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Thomas Olesen’s “Globalizing the Zapatistas: From 3rd world solidarity to global solidarity” from the third world quarterly, volume 25, no. 1 (255-267)

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  1. Introduction
  2. Distinction between older forms of solidarity and the post-Cold War
  3. The new global solidarity
  4. Olesen's perspective and argument
  5. Conclusion

Thomas Olesen's work is a highly thought-provoking piece centered on the issue of how the Zapatistas' uprising and subsequent struggle has generated a new era of transnational solidarity efforts. Olesen goes to great pains to stress how this new ear is markedly different from solidarity relationships in the Cold War period. The author sets out to prove his argument by first stressing how the global appeal of the Zapatistas cause is built upon the universal and contemporary nature of their grievances versus a distinction based upon first, second and third worlds. Additionally, and most importantly, the ultimate distinction between the past forms of solidarity and the Zapatistas form of solidarity stems from the blurring between providers and beneficiaries of solidarity.

[...] This enables the movement to transcend particular local and national elements such that it becomes a solidarity which permits a variety of social struggles to viewed in a global context and framework (265). By highlighting the way in which neo-liberalism is anti-democratic given its marginalizing and excluding characteristics, the Zapatistas struggle is propelled into the universal and global arena (262). The Zapatistas are not suggesting the overthrow of the liberal democratic order, but are advocating a re-examination of its deficiencies, and forcing people to re- examine the way in which power is also allocated to a greater degree to largely unaccountable bodies such as the IMF, WTO and the World Bank, extending the distance between people and decision-making (262). [...]


[...] Because if you strip out what Olesen says about this new global solidarity being more flexible and open to modification of its goals, the features of this new solidarity are not so unique after all. For instance, environmental movements are essentially political movements which advocate changes in legislation, and they are truly global in nature and create a mutuality of interests and shared goals, transcending local and national boundaries. The Aids epidemic and movements in its name are global based, and the distinction between providers and beneficiaries of solidarity is at best blurred, as both groups have a vested interest in its control, cure and eventual eradication. [...]

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