The truth is, I am a community level social worker. I cant help but constantly focus on the bigger issues, the political social and systemic factors at play. Through my experience as a social worker in the US and in Mexico, as well as my experience as a human living in the United States, it has become ever clear to me that the influence of the individual and the aspirations of the people are slowly dying to the domination of corporations, corporate interests in politics and global economy. Little by little, through policies such as the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) the World Trade Organization (WTO), and policies in the United States surrounding corporate personhood, it is becoming clear that the priority of our governments are to support the interests of money and investment, and the “free” market. Free for who? Let us all remember that the market is a human creation.
What exactly is FREE TRADE? it is a euphemism to describe the power of the market to demand labor and materials without any rules, requirements or restrictions on how this labor and materials are accrued. Free Trade nowadays means the United States exploits the workers of the world (and its own) for a few people at the top to benefit. This means workers are not paid living wages, work in dangerous and oppressive work conditions and do not have the power to organize or demand justice in the workplace.
The economy, politics and livelihood of the US and Mexico are inextricably intertwined, especially since the advent of NAFTA. So how can we make change that will be HEARD by our politicians that reflect the needs of the people. I believe it begins with consciousness. Paulo Freire (Pedagogy of the Oppressed) writes: “at no stage can revolutionary action forego communion with the people. this fusion can exist only if revolutionary action is really HUMAN, empathetic, loving, communicative and humble in order to be liberating.”(p. 139)
What is the revolution you ask? The revolution is equality. True liberty. What is keeping us from freedom? Paulo Freire (Pedagogy of the Oppressed) describes the myths of liberty that maintain the status quo, that maintain global corporate dominance of the people and their lives:
1) “the myth that the oppressive order is a free society”
2) “the myth that all persons are free to work where they wish, that if they don’t like their boss they can leave him and look for another job”
3) “the myth of the universal right of education”
4) “the myth of the equality for all individuals when the question ‘do you know who you’re talking to?’ is still current among us”
5) “the myth of the charity and generosity of the elites, when what they really do as a class is to foster selective good deeds”
6) “the myth of industriousness of the oppressors and the laziness and dishonesty of the oppressed” (p.60)
What does this all entail? As an example we see, the Zapatista movement, a group of indigenous and Mexican people in Chiapas state that revolted on January 1, 1994 against the initiation of NAFTA and fought for the rights of the people to govern themselves, to care for their own land and to continue living in ways that they see fit, essentially, for their liberty. The Zapatista movement is still very alive in Mexico, the US and worldwide, where many continue to say that although we are poor, oppressed, indigenous or farmers, we still know best what is right for us, for our families and for our lives. The dominance of corporate and market interest that has driven these policies are a perfect example of what Freire describes as “a lack of confidence in the people’s ability to think, to want and to know” (p.60)
Zapatista Women fighting their cause
We have to trust people to know what is best for themselves. It is not ok for the United States to make up the global economic and political rule book, which doesn’t even benefit the bulk of the USA, let alone global workers, but rather EXCLUSIVELY the money holders at the top of the totem pole. The Zapatista families are not fighting to ask for handouts, or for fancy materialistic things such as cars and clothes and mansions. They are asking to be treated with dignity and respect, to remain on their own land and to grow their food and support their livelihood in the only way they know how.
iViva la Revolución!
Post by Britta Carlisle