Actas del II Congreso de la Región Noroeste de Europa de la Asociación de Lingüística y Filología de América Latina (ALFAL)

8.7.2 The relation between discourse and social practice: interdiscursive analysis

The purpose of this section is to relate these discourses closer to social practice. The narratives can be seen as a discourse of change (government) and a discourse of radical transformation (EZLN). I will do so by relating Fairclough's theory of orders of discourse to the narratives above and to analyse these orders of discourse in terms of discourse (representation of social events), style (identity) and genres (social relations). The narrative analysis has pointed out that the epistemological dimension is strongest developed in the discourse of the government, whereas the ontological dimension predominates in the case of the EZLN. The government defines its absolute power in the epistemological dimension, whereas the EZLN situates its power in its identity (ontological dimension).

The analysis of discourses looks at the way in which reality is represented in a discourse. I will point out in this analysis on what discourses the main discourse draws. Style shines light on the identities inculcated in the discourses. Genres are about the enactment in terms of social relations (Fairclough 1995,2003, 2004 a,b). The discourse of the government Discourse

The discourse of the president shows a regular pattern in which a -negative- developmentalist discourse of the past is being compared with a positive social liberal discourse of the future. The following analysis of the discourse on state transformation illustrates this point. The discourse constructs the following contrast between an old and a new state:

Old state New state
Coporatist Privatisation of non-strategic enterprises
Aimed at holding property Aimed at bringing justice to the people
Big Small
Weak Strong
Reduction of social welfare Participation of the people
Protect the sovereignty of Mexico
Closed economy Open economy

This is an implicit critique of developmentalist statism (Powell 1996:48). The discourse of the president is social liberal in the sense that it attends to social issues and maintains a Program of Solidarity to protect the poorer sections of the imbalances of the free market economy. The social liberal discourse combines reformist novelty with historical prescription and legitimation. Social liberalism is also a way to wrap neoliberal economical change in an attractive ideology that combines paternalism with social responsibility and patriotism. With its roots in past populist discourses, it helps to emphasise continuity (Knight, A. 1996:2-4). However, Salinas's policy implies the first hegemonic shift since the Mexican Revolution in which he moves away from some of the most important premises of the Revolution (Powell, 1996:39). By emphasising continuity, the president hedges the profoundness of the transformation that his policy implies. The discourse of the president has a strong ideological dimension through the expression of a univocal explanation of the past, the present and the future, the presentation of citizens as a singular subject and through the suppression of difference. The president emphasises that change is nationalist and he draws on a discourse of civic nationalism. Style

As is to be expected, the style of this discourse is formal and impersonal. It maintains a paternalist style that has always been present in Mexican political discourse. This paternalism is sometimes literally expressed through the metaphor of a family: "change will have to achieve the dreams of our fathers and fulfil the desires of our children" (I:47-9). This contributes to the representation of the Mexican people as a singular subject. There is a regular pattern within the discourses in which a decision taken by the president is followed by an inclusive we and a deontic modality moving in the direction of that decision.1 An example would be: "With realism and confidence, we are going to act with the resources of today to achieve the goals." (I,49-51). Not only does he direct the action in a certain direction (that of modernisation), the president also determines the required values: realism and confidence. Genre

The genre is the informe, which, like the State of the Union, informs the congress and the people of the government policy of the past year. Genre is the discoursal aspect of acting and interacting in the course of social events. Mexican people, represented as a singular unity, are evoked by the most abstract form of a simulated dialogue. "The voice of change calls for." . Amongst other things, the voice of change calls for a "new democratic relation between citizens and authorities" (I,23-4). The way in which the Mexican people are backgrounded and the way in which they are represented as a singular, undifferentiated subject does not look very promising in this respect. In fact, the genre seems to reveal the fact that Salinas de Gortari proceeds on the authoritarian line of his predecessors.

Concluding remarks: Representation is strongly developed in the dominant discourse. The president foregrounds a certain policy: social neoliberalism. He announces a series of measures and he has the power to put these into action. During his administration he has modified certain articles of the Constitution, the state has been restructured, Mexico has joined NAFTA and the Program of Solidarity has been implemented. The genre is formal; the president is literally informing the Congress. Though he mentions the wish to establish a new relationship between citizens and authorities, he does not elaborate this idea in any way. Social subjects are represented as a singular unity and mostly deleted from the discourse. The simulated dialogue is a one-way intervention: the people call for change, the president defines the direction in which to go. The formal style is consistent with the genre. The discourse of the EZLN Discourse

The discourse of the EZLN draws on the discourse of social movements, with demands for liberty, justice and freedom as its basic keywords. This implies a discourse of solidarity with keywords such as "brothers" etc. It contains a political discourse that defends a pluralist democracy. It creates and convocates for a series of democratic podia: the referendum, CND, MNL, and the FZLN. It draws on a discourse of warfare (armed struggle) and the discourse of international law related to war: the rules of the Red Cross. It also contains an antiglobalist discourse in which it invites people from the entire world to join their meetings against neoliberalism. The discourse of the EZLN is nationalist in character and draws on a ethnocultural, integral version of nationalism. It identifies with the national heroes that promoted reform. They have named themselves after the hero of the Mexican Revolution, the agrarian leader Emiliano Zapata who fought for the return of land and water to the peasantry. They divide the country between an anti-Mexican elite and a progressive, national citizenship with a radicalised civil society.

They reveal a prominent paradox in the discourse of the government. Inclusive as the dominant discourse may pretend to be, it has deleted difference. In a multi-ethnic country like Mexico, this implies that the president only speaks to its own group, the political elite, while ignoring the large majority of its indigenous people. Style

The style of the EZLN is informal, like spoken language. It directly calls to specific sectors of the population, such as housewives and students. The leaders of the EZLN show an open identity in the sense that they are an "obeying leadership". In their view of power, the rulers will always obey the majority. They represent not only the indigenous people, but any other minority that has no value in the market economy. They insist on breaking the power of the government but then will open up a radical democracy that will appoint its own leaders. The use of their baklavas is another expression of their identity. It inculcates their view on power. They hide their own identity in order to serve the will of the majority. It also makes it possible that any minority group can identify with their struggle. Genre

The discourse of the EZLN has a high level of dialogicality. Most of these declarations imply a convocation in which they invite a variety of sectors of the population, who are all explicitly named: "We call on the workers of the republic, the laborers in the countryside and the cities, the people in squatters settlements, the teachers and the students of Mexico, the women of Mexico (...) the honest artists and intellectuals (.)" (Womack 1999:292). They create a series of innovative conventions and events, to allow a civil discussion to take place. These encounters are crucial to the struggle of the EZLN. It is civil society that should decide about the future of the national political system.

1Fairclough distinguishes two basic exchange types: knowledge exchange and activity exchange. The latter is realised through deontic modality (Fairclough 2003:168)

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Volumen 22 (2005)
ISSN: 1139-8736