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Category Archives: The Rhizome Info-Shop

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The lessons offered by the Zapatista movement of Chiapas, Mexico are more pertinent now than ever. As the “pink tide” of left Latin American governments recede and the right resurges throughout the Americas and the world, the Zapatistas offer a different way forward. Instead of seeking state power, they have remained steadfast in their commitment to build an autonomous government system beyond the logic of capital and the nation state, and continuously resist attacks on their communities by all sides of the Mexican political spectrum, including the current “progressive” Lopez Obrador administration. Autonomy Is in Our Hearts gives a detailed account of this autonomous government system based on hundreds of testimonies from within the Zapatista base communities. It is rooted in Dylan’s own experiences of years of Zapatista solidarity work and as a student of Tsotsil, a Mayan language indigenous to the highlands Zapatista communities of Chiapas.
Dylan analyzes the autonomous government system through the conceptual language of Tsotsil imparted to him by his Zapatista teachers. The foundations of autonomous government lie in long traditions of indigenous understandings of labor, spirit, social change, self-defense, capitalism, and the good life. The words “Freedom”, “Justice”, and “Democracy” emblazoned on the Zapatista flag are only rough translations of concepts such as ichbail ta muk’ or “mutual recognition and respect among equal persons or peoples,” a’mtel or “collective work done for the good of a community” and lekil kuxlejal or “the life that is good for everyone.” Autonomy Is in Our Hearts provides a comprehensive analysis of Zapatista autonomous government that unfolds a new political language for understanding their movement. It is one of the first and most in-depth studies of the political categories of Tsotsil and an indispensable guide to the inner workings of Zapatista autonomous government. Both a good introduction to the Zapatistas and a new perspective for those already familiar with their movement, it is important reading for engaged intellectuals, activists, and organizers.
Praise: “This is a refreshing book. Written with the humility of the learner, or the absence of the arrogant knower, the Zapatista dictum to ‘command obeying’ becomes to ‘know learning.’” —Marisol de la Cadena, author of Earth Beings: Ecologies of Practice across Andean Worlds
“Autonomy Is in Our Hearts is perhaps the most important book you can read on the Zapatista movement in Chiapas today. It stands out from the rest of the Anglophone literature in that it demonstrates, with great sensitivity, how a dialectic between traditional culture and institutions and emerging revolutionary and regenerative forces can play a crucial role in liberatory social transformation. It shows us what we can learn from the indigenous people of Chiapas about a politics of community, care, and mutual aid, and—to use a word that they themselves use so much—about a politics of heart. A great strength of the work is that the author is a very good listener. He allows the people of Chiapas to tell their own story largely in their own words, and with their own distinctive voice.” —John P. Clark, from the Foreword
“Autonomy Is in Our Hearts takes us step by step through the first two grades of the Zapatistas’ international primary school in politics called the escuelita, and carefully describes the ongoing revolution of everyday life in the autonomous municipalities of Chiapas. Most importantly, this book studies the Zapatistas in their own language. In the syntax and semantics of precolonial languages are encoded the seeds and harvest of a post-capitalist present and future. If, as the Zapatistas say, ‘the word is our weapon,’ then this book is a glimpse into an armory for decolonization.” —Quincy Saul, coeditor of Maroon the Implacable and member of the East Coast Chiapas Solidarity Committee

Dylan Eldredge Fitzwater has encountered the Zapatistas as a human rights observer, as a participant in several international gatherings, and as a student at the Zapatista language school in Oventik. His most recent permanent residence was Portland, OR where he worked at Burgerville, a regional fast-food chain, and organized for the Burgerville Workers Union, an affiliate of the Industrial Workers of the World. He is currently on the road living out of a van and selling Zapatista coffee through MonkeyBear Coop.

 

 

 

 

Are you a tenant? Do you want to learn how to get your deposit back, deal with habitability issues, or to secure affordable housing? Join Humboldt Grassroots at the Labor Temple on Friday, June 21, from 6 to 9 pm where we’ll have a tenants rights presentation, discussion, and potluck. That’s Friday, June 21st from 6 to 9 pm at the Labor Temple 840 E Street in Eureka for tenants rights.

Learn how to get from begging for your deposit back, decent housing and affordable rent to bargaining.

Join us for May Day, the original Labor Day! May 1st is the Day all over the world that we celebrate our collective struggle for freedom and honor all those who live and die in solidarity for a free and just society. It is even bigger this year! Ten groups are co-organizing, and seven performances confirmed there are more being confirmed, find them here as we update. This year is going to be huge! There is going to be a Rally, March, and Festival starting at noon going till 9 pm. The event will begin with a rally on the steps of the Humboldt County Courthouse at noon. An interpretive march will start at 1:00, where you can learn about historic local struggles. The march will bring us to the Old Town Gazebo in Eureka, where you can enjoy some music, hear from speakers, and visit with tablers who are doing great work for our community. From 2:00 to 4:00, we will hear from speakers on a wide variety of topics covering the history of May Day, local unionizing and labor struggles, economic democracy, racial justice, and immigrant rights, ecological resilience, and anti-colonization/ anti-imperialism. Beginning at 4:00, we’ll celebrate with music and dancing, compliments of Moonsong Band, Irie Rockers, Dead Bird Son, DJ Pressure, Unholy Orifice, Blackplate, and more!
 
The eight Anarchists martyrs persecuted and killed for organizing for the eight hour day and for being anarchists advocating for a free and just society. It was their anarchism was put on trial not any alleged crime on the books advocates for better conditions for working people, the eight hour day and the emancipation of humanity put them in conflict with all tyrants. For that, the court sentenced them to death. We will hear more about that when our local historian gets on his soap-box to tell us about it!

(The first version of this interview appeared in print in the 4th Humboldt Grassroots paper that came out in early 2012. It wasn’t well edited at the time, most of the editorial collective was missing for good reason, repression of HGR members who participated in Occupy Eureka was in full swing, in early 2012.)

Hurt, Kristian Williams most recent book, is a collection of articles on the what, where, why and how of torture, and how it must be stopped. Hurt argues convincingly why stricter laws and more human rights observers can’t end torture. Human rights observers are deceived and not given access is not provided full access to necessary information by governments. Thus, tons of torture goes unreported. So to end the practice of torture, we must dismantle the institutions and systems that benefit from inflicting maximum pain and suffering. That means creating a real democracy the prison abolition movement and the feminist movement collaboration described in Critical Resistance 10 conference.

How do we dismantle the prison and the police state while keeping people accountable and safe? That conversation needs to be had to find and share solutions to replace systems of oppressions rely on torture with community power that relies on real democracy.

Torture and democracy don’t mix the whole concept of torture is the subjugation and dehumanization of another runs as the complete opposite to the practice of justice, equality, solidarity and the universal freedom of all humanity.

I asked some questions of Kristian Williams.

Also, I have a few questions about a few topics discussed in Hurt:

How has the use of torture terror and physical subjugation you describe in Hurt, played out in your view in the repression against the Occupy Wall Street Protests across the country?

I haven’t really done a thorough study of Occupy and the state’s response. There are a couple of notorious instances of the cops using pepper spray to force compliance (UC Davis) or as a kind of gratuitous punishment (NY).

By my reckoning that instrumentalization of pain counts as torture. And I think it’s telling that those were probably the incidents that proved most discrediting to the cops. I mean, it really backfired for them and generated lots of sympathy for the protesters. Of course, the fact that there was video was crucial to have that political effect.

I wanted to know more about your work with Critical resistance and  Incite, what your assessment of the current prison abolition movement is, where you think it is going, and the political change for real democracy(anarchism) needs to go?

I haven’t myself done any work with Critical Resistance or Incite directly, aside from attending the CR10 conference and contributing an article to the CR newsletter. But the organization I’m part of, Rose City Copwatch has taken a lot of inspiration from the joint statement by CR/Incite about the need to address community violence without relying on police and prisons. Part of our work over the past many years has been advancing the notion that there are and can be alternatives to the official criminal justice system. We put out a pamphlet a few years ago profiling quite a number of those existing alternatives. It’s on our website, rosecitycopwatch.org. That, of course, has a natural overlap with my intellectual work, especially the afterword to Our Enemies in Blue.

I think the prison abolition movement has made impressive strides in the past 15 or so years. It’s really managed to establish itself as a legitimate position on the political spectrum — to such a degree that the state is beginning to co-opt some of the ideas about restorative justice and the like. And the advances of the prison abolition movement have also had the effect of completely changing the left’s agenda around policing as well. It used to be that anti-cop organizing was almost entirely under the sign of police accountability, but in the past dozen or so years there’s been a shift more and more in the direction of abolition.

As for next steps: I think we’ve done a pretty good job in pushing the notion that there could be ways to resolve disputes and respond to violence that the community controls directly and that doesn’t rely on locking people in cages. But so far we have not done nearly enough regarding actually creating and sustaining those alternatives. I hope we’ll see more experiments in that area in the years to come.

What are your suggestions? Do we need to create better anarchist media? Should radicals put more of an emphasis on organizing in their neighborhoods than into protest camps? Do you suggest we protest specific police practices and policies?

Yes. We need all of that. I’m always reluctant to try to tell people what to do, though, because political strategy needs to be tailored to a specific context. What makes sense in Portland right now may make no sense in Humboldt — and may not make sense in Portland in six months,
either.

I know you described how torture is hidden in plain sight in your book, but what impact does that tacit knowledge tend to have on people? How is a regular person who hasn’t been arrested affected by torture in our society?

Torture has effects far beyond its immediate victims. It also traumatizes their families and loved ones, it’s disruptive to their communities, it intimidates those who even just her about it, and it indeed casts a shadow over the entire society. It’s a kind of terrorism, and I don’t use the word hyperbolically.

People are afraid of prison, for example, in large part, I think because they’re so scared of what happens to people in prison. That fear is itself a system of control, every bit as real and the walls and the razor wire. And of course, living in a society stratified by race and class, certain types of people are vastly more likely to be sent to prison than others. In particular, Black men are more likely to be incarcerated than any other group. The effect of that imprisonment, and of some of the things that happen to them while they’re there, has been pretty devastating to the Black community.

take care,
Kristian

Update 4/6/2019: Our automatic online ordering system is sending to the wrong email so please remember your books and add the relevant personal info in your email to us, that will be a good workaround until we have this bug fixed.

The curated radical and anarchist multi-media platform of our dreams that will be the Rhizome Infp-shop is taking shape. It will be a place to browse our physical library and email us to borrow books, find out books to get yourself and get access to all the best anarchist media that we can find. Podcasts, news outlets, videos, online reading, books, zines pamphlets, art music…We hope to have it launched and ready to go by Spring 2018.

We now have a way to catalog that has been dogging us for a while. We lost a number of books in the most recent move but we are restocking our collection day by day, with friends and publishers contributing to the Rhizome Info-shop.

This collection is very accessible, not in an upstairs loft or any particular location, we will meet you where you are at and work with your needs. That is the hope to get the right book to the right person as often as we can.

The most destructive force on earth is ignorance, we hope this new iteration of the info-shop will kick ignorance in its teeth.

to contact the folks working on the rhizome info-shop

email: Humboldt (no spaces) Grassroots at rise up dot net.

If you are not a robot you’ll know how to read that.

More to come!

Thanks to The Ink People and J-Birds Treasure Nook in Eureka for their support!