Insurgent Marcos: The Political-Philosophical Formation of the Zapatista Subcommander

Insurgent Marcos: The Political-Philosophical Formation of the Zapatista Subcommander

Insurgent Marcos: The Political-Philosophical Formation of the Zapatista Subcommander

Insurgent Marcos: The Political-Philosophical Formation of the Zapatista Subcommander

Synopsis

For over two decades now Subcommander Marcos has acted as military leader and spokesperson of Mexico’s Zapatista movement. In the process of doing so he has also become a key figure in the anti-capitalist and anti-globalization movements. There has been little attempt however to examine in significant detail the political-philosophical influences at work upon this important contemporary thinker. This book aims to rectify this by establishing which political-philosophical currents Marcos was exposed to during his formative years as a student at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and then examining the Subcommander’s discourse in order to ascertain the extent to which these persisted in his thinking years later. Concretely, what we discover is that in his youth Marcos was especially influenced by his reading of Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, and Nicos Poulantzas, and that certain core components of their thinking helped to form, and indeed continued to inform, the Subcommander’s political philosophy.

Excerpt

As the Zapatistas’ military leader and spokesperson, the world’s most recognizable revolutionary icon in a generation (i.e. since Che Guevara), a shining beacon of the anti-neoliberal globalization and anti-capitalist movements, and arguably “the best Latin American writer today,” Mexico’s Subcommander Insurgent Marcos (to give him his full title) has, deservedly, been the subject of numerous books, book chapters, encyclopaedia entries and articles. and yet, despite a plethora of pages having been devoted to the Subcommander, there has been to date very little examination of his political-philosophical formation and the extent to which this may have informed his discourse.

The Subcommander himself, when asked specifically in a 2007 interview with Raymundo Reynoso, “Who is Marcos, how was he formed, what formed him?,” replied that prior to the Zapatista uprising

There were two large aspects to Marcos. One, that of the orthodox left, and
later the one which resulted from the process of digestion and modification
which the indigenous communities provided.

Unfortunately, the Subcommander failed to elaborate any further in the interview on this “orthodox left” aspect of his formation. Elsewhere too, he has described himself in a similar way, telling one interviewer that “We were closed-minded, like any other orthodox leftist…,” and on another occasion recalling his “orthodox way of seeing the world in terms of ‘bourgeois[ie] and proletarians.’” Again, however, in these instances too Marcos fails to expand on his leftist orthodoxy. Indeed, the fullest account Marcos has provided us with concerning what precisely this entailed can be found in a May 1994 interview, where he talks of the “interweaving” and “exchange” that took place “between the proposals of the guerrilla group, the initial group of the ezln, and the communities,” whereby . . .

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