Could an uprising in rural Mexico point the way to a post-capitalist world?

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Twenty years ago the Zapatista movement in Mexico symbolised a rejection of capitalism that was later to feed into the global justice movement. However the prevailing mood in the West at the time was that fundamental change to the capitalist structure of society had become unimaginable. Then came the financial crisis of 2008, which caused a major re-think among many intellectuals and activists. Now French historian Jérôme Baschet has drawn on personal knowledge of the Zapatista movement for a new book in which he describes potential routes to a post-capitalist society. Joseph Confavreux reviews 'Farewell to capitalism'.

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Exactly 20 years ago the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into force, bringing Mexico into a free-trade bloc with the United States and Canada. In response the Zapatista Army of National Liberation immediately began an uprising in the Chiapas region of southern Mexico against the treaty's abandoning of rules that protected Amerindian land. The organisation, usually just known as the Zapatistas, began life as a guerilla movement before transforming itself into a commune-based political and military group which symbolised resistance to global neoliberalism. This resistance spread and eventually fed into the Alter-Globalisation Movement and the Global Justice Movement, which grew out of protests at the 1999 World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit.