Tactics that Work: From Zapatismo to Occupy

Summary: The Occupy movement has popularized a host of effective tactics that almost everyone is now aware of. But the Occupy movement and its strategies did not come out of nowhere. As some have already done well to point out, many of the strategies deployed by the Occupy movement have their origins in the alter-globalization movement (Klein 2011; Hardt and Negri 2011; Graeber 2011). But where did the alter-globalization movement get these strategies from in the first place? It is well-known that the alter-globalization movement and one of its main organizing groups, Peoples’ Global Action, originated most directly from the first and largest global anti-neoliberal gatherings: the Intercontinental Encuentros organized by the Zapatistas in 1994 and 1996 (Notes from Nowhere 2003; Khasnabish 2008; Curran 2006; Engler 2007).

This teach-in explores the history and successful function of four tactics popularized by the Occupy movement but that have their roots in Zapatismo and before: 1) horizontal and leaderless networking, 2) consensus decision-making, 3) inclusive multi-fronted struggle, and 4) the collective use of masks.

Thomas Nail – a Post-Doctoral Lecturer in the Philosophy Department at the University of Denver and the author of Returning to Revolution: Deleuze, Guattari, and Zapatismo. As an activist Thomas has worked with Cascadia Forest Defense—a direct action campaign based in Eugene, Oregon; with No One is Illegal, Toronto—a radical migrant justice organization in Canada; and has participated in several Occupy Denver events since moving to Denver in August 2011. He is also a board member of the journal, Upping the Anti-: A Journal of Theory and Action.

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