On visiting the Zapatista community of Oventic

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  • user warning: Table './external/cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed query: UPDATE cache_views_data SET data = 'a:4:{s:4:\"head\";s:0:\"\";s:3:\"css\";a:0:{}s:2:\"js\";a:0:{}s:6:\"output\";s:2195:\"<div class=\"view view-audio view-id-audio view-display-id-block_1 view-dom-id-2\">\n \n \n \n <div class=\"view-content\">\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/content/wsm-member-rte-arguing-strike-24th\">WSM member on RTE arguing for strike on 24th</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-2 views-row-even\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/media-panel-manufacturing-consent-dabf2014\" title=\"Media panel on Manufacturing Consent at DABF 2014 - Audio\">Media panel on Manufacturing Consent at DABF 2014...</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/content/120000-workers-march-through-dublin-national-strike-now\" title=\"120,000 workers march through Dublin - National strike now!\">120,000 workers march through Dublin - National...</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-4 views-row-even\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/anarchism-politics-climate-change\" title=\"Thinking About Anarchism: The Politics of Climate Change\">Thinking About Anarchism: The Politics of Climate...</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/history-development-anarchism-sydney\">The development of anarchism in Sydney</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-6 views-row-even views-row-last\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/anti-capitalist-environmentalist-perspective-euro-crisis\" title=\"An anti-capitalist and environmentalist perspective on the Euro crisis\">An anti-capitalist and environmentalist...</a></span>\n </div>\n </div>\n </div>\n \n \n \n \n<div class=\"more-link\">\n <a href=\"/anarchism/audio\">\n more </a>\n</div>\n \n \n \n</div> \";}', created = 1566497771, expire = 1566498071, headers = '', serialized = 1 WHERE cid = 'audio:block_1:output:3dca59baec8b80ef499c8a1eec3752ef' in /var/www/public/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './external/cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed query: UPDATE cache_views_data SET data = 'a:3:{s:6:\"result\";a:6:{i:0;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8695\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:59:\"The housing crisis in Ireland - 8 points on the big picture\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:745:\"<p><img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/HousingMarch.jpg\" style=\"width: 400px; height: 320px; margin: 3px; float: right;\" />The WSM has been having a &#39;big picture&#39; discussion around the housing crisis from which the following points emerged. We are publishing them ahead of the December 1st demonstration in Dublon (14.00 Parnell square).</p>\r\n<p>1. We built our cities and the houses of our cities. They are ours, not to slave in, but to master and to own*.</p>\r\n<p>2. The contemporary crisis of capitalism has made markedly visible the relationship between finance capital and property speculation, between the concentrated money-power of bankers and speculators and the shaping of the built environment in our towns and cities.</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1543494053\";}i:1;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8679\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:25:\"DABF Safer spaces policy \";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:593:\"<div>\r\n This policy applies to the bookfair, the fundraising afterparty, the meeting spaces and online spaces. This policy is made in order to create an environment to foster free discussion and sharing of ideas, those engaging in abusive or oppressive behaviour will be asked to leave the space. We encourage all attendees to be aware of this policy, and to report to book-fair volunteers if they observe people engaging in abusive or oppressive behaviour.</div>\r\n<div>\r\n &nbsp;</div>\r\n<div>\r\n We define the following as abusive behaviours which are not tolerated in this space;</div>\r\n<div>\r\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1536841535\";}i:2;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8675\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:47:\"Get your Dublin Anarchist Bookfair 2018 T-shirt\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:310:\"<p><strong>Get your Dublin Anarchist Bookfair t-shirt! [ONLINE SALES ARE NOW CLOSED]</strong><br />\r\n <img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/Womens%20tee.jpg\" style=\"width: 300px; height: 300px;\" />&nbsp;&nbsp;<img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/Mens%20tee_0.jpg\" style=\"width: 300px; height: 300px;\" /></p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1536010979\";}i:3;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"6387\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:97:\"12th Dublin Anarchist Bookfair - 14th & 15th September 2018 - Teachers Club 35 Parnell sq & Wynns\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:745:\"<p><img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/DABF_FB_Event.png\" style=\"width: 350px; height: 195px; margin: 3px; float: right;\" />The 12th Dublin Anarchist Bookfair took place on the 15th September 2018 at the Teachers Club 35 Parnell square and on the evening of the 14th at Wynns hotel. &nbsp;Every year hundreds of people attend the Dublin Anarchist Bookfair for a day of inspiring discussions and the opportunity of meeting lots of other radicals, browsing books and meeting campaigns.</p>\r\n<p>We will be uploading about a dozen audio and video recordings of the panels at the bookfair, follow us on Twitter or Facebook to get notification of new uploads or check&nbsp;<a href=\"https://www.wsm.ie/anarchist-bookfair\">Anarchist bookfair</a></p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1528363710\";}i:4;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8642\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:51:\"8 reasons we are voting Yes to Repeal the hated 8th\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:375:\"<p class=\"rtecenter\"><img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/Repeal8thWSMbannerthin.jpg\" style=\"width: 650px; height: 307px; margin: 3px;\" /></p>\r\n<p>On May 25th we finally get to vote to Repeal the hated 8th amendment. &nbsp;Here we present the 8 reasons we are voting Yes to Repeal along with many of the articles we have published on the issue in recent months. &nbsp;</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1527172249\";}i:5;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8639\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:52:\"What Happened When Portugal Decriminalised Abortion?\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:970:\"<p dir=\"ltr\"><strong>With the referendum to repeal the 8th <strong><img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/portugal%20abortion%20pic.png\" style=\"height: 341px; width: 400px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 3px; float: right;\" /></strong>amendment on May 25th drawing nearer, it&rsquo;s with great interest that we look at the experience of other countries which have struggled against an abortion ban like ours, to learn from the lessons of the campaign, and to &lsquo;look into the future&rsquo;, as it were, and see the result of decriminalising abortion. As such, here are some brief notes on Portugal.</strong></p>\r\n<p dir=\"ltr\">On 11th February 2007, in a national referendum, the Portuguese voted in favor of the decriminalization of the &quot;voluntary interruption of the pregnancy&quot; (VGI). It was the end of more than 30 years of struggles, advances and retreats, with many public debates dividing several quarters of Portuguese society.</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1525798800\";}}s:10:\"total_rows\";i:1579;s:5:\"pager\";a:5:{s:9:\"use_pager\";s:1:\"0\";s:14:\"items_per_page\";i:6;s:7:\"element\";i:0;s:6:\"offset\";i:0;s:12:\"current_page\";i:0;}}', created = 1566497771, expire = 1566498071, headers = '', serialized = 1 WHERE cid = 'wsm_only:block_1:results:16885687294f88c96edbb69cc081e85e' in /var/www/public/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
  • user warning: Table './external/cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed query: UPDATE cache_views_data SET data = 'a:4:{s:4:\"head\";s:0:\"\";s:3:\"css\";a:0:{}s:2:\"js\";a:0:{}s:6:\"output\";s:3201:\"<div class=\"view view-wsm-only view-id-wsm_only view-display-id-block_1 view-dom-id-4\">\n \n \n \n <div class=\"view-content\">\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/housing-crisis-notes-big-picture-ireland\" title=\"The housing crisis in Ireland - 8 points on the big picture\">The housing crisis in Ireland - 8 points on the big...</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">The WSM has been having a &#39;big picture&#39; discussion around the housing crisis...</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-2 views-row-even\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/dabf-safer-spaces-policy\" title=\"DABF Safer spaces policy \">DABF Safer spaces policy</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">\n This policy applies to the bookfair, the fundraising afterparty, the meeting spaces...</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/get-your-dublin-anarchist-bookfair-2018-t-shirt\">Get your Dublin Anarchist Bookfair 2018 T-shirt</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">Get your Dublin Anarchist Bookfair t-shirt! [ONLINE SALES ARE NOW CLOSED]\n &nbsp;&nbsp;</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-4 views-row-even\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/dublin-anarchist-bookfair-latest\" title=\"12th Dublin Anarchist Bookfair - 14th &amp; 15th September 2018 - Teachers Club 35 Parnell sq &amp; Wynns\">12th Dublin Anarchist Bookfair - 14th &amp; 15th...</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">The 12th Dublin Anarchist Bookfair took place on the 15th September 2018 at the...</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/8-reasons-vote-yes-to-repeal\">8 reasons we are voting Yes to Repeal the hated 8th</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">\nOn May 25th we finally get to vote to Repeal the hated 8th amendment. &nbsp;Here we...</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n <div class=\"views-row views-row-6 views-row-even views-row-last\">\n \n <div class=\"views-field-title\">\n <span class=\"field-content\"><a href=\"/c/what-happened-portugal-decriminalised-abortion-anarchism\">What Happened When Portugal Decriminalised Abortion?</a></span>\n </div>\n \n <div class=\"views-field-teaser\">\n <span class=\"field-content\">With the referendum to repeal the 8th amendment on May 25th drawing nearer, it&rsquo;s...</span>\n </div>\n </div>\n </div>\n \n \n \n \n<div class=\"more-link\">\n <a href=\"/all\">\n more </a>\n</div>\n \n \n \n</div> \";}', created = 1566497771, expire = 1566498071, headers = '', serialized = 1 WHERE cid = 'wsm_only:block_1:output:30e25f9bd85c357eb10c6c886f8c678d' in /var/www/public/includes/cache.inc on line 112.
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  • user warning: Table './external/cache_views_data' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed query: UPDATE cache_views_data SET data = 'a:3:{s:6:\"result\";a:6:{i:0;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8692\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:57:\"No LNG terminal on the Shannon - Climate Change & Methane\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:786:\"<p>We interviewed William Hederman, an environmental researcher living in County Clare, about the planned Liquefied Natural Gas terminal on the Shannon. Construction of it will mean Ireland will fail to meet its Climate Change commitments and will instead be tied into pumping out additional Greenhouse Gases for decades. As the LNG will come from the US it will includes fracked gas, a process banned in Ireland that releases three times as much of the very powerful Climate Change gas methane as conventional gas. [<a href=\"https://youtu.be/iO960KeoaHE\">video</a>]</p>\r\n<p><iframe allow=\"accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture\" allowfullscreen=\"\" frameborder=\"0\" height=\"315\" src=\"https://www.youtube.com/embed/iO960KeoaHE\" width=\"560\"></iframe></p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1542897581\";}i:1;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8687\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:30:\"Moral philosophy and abortion \";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:1167:\"<p><img alt=\"\" src=\"/sites/default/files/Philosophers.jpg\" style=\"width: 400px; height: 309px; margin: 3px; float: right;\" />The debate around abortion is sometimes characterised as an opposition between the morals of the church and personal morals. But is this an accurate description? Moral philosophy can broadly be defined as the branch of philosophy that contemplates what is right and wrong. It explores the nature of morality and examines how people should live their lives in relation to others. But a closer look at what characterises moral philosophy leads to the conclusion that while the expression &ldquo;relying on personal morals&rdquo; may come across as a useful shortcut to describe what the pro-choice stance is about, it is also a misuse of moral terminology which has the effect of casting a positive light on moral philosophy, rather than helping us come to terms with the deeply problematic nature of this field. As I hope to make clear, arguments in favour of abortion rights are rooted in anti-authoritarianism whereas moral philosophy can only exist as a rhetorical tool of authoritarianism (even when it is used with good intentions).</p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1538146665\";}i:2;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8686\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:88:\"Let Them Drown: Climate Change is War - and Wall Street is Winning audio from #DABF 2018\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:587:\"<p>This audio is an independently organised panel from the 2018 Dublin Anarchist Bookfair on the bleak reality of climate change and its intersections with financial capitalism, state politics and migration. [<a href=\"https://www.mixcloud.com/workerssolidarity/climate-change-is-war-and-wall-street-is-winning-audio-from-dabf-2018/\">audio</a>]</p>\r\n<p><iframe frameborder=\"0\" height=\"120\" src=\"https://www.mixcloud.com/widget/iframe/?hide_cover=1&amp;light=1&amp;feed=%2Fworkerssolidarity%2Fclimate-change-is-war-and-wall-street-is-winning-audio-from-dabf-2018%2F\" width=\"100%\"></iframe>\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1538128457\";}i:3;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8685\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:99:\"Ending Direct Provision: Migrant Voices speak out about the Asylum process in Ireland at #DABF 2018\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:765:\"<p>People currently in Direct Provision talk about the dehumanising conditions and the large profits being made out of their suffering by the companies that own the direct provision centres. People don&rsquo;t understand why we ended up in Direct Provision, we hope to bring our stories out of the shadows of Irish society. [<a href=\"https://www.mixcloud.com/workerssolidarity/ending-direct-provision-migrant-voices-speak-out-about-the-asylum-process-in-ireland-at-dabf-2018/\">audio</a>]</p>\r\n<p><iframe frameborder=\"0\" height=\"120\" src=\"https://www.mixcloud.com/widget/iframe/?hide_cover=1&amp;light=1&amp;feed=%2Fworkerssolidarity%2Fending-direct-provision-migrant-voices-speak-out-about-the-asylum-process-in-ireland-at-dabf-2018%2F\" width=\"100%\"></iframe></p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1537883979\";}i:4;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8684\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:66:\"How my politics is intersectional - audio from panel at 2018 #DABF\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:634:\"<p>Panel from the 2018 Dublin Anarchist bookfair on the intersection between race politics, class and gender in Ireland with a particular focus on the current housing struggles and the Together for Yes referendum campaign / Repeal movement. [<a href=\"https://www.mixcloud.com/workerssolidarity/how-my-politics-is-intersectional-panel-at-2018-dublin-anarchist-bookfair/\">audio</a>]</p>\r\n<p><iframe frameborder=\"0\" height=\"120\" src=\"https://www.mixcloud.com/widget/iframe/?hide_cover=1&amp;light=1&amp;feed=%2Fworkerssolidarity%2Fhow-my-politics-is-intersectional-panel-at-2018-dublin-anarchist-bookfair%2F\" width=\"100%\"></iframe></p>\r\n\";s:21:\"node_revisions_format\";s:1:\"2\";s:12:\"node_created\";s:10:\"1537536634\";}i:5;O:8:\"stdClass\":5:{s:3:\"nid\";s:4:\"8683\";s:10:\"node_title\";s:91:\"Rojava: Eyewitness to a women\'s revolution - report back from a May 2018 trip at #DABF 2018\";s:21:\"node_revisions_teaser\";s:597:\"<p>The 12th Dublin anarchist bookfair heard this account from Wendy, a Human Rights &amp; immigration lawyer who visited Rojava in May 2018 as part of a fact finding delegation. 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Date:

Last November, I took part in a week-long language school at Oventic, Chiapas.[1] I spent the week living and learning with two US-based comrades – Laila, a tattoo artist and socialist/feminist from Memphis, and Michael, a housing rights activist from Baltimore – alongside the wider Zapatista community of Oventic. Our ‘guides’ for the week were our neighbours – Natalio and Paloma as well as Stephanie (who was learning to be a teacher) and Efrain (a linguist, philosopher and educator all rolled in to one). These were the people we met and spoke with every day. What follows are some reflections recorded along the way.   

 

On the Zapatista community

Oventic is located high in the mountains of Chiapas. It is hard not to feel small beside the great mountain ranges and underneath such a vast sky. The mornings are usually bright, clear and full of bird song. In the evening, fog rolls down the hills and shrouds us in a damp mist. By night, it is pitch black except for the stars. Life here, surprisingly, is very ordinary and, equally surprisingly, very special. In the mornings, from my privileged bunk bed, I can hear the sounds of a day to day routine beginning – men and women getting up before dawn, clothes washed by hand and hung on lines, the low singing of those getting ready for work in the fields and always the running and laughing of children. The work of the village is work but work in common, shared and collective. People talk with one another slowly and leisurely. The children are almost always playing.

In the evenings, when work is long over, there are sports and games on the basketball courts. One evening, we attend a community meeting in a nearby classroom where Efrain plays social movement media clips on a laptop and projector, showing news of the disappearance of the 43 student teachers of Ayotzinapah and the protests of dignity and rage overflowing Mexico. Another evening, Michael and I join the community assembled on the basketball courts and help bag and store the corn that the village will use to make tortillas. There is singing as we finish. Later that night, the three of us visitors take part in a music session where the community sang the Himno Zapatista along with many rebel and folk songs, including some Irish ones (my contribution).

On Corozonar, Bats’i k’op and Listening

Zapatistas do not ask one another the Spanish ‘como estas?’, but rather the Tsotsil ‘k’uxi jav o’on’ – not ‘how are you?, but rather ‘what is your heart telling you?’ This is one example of how language can emerge from (and shape our understanding of) a place or world. It also shows the emphasis that the Zapatistas place on listening - listening to our own hearts (corozonar) and to others’. Natalio explains to us that many Zapatistas use an indigenous language or ‘bats’i k’op’ (which translates as ‘real words’) to talk to one another. He emphasises at various points the need to live in the real world.

At the end of my stay, when Laila, Michael and I take the bus back to San Cristobal, we are bombarded with advertising for Coke and Pepsi, PRI and PAN, as well as the local radio chatter. Michael says it feels a bit like stepping out of the real world and back into ‘The Matrix’.

How are you like a tree? Where are our roots?

In our first conversation, Natalio, Stephanie, Michael and I read a story about Napí, an indigenous girl who likes to dream of another world in which she can fly with the birds of the forest. At one point in the story, we are told how Napí’s mother, soon after Napí was born, buried her umbilical cord at the roots of a great tree, in keeping with local Mayan custom. We are invited to reflect on how Napí understood the world as a child, as part of a family and a community and as part of her natural environment.

Natalio then asks us, ‘what happened to your umbilical cord?’ He suggests that this question of ‘where are our roots?’ is a question for life. If we want to grow upwards and outwards, we must find and grow roots - in our communities and in our environment. Later, Efrain suggests that finding our roots in a community is a means of recuperating and recovering our personality from capitalism in a ‘nosotr@s’ or ‘we ourselves’, or in intersubjectivity.

What does the earth mean?

The land is seen as La Madre Tierra, the fountain or source for all flora and fauna, for all our lives. Natalio tell us that there are many words for land. There is ‘balumil’ which is the entire world; ‘osil’ which is the land in which families live and work; and, in between, ‘lum’ or ‘jteklum’ which is the community’s territory and practices. He explains that the Zapatistas cannot live without land. In the history of the indigenous, being without land meant being without any rights or recognition or dignity. So as to conquer the locals better, the ranch barons divided indigenous communities into ‘mozos’ (those without land) and ‘valdios’ (those workers with a little land). Today, the Zapatistas allocate small plots of land to families where they work as equals and share resources.  

What does work mean?

We all go to a milpa or small hillside plot one morning. We help clear the overgrowth from the small plants or aloes that Natalio’s family cultivates. My academic hands are not used to using a pick or hoe; they blister quickly. After a short time, working together, we have managed to clear away quite a bit of the grassy overgrowth. Natalio then suggests we stop and we do. As we walk back, he explains that Zapatistas don’t work to a schedule but rather work until their bodies tell them they should stop.  

As we develop this idea, Natalio explains that there are many words for work. A’mtel is human work, all those activities for yourself, your family, your community that you decide to do. Pak k’ak’al approximates those activities that you do and hope to receive something similar in return. P’iju’mtasbail – is a local word for working in common, as a brother or sister. These are all forms of real work. The third form is ‘Kanal’. This is unreal work in which you are not acting for yourself. Instead, you have a boss and there is a process of control from above; you do not have options or choices. People who are exploited in this way are termed ‘jkanal’.

What does education mean?

The Zapatista experience of state education – in which visiting teachers came occasionally and often proved violently disciplinarian - taught them that the state did not care about their children’s education or their future. This form of education based on writing and book-learning dates from the Conquest and is described as ‘el chan vun’. Today, the Zapatistas share a different form of education or ‘chanu’mtasbail’ in which all the community and the natural environment take on the role of ‘teacher’. Our classes are held in the same spirit. They involve a series of questions or videos or stories in the mornings that we are then invited to reflect on in the afternoon as we take part in other activities in the community.  We then write some reflections and discuss these the following morning.

Do you consider yourself an anti-capitalist? Please explain why.

One sunny day we are taken across a river and to the top of a nearby mountain ridge where we sit in a circle in the shade of the pine trees. Efrain lays out seven cards each stating a Zapatista organising principle. He emphasises that these are not a model to be applied but more like ‘guides’ that emerge from the indigenous way of seeing and living. These are:

  • To propose, not to impose
  • To represent, not to supplant
  • To lower, not to elevate oneself
  • To serve, not to serve oneself
  • To obey, not to command
  • To convince, not to win
  • To create, not to destroy

The Zapatistas share a broad understanding of what it means to be anti-capitalist. In the Sexta Declaration, they side with the ‘humble and simple people’ of the world who are looking and struggling against and beyond neoliberalism, seeking dignity. Efrain says that an indigenous word ‘chulel’ captures the living quality of life, all the life force or energy involved in the earth, in one’s own life, even the potentialities latent in objects and things. Capitalism is a destroyer of ‘chulel’, of nature and of community. It promotes an extreme individualisation and dehumanisation. The Zapatistas are on a path or a way of true living, emerging out of and realising chulel.

References

The Sexta Declaration and many (many) more Zapatista communiqués are available at http://palabra.ezln.org.mx/ and http://enlacezapatista.ezln.org.mx/

Efrain suggested that I read Carlos Lenkerforf, who has written on Mayan languages in ‘Los Hombres Verdaderos’ and ‘Cosmovision Maya’, or Sup. Marcos (Yvon le Bot), ‘El Sueno Zapatista’. He also recommended the journalistic pieces written by Herman Bellinghausen in the newspaper, La Jornada.

In terms of anarchist writings, Murray Bookchin’s The Ecology of Freedom, a terrific analysis of the ecological and democratic sensibilities of organic communities, resonates with some of the ideas presented here. Articles by WSM members who participated in the Zapatista Encuentros are also available. Finally, I recently interviewed Gustavo Esteva on the links between the Zapatistas and today’s social movements’ resistance in the ‘zombie time’ of capitalism.



[1] This was a rare opportunity. The Zapatistas started limiting outsider involvement to prevent government or military informers infiltrating and undermining their communities. They recently opened the language school as a means of enabling outsiders to demonstrate solidarity, of spreading the Zapatista word, of generating some revenue for the communities, and of providing the communities with a soft form of protection from military incursions. About a third of the Mexican army has been stationed in Chiapas since the Zapatista uprising of 1994. International solidarity networks play a role in limiting the army’s violence.

 

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