The Zapatista Intercontinental Gathering for Humanity and Against neo-liberalism

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Tacho and AK47In the late summer of 1996 I was one of the two Irish delegates to the 3,000 strong international meeting held in the rebel areas of Chiapas Mexico.  The experience of getting to the meeting through miles of jungle and military checkpoints was an experience in itself but the meetings themselves were an extraordinary thing to find oneself at.  For me it was a transformative experience both personally and politically, one of those points at which 'two roads diverge in a wood'.

 

The story of how we learnt to dream at Reality

A report on the first Intercontinental Gathering for Humanity and Against neo-liberalism



Banner at first encounter in Chiapas

In the week from July 27th to August 3rd 1996 about 3,000 people[1] gathered in the isolated mountainous jungle region of Chiapas in Southern Mexico. Our mission was to meet 'for humanity and against neo-liberalism'. We were hosted by five indigenous communities in conference centres that had taken hundreds of people weeks to carve out of the surrounding jungle. Reaching the meetings often involved long and arduous journeys, including a certain level of police/army harassment at the point where we crossed from the territory mostly controlled by the Mexican government to that mostly controlled by the EZLN (or Zapatistas as they are popularly known).

The gathering had people from some 44+ countries and had been preceded by continental and national gatherings. Almost all of western Europe and the Americas were represented, alongside a smattering of countries from Asia, Oceania and Africa including Japan, Iran, Zaire and South Africa. Some countries like France sent big delegations of hundreds of people, other countries like Ireland were represented by only a couple of individuals. But all had travelled thousands of miles and braved sun, mud, mosquitoes and the military to be there.


 

Waiting for the bus in San Cristo'bel de las Casas

Before the start of the conference delegates arrived in San Cristobal de las Casas and headed out to the Don Bosco community centre where Mexican volunteers worked at checking peoples accreditation's and issuing security and food/travel passes. On the 27th we gathered there to travel to the opening venue at Oventic in convoys of buses and coaches departing throughout the day. On arrival there was a brief search for weapons, drugs or alcohol before we walked into the stadium built beside the village. Local people lined the road down into the stadium clapping the arrival of each delegation as it was announced.

Oventic was the village at the centre of resistance to army patrols last year when the local people physically stood in the way of armoured vehicles for hours, shouting a mixture of abuse and appeals for solidarity at the soldiers. After a prolonged stand off the army backed down. Oventic is surrounded by four military camps. The first military camp was built during the February 1995 offensive, and the other three were built after the inauguration of Oventic as a centre of resistance. The community, and in particular the women are subject to a constant level of harassment from the military which has made working in the fields, gathering firewood or moving to or from the village an intimidating and risky experience.

Welcome in Zapatista community of Oventic

The construction of the conference sites is worth commenting on in itself because of the massive effort that was involved. An enormous stage used not only for making speeches from but also for dances, plays and bands was the largest single construction at each site. Covered stands with crudely made benches faced this across a central open area which was filled with chairs. Accommodation was provided in the form of posadas (long huts in which hammocks could be slung) and a camp ground. Also built were cooking and eating areas as well as shops selling cigarettes and snacks. And let's not forget the construction of latrines, showers, steps, footpaths and drainage ditches.

Much of the raw material for these constructions was obtained directly from the surrounding rain forest. In the two sites I saw (Oventic and La Realidad) these facilities had to cater for all the 3,000 plus delegates, but three other sites capable of catering for smaller numbers were also required for the week. These 'Aguascalientes' as they were called were in La Garrucha, Morelia and Roberto Barrios.

Bull dance ot Ovientic

Each site also included a medical centre and all these facilities apart from requiring tens of thousands of hours to construct also involved hundreds of indigenous people working on to maintain, service and provide security throughout the week. All this not only in the context of the security considerations of a barely suspended war (with the military just down the road from every centre) but also freely given by people of whom 80% suffer from malnutrition[2], existing on a constant diet of coffee, corn, tortillas and beans and where in the state as a whole 50% have no potable water and 66% have no sewage system.

It is easy to talk about 'internationalism' in the abstract. These people provided the most concrete example of it I have seen, in spending resources they do not have, on the dream of attracting thousands of people from all over the globe, to a conference aimed not at solving their problems alone, but in discovering and constructing an international fight against neo-liberalism.

Leaving Oventic

They built it and we came. Participants in the December strikes in France, the mothers of the disappeared of Argentina, exiles from Iran, squatters from Berlin, ex-guerrillas from Latin America, social centre activists from Italy, students from Japan, community activists from the USA, the sons and daughters of those who fled Pinochet in the 70's, university professors from Spain, trade unionists from Brazil and even superheros[3] from Mexico City. Together we spent the first day being welcomed by the Zapatistas, through song, dance, speeches and above all else the presence of thousands of indigenous people. In return we offered traditional left expressions of solidarity in the forms of greetings, chants, raised fists and a multi-lingual singing of the International amongst other revolutionary songs.

A single moment capturing the spirit of the opening event was when after dark in complete silence thousands of indigenous people marched down the hill and through the stadium so the assembled delegates could show their respect both to the part they played in facilitating the immediate event but also in their struggle which is reawakening a spirit of optimism internationally. This simple event was all the more powerful as it contradicted the media expectation [and frenzy in front of the stage a they fought for vantage points] of a display of military force or the appearance of Sub-Commandante Marcos, the charismatic spokesperson of the EZLN. It reminded us that beyond the spectacle there was serious work to be done and that they like us were not the audience to be performed in front of but rather the central actors in this struggle.

Next morning the ceremonies continued as those of us who would be travelling farthest arose early, had a breakfast of the soon to be familiar[4] coffee, tortillas, beans and rice and queued for our coaches in between two lines of indigenous people. In the morning, the chanting was a common one with indigenous "Zapata Vivas" being answered by those queuing with "La Luche Sigue" (The struggle continues). Ahead of us was 15 hours of travel and police harassment[5] ending in a night-time bus ride on narrow, precipice hugging, muddy jungle roads. A journey taking us through thunderstorms and halting only for punctures, each one holding up our convoy of 18 buses as everyone piled out for a welcome opportunity to smoke or to pull in lungfuls of the scented jungle air.

Some kids at Realidad

It was a journey whose very discomfort also played a role in defining what the conference was about. In asking "what am I doing here, 3000 miles from home, tired, hungry and uncomfortable, travelling into the unknown" we realised that we were there for the same reason that all those crammed into the bus around us and crammed into the buses before us and behind us were there. We realised we were there because we dared to dream. Because when we got the summons from the jungle months ago, on paper or on computer screens we saw beyond the dry words the path to a new world.

We realised that for everyone of us who was there 10 stood behind them who almost went, 100 who would have gone if they had the money and 1000 who would have been there if they had heard the message. We realised that when we dreamt we were no longer alone as those travelling with us dreamt the same dream and in the jungle outside and the world beyond millions were dreaming with us. On that bus I realised that cynicism is the worst form of alienation, for to be human is to have hope and to faith in those around you.

Those who travelled that day to the other four sites faced different obstacles on different roads, at Robeto Barrios they had to walk through a military camp and then ford a river in order to reach the compound. But although the roads were different we all travelled on the same journey and if on that day those of us travelling to La Realidad had to travel the longest road by the end of the week we would be overtaken by the others who had to travel down to join us for the closing sessions.

Migration police in Chiapas

I regret to say our reception of the party that greeted our arrival in La Realidad [Reality] at 5.00 in the morning was not as enthusiastic as might have been the case as we struggled to erect hammocks or tents in the pouring rain. Not to worry though as every evening several hours of entertainment was laid on for us with a variety of bands as delegates, locals and masked Zapatistas danced into the early hours ignoring the omnipresent rain and two or three inches of mud. One evening had slightly different entertainment when the German delegation presented a slide show of the German left since 1918 on a screen that was torn in two towards the end by the winds from the storm that had blown up.

The conference had been called around opposition to 'neo-liberalism' which is the latest phase of capitalism but as it's hard for 3,000 people to discuss with (as opposed to lecture at) each other people were divided between each of five sites, which discussed

TABLE 1: The politics we have and the politics we need
TABLE 2: The economic question: Horror stories
TABLE 3: All cultures for everyone. The media: From graffiti to cyberspace
TABLE 4: What society if not civil?
TABLE 5: Many worlds will fit in this world

As these sites were up to two days travelling apart you picked one at the beginning of the week and stuck to it until the final gathering at La Realidad. The same restrictions did not apply to the 400 people accredited as media that attended the event, although they were required to find their own transport and were condemned to a role as spectators rather then participants. At times indeed elements of them provoked hostility when in their eagerness to record celebrities they got in the way of the business of the gathering. This was just one aspect of the inevitable tension between the conference as a spectacle and as a genuine attempt to construct something new.

The media pit at Realidad

The question was asked, if a conference is held in the forest and the media doesn't record it then was it really held at all? The two answers to this would probably depend on whether a blue [delegate] or a yellow [media] card dangled from your neck. If you had a red [organiser] card or no card [like many of the local people] then you were likly to have a different attitude again. Apart from the difficulty of terrain the fact that Chiapas is attracting so much media attention is playing a vital role in staying the hand of the 'hawks' in the Mexican military who would like to end the dream once and for all in a military offensive aimed not at eliminating the combatants of the EZLN but of wiping out the communities themselves which is what happened just across the border in Guatemala in the 1980's.

At each site people split into four or five groups to give more reasonable sized discussion groups ranging at the Political tables from a manageable 50 to a hopelessly overcrowded 300. At this stage it should also be explained that the structure and chairing of these debates was arranged by the FZLN (Zapatista National Liberation Front), a non-military political front of people from all over Mexico inspired by Zapatismo. There are many different forces involved in this including a number of old-left types who have not really changed their spots and seem to see it as a recruitment opportunity. So where many of the tables, like my own, worked well and produced a statement genuinely reflective of the views of those who took part others had problem - including in some cases final statements said to reflect only those opinions the table moderator was comfortable with.

Comandante Tacho of the EZLN

This problem of course was just a reflection of the composition of the conference as a whole. The only thing those attending had in common was taking inspiration from the struggle of the EZLN. In almost all cases, alongside this was a recognition that this also implied a need for a type of politics quite different from the authoritarian left practices of Leninism or social democracy. So while there were a lot of people with many years of experience struggling to re-define their politics in a libertarian fashion, there was also a scattering of people for whom the EZLN and the conference in general represented just another way of 'building the party' and who seemed more interested in injecting token references, to Marx, Che or ' the need for cadres' into the end statements then anything else. Their presence at some tables meant that some peoples experiences of the discussions were a lot more negative then my view presented here.

Such differences of approach and agenda are to be expected in any such large gathering. Although it was unfortunate that the FZLN failed to attach a sufficient priority to making sure the moderators were both willing and able to facilitate the discussions fairly in every case, it was good to see that problems were being challenged. At least one breakaway discussion group was formed where a moderator refused to change the procedure. The realisation that democratic practice has to be put at the top of the agenda especially in difficult and exceptional circumstances is a lesson sections of the left were slow to learn but here at least was evidence that it is no longer just anarchists and a few 'ultra-left' Marxists who are willing to take a stand on this issue.

My table consisted of some 50 people discussing "The global power that we all live under. How does it exercise and reproduce its domination?". In fact the discussion wandered well outside these parameters to include how we could structure opposition. The first two days were given over to the presentation of a wide range of pre-prepared statements on issues including the impact of neo-liberalism in Japan; the importance of the drugs trade for capitalism in providing capital; the impact of neo-liberalism on women and the structures for resisting neo-liberalism.

Marcos leaving Realidad on horseback

One of particular interest was given by the Chileans on what neo-liberalism really meant in their country. Chile was the original model for neo-liberalism and is commonly held up by the right as an example of its success. It was illuminating to hear that not only was this model reliant on massive and continuing repression of any resistance to the wishes of the ruling class but also that the apparent success of neo-liberalism in 'economic indicators' did not trickle down into any improvement for workers in the towns and countryside.

Those at the table were from a wide range of countries (22 in all) and backgrounds, and included SuperBarrio and four members of the EZLN. On the first day Marcos also visited the table and gave an account of the formation of the EZLN, its transition from "Marxist-Leninist" politics to its current, more libertarian, form. The EZLN hoped for the creation of global pockets of resistance that would link up and grow, but in terms of this conference at least "did not know what happens next". Contributions were generally followed by a period of questions and discussion around them.

One point worth commenting on is that the four EZLN delegates at the table did not contribute to the discussion or present papers but just sat and listened. There was some discussion of this concluding on the idea that the organisation only expressed itself through a collective voice (normally Marcos). This apparently would tie in very much with the customs of the indigenous people. Indeed when Marcos spoke on the second day to the whole gathering it was obvious parts of the talk were reactions to what had been said in the individual tables and so some reporting back and discussion had indeed been taking place. Delegates from the economic table reported a similar experience where direct questions the EZLN were not answered at the time but were addressed in the collective statements later.

On balance it was probably better in any case that the EZLN restricted their contributions as their star status with many of the delegates would probably have resulted in anything they said being uncritically accepted by a sizeable proportion of those present. One slightly irritating feature of some of the contributions was how they would try and refer to their contribution as following on from something the EZLN had done or said in a similar fashion to the way earlier socialists would quote Marx or Lenin as justification for their current line. This problem although seemingly trivial, is something to be overcome in creating an international network against neo-liberalism, as unchallenged it will have a distorting effect on local activity, if it must first be justified by reference to the EZLN.

Women Zapatistas reading newspaper

This EZLN contribution delivered by Marcos during the second afternoon was dedicated to all the remaining Zapatista prisoners and disappeared and to political prisoners and the disappeared everywhere. Beyond talking about the immediate issue of neo-liberalism Marcos went to some length to stress how this event was made possible by those Zapatistas who had died in the first days of 1994. He asked where were the places for the Zapatista dead at this encounter as it was their silence they made it possible for our voices to be heard. This contribution very much personalised the struggle and its armed aspect as something which however necessary meant a number of people had to pay the supreme price in order for the voices of their brothers and sisters to be heard.

After Marcos had spoken Commandante Tacho explained that because of the huge number of people who had arrived for the encounter they were moving those of us who were at the political table from the compound into the houses of the community the following morning to make space for the delegates arriving from the other four tables.

This announcement was later the basis of a discussion over dinner illustrating the cultural clashes that also had to be overcome in the encounter. Tacho who is indigenous and who was the main organiser at La Realidad, (seeming to be almost everywhere on a horse with a machine gun across his back), had a way of expressing himself that involved repeating variations of the same request again and again. The expressions would build from an apologetic request to a formal announcement of what would be happening. To some of the Australians present, familiar with a far more direct and blunt way of informing people what would be happening, this method of speaking came across as dishonest, as if he was trying to present something we had to do as a treat we might like to do.

If anything I found his way of expressing things mildly embarrassing in the same sense as the embarrassment I feel when a airline cabin crew worker calls me sir (or Senior) but this is a useful illustration of how their are barriers and room for misunderstanding at international gatherings beyond the obvious ones of language and mistranslation. In any case the local houses were better accommodation although in may case did lead to an unwelcome close encounter with some ants on my first night.

Political table of La Realidiad, Chiapas

The third morning of my table was spent on a discussion amending a general statement the moderator had prepared based on the pre-prepared contributions and the discussion around them. In all we inserted some 22 amendments, mostly aimed at ironing out some of the inevitable contradictions which appeared and inserting proposals for concrete action. I reproduce my notes on our final statement below although as these were taken from an on the spot translation as the text was being read out they are not a particularly accurate guide to anything but the overall flavour of the piece. A book of all the statements is being published in Spanish and it is likely, before long the exact text will also be available in English.


Kids dressed as old style Zapatistas

Notes on the Politics Table, Table 1 statement of the 27th July - 3rd August 1996 'International Gathering for Humanity and against Neo-Liberalism' held in Chiapas, Mexico.

Neo-liberalism takes different forms from country to country and is a servant of capitalism and colonialism. Part of it is the break-up of the welfare state and the denial of dignity to millions of people. We propose pleasure and dignity for all. However we don't propose a return to the welfare state of the past, which was also a form of capitalism, and in any case never existed in many areas of the world including Chiapas. We propose a new utopia.

Now a handful of business men control humanity through the IMF, the World Bank and other structures. The national state no longer has control. National Liberation means the recovery of this lost sovereignty but in demanding this we don't ask for the return of state intervention as the state is on the side of capitalism. Rather we mean popular sovereignty of autonomous communities.

Drug trafficking provides 350 billion dollars a year to capitalism, we propose to decriminalise soft drugs and use these funds for the provision of welfare. This would also remove the USA's excuse for interventions. Alongside this we call for a general demilitarisation.

There cannot be democracy where only the corporations rule. Their re-organisation of the authoritarian state has resulted in a list of repression's. Women are the particular victims of neo-liberal repression. We need to reject the neo-liberal cult of money and individual success.

Representative democracy and the old political parties excluded people from decision making. This along with the destruction of the USSR means we need to re-invent what is meant by utopia. Each community must decide its own future and decide how to implement new forms of democracy. We must construct a new power from below, we propose the construction from below of decentralised global networks.

We make the following proposals

1. The selection of a day for global action against neo-liberalism

2. An international project to free the 16 remaining alleged Zapatista prisoners and all prisoners and the finding of all the disappeared in Mexico and internationally.

3. An international campaign of direct assistance to the communities in struggle in Chiapas

4. We demand the demilitarisation of all regions of Mexico currently occupied by the army.

-- ends --


Sub-commadante marcos

Of course as with most conferences a lot of useful work was done outside the formal discussion areas. There were self-organised gatherings of youth which discussed setting up a global network of activist youth and discussions around co-ordinating internet work, as well as ones analysing the events of the week and what it told us of the EZLN, some of which I have already referred to. And there were many conversations in buses or over dinner between individuals about conditions in their country and the struggles happening there or on more global issues like the effect of the fall of the Berlin wall. All of these helped in constructing a picture of what was happening internationally and the way activists were dealing with the transformations of recent years.

On the evening of the third last day the buses began arriving from all the other sites, people from the furthest site having travelled for two days to get to Reality, and they had to rebuild a bridge ion the way. The second last day began with a large ceremony in the midday sun which involved a two hour process of getting everyone seated in the central area (in the sun) or if they were sick or very susceptible to sunburn in the covered area at the back of this area. The combination of the insistence of assembling absolutely everyone there, the blazing sun and a weeks mud and travel resulted in a few short fuses and minor rows with the more uncritical section of those attending chanting "were Zapatistas not tourists" at the sun sensitive and "why can't I stay back here" rebellious section.

Theories abounded afterwards as to why so much time was spent getting everyone into the centre, from it being an example of the EZLN's Maoist legacy; to it being a media photo opportunity; to it being for security reasons (the platforms first 'line'); to it being part of a indigenous ceremony which required everyone present (hinted at by the later 'line' from the platform). While I incline towards the final theory myself (and the whole event certainly demonstrated the incredible patience of the indigenous organisers), this storm in a teacup also served to indicate the healthy atmosphere of the conference where criticisms of the EZLN or organisers could be openly (and heatedly) discussed.

Tacho on horse back

This attitude is a lot more constructive then the uncritical cheer leading of many of those who supported the Sandanistas or still support Cuba. The role of a revolutionary is to discover and tell the truth, not to praise the good parts and hide that which sounds awkward or discouraging. The treatment of criticism or even the raising or awkward issues as disloyal (or even counter revolutionary) serves only to destroy the revolutionary movement and to destroy its fighting spirit..

This also highlights another dichotomy at the conference. The conference was called by and hosted by the EZLN but it was not meant to be about them or Mexico but rather about the international struggle. At the same time it was clear that the reason so many people came was because they had called it and that what we had in common was to a large extent mediated by our interpretation of the Zapatistas. We also had constant reminders of where we were, both through the presence of masked and armed Zapatistas and by the intrusion of the army, as on the second day at La Realidad when they flew a Rapid Deployment Force plane across the stadium at roof top height.

This is a question and problem that remains open to all the delegates returning and attempting to implement 'The second declaration of Reality for humanity and against neo-liberalism' in their own countries. The EZLN were clear enough that they were not asking people to implement the same strategy and politics as there own regardless of local circumstances but rather that the form of the struggle in each place must be determined first and foremost there. This is a very different attitude to that promoted by previous internationals which have attempted to define and implement a central line of struggle. That is the tradition many of the older and more experienced delegates were coming from.

View of stage at la Realidad, Chiapas

At the final gatherings the statement of each table was read back, which took some hours and taxed the patience of the translators before the conference settled into an evening of closing ceremonies, dances and singing. A press conference and more of this was to follow the next day alongside a declaration from the EZLN announcing the creation of a global network of struggle and communication and the intention to repeat the gathering the following year, but this time in Europe (Italy looks likely, will you be there?). As evening drew on delegates started to head for the exit and the long ride home by cattle truck, bus, coach, and plane was begun.

Those of us who travelled the first leg of the journey back by cattle truck received a sobering reminder of the possible consequences of staging the encounter for the indigenous people. The trucks brought us to Guadeloupe Tepac, the site of a previous encounter that time of Mexicans in the summer of 1994. An 'Aguascalientes' bigger then any of the five for this encounter was built just outside this small town. The army burnt this to the ground in the 1995 offensive, destroying all traces of it and building a barracks on the site. They also built forts on the hill tops in the town itself with the result that the local community feared to return and is now dispersed amongst other villages. A year and a half later the town is still abandoned and the jungle is starting to grow back. We carry back with us a debt to the indigenous people to continue pressure on the Mexican state to prevent them sharing this fate.

Of course the question that comes out of this was the one hinted at by Marcos, "what happens next"? For the hopes of many of us that attended the conference went far beyond meeting the EZLN, or having a week's camping and talking in a distant corner of the world. Most if not all of those who were there were there not just because they want to understand the power that oppresses us and not just because they want to support the EZLN in their fight against it. We were there because we were hoped to learn something, some magic thing that we would carry home with us and that would fan the flames of revolt in our own countries. For many of us this was not a new search but one we have been pursuing for years and even decades, for others it may have been the first time they became aware of just what it was they were looking for.

 

Chanting in rain

For to be a revolutionary in today's world is to be searching for an equivalent of the 'Holy Grail' of the Arthurian legends[6], the 'Elixir of life' common to many myths or, perhaps most appropriately the 'Salmon of Knowledge' of Irish legend which promised complete wisdom to those who tasted it. So did those who set out on their quest half way around the globe, braving today's equivalents of dragons and impassable mountain ranges find what they were looking for, the formulae for a successful revolution?

The conference certainly had a value in itself in drawing so many people together to share experiences from different corners of the globe. It certainly helped in the realisation that rhetoric of 'a common global struggle' has started to become more and more of a reality. Delegates, despite facing radically different local levels of poverty and repression, outlined a close to common analysis of what the cause of these problems was and what sort of structures were necessary to combat it. Indeed the presence of so many from the 'wealthy north' making common cause with the indigenous inhabitants of one of the poorer areas of the 'south' in itself underlined the global nature of the struggle we face. Picture the 1st International in the last century meeting as guests of the Apaches in one of the lulls in the USA's genocidal war against them and you can get a sense of how the gaps in perspective of those fighting global capitalism have converged.

The other positive aspect that emerged is how this drawing together of struggles is taking place at the same time as a move away from the left tradition of demanding assimilation and subordination of struggles as a prerequisite to creating a common struggle. There is recognition that a unified struggle is stronger if it is the unity of autonomous struggles and communities rather then an artificial homogenous struggle imposed from above by a centralised party. It was quite possible for us all to talk the language of class struggle without feeling the need to deny our differences or the different levels of exploitation we face. But the conference also confirmed that we are not a mish mash of struggles against unrelated enemies. There is at the heart of the oppressions we face a common enemy, global capitalism and in naming this enemy and giving it shape we make it easier to fight it.

This may turn out to be the most significant contribution the encounter makes to the development of a new politics, in finding a path between the central party and program of Marxism and the 'post-modern' rainbow coalition of different struggles lacking a unifying common goal. In talking about our different struggles and problems one thing which shone through is that there can be no 'global programme' or formulae which provides guidelines for action applicable in all cases. The method and form of struggle cannot be dictated by a central executive at the national never mind the international level but must instead be decided within each struggle and each area and then ways found to co-ordinate these struggles from below.

What are they planning?

 

The conference ended with this talk of the creation of a global network of struggles and a global network of communication between struggles. Both of these would not be yet another top down, single programme 'international' but instead a network of autonomous struggle reaching up from below to exchange experiences and solidarity. To a large extent this creation can not and will not be the creation of the conference, although many attended, we were but a tiny minority of those fighting back around the world. The creation of such a network, if it is to happen will be aided if delegates returning from the conference are inspired enough and can inspire others to put effort into working on this international network.

The task of all those who returned is to begin the creation of networks in their countries and from there to seek ways of making international solidarity and networking pass from the realm of slogans to the realm of reality. Perhaps history will judge the encounter to have been an early step on this route, but we have a key role to play in shaping this judgement. The encounter at Reality will only create a new reality if the millions who were not there pick up the ideas it put out, develop them and turn them from words into action.

Arriving in Oventic

How this will happen is still very much undefined and perhaps will only be come visible and defined in retrospect. I come from (and identify myself as part of) the old left tradition that has done most in exploring and basing itself around struggle directed from below, that of anarchism. Yet few anarchist groups have managed to implement such a practice on a large scale in recent years and many seem to have lost sight of doing so on anything but a local basis.

I'd like to see anarchists get very much involved in the activity and debate which will define what appears to be the beginnings of the emergence of a new movement of struggle. Anarchism has a lot to bring to such a movement in the form of our wealth of theoretical can tactical experience of these problems, but also such a movement will generate new generations of anarchists and may come to anarchism as a whole or put another way may be part of the process by which anarchism becomes redefined for the modern era.

These ideas were what those on the quest returned with. If the 'Grail' was not obtained perhaps this was one of those occasions when it was glimpsed in the distance, on the side of the mountain between the jungle and the sky. There may be some who believe they have returned with the 'Grail' in the form of 'The second declaration of Reality for humanity and against neo-liberalism' which I include in the appendix, but I have my doubts, although perhaps it is a clue to its real location. After this we do not yet now what happens but right now we all are, including you reader, defining the answer to this query. What will we make happen next?

Zapatista cowboys




Footnotes

1 Several thousand indigenous people from the local communities also took part in catering for their visitors or in the range of ceremonies and entertainment's around their visit.

2 Quoted in 'Chiapas : The south-east in two winds, a storm and a prophecy'

3 Well OK just one superhero in the form of SuperBarrio.

4 Although our diet was far better then the standard food of the indigenous as we frequently had eggs and even meat for those near the top of the queue along with a bizarre in the context but familiar range of breakfast cereals.

5 Consisting of stamping everyones visa with "This person has been informed of Mexican Laws and the constitution" and taking collective photos of the passengers of each bus.

6 Arthur's knights set off in a long and fruitless search for the 'Holy Grail' of the Christian myths which could provide its finder eternal life amongst other blessings. Although the purest of them were allowed glimpses of it most fell by the wayside, either killed by the obstacles placed in their path or fooled in chasing false grails, or believing in finding false ones they had found the real one and could give up their search. None succeeded in their search. Quite why I should see this as a fitting analogy for 20th century politics and why hundreds of people exhausted their resources to get to a conference in jungle camps in the Mexican South East I leave as an exercise for the reader!

The first bus leaves

Comments

China's black gold

Comrade: I want to ask you a very special favour. Could you help me to spread my word –if it seems fair- in this encouraging Greek forum is the Internet? I’m male, I’m forty, I'm Spanish, I’m Revolutionary and I’m nuts. I live in McLean Hospital, a lunatic asylum in Belmont, Massachusetts, and I need to express the ideas bubbling in my head. I have therefore decided to communicate with the world by creating this blog, using the daily hour they let me use the Internet in this fucking lunatic asylum. Because I’m nuts, all right, but the world is full of capitalist bastards.

http://diaryofamadrevolutionary.blogspot.com/

McLean Hospital. 115 Mill Street Belmont, MA 02478, United States

Thanks in advance.

A fraternal embrace,

Red Lion

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 Like most sites we have a major problem with bots trying to post spam into the comments section.  While looking for a better solution we are reduced to only on turning on the ability to anonymously comment for brief periods around the posting of new articles.  But if you are a regular visitor you can comment at any time by creating an account on the site and logging in before posting. But the Spammers also set up accounts so to reduce the workload of deleting those we only turn on the ability to create accounts for brief periods which we announce on our Twitter & Facebook accounts so follow those to hear when we have that turned on.  We do want you to be able to engage with us via the comments and we are very sorry for the fact that we can't find a better way of dealing with spam.