This past Tuesday evening at Casa Chapulin we hosted a presentation by political media maker and teacher Simon Sedillo. Over hot chocolate he spoke to a room of about 20 people on the self-defense of community rights and international solidarity. He began by outlining neoliberalism as a form of imperialist capitalism that reduces people to a variable in an economic equation and, through five main agents takes land, resources and labor by force, and imposes a political, economic, social, cultural, psychological, and spiritual occupation- the imposition of a global, consumer monoculture.
Included in the main agents are the wealthy and powerful countries of the global north and embodied by the G8 which hold closed-door meetings to decide the fate of the world in light of their own shared interests. A second element are the international financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank which can alternately boost or cripple a national economy depending on its global socio-economic standing. The loans granted to poorer countries are marked by high levels of interest, rigid ‘structural adjustment’ policies and the stipulation that the repayment of the loan must take precendence over domestic concerns, which often leads to the gutting of the public sector.
The transnational corporations themselves, comprise a third arm of the neoliberal order and do its on-the-ground work, extracting resources and seeking cheap labor without borders and without the oversight and regulation of a domestic government structure. An illicit narco-trafficking mafia at turns exploits and collaborates with the state and the TNCs and generates profit through international drug production and sale. The fifth agent of neoliberalism is militarization, which can be marked by massive military operations as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistation, or when a standing army, and the police, are used not in international conflicts, but against the ‘internal threat’ as is the case with Mexico. The expropriation and commecialization of local cultures is a sixth element of neoliberalism and was added in by a discussion participant.
In Oaxaca, all of these facets of neoliberalism play out violently and in the face of popular resistance. Through discussions like this we can begin to piece together what our common struggle is and devise strategies of creation and resistance. For foreigners here to learn more about organizing and social movements in Oaxaca it is imperative that we be self-aware and conscious of our limited role in the local struggle, while keeping our gaze fixed on the work that remains to be done at home. The privilege of being here as an outsider should come with a sense of responsibility towards transforming power dynamics and deepening international relationships with the strength and experience of our movement work at home. Only then does international solidarity move towards true mutual aid and sharing, and away from the consumption of experiences.