From: Nicholas Dronen <ndronen@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 11 Nov 1996 01:12:12 -0600
sam binkley wrote:
> I, for one, am extremely curious to know how the Zapatista platform
> makes use of Foucault, and how Foucault's work was introduced into
> their political vocabulary. I don't think it is patronizing to point
> out that the indian/peasant populations of Chiapas generally don't
> read such things. Neither does it discredit their radical use of
> Foucault if we show that his work was introduced as by intellectuals
> schooled elsewhere.
Commander Marcos (he may be called something else; it's been a while
since I followed the events in Chiapas, although I did notice today in
the paper that a few peasants were killed by the police at a protest
over produce prices) has written quite a bit. His writings are
press releases of a sort, a cross, perhaps, between a manifesto and what
Foucault sometimes wrote to the press in his hours of activism.
Alexander Cockburn has used Marcos's writings in a column or two in The
Nation. I haven't seen anything by Marcos since I was in Washington,
almost two years ago now. My correctable guess is that Marcos uses
Foucault as a post-Marxist framework to understand the power of the
Mexican government, not as a guide on particular issues.
I agree that it does not belittle the cause of the Zapatistas if
Foucault was introduced by someone other than a homegrown intellectual.
However, it does say something about the nature of the uprising if it
was instigated by external leadership. Of course, the rebels must be
willing to follow Marcos. They must have something in their lives other
than his charisma that makes them act.
When the Chiapas story first broke, I was rooting for the Zapatistas,
but after I learned that Marcos was not native to Chiapas and after I
thought a little about the famed socio-economic anaylsis of the French
Revolution (which I thought was done by Samuel Huntington, but which
Alisdair MacIntyre attributes to someone else) my thoughts on the
conflict changed. (In case you aren't familiar with the study of the
French Revolution, the upshot is that the revolution was caused not by
severe economic hardship but rather by a rising middle class and the
concomitant (sp?) rise of expectations among that class.)
I am not so willing any longer to suppose that each and every
left-leaning rebellion is justified and legitimate.
A good friend of mine from high school, now an activist in New York,
organizes garment factories (or tries to) and speaks occasionally
on diverse and radical topics at a Pathfinder Books in Washington
(somewhere near 8th and E Streets SE). I could respect what he is doing
were it not for the fact that I know him well enough to see that what he
is really doing is trying to become The Great Leader of Men. Isn't it
somewhere in Beyond Good and Evil that Nietzsche says not to be deceived
by the humble appearance of the holyman, as he is secretly prideful in
P.S. Atefeh, I will supply you with the reference tomorrow. The house
is cold, dark and quiet, and I'm ready to go to sleep.