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Zapatismo, Anyone?

by by Brian Dominick Sunday, Aug. 13, 2000 at 5:29 PM

Not since the Zapatista uprising in January, 1994, has my hope for radical social change been so reinvigorated as by the recent uprisings here in the North around the World Trade Organization, the IMF/World Bank, and the Organization of American States.

Remember Clinton/Gore where responsible for supporting and

implementing NAFTA. And although Senator Leahy(D) from Vermont

includes good language in the foriegn appropriations act concerning

human rights, they still push huge military spending in the south,

the democrats never followed through on stopping some of the

genocide happening down south with the languauge in that

appropriations act.

Just some food for thought here..

Viva ZAPATA......la luchue sigue...ps...brian didn't post this


Not since the Zapatista uprising in January, 1994, has my

hope for radical social change been so reinvigorated as by

the recent uprisings here in the North around the World

Trade Organization, the IMF/World Bank, and the Organization

of American States. It's been all the more disturbing, then,

that the recent flurry of protest and direct action

targeting such global culprits, their policies, and their

trade agreements, has almost nowhere been correlated with

the Zapatistas' highly successful attempt to address

globalism, and NAFTA in particular.

A huge influx of fresh, energetic activists is now filling

the collective "ranks" of progressive and radical social

movements. Unfortunately, it seems few among them have

anything resembling a solid understanding of the Zapatistas,

their plight, their teachings, and their strategy and


Have we forgotten our indigenous neighbors to the South?

Have we overlooked the fact that no one is more responsible

for awakening and inspiring the anti-corporate globalization

movement we're already beginning to take for granted?

Indeed, are we even aware that for the people of Chiapas, as

throughout the Global South, the violence of Seattle is a

regular experience?

I think it's time we begin to seriously revisit zapatismo.

After all, it's primary instruction with regard to North

Americans and Europeans in particular revolves around the

Zapatistas' desperate need for parallel resistance in the

North. They told us early on that without our solidarity

their is little hope of success in liberating their

communities and their cultures from the grasp of

multinational capital and its demand for a docile,

exploitable peasant class in the Third World.

So while we're patting ourselves on the back for successes

in Windsor, Washington and Seattle, we should be looking

south for more lessons, and more inspiration. The Zapatistas

reinvented anti- corporate globalism. We've merely followed

their lead, without crediting them for the shove.

So what are the lessons of zapatismo as they pertain to

First World activists? The first is that solidarity with the

Third World doesn't stop at sending material aid, teachers

or observers to impoverished villages in Latin America,

Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.

True solidarity means educating our own communities in the

struggles of peoples throughout the world. It means raising

a consciousness among working people -- especially people of

color and marginalized ethnicities -- that they are not

alone in their experiences of and resistance to class

struggle and racism.

Solidarity also means rising up here at home to raise the

social costs of pursuing such peoples' exploitation -- both

domestically and abroad -- to a level corporations and the

institutional agents which facilitate their pursuits cannot

accommodate. That implies distracting multinational

institutions from their quest for profits by forcing them on

the defensive. It also requires removing the US military

from foreign soil, and extinguishing the funds which equip

the enemies of our brothers and sisters with the requisites

of war. The goal is to send US troops marching North,

homeward, demoralized, eager to lay down their weapons once

and for all.

Zapatismo also teaches us that all resistance must be

informed and animated by deeply-rooted ties to community and

culture. Indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere have

had 500 years to develop cultures of resistance from what

were once cultures of existence, and to define community and

identity in relation to a common oppressor. Most of the rest

of us are only now beginning to form cultural bonds within a

struggle for liberation, and we're caught between two

communities: one in explicit, if periodic, resistance; the

other absorbed and manufactured by the dominant culture.

Finally, Zapatismo teaches us that democracy -- within and

among our movement groups, as well as between them and

"civil society" - - is an integral element of revolutionary

strategy. There's no substitute for participatory leadership

and direction of social movements.

Organizing for truly direct democracy within grassroots

groups is hard enough; more difficult still is the task of

making concrete connections between our movements and the

public they purport to serve and represent. However, if we

are to speak for "the people," we must be embraced and

eventually joined by "the people." The EZLN and FZLN have

had no easy time achieving that end, so we should expect

nothing less here at home. But until we take their cue

seriously, we will be operating bereft of a confident,

coherent vision and without substantial support.

There is plenty more to learn from the Zapatistas and other

Third World warriors around the globe. But if there is any

one lesson with which we cannot dispense, it is that until

we begin looking to and acknowledging the teachings and

solidarity of other incarnations of the anti-corporate

globalization movement, we can expect to be devoured by our

own isolation, ignorance and arrogance.

In addition to being an irregular Commentator, Brian carries

out Interactivity Development and Member Support at ZNet. He

is a member of On the Ground, a direct action affinity group

based in his hometown of Syracuse, NY, and has been working

on Zapatista solidarity since January, 1994.

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educate silver Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2000 at 12:37 PM
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