WHY THE PROVOCATIVE COCKTAIL

Zapatismo was not Marxism-Leninism, but it also was Marxism-Leninism, it wasn’t the Marxism of the university, it wasn’t the Marxism of concrete analysis, it wasn’t the history of Mexico, it wasn’t fundamentalist and millennialist indigenous thought, it wasn’t indigenous resistance: it was a mix of all this, a cocktail that was mixed in the mountains and that crystalized in the fighting force of the EZLN, that is to say among the regular troops. The regular troops, the insurgents, us, Major Mario, Captain Maribel, Major Ana Maria, those that had spent all this time in the mountains, we are the final product of this collision of cultures. And all the compañeros of the Committee that had spent the most time, like Tacho, David, Zevedeo, compañeros that were there from the start, who had been in the Zapatista National Liberation Army for 10, 12 years, and who by their work were the leaders of the movement, began to produce their own definition of what Zapatismo is.

Then the leaders of the four indigenous ethnic groups met for the first time, now as leaders, now with the title of comandantes to resolve to work together and make war as indigenous people and not as one ethnicity, but as the four principal ethnicities of the state. The general character of the war was established, that it was for national demands, not just indigenous ones, but national ones. The principal demands, the banners of the struggle are: democracy, liberty, and justice.

… In the moment that it was decided to make decisions democratically the great majority of the organization acquired a power that hadn’t been recognized. Their real power was converted into formal power and was able to influence the rest of the organization. That is what determined that they begin to rely on the mountains and on the Revolutionary Clandestine Committee for those activities on which they previously relied on the city. The whole organization suffered this process of transformation. Everybody had to subordinate their thinking to the interests of the indigenous leadership, furthermore an indigenous leadership with this trajectory, with this mix that I tell you about, with this provocative cocktail.

SubComandante Insurgente Marcos
interviewed by Yvon LeBot in El sueño zapatista
(1997:198–201)

My name is Christopher Gunderson and I am Assistant Professor of Sociology in Social Theory and Inequality at Howard University. This blog is dedicated to presenting some of my finished scholarly and political writing but also as a space for discussing current events and working out ideas and discussing them.

It takes its name from a comment made by Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, leader of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN)  in which he describes the many currents of radical thought that came together to produce Zapatismo, the distinctive political discourse and practices of the EZLN. The Provocative Cocktail is also the main title of my doctoral dissertation on the intellectual origins of Zapatismo.

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