More about the Zapatistas (continued)


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Published: January 13th 2006
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... overshadowing the flaws in his thinking and his lack of actual achievements. A man to be liked more than admired, he fought with passion and was honest towards his own short-comings but has more fame than his 'achievements' deserve. A theme consistent in Latin American where the people are fond of lifting people to God like status, untouchable by criticism. In many ways they become a symbol for a idea, a movement. Maintaining the myth of perfection is useful in bringing a face or a name to cause or an idea, almost marketing it.
Hence Zapata, a man who deserves more recognition, was only to found in the history books until the Zapatistas reminded us of him. There's a book, harshly titled 'Latin American Idiots' (didn't sell well in LAm), written by Latin Americans which discusses this further.

To further Marcos idea, Che saw the world as black and white, with black not working, he saw white as the solution. Missing the colours, the different ways of thinking and solutions to problems. Communism is not the solution to Capitalism, to ever see politics as solely left or right, and consistent for country to country, is a mistake, an over simplication. Different politics are necessary in different situations.

Marcos himself is thought to have been a Marxist who himself found the colour after long discussions with the Indigenous people. The leader of an democratic movement, not a dictator, fighting for a fair democracy which works for all, and not just the few. As much admiration as is given to this unique approach to the worlds' problems it's not clear it has or will change. The advocates of passive methods may think they are winning the war, but are they just attracting inactive sympathies, rather than people voting for fairness with their feet?
The owner of my langauge school didn't like Marcos, didn't agree with his ideology. He sees him as a idealist speaking with passion about what people want when many in Chiapas don't support them. They would take greater prosperity in exchange for losing some of their traditonal methods, maybe they want material goods and to live in a material world too. For many getting on with living is more important than fighting endlessly for something that may never happen, suffering in the process, as many are by the army's occupation of Chiapas land. It's all very well shouting about freedom and for ideals, but ideals by there very name are not realistic. The army has exiled many from their homes caused people to live in fear for a movement they don't all support and for what? Outsiders can shout all they want about the long-term benefits of people standing up, but they're not the ones standing up, they are removed, seperate, I'm not living in jungle scared, homeless.
He made this point in a more abbreviated form, the flip side of the coin, admittably not as much pride can be taken from this approach but the Zapatistas claim to be democratic and they have to make sure they are one.
All in all I agree with Zapatista movement and I support it from what I know of it. I have tried to give a counter-argument above but I don´t really believe in it myself. I think it´s very important to try to see both sides (or other points of view) as any thinking is almost bound to be flawed if a consideration for this isn´t made.

Many of these some points are revelant here, in Guatemala, as I said before about the traditional dress not fighting but getting on with life, making a concession. Once again it may not be seen as admirable, but maybe it's realistic? This is obviously a very debatable any I would glad to hear from anyone who has anything more to add to the argument.

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11th March 2006

Todo para todos y nada para nosotrps
I have read a lot about the zapatistas and I feel that all thinkers would share in their struggle for liberty, justice and (radical, meaning real) democracy.
11th March 2006

A world of many worlds or a global movement?
I enjoyed reading your blogs. A few comments: I have read a lot about the zapatistas and believe that any free thinker would relate to their struggle for justice, liberty and (real, meaning radical) democracy. And even from my sheltered, privaledged western education, I can understand that it is better to die fighting than through starving from pro-corporate international trade agreements. I agree that there can be no one model such as communism to be constructed worldwide, however the enemy we are talking about is global capitalism and as such we need a global movement with a direction. Thinking globally and just acting locally just won't cut it. We have to decide how we want the world to be and go for it or we will be divided by nation state struggles. Less ideology, more practicality. But for sure, it has to start on the ground and build upwards. it can never be imposed: it has to be built through logic and persuasion. About Che: as Satre said, the most complete man of our time. Che's thinking, or theorising was not flawed. And lack of actual achievements - wasn't overthrowing the Batista regime enough?! Ok so the African exploits and the Latin American wide revolution that he hoped for didn't happen in his lifetime, but Che believed in an idea so strongly that he was prepared to die for it. I'm not saying I agree with all the actions the Cuban revolution felt it had to take but it succeded in creating a new society. the global justice movement (call it what you will) needs that same drive.
12th March 2006

In response
With regard to the first point, I agree with you wholeheartly, I obviously didn't say this expicably in the text as you seem to read my posts more thoroughly than others who have made private comments. Of course this is an international problem which needs to be adressed but although the problem is, as you correctly labelled: global capitalism, the effects, circumstances and cultures are wildly different worldwide. Therefore any type of united global movement is always going to be difficult. You say less ideology more practicality but isn't the idea of people thinking of things globally and not nationally or religously a little ideological and lacking in practicality. Hence the many worlds that exist in the one. This is big problem in itself. I don't have all the answers, but the first step must be more awareness of the problem in a worldwide sense and of the correct types of methods to deal with it (i.e. in similar fashion to the Zapatistas but adapted for local conditions). It's all too easy for people to take to extreme actions in frustration and to miss the point of what they are actually fighting against and how to best deal with it. Instead of fighting completely against ever part of Global Capitalism, just alter it and change it. Not all aspects of global capitalism are bad, only when it goes unchecked as it has for too long. How to achieve this? I don't know at this time. More awareness of the Zapatistas as a basic model is definetly a start. Once the people as a vast majority support an viewpoint, not through inaction but in practice, actually doing something, only then can the problems be defeated. With regards to Che, I stand by my views. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for the man. I have read many of his books and admire his endlessly fighting against the extremities in wealth he encountered. He was honest too, he would admit his own shortcoming, however minor and was more interested in the greater good than any personal fame. But I still think he was trying to fight extremism with extremism. He was communist in thought and communism is greatly flawed. He misjudged the whole Africa situation and made little effect there and the same could be said in Latin America bar Cuba. I think his biggest achievement was almost accidental, in becoming a martyr to the cause. A face for the idea. But often the idea of stopping poverty is without any thought process behind how to actually do this. I.e. Only identifying the problems but not any sensible solutions. With regard to Cuba, I think it is generally agreeable that he deserves credit for Batista's overthrow but the fifty or so years that have followed....umm a different matter. Hence the lacking in real achievements. Cuba is hardly in a great state now, Castro has overstayed in his position and many mistakes have been made. Ok, you can't blame Che directly for this as he was only involved in post-Batista Cuba in the early years, but I think the refusal to accept capitalism in any form is a real mistake. Being completly alienated from the USA (especially beacuse of their geographical proximity) has harmed them. Some compromising by Castro and things could be much better. I think he is bit power-hungry, he would of stepped down a long time ago if he wasn't.

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