Ch. 6 – Subterranean Echoes: Political Resistance from Below

In the US the left associates itself with the unions and citizenship movement. Latin America, when capital flight left devastation in its wake, abandoned these interests and pursued a path of independence. Do you think the same thing could happen here? Are unions and citizenship carrots dangled by the capitalist state? What do you think about the teachers’ union and the Seattle boycott of standardized tests?

In El Alto there are 400 to 550 neighborhood councils, with one for every 1,000 inhabitants. In Santa Cruz County there are around 220,000 adults with 50,000 in the City of SC. This would be 220 neighborhood councils in the county and 50 in the city. Is this too many, not enough, or the right amount? Each neighborhood council is made up of several neighborhoods with several blocks per neighborhood. Would it be helpful for us to organize this way? Could it be done?

In the US, in my experience, people rarely like their neighbors and even more rarely like their families. Why is this? Has capitalism broken our “tools for conviviality” as Ivan Illich calls them. Do we have families and neighborhoods anymore or just places where people live in proximity?

Zibechi sees representation as a “structure of domination.” He juxtaposes it to expression: “Whereas the logic of representation is separation and transcendence, that of expression is one of experience and immanence. So the key categories of representation are: consensus, articulation, opinion, explicit networks, communication and agreement. Those of expression are encounters, composition, disarticulation, resonances, and diffuse webs.” At what size would direct democracy work without representation?

Are the welfare state and the warfare state tied, as Zibechi implies? If the Republicans in Congress destroy the welfare state will they also “weaken their ability to maintain their hegemony” and “weaken the state’s hold over the oppressed and exploited, which facilitates the cooptation or neutralization of the dangerous classes?” Would that be a good thing?

Is sovereignty a human right? Does it necessarily include land? Is it the only positive human right (as opposed to a right to not be tortured, imprisoned w/o trial, etc.) Why is it not included in the UN list? Are the others rights or someone else’s obligation?

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