December 8, 2009 by The Mormon Worker
By Hans Bennett
and Staughton Lynd
On January 1, 1994, the now-infamous North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect. That same day, the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), rose up and launched a military offensive that occupied towns throughout the state of Chiapas, in Mexico. The EZLN, or “Zapatistas” had been covertly organizing for many years, but they specifically chose the day of NAFTA’s implementation for their public rebellion.
Many components of NAFTA favored US corporate interests at the expense of Mexico’s general population, but the Zapatistas were particularly opposed to NAFTA’s rewriting of the Mexican Constitution, in order to eliminate the population’s biggest victory won during the Mexican Revolution fought years before, at the time of World War One. “The Mexican Revolution wrote into the national constitution the opportunity for a village to hold its land communally, in an ejido, so that no individual could alienate any portion of it,” writes Staughton Lynd, co-author of the new book Wobblies and Zapatistas: Conversations on Anarchism, Marxism and Radical History. Both Lynd (a Marxist from the US) and his co-author Andrej Grubacic (an anarchist from the Balkans) are public supporters of the Zapatistas, who they argue have set a powerful example of revolutionary organizing that should influence anti-capitalists around the world. Much like the historical traditions of the Haymarket Martyrs and the ‘Wobblies’ (the Industrial Workers of the World) in the United States, Lynd and Grubacic argue that the Zapatistas have synthesized the best aspects of both the Marxist and anarchist traditions.
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