The strike wave that rocked France in the closing month of 1995 is yet another example of the great fighting spirit of the French working class. Yet when we look at the causes of the strike and the relative weakness of French workplace organisation the question that emerges is 'if they can do it, why can't we'?
This was a talk I prepared for a WSM public meeting in 1994 based on an analysis of the early information coming from Chiapas. The talk was given in June, some five months after the start of the rising but despite that early date it touches on the essential themes that I return to again and again over the subsequent years in the dozen or so articles I was to write on the topic.
The lack of serious discussion of the Zapatistas by the revolutionary left is surprising. There exists a certain amount of (mostly) uncritical reporting by individuals and a few essays aimed at putting the rebellion in a broader context. But the 'official left' either remains silent, or worse, produces ham fisted and lazy critiques that merely compare the rebellion to Cuba and Ché Guevara and say 'they failed, so will the Zapatistas'.
January 1st marked the 11th anniversary of the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, a state in southern Mexico. On New Years Day 1994, the EZLN seized a number of towns in Chiapas before retreating into the mountains and jungles in the face of a massive army counter attack. The military phase of the struggle lasted only a few days as millions of Mexicans demonstrated to demand that the army stop their offensive against the rebels.