluralist state. Civil society is expected to play a fundamental role in these changes. For this reason, the EZLN organises a series of new podia, such as the National Democratic Convention (CND), the Movement of National Liberation (MLN), and the Zapatista Front of National Liberation (FZLN), where all sectors of civil society can meet and discuss. It is their will that the new leaders should obey to.
220.127.116.11.1 Ontological Narrative
The EZLN opens its discourse with the words: "we are the product of 500 years of struggle" (1,1). The EZLN denies the legitimacy of the Mexican government and the Mexican state-system.4 It does so on basis of electoral fraud in the 1988 elections. The movement represents the government as a dictatorship that consists of a bunch of traitors that represent the most conservative groups, that sell out the country. The EZLN presents itself as the inheritors of the true builders of the Mexican nationality. They evaluate themselves and civil society that supposedly supports them as true, good, citizens in favour of radical reform as opposed to the government and the conservative elite that resists change and that enriches itself at the expense of the entire nation.
They deny antagonistic claims about their identity, that they would be related to narco-traffic, etc. They are the voice of the Mexican people, expressing: "Enough is enough". They present themselves as agents of change, who not only fight for the rights of the indigenous people, but also for justice, democracy and freedom at the national level. They clearly distinguish themselves from the classic guerrilla tradition in the sense that they do not want power for themselves, nor do they pretend to have the answers. Instead, they see it as their task to create space for a discussion in which a new Mexico can be defined and through which a new transition government can be formed. Their view of power is best defined by their slogan: "Everything for everybody, nothing for ourselves (3,292)". They identify their struggle as being just, in favour of a transition to a real democracy, towards freedom and justice. They identify themselves as being dignified, pure and free beings. They emphasise that their struggle is nationalist in nature. They have no links with foreign guerrilla's, nor do they have separatist intentions.
18.104.22.168.2 Epistemological Narrative
The EZLN presents a narrative of a bad government that dominates true and dignified people. Their discourse sometimes does, and often does not reveal the sources of this knowledge. They call the government a dictatorship, as if this were an absolute and undisputed fact. On the other hand, they situate their knowledge clearly in history. In the first declaration, they describe the conservative elite as the follow up of previous conservative groups who, since Independence, have always resisted progressive heroes. They base their own legitimacy on article 39 of the Constitution that determines that national sovereignty resides in the people, who have the inalienable right to alter or modify their form of government.5
The Second Declaration uses the verb "understand" to formulate their demands and to divide society between an honest majority (civil society) that equally understands the urgency of these demands and a criminal minority (the president, the state and some conservative groups) that does not understand this urgency (appendix 3). Whatever is "understood" is not sustained by any argument: it is presented as common sense, as undisputed knowledge. The third declaration demonstrates detailed knowledge about the 1994 elections and related events. The verbal system indicates processes rather than facts as it uses the imperfect (that expresses processes) rather than the preterit tense (that expresses events). It also uses the future tense to predict outcomes. "The indigenous problem will not be resolved unless there is a radical transformation of the national pact" (3,190). Their discourse emphasises many verbal expressions, such as to repeat, to say, to call, etc. The epistemological dimension is necessarily open, since they do not pretend to know the answers, but to ask questions, to be answered by civil society.
22.214.171.124.3 Public Narrative
The EZLN claims that the government is illegal and criminal. Mexico has a "stinking presidential system", a "dictatorship", formed by traitors. Supported by the military army, they are in for a genocide war. Their purpose is to break down the present political system and then organise the CND that should consist of Mexicans from all regions, political parties, unions and professions to name a transitional government that should create a more just and a pluri-ethnic national state. A new relation should emerge between the government and citizens in general and the indigenous people in particular. The CND will be sovereign and revolutionary. It will be national, plural and democratic.
The EZLN places its discourse and its struggle in the context of the implementation of NAFTA and the attempt of the government to introduce Mexico into the First World. The EZLN is fiercely against the neoliberal project "Neoliberalism as a doctrine and as a reality should be flung into the trash heap of national history" (Third declaration of the Selva Lacandona, see http://www.ezln.org ).
They are not against modernisation per se, but they insist that the Indigenous people be integrated rather than marginalized.
126.96.36.199.5 Conceptual Narrativity
The discourse of the EZLN is a direct call to the Mexican people. The first Declaration is a call for armed struggle. The Second Declaration calls for the CND. The Third Declaration calls for the formation of a National Free Movement. The discourse often alludes to specific groups of people. It creates a significant division between agents: the true people (EZLN and national and international allies) who struggle against a common enemy (the government and the state party system). The former want to make democratic change happen, the latter resist this change.
The EZLN attributes an active role to civil society. They are supposed to be ready to join these meetings - it is assumed that they are ready for a radical transformation and it is assumed that they take up the responsibilities for a pluralist democracy (see appendix 4).
The first declaration was pronounced on January 2nd, 1994, the day after the armed rebellion started. It then called on Mexican people to take up arms. The second declaration was pronounced 6 months later (June 10th). It is a call on Civil Society to take part in the CND to demand democratic elections and that would form a transitional government toward democracy. This happened in the light of the 1994 elections and increased evidence of a crisis within the PRI.6 However, the CND did not succeed. It did not provoke the discussion that the EZLN had hoped for. Subcomandante Marcos admits that they had made a mistake.7 The CND did not achieve massive mobilisation of civil society. The elections were clean and the nation had voted for the PRI candidate, Ernesto Zedillo, thus legitimating the system that the EZLN had turned against. In the third Declaration of January 1st, 1995, the EZLN called for the formation of the Movement of National Liberation, and emphasised the indigenous aspects of its struggle. However, also this movement turned out to be a political disaster (Womack 1999:290). The Fourth Declaration, January 1st, 1996, was pronounced to establish the FNZL, the Zapatista Front of National Liberation. It was directed to national and international civil society and emphasised Indigenous cultural rights. We see, then, a shift from what was supposed to be a national struggle in the first declaration to an indigenous struggle with national implications in the fourth.
The EZLN also projects a future in space. The EZLN does not want to achieve power, nor does it present itself as the ultimate solution. Rather, it pretends to create the antechamber to a new world, that will be free and democratic. Above all, it will be pluralist: they search for a Mexico in which many Mexico's will fit. They look for an integrated version of autonomy for indigenous people. In that sense, they contest the basis of national sovereignty. For the government this is the responsibility of the state. The EZLN situates the basis of sovereignty in civil society.
The EZLN places the two social groups that it distinguishes: the bad conservatives and the true, dignified citizens that want transformation, in a historical context. Those who oppose democratic change are "the same groups that have always resisted authentic, progressive leaders". They then mention examples from Independence and the Mexican Revolution. They see themselves as the true followers of the Mexican Revolution. This is a very significant example of re-appropriation of the most central national symbol. In the traditional political discourse (before the technocrate era) the national presidents always claimed to be the legitimate inheritors of the Mexican Revolution. Opposition groups would invariably be dismissed as being traitors, under foreign (communist) influence. Furthermore, the EZLN places its history of resistance in a wider historical context. "We are the product of 500 years of resistance" (1:247).
It expresses the historic continuity of a struggle for justice more powerful in the Fourth Declaration: "The rebellion that today has a dark face and a true language was not born today. It spoke before in other languages and in other lands." It mentions some twenty indigenous languages and concludes: "Rebellion is not a matter of language, but a matter of dignity and being human" (4,300).
Mexico is in the hands of a bunch of traitors and a totally corrupted state-party system. The EZLN calls for a series of national events which will lead to the formation of an interim government that will then create a honest democracy of freedom, liberty and justice. In the process, nationalism and sovereignty will go back to where its roots should be: civil society.
188.8.131.52.5.6 Preliminary Conclusions
The ontological dimension of the narrative of the EZLN is more developed than the epistemological dimension. The EZLN has a strong concern with identity and particular ways of being. This is not surprising, since new social movements are based on identity rather than class (Touraine 1985:50). As far as the indigenous struggle is concerned, it is precisely their identity that legitimises their struggle. For the wider cause, it is article 39 of the Constitution that legitimises their struggle. As will be indicated below, their concern with identity is closely related to their vision of power. It is a counter hegemonic narrative in the sense that they delegitimate the structure, members and practices of the present government and the party-state system. They call civil society to start a discussion and they create a series of innovative podia where this discussion can take place. It reveals the way in which the discourse of the president is exclusive by assuming equality. They re-introduce ethnic groups in their narrative and bring this issue back on the political agenda.
1Mexico's War of Independence from Spain took place from 1810 to 1821. The reforma refers to the process that took place in the second half of the 19th Century under the leadership of Benito Juárez, an indigenous leader who became the president of Mexico. During this process a secular state was established that enshrined liberal principles of popular sovereignty and equality before the law (Williamson 1992:264).
2The National Solidarity program (PRONASOL) is un umbrella organization aimed at developing health, education, nutrition, housing and other productive projects to combat extreme poverty. The program helped the state to fulfil its traditional social role in a climate of economic restraints and to diffuse potential social discontent (Dresser 1991:1). The EZLN systematically rejects the program.
3See Fairclough (2000:28-29) for the representation of change in the discourse of Tony Blair. Behind the autonomous representation of change without human agency lays the ideological assumption that liberal globalisation is ineluctable. It is often presented as technological determinism, thus denying the fact that it has been a political project of dominant social forces with human agents. It is politically problematic and contestable (Rupert 2000:42). Neoliberal leaders (including Salinas de Gortari) represent change as an inevitable fact that forces them to take a series of (unpopular) measures.
4The state-party system refers to the predominance of one party, with full support of the governmental apparatus behind it, ensuring its continuation in power (Ponce de León 2001:51).
5"National Sovereignty essentially and originally resides in the people. All political power emanates from the people and its purpose is to help the people. The people have, at all times, the inalienable right to alter or modify their form of government" (translated text of art. 39 of the Mexican Constitution quoted from Ponce de León 1991:14).
6Knight (1996:1-2) describes 1994 as a annus horribilis that began with the upraise in Chiapas, continued with political assassinations and ended with the economic crisis of December.
7In the famous interview with Yvon LeBot Marcos admits that they had fooled
themselves and that he could not do much more than wait for Salinas to leave. The CND revealed an internal crisis rather than a
powerful mobilisation of civil society (LeBot 1997:254).
Índice general I Siguiente
Volumen 22 (2005)