Wal-Mart is now offering its products deep in Zapatista territory

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ISandovalCervantes
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Mar 24 2009 16:37
Wal-Mart is now offering its products deep in Zapatista territory

In November 2008 a convenience store, Bodega Aurrera, part of the Wal-Mart Corporation of Arkansas was inaugurated in the town of Ocosingo, Chiapas. In 1994 the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) took by storm several municipalities of the Mexican state of Chiapas, Ocosingo was one of them. The EZLN rose to arms the same day that the NAFTA went into effect, demonstrating their opposition to this free-trade treaty.

It was in the first week of January 1994, after being occupied by Zapatistas, that Ocosingo became the scene of one of the bloodiest battles reported in the history of the conflict between the EZLN and the Mexican Army; now, 15 years later, the Wal-Mart Corporation has opened yet another store right in this town.

The relationship between Wal-Mart and Mexico is an active one. In 2008, more than 3,000 stores owned by Wal-Mart were inaugurated. But the Bodega Aurrera in Ocosingo has a particular significance. This store, the first convenience store this size in the region, will attempt to provide the more than 75,000 inhabitants of Ocosingo and its surroundings with its products. The task, however, has its difficulties.

The demographical composition of Ocosingo is not very different from that of the rest of Chiapas. Tzetzales (a Mayan indigenous group and the most numerous one in Chiapas, representing around 33% of the indigenous population), militia, middle-class mestizos, rural school teachers, and fair skinned landlords, are the consumers that gather at Ocosingo’s Bodega Aurrera to get lower prices than the ones they would get in a traditional market. This would seem like any other Wal-Mart store in the world, but the Corporation knows how to adapt itself to different settings and, in Ocosingo, the omnipresent voice that lets you know what is on sale does not always speak Spanish, but Tzetzal. Even Mamá Lucha, a caricature character that represents the average Mexican middle class housewife, also speaks in Tzetzal.

This strategy seems to work, as it is Tzetzales who pile up and queue to get a piece of bolillo, a type of bread not sold in the traditional markets, or to buy cheaper tomato or chicken. The traditional market, not too far away from Bodega Aurrera, is still thriving but not as it used to. Products there are more expensive but as one of the merchants says being fresh, local and organic still makes them attractive against the cheaper prices offered at the Wal-Mart franchise.

The store is, according to the local government, an important asset to the region’s economic prosperity as it will not only allow its inhabitants to buy more for less, but it will also provide employment for 64 people. However, the ways in which it will affect local consumption practices and local producers is still unknown and surprisingly little has been reported in the Mexican media (there seems to be only one article by Victor Hugo Michel that appeared in MILENIO on the March 23rd, 2009).

This Wal-Mart owned store represents a challenge to the Zapatista way of life as it will put one of the icons of economic globalization in an area well-known for its revolutionary ideals.

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back2front
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Mar 24 2009 17:47

Ya basta!

Caiman del Barrio
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Mar 25 2009 12:49

Hi, doesn't Ocosingo has a fully functioning municipal government? It's hardly a zona autonoma.

Also, Bodega Aurroras are well cheap...hardly like subsistence farming is an option in a fuckin city.

ISandovalCervantes
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Mar 26 2009 01:11

Hi, first of all, it is not necessary for a municipality to be "autonomous" to be considered an area under the zapatista influence, in that case then San Cristobal de las Casas wouldn´t be zapatista territory.

Second, the point is not against wal-mart itself. It is true, like it was mentioned in the article, that they sell goods for a lower price, but it is this "cheapness" that will end up costing more, both to consumers and to the world´s environment.

Third, the "issue" is that while a lot of people are striving to live a "healthier" lifestyle by buying "fair trade" and "organic" products, this municipality has a chance to decide between "cheap" wal-mart and its traditional markets, and the effects of this decision will reveal some interesting information about what globalization is really about.

Escarabajo
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Mar 26 2009 01:58

theres a difference in an area being under the influence of a specific group and being a part of their territory i.e. held by that group, to the complete or at least widespread exclusion of other forms of authority. neither ococsingo nor san cristobal can be considered as zapatista territory. and as alan hints at, all zapatista territories are incorporated into the autonomous municipalities. the municipal, state and federal police, not to mention the army quite clearly represent the 3 branches of power and authority in these towns, not the EZLN who held them for a few days back in 1994, much as i wish it wasn't the case.

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Devrim
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Mar 26 2009 10:20

What do you think the 'N' in EZLN stands for?

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Bubbles
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Mar 26 2009 10:30

not nationalist for starts... roll eyes

Caiman del Barrio
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Mar 26 2009 11:15
Devrim wrote:
What do you think the 'N' in EZLN stands for?

This is a really simplistic and kinda dishonest argument. What do the S and W stand for in SWP?

I understand Escarabajo's arguments, it probably is beneficial to Chiapan communities in the longterm if they maintain a reliance on locally grown produce for a variety of reasons. That it's being distorted on an internet forum into a question of "supporting" or "not supporting" kinda belies some leftist baggage in the poster(s) to be honest.

That said, the story isn't worth a Libcom news item. It should be left up though, cos it will inspire debate, probably around the Zapatistas in general.

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Mar 26 2009 12:01
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not nationalist for starts... roll eyes

It stands for 'Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional', which I believe translate to 'National' (Liberation) in English.

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This is a really simplistic and kinda dishonest argument. What do the S and W stand for in SWP?

Yes, it is simplistic. I wouldn't really say that it is an argument. It was a question drawing attention to the fact that they do argue in favour of national sovereignty, and national capital as opposed to foreign capital.

I will let them speak for themselves; Lets for example take the sixth communiqué issued in the run up to the 1996 elections, which calls for “...a full and coordinated defence of national sovereignty, through intransigent opposition to the privatisation of electrical energy, oil, water and natural resources.”, or when they continue to say that “And they also say they are going to privatise, or rather sell to foreigners, the businesses that the State once used to help the people's welfare.” The fact that their objection to ‘selling to foreigners’ seems to be the main point of disagreement. Of course if all the owners were ‘good Mexican capitalists’ they would obviously continue to ‘use these businesses to help the peoples welfare’.

I don't see anything dishonest in my question either.

Devrim

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Mar 26 2009 13:35
x357997 wrote:
not nationalist for starts... roll eyes
Devrim wrote:
It stands for 'Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional', which I believe translate to 'National' (Liberation) in English.

either you dont understand the difference between the words nationalist and national or you have no sense of humour.

I really couldnt care less whether or not a walmart sets up in zapatista influenced or controlled territory but I'm sure Devrim could come up with a better and less mis leading agrument either way.

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Mar 26 2009 14:19
x357997 wrote:
either you dont understand the difference between the words nationalist and national or you have no sense of humour.

I don't mean to be obtuse or anything but I don't really see the difference if the point of reference is the nation. I didn't think it was that controversial to say there's a nationalist element to the Zapatistas' politics.

Caiman del Barrio
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Mar 26 2009 17:51

Not really sure what's meant by "nationalism" here? Do people honestly believe that the Zapatista's aim is to create a Mayan nation-state? That would demonstrate a complete ignorance of Latin American history, since the nation-state conception was imported in the aftermath of independence as a means of consolidating the American-born elite. Indigenous struggles in Latin America tend to occur within the context of nation-state expansionism into hitherto peripheral areas outside of the state's control.

At most, it could be argued that the Zapatistas strive(d) for independence from the Mexican nation-state, although I think quoting stuff from 1996 is frankly counter-productive if the aim is to understand the Zapatistas. It's pretty easy to dig up some quote in order to classify something according to the 2 or 3 sorts of occurrences/ideologies your organisation allows you believe exist, but as we all know, the Zapatistas differentiate from Leninists in that they have a healthy process of self-criticism and thus have evolved a whole lot as a movement, despite only having existed for 25 years. The Sixth Declaration confronts the rather narrow nimbyism of early Zapatista politics.

"oh but look at their name, they must be nationalist111!!!!1!!"

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Mar 27 2009 15:04
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Not really sure what's meant by "nationalism" here? Do people honestly believe that the Zapatista's aim is to create a Mayan nation-state? That would demonstrate a complete ignorance of Latin American history, since the nation-state conception was imported in the aftermath of independence as a means of consolidating the American-born elite. Indigenous struggles in Latin America tend to occur within the context of nation-state expansionism into hitherto peripheral areas outside of the state's control.

No, I don't think anyone is suggesting that. Nationalism doesn't have to be as simplistic as the 'every people a nation, every nation a state' idea of of 130 years ago. I think it refers to stuff like this, from 2005:

EZLN wrote:
Now we will talk to you about how we see what is going on in our Mexico. What we see is our country being governed by neoliberals. So, as we already explained, our leaders are destroying our nation, our Mexican Patria. And the work of these bad leaders is not to look after the well-being of the people, instead they are only concerned with the well-being of the capitalists. For example, they make laws like the Free Trade Agreement, which end up leaving many Mexicans destitute, like campesinos and small producers, because they are “gobbled up” by the big agro-industrial companies. As well as workers and small businesspeople, because they cannot compete with the large transnationals who come in without anybody saying anything to them and even thanking them, and they set their low salaries and their high prices. So some of the economic foundations of our Mexico, which were the countryside and industry and national commerce, are being quite destroyed, and just a bit of rubble - which they are certainly going to sell off - remains.

And these are great disgraces for our Patria. Because food is no longer being produced in our countryside, just what the big capitalists sell, and the good lands are being stolen through trickery and with the help of the politicians. What is happening in the countryside is the same as Porfirismo, but, instead of hacendados, now there are a few foreign businesses which have well and truly screwed the campesino. And, where before there were credits and price protections, now there is just charity…and sometimes not even that.

As for the worker in the city, the factories close, and they are left without work, or they open what are called maquiladoras, which are foreign and which pay a pittance for many hours of work. And then the price of the goods the people need doesn’t matter, whether they are expensive or cheap, since there is no money. And if someone was working in a small or midsize business, now they are not, because it was closed, and it was bought by a big transnational. And if someone had a small business, it disappeared as well, or they went to work clandestinely for big businesses which exploit them terribly, and which even put boys and girls to work. And if the worker belonged to his union in order to demand his legal rights, then no, now the same union tells him he will have to put up with his salary being lowered or his hours or his benefits being taken away, because, if not, the business will close and move to another country. And then there is the “microchangarro,” which is the government’s economic program for putting all the city’s workers on street corners selling gum or telephone cards. In other words, absolute economic destruction in the cities as well.

And then what happens is that, with the people’s economy being totally screwed in the countryside as well as in the city, then many Mexican men and women have to leave their Patria, Mexican lands, and go to seek work in another country, the United States. And they do not treat them well there, instead they exploit them, persecute them and treat them with contempt and even kill them. Under neoliberalism which is being imposed by the bad governments, the economy has not improved. Quite the opposite, the countryside is in great need, and there is no work in the cities. What is happening is that Mexico is being turned into a place where people are working for the wealth of foreigners, mostly rich gringos, a place you are just born into for a little while, and in another little while you die. That is why we say that Mexico is dominated by the United States.

link

I'm not an expert on the Zapatistas or anything, but its pretty clear from stuff like this that theres an element of nationalism to their politics, which is why I wrote that I didn't think it was that controversial to say so. That doesn't mean that they should be denounced outright without trying to understand where they're coming from, but I don't see what you'd call the above other than nationalism. I think that Aufheben article does a great job of avoiding both cheerleading the EZLN or denouncing them as something they're not.

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Mar 27 2009 14:40

I think the Zapatistas are in a state of flux. While you could acknowledge the influence of Leninism and the old left, the influence of the Catholic Church etc etc what was essentially a nationalist organisation has become an internationalist phenomenon. Self-organised and autonomous communties which offer expression to all regardless of gender or sexuality and an emphasis on the phrase "from the left and from below" in Marcus' rather poetic deliveries suggest their leanings towards anarchist ideas, however they would not use the word to describe themselves.

Every word carries its historical baggage, every radical ideology is never fully pinned down because essentially anarchism must remain in flux. Those that write copious essays designed to bore their opponents to death by stealth, are not doing their ideology any favour. I think the phrase from the left and from below describes where they're coming from.

The Zapatistas have numerous faults and I won't blow their trumpet but their ability to organise with what was at their disposal is remarkable. To return to the original theme of the post, their ideology is essentially anti-free trade and the establishment of the Walmart behemoth is not going to do them any long term favours.

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Mar 28 2009 00:06
back2front wrote:
I think the Zapatistas are in a state of flux. While you could acknowledge the influence of Leninism and the old left, the influence of the Catholic Church etc etc what was essentially a nationalist organisation has become an internationalist phenomenon.

Well the kind of stuff quoted above has been pretty consistent throughout the stuff they've put out, as far as I've seen. I don't think calling for co-operation with social movements in other countries adds up to internationalist politics - i think if internationalism means anything it has to mean opposition to nationalism. And theres pretty clearly a strong current of nationalism in their politics.

Quote:
Self-organised and autonomous communties which offer expression to all regardless of gender or sexuality and an emphasis on the phrase "from the left and from below" in Marcus' rather poetic deliveries suggest their leanings towards anarchist ideas, however they would not use the word to describe themselves.

I'd be careful about taking Marcus' writing at face value. Like I said, I'm not an expert or anything but the people who I've spoken to who have been there have said that Zapatista villages aren't utopias, there are plenty of objectionable practices in terms of gender roles and divisions. If there wasn't the EZLN wouldn't need to issue communiques about it.

I don't really agree that 'from the left and below' is synonymous with anarchism. I don't really think 'from the left' really means much, and any number of movements can come 'from below'. The Zaps may be interesting in terms of what they've developed in the circumstances they're in, but describing them as something they're not doesn't do anyone any favours.

back2front wrote:
The Zapatistas have numerous faults and I won't blow their trumpet but their ability to organise with what was at their disposal is remarkable. To return to the original theme of the post, their ideology is essentially anti-free trade and the establishment of the Walmart behemoth is not going to do them any long term favours.

Well yeah the local leftists where I live oppose the 'behemoth' supermarkets - its an irrelevance to me cause the local shops are usually far too expensive for me to shop there, and on a political level I don't think it matters that much which capitalists are flogging me stuff. They're still capitalists, and its irrelevant whether they're big or small, local or 'foreign'.

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Mar 29 2009 16:48

Hmmm.... as I've mentioned the Zapatistas are not an anarchist grouping but their developing ideas are very interesting for those involved in struggle. Some of their ideas are similar to anarchist ideas and some are clearly not. I think the problem a number of people seem to have is that the Zapatistas might be dismissed because they don't follow the holy commandments of anarchism and this itself is a constant pox on anarchists ideas depending on what 'form' of anarchism is in vogue.

Django, I'm no expert - I've read the majority of the communiques since 1994 and have followed their uprising until relatively recently. We all have to be careful with information that is second or third hand and I'm quite sure there are considerable problems and objectionable practices in their communities. I've spoken to people who have been to Chiapas.

My interest is their relationship between the wider anti-globalisation movment, the rise of Indymedia and other phenomena which they have directly or indirectly inspired. Their attempts to associate their struggle with other international struggles is admirable and their organisational structure is very interesting. This is why they have 'appeal' to anarchists even if they reject that badge themselves (which they do).

Caiman del Barrio
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Mar 29 2009 23:06
Django wrote:
I'd be careful about taking Marcus' writing at face value. Like I said, I'm not an expert or anything but the people who I've spoken to who have been there have said that Zapatista villages aren't utopias, there are plenty of objectionable practices in terms of gender roles and divisions. If there wasn't the EZLN wouldn't need to issue communiques about it.

So like any living, active and genuinely popular movement they have a broad appeal and are politicising and involving people from outside of normal political/leftist circles. Which means not everyone will be politically correct and right on. And they're releasing communiques about it, which means they have a process of self-criticism and are confronting their internal issues.

Isn't this what you want from a revolutionary movement?

Quote:
I don't really agree that 'from the left and below' is synonymous with anarchism. I don't really think 'from the left' really means much, and any number of movements can come 'from below'. The Zaps may be interesting in terms of what they've developed in the circumstances they're in, but describing them as something they're not doesn't do anyone any favours.

They're not adherents of Bakunin that's for sure. In fact, their oft-lauded democratic structures and interdependence and cooperation is rooted in over a thousand years of cultural practice. How important is this though?

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Mar 30 2009 07:27
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
So like any living, active and genuinely popular movement they have a broad appeal and are politicising and involving people from outside of normal political/leftist circles. Which means not everyone will be politically correct and right on. And they're releasing communiques about it, which means they have a process of self-criticism and are confronting their internal issues.

Isn't this what you want from a revolutionary movement?

Obviously, I was responding to this:

Back2front wrote:
Self-organised and autonomous communties which offer expression to all regardless of gender or sexuality

Which read like some of the "anarchy exists - and its in Chiapas!" arguments I've heard from anarchists.

Caiman del Barrio wrote:
They're not adherents of Bakunin that's for sure. In fact, their oft-lauded democratic structures and interdependence and cooperation is rooted in over a thousand years of cultural practice. How important is this though?

How important is what?

I'm hardly an adherent of Bakunin either. If the point is that when it comes to practice its ultimately irrelevant what historical tradition their ideas come from then I agree. But the point is that there are obvious problems with their politics which make it difficult to call them 'anarchists'.

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Mar 30 2009 07:54

Django - the terms 'anarchy exists in Chiapas' or zapatistas are anarchists' are not found in my comments. Because SOME of their ideas are interesting to anarchists (or grounded in libertarian philosophy) this explains my position. As you have chosen one particular quote let me respond to it.

That the Zapatistas are self-organised into autonomous communities is well-established (The municiplaities). The First Declaration from 1994 included the Womens' Revolutionary Law which includes women in all aspects of organisation and community as a given. Several of Marcus's statments have made reference to gay and lesbian rights. Therefore the statement you take issue with is correct.

To suggest this reads like "some of the anarchy exists in Chiapas arguements you've heard" is thus a straw man fallacy.

Of course because they make these statements this does not mean that everything is rosy but as Alan comments they are certainly self-critical.

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Mar 30 2009 08:16
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Django - the terms 'anarchy exists in Chiapas' or zapatistas are anarchists' are not found in my comments. Because SOME of their ideas are interesting to anarchists (or grounded in libertarian philosophy) this explains my position. As you have chosen one particular quote let me respond to it.

I didn't say that they were, so I don't really see what point you are making. I was describing the impression your comments made. I'm sure you are aware that there is a lot of cheerleading of the Zapatistas amongst anarchists, something which should be criticised. As a result I don't think the impression I got is unfair given that you've already described the Zapatistas as being in some way 'anarchists'.

Quote:
That the Zapatistas are self-organised into autonomous communities is well-established (The municiplaities). The First Declaration from 1994 included the Womens' Revolutionary Law which includes women in all aspects of organisation and community as a given. Several of Marcus's statments have made reference to gay and lesbian rights. Therefore the statement you take issue with is correct.

How does a couple of sentances in a statement from the Zapatistas' celebrity figurehead translate into evidence that communities actually "offer expression to all regardless of gender or sexuality"? Leaving aside the fact that there is some seperation between the army and the municipalities, all sorts of backwards practices with regards to women still exist in the municipalities. This is to be expected - we're talking about indigenous farmers.

I don't think they do "offer expression to all regardless of gender or sexuality", though the Zapatistas would like them to and agitate that they should, which is the right thing to do. So what you are saying isn't actually correct - it would make more sense to say that "the Zapatistas agitate that communities should offer expression to all regardless of gender or sexuality" Might seem like nitpicking, but its a real difference. Some of the fantasies anarchists I've met have involve failing to see this difference, and overstating the size and depth of social change, saying that anarchy exists in Chiapas and the rest.

That Aufheben article is really good, its available here.

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Mar 30 2009 09:52

Yes I read the Aufheben article - it's an interesting analysis. There will always be flavours in anarchism, I'm well aware of it and constant criticism is an invaluable aspect of struggle.

But Django you are still suggesting that I call the Zapatistas anarchists - quote: "As a result I don't think the impression I got is unfair given that you've already described the Zapatistas as being in some way 'anarchists'" which I didn't, just a few sentences after saying that quote "I didn't say that they were" in response to my initial refutation.

Going back to the original post of mine "...an emphasis on the phrase "from the left and from below" in Marcus' rather poetic deliveries suggest their leanings towards anarchist ideas, however they would not use the word to describe themselves." Note the word suggest and note the phrase 'they would not use that word to describe themselves'.

And then you say "The Zaps may be interesting in terms of what they've developed in the circumstances they're in, but describing them as something they're not doesn't do anyone any favours". which in isolation is probably correct but is in reference to my allegedly referring to the Zapatstas as anarchist, which I didn't etc etc etc

To repeat myself again, and for the final time, the Zapatisas are not anarchists, indeed I'm fairly sure I read somewhere they reject the term anarchism as being just another ideology. BUT much of their organisation is strikingly similar to anarchist or libertarian socialist philosophy. Indeed others have commented that they are leaning more and more towards libertarian socialism.

Ok so not being from Mexico and relying on EZLN communiques, or indeed Indymedia, NarcoNews, books, DVD's etc etc does not translate into evidence that communities actually offer expression to all regardless... You can say that of anything about anything. It's not an arguement for by extension you are implying that if you ain't an eye-witness your facts must somehow be untrue. Yikes.

Of course just because the Zapatistas make a statement does not mean this is the reality on the ground, how on earth could it? But this could be said of any statement. It's quite clear that within the communiques of Marcos/EZLN that the Zapatista do OFFER expression to all regardless of gender or sexuality.

Are you then saying they do not:

Organise themelves into autonomous collectives (Municipalities?)
Do not have a policy on women (The First Declaration - Revolutionary Women's Law?)
Do not have a policy regarding gays and lesbians (Commitee of Sexual Diversity?)

My statement is correct, you are nitpicking. You are reading some sort of utopianism into my comments, implying that because Marcos, or Esther or anyone else from the EZLN offers a statement it implies that they wave their magic wands and hey presto... it is plainly obvious that they, to use your word, agitate for inlusive, anti-ageist, anti-sexist, pro-gay etc etc participation, which is in line with anarchist values.

While you may have encountered other people saying that anarchy exists in Chiapas please note that I am not, so please stop referring to me as someone who does.

http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/mexico/marcos_index.html

Justin Skank
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Mar 30 2009 14:57

I think that everyone is dodging the really importance of what is happening. Walmart opened another store, and they should not be opening any at all. It doesn't matter where, or for who, or in the middle of what revolution. The thing that everyone should be focusing on is that Walmart should just not have been opened at all. It is taking away from the communitys and giving money to big buisness, and whether this was Chiapas or Arkansa we were talking about here, Walmart should no longer be allowed to open stores.

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Mar 30 2009 23:23
Justin Skank wrote:
I think that everyone is dodging the really importance of what is happening. Walmart opened another store, and they should not be opening any at all. It doesn't matter where, or for who, or in the middle of what revolution. The thing that everyone should be focusing on is that Walmart should just not have been opened at all. It is taking away from the communitys and giving money to big buisness, and whether this was Chiapas or Arkansa we were talking about here, Walmart should no longer be allowed to open stores.

I can get two king size reese's peanut butter cups for two dollars here in the states at walmart. your argument is irrelevant.

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Mar 31 2009 11:23
Quote:
But Django you are still suggesting that I call the Zapatistas anarchists - quote: "As a result I don't think the impression I got is unfair given that you've already described the Zapatistas as being in some way 'anarchists'" which I didn't, just a few sentences after saying that quote "I didn't say that they were" in response to my initial refutation.

Well, what I had in mind was you saying this:

Quote:
I consider the Zapatista struggle, although initially a national liberation struggle, to be solidly based in anarchism for example

I think talking about the Zapatisas being "solidly based in anarchism" is pretty much saying they are "in some way anarchists". But if you don't think that, fair enough.

Quote:
To repeat myself again, and for the final time, the Zapatisas are not anarchists, indeed I'm fairly sure I read somewhere they reject the term anarchism as being just another ideology. BUT much of their organisation is strikingly similar to anarchist or libertarian socialist philosophy. Indeed others have commented that they are leaning more and more towards libertarian socialism.

Well this is the thing - I don't think that the organisation of the zapatistas can be looked at in isolation from their political program. I don't think the idea that the Zapatistas are moving towards a more libertarian or internationalist perspective is true, as there is very pronounced nationalism in more recent statements and if an anarchist or libertarian communist group started talking about how to rescue the interests of the motherland from foreign capital they'd have the shit ripped out of them.

Quote:
Ok so not being from Mexico and relying on EZLN communiques, or indeed Indymedia, NarcoNews, books, DVD's etc etc does not translate into evidence that communities actually offer expression to all regardless... You can say that of anything about anything. It's not an arguement for by extension you are implying that if you ain't an eye-witness your facts must somehow be untrue. Yikes.

No, the point i was making was that Marcus' statements are pretty much useless as evidence of anything, and are often politically fucked (see the one on Gaza recently). Given you are asking me to stop reading things into comments of yours which supposedly aren't there its not that honest to claim I'm suggesting you have to be an eyewitness to comment on events (Marcus is obviously an 'eyewitness'). Actual detailed analysis which doesn't gloss things over is thin on the ground. The statements of a political leader aren't always the best things to go off.

Quote:
Are you then saying they do not:

Organise themelves into autonomous collectives (Municipalities?)
Do not have a policy on women (The First Declaration - Revolutionary Women's Law?)
Do not have a policy regarding gays and lesbians (Commitee of Sexual Diversity?)

My statement is correct, you are nitpicking. You are reading some sort of utopianism into my comments, implying that because Marcos, or Esther or anyone else from the EZLN offers a statement it implies that they wave their magic wands and hey presto... it is plainly obvious that they, to use your word, agitate for inlusive, anti-ageist, anti-sexist, pro-gay etc etc participation, which is in line with anarchist values.

Its a fairly straightforward point - the pronouncements of organisations don't always translate into reality. Women, for example, have total formal freedom in most western countries, it doesn't mean that western countries offer them full participation. So the point is as straightforward as to be aware that the reality on the ground can be different from the situation as it is presented for foreign consumption.

As an aside, If agitation for anti-ageist, anti-sexist, pro-gay etc policies is 'in line with anarchist values' then most Trotskyists are 'in line with anarchist values'. Doesn't tell you that much.

My view is as straightforward as this: the Zapatistas agitate for inclusion, changing the gender dynamics of the communities they're in etc. That they do this isn't the same as saying the communities offer full participation - the existence of women's organisations to agitate should tell you this. Anyway, this is pretty boring. The main point is that the Zapatistas aren't grounded in anarchism, and don't have anarchist politics. They may have a decentralised, bottom up form of organisation, but lots of things do. So do reactionary wildcat strikes. Form can't be abstracted from content.

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back2front
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Apr 1 2009 07:08

Each to their own - you're welcome to your viewpoints but I don't share them. I am very interested in the Zapatistas, like many other anarchists, because they offer ideas which are very similar to anarchist concepts as already indicated. Note their extensive coverage in anarchist media and by anarchist bands. Why is that do you think? Note that you and I are also commenting upon them on an anarchist forum. Ergo the phrase the Zapatistas are solidly based in anarchism is not without merit. Yes I can appreciate why you might take issue with that on semantical grounds but I think I've made it clear that they are not anarchists.

Further - it depends on how you define anarchism? Rothbard, for example, acceptst hat some national liberation struggles whould be supported by anarchists. So how do you define anarchism? What is and isn't an anarchist concept? How does anarchism develop/evolve? Who dictates what is and isn't anarchism? What gap is there between theory, practice and relativity? In some ways these are more important questions.

You comment on the EZLN communiques and position papers and suggest they may not be accurate - indeed like every other proclamation, book or statement ever written or uttered, the reality on the ground may be somewhat different. This is a universal which can be applied anywhere and is not an arguement per se. But Marcus' statements are 'politically fucked', you say, in what way?

Tulkoju
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Apr 1 2009 10:37

I think the important detail is the economic effect of large corporations on local underdeveloped macro-economies.
It doesn't have to be Walmart or McDonalds. Any under-regulated corporate activity leads to dependency and slows or inhibits the movement of "the small man" towards an autonomous economy. Regulations have to be made to support the local agriculture and economy, but at the same time the means must be available or made available for the local people of Chiapas and other indigenous communities to become autonomous instead of the "employee-consumer" relationship that neo-liberal "free" trade agreements aim at promoting.
Locals in Tapachula (where I lived for a year) which are mostly non-indigenous, prefer Nescafe and White tortillas to the arabica coffee growing in their own "backyard". The prestige of white bread is something that makes me sick. Somehow promote and support local products and the processing of raw materials? Instead Nestle buys the raw materials and supplies local supermarkets or chain supermarkets like Rialfer or Chedraui (next door to Bodega) with cheaper goods that the farmers cannot compete with. Walk into a Rialfer in Tapachula and surely 80% of the milk products are from Nestle. How is this different in a smaller town of Ocosingo?
So the question is not whether EZLN is nationalistic or not (el pueblo no el gobierno) but rather, will a corrupt government ever consider the sustainability of the local economy? The answer is no. Only the people can take the power into their own hands by taking action.
I am a pacifist in theory, but I do not attempt to understand the plight of the Mayan people nor deny them their right to take action for their freedom.

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back2front
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Apr 1 2009 12:10

It is the effect of corporatisation everywhere that local produce and enterprise will be undermined and cause long term cultural detriment. I remember a Mexican worker defending his right to eat at McDonalds because he couldn't afford to go elsewhere however so these situations are all relative and theory often fails to take this into account.

In England white bread was often considered a luxury and the poor often had to make do with (far superior) wholegrain bread. I can appreciate that it makes you sick Tulkoju!

I know some Zapatistas are exporting coffee through the fair trade medium so perhaps this is something that might be explored further rather than trying to compete against Nestle or whomever. There is also the potential of barter between those who are only able to cultivate mono crops like coffee or maize, which could be exchanged for other crops/goods. There are many possibilities but it would require a thorough assessment of potential crops against traditional land use.

Tulkoju
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Apr 1 2009 16:23

to back2front:
In reference to the Mexican worker "defending his right to eat at McDonalds", it reminds me of the parents in England protesting against Jamie Oliver's initiative to bring healthfood into the schools on the grounds that their children didn't like it.
Fine, poison your children. At least someone tried to help you.
It's almost as stupid as people here in Austria (where I live) protesting for their rights to smoke in bars and restaurants. Poor fools.
The problem with bartering with crops is that they ultimately will be overtaken by capitalist products. They will need money to buy their Sabritas and their Coca-Cola. Sad but true.
In my neihborhood in Santa Rosa, California the local Lola's Market (local Mexican-American owned) and the Mekong Market (local Vietnamese-American owned) put Safeway out of business. They don't sell fairtrade nor organic products, nor a large amount of local products but it shows you that Macro-economics have a chance against chainstores.

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D
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Apr 1 2009 17:59

from a purely political perspective there is no difference between a small time capitalit and a big time one (predominantly at least)

but seriously its sad that every street in the whole is starting to have the same shops etc

so yeh id prefer small buisness over big ones if only cos then theres some diversity in different areas

Although its not like there arnt plenty of other "big" companies in that part of Mexico anyway, so i dont really c y wal mart gets special attention

Spassmaschine
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Apr 1 2009 23:21
Tulkoju wrote:
In my neihborhood in Santa Rosa, California the local Lola's Market (local Mexican-American owned) and the Mekong Market (local Vietnamese-American owned) put Safeway out of business. They don't sell fairtrade nor organic products, nor a large amount of local products but it shows you that Macro-economics have a chance against chainstores.

Why do you think this is a good thing (I am not suggesting it is 'bad', just irrelevant). Do you think the workers of small supermarkets are any less exploited than those of big ones? Where I live, the opposite is often the case. This doesn't mean i 'support' big businesses outcompeting small ones, but that the size of a business in no way alters the conflicting relationship it has with its workers.

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Devrim
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Apr 2 2009 06:02
D wrote:
but seriously its sad that every street in the whole is starting to have the same shops etc

so yeh id prefer small buisness over big ones if only cos then theres some diversity in different areas

I don't know what Wal-Mart is like as I have never seen one, but I imagine that it is a large supermarket with a wide range of products at comparatively reasonable prices.

I would prefer having one on my street to having small supermarkets with a small range of products at comparatively expensive prices.

I don't really care about diversity. I care about how much I pay for food.

Devrim