Saturday, January 17, 2009

As the economic crisis deepens across the world people are developing methods of resistance other than hoping for government to bail them out. This is true of Mexico, as set forth in the following article from the Northwest Common Action via the Anarkismo website.

Economic Crisis: Anarchist Solutions From Mexico:

As the United States enters what may be an extremely prolonged economic crisis, the Mexican anarchist Gustavo Esteva recommends that we learn from how people have coped in his country, which has lived La Crisis for over two decades with no end in sight. He also points out that in both countries, politicians have reacted by throwing money at the problem – a non-solution if there ever was one.
One real solution has been El Barzón, a movement formed to defend debtors from the banks. Their tactics have ranged from counseling farmers on how to hold on to their property to forming roadblocks when the banks try to repossess their homes. They have even brought home the crisis to those responsible by tarring and feathering bankers.
Members of El Barzón have worked closely in solidarity with the Zapatista uprising in the state of Chiapas that began in 1994. Today, autonomous Zapatista communities are run by Councils of Good Government, where decisions at the village level are made through the consensus of all the community,and at the regional level by delegates that rotate yearly, selected by the village assembly. Two years ago, during the presidential elections, Zapatistas and their supporters across the country organized the “Other Campaign” - an anti-electoral movement that contrasted the empty promises for change offered by candidates both left and right with the need to develop community-based organizations run by principles of direct democracy, like that practiced by the Zapatistas. The most devoted supporters of the Other Campaign have been street vendors, sex workers, and other groups ignored by politicians.
The southern state of Oaxaca has also experimented with direct democracy in recent years. In response to an attempt at strikebreaking by an unpopular governor, the people of Oaxaca organized a Popular Assembly which organized takeovers of government buildings, as well as radio and television stations. For five months, there was not a single police man on the streets of the capital, but crime dropped to record lows as neighbors who had never met each other spent the nights in the streets together. In rebellion, petty gangsters found a cause to redirect their energies towards, defending people from the brutal repression that arrived with the federal police in late 2006. As the immigrant rights movement burst on to the North American political scene that year,Oaxaca's popular assembly also found an echo with assemblies found in Oaxaqueño communities from California to Chicago and New York. Today,Oaxaca is famous for its political graffiti – which often denounces in the same breath the ruling conservative party, the leftist opposition,and the Stalinists of the Popular Revolutionary Front. All share different beliefs and ideologies, but all compete to rule over the people – goals that are alien to assembly-based forms of social organization.
Even though the fire of the 2006 rebellion has died down, the tinder remains dry. The teacher's union (which played a crucial role in Oaxaca) went on strike again in August, this time in Morelos. These strikes are also revolts against the union bureaucracy,whose national leaders are fully complicit in the government's plans to privatize education and who sell out their rank-and-file at the earliest available opportunity. In early October, the army was called in to break the strike, and to repress the indigenous communities that supported it.
There have been countless more revolts across Mexico, including a prisoner's uprising this September in Tijuana, in response to torture of inmates. It is certain that Mexico is headed towards some sort of social upheaval - especially as migrant workers in the United States are beginning to return home in the face of job shortages and ICE raids. The business class in Mexico is getting nervous, and the rich have been marching, dressed in white, for more jails, and for workers to abandon their strikes. Obviously, Mexico is different from the United States in countless ways, but when we look south we may be seeing our future. Furthermore, the basic principles used by Mexican radicals – primarily, distrust of all politicians(right or left), and insistence that power remain at the community level – would make a good guide for North Americans in the dark days ahead.
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