Chapter Ten – Postmodern, Postcolonial Revolution

The Zapatistas Exercise

The Zapatistas

To answer the following questions, carefully assess the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle. 

Part One

a. What do the Zapatistas fight for?

b. Why did they take over those towns?

c. What compelled them to “set aside fire and [take] up the word”?

d. How do they define “civil society”?

e. Assess how their definition of whom they fight for translated into the fact that the government could not make them disappear.

f. Explain the strategy behind the “Encuentros Intergalácticos”.

g. “The Zapatistas are soldiers so that there will not be any soldiers.” Explain this in connection with the Juntas de Buen Gobierno (Good Government Juntas)

h. How did they make “another world is possible” a reality?

Part Two

a. Assess how their definition of whom they fight for translated into the fact that the government could not make them disappear.

b. Compare “lead by obeying” to Che’s notion of vanguardism. See “Indigenous People and Autonomy” in the Additional Readings and Resources section of this chapter.

Part Three

“In other words, we are inviting the unregistered political and social organizations of the left, and those persons who lay claim to the left and who do not belong to registered political parties, to meet with us, at the time, place, and manner in which we shall propose at the proper time, to organize a national campaign, visiting all possible corners of our Patria, in order to listen to and organize the world of our people. It is like a campaign, then, but very otherly, because it is not electoral.”

What is the connection between this passage and the Zapatistas’ autonomy? Why are they specifying unregistered political parties? What is the connection between political parties and state power? To respond to this, look at “Indigenous People and Autonomy” and Graciela’s encyclopedia entry “Autonomist Social Movements” in the Additional Reading and Resources section of this chapter.

Part Four

How do the Zapatistas define capitalism and neoliberalism?

Part Five

” We are inviting all indigenous, workers, campesinos, teachers, students, housewives, neighbors, small businesspersons, small shop owners, micro-businesspersons, pensioners, handicapped persons, religious men and women, scientists, artists, intellectuals, young persons, women, old persons, homosexuals and lesbians, boys and girls– to participate, whether individually or collectively, directly with the Zapatistas in this NATIONAL CAMPAIGN for building another way of doing politics, for a program of national struggle of the left, and for a new Constitution.”

What is your analysis of this call? Explain its importance and compare it to the organizing strategies of Kropotkin, Marx and Guevara, who call on the working class (proletariat) to defeat the bourgeois or corporations.

Part Six

With the failure of the American socio-economic system to sufficiently prepare and respond to the Coronavirus pandemic, tensions grew, culminating in an explosion after the murder of George Floyd. The US experienced a Black-led multi-racial working-class rebellion against racism and systemic oppression, which in some cities sedimented into autonomous spaces reclaimed from the state and capitalism. While both the Capital Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) autonomous zone in Seattle and the Occupation of New York’s City Hall (OCH) have already been evicted by the police, these movements have built on the Zapatista and other experiences, offering glimpses of a better world free of racism, classism, and patriarchal exploitation. Read the article below and cite the characteristics of CHOP aligned with Zapatista practices. Explain their connection to Kropotkin’s theory, especially his idea of the warehouse, as opposed to wages to cover human needs and desires.


Seattle Police Shut Down CHOP



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