Civil society

Jack Hill mlbooks at
Mon Jun 17 18:25:05 MDT 1996

From: Jack Hill <mlbooks at>
Re: Civil society

A while ago Doug Henwood and Zeynep and others commented and
asked about the meaning and use of the term "civil society" by
the Zapatistas.  I suggest looking at the book by Dan La Botz,
_Democracy in Mexico_.  He explains in considerable detail how
this became to be used widely in Mexico.  I reviewed his book in
the previous issue of our journal, the Chicago Workers' Voice
Theoretical Journal.  If anyone is interested, I'll send the

Briefly, La Botz points to the political and social organization
independent of the PRI and of political parties generally that
developed in the aftermath of the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City.
It is a conglomeration of organizations which is not based on
class but which is generally in opposition to the government.
Many political figures have put a lot of hope in this movement as
a big force in fighting for democratic change in Mexico.  La Botz
has been one of them altho he points out that some of these
forces have become compromised with U.S. imperialism in the last
couple of years.

Anyway I take Marcos to be referring specifically to these
developments in Mexican political life than to anything Engels
talked about.  There are certainly problems with the "civil
society" movement in Mexico.  Any a-class movement is going to
have trouble keeping its anti-government orientation over the
long run.  Overall the Mexican working class has not developed an
independent movement which could serve as the center of the
revolutionary political movement.  But I am encouraged by the
lengthy struggle of the Mexico City bus drivers, the SUTAUR.<>

The latest issue of the Chicago Workers' Voice Theoretical
Journal contains articles on the Staley workers, Trotsky and
Luxemburg, a debate on the national liberation struggle, and the
nature of the middle strata.  For a sample issue write to CWV,
P.O. Box 11542, Chicago, IL 60611, or email me, Jack Hill
<mlbooks at>

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