Zapatistas: The Chiapas Revolt and What It Means For Radical Politics
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"The Zapatista Army for National Liberation burst onto the world stage on 1 January 1994. Zapatista commander Subcomandante Marcos announced a revolution, and declared war on the Mexican government and global capitalism. Since then, the Zapatistas have inspired thousands of activists across the world. They have attracted much attention from political theorists and analysts. Despite this, there is little consensus about the real nature and efficacy of the movement. Zapatistas provides a bold new approach to understanding the insurrection. Mentinis spent nine months visiting the Zapatista autonomous zone, and the result is this unique exploration of the indigenous political theory emerging within the movement. Combining this with an analysis of the integrity of the Zaptista project, Mentinis draws on the concept of the 'event' from Badiou, ideas from Situationism, the 'project of autonomy' of Cornelius Castoriadis and the 'constituent power' of Antonio Negri, to present a rigourous account of the movement and the impact it has had on radical political theory."
one – almost as an object of natural sciences, and the implications and potentialities for the future disappear, collapse in the meticulousness of an uncritical and uncreative reading of the present, or, at best, are superficially mentioned. The inability to read the Zapatistas as a unique phenomenon among contemporary struggles reflects the inability of any of these theories to produce a radical opening towards the future. What we need are theories of radical action; theories that will go beyond
theorised. On the other hand, Gramsci, as well as Laclau and Mouffe-inspired approaches, tend to see the use of patriotic language as a completely normal strategy (e.g. Aragones, 1998; Ortiz-Perez, 2000), whereas autonomist Marxist academics attempt to justify Zapatista patriotism by giving a ‘radical’ meaning Mentinis 02 chap05 123 3/3/06 11:24:15 124 Zapatistas to it (e.g. Neill et al., n.d., late 1990s). In this section I will examine and discuss De Angelis’s (1998) distinction of three
speak and, at the same time, its construction through this language. I will come back to the indigenous animism in the next section and discuss it in relation to de por si. For the time being I will briefly describe the inter-subjectivity found in the Tojolabal language, and to a greater or lesser extent all the indigenous languages of the area (Paoli, 1999b), and link it to the process of democratisation of the indigenous communities. In the Indo-European languages the description of a simple
alive in Chiapas; it is a relation that takes many forms and is present in the Zapatista praxis. We may mention, for example, the re-invention of Votan a local god-hero, in some way connected to nagualism (Brinton, 1894), whom the Zapatistas have explicitly transformed into a more political character, Votan-Zapata (see Le Bot, 1997). Or, we may note, the symbolic use of the number 7, also associated with nagualism, which the Zapatistas have employed on many occasions and without any obvious,
ZAPATISTA MASKS Breaking from the past So far I have presented three central themes, or complexes of social imaginary significations, in order to approach the indigenous social imaginary, and have outlined how these permeate certain aspects of Mentinis 02 chap05 167 3/3/06 11:24:20 168 Zapatistas the Zapatista movement. I will now move on to discuss the use of pasamontañas by members of the movement; how this masquerading can be understood with reference to the indigenous social imaginary