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Relatos Zapatistas March 2011 Radio Show
The focus of this month’s show is war. War is everywhere, it surrounds us and permeates every aspect of society; war is strikingly apparent, captivating our eyes and ears with gunfire and explosions, but it is also silent, subtle, seemingly innocuous, difficult and at times even impossible to see. War is also everyday life under capitalism. War therefore takes many different forms simultaneously. What we want to do today is not simply report about sites of war but examine some of war’s different modes, the forms that war takes across space and time. We will look at three formations: Mexico and the narco-state, North Africa and the repressive state apparatus, and the Bay Area and the police state. Despite their differences, all of these geopolitical sites have experienced the varying but devastating effects of war and, furthermore, they all recognize that the enemy is the state in some form or another, state agents or institutions like the police or the military tied to bureaucracies of power and the reins of capital.
We begin the show with the recent communiqué by Subcomandante Marcos, titled “On Wars,” and one of the first significant Zapatista texts published since the Sexta declaración de la selva lacandona in 2005. What Marcos describes as the “war from above” constitutes not only the militarization of society but also, and in a directly related way, a business deal between the US and Mexico. To speak of the Mexican government’s war against the narco-traffickers is to mistake a single though convoluted mass of profiteers for two distinct and coherent “sides.” We read the communiqué next to reports of the continuing low intensity war that capital and the entrenched Mexican government have been executing in Chiapas. But we use the communiqué as a lens with which to think about war beyond Mexico.
The revolution in Egypt took many different forms over the past weeks, and continues today as the military has installed itself as Mubarak’s successor. We will speak with a local activist who was in Egypt during the protests and specifically in Tahrir Square when Mubarak fell. We will try and get a glimpse of how people occupied public space as a tactic for relating different struggles and connecting organizing efforts. In particular, we’re interested in the complicated relationships between the people, the police, and the military: the hatred of the police for protecting the state, tied to a conflicted love for the Army in its wavering and oscillating role as both protector of the people but also the ultimate repository of authority. This is especially important to consider as we see military snipers and even fighter planes deployed in Libya in a desperate attempt to stabilize a teetering dictatorship.
In the last segment of the show, we turn to the war at home that is ongoing and ever-present for many communities here in the Bay Area. In the past year alone, the police have killed at least 9 people. But this process includes not only the hyper-militarization of the Oakland police force but more subtle forms as well. From gang injunctions that normalize ongoing racial profiling to the murder of unarmed youth of color, OPD has produced and is constantly reproducing a state of war that permeates the local government, schools, and city officials. For this reason we end the show with one of the many ways people are resisting this “permanent war.”
On Feb 18 and 19th a group of community members, activist, organizers and lawyers came together and planned a “people’s hearing on racial profiling and police violence”. In a space resembling the asambleas of la otra campaña, people gave testimony about how the police and state agencies are engaging in an outright war on communities of color here in Oakland. We will hear from one of the organizers about the history of tribunals or peoples hearings and discuss the strategy of such a space. The idea, then, is to think through not only what Subcomandante Marcos calls the “war from above” but also what we might call another “war from below”—the many forms of struggle from below and to the left that describe and produce communities of resistance.