Striking Gold (en español)
The genesis of this “strategy for revolution” project

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      In 1996, within a period of three-and-a-half months, I “lucked out”, first because James Herod gave me a copy of the first draft of Getting Free, and then I came upon a copy of Jaime Martínez Luna’s Comunalidad y Autonomía (Communality and Autonomy). Immediately, I prepared a handout for the radical science course I was teaching in the Fall of 1996. The cover sheet for the course handout (with a few small corrections) follows:

Getting Free
A Sketch of an Association of Democratic,
Autonomous Neighborhoods and How to Create It

by James Herod

an early, still-incomplete draft, reprinted with permission
for use in
--a Science for the People course--

Physics Dept, Univ of Massachusetts, Boston, MA 02125
August 30, 1996

      Some words of explanation. A few days ago, on August 25th, I returned to Boston after almost two months in Mexico. On June 13th James Herod had given me an earlier draft of his paper, which, because of its preliminary nature, he asked me not to circulate. My reaction to what he had written was that the ideas were so important they really ought to be considered right away, and I wrote a two-page synopsis that I distributed to a few people in the Boston-Cambridge Alliance with whom I was working at that time. Those two pages follow this cover sheet.

      In my final week in Mexico I was a member of a Grassroots International delegation that met with a number of grassroots organizations working within the civil sector for progressive change of Mexican society. We spent a few days visiting several small towns, pueblitos, high in the Sierra Juárez mountains northeast of Oaxaca City in the state of Oaxaca. These remote indigenous communities are remarkable because of the degree to which they have maintained communal autonomy and their adherence to forms of social organization that have existed for hundreds of years [see correction below*].

      In one of them, Guelatao de Juárez, I learned about, and got a copy of, a book akin to James Herod’s in that it too is an effort to conceive of a good future society. Jaime Martínez Luna, the author/compiler of Communality and Autonomy (Comunalidad y Autonomía) is a member of the group Comunalidad, A.C.: una actitud para el futuro, Communality, A.C.: an outlook for the future. The acronym A.C. stands for Civil Association. Comunalidad y Autonomía is dated May 1995, a year and five months after the Zapatista rebellion exploded in neighboring Chiapas State.

      It is hard to imagine people living in cultures so vastly different coming up with projections for the future society they wish to live in that share as much as do the papers of James Herod – urban to the hilt – and those of Jaime Martínez, a Zapotec, one of the indigenous peoples of Oaxaca – who treasure their forests, their fields, and the wonderful solitude of their mountains.

      What I would like to do is translate Getting Free into Spanish and Comunalidad y Autonomía into English, so that there could be an easy interchange of ideas. I'll need to work on my Spanish to do that, or find someone who knows both languages and who shares my interest in these ideas enough to do it.

—George Salzman, 1996-08-30

Notes added December 1999.

      I have no doubt that the ideas expressed in these essays are absolutely crucial for the social revolution so many of us are striving to achieve (as the massive actions against the World Trade Organization in Seattle a few short weeks ago make clear). If these ideas prevail, it will be a revolution with an absolute minimum of violence. James Herod’s Getting Free will soon be posted on my website in both English and Spanish.** Jaime Martínez Luna’s Comunalidad y Autonomía, is being posted, also in Spanish and English, as the translation becomes available.

      *I was in error in believing, in 1996, and stating in the original course handout, that most, if not all of the pueblitos in the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca maintained communal autonomy and their adherence to forms of social organization that existed “long before the Spanish conquest.” A historically more accurate statement is on my website in Proposed work in the state of Oaxaca.

—G.S., Oaxaca, 1999-12-20

      **That was grossly optimistic. I still haven't succeeded in getting more than a small part of Herod’s Getting Free translated into Spanish.

—G.S., Oaxaca, 2006-10-08

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Last update of this page 8 October 2006