Until the Rulers Obey: Voices from Latin American Social Movements (Paperback)
Bringing together voices from the movements behind the wave of change that swept Latin America at the turn of the 21st century, this unique collection of interviews features five dozen leaders and grassroots activists from 15 countries, presenting their work and debating pressing questions of power, organizational forms, and relations with the state. These movements have galvanized long-silent—or silenced—sectors of society: indigenous people, campesinos, students, the LGBT community, the unemployed, and all those left out of the promised utopia of a globalized economy. They have deployed a wide range of strategies and actions, sometimes building schools or clinics, sometimes occupying factories or fields, sometimes organizing political parties to take the reins of the state, and sometimes resisting government policies in order to protect their new-found power in community. This indispensable compilation of primary source material is organized in chapters by country, with each chapter introduced by a solidarity activist, writer, or academic with deep knowledge of the place. It addresses a wide range of issues, from fighting against mines and agribusiness to demanding equal participation through the recognition of language and culture, giving participants, students, and observers of social movements a chance to learn from their experiences.
About the Author
Clifton Ross is a translator, a filmmaker, and a writer who has traveled extensively in Latin America and worked in solidarity with its social movements for more than 30 years. His first feature-length film, Venezuela: Revolution from the Inside Out, was released in 2008 by PM Press. In 2005 Ross represented the United States in the Second World Poetry Festival of Venezuela, and his book of poetry, Translations from Silence, was the recipient of PEN Oakland’s 2010 Josephine Miles Award for Literary Excellence. Marcy Rein is a writer, an editor, and an organizer who has engaged with a wide range of social movements during the last 35 years, including publication collectives, labor unions, and community organizations. Her articles have appeared in women’s, queer, labor, and left publications from the pioneering radical feminist journal Off Our Backs to Race, Poverty & the Environment. She also worked for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union for almost 12 years, writing for its newspaper and serving as the communications specialist for its organizing department. They both live in Berkeley, California. Raúl Zibechi is an international analyst for Brecha, the weekly newspaper of Montevideo, Uruguay. He has published numerous books, including Dispersing Power: Social Movements as Anti-State Forces and Territories in Resistance: A Cartography of Latin American Social Movements.
“Latin America is the last region in the world that still has a vibrant Enlightenment left, which sets both the practical agenda in terms of policy and the horizon in terms of utopia. This wonderfully edited collection of analysis and first-person accounts shows why. It assembles people who are both activists and analysts, who see no difference between interpreting and changing the world. It deserves a wide audience.” —Greg Grandin, author, Empire’s Workshop
“A new world is dawning in Latin America from the bottom up. This book brings an all-star cast of scholar-activists together with social movement and community leaders from throughout the region. The reader will hear the clarion call for social justice from those who are on the front lines of grassroots resistance and popular struggles in this age of globalization, crisis, and transformation. These are the voices that too often are suppressed by the powerful and the means of communication they control. I cannot imagine a more important and timely volume for scholars and activists who wish to understand the transformations that are sweeping the sub-continent.” —William I. Robinson, professor of sociology, global studies, and Latin American studies, University of California–Santa Barbara, and author, Latin America and Global Capitalism
“A profoundly necessary book. Little has been published about Latin America in the way of an overview from 1989 to the present, even less in the voices of the protagonists themselves. The great experiments of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s failed, but new and in many cases less dogmatic approaches to social justice have taken root in a number of countries south of the border. This book explores those efforts, often in the words of the change-makers themselves. Clifton Ross and Marcy Rein have done us a great service. Read this book for access to what the U.S. corporate media still doesn’t want us to know.” —Margaret Randall, author, Che on My Mind
“The most exhaustive and comprehensive work of primary source material from social movements in Latin America to appear in English, presenting the testimony of the brave women and men who have challenged the old leaders, and are serving notice on the new aspirants to power that they can only rule legitimately if they listen to the voices and demands of the people. In addition to providing a report on the current state of popular struggles, this anthology compiled by Clifton Ross and Marcy Rein will also serve as a compendium for future writers and historians who want to understand the social movements that transformed Latin America during the early years of the new millennium.” —Roger Burbach, coauthor, Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions: The Future of Twenty-First-Century Socialism
"An irreplaceable addition to current discussions of global struggles against social injustice." —Diego Báez, Booklist
"Until the Rulers Obey is a major advance in the effort to acquaint North American leftists with the Latin American grassroots." —David L. Wilson, Upside Down World
"Highly recommended for those interested in social change in Latin America or looking for a primary-source reader for modern Latin American history." —Leslie Lewis, Library Journal
"Unlike the headlines of the morning newspaper, this book leaves one filled with hope. I believe that is its most important message." —Staughton Lynd, zcomm.org
"The interviews with activists living under the watchful eye of self-declared leftist regimes are a valuable contribution to our understanding of recent political processes in Latin America." —Roy Krøvel, Anarchist Studies