I'm Zach Foster and I'm blessed to be a man of many hats. This is the one room where you can look into all the different windows of my mind. Read on if you're ready to think outside the box! "Call it a character flaw -- when under attack, I counter attack. Always." --Richard Marcinko, Rogue Warrior
The Armed Libertarian Revolution in Mexico (Part 2)
Part 2: Private Property and the Libertion Army of the South
Apart from the separatist anarchist Magonistas, two nations were fighting to preserve their autonomy. One was the Maya people of Southern Mexico, who fought a long guerrilla war against Mexico until 1933 in the Yucatan region. The Yaqui people in the North joined almost every revolutionary faction in their well-based hatred of the Diaz regime, but they served Alvaro Obregon’s Constitutionalist Army with distinction, with the understanding their service would earn their autonomy and right to resettle along the Yaqui River. When the revolutionary state ignored its promises to the Yaquis, they revolted in 1920 and fought on until 1927. They had a legitimate grievance in 1910, and they had kept up their end of their contract with the Constitutionalists. They had an entirely new and entirely legitimate grievance in 1920.
Emiliano Zapata, Commander, Liberation Army of the South
One state where Rothbard’s bandit analogy is taken very seriously is Morelos, the home state of Emiliano Zapata. Emiliano Zapata was the beloved gentleman soldier of Morelos as Robert E. Lee was to Virginia. Zapata was a property owner and a business man from Anenecuilco, but he was also a man of the people and one of the greatest libertarians who ever lived. Though the communitarian culture of rural Morelos made him sympathetic to socialist ideas, his words and actions drip with key libertarian principles. “It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.” He had a profound respect for the land as the source from which he and most of his home state earned their income and put food on the table. He was kind and respectful to the peasants and the Indians and had a reputation for arguing peasant grievances to the government, for which he was widely popular. One year before the Revolution of 1910 broke out, Zapata was elected chief of the Defense Committee by village leaders, in the tradition of the early American militias electing their officers.
The agrarian demands of Morelos reflect a very libertarian grievance of eminent domain and slavery. The villages had titles to the land dating back to the colonial era. The peasants were the rightful property owners and legally equal shareholders in the local agronomy. In many cases, the land had been stolen from the villages by the government through eminent domain and given to a well-connected private enterprise. In many other cases, the land was stolen through extrajudicial forced evictions which the authorities conveniently ignored. The hacienda system featured court-sanctioned debt-servitude which allowed the haciendas to turn the working class into slaves working on the plantations. In one or two generations the government had turned property shareholders into tenants and debt slaves. The collusion between the Mexican state and select corporations turned the planters into feudal lords with total power over their de facto serfs, and the plantations operated as feudal states like medieval Europe.
The grievances and tactics of the Zapatista army are almost identical to those of the Green Mountain Boys in the Vermont Revolution, led by Ethan Allen. A decade before the British fired the first shots at Lexington, the Green Mountain Boys fought a low-level guerrilla war against the Royal New York government in the New Hampshire Land Grants. The New Hampshire colonial government had made land grants to settlers leaving New Hampshire to settle west of the Connecticut River. These settlers worked the land for nearly a generation, earning a living and creating a functional and self-sufficient economy out of the wilderness. When the New York government claimed the Land Grants for well-connected cronies and attempted evictions, the revolutionaries fought back, showing a remarkable degree of restraint to avoid collateral damage (See Rothbard's Conceived in Liberty, Volume 4). As Ethan Allen was a man of the people and a charismatic leader largely responsible for his success in defending the property rights of the working class, so was Zapata to the peasants and Indians of Morelos who had never before been able to organize effective resistance.