What we catch a glimpse of in El Alto is "social machinery that prevents the concentration of power or, similarly, prevents the emergence of a separate power from that of the community gathered in assembly. Another perceived problem, with the city, is that a majority of its workers toil in the informal sector, in family based shops, and "are not subject to [a] Taylorist division of labor.
Zibechi believes that the history of union struggles that the migrants possessed, and the older resources of Aymaran culture, enabled them to survive, and later stage an incredible leaderless insurrection.
Dispersing power: Social movements as anti-state forces - Raul Zibechi
Accounts of struggles in Bolivia show decisions being made collectively, leaders being rotated, and an "outpouring from below" which greatly unsettled political representation. Zibechi characterizes these energies as "non-state powers" which tend to disperse, not unify. The success of the Aymara, and others, in El Alto, flies in the face of the idea that divided, specialized bodies are more efficient.
All of this comes forth from a "long memory" and is activated in times of need like staging areas called "barracks" , with no separation from everyday life.
During the period of the Gas War — a conflict against gas privatization and exportation to the US through a Chilean port which led to the overthrow of neoliberal president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada — an active communication, interactions not based in information and passive reception, kept indigenous communities mobilized. The state seeks to weaken face to face control, and it does this by provoking separations which encourage leading by commanding.
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What has happened in El Alto, writes Zibechi, "suggests that large numbers of humans can live without [the] state", and that an inability to realize this has been a major "stumbling block from the standpoint of social emancipation. Social movements seek to "rupture" realities we are told cannot be changed, they refuse to remain condemned.
History shows that "non-articulated and non-unified movements" are able to topple horrid governments, free large areas for different life ways, and fight for important rights. Zibechi sees a permanent "dispute" going on between communities and movements, which seek to bring together, limiting separation, and states and political parties, which seek to foster divisions, and co-opt and divide grassroots powers that challenge their influence.
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In the Aymara city of El Alto, life-sized dolls can be seen hanging with their heads turned to the side, signifying death, or splashed with the color red for blood. These dolls are put on display in El Alto neighborhoods to intimidate would-be thieves are assailants.
They are an immediate form of self-defense, and "the consequence of a corrupt and morally deteriorated state judicial apparatus", and failed policing, often in league with criminals. Under the colonial state, indigenous forms of conflict resolution were forced "underground" but in this later situation they came again into the light.
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Conflicts can be resolved by different groups, and this allows people to "defend themselves without creating a specialized separate apparatus, just as they do not create a specialized apparatus to mobilize and fight for their interests. Zibechi cites many sources which try to outline what a nation-state, or large region, would look like with power not separated from communities.
Dispersing Power by Raúl Zibechi (ebook)
Some of these documents, like the Achacachi Manifesto, drafted in , at the height of a popular insurrection against neoliberalism, were importantly written in Omasuyos province, an historic Aymaran center. These documents underline, according to the author, the "collective expression of the concept of 'to lead obeying'" and even of "the beginning of the end of representative democracy. This arrangement covers cooperation among "ayllu" families ayni , reciprocity with ayllus mink'a , with ayullas mit'a and even the environment q'amana. The author also brings up a cautionary tale about the experience indigenous movements in Ecuador had with political party entanglements.
AK Press Collectively-owned, worker-run. Radical publishing and distribution since Qty: Add to Cart. This, his first book translated into English, is an historical analysis of social struggles in Bolivia and the forms of community power instituted by that country's indigenous Aymara.
Dispersing Power Social Movements as Anti-State Forces
Dispersing Power gracefully maps the "how" of revolution, offering valuable lessons to activists and new theoretical frameworks for understanding how social movements can and do operate independently of state-centered models for social change. Building the Commune George Ciccariello-Maher. The New Brazil e-book Raul Zibechi. Territories in Resistance e-book Raul Zibechi.