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Third World Quarterly

Globalising the Zapatistas: From Third World Solidarity to Global Solidarity? Author(s): Thomas Olesen Source: Third World Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 1, After the Third World? (2004), pp. 255-267 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3993787 . Accessed: 27/02/2011 16:14
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No 1.inspiringCarlosFuentes to label the rebels as the first post-communistrebellion in Latin America. solidarity relationships in the cold war period. their interpretation contemporarysocial and political problems does not build on the distinction between first.' Their rebellion called the interpretativeframework of an entire generationinto question. At first. butformulate their social critique in a manner that is more democratic and global than that of most groups during of the Cold War. 8000 Aarhus. When indigenous peasants in the remote and impoverished Mexican state of Chiapas rebelled 10 years ago. 2004 * Carfax Publishing Francis Taylor& Group Globalising the Zapatistas: to from Third World solidarity global solidarity? THOMAS OLESEN The 1994 Zapatista uprising in the southern Mexican state of ABSTRACT Chiapasfound extraordinaryresonance beyondMexico's borders and generated a range of transnationalsolidarity efforts.As a consequence. ISSN 0143-6597 printfSSN 1360-2241 online/04/010255-13 ? 2004 Third World Quarterly DOI: 10. C. But the Zapatistassoon started moving in a differentdirection. This method fell into disreputewith the closing of the cold war era. had more of a one-way character in which there was a clear distinction between providers and beneficiaries of solidarity. first throughthe use of different media and later in the form of a physical presence.In contrast. solidarity activists from around the world soon rushed to their aid. Bartholins Alle. pp 255-267.dk. The solidarity relationship between the Zapatistas and transnational activists is highly globalised and based on mutuality. Vol 25. The dissolution of the cold war imperative opened the door to a situation in which the idea and practice of democracy has become the main source of social and political legitimacy.Third World Quarterly. The rebels. popularlyknown as the Zapatistas.emerged in a context in which the repercussionsof the end of the Cold War were still widely felt.2For more than five decades. Denmark.1080/0143659042000185435 255 . This is evident in the way solidarity is understood by the Zapatistas and transnational activists. the cold war conflict had permeatedsocial relations and political action from East to West and from North to South. Email: tho@ps. Early Zapatista communiques seemed only to confirm this impression. The widespread use of arms as a way to achieve social change and political ends was a defining characteristicof this period. the armed Zapatistauprising therefore appearedto be an anachronism. second and third worlds so common in earlier decades. The Zapatistas retain many emancipatory ideals of earlier progressive groups.a relic from the Cold War and a time when Latin America was the home of numerous armed groups inspired by socialist ideas.3The armedelement acquiredan Thomas Olesen is in the Department of Political Science of the University of Aarhus. including Third World solidarity.au.

solidarityrelationshipsin the cold war penod. The third part of the essay. In transforming themselves into armed democrats.' These changes to a large extent result from social innovationson the part of the Zapatistas. in short. the Zapatistas have become an oxymoron embodying the major differences between the time before and after the ending of the Cold War. their ability to mediate constantly between the particularand the universal. This is perhapsmost evident in the way solidarityis understoodby the Zapatistasand the transnationalactivists who have been engaged in solidarity efforts from the early days of the uprising until the present. As a consequence. with an emphasis on the contemporaryrelationship between globalisation and solidarity. that is. but they formulate their social critique in a manner which is more profoundlydemocraticand global than that of most groups during the cold war period. In theory. second and third worlds that has inspired so many analyses in the preceding decades. The second part of the essay. points to conditions that may limit the furtherdevelopment of this form of solidarity. in other words. democracy builds on a high degree of global consciousness and the idea of a sharedhumanitywith inalienableindividualrights.7What is at play. The first part of the essay. including ThirdWorld solidarity.entails the ability 256 .8A global consciousness.tended to have more of a one-way characterin which there was a clear distinction between providers and beneficiaries of solidarity. section five. Under discussion here is a typology of solidarity forms in a historical perspective. if not always in practice. thus lays out a theoretical framework. sections one and two. This development does not appear out of nowhere.THOMAS OLESEN increasingly symbolic role. is an intensified globalisation of social and cultural relations. sections three and four. then demonstrates how the Zapatistas and the solidarity network surroundingthem exemplify a new conception of solidarity that involves a of reconfiguration the relationshipbetween the local. but is a continuation of ideas associatedwith modernity.In contrast. the nationaland the global. The argument presentedin this essay attemptsto establish such a theoreticaland historicallink between the specific case of Zapatistasolidarity and the more structurallevel.4 The Zapatistasretain many of the emancipatoryideals of earlier progressive groups. On the other hand. The solidarityrelationshipbetween the Zapatistasand transnational activists is highly globalised in the sense that it is based on mutuality. they cannot be fully analysed without accounting for the conjunctural shifts of the 1990s. their interpretationof contemporary social and political problems does not build on the distinction between first.6Today solidarityactivities are beginning to take place on a much wider horizon and the incipient internationalcommunity is becoming increasingly importantas an audience for political and solidarity activists.At the centreof modernthinkingstands the theory of democracy. The origins and rise of solidarity Solidarity relationships between individuals and groups separatedby physical. while concepts such as democracy and civil society replaced the socialist rhetoric usually associated with armed groups. social and cultural distances have been present at least since the middle of the 19th century.

this current of thought has nevertheless continued to inform human interaction.GLOBALISING THE ZAPATISTAS and aspirationto see the world as a single place.In the 1970s Third World solidarity activism was highly politicised and it typically considered the gross inequalities in poor countries to be fertile soil for the development of revolutionary movements. therefore. Left-wing internationalism was prevalentespecially in the first decades of the 20th century.to propose a tentative and ideal-typical distinction between different forms of solidarity: political solidarity. Political solidarity has its roots in the traditionsof Marxism and socialism. this old internationalismconsequently had an explicitly national dimension. but it was also characterisedby strife and struggles over the definition of socialist strategy. but often pressureis exerted organisationsexpected to have throughother governmentsor intergovernmental a certain influence on the state in which the violations occur.15 Rights solidarity primarily works on issues involving bodily harm to vulnerable individuals or inequalities in legal opportunity.16 Rights solidarity is therefore often less politicised than political solidarity.14 Although Third World solidarity activists worked within a framework that divided the world into first. it still reflected a growing global consciousness in which the world was analysed as one structure.12since the end of the Cold War this form of solidarity has virtually disappeared. but was structuredfrom above through national parties and states with socialist governments. especially Europe and the USA. When solidarity work consisted in aiding these movements it also often reflected the bipolar conflict between East and West.'11Left-wing internationalismbuilt on a degree of global consciousness that assumed that the working classes all over the world faced similar conditions and similar prospects of social change.9 Despite the obvious lack of global consciousness in the numerouswars and xenophobic outburstsof the past two centuries.perhaps most clearly in the large number of civil society organisationsinvolved in transnationalsolidarity activities. rights solidarity and material solidarity. This may be done directly by lobbying the governments of the countries in which the violations take place. second and third worlds. expressed in slogans such as 'workers of the world unite.'3Third World solidarity is anotherform of political solidarity that had its highpoint in the 1970s. Despite its elements of global consciousness. In its early form it presented a cosmopolitan alternativeto global capitalism. Third World solidarity in many ways grew out of the studentmovement of the 1960s and was concernedwith the consequences of structural inequalities between the rich and poor parts of the world. Its activists were mainly located in the rich parts of the world. Rights solidarity is a form of solidarity concerned with human rights abuses and other forms of human oppression that is a result of the actions of states or extra-legal forces. Rights solidarity work generally aims at putting pressure on human rights abusers.10 But solidaritycan mean many things and it makes sense. The theory of 257 . In general.This means that rights solidarity work is most common in relation to cases where the violation of rights is the result of intentionalacts on the partof specific individualsor states. left-wing internationalismand solidarity was not conceived of as the voluntary actions of individuals and civil society organisations. and consequentlyless common in cases where violations have more structuralcauses.

The main difference between historicaland contemporary transnational rights solidaritylies in the institutionalreferences available to rights solidarityactivists in presenttimes.as is the case with other forms. but may also be inspired by calls from aggrieved groups and populationsin the poor parts of the world. The discussion is ideal-typical and used to set apartthe primarycharacteristicsof a more global and mutual form of solidarity that is currently emerging. Material solidarity reflects a global consciousness in that it constructsa world in which the fate of distantpeople can no longer be ignored. This element is visible in most instances of rights and materialsolidarityand in solidarity relationshipsbetween people and groups in the rich and poor countries. makes it difficult to commit human rights violations without being subjectedto criticism from other states and civil society organisations. Natural disasters include a variety of phenomena such as droughts. they often reflect a situation where the providerof solidarityis supposed to be strongerthan the beneficiary.18 Material solidarity is directed mainly towards victims of disasters and to different forms of underdevelopment. The period following the end of World War II in particularwitnessed the birthof a large numberof organisationswhose objective was to deliver aid to populations suffering from the consequences of the war.It is the result of initiativesby activists in the rich world. global solidarityblurs the distinctionbetween providersand beneficiaries. Like rights solidarity. Or. put differently. Historically. material solidarity is often carried out by organisationsthat take a neutralposition in specific conflicts. In general.While 258 . These forms all denote a one-way relationshipbetween those who offer solidarity and those who benefit from it.global solidarityinvolves a more reciprocalrelationshipbetween providers and beneficiaries.THOMAS OLESEN rights solidarity has deep historical roots in ideas and thoughts associated with Christianityand the Enlightenment. is greatly enhanced and aided by the availability of images and information from faraway places.which is often a result of trade and economic agreements. rights and materialsolidarity are rathernon-political and do not fundamentallychallenge the underlying causes of the grievances that inspire the solidarity effort. Obviously. These problems may have naturalas well as human causes. this form of solidarity.20 As a consequence.17 These ideational currentsboth see human beings as endowed with certain universal rights and thus rest on a high degree of global consciousness. earthquakesand floods. In contrastto rights and materialsolidarity. this form of solidarity goes back at least to the foundation of the International Committee of the Red Cross following the Battle of Solferino in 1859.19 The coming of global solidarity The forms of solidarity described so far all display elements of inequality. This interdependence.2' This type of solidarityusually involves the transferof different forms of resources. as well as in the increasinginterdependence of states. Manmade disasters mainly include wars and other forms of violent conflict that turn large numbersof people into refugees either inside or outside their own country.

as distant social struggles and problems are analysed with a point of departurein a common frameworkcentred on the concept of neoliberalism. global solidarityis an expression of a more extensive global consciousness that constructsthe grievances of physically. It was argued above that rights solidarity and material solidarity are often characterisedby relatively low levels of politicisation. It builds on earlier solidarity work.If we accept the claim that global solidarity rests on a more politicised relationship(with the exception of some of the highly politicised forms of material solidarity between the 1960s and the 1980s) between providersand beneficiaries. Global solidarity. This form of solidarity. The Zapatistasand the network that has been spun around them are perhaps the most obvious contemporaryexamples of this form of solidarity. But. at least for most of the younger or newer solidarity activists 259 . Those people and groups worthy of solidarity were. Just like rights and materialsolidarity. Seen in this light. as indicated already. especially that directed to political groups in Nicaragua. global solidarity constantly mediates between the particular and the universal and through a democratic matrix. The politics of overflowing the The transnational solidaritywork surrounding Zapatistashas not come out of the blue. while at the same time respecting and acknowledginglocal and nationaldifferences. mainly Europe and the USA. entails an often binary analysis of the world and in a historical perspectiveit thereforereflects some of the limitationsand dichotomies imposed by the Cold War on political action. socially and culturally distant people. Such a world risk society is therefore a self-critical society capable of analysing events in a global rather than local or national perspective.GLOBALISING THE ZAPATISTAS all forms of transnationalsolidarity build on a degree of global consciousness. transnationalZapatista solidarity has a number of characteristicsthat diverges significantly from the solidarity work of previous decades: 'The main difference is. The providers are in one place.El Salvadorand Guatemalain the 1980s. those committed to the same set of strategies and goals as the provider of solidarity. Global solidarity is often rather politicised. is a form of solidarity that emphasises similarities between physically. where there is a generally high degree of stability.22The world risk society is a planetary society where it becomes more and more difficult to project social conflicts into the future or an external space.political and ThirdWorld solidarityhas an in-built notion of distance between providers and beneficiaries in the solidarity exchange. while the beneficiaries are located in a distant place with severe problems. socially and culturallydistant people as deeply intertwined. in contrast. accordingly.it may appearthat it shares more with the political and Third World solidarity described earlier.23 Political and solidarity activists navigate in this type of society in an increasingly conscious fashion. however.This perceptionis partly inspired by environmentalthinking and the increasing awareness that environmentalproblems and risks cannot be contained within borders.

and in other ways less is explicit. would be a failure for us. homophobia.that the "solidarity" less material. it is also very much a reflection of the way the Zapatistas define their own contribution to the formulationof this critique.This partlyexplains the constantemphasis on civil society as the main force in creating social change. One of the objectives of the 'First IntercontinentalEncounter for Humanity and Against Neoliberalism' convened by the Zapatistasin Chiapas in 1996 was precisely to extend their political analysis of neoliberalism beyond Mexico and Chiapas.26But the resonance generated by the Zapatistas is not only the result of the ability to present a globally relevant analysis of neoliberalism.but at the same time they have made it explicit that solidaritywith the Zapatistas also involves struggling 'at home' against what is considered a neoliberal development model with global reach. as well as a rather ambiguous relationshipwith the armed element of the Zapatistas:'Our army is a very different army because it is proposing to cease being an army . and a global economic order that guaranteesthe rights of capital while it takes away the rights. typically they want to figure out ways to apply what they've learned in Chiapas to community organisinghere.. since then the virtue of the EZLN. Anyway. has been the ability to 260 .. If the EZLN persists as an army. and cultures of people.the Zapatistasrefused to play the role of vanguard in the struggle against neoliberalism. The anti-vanguardist position entails a radical departurefrom previous and contemporaryarmedmovements in Latin America.It means to fight everywhere against what the EZLN iS fighting against: racism. The abandonmentof the armed path to social change was partly a result of the encounter between the Zapatistas and foreign and domestic solidarityactivists: 'The EZLN preparedfor January1. The new solidarity activist is looking here.. And when they go down to visit Chiapasin the first place. Instead..in other words. The EZLN appearson January1. if we can call it that.who in turn mirrormany of the major changes since the end of the Cold War. or an extended stay there. What would have been a success for a political-militaryorganisationin the 1960s and 1970s . it is destined for failure .' The Zapatistasthus serve as a source of inspirationand not mainly as an object of solidarity:'When people come back from a delegation to Chiapas.In particular.. to the community.To be in solidaritywith the Zapatistas.24 This way of approachingsolidarity work takes it beyond the methods and theories applied in the solidarityforms describedearlier and outlines the central ideas in global solidarity. but something else."for the site of action. to the "belly of the beast. The Zapatistasacknowledge and accept solidarity in the form of material aid and the presence of human rights observers. but not for January2 .'25The global and extended conception of solidarity evident in these quotes has to a large extent been inspired and promotedby the Zapatistas.'27 Social change through armed struggle is portrayed by the Zapatistas as inevitably leading to an authoritarian situationand benefiting only a minority of the population. they aren't going as teachers. but as students'. identities... does not mean to 'simply write letters to your congressperson. sexism.THOMAS OLESEN focusing on Chiapas. they ceaselessly emphasise the power of diversity and networked forms of interaction and resistance. starts the war and realises that the world is not what it was thought to be..

a basis for breaking out. which in the majority of cases proceeded with a well defined recipe for how to obtain their objectives. and in the end the indigenous communitiesturnedout to be the teachersratherthan the students: 'The original EZLN. The fundamental vision of the Zapatistas is. on the one hand. The indigenous communities teach it to listen. which they did after 12 days of fighting in January1994. however. the indigenous communities of This handful of non-indigenousrevolutionariescame to Chiapas with Chiapas.35 261 .'33Had the Zapatistaslimited themselves to the quest for indigenous autonomy.29 a baggage of Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy that was soon challenged by the world-view and traditions of the indigenous communities. This is done in a way that invokes a global consciousness and opens the way to a solidarity allowing a variety of social struggles to articulate their particularity in a manner that simultaneously asserts and transcends identity.34The indigenous people and the Zapatistas are instead transformedinto a universal symbol of exclusion and oppression. constantly 'overflows.32What is argued is not that the Zapatistas do not have long-term strategies and concrete goals. The Zapatistaswere formed throughan encounterbetween. is a political organisationin the sense that it speaks and what it says has to be done.but neither of these scenarios materialised. but neither were they indifferent to the fate and message of the Zapatistas. as demonstratedfor example in the struggle for constitutionalreform in the area of indigenous rights. not to create a new identity or affirman old identity in a negative manner by establishing a 'them' and 'us' dichotomy. this group looked at the indigenous people as exploited peasants who needed to be shown But the way to liberation. Democracy is seen not only as an end. This principle defines a process and a method rather than an end goal. The decision to respond to these calls from civil society to some extent echoes the experiences surrounding the formationof the Zapatistasin the 1980s. and that is what we learn. As already indicated. in other words. as a basis for moving on into other areas of change. thematicallyand politically. The definition of indigenous rights is seen not as an end-point. The principle of 'asking we walk' clearly reflects the essentially democratic characterof the Zapatistas.30 this perception was graduallybroken down. They expected that the uprising would be met with either indifference and apathyor that it would ignite a general uprising in the Mexican population. What emerged instead was a demand that the Zapatistasand the Mexican governmententer into negotiations. but also as an integralpart of the process of social change and it is a perspective that makes it impossible to predefine the path of social struggle or revolution and to think of a defined point of arrival. this approachto social change differs widely from the one promotedby revolutionary movements of the 20th century. This definition. but as a start. the transnational resonance would have been much less significant. but also as a basis for taking the movement forward. a small group of urban intellectuals with a revolutionaryvision and.'28Before the uprising on 1 January1994 the Zapatistashad worked with two scenarios.GLOBALISING THE ZAPATISTAS listen.The people did not want to join the armed struggle.'31 The focus on listening rather than giving orders and proposing solutions is captured in the Zapatista phrase 'asking we walk'. on the other hand. Initially. the one that is formed in 1983.

On the contrary.37 What is called for.39 The Zapatistasdo not reject liberal democracy. But dignity is not that we are only us. had they opted for a predominantly defensive and nationalisticanswer to the challenge of neoliberalism.This critique is directed to the national level as well as to the democratic problems associated with the increasing number of decisions made by intergovernmentaland largely unaccountable organisations such as the IMF. is not some kind of global coalition of resistance dissolving nationaland culturaldifferences. the Zapatistasgave a numberof speeches en route to Mexico City. a world in which many worlds fit. and distant. is often condensed in the concept of neoliberalism..being different. Dignity demands that we are us. the Zapatistaspresented this definition of dignity. The power of the concept of dignity has not come from the urban intellectual element of the Zapatistas. By formulatingtheir critique of neoliberalism and democracy in 262 . or at least much less conspicuous.instead. This is not to suggest that the transnational attentionhas moved the Zapatistas away from the national and indigenous topics that sparked the movement. however.. then. and by envisioning an alternativeform of globalisationratherthan rejectingit altogether.. Dignity should be a world. the Zapatistas constantly transcendsthe particularityof the indigenous people and project their struggle into a universal and global arena.are united in the bridge without ceasing to be different and special. the World Trade Organization (wro) and the World Bank. Through the establishment of a linkage between the notion of indigenous dignity and the desire for 'a world in which many worlds fit'. is the key to understanding this process. it is also much more than this.special. Transnational supportand solidarityfor the Zapatistas would have been inconceivable.38This also implies a critiqueof the liberal or electoral democraticmodel that characterisesmost of the world today. but propose a radicalisation of liberal democracy that includes questions of socioeconomic inequalities and narrows the distance between people and decision-making structures. which is a recurringtheme in the Zapatistadiscourse. In order for dignity to exist. local and cultural differences. which clearly transcends the question of indigenous identity: 'Dignity is a bridge. This critiqueis. emphasise the value of national. While dignity is the right to define and defend one's own identity. During their March for Indigenous Dignity in February/March 2001.'36This latter expression is one of the Zapatistas' most well known.often rootedin somewhatnationalisticterminology. Only by turning the particularinto something universal. In a message delivered in Puebla.THOMAS OLESEN 'A world in which many worlds fit' The concept of dignity.have the Zapatistassucceeded in opening their movementto the outside and to many differentcurrentson the Left and in the solidaritysector.as discussed earlier. This threat. the Zapatistasdefine a numberof common global trends that are threateningthe survival of these values. moreover. The Zapatistas. the other is necessary . Neoliberalism is considered to be anti-democraticbecause of its marginalising and excluding effects. It needs two sides that. At the same time..but from the indigenous communities and their century-long tradition of resistance. but ceasing to be distant . the main concern for the Zapatistas remains the question of indigenous rights and the critique of neoliberalismin Mexico.

second and third worlds that was central to the theory and practice of solidarity with the Third World also rested on a global consciousness. Indeed. Moreover. are seen as partof the same processes and where solutions are consequently proposed from within the same radical democratic framework.shaped as it was by the Cold War confrontation. and in many cases the differenttypes of solidarity are in fact 263 . which means that social critiques not formulated in a democratic language have little resonance and legitimacy. as well as in the occasional visits by human rights observation delegations and their subsequent lobbying work directed at the Mexican government and the US and European governments. This emerging global solidarity is a form of solidarity for which the distinction between first.The latterform of solidarity. the Zapatistas are very much aware of the potential benefits of more traditional solidarity forms like rights and material solidarity. this is indeed the case with the Zapatistas and the transnational solidaritynetwork. despite obvious and significantvariationsin their appearanceand severity. More than anythingthe Zapatistasare the proponentsof a vision in which democracy and civil society are the main engines of a radical social change that fundamentally challenges contemporaryeconomic and political arrangementsand which takes place from below ratherthan from above. and its integrationwith a profound socioeconomic critique.The spacious.GLOBALISING THE ZAPATISTAS democratic terms the Zapatistas have demonstratedawareness of the changed global political situationafter the end of the Cold War. is central to the Zapatistasand the solidarity network aroundthem. The democratic element. but in constructingthe world as a whole. This does not necessarily present a problem.This indicates that the solidarity network displays a simultaneous presence of global and rights and material solidarity. as envisioned by most radical and revolutionarygroups during the Cold War.tended to subsume democracy in other concerns and generally did not see democratic ideas as having a contentious potential. reflected for example in the numerous projects to improve infrastructureand educational facilities in Chiapas. second and third worlds is increasingly irrelevant. The limits of global solidarity The focus on global solidarityin this essay does not mean to suggest that forms of rights and material solidarity are not present within the solidarity network. not in the sense of erasing local and national differences. open and networkedcharacterof the Zapatistas and Zapatistasolidarityis essentially global. but the conception of solidarity brought forward by the Zapatistas and by solidarity activists who support them and work with them suggests a new phase of transnational solidarity that is more genuinely global.The distinction between first. their concerns are visible in the more-or-less constant presence of human rights observers in Chiapas. In many ways this is also what marksthe main difference between global solidarity and ThirdWorld solidarity. This is a world in which social problemsin the rich and poor partsof the world. While a democratic world-view does not necessarily rest on a global consciousness.

there are clearly internal limitations in relation to the development and future of global solidarity. On an even largerscale. for an indigenous peasant leader with little educationand experience outside Mexico and Chiapas.40 While these differences should not be exaggerated. The case of Zapatistasolidaritydemonstrates that it is becoming increasingly important for such groups to interpret and present their particularproblems and issues in a way that gives them transnationalresonance. These points also indicate some problems for current and future groups addressingissues of social change. Nevertheless. there is a growing competition for transnational attention and support. the ability to generate transnationalsupportmay be crucial for their survival. and to a lesser extent between activists and 'ordinary'people in the Zapatistabase communities."4 Despite a strong presence of solidarity activists from other Latin American countries. is not a level playing field where global citizens are free to enter and exchange ideas and solidarities. as local and national groups increasingly attempt to give their struggles a transnational dimension.Up until this point. Distance. and radically different lifeworlds'. the concept of global solidarity has been presented as describing a situation in which distance becomes increasingly irrelevantand where globalisation has no obvious direction. At the same time. for example. tactical differences. should not be measuredonly in physical terms. in other words. at the same time. perhapspoint to a continuedrelevance of the notion of the ThirdWorld. The world today. who has a cosmopolitan and well educated background that makes it easier to connect to a non-Mexican audience than it would have been. For groups operatingunder repressive local and national conditions.The 11 September terroristattacks have given rise to a new world order where terrorismand the 264 . Put differently. however. we are also forced to realise a number of obstacles and limitationsto global solidaritythat in some ways contradictthe argumentsmade so far and.while Africa and Asia are underrepresented. the attractionof supportand resourceshinges on this ability. But attentionalso need to be devoted to problemsthathave to do with the way global structuralinequalities limit the potentialof global solidarity.linguistic gaps. but also in social and cultural terms. the large majorityof activists are based in the USA and Europe.groups without a skilled communicatorrisk their messages never reaching beyond the local and national level. events in the first years of the new millenniumappear inhospitablefor the furtherdevelopmentof global solidarity. The Zapatistashave benefited significantly from the communication skills of SubcomandanteMarcos.THOMAS OLESEN practised by the same activists.A differentangle on this situationis the fact that the dialogue between the Zapatistasand solidarityactivists takes place almost exclusively throughthe educatedleadershipof the Zapatistas. especially for those who have few resources in terms of technology and education. By including these parametersfor measuring distance. Often.most notable Subcomandante Marcos.Those who take part in solidarity activities aroundthe Zapatistasthus 'continue to be divided by cultural barriers. the distinction does point to importantfault lines within the solidarity network. partlybecause of a lack of the communicativeresourcesthat are vital to all forms of transnational solidarity. But obtaining this is no easy task.

What makes global solidarity global is consequently not a one-sided focus on the global as opposed to the local and national. Conclusion: globalizing the Zapatistas Using the Zapatistacase the common threadof this essay has been a sketch of an emerging. but may also be constrained by the new world political situation created in the wake of 11 September. involve social closures whose expressions are only too well known.GLOBALISING THE ZAPATISTAS fight against it is the main priority.The major combatantsin this confrontation both representworld-views that are fundamentallyat odds with those of global solidarityactivists. 265 . normatively or analytically. an example of the global thinking so typical of academics rooted in a In cosmopolitan and Western Enlightenment tradition. What is argued. From a political and normativepoint of view. Critics might even suggest that it expresses a normativeideal ratherthan an analytical concept. From an academic point of view. and responsibility of. albeit fragile. to a wide variety of movements and struggles around the globe. at best. though. at worst. the challenge for. But the idea of global solidaritymay appearsomewhat abstractand detached from the physical spaces in which human activity is mostly situated. overlooking this fact results. culturesand identities are graduallydissolving. In this kind of world. to paint a portrait of a world where states. limiting the room for manoeuvre for political action and subsuming democracy and human rights in security concerns. the reificationof the boundariesbetween potentials local. This process. physical and mediated. at best. Notes 1 The official name of the Zapatistasis Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional. however. in turn. has been facilitated by a number of structural changes related to the end of the Cold War. the nationaland the global.42 anticipation of such critiques it is importantto make it clear that the global solidarity concept does not intend. at worst. in analyses of limited scope and. althoughthe emphasis obviously differs from time to time and from place to place. in flawed conclusions. overlook new transformative and. national and global spaces. The resonance of the Zapatistas beyond their local and national origins is thus in large part explained by their ability to interprettheir particularproblems through a global frameworkthat enables them to establish links. is that we are witnessing a growing imbricationof local. or EZLN (ZapatistaArmy Ejr&cito of National Liberation). national and global spaces in a way that does not erase difference but leads to new social and political forms and expressions. Global solidarityactivities in fact often originate at the local and national level and revolve aroundcultural and identity characteristicstied to these spaces. global solidarity and the way it departsfrom earlier forms of solidarity. but ratherthe attempt to mediate constantlybetween the local. In many ways this situationhas recreatedthe binary analysis that characterisedthe cold war period. solidarity activists promotingthe globalisation of democracy and the globalisation of dignity is more pertinentthan ever.

Minneapolis. Cultures of Politics. MI: University of Michigan Press. and M. 1994. p 81. in Pheng Cheah & Bruce Robbins (eds). V Gosse. AC Drainville. 'Globalization. 'Fromaltruismto a new transnationalism? look at transnational A social movements'. see T Olesen. JV Riker & K Sikkink (eds). 1999. See. 'Chiapas:Latin America's first post-communistrebellion'. 1992. engaging in solidarityactivities cannot be expected to lead to personalbenefits in a more narrowsense. p 79. 70. London: Zed Books.NY: Cornell University Press. Ann Arbor. 235. and Eterovic & Smith. in SE Alvarez. el dem6crata armado'. 1998. 23-26 September 2003.Networks. 266 . The description of the Zapatistasas armed democrats is inspired by A Touraine. 198.11 (2). Globalizationsand Social Movements:Culture. New Perspectives Quarterly. p 11. Cold War America and the Making of a New Left.Boulder. and R Cohen & P Kennedy. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press. 2001. What is interesting about solidarity work is that. it breaks down rational choice-inspired explanationsof why people participatein collective action. 1953-93'. where distances between those who offer solidarity and those who benefit from it are considerablein physical as well as in social and culturalterms. Political Altruism? Solidarity Movements in International Perspective. 1998. 'Adjusting the lens: what do globalizations. 'ThirdWorld or planetaryconflicts?'. MN: University of Minnesota Press. in JA Guidry.Globalization. Global Sociology. New Brunswick:TransactionPublishers. p 198. T Risse & K Sikkink. F Passy. London: Verso. forthcoming 2004. 22 December 1996. What Is Globalization?. Cambridge:Polity Press.and Norms. 2002. 'The struggleinside democracy:towardsa global solidarity?'. transnationalism. 'Distant issue movements in Germany: empirical description and theoretical reflections'. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Politics of Culture: Revisioning Latin American Social Movements. CO: Westview Press. 1993. p 344. MD: Rowman and Littlefield. p 183. and the TransnationalPublic Sphere. 2000.Social Movementsand the New Internationalisms. p47. I Eterovic & J Smith. p 'From altruism to a new transnationalism?'. Waterman. Minneapolis. C Fuentes.Power. Drainville. London:Mansell.1998. see K Sikkink & J Smith. Globalizations and Social Movements. D Rucht. 'The fetichism of global civil society: global governance. The Power of Human Rights: InternationalNorms and Domestic Change. in S Khagram. E Dagnino & A Escobar (eds). in Guidry et al. This challenge is especially evident with regardto transnational variantsof solidaritywork. 'The cosmopolitical-today'. R Robertson.new internationalism and the Zapatistas'. For a more detailed discussion. 1998. Globalization:Social Theoryand Global Culture. 'Infrastructures change: transnational for organizations. for example. Seen from the perspective of activists in the country where rights violations are taking place. in Guigny & Passy. p 35. the ability to mobilise other governmentsas well as intergovernmental organisationsto exert pressureon their national governments is described by Keck & Sikkink. p U Beck. 2000. Political Altruism?. P Waterman. Lanham. 'Distant issue movements in Germany'. p 236. Activists Beyond Borders. International Zapatismo: The Construction of Solidarity in the Age of Globalization. paper presented at the European Sociological Association conference. GW Seidman. and P Cheah. 'Marcos. 'Historicalprecursorsto modern transnational social movements and networks'. La Jornada Semanal. transnationalurbanism and sustainablecapitalism in the world economy'. Rucht. such as the way in which radical Third Worldism in the 1960s and 1970s had some impacton New Left thinkingwith regardto North Americanand Western Europeanpolitics.and the anti-apartheid movement mean for social movement theory?'.Social Movements and the New Internationalisms. in M Giugni & F Passy (eds). Restructuring World Politics: TransnationalSocial Movements. to some extent. For an account of historical precursorsto transnationalactivism. Ithaca.THOMAS OLESEN 2 4 5 6 8 9 10 1 12 14 4 15 16 17 18 19 20 2 22 23 See T Olesen.in Risse & Sikkink (eds). in Guidry et al.Globalization. M De Angelis.Capital & Class. Mao and Che.MN: University of MinnesotaPress. 'The fetichism of global civil society'. One of the most strikingexamples of this thinkingis the adoption of the Universal Declarationof Human Rights in 1948. For a description and analysis of internationalnon-governmentalorganizations (INGOS) in the latter half of the 20th century. Globalizations and Social Movements. 2002. In other words. Of course. Ibid. in MP Smith & LE Guamizo (eds). Murcia.London: Sage. 'The socialization of internationalhuman rights norms into domestic practices: introduction'. Elbaum. MD Kennedy & MN Zald (eds). Where the Boys Are: Cuba. Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals turn to Lenin. p 47. there are some partial exceptions to this. A Melucci. see ME Keck & K Sikkink. 2000. 1998. Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networksin InternationalPolitics. Transnationalism from Below. p 8. Cosmopolitcs: Thinking and Feeling beyond the Nation. Spain. p 27. 2000. and Keck & Sikkink. 'Political altruismand the solidaritymovement'. as a boomerang pattern. London: Verso.

no nos tragamos eso de que todo cambi6'. Interview with SubcomandanteMarcos. in Holloway & Pelaez. in J Holloway & E Pelaez (eds). HM Cleaver. Zapatista! Reinventing Revolution in Mexico. interview. a Chicano in San Isidro. 1998. p 173. 'The Zapatistauprising and the poetics of culturalresistance'. 2003. Zapatistas: Documents of the New Mexican Revolution(December 31.' J ten Dam.htm.cambio. New York: Autonomedia. 5 This is perhaps most evident in the now famous response from SubcomandanteMarcos to a question concerning his sexuality: 'Marcos is a gay in San Francisco. 1998. 3..GLOBALISING THE ZAPATISTAS 24 25 26 Brian Dominick. 'La resonancia del zapatismo'. solidarity and the politics of scale'. already indirectly present from the first days of the uprising and served to create an immediate link between the Zapatistasand struggles against NAFTA in Canada and the USA. Ibid.MAI and Zapatista struggles'. 8 January2001.es. Asking them for favours is to passively accept their authorityand existence. 'Communiqud'. the primary spokesman for the Zapatistas. available at www. 'Solidarity at all cost? On the lack of criticism in the solidarity movement with the Zapatistas'. an indigenous person in the streets of San Crist6bal. an Asian in Europe.ezln. Revista Cambio. 1997. that will do anything in the aid of the good cause .Grassroots Post-Modernism:Remaking the Soil of Cultures. 'Primera declaraci6n de la realidad'. see G Esteva & MS Prakash.oppressed. 29 Y Le Bot. We do not accept that and never will. p 165. 1996.nl/prensa/zapataldissolve.php?idp 21&ids = l&ida = 898. International Politics 38 (1).in Cleaver. 1996. 31 SubcomandanteMarcos.org/ documentos/1996/ 19960130. p 70. and C Bob.htm. 2000. Marcos is every untolerated.com. La Jornada.htm. and we see no reason to ask them favours. p 21. Both the EuropeanUnion and the United Nations are instrumentsof the governmentsof the world. 32 Holloway. 'Introduction: reinventing revolution'. p 10. however. 2003. 37 J Johnston & G Laxer. e-mail received November 2000. The main focus of the European solidarity network has become putting pressure on the EuropeanUnion and Parliamentnot to accept the preferentialtreatmenttreaty between the EuropeanUnion and the Mexican government. 1994.noticias. Revista Chiapas. 'Dignity's revolt'.. p 142. 1998. a Palestinianin Israel. London: Zed Books. interview. 30 N Higgins. 'Solidarity in the age of globalisation: lessons from the anti. 40 Differences persist for example between those working from an anarchistic and highly politicised perspective and those based in more traditionalrights solidarity: 'Day by day the European network is becoming an ever more bureaucraticallyorganised humanitarianaid organisation. 1993-June 12. 'Habla Marcos'. Global Civil Society and Its Limits. pp 97-98. in G Laxer & S Halperin (eds). The article is an interview with Subcomandante Marcos. As a result of the coincidence between the uprising and the coming into force of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFrA) such an analysis was. 34 3 J Holloway. 1999. international media. 27 G Garcia Marquez & R Pombo.Alternatives. p 364.2000. 'Marketing rebellion: insurgent groups. and NGO support'.ezln. 41 J Johnston. 'Introduction'. available at = www. 1994). exploited minority that is resisting and saying "Enough!"' Quoted in J Holloway & E Pelaez. 2001. 'Marcos a Fox: Queremos garantias.org/documentos/2000/20000619.. available at www.. Zapatista!.ezln. 28 C Monsivais & H Bellinghausen. Justin Paulson. 32 (1).es. including SubcomandanteMarcos. Theory and Society. 'We are all Marcos? Zapatismo. The book is mainly an interview with Zapatista commanders. Puebla'. 'Dignity's revolt'.htm. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Marcos is a human being in this world. 28 March 2001. Barcelona: Plaza y Janes.co/web/interior. quoted in J Holloway. available at www. 42 For an argumentalong these lines. 38 EZLN.25 (3).es. 39 EZLN. 267 . 'Palabrasdel EZLN el 27 de febrero del 2001 en Puebla. 2001. The other focus is to pressure the United Nations to intervene in Chiapas (as either a mediator or human rights observer). available at www. In other words. a black in South Africa. London: Pluto Press. p 163. 36 EZLN. El sueno zapatista. e-mail received October 2001.org/ marchal20010227b.