is Ya Basta! all about?
Basta! began in Italy in 1996 as a solidarity network supporting
the indigenous campesino uprising of Chiapas in 1994. With its
roots in Mexico, and following the Zapatista uprising, many Italian
Activists gradually created coalitions with the centri sociali (social
centers) of Italy, including the Italian squatting movement. Ya
Basta became a generation's attempt to affirm free space and its
own visibility, a place in which it would be possible for radical
politics to grow outside of any form of institutionalization. The
squats provided a space, in many of these cities, for autonomous
politics and everyday "free" organizing. In 2000 alone,
beginning with the anti-EU and other anti-globalization movements,
Ya Basta! Milan organized actions mainly in collaboration with squatters
and the so called "tute bianche" or white overalls, a
non-institutional anonymous group, who act dressed in white workers
overalls and chemical suits. Their wish is to symbolize the invisibility
of citizens with no rights, no power, all the same, masses of bodies
rendered ghosts by neoliberal policies of the "Global North".
Their tactics are hardly passive, however, and usually involve large
crowds, utilizing horizontal organization and decision making. They
attend demonstrations with pads, shields and helmets, as protection
from police brutality. They usually have no pre-defined strategy,
instead leaving the decision open to the moment, with the only criteria
being not to do anything that would alienate the mass of people
involved. Tute Bianche and Ya Basta successfully allied with and
organized one of the three groups which converged on Prague in September
of 2000, and were able to resist numerous police attacks. We here
in NYC have borrowed their name, as well as a great deal of their
tactics, and yet we dont feel the need to be a defined as
is not just an economic framework. It's a philosophy of life, work,
and community that the U.S. and its corporate elite are working
to perfect at home and export to the rest of the world, with increasing
success. Under neoliberalism, the market is everything: In the ideal
neoliberal universe, every human interaction is a market transaction,
contracts govern every human relation, and individuals are not esteemed
as such but are assessed according to their ability to create value.
Those who do not or cannot participate in the market (the "underclass")
are failures. Neoliberals claim their philosophy is democratic because
the market gives everyone an equal chance to succeed. But in reality,
the market gives certain individuals (the "business elite")
and certain nations (principally the U.S.) the leverage to ruthlessly
turn others into their economic satellites. Neoliberalism denies
communities the right to determine their own future, instead forcing
them to serve an economic system that ruthlessly drives down costs
and devalues labor. We in Ya Basta! reject neoliberalism outright.
No community that respects life, freedom and dignity can submit
to a market-centric belief system and still maintain these values.
We fight for a society that puts individuals and their communities
first - where they have real control of their destiny, where the
economic system serves the need for human dignity and happiness,
not the other way around. Enough is Enough of a system that places
a privileged elite over everyone else, all in the name of "the
is a phrase first coined by the French social theorist Michel Foucault.
Foucault believed that the modern state has come to see itself,
not so much as controlling a territory within certain borders, but
as that which governs populations and bodies. The population is
seen less as a mass of citizens than as a purely biological, physical
"mass" that can be measured by life expectancy, fertility
rates, and so on (and controlled and monitored through a host of
"disciplinary institutions"). Further still, biopower
can be thought of as the process of reducing human beings to a state
in which they are little more than "bare life", that is,
separating the person from the body, so as to do with the body that
which capitalism does so well; commodify. The power of the state
is ultimately "biopower", a power over life itself. Many
in the Italian Ya Basta! see their organization as representing
the opposite principle: biopower as life, rising up against the
state, on its own behalf.
are some of Ya Basta!'s immediate political demands?
of the most important ones for Italian Ya Basta! have been (a) the
right of free immigration, similar to the notion of globalizations
"free markets": everyone should be able to live in whatever
part of the globe they wish to, regardless of national borders,
and (b) the right to a guaranteed national income: instead of having
things like welfare and unemployment, everyone in any country should
be guaranteed a baseline annual income just for existing; after
that, the rest is up to you. Now, it might show something about
the difference between Europe and America than there, prominent
activists and intellectuals can propose such things (especially,
together) without being considered entirely insane, but they do.
We in New York Ya Basta! agree: we demand that both these reforms
be instituted immediately.
are we acting in solidarity with?
act without the limitations of ideology. The philosophies we wear
in our daily life become invisible when we wear our suits; so as
Anarchist, Illegal Immigrant, Communist, Zapatista, or as Prisoner,
we act in solidarity and federation with all communities deliberately
ignored and all people rendered invisible by the forces of "the
all the Anonymity?
completely reject the cult of celebrity, which dominates so much
media/political attention in this country. We choose instead, through
anonymity, to act in concert with those throughout the world who
are nameless, and will remain nameless as long as their very existence
is relegated to redundancy and marginality. By being anonymous we
present a clear undiluted message of leaderless solidarity that
is inclusive and very real.
the overalls and chemical suits? Why so much padding?
wear chemical suits and padding because we have witnessed the extreme
brutality that the police and authorities unleash on dissent, despite
our non-violence, and in complete disregard for human dignity and
suffering. We do not wish to put these chemical suits to use, but
we do expect (and refuse to accept) the repression of our resistance.
yellow, orange and other bright colors?
visibility has many functions. For us, it offers the certainty of
noticability, or an undeniable presence, like a traffic sign that
says "danger ahead". Further, the colors yellow and orange
offer a visual warning, one that simply cannot be ignored. Beyond
function, however, there is the symbolic association with the numerous
prisoners of America who, denied their voices by repressive and
racist juridical systems, are relegated to jails and work gangs,
while their families and communities, marginalized economically,
are pushed off welfare and forced into "workfare", a quintessential
do I join Ya Basta!?
Ya Basta! is as simple as wearing a suit, or supporting fellow members
through solidarity and action- suitless. We have no formal structure,
as that of most organizations. Some would even suggest that, by
resisting the juggernaut of neoliberalism with ones very body, one
is already a member. The difference is, we dress up! And its
lots of fun, too.