Zapatistas Living at the Edge of Capitalism

Monday, May 10, 2021 - 1:00pm
Andrej Grubacic & Denis O’Hearn

Indigenous people in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas have been constructing a remarkable community under the banner of 20th century revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata.The Zapatists have exited from the state to constitute autonomous self-governing communities.To a large extent they have also left the capitalist market economy of the larger society.This is what anthropologist Andrej Grubacic and sociologist Denis O’Hearncall exilic communities, that is, communities in exile.They have voluntarily left the bad government of the state (mal gobierno)to build a democratic good government.And they have left the competitive, individualistic economy to build a cooperative community based on solidarity and mutual aid. This has required a turning inward like the shell of a snail.That’s why their liberated spaces are called caracoles.

The Zapatistas’ defiance of both state and capitalism has won the admiration of progressives worldwide.Anarchists and Marxists alike have seen this withdrawal from the “modern” world as a realization of their highest aspirations.Similarly the political elite and ruling classes of Mexico have seen it as a threat to their dominance.

Social scientists Andrej Grubacic and Denis O’Hearn analyze the exilic communities with careful analytic yet sympathetic minds.A professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies and editor of the Journal of World-Systems Research,Grubacic previously authored Wobblies and Zapatistas as well as Don’t Mourn, Balkanize! O’Hearn is a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso.He has written extensively on Ireland with <Inside the Celtic Tiger and Nothing But an Unfinished Song: Bobby Sands, the Irish Hunger Striker Who Ignited a Generation.Grubacic and O’Hearn have collaborated to write Living at the Edges of Capitalism: Adventures in Exile and Mutual Aid.