Two weeks ago we wrapped up the quarter in World History by having the students read Our Word is Our Weapon by Subcomandante Marcos. Of those that read the book (about ½ the class) there was a pretty sharp divide regarding the actions of the Zapatistas. Some were disgusted with the EZLN and Marcos. The EZLN was nothing more than a farce and a sham foisted on Indians who would once more see their hopes crushed. In a nutshell, they sounded a bit like the folks over at Dissident Voice speaking about those who long for a past that never was and future that never will be. “We are a people bereft of real choices because our capacity to imagine a real world–a doable, viable world–has been shattered,” wrote Gary Corseri in August of 2008. That is exactly what the students sounded like. Greed, they said, was the essential nature of man. Hobbes, they argued, was right, and that only a the guy with the biggest cudgel will keep us from ripping each other apart, not some false dream of community autonomy and cooperation. The EZLN, they said, was wasting their time – just get out of the jungle and go get a job in a factory some where. Wow. Those are what my mom used to call “gloomy Gusses”
The pro-EZLN students on the other hand found Marcos’ vision enlightening. Respect for human rights and dignity, cooperation, local autonomy and the practice of community democracy seemed like what they wished the
The kicker – the divide was not along conservative / liberal lines. Both conservative and liberal students were so jaded they found the EZLN a folly, while both liberal and conservative students found the EZLN a commendable vision.
All things considered (including the EZLN), I think there is cause for optimism in the
Hey, I may not agree entirely with John Lennon’s vision from Imagine, but I certainly can agree that we need to dream. What is wrong, as Wallace says, with seeking that "more satisfying culture."
***And FYI, the simple citation of Dissident Voice doesn't mean I'm on board with everything that goes on there - but they do have some good writers some times. Check them out and make your own decision.