Folkrörelser och Protester
Start | Om
oss | Forum | Nordiskt
nyhetsbrev | Kampanjer |
Datum | Uppslagsverk |
Folkrorelser | Arbetare | Bönder | Fred | Global
rättvisa | Kvinnor |
Miljö | Övriga |
Updated May 2012
The Carriers of democracy
The global social movement system
by Jan Wiklund
Carriers of Democracy is -- or will be -- a book of about 550 pages. The book deals with social movements in the world and their importance.
The project was born out of a discussion in the then Environmental Federation -- who was fed up with being seen as supporters to State or Business (politicians or the market) who apparently were the only ones thought of as actors in society. We also disapproved of the low standard of social movement research in Sweden. Contrary to many other places abroad popular movements were only seen as sociological phenomenons, not as actors able to form history.
Hopefully, Carriers of Democracy will set right both these deficiencies: inspire us as acting people, and introduce us to what has been written about social movements in other countries, particularly during the last twenty years, But a warning has to be made: I don't want to be too scholarly, I have 30 years of social movement experience myself, and I interpret literature in the light of this.
A general view
Carriers of Democracy consists primarely of a lot of stories about people acting together to reach their aims -- about the English artisans who formed Labour Movement, about the Mexican peasants who introduced 'land reform' as something desirable in international politics, about the Haitian plantation slaves who in cooperation with Parisian artisans established 'citizenship' as a goal, and many others.
I have tried to sort out all these stories after 'contemporaneousnesses' -- each social movement mobilisation in history is unique, but sometimes they may combine and create a common result or political climate. Sometimes they have even a reasonably similar background. Sometimes they also create common identities. This contributes to some kind of lucidity, but as I show sometimes such a lucidity is often problematic.
Chapter 1 defines the term social movement -- who?. Chapter 2 describes the scene -- where? and when?. The following describes how? and why?. Chapters 3 and 4 describe some thousand-year-old social movement traditions that are still quite current. Chapters 5-9 tell some more recent stories. And chapter 10 is a summary -- what is to be done?
There are three kinds of actors strong enough to make a difference in world history. They are states, capital and social movements. They are essentially equal, but they work quite differently.
States are carried by functionaries. Their motivation in society is to deal with what social anthropologists call redistribution, i.e. to keep everyone's access to necessities at some agreed minimum. Their hidden aim is to sustain hierarchies. They have existed for about 6000 years, but it was only about 500 years ago states were established that were something more than 'dynasties', i.e. that in some meaning represented social classes and claimed to administer territories equally over space.
Capitals is carried by capitalists (of course). Their motivation is to provide goods and service for the market. The aim is profit. Capitals have existed for about 2000 years, but it was only 500 years ago they were able to act independently of the states.
The problem with these two actors is that they act very much by routine. Even if the routines are lethal for people around them they go on; they can't do otherwise. That is the reason why another actor is needed, one that protects people and civil societies against the routines of states and capitals. That actor is the social movements.
Social movements protect civil societies. A rather muddled discussion about civil societies has been run for the last ten years; my understanding of the term is the totality of routines and customs organised around reciprocity. The motor of reciprocity is people's aspiration to be accepted by their peers.
Social movements are carried by direct producers, i.e. people who have no power in the other kinds of actors. Social movements don't act by routine. For defending people and their mutual relations is a matter of breaking destructive routines and (sometimes) invent new ones. Hence social movements are more chaotic, volatile and uncertain than the other actors. But this doesn't mean that they have less (potential) power.
A social movement theory
Since social movements are chaotic, they are hard to theorise about. But here goes:
Firstly: what is a social movement? I reproduce a few definitions, the shortest is "a collective, organised and action-prone manifestation of a will, in relation to societal routines, from those who these routines have put in an inferior position". What is important is the conflict and the defence of mutuality.
Secondly, social movements develop in a cyclical manner.
1. There is a subjected category -- a group, a gender, a class... It may be hit by economical exploitation, by illegitimate power, or by cultural stigmatisation. When such things become systematic or structural there is a basis for a more durable social movement. The hitting structure that has applied for the last 500 years is the spread and development of a world market system, see chapter 2.
2. The subjected category develops a common pattern of behaviour and a culture grounded in a common outlook. It doesn't need to be conscious; it's enough with a common 'habitus', a common conduct different from others in some respects.
3. This habitus community hardens into a collective identity. And here is the first stumbling-block -- most of us belong to several subjected categories, and which of them is the most important?
4. The collective identity develops an interest, i.e. begins to see that the deck is stacked against them to the advantage of their adversary.
5. The group begins to articulate its position and frame an alternative. Who are we? What do we want? What should we do? In other words, they develop a common language. And here is the next stumbling-block. Languages, or ideologies, are unwieldy. One has to have them to be able to act. But one becomes easily enough their prisoner, and it is theoretically impossible to find a perfect ideology for a movement. They will always be more or less workable compromises. It is however most important that they are formulated collectively.
6. The collective organises to help common articulation, common mobilisation, common action. Here is another stumbling-block: organisations are tools for movements, tools that easily are blunted and have to be thrown away. Carriers of Democracy describes several cases where social movement organisations have been victims of interest clashes where others than the subjected group use them to their advantage.
7. The organisations mobilise resources. Next problem: a subjected group has less resources than its adversary almost as a matter of course, and yet it has to win. It can do that through a better mobilisation quality, not least in speed, and through blocking the mobilisation of the adversary.
8. The collective develops relations to third parties. Of particular interest are states, alliance partners and intermediaries. Intermediaries are organisations in a privileged position to formulate the demands of others, like political parties, media and socalled NGOs. They are often tricky to deal with.
9. The collective acts. Action may be of two kinds: to strike against one's adversary to force him to adjust, and to carry out one's own preferred aims in the civil society.
The first kind, confrontations, has a typical repertoire of action changing slowly through history. During the 1900s strike, demonstration and election were the most typical. There is a whole theory about conflicts, 'conflict theory', that tries to find out the nature of confrontations. Most of it is boloney, even if some lessons can be drawn -- e.g. the fact that the winner is the one that have the least to lose in staying on with the confrontation.
The second kind, alternative society, is scantily researched. It is always a resource for a social movement, but it is often impossible to keep it 'alternative' for a longer period. Probably it works best if one runs both kinds of action simultaneously.
10. The result of a social movement can be seen both in the movement itself and society. On one hand the movement is strengthened from acting, and the civil society it protects can defend itself and develop. On the other hand it has to live with an institutionalisation of the conflict, where intermediaries have more to say than the movement itself.
But nothing can be predicted. Social movements are chaotic.
Even if one loses all is not lost. For the adversary will be more circumspect in the future.
There are two ways to describe the world. The most usual is the socalled modernisation paradigm. Countries are modernised; through different stages we have been more civilised, mor differentiated. This is both natural and desirable -- "one must not go against Development" -- and preferably all countries ultimately will be quite as good as ... well, usually Western Europe or USA is set up as a model for imitation.
On the other hand this "Development" causes a good deal of misery. Hence the modernisation paradigm has been criticized -- it has for example been shown that the pretention of differentiation is just a pretention. Particularly a group of scholars has begun to formulate a theory for the way the world, or the world market, is organised as a whole and how it develops as a whole (see Fernand Braudel Center).
The structure of the world
The world market system may be viewed at three levels.
First at the market level. In the world market system the most important relations are commercial relations. All economical relations are linked in global chains of purchase and sale. The conditions vary enormously from link to link.
In some links there is monopoly and the profits are high. In others there is competition and there profits are lower. In some parts of the world (at present Western Europe, Northern America and Japan) there are many monopolized links; they are called system center. The others are called system periphery.
Note that the concepts center and periphery only apply at system or routine or Power level! At social movement level center is the most powerful movement, and at civil society level there is no center at all.
Capitalists always endeavour to a. make all human relations to links of that kind, and b. to take power over the links to set up a monopoly. New capitalists always try to break other capitalists' monopolies. Sometimes they succeed; then there is an over-production crisis in the economy. When that happens in several important businesses at the same time there is a period of stagnation in the whole world. The method to end that is to push out the broken monopolies to the periphery -- "new industrial countries" -- and develop new monopolies.
Secondly at the capital, or power level. The system has not originated by itself. It has been developed by sucessive combinations of financiers and governments. The aim for them has been to secure bases of strength outside the system to get resources to control populations and businesses within it. The world market system has been extended by violence from Western Europe since the 15th century until it covered the world, and it is maintained by violence.
Thirdly also at the civil society level. Here we can see the effects: the power of the bureaucratic structures has increased and the power of individuals and groups has diminished; we probably work harder for less pay, on the average, than 500 years ago; the chances to provide for oneself outside market and state has almost disappeared; the chasm between rich and poor has widened and been exacerbated by racism; and the constant effort to commercialise all relations has created a global environment crisis. Some live well, but how well, and for how long?
World history, 1450-2050
During the period four successive finance-violence alliances have controlled, exerted hegemony, over the world market system, extended it but lost control by degrees. The four were the Spanish-Genovesian about 1450-1640, the Dutch about 1640-1780, the British about 1780-1930, and the American from about 1930. The figures are approximate, the shift usually occurs in the middle of a systemic crisis, when usually two challengers wage war about who will succeed the wornout hegemonic power, while at the same time strong social movements have made it impossible to rule without somehow satisfying them.
Each hegemonic power has carried through a systemic reform, making it possible to overcome the systemic crisis and expand the system.
The alliance between the Genovese financiers and the Spanish crown was a simple story -- both parties let the other to do what it was good at (profits or violence) -- to mutual advantage. Spain conquered South America and supplied Genova with silver. But other states tried to cut into the system, and after 1570 violence grew. Interstate wars and peasants' tax rebellions made it impossible to control the system. Production didn't work; pure speculation prevailed.
The Dutch could take over for two reasons. They were more liquid capitalists, due to two social inventions: the limited company and the stock exchange. And their rebellion against the Spanish state made them reasonable spokesmen for popular self-defence and national independence.
The Dutch effectivized violence through subordinating it to profit. Their colonial empire was business. But they lost their lead when other states imitated it. England and France established plantations in the Caribbean and North America and made big profits from slaves and sugar.
In the late 1700s a slave revolution in Haiti, a settler revolution in North America, and an artisan revolution in Paris upset the game. The system was flung into chaos again, and the British restored it on a reformed ground.
Their resource was India, that gave them capital enough to invest in industries; i.e. to integrate production into the system. They also offered something new: national independence was granted those who had won it, and citizenship was accepted in theory while in practice it was granted only to property owners. But the Market had precedence over both.
Under British control the world market system expanded to cover the whole world. The British power was worn out by stronger and stronger social movements who refused to accept market dictatorship: labour movements, peasant movements and national movements. When moreover two rivals, USA and Germany, developed a more efficient kind of business organisation, the big enterprise, a new systemic chaos appeared. After thirty years of war the USA took control.
Their model was that the market had to be subordinated survival and security (keynesianism), national independence for all countries -- and unconditional admission to American big enterprises.
Now we live in a systemic chaos again. The American ruling ability has been worn down by the labour movement of the 60s and 70s, by the Vietnamese peasants, and by the fact that big enterprise no longer is an American monopoly. We see it in that speculation is taking precedence over production again -- a sure indication. But this time it is hard to see any challenger able to take over. There is no power of greater potential of violence and money than USA.
So what will come instead? In chaotic situations it is possible to achieve much with small means -- so it is impossible to say anything for certain. Everything becomes possible.
All depends on what we do. Perhaps we, the social movements, will be the challenger?
Even if the world market system is the social movement provoking structure of today there has been social movements in all class societies. Some very old social movement traditions still play a major role. Namely those who broke the classic empires.
Social movements against the classic empires
In the last thousand years B.C. great empires conquered villages and towns in the Eurasian continent. This created a new kind of mass misery that couldn't be treated in traditional, local, ways.
In the west this problem was solved by the Jewish-Christian movement. It began as a rebellion against the Egyptian state and continued as a movement against the Phoenician merchants, with equality as a goal. But the model they aimed at was national. Jesus and his followers made it universal -- salvation concerned all, and the way of carrying it out was solidarity in everyday life.
The form of action was the solidary congregation. But soon these needed administration, and the professional administrators began to distinguish themselves as a privileged layer. Since the Christian movement was strong, the empire had to horse-trade; the natural solution was that they horse-traded with the most conservative administrators that used this to get themselves still more privileges and power.
Radical laymen tried to break the development through new, more puritan congregations and alternative societies, so called monasteries. Within them the same development occurred again.
In Europe all ordered administrations collapsed in the 9th and 10th centuries and armed gangs, so called aristocracy, terrorised the people. It was the church, i.e. its professional administrators, that took initiative to resistance. To make themselves efficient they organised in a bolshevik way -- only functionaries mattered in the organisation. And they became efficient, but the principal result was that they began to conceive their organisation as a business concern, that they began to demand even more privileges, not least monopoly of defining the truth.
Popular resistance to that, the radical-christian movement, characterises the late medieval age, see below.
In the clan organised dry-belt from Sahel to India the Islamic movement did the same service. It differed from the Christian movement in two essential ways.
Firstly, it got state power very quickly. After a few years Muhammed was elected mayor in Yathrib (Medina), and after a few further years Yathrib conquered great parts of Arabia. It was conceived as natural to implement "the good society" through state reforms.
Secondly, there never appeared any separate corps of administrators with monopoly of truth (except in Iran). Lay initiatives were always permitted. It was natural to organise in Sufi brotherhoods that except searching for truths also dealt in practical solidarity, education and services to society.
In India, the corresponding bhakti movement was aborted by the hereditary brahmin guilds of intellectuals who took control over the movement. Much in the bhakti movement was anti-brahmin, e.g. their resistance to expensive rites. But the brahmins emphasised other movement features, primarely the resistance to imperial bureaucrats and tax collectors, and were able to use their excellent internal cohesiveness to organise society as a kind of unequal mutuality of clans and guilds. Those who refused to accept the unequality were excluded and declared as impure.
All these movements were forced to superideologisation in their effort to break the self-glorification of the empire, and organise a worldview of themselves. Hence their language has slipped away and formed a world of its own; a world that can form new ideological solidarities counter to the social ones. The language may thus be used by anyone -- by new popular mobilisations or by their enemies.
Late medieval democratic movements
From the 800s there was an economic upswing in the Eurasian continent. The center was China; Europe became a junior partner in the 1000s. The upswing created new class cleavages and needs for social movements.
These movements became effective only when the upswing was broken in the 1300s. For then the upper classes -- landowners and merchants -- began to fight among themselves as their surplus diminished. Particularly in Western and Northern Europe the 1300s and 1400s was a time of successful social movement mobilisation.
In volume, the peasant movements were the largest. The peasants were organised in villages, for defence against armed socalled aristocrats who demanded protection money and interfered with the peasants' business. Their success varied. But after 1350 the impertinence of the aristocracy became acute.
Scandinavia, the North Sea coast, Switzerland and Catalonia were the centers of successful peasant risings, but the peasants succeeded to dismantle aristocratic claims in the whole Western Europe. Their struggle was almost always local and consisted in burning noble houses and destroy documents. It became regional only if the peasants had allies who organised regionally, or if the nobility got help from the king.
The primary ally was the towns' artisans. The towns had originally been organised in the struggle against noble ravages, but during the economic upswing merchants had taken power in them. Against this the artisans organised in guilds that became equal with merchant guilds in many towns in the 1300s. They were most successful in Europe's industrial centers, Flanders and Northern Italy, where there were many workers both parties were afraid of and needed eachothers' support against.
A uniting force for the democratic movement was the radical Christian movements. They turned against the church's separation from the people into a privileged elite. They demanded equality. There were many organisations with many different programs. Probably the most 'serious' one was the Valdensians, originating in the 1100s and still at this date as sceptical as then to self-styled experts. What they had in common was that they started within the church hierarchy as reform movements, but as soon as these movements got popular engagement the hierarchy lashed out and burned the engaged laymen at the stake.
The radical-Christian movement was most successful in Bohemia. There, the so-called Husites wrecked both church and emperor and ruled themselves alone for some twenty years, until the emperor horse-traded a compromise with the moderates (which he betrayed afterwards, of course).
Altogether, this social movement upturn led to much better living conditions for ordinary people &emdash; living standards of the 1400s correspond to early 20th century. Popular culture won prestige to the detriment of the old Latin culture. And one needed not to be an aristocrat any longer to be promoted.
But it was in China the social movement upturn was most forceful. Both the economical system and the Mongol empire that had granted it were annihilated in a peasant revolution in the 1360s. The new regime, Ming, didn't care about trade. It concentrated in agriculture and increased peasant land. Probably this revolution was the ultimate cause of 15th century European freedom also.
The hierarchies organised the world market system from the 16th century primarely to defend themselves against popular power. Against popular power, that was primarely local, they organised national and global market and a tyrannical state. Since the merchants were the power that had escaped easiest during the social movement upturn, they had a position in the new system which they had never had before.
The social movements, or the civil society, could not easily deal with this situation. Radical christianity didn't work as a language, the northern states of Europe now used it as a cover for their power concentration. Standards of living for a worker sank to a tenth in fifty years.
Tax rebellions and puritans
Since the power concentration of the state hit many groups without giving anything in return, the social movements of the 16th and 17th centuries took the form of tax rebellions. The were usually broad regional alliances, not only against taxation but also against intrusion of legal rights -- instead of traditional common law defined democratically, the kings tried to impose Roman law defined by bureaucrats. Almost all such rebellions failed -- even if the kings sometimes had to back of from some of their projects. But two of them were so successful that they crushed the Spanish-Genovese model and the royal dictatorships their state power was built upon. They were the Dutch revolution about 1580-1610 and the English revolution 1640-1660.
Both of these were also broad alliances, but they were not organised by, as usual, discontented noble coteries but by well organised radical-christian congregations of a new very business-minded kind.
The Dutch revolution was thoroughly controlled by merchants and led, for ordinary people, only to that the integration principle -- compensation for the rank and file -- got some breakthrough in state policy. The English revolution was more public: it was here political methods like the demonstration, the petition and the political party originated, as well as demands for freedom of expression and equality before the law.
Bread seizures and the French revolution
The politics of the 18th century was less oppressive thanks to these revolutions. What the direct producers now aimed at was impeding commercialisation of bread, i.e. that food prices now were allowed to rise when the harvest was bad. Bread seizures was the predominant form of popular politics between about 1700 and 1850 (in the European periphery the last ones occurred in 1917, and they still occur in Africa).
In a bread seizure people in a village, a town or a quarter went to the mill or the baker, seized the flour or the bread and sold it at the market to the normal price. The money was given back to the miller/baker. The action type was often effective -- the states legislated about maximum prices and/or relieved cereal deficiency if they could. But there was nothing hegemonic about this kind of action. It was local and could not change power circumstances.
In France in 1789 however there were so many simultaneous bread seizures that it influenced the power balance. This was brittle already since there was a strong opposition within the ruling class against the wasteful incompetence of the court. This opposition felt obliged to ally with peasants and artisans to give them a bread price maximum and citizens' rights as a payment. When the plantation slaves in Haiti rebelled and ruined the reformist bourgeoisie, the Paris artisans got the upper hand for some time.
The mobilisation of the Paris artisans actualised a new political language. Equality (no privileges), liberty (participation of all in the ruling of society) and fraternity (mutual help, later renamed solidarity by the labour movement) was raised from the civil society to the public sphere. The republic, i.e. a general community where the norms of civil society ruled instead of the norms of state or market, became an overarching aim.
Although the Paris artisans were subdued by the Napoleon dictatorship their aims continued as the hegemonic social movement aims for 200 years.
Peasants against the colonial state
The French revolution was successful in one thing: the rulers had to successively let the system center majority to the fleshpots. But somebody had to pay for it, and that somebody was the world majority. This required very big peripheries.
It was harder for direct producers in the system periphery to resist. They had less hold on the power since it had its base abroad, and the technological gap was increasingly bigger. Hence the peripherisation was devastating, and it became even more so because of the colonisators' ignorance about local conditions.
Hence resistance was generally passive, i.e. strikes and flight but primarely everyday resistance. In addition earlier ruling groups tried national armed resistance; these were however quickly broken. Stateless societies were more effective, organised in jihad (to use the Muslim term), i.e. religiously inspired rebellion comprising the whole society.
The different periphery zones were:
During the Spanish-Genovese period: America: Tax rebellions at village level, refuge to the forest and one major but disunited rebellion in the Andes in the 18th century. Eastern Europe: Nothing documented, some scholars attribute this to the fact that the area was a settler territory with minimal internal organising.
During the Dutch period: Russia: Several well organised peasant and border region rebellions. Indonesia: Periodical tax rebellions led by local aristocracies. Atlantic coast: Strikes and refuges to the forest -- marronage -- until the Haitian slave rebellion and the settler revolution finished the regime.
During the British period: India: Local tax rebellions and banditism (a social bandit is somebody that has put himself beyond the law in the name of traditional moral) and a major but disunited jihad that almost succeeded. Africa, the Islam belt and Southeast Asia: Jihad. China: Several rebellions, of which one very well-organised and religiously inspired one conquered the Yangtse Valley for some years.
The world market system homogenised the world. This made possible a new language for the center-periphery conflict. More about that in Chapter 6.
The British period subsumed production under the capitalist control, i.e. the artisans become wage labourers. To assert themselves and their right to autonomy, the artisans created labour movements (in plural, subsumption may take very different forms, and the degree of despotism may have important consequences for the form resistance takes).
Labour movements became the dominating 19th and 20th century social movements in the system center. They also became very successful.
Labour movement origin and core
There has been a labour movement tradition since medieval times, since the artisan masters took place beside the merchants, see chapter 3. Journeymen movement then took a fight for the wage labourers, but each trade organised separately, partly in opposition to eachother.
The labour movement and the working class were constructed in England. The reason was not only that England was the birthplace of large scale manufacturing. The reason was also that a most ruthless suppression was waged against workers of all kinds between 1800 and 1815, to force them into the factories and prevent them to follow their Parisian fellow-workers' example. Skilled artisans and unskilled workers were forced to form a common identity.
The programme was formulated in the struggle against the workhouses -- a kind of prisons where the middle class intended to shut up the poor. Resistance to these gave birth to the Chartist movement about 1830-48, with a repertoire of obstruction (i.e. strikes), cooperation, infiltration (participation in elections, and claims of right to participation), and popular publicity. The program was an amalgamation of the journeyman tradition, the radical republicanism of the Parisian artisans, and the brotherhood tradition of christian dissenterism (re-christened solidarity). The alternative was formulated as coordinated production and consumtion cooperatives.
The concept of exploitation of workers was born in France during the revolution 1830. The Parisian artisans had helped to overthrow a government but got a market dictatorship as reward; i.e. compulsed individual bargaining with the employer. Of course they created secret underworld trade unions all the same, which made the bargaining in reality.
France was also the place where the labour movement made its public breakthrough in big politics, during the 1848 revolution. For in France the middle class was rather divided and weak, and the trade unions could even support a kind of parallell government for some months.
Factory workers and the Internationals
The experiences from 1848 taught the workers that it is not easy to change society and that a long term organising is needed. The form for this organising was decided in a meeting between French and English labour movement leaders in 1864 when the First International was founded.
The First International was a practical interpeople cooperation, with an agenda proposed by Karl Marx who thereby got his reputation as a strategic genius. When workers were in conflict somewhere they should get support from others that weren't, both money to the funds and warning to would-be scabs for being imported. The second time this was tried it led to an astounding victory. Which led to a euphoric wave of strikes and founding of trade unions after English/French pattern over the whole Western Europe.
Then the First International cracked, growing too big. Formally on a strategic conflict: should one organise all (Social Democracy), or only the active (Anarchism). The Social Democratic line won: it was the most efficient way of giving weight to the movement, necessary to get results. But one of the results was that a layer of functionaries arose, which had more interest in the development of organisations as machines than in getting results for the members.
During the slack times 1873-1896 trade was concentrated into a capital intensive large-scale industry. The old vision of production cooperatives suddenly looked unrealistic. Particularly in Germany and the newly industrialised countries (Italy, Scandinavia, Russia) infiltration in the state began to be seen as the most important complement to obstruction/strike. But organising around the strike was still the core of labour movement.
Government power hegemony and workplace power
By the time of World War 1 the labour movement went through a profound shift.
First, the assembly line revolutionised industry. This meant that it became much easier to organise a strike, you only had to switch off the power. The obstruction and negotiation workplace power of the workers was strengthened, and workers became a more powerful category in society.
Second, and as a consequence, the artisans lost their leading role in the movement. The old cooperative thoughts were pushed aside and large-industrial visions of society as one workplace dominated by the state got upper hand. Infiltration, or the government power strategy, got hegemony in the labour movement as a consequence.
Third, the ruling groups lost face due to the war. They needed allies. The functionaries of the labour movement were admitted as junior partners, which they gladly accepted.
For these reasons, the years 1916-1919 was a time of successful mobilisation. But the successes were soon broken by a recession; repression from the scared upper classes also helped. The successes lasted and developed only in two areas -- where the assembly line technology was most developed, USA and Scandinavia. There the labour movement succeeded in keeping up its disposition to strike despite the recession. And there they also achieved real reforms, in terms of higher salaries and social legislation ("new deal").
There were two snags even for them, though.
The first was that the provision for these goods was that the labour movement's power was removed from the workplace to the functionaries, i.e. that the conflict was institutionalised. After some time this caused a deterioration in mobilisation capacity that impaired the ability to defend the reforms.
The second was that industry began to escape to other countries, primarely Western Europe and Japan.
But the latter only strengthened labour movement in these countries. In the mid 60s the time was ripe. Then a labour movement mobilisation began, that together with other social movement mobilisation seriously shook the system.
The result was, in the short run, the same as before: a "Scandinavian" conflict institutionalisation, and relocalisation of industry to so-called NICs, New Industrial Countries, primarely South Africa, Brazil and South Korea.
Labour movement in the system periphery
Production is transferred to the peripheries when they are no longer profitable in the center. When that happens, there is a basis for labour movement in the periphery.
The strongest labour movement mobilisation ever was the Haitian slave revolution in the late 1700s. But it was unique. Then the powers learnt, abolished slavery and converted the slaves into smallholders.
Next round of labour organising began around 1900, in mines, transport and textile factories relocated in China and India.
Typical of labour movements in the system periphery has been
-- that they have developed in enclaves closely related to the system center; hence a global labour movement identity has long been important to develop a movement in a short time.
-- that they have been of great strategic benefit to national movements in their struggle against colonial powers; hence they have been more influential than justified by their numbers, even if they have payed for that with subordinating themself to the aims of the national movements.
This was true up to the 1970s. Numerically small labour movements with an international identity have scored big effects. Strongest perhaps in China in the 20s and Argentina in the 40s.
In the 70s, following the labour movement upswing in the center, the pressure for relocation of the industry in the periphery became strong enough to break through the gates that had kept the world divided in an industrial center and a raw material periphery. This created huge possibilities for the labour movements.
When industry began to be relocated from the system center, this benefitted primarely "stable" countries, i.e. countries with strong repression. But industrialisation always brought with it strong labour movement mobilisations that broke the dictatorships, for example in South Africa, Brazil and South Korea. In the 80s and 90s industry was accordingly relocated to even newer NICs, e.g. China. Perhaps history will repeat itself?
Today 2/3 of the world's industry is located in the system periphery. We could therefore expect that the 21st century labour movement will be dominated from the periphery, and that the old European worker identity will have to make way for something new.
Labour movements after government power strategy
The dominating strategy of the 1900s, the government power strategy, undermined itself. The provision for it was that the movements accepted conflict institutionalisation, i.e. that they demobilised themselves and dismantled the social and cultural presence of their laymen. From 1973 both power and living standard decrease for the workers.
What are the alternative strategies?
What is then the preconditions for a labour movement?
The world market system is built on segregation between center and periphery. The center dominates the periphery
It is important for people in the periphery to assert themselves and struggle for their right to develop their territories after their own fashion. They do that as national movements.
The creole revolutions
The language of the national revolutions were invented by the European settlers in America in the 18th century. That was unintentional. When the colonists of North America rebelled against the English state the aim was democracy in the meaning less power for the bureaucrary, not independence. Only when the democratic movement in England showed itself weak was national independence seen as a reasonable aim.
The settlers in North America also invented the politics of all successful national movements: national development through protection of the home market, or "import substitution".
The rebellions in South America shortly afterwards were more of a social counter-revolution though. The aim of the Spanish settlers was to assert themselves against the Indian lower class while Spain was occupied by Napoleon. It also skipped import substitution and concentrated on providing the world market with raw materials. Only in Mexico the Indians had a mortgage on independence.
National movements in the European semiperiphery
In the East European empires the small urban middle class developed national movements in the 19th century. The background was that the state apparatus grew tremendously during that time (schools, police, food policy). To place in the state apparatus one had to master the imperial language (German in Austria, Russian in Russia, and Turkish in the Osman Empire). Italians, Hungarians, Czechs, Poles, Finns etc didn't, and they had no choice but demand a state of their own. The majority, the peasants, were uninterested in that and did often support the empire against the local upper class.
Popular national movements did exist though, for special reasons in some places. One was Norway, where the peasants were in conflict with a government that was backed up by the Swedish king. The peasants replied that they, the commoners, not the government coalition of urban middle classes, were the Norwegian nation (Grundtvigianism); this has resulted in an unusually democratic national identity in Norway.
Another case was the Irish movement. It became popular because English landlords owned the land and exploited the peasants through leaseholds. Thanks to a cooperation between the peasant organisation, the Irish Land League, and the national middle class the peasants became nationalists.
The Irish national movement was extremely creative. It invented the permanent mass organisation with member fees (Catholic Association in 1823, with the aim of abolishing the legal discrimination of catholics). It named the boycott (the principal method of Irish Land League), and it invented the urban guerrilla. The latter was in the end. Britain wanted to send the Irish to the trenches in Flanders, and the national movement launched a successful anti-conscription campaign. Instead they gathered the youth into an Irish Republican Army that attacked the key British people in Ireland.
The national movement in Russia focused directly on the world market system, since this harmed the whole empire.
The urban middle class, that dominated the movement, attempted alliances in diverse directions (the peasants for the narodniks, the workers for the bolsheviks). But the aim was not equality between classes but equality between nations.
The mobilised labour movement won government power for the bolsheviks in 1917, since the bolsheviks promised peace and government responsibility for the supplies in the war end chaos. But the bolsheviks couldn't live up to the promise and the industry went to pieces. During the reconstruction any labour movement was suppressed in the name of national unity. Even more suppressed, and ruthlessly plundered, were the peasants.
Thanks to their aiming at the world market system directly, the bolsheviks yet were a lodestar for many. Primarely for national movements, which was a constructive move. But also for many labour movements, which created a touch of falsity in the whole family of social movements for more than two generations.
The national movements in the periphery of center-occupied territories, the anti-colonial movements, were alliances -- of capitalists suffering from unjust competition, peasants suffering from overtaxation, workers suffering from superexploitation, and an urban middle class suffering from racist employment practices. The latter was the leading party, since they mastered the codes of the system thanks to their Europeanised education.
The Indian movement was the pioneer. It began as a moderate and loyal lobby. It was radicalised through a cooperation between Indian capitalists and youth, combining boycotts and demonstrations around traditional feasts. But only Gandhi's method made it into a mass movement.
That method enlisted the peasants, through aiming at such British power practices that hurt peasants directly, primarely taxes. Around this the Indian National Congress was built up as a mass organisation with a village base of locally influential people.
Strikes and non-cooperation were efficient, particularly as they couldn't be kept under Congress control, and during the Second World War the British gave in. That at once made the colonial empires old-fashioned, but yet it needed much mobilising locally in the world to abolish it altogether. These mobilisations were as a rule less popular and less thorough than in India, and resulted in less democratisation of society. The colonial states had been extremely authoritarian, and many national movements simply yielded to the temptation of just stepping into them as new officers and office-bearers.
More extensive mobilisations were needed only where European settlers had followed the footsteps of colonial administrators and stolen the land of the peasants, like in Algeria, Palestine, Rhodesia and Mozambique.
And in Vietnam. There, the center powers tried to create a loyal "national" movement instead of the authentical one where peasants had too much influence. That didn't succeed at all. Yet the peasants of South Vietnam had to wage a 30 years war to keep their land out of the clutches of center-backed local elites. Their stubbornness shook the whole world market system and damaged US hegemony beyond repair -- a prove that such things are really possible!
Post-colonial national movements
Formal independence didn't remove the chasm between system center and system periphery. One could name three thrusts from formally independent countries to reformulate the conditions during the 20th century.
The first one was the populist. The pioneer was Mexico. There an extreme world market adapted "modernisation wave" was waged in 1875-1910. The urban middle class revolted against the corruption this implied, and two more efficient groups aligned -- peasants in central Mexico threatened by plantations, and backwoods communities threatened by mining interests and government agents.
The revolt succeeded after much fighting, and the participants compromised around a national development policy of land reform and import substitution. It got a heavy following primarely in South America but also in some places in Africa and West Asia, but since the element of strong peasant movement was lacking in most places, these efforts became much weaker. As a rule they broke down with the slump of the 70s. Only in Cuba, where most property was owned by North Americans and the plantation workers played the part of peasants, and in Brazil where industrial relocation created some kind of a local industrial bourgeoisie, was the middle class able to stick to its independence efforts.
The other attempt was the Chinese. China was never a colony, but was being divided into spheres of interest helped by an incompetent regime. In the mid 20s the Shanghai bourgeoisie invited all interested parties -- including the Communists who primarely consisted of countryside students and could supply Russian support.
In 1926 the alliance sent out an army to conquer China, and it was followed by a peasant and worker organising, that quickly became influential in local administration. The Shanghai capitalists were scared and made their best to beat down this mobilising; in the end a full civil war ensued.
The popular organising was a co-project by the new peasant organisations, traditional secret societies and the communist party, and these quickly coalesced into one. During the Japanese occupation they proved that they were efficient while the Shanghai bourgeoisie wasn't, and in 1948 they took the whole country.
The communist national development policy was identical with the populist but more thorough: both opted for industrial development payed for by the peasants. The method in both cases was that the peasants had to buy dear from the state and sell cheap; to supervise this efficiently the peasants were organised into state-run cooperatives.
In China people revolted against this in the 60s. The revolt came from three quarters: from casual workers in the cities who lacked the regular workers' wages and social benefits (the Shanghai commune), from the peasants who tried to take control of the cooperatives for themselves, and from town people who had been marginalised by political client networks (they accounted for the violence that ensued during the "Cultural Revolution").
The result of the revolt was that the state gave up the attempts to rule and plunder the peasants through cooperatives. This showed itself much more efficient for industry, since it created better demand. But political control was kept firmly, which created corruption in China as well as Mexico. But yet -- in economical terms the Chinese thrust has been extremely successful, taking the country from the bottom of the world league to somewhere in the middle in thirty years.
The third attempt was the Islamic. The pioneer here was the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and in Palestine during the 20s and 30s. Their thrust was primarely cultural -- how to hit at the centrum powers out of one's own cultural identity while using strengths that could be acquired in an European way? With a basis in this discussion they took part in the resistance to the colonial powers and organised among other things a great rebellion in Palestine in the 30s.
The breakthrough was of course the Iranian revolution in 1978, an offshoot of a long tradition of cooperation between radical nationalists, islamists and modernists.
We don't know yet if the islamist tradition will be successful.
There are also other tendencies. One is that new centers and new peripheries arise within the old peripheries, and with that new national movements. There are separatists, in Sri Lanka, in Burma, Iraq, and the Congo. One thing that makes this tendency powerful is that the old anticolonial movements were so dominated by urban middle classes, at the expense of countryside people who now take revenge.
Anonther tendency is that the "nation" is redefined in a "Norwegian", Grundtvigian way to mean "the commoners". To this date the Indian movements in Ecuador and Bolivia has been most successful along this line. There, one is an Indian and the rightful owner of the land if one is a farmer, even if one is black.
The 20th century national movements in the system center
National movements have asserted themselves also in the regional peripheries of the system center, primarely during the Kondratiev Bs 1917-44 and after 1973, because during these phases bad times are usually passed on to be carried by the peripheries.
Such national movements have not always demanded a separate state, which has been natural in the global peripheries. Quite as often as that they have gone in for control over codes (Sameland, Wales) or limited political autonomy (Bretagne, Catalonia).
Who have controlled such movements has depended on if the periphery is under-developed or overdeveloped (i.e. politically weak but economically strong).
In the former case the leader was often a traditional upper class in the early 1900s. During the long boom of 1945-73 this was coopted into the national ruling layer, with the result that leadership fell to trades like West Norwegian fishermen or Provençal wine growers.
An example is the Norwegian fiord and mountain farmers-fishermen's resistance to losing their relative control over the Norwegian state, which would be the case if Norway joined the EU. They have won two referendums, but still not succeeded to stop the adaption to membership that risks to liquidate them in the long run.
In the latter case it is usually urban middle class linked to industrial bourgeoisie who leads the movement, and the aim is (nowadays) to be an equal partner in the EU empire.
An example is the German nazis, urban middle class people backed up by Bavarian high society and launched on the grand scene by big business. Like the Russian bolsheviks they appealed to allies that were later abandoned for the sake of the national interest, in their case the farmers and middle class people. But the aim was world market hegemony, not national equality. And the form of organisation was as an NGO with a client network, not as a social movement.
Future national movements
So far national movements have hardly led to more than to that the widening gap between rich and poor territories froze between 1900 and 1970. After that the gap has widened again. Partly this is due to the fact that the urban middle class deserted the movement to become a comprador bourgeoisie, but the strategy of nation building also had structural flaws:
On the other hand the national movements have been consummate effective in launching 'the national' as a mental figure. So effective that social movements as a rule can only see a national scene. So effective that the local defences of people and communities that carried the national mobilisations usually are powerless against their new state-builders. And so effective that most movements think it is more forceful to work as a national government than to work as social movements.
Since the conflict between center and periphery is inherent in the world market system, national movements will be needed also in the future. But they will have to change strategy since the urban middle class isn't interested any longer in playing the periphery role in the world.
The question is how.
One possibility is tribal war, which we regretfully see examples of around the world. A war all against all, for shrinking resources where the parties cancel out. Not particularly effective.
Another possibility is the model of the American Indian movement -- an antihierarchic 'Grundtvigian' movement under a regional cultural label.
A third possibility is the model of the Indian agrarian movement -- to mobilize against what makes peripheries into such, against low wages, while overlooking the territorial aspects.
From 1850 the system center's peasants were integrated as farmers into the market, because the railways gave an opportunity to change food for industrial products. But already in the 1870s the food markets were restructured by the market dictatorship -- grain was bought cheaper in America, meat was bought cheaper in Argentina, and the farmers of West Europe were threatened by annihilation.
Cooperation and free trade resistance in the system center
The farmers were placed in a bad strategic position to struggle in common. They were dispersed, they were tied to their farms, they sold to different markets.
The pioneers were the Danish farmers. They first organised ideologically as a Christian revival in the mid-19th century, Grundtvigianism, whose core was that the Church is equal to the congregation and not to scriptures or hierarchies. This gave a democratic self-esteem. To rule the church (and the state) the members of the congregation had to educate themselves; to this aim the People's High School was created. And being there, the farmers got the idea to organise cooperatives for sale of food. They soon outcompeted the manors and got rich (and forgot their popular identity).
In other places such successes were scarce. In Germany farmers didn't dare to oppose the estate owners, the "junkers", whose role was later taken over by the Nazis. In France farmers were split between republicans (who were against the estate owners) and monarchists (who were against the state), and couldn't organise much. In USA the cotton farmers made a heroic effort but were drowned in the US vastness and outmanoeuvred by party-politicians.
Among them, cooperation and democratic self-esteem was not the core, but struggle against market dictatorship. Under this banner farmers could ally with others who had the same interest, and impose customs in the late 19th century. Their principles of food security were recognised by the Bretton Woods consensus after the war. An intricate system of national food policies substituted the free market and saved those farmers who were not swallowed by industry as workers.
Land reform and anticolonialism in the system periphery - an excerpt see here!
In the system periphery peasants were incorporated into the market much earlier, in the hacienda system that was introduced by the colonial powers in half the world. To overcome this and share the haciendas between them was the main aim of peasant movements.
The pioneer was the farmers of Morelos in Mexico, who run a struggle against the sugar plantations between ca 1895 and 1921. They achieved a total success after inhuman trials, in terms of an eventual division of the plantations. They also got a hegemonic success, in terms of the introduction of land reform into the Mexican constitution and of the recognition of land reform as a precondition for 'progress' and 'development' in the global debate.
They were aided by two other very forceful movements.
One was the Chinese national movement, having a peasant movement as a base (see above).
The other was the Indian peasant movement that emerged from and interplayed with the national movement. A land reform was won also in India, albeit step by step, and the peasants got ownership rights to the land.
So land reforms were executed almost everywhere during the Bretton Woods period 1945-1973, as a link of decolonisation and/or populist development programs. But their execution depended much on the mobilisation level of the peasants. In many cases where they were not very mobilised, 'national development' and 'land reform' meant just a rise in food production for export. There, the Green Revolution was carried out with its emphasis on high-yielding varieties and expensive irrigation, nutrition and pesticides. Many peasants were ruined and driven to the urban slums.
But also where land reforms were really executed in a more peasant-friendly (i.e. peasant-initiated) way, the aim for the governments was primarely to get the peasants to pay for the modernisation of the nation, by the means of selling cheap and buying dear.
Food industry farmers' movements
The postwar food regime has built on industrialisation of food production: the farmers have grown ever more dependent of transnational companies in both center and periphery.
In the world market center there are very few farmers left. They will find it hard to protect their interests, possibly with the exception of farmers in the USA, as USA bases much of its power on the power of the grain.
Therefore the farmers in the periphery will dominate. New after-land reform movements have emerged in the 80s, which have the same program as European farmers movements a hundred years ago: better pay and control over the product. So far I can see, the farmers in India have been the most effective. They are also central for environment movement mobilisations against the genetic industry. Even the Chinese farmers have been efficient in dismantling state exploitation, but primarely through the state's weakness, not through a mobilisation of their own. And in Chiapas, farmers have held a center in anti-systemic language building during the 90s.
It might be that farmers will play the same role in the social movement family in the 2000s as the artisans played two hundred years ago. At least they have shown its capacity -- the farmers' movements is the hardcore center of the present "anti-globalisation" movement, see below.
The world market system is a flexible caste order for schooling people into more or less unrewarding tasks of work. The criteria are sex, age and nationality -- the latter not unexpectedly since the whole system builds on geographical inequality. Periphery people are predestinated for low-wage labour, even if they move to the center. And so are women and youth. The reason is that it is easier to force a hierarchy upon people if it is linked to or parallel to a hierarchy of status outside the production units.
Women's defence against patriarchy
Subjection of women is perhaps the oldest inegality in human history, appearing together with states and ownership of land some 5-8.000 years ago. The key factor in the subjugation was to relegate women to the private and keep the public as a male preserve. For a long time the focus of women's self-defence was ideological, to recreate a basis of self-esteem. This was done mainly in a religious context, in monasteries and radical-christian movements, in sufi and bhakti movements and Chinese secret societies, and the key concept was "female intuition".
Nevertheless, women had a stable basis and some power in home production, but this basis was undermined by the world market system. Instead, women were supposed to take care of all kinds of no-contract non-wage labour, i.e. to care for the wage labourers to make them more profitable.
Women had participated in public actions during the 18th century, particularly in food seizures, but only on the behalf of their families. The first women to take on the struggle as women were middle-class evangelicals in England and the USA who had been active in charity and the anti-slavery movement and got used to public intercourse. They demanded access to education, to law, and to professions. The movement was weaker in other countries of the system center, since these strata were smaller there. On the other hand, in a few places, notably Germany and Italy, there were independent mobilisations among worker women within a labour movement context -- often as ferociously opposed to the middle class feminist as to male ascendancy, since the feminists wouldn't let their maids organise.
Another faultline was evident when governments began legislating on labour: should there be special protection of women? Some feminists welcomed e.g. protection of mothers, others saw it as an obstacle to employment. As a means to create a unifying focus woman activists seized on the suffrage as something all could agree on. And after World War 1 female suffrage was introduced in all center countries as one of the concessions to popular movements necessary to make the system work.
There were women's movements in some peripheral countries as well, as parts of the national movements going on there. But they were small and subordinated to the national goals. Only in China there was a substantial women's movement in its own right. In part it was a mobilisation against the age-old Confucian hierarchies, seen by the nationalists as keeping China down in poverty, but it was also a genuine mobilisation against male ascendancy and female subordination. As such it created fears far within the ranks of nationalists and contributed to the split in 1927.
Between 1930 and 1965 there was a lull in women's mobilisation everywhere. Energies were caught up, in the center in Keynesian reform along the "protection of women" lines, in the peripheries in state building. But in the mid 60s these reforms had created a new base for mobilisation in swelling female working-forces. Some have used the expression "feminisation of the global working-force" to cover the phenomenon.
However, the impetus to a renewal of women's movements came from two directions. Firstly, from the general social movement boom of 1967-1975, where female participants felt downgraded. This was stronger in the countries of the system center, where the wage/non-wage dichotomy was enforced quite rigidly. Secondly, from the marketisation of social life with its connected insecurity. This was stronger in the countries of the periphery, where there was no social security and wages were low.
Thus, in the periphery women's movement grew up around matters like employment conditions, defence of non-wage labour like agriculture and small-scale business and, under authoritarian regimes (particularly in South America where women were the early leaders of the democratic opposition), protection against police harassment. NIC trade unions, and street vendors' and farmers' associations became centers for women's organising.
In the center, abortion figured as a focus for a while. After that, protection against violence has provided some theme for basis organisation. But with a possible exception of Italy, work inequality has been a weak focus all the time. Which probably is an impediment for the spread of women's movements.
However, sex is not the only pseudo-biological basis for distribution of honours. There is also "ethnicity", i.e. groupings according to descent. An "ethnicity" is developed where descent is used for distinguishing between people suited for low remuneration and people suited for high remuneration.
Such ethnicities have probably always kept on developing; it is after all a very simple way of distinguishing between in-groups and out-groups. But since the world market system is spread over such vast areas, encompassing so many people and so many divisions of labour, the importance of ethnicity has grown tremendously since its inception. Pariah ethnicities have been created in five different ways.
The center-periphery dichotomy is a singling out of pariahs in itself. Periphery people are singled out for low remuneration, regardless of where they live. Even if they live in the center, people of periphery descent are mostly used for menial labour.
Plantation slavery, with Africans as slaves. When slavery was abolished after the Haitian revolution and the North American civil war, blacks were still kept down and, in the USA, surrounded by by-laws, to tie them to cheap labour. From about 1920 to 1970 North American blacks mobilised with the aim of abolishing such by-laws, using primarely boycotts and posing as victims of a racist so called "leader of the free world". This became so embarrassing for the US government, particularly after the victory of the anti-colonial movements in Africa, that it abolished official discrimination in the sixties. Labour discrimination has continued, however, as it has in South America, and the blacks have been rather powerless against this.
European settler colonies, with original peoples as cheap labour. This was practiced in the Andes, in South Africa, in Palestine, and also in Algeria and Kenya where settlers were so few that they could leave with the colonial administration. In South Africa the original peoples have run a citizens movement with the aim of being equal with the Europeans since the early 1900s; however there was not much mobilisation before the trade union struggle of the 40s. The real success started to mount with the growth of industry in the 70s, when trade union organising became strong. In the Andean area the original peoples have organised around farmer's demands, defining "Indians" as farmers, the people of the land. In Palestine the original people seems not to have realised the possibilities of citizen's movement organising; they still cling to the anti-colonial imagery although the settlers will probably stay forever.
Migratory labourers are an alternative to moving production to low cost sites. An advantage with migratory labour, from the capitalist's point of view, is that the migratory labourer is not a citizen and thus deprived of citizen's rights. Historically also, migratory labourers have not struggled for their rights as labourers. But if they have stayed, their children have done so.
Pariahs left over from earlier stages of society. Indian Dalits and European Roms are the most typical example, where at least Dalits have grown more and more militant during last century,
There are also three categories who have never organised as social movements before the postwar period.
The first is youth, who have been segregated as a category because young people have to stay in a kind of incapacity for a longer and longer time. The youth period is probably to short to give a basis for a real movement, but yet middle class youth try to oppose inclusion into work discipline while working class youth oppose "them", at least in shape of school, and function as a public gang protecting the integrity of the neighbourhood.
The second is the disabled. Disabled people have since long organised into friendly societies, but during the last forty years these have begun to assert rights in a way they have never done before, over the whole world.
The third is the transsexuals. As a category they are the most dubious -- is it possible to single them out at all from an economical point of view? But probably the function of the Fordist household (male wage worker, female nonwage worker) have put them into a position where the watchdogs of society had to hound them down. Now, when there are strong tendencies that this division of labour don't work any longer there is no reason to persecute them. Accordingly they have been rather successful in asserting themselves during the last generation.
Pariah movements and women's movement have generally focused on struggling for cultural capital to reinforce their identities, instead of obstructing, co-operating and infiltrating, as other social movements have done. There have been causes for that. The system has pilloried their habitus as a means for subduing them, and the movements have thought that rescuing their habitus might be a way to assert themselves. Furthermore, since the present strategy of the system seems to be to commodify words and ideas, struggle for words and ideas, i.e. culture, might be important.
But nevertheless a focus on culture and identity brings a heavy cost with it.
First, it brings intellectuals and middle class people to the center of the movements. Accordingly, it reinforces class divisions and inequality within the struggling category and tends to make the movements to a springboard for individual carreers instead of a means for mass liberation.
Second, it brings a strong tendency to essentialism, i.e. that each discriminated category separately closes ranks against eachother and appeals to the powerful to patronize them against all others on the ground that they are nobler than the others.
Third, it may not even be efficient in its own terms. It may be argued that discrimination depends not on prejudices but on a need from capitalists/bureaucrats to single out attractive and inattractive jobs, no matter how, and pristine differences may help them with that, no matter which these differences are. Identity assertion would in that case only reinforce a cut-throat competition between workers (broadly defined) and make a common front against the system defenders all the more difficult.
All the same, cultural or habitus differences abound, and what women's and pariah movements have done is to teach all of us that there is nothing wrong in that. But we still have to learn how to go beyond all the differences. No movement so far har succeeded.
Under the world market system, local communities are dissolved and crushed by the world market. There are, however, at least two fields where communities go on defending themselves -- against state and group controlled violence, and against market controlled destruction of the resource base. Both may be described as people defending the commons from predators.
Defence of peace
The civil society has had to defend itself against parasites since the emergence of agriculture. Such parasites have frequently used violence against people and among themselves. But we have very little documentation of resistance until the Truce of God in AD 950-1150.
The Truce of God was a defence, lead by clergy, against local strongmen who used violence to carve out territories in the wake of a crumbling empire. Sometimes people dispensed with clergy leadership, organising "communes" in defense. The latter provoked the clergy to compromise with the strongmen, asking them to protect people as a protection racket, using "chivalry" as a password.
The medieval compromise broke in the 1350s and violence increased. In about 1500 only a few "cannon monarchies" remained, but warfare had increased its scope enormously. Popular resistance took the form of tax rebellions, which eventually forced the cannon monarchies to agree on the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 that restricted violence somewhat.
"Modern" peace movements in the system center have a mixed heritage.
One part comes from religious quarters -- Quakers, Evangelicals, etc -- who in the 19th century formed peace organisations to spread the view that war was evil. However, they never mobilised against a single war. The means they proposed was supra-national bodies (new hierarchis to the existing ones) and individual radical pacifism (restricting resistance to a few stalwarts).
Another is the women's movement. They were the first to oppose an actual war -- the Boer war 1899-1902.
The third is the labour movement. They opposed wars and military from an obvious self-interest. They fought frequently with military strike-breakers, and they were singled out as cannon-fodder in war.
Together they supported a vigorous peace movement after 1900. But yet nobody said a word of protest when war broke out in 1914. It took more than two years to organise resistance. Early in 1917 mutinies took place in France and Russia, and demonstrations and mass-meetings in Britain and Germany.
Only the Russian peace movement succeeded fully (for a while). But an old peace movement demand was included in the peace treaty: a supra-national body in the shape of the League of Nations. And the peace movement degenerated into supporting that, or supporting the Russian government, and the rest was split on the Nazi question: should one bow to them or make war to them. In 1939 there was as little opposition to war as in 1914.
After the war a kind of peace movement revived -- the anti-nuclear movement. There were three waves: 1947-1952, 1957-1962 and 1980-1987. Each had a mixed backing, actually mixed enough to result in a lot of in-fighting. The second of them was perhaps the most important, since it shaped the form for so much subsequent social movement repertoire: demonstrations and/or occupations of a symbolic site. It also was the first big middle class youth movement and exported its methods to other movements through that.
Another kind of peace movement was the colonial war resistance. There was a start in France against the war in Algeria in the late 50s, but the big mobilisation was against the Vietnam war. This movement had some degree of success since it finally forced the USA to leave Vietnam, but due to its deep internal cleavages it could never bring its points home. What succeeded was its focus on draft refusal which finally made the US army ineffective.
In the system periphery, peace movements were a bit out of question -- colonial conquerors needed another approach, see chapter 6 National movements. After independence, they have been focused on interest and survival -- since the wars they have been directed against have taken place at home. The most successful mobilisations have been against strongmen/repressive minorities, like in Sierra Leone and Guatemala. Wars that are excessive class or regional conflicts like in China and Sudan have been more difficult to act at, not to talk about wars instigated by great powers.
Some peace mobilisations have tended to strengthen the power structures, some mobilisations have tended to weaken them and stengthen democracy. I think one can guess that mobilisations for supra-national bodies, armed with pacifist ideology belong to the first, and resistance to actual wars belong to the second.
Defence of the resource base
The social movement that, as far as I can see, aim for the core of the world market system -- the overarching commercialisation that produces inability to differentiate between vital and trivial needs.
Environmental movements in the system center began to thematise matters of waste during the 19th century -- popular movements thematised health and elitist movements thematised nature protection. But only during the 1945-73 boom enough of the eco-system was mixed up in the exploitation to be considered much. An environment movement identity was formed in the system center during the 70s in struggle against local contamination and local contaminating projects. It gained power during the struggle against nuclear power with the movement in West Germany as center. This movement succeeded in achieving a compromise: the nuclear project, the main industrial project in the system center, stagnated but what was built stayed.
During the 80s environmental movements stagnated as well and much of elitist discourse of "protection of nature" against the terrible humans resurged. One reason was that much of the polluting industry was transferred to "new industrial countries" in the semiperiphery. This gave rise to environmental movements there but very moderately; polluting industries was too much associated with "national development" to be assaulted.
Instead, a new strong environmental movement was established by small farmers in the system peripheries, struggling against commercial logging and forest clearing, and against big dams. Also fishermen struggling against commercial trawling may be considered. These are the core of present environmental mobilisation, because they thematise the issue as struggle against overconsumption of the rich and against exploitation of the mighty, and because they act out of trade interest.
At 1980 two mobilisations -- Amazonian rubber tapper/indian mobilisations against forest clearing, and Indian farmer mobilisation against the Narmada dam project -- against the world's biggest exploiter, the World Bank, upset the power system and forced the ruling class to consider a model of integrating the environmental issue. They chose a solution based of including socalled NGOs, organisations without popular participation, in an ever-going negotiation process without purpose, and it seems to have worked moderately well for them.
However, the southern farmers' movements were not integrated and they continue defending their resource base. From the eighties this means defending it, together with other commons, against the socalled Washington consensus, that is, the attempts of the ruling class to commercialise everything and make genes and information the basis of the next Kondratiev wave.
Defence of the commons - an excerpt see here!
There are three ways of distribute goods: market, redistribution and reciprocity/gift economy. The later two happens in commons.
Social movements have always defended commons against commercialization and privatization. Commons, as opposed to private property, give equal access to all its participants, make it possible to protect essentials, and nurture sociability -- but may be stolen or over-exploited by strong actors. The 19th-20th century social movement strategy was to negotiate for a social wage consisting in e.g. sick-care, pensions and job security, as a new kind of commons to substitute for the commons that were lost as a consequence of the spread of the world market system. In this, they had much assistance from some upper-class people who opposed too much marketization because they saw it as destructive for society as a whole.
Defence of commons are pretty often local and called "urban movements" in the literature. Urban movements gave rise to social housing in early 20th century but also undid it in the 70s -- because social housing was built off-center, in townless and commonsless surroundings, and because this off-center location demanded huge traffic volumes that demanded town demolition otherwhere. Both townlessness and house demolitions was fought in the world-market centers during the 60s and 70s, sometimes successfully, more often not, but in the end changing urban policy. In the world-market peripheries both paternalist followings and social movements tried to give shelter, water, electricity and other amenities to poor people who followed the money-currents to the cities, sometimes, as in São Paulo or in South Africa, giving rise to huge movements able to overthrow governments.
During the long downturn after 1973 the dominating strategy of the rich, the so-called Washington consensus, is to exterminate all commons, turning them into markets. The opposition to this began with the socalled IMF riots in the 70s and have spread to the North where for example trade unions protect the social wage systems negotiated last century. Around 2000 there is an emergent movement consensus that "commons" is a core value -- Indian small farmers' unions defending public knowledge against genetic copyrights, English environment organisations defending the commons of the streets against car traffic, and South African township associations defending the commons of water and electricity against privatisation. This is a trend that will probably grow.
The social movement system can also be depicted crosswise these aims/thematisations/ identities, after contemporanities.
1789-1848 the theme was bread seizures and citizenship, i.e. the form was bread seizures and the politics was the democratic republic. Local communities and journeymen guilds were actors. The period ended in the great mobilisations in 1848.
1848-1905 the theme was mass organising. The social movement system discovered that it was not easy to reform society, and meanwhile the local communities were dissolved. The labour movements took the lead which made them hegemonic within the social movement system. Somewhat later the national movements did the same thing in the system periphery, with the same result. It all led to the great mobilisations in 1905-1912.
1905-1968 the theme was professionals mobilising for elections (or revolution). The organisations built up during the preceding period stiffened into the government power strategy or (in USA) professional campaigning. That was effective for a while, because the workers could utilise the vulnerability of the Fordist techno-system to put pressure and because the periphery people could utilise the vulnerability of the colonial powers.
The mobilisations that changed everything in 1968-1973 did not run within this theme but counter to it, as a protest against all this professional bargaining.
After 1968 the new pattern is campaign organising. This has been much less successful, even if it may sometimes be effective in a small way.
The bad efficiency is probably due to a change of the world that the social movement system has still not understood to deal with. The world market system can not go on as usual: it can not grow since it covers the world, it has given up integration as a strategy, it has reached the ecological limits, and there is no potential power alliance to rule it, see chapter 2.
For that reason the social movements can not go on as usual either.
What will be the shape of social movements in the future? Nobody knows, but let's try to figure out guided by the history of the last fifteen years. The strongest tendencies in the present social movements are that
We can't say if this tendency will continue. If it does we can speak of a fifth post-1789 theme, tentatively called class based global campaigns. We can use the 1997 Lacandón Forest meeting as a starting date.
There are, however, some thresholds these movements have to come over before they are really effective. We can use the "movement cycle" (see chapter 1) to evaluate these:
Some advice, for what they are worth: