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Roy Kr vel, Anarchism The Zapatistas and The Global Solidarity Movement. Roy Kr vel1, Introduction, Speaking to a group of tourists in San Cristobal de las Casas on the 1st of January. 1994 explaining why they could not travel on to the Maya ruins at Palenque Chiapas. Subcomandante Marcos of the The Zapatista Army of National Liberation reportedly. said I m sorry This is a revolution Many tourists in San Cristobal de las Casas on. that day called home others called local media Meanwhile local activists and. radicals in Chiapas used recently established Internet connections to communicate. with radicals and activists globally Before long a global solidarity movement was. growing in numbers and importance This global solidarity movement played a. decisive role in halting the Mexican military offensives over the next few years. illustrating the potential power of activists using the Internet to communicate globally. Or at least so goes one history of the conflict in Chiapas. In 1994 I had been actively engaged in an autonomous cultural centre in. Trondheim Norway for approximately 10 years The centre was initial established. in a squatted building but was now legalized and included a cafe a stage and a book. shop named Ivar Matlaus Bokkafe Ivar Matlaus was Norwegian anarchist real. name Ivar Mortensson Egnund 1857 1934 The bookshop sold a variety of books. including anarchist classics and titles by Chomsky Zinn Bookchin Malatesta. Bakunin Goldman and others At the time I worked as an independent journalist for. alternative media and Norwegian newspapers The newspapers agreed to finance a. first trip to Chiapas in April 1994 This turned out to be the beginning of a now 16. year long relationship with Zapatista communities which among other things led to. a PhD dissertation in History on the Zapatistas the media and the global solidarity. movement 2 I provide this information not because my personal history is particularly. interesting but because the type of argument I will develop in this article often tells as. much about the author as the phenomena the author discusses A little information. about the author is thus intended Kto facilitate a critical reading of the article. Many have commented on the global solidarity movement a variety of. perspectives One fascinating perspective was given by researchers at the North. American think thank RAND Corporation Ronfeldt and Fuller warned that the. Zapatista uprising demonstrated how new technology now made it possible for. swarms of flies to overrun governments 3 Castells saw the development of global. 1 Roy Kr vel Oslo University College Norway, Roy Kr vel Fra Gerilja Til Globale Solidaritetsnettverk I Chiapas Mexico Norges teknisk. naturvitenskapelige universitet Det historisk filosofiske fakultet Institutt for historie og klassiske fag. J Arquilla and Ronfeldt D Networks and Netwars The Future of Terror Crime and Militancy. Santa Monica2001 A Ronfeldt and F Fuller The Zapatista Social Netwar In Mexico Santa. Monica RAND Corporation 1998, Anarchism The Zapatistas and the Global Solidarity Movement. networks facilitated by the internet as revolutionary 4 Old style hierarchical. organizations would be no match for flexible networks Cleaver believed to observe. how the fabric of politics was being rewoven as activists formed global networks. of solidarity to exchange information and organize in support of the Zapatistas 5. Based on the Zapatista experience Holloway argued for changing the world without. taking power 6 These arguments are relevant for anyone studying the relationship. between International Relations and anarchism, There is at least one more reason why the case of the apatista global.
solidarity movement is of interest for students of International Relations and. anarchism The solidarity movement with the Zapatistas stands out from other earlier. solidarity movements with armed revolutionaries in the region for example in El. Salvador Nicaragua and Guatemala In Nicaragua for example a number of. European states sided with the Sandinista government against the Contras supported. by the US North American and European trade unions were involved in the. international movement in support of those who struggled against the authoritarian. governments in Guatemala and El Salvador Faith based roups also played a pivotal. role in the solidarity movement with Central America These and other actors were. largely absent in the global solidarity movement with Zapatistas The global. solidarity movement thus came to rely on individual activists and small informal. organizations forming a loose network Although many would hesitate to define. themselves as anarchists I would argue that the network was heavily influenced by. various strains of anarchism in the broadest sense of the word. The aim of this paper is to contribute to the existing literature on the global. solidarity movement It is intend ed to understand the development of the global. solidarity movement in relation to anarchist literature It asks two research questions. Why did the activists of the global solidarity network identify themselves with the. indigenous peoples of the Zapatista communities in Chiapas How did the. communication between the two groups influence the development of the political. organization of the Zapatistas and the development of wider global movement. against neoliberal globalization The research takes a historical approach It will. argue that the political debate in the global solidarity movement evolved around a few. central themes The article will follow the discussion as it developed gradually after. January 1st 1994 onwards For clarity I try to divide the developing discussion into. three phases even though they often overlap In the f phase the indigenous identity. of the Zapatistas was discovered and underlined by a number of visiting activists and. scholars The second phase followed closely In this phase a particular Zapatista. democratic practice was investigated and reported by activists and scholars The. article will move on to analyze the third phase where demands for particular collective. indigenous rights came to the forefront of the struggle Collective indigenous rights. invite a discussion of individualism vs collectivism The last section tries to link. these debates to the anarchist literature on environmentalism I will argue that. Manuel Castells The Rise of the Network Society Cambridge Mass Blackwell Publishers 1996. The Power of Identity Oxford1997, H Cleaver and J og Pelaez E Holloway The Zapatistas and the Electronic Fabric of the Struggle. in Zapatista Reinventing Revolution in Mexico Chicago 1998 Harry M Jr Cleaver The. Zapatista Effect The Internet and the Rise of an Alternative Political Fabric Journal of International. Affairs 51 1998, John Holloway Change the World without Taking Power London Pluto Press 2005. Zapatista Reinventing Revolution in Mexico London1998. Roy Kr vel, understanding these debates is necessary to understand why and how the global. solidarity movement came to develop and grow in influence during the 1990 s. Understanding them is also necessary for a critical analysis of why the movement was. ridden by splits and conflicts, 1 Background on the Zapatista Uprising. The Zapatista Army of National Liberation EZLN was founded in Chiapas in 1983. by members of National Liberation Forces FLN The FLN had organized armed. guerrilla organizations on several previously occasions but the organizations had. always been annihilated by the Mexican police and army before being able to pose. serious threat to the regime The EZLN was originally ved within the. framework set out by Ernesto Guevara in his writings on Cuba Latin America and. revolut ion 7 But in the Lacandon jungle and the highlands of Chiapas the guerrilla. organization met with indigenous peoples with a strong tradition of political. organization of their own often forged through generations of struggle for land and. against big land owners and the local authoritarian political classes of the. indigenous leaders had been trained in Maoist inspired peasant unions or as catechists. in the networks of the radical Bishop of San Crist bal de las Casas Samuel Ruiz. When the EZLN decided to go to war on the 1st of January 1994 most of the urban. intellectual cadres with university education seem to have left the organization. By the time the EZLN became internationally famous the organizations had. been converted into a something very different from the guerrilla movements in. Mexico and Central America of the 60 s 70 s and 80 s The organization seemed to. be controlled by the same local communities it claimed to be representing After a few. days of fighting a ceasefire was declared Negotiations between the Zapatistas and. representatives of the Mexican government began in San Andres in late 1995 An. agreement was indeed reached in 1996 but the president Ernesto Zedillo refused to. accept it President Zedillo in particular resented the relatively wide reaching reforms. on indigenous rights and autonomy In 2001 a constitutional reform also failed to fully. implement the San Andres Accord The Zapatistas have s concentrated much of. their energy on constructing alternative political structures in Chiapas declining to. return to the negotiating table as long as the Mexican government ignores the San. Andres Accord, 2 A Reflection on Existing Literature on IR and Chiapas.
Until the 1970 s the field of International Relations dominated by a realist. paradigm where states were seen as protagonists Research often focused on military. or economic cooperation or conflict between states or alliances of states or sometimes. on individuals deemed particularly important such as diplomats or politicians The. field of International Relations was opened up to include other actors and other types. of activity This alternative literature is helpful a point of departure when. discussing the Zapatistas anarchy and International Relations Robert Keohane and. Joseph Nye were pioneers regarding the study social activities outside state control as. having significant impact on International Relations 8 According to authors like Nye. Ernesto Guevara Guerrilla Warfare Wilmington1997, R Keohane and J Nye Transnational Relations and World Politics Cambridge1970. Anarchism The Zapatistas and the Global Solidarity Movement. and Keohane the state centred approach often meant that scholars missed important. aspects of importance to the study of International Relations Others have since. focused on the influence of the rapidly growing number of Non Governmental. Organizations NGOs and social movements thus inviting a much more complex. understanding of international politics, What I here will call constructivist perspectives on International Relations. has been particularly visible in the literature on the Zapatistas and the global solidarity. movement Brysk investigates the development of a global indigenous movement. since the 1970 s According to Brysk symbols signalling identity as belonging to. indigenous peoples have been converted from a problem to be overcome into. something that can be used or exploited for political end 9 Brysk sees social. movements as actors struggling to construct meaning Brysk explains that systems of. meaning are exercised through norms Norms are constantly constructed and. reconstructed and new types of interaction new information and new actors can. contribute to reconstructing the underlying scripts social life New information. can thus contribute to the formulation of new stories ich again lead to changes in. political paradigms in the audience Successful information succeeds through re. writing individual or collective identities in the audience and can lead to changes in. the political system by mobilizing collective action based on identity change the. social agenda or challenge the legitimacy of the current regime. Castells Cleaver Holloway and much of the literature on the Zapatistas and. the global solidarity movement can be interpreted in l of the constructivist. literature on International Relations According to Manuel Castells some individuals. can have a defining effect on how meaning is constructed their identity may enter. the realm of symbolic struggles and stand a chance of seizing power 1 0 This. according to Castells is the case with subcomandante the military leader of. the Zapatistas Information which is new to the audience or which is presented from a. different or new angle can thus enter the realm of s bolic struggles In the case. of the symbolic struggle on what it means to be indigenous social movements. and individual activists have contributed to construct meanings of the term. indigenous which are fundamentally different from those constructed only a. generation ago 11, A slightly more sceptical brand of literature on the Zapatistas is represented by. Leyva and Olesen 12 According to Olesen network is a better term than. A Brysk From Tribal Village to Global Village Indian Rights a International Relations in Latin. America Stanford2002 Alison Brysk Globalization and Human Rights Berkeley Calif University. of California Press 2002 Human Rights and Private Wrongs Constructing Global Civil. Society 2005, Manuel Castells The Power of Identity Information Age Malden Mass Blackwell 1997 361. Brysk From Tribal Village to Global Village Indian Rights a International Relations in Latin. Subcomandante Marcos of the The Zapatista Army of National Liberation reportedly said I m sorry This is a revolution Many tourists in San Cristobal de las Casas on that day called home others called local media Meanwhile local activists and radicals in Chiapas used recently established Internet connections to communicate with radicals and activists globally Before long a global

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