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Updated April 2006
The Carriers of Democracy
The global peoples' movement system
Chapter 10: The peoples' movement system
by Jan Wiklund
In this book, the development of the social movements after the French Revolution has been related classified according to different themes. The different chapters from 5 through 9 have dealt with conflicts between wage earners and capital owners, between periphery and center, between food producers and the market, between the culturally subordinated and superordinated, and between the civil society and the coercion machinery of the state or the accumulation forces of capital. The everyday discourse speaks of labour, national, women's, minorities', peace, environmental or commons movements.
The everyday discourse is not wholly wrong, but it isn't very precise either.
Firstly, a theme (the chapter headings) seldom corresponds fully to the identity of a movement. Even if a conflict between e.g. a periphery and a center is articulated by a national movement, many movement identities are usually drawn into the conflict, and the more who are drawn into it, the more successful it is. During the heyday of the anti-colonial movements, labour movements and agrarian movements were drawn into the anti-colonial struggle and contributed to it in crucial ways. And labour movement have been most successful when they have been able to articulate all direct producers' aspirations, as they were able to do to a large extent in Scandinavia in the 30s.
Secondly, the notion of fix movement identities, with individual development histories, is somewhat suspect. To be sure, there is some truth in it; as I contended (with support from Veit Michael Bader) in the section The social movement cycle, there are identities because collectives articulate and work out a common language that keeps the collective together as an identity when it organises and acts . It is useful for them to do so. And instead of having to invent a new language, some collectives may use an existing one (despite the risks), and join a successful practice and claim successful allies from other places and times.
But there is also a point in seeing beyond all these time-honoured and hypostatic theme-identities and theme-families. For the articulations is only a part of the social movement cycle, and a later part of it at that.
There is no reason why the result of the articulation should dominate the understanding of a social movement so much that we don't see other parts of it.
The social movement development before 1789 shows a very marked common history; in the system center an emphasis on tax rebellions followed by one on bread seizures; with time data depending on time data for the centralisation of the states and the commercialisation of food distribution, respectively. In the system periphery the time data followed data for the penetration of colonial empires.
But there is also a common history after 1789, that cut across the identity borders, not only touching organising and activity forms but also the diffusion of the political results.
The period after 1789 is possible to divide into four epochs, common to all social movements within the world market system: the epoch of the democratic bread seizure, the epoch of mass organising, the epoch of professionalised mass organisations, and the epoch of campaign organising.
Each of them has had its dominating form of popular politics and its form of result. The shifts from one into another have all been provoked by powerful advances of many, contemporaneous social movements, and the following collapse of these advances .
1. The epoch of the democratic bread seizure, 1789-1848. The popular politics of the 18th century, i.e. bread seizures or local risings provoked by market prise for food, tax protests, and land occupations, survived the French Revolution. But the intense period of popular politics in Western Europe and North America had created a whole series of new repertoires.
The organised boycott was created by the North American colonists in 1764. The first long-term organisation for political aims was invented with the Yorkshire Association in 1779, with the aim to get an end to the colonial war in North America. The organised petition campaign was invented by the British anti-slavery movement in the 1770s. The organised pamphlet campaign was invented in Paris in 1788. The mass meeting declaring itself to be the people in a town demanding their rights was invented in Grenoble the same year. The demonstration was invented by the British democracy movement in 1819. The permanent mass organisation with paid functionaries and membership fee was invented in Ireland in 1823. The barricade was invented in Paris in 1830. Together these repertoires were much more flexible and copyable than earlier repertoires, and they were usable in many more contexts than bread seizures or tax rebellions. For that reason they were spread quickly .
But the contemporaneous revolution in France and Haiti had also created a tradition of popular claim for hegemony. The demand for a public guaranteed subsistence level didn't appeal only to a paternalist ruler but to a popular seizure of power. This was increasingly necessary since the rulers were increasingly market oriented and increasingly refused to take paternalist responsibility for the security of the direct producers.
The Parisian artisans had popularized the citizenship as a demand, i.e. a popular and egalitarian partnership in a "republic". The republic according to this concept was not the same thing as the state - it was a union of local communities, a generalized civil society characterized by reciprocity relations or solidarity and a publicly guaranteed subsistence level according to the demands of moral economy. To a considerable extent these popular claims of hegemony were accepted by the rulers - they had increasingly to legitimate their pretensions of power by presenting themselves as the representatives of the people or the nation. And this created new opportunities for the direct producers to present claims.
Somewhat paradoxically, this new relation between rulers and direct producers would arrange the new action repertoire into a new form of political culture. Instead of the traditional form of "direct action", display of popular attitudes towards the rulers was often conceived as enough. An effective display of respectability, numbers, unity and commitment in different forms of campaigns over time was the new standard form of peoples' movement - let be with direct actions up one's sleeve if this wasn't enough - and standard form which was slowly spread over the world concurrently with the increasing need for governments to support themselves on the popular will.
The collective actors were of different kinds .
Like before 1789 it was the quarter or village which acted in bread seizures, organised in clubs, religious confraternities and friendly societies. But there were also an organising with an increasingly regional, national or even international reach. Journeymen's companionships had partly been politicized by the Parisian example and acted more and more like trade unions with democratic aims. Radical movements - social Christian revivals, owenites, chartists - raised issues of female equality, collective living and abolition of slavery. There were republican or revolutionary brotherhoods who dreamt of making the French revolution anew. And in the upper middle class there were "philanthropic societies" with Christian or liberal overtones who dreamt of making life better for the poor by their enlighted rule. All these forms of organisation shared a common public through the press, a creation of them, a common discourse and to some extent persons. The base for the common interest was that the political power still was hoarded within a relatively small number of landowning families, and that the bourgeoisie were outsiders like the direct producers.
2. The era of mass organising (1825-) 1848-1905. The peoples' movements of the era culminated in an offensive which has been called "the revolutions of 1848". It changed the scene in several ways.
Firstly, the rulers realized that their power base was too narrow. They begun to let in the middle class and give it "citizenship", with the consequence that its common interest with the direct producers cracked.
Secondly, the activists of the direct producers' popular movements concluded from the relative failure that a revolution was difficult to achieve, and that preparations and organisation was needed for it. For half a century mass organising in permanent organisation was to be a standing theme in the peoples' movements.
Furthermore, the repertoire of the popular movements shifted at this time. Strike for higher wages, and cooperation, began to appear as more successful than bread seizures. The shift occurred first in the most industrialized center and moved outwards with time. The last bread seizures occurred 1847 in France, 1917 in Sweden, and they still happen in e.g. Bolivia, Ghana or Pakistan.
Meanwhile, display of respectability, unity, numbers and commitment before a public continued to grow as a repertoire.
The first mass organisation according to the criteria of the nineteenth century - paid membership for all in the conflict category and elected and/or full time functionaries in responsible positions - was the Irish Catholic Association 1823. But it was the labour movement in the system center that made the model permanent and dominating in the peoples' movement system, and their inspiration was probably from the protestant sects, particularly from the Methodists.
The permanent mass organisation beat the local community as leading form of organisation because of both push and pull. The common interests of local communities disintegrated because of national and global markets. And the state strengthened its political and administrative presence during the nineteenth century and made it an increasingly important actor to influence. And the national arena could only be managed by big actors .
There was a big dispute about how to construct the mass organisation model. The First International split on this issue - a majority wanted to organise all while a minority wanted to organise only the activists. But participation of the whole conflict category in at least some form of formal organising was the norm within the labour movement from the 1870s, the agrarian movements from the 1880s, and the anti-colonial movements from the 1890s - despite the fact that it took some generation before the norm was realized.
The model turned out to be extremely forceful. The direct producers really succeeded in playing a prominent part in the national arena from the late nineteenth century, and even force through real concessions. So great concessions that the rulers saw it necessary to expand the system peripheries with amazing energy after 1873 to afford paying and retaining their hegemony. This created after some generation national movements there also, which organised in formal mass organisations.
3. The era of professional mass organisations 1905-1970. The era of mass organising culminated during the decade 1904-1914 in a series of mobilisations in the whole world. General strikes in West Europe, revolutions in Russia and China, and the first mass movements for independence in India forced through a new scene change.
One way to describe the scene change is that the forceful peoples' movement mobilizations, together with the decline of the British hegemony and the all-encompassing monetarization of all relations resulted in a systemic chaos which among other things resulted in two world wars. This created a strong need for order, which the rulers responded to by establishing authoritarian regimes. The peoples' movement system responded by almost everywhere uniting for a goal in the middle-run: to take government power, to foil these authoritarian thrusts. Only the protected USA wasn't affected by this change.
To the action model of the social movements this goal implied that mass organising of militant action was replaced by mass organising of support for candidatures of movement functionaries as government officials. Strike was replaced by election or revolution, dependent of what appeared most practicable, or in the increasingly important system periphery building of a state. In practice of course, strike was the most effective instrument to strengthen the power of popular movements, but the focus of the strategy had been removed from there.
There were three different versions of this strategy, and another following another strategy .
The first was the West European model, focused on elections. This implied usually a certain autonomy for the peoples' movements in tactical issues and certain opportunities for different groups to pursue their own issues. But strategically, they were subordinated to the attempts of the functionaries to take government power, and when this was achieved in most places after 1945, the movement functionaries did all they could to demobilize the movements.
The second was the semi-peripheral model, focused on revolution. This implied generally that the whole movement was subordinated to a professional revolutionary elite and that no autonomy was tolerated. The reason for this choice was primarily that the mobilized direct producers had inferior leverage on society than in the system center, because of less urbanization. When the goal was attained, the policy was focused on maximum system career - so-called development - and the whole country, the whole social movement, and the whole movement language was subordinated despotically to this goal. In this case, the demobilzation was of course even more absolute than in the West European version.
The third was the Indian model, focused on autonomy through universal peoples' movement mobilization. In this version, the space for autonomous mobilizing was comparably the greatest, and in practice, the official leadership had no control over what was done. When the goal was attained, the functionaries-as-government had no power to demobilize, so the autonomous peoples' movements continued to mark history.
The three models are of course ideal types; in reality there were also mixtures.
There was also a fourth model, the North American model, which was not focused on government power. In the USA, the defeat of the agrarian movement, see chapter 7, and the difficulties of the labour movement to cope with labour immigration had opened up for middle class groups to dominate the peoples' movement scene. They had generally a narrow focus and worked through limited professional campaigns, focused on giving advice to rulers. Not even during the thirties, when the movements of the direct producers recovered some of their strength, they were able to establish hegemony, and narrowly limited focuses and professional campaigners continued to dominate the North American scene. On the other hand, absence of government power ambitions implied that the independence of the movement base was complete.
Regardless of model, mass organisation implied the emphasizing of working methods which increased the differences between functionaries and lay people and made them difficult to bridge. Despite this, the model was extremely successful in the short run. Integration of the direct producers was swift. States based on citizenship was accepted even in the system center, according to the demands of the national movements. The moral economy in the form of social insurances and a social wage was accepted to a wide extent in the system center. The welfare state, and socialism in one country, respectively, was to some extent realized during the era. The living standards of the direct producers increased in quantitative terms in the whole world, and so did equality - which is unique in the history of the world market system .
But yet, the successes were modest indeed compared to what had actually been the aims of the peoples' movements - liberty, equality, fraternity, and the republic of the egalitarian citizens, founded on moral economy. During the decade 1965-1975 peoples' movements over the whole world made a contemporaneous thrust to realize these aims. And like the peoples' movement mobilizations around 1848 and 1904-1914 this thrust changed both the scene and the movements themselves.
The scene changed so far that the rulers abandoned their three hundred years strategy. Since the English revolution 1640 and even more since the French revolution they had invested, in the long run, in buying peace and quiet by conceding to some of the movements' claims, at least such claims which had a broad support and at least in the system center. But since the movement resurgence 1965-1975 was world-wide concessions appeared more and more utopian. For the first time, the rulers had no unintegratible sub-proletariat to shift the cost for integration at. For the first time in three hundred years, the inevitable progress began to seem doubtful .
The regimes which were promoted by the peoples' movements during the age of the government power strategy were for that reason faced with an impossible task. The inherent impossibility of the strategy was not enough - to sponsor a layer of functionaries who, except representing the state interest under global competition, also should represent the interests of the direct producers although these were prohibited from mobilizing for them - it also had to be carried through while the representatives of the system routines began to call in question if the direct producers had any rights at all. From 1973 the movement supported governments began to lose the grip on things. The national development projects in the system peripheries cracked. And the welfare states in the system center began to be rolled back.
4. The era of campaign organising (1955-) 1970-?. Faced with this scene change, popular movements began to reconsider their strategy of 1904-1914. The reconsideration has been fumbling and is still not accomplished fully, particularly not with the circles that were most successful during the era up to 1973. It may be characterized that using the government power as an instrument for achieving the good society is hardly seen as realistic anywhere. But what should replace it is very uncertain.
What actually has replaced it after 1973 is so much more obvious. That is campaign organising according to the American pattern. The inspiration for the social movement mobilizations of the last thirty years are found, if I am permitted to overdo it a bit, in three places:
Those of you who have followed this book recognize that all three have been inspired by M.K. Gandhi's model for peoples' movement mobilization. But the peoples' movement mobilizations after 1973 have developed a lot of traits which are typical for them and have not so much to do with the Indian independence movement.
The difference between the original Gandhianism and its imitator is arguably that the Gandhian peoples' movement strategy emphasized the interest of the farmers and middle classes who were its social base, while the middle class movements which have been inspired afterwards have emphasized the good conscience rather than interests.
A trait with the peoples' movement scene is that more issues have been thematized after the sixties than before. This is a result of the fact that the development is more unclear and unsettled than it was. There is no self-evident agenda for development as there was during the high tide of Fordism. This has in academic parlance been summarized in the term "new social movements", which is somewhat improper; no theme is really new. All of the themes which have been considered new after 1973 - environment, peace, gender, the aim of production - were highly topical during the mobilizations around 1848 and 1905, as the flat organisation forms and the focus on identities and alternative society reminds strikingly about the peoples' movement society before 1848 .
This increasing plurality of themes has been managed very differently in the system center and the system periphery.
In the system center the organisations which have been formed to articulate class conflicts stiffened in forms which have been favourable in a perspective of government power strategy; the organisings which have thematized the "new" issues have been thin and only touched on class superficially. In the system periphery class organisings have generally not been involved as deep into the government power strategy - primarily carried by national movements - so they have been able to play a much more important role in the broadening of themes. Labour and agrarian movements in the South have for that reason a much broader focus than labour and agrarian movements in the North.
By the turn of the century one may possibly foretell a new synthesis. But first something of its preconditions.
Future peoples' movements
Even if peoples' movements are chaotic (in the meaning of chaos theory) and difficult to trace in beforehand, it is possible to assess their requirements and from that guess, within broad measures, what their opportunities are. It is also possible to guess which identities and themes that will be important and which mobilization forms that may be realized.
The aim of a social movement is to guard civil society, reciprocity and peoples' opportunities to satisfy their spontaneous expressions of life. Their successes or failures have to be measured against that, not against their power to move dust or leave myths and legends in the history books.
During the era this book has attached the most space to - the period after 1789 - the net result of the peoples' movements have probably been positive. The government power strategy was effective. The living standard has increased, at least up to 1973, i.e. until social movements had captured government power in many countries. But after that date the results have been rather dubious. The traditional social movement mechanisms seem to have lost their teeth. The average living standard didn't increase any more, particularly not for the poor. More and more people lost their subsistence and were marginalized, which the peoples' movement system seemed unable to counter the development. The consequence of this was that the earlier foundation of mass organisations disintegrated without being compensated by anything nearly as strong - the classic mass mobilizations were supplanted by middle class dominated NGOs while the real popular movement mobilizations appeared local and powerless. One can speak of a crisis in the peoples' movement system, of that old methods didn't seem to work.
What didn't work? It was easy to see that one thing that didn't work was the government power strategy of the twentieth century. The state was no instrument to protect civil society with, and the peoples' movements had no power over the development of society although they appointed and dismissed governments. But the crisis seemed to be deeper than that.
Earlier, shifts in the environment provoked by peoples' movement mobilizations have quickly been followed by new effective methods and organising forms, but after 1973 there were no such methods in view. The organisation and mobilization forms which have replaced the government power strategy have been even less effective than the strategy they replaced.
The shift seems more fundamental than earlier shifts for peoples' movement strategies after 1500.
I think this is a consequence of that the shifts of the world, the scene, is more fundamental than any ot the shifts the world market system has periodically gone through since it appeared in the late fifteenth century; that it is of a new kind.
In chapter 2 the development of the world was described as composed of on the one hand long-term trends, on the other two kinds of cycles.
The first kind of cycle is the so-called Kondratiev cycles - about fifty-years business cycles carried by one of more highly monopolized "leading businesses", which is broken when the monopolies in these businesses are broken. We live by now near the bottom of such a cycle, since the earlier leading businesses auto and electronics lost their leading role and been relocalised to the system periphery.
Such cycles have proceeded during the whole history of the system and is nothing new. We should expect a new fifty-year cycle to begin very soon, tentatively carried by biotechnology and information. The problem is that while earlier leading businesses have been able to integrate more people into the system it seems that the topical ones can employ only a small, highly educated elite while the rest is written off as superfluous. In the public debate, this is described as an unemployment crisis .
The other kind of cycle is the so-called hegemony cycles - considerably longer periods when one violence/finance alliance dominates the system based in a certain political course of action, until the strain this implies and the opposition it meets with from other actors wears down its abilities. We live in an age when the US hegemony is increasingly strained, and the political stability in the world as a consequence of this is increasingly shaky. One consequence of this is that the economy is increasingly speculative and increasingly unproductive. Another is that the ability of the state system to control the situation falls in pieces. In the public debate this is described as globalisation , or the fall of the welfare state, or even the fall of the national state .
Such hegemony crises aren't new either in the history of the system. "Normally" we should expect a new hegemonic power to succeed the USA, possibly after a world war. The problem isn't only that world wars is probably not a feasible method any longer, it is also that such a successor should have more resources, both concerning violence and finance, than the retiring power, and also offer something to the most important popular movement of the age. And it seems that no power is able to do this under a foreseeable future.
The long term trends are described by Christopher Chase-Dunn as
We can see ruptures here also.
The most trivial one is that it is impossible to expand the system to new areas. The whole world is covered. So far, such expansions have been the security valves of the system when the direct producers have enforced better conditions. The businesses have then moved to new, politically less sensitive areas and employed new workers without unionist experience. It is this custom which has created centers and peripheries in the system. If no new peripheries can be attached to the system, it has to find new methods to manage challenges from the direct producers, coming from anywhere within the system. If they don't, labour movements will be enormously strengthened.
A less evident rupture is perhaps that commercialization is reaching the limits. Firstly, commercialization of the ecosystem is creating an environmental crisis which not only makes the life and local communities of the direct producer suffer but also their productive abilities. Secondly, and more uncertain, one may ponder on the extent commercialization of the word and the life may free-ride on the reciprocity of the civil society without wrecking it. Since the impending Kondratiev wave concerns communication and genetics as leading businesses, this question must at least be posed.
Every sign says that we are approaching a time of systemic chaos, going deeper than ever since 1450. But except that this offers great opportunities for popular movements - an unstable system is easier to affect than a stable one - it also causes trouble. For the instability affects also the popular movements themselves, in the form of strategic hesitance, lack of great extensive popular identities and lack of popular reliance on the possibility to achieve great things .
But it is not sure that this is a great trouble. The peoples' movement system has earlier been able many times to achieve great things without intending to do so. The peasants in Morelos who raised the issue of land reform on a global scale had the intention to take back a stolen field while the army was busy handling another revolt. The workers who started the First International, giving rise the strike wave which established the labour movement in Europe, had the intention to deal in a practical way with strike-breaking. A determined action for small ends has sometimes carried with it considerable society changes, which meanwhile let the participants grow as conscious actors and makes them attempt greater ventures. Perhaps these not at all being as consequential as the original small attempts were.
So the presence of subjective intentions or subjective consciousness is a quite ambiguous clue if one is to predict the development. It is probably better to take a stand in the development of the last twenty years of peoples' movements, and from this, and from other global tendencies, conclude what the nearest future will be.
The most visible peoples' movements during the last decades of the twentieth century were clearly middle class based movements, in one or another way protecting commons and/or what they considered to be general human rights. Such movements were, as mentioned, rather thin - their focuses were generally narrow and their mobilizing force was small. They were often dominated by NGOs, professional campaigners, who in their own interest kept the thinness intact.
However, some initiatives were taken in these circles which would be productive .
One of the first was IBFAN, International Baby Food Action Network in 1978, a global low budget network of activists struggling about Nestlé's unhealthy infant formula. By swiftness and minimal bureaucracy this cooperation was successful and stimulated to other similar networks like the Rain Forest Movement and PAN, Pesticide Action Network. The new with these networks was, except the flat structure and the bid on fast communications, that many of them were ruled from the South.
There was an earlier attempt in nearly the same spirit, the international campaign against the union busting methods of Coca-Cola, started in 1977. It was however built on existent hierarchic organisations like churches. Amnesty and the International Federation of Food Workers, and was strangely sterile despite initial successes .
Another movement of much greater importance was the global movement against debt. This may be said to have begun in 1976 with a series of what would be called IMF riots - spontaneous mass protests against cuts decided by international finance organisations - from Argentina and Peru over Mali and Ethiopia to Pakistan . In 1984 Third World Network was founded as a typical middle class NGO but also an expression of a genuine southern interest with good ties to southern mobilizations, and it was immediately an established mouthpiece on this and related issues.
The movement which TWN, and later also the church-organised Jubilee 2000, gave a voice to would be one of the main strands within the present global justice movement. It would take longer time to establish the issue in northern peoples' movement cultures. Nordic peace movement circles around Kvinnor för fred, Women for peace, made an unsuccessful attempt during the eighties peace movement resurgence, see chapter 9. Instead, it was the Spanish environmental movement which used the cooperation with the South American Indian movement during the quincentennial festivities in 1992 and the fiftieth anniversary of the Bretton Woods institutions two years later to organise actions together with Spanish trade unions, European environmental organisations and activist solidarity organisations around the catchword ya basta!, it's enough. The breakthrough for this movement was in 1998 when it stopped the MAI agreement, a global trade agreement which would have give businesses the right to sue governments if law changes reduced future profits. In this case it was also cooperation between many different groups and organisations, to a great extent on the Internet, which was successful.
The movement with the most mobilizing force during the late twentieth century was however the global family farmer movement .
The agrarian movements of the late twentieth century were released by the agrarian crisis of the seventies, which has been described in chapter 7. The organisatory impulses for global action came from different quarters of which four were particularly important.
One was the mobilization in Central America against the structural adaptation programs of the IMF in the eighties. Peaceful mobilizing in Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama made impression against a backdrop of civil wars in the neighbouring countries, and the new agrarian organisations were able to use lavish aid money to organise networks with organisations in Latin America, USA and Europe. During the resurgence of the Indian movement in the early nineties new networks were created - in countries like Ecuador and Bolivia family farmer and Indian are almost synonyms.
Another was a number of North American family farmer organisations which began to organise an international resistance to the food businesses and in 1983 gathered the First International Farm Crisis Summit in Ottawa. The efforts were later focused on NAFTA, the North American free trade agreement.
A third was the campaign of Karnataka's farmers' organisation against "intellectual ownership" or patent rights of seeds. They both destroyed properties of food businesses and organised successfully in an international level.
A fourth was the European resistance to free trade in food products, written into the Uruguay Round of GATT in 1986. It was this mobilization which was the first to organise great demonstrations at a trade summit, in Brussels in 1990. The leaders were the strong organisation of the French family farmers. This mobilization also sought and got global participation in their demonstrations.
These mobilizations found in the early nineties a common ground, thanks to the Washington consensus and its codification into trade-friendly treaties canalized by WTO. In 1993 the family farmers founded Via Campesina as a global organisation, built in the same flat way as IBFAN coordinated from an office in Tegucigalpa and with a common program for family farmers in center and peripheries. Some fifty unions from America, Europe and South Asia take part with African organisations linked in a looser way. The family farmers in Chiapas have also been linked in a looser way although they have contributed to much of the organising language in the family.
Via Campesina has played a conspicuous part both in public and behind the scene during all great summit protests since, and have also contributed to shaping the program of the South states which cracked the proposal for a global trade treaty in 2004. A more fixed cooperation between Via Campesina and the middle class dominated movements for commons has also been established under the name of Peoples' Global Action in 1998, remarkable through its insisting in peoples' movement organising and explicit banning of NGOs .
The odds are that family farmer mobilizing will continue. Since capital has invested so much in genetics as one of the foundations of the next Kondratiev wave, the mobilization of the farmers both sensitive to the world market system and necessary for the farmers, like a similar threat to the artisans of Europe in the early nineteenth century gave rise to the labour movement tradition. But will they get any assistance?
Movements with other focuses and identities have met more difficulties to assert themselves during the period.
This is most evident concerning the labour movements. In North America, West Europe and Japan, labour movements have found difficulties in asserting themselves since the industry began to be relocalised on a grand scale in the seventies. In the countries where it has been relocalised to, labour movements have flourished and often kept its strength, but so far growing strength in the South has not compensated fully for the enfeeblement in the North.
Brazilian and South Korean labour movements may have kept some of their militancy since the eighties and the South African labour central may have toppled the regime in 1992 and introduced majority rule, Indian strikes may have been successful in preventing privatizations, North American labour unions may have begun to organise again after twenty years of sleep, and Chinese labour movements may occupy towns - but such possible successes have not been possible to translate into global strength in the same way as the agrarian movements have done. Not even the de facto global mass strikes against the Bretton Woods organisations in June 2001 when more than 50 millions took part were perceived as a global event.
It is easy to put the blame on organisatoric deficiencies - that the labour movement organisations in the north are stuck in the casually effective government power strategy of the twentieth century, trust the benevolence of governments and see member mobilization as more of a threat than a promise, and that the labour movements of the South have not yet got a global breakthrough for their lower-class solidary forms of struggle or in the organisations of the labour movements .
There is probably much in this. But as Beverly Silver has shown there are also structural reasons for the weakness of the labour movements around 2000 .
Capital has four different ways of combating labour movements: to move production to new sites, to organise production to loosen the workers' grip on it, to move the resources to new businesses, and to not bother about production at all and indulge in speculation. Workers generally succeed to find counter-moves to the first three. When production moves to new sites - from the USA to Western Europe in the fifties, and from Western Europe to Brazil and South Korea in the seventies - new labour movements compensate for the weakening of the old ones. When production is reorganised to weaken the workers' grip on it - assembly lines in the tens and twenties to loosen the artisans' grip and just in time production in the eighties and nineties to loosen the grip of the assembly lines workers' - the workers learn to use the bottle-necks of the new technologies. And when old businesses decay and new ones arise the labour mobilizations move to the new ones. Such movements and new mobilization techniques may take time to develop, so for that reason statistics over labour mobilization shows up- and down-swings over time.
But if production in general loses its importance for capital accumulation to the benefit of speculation and usury, the workers lose their grip in a much more fundamental way. And this happens now. Such shifts between production phases and speculation phases are properly speaking a periodic phenomenon, see chapter 2, but the changes take a long time. And it also seems that a shift from speculation to production is dependent on a shift to a new hegemonic power able to administer it. And this seems unlikely today. This may indicate that labour movements for a foreseeable future will be less forceful than they have been during the twentieth century.
Moreover, it seems that the growing businesses today, counted as amount of capital and as employees, are not as easily organised as the assembly line industries for durable goods in the twentieth century. Some, for example transport, are indeed but in others, for example real estate and education, the labour movements will have to compensate for lack of grip in the production with better organisation in the local community and political alliances, so-called social movement unionism . And this is not easy, particularly not for the old industrial countries which are stuck in a bureaucratically run insurance business. The militant and successful labour movements in Brazil, South Africa and South Korea won their successes by being strong in the civil society; they have not least been forced to that because of the high frequency of casual work and informal employments, and they have much to teach .
But the odds are that labour movements will escape the present deep depression when the proletarians of the South have learnt to manage their situation, because of the spread of unionist techniques, according to Silver. Not least because the opportunities for capitalists to move their capital is running across the limits. Perhaps the strength will not be as big as the system center in the twenties. But the Chinese labour movement mobilization in the twenty-first century should nevertheless be a forceful one.
Strangely enough, women's and pariah movements seem fairly absent, despite not having any of the limitations of the labour movements. Perhaps the weakness is the dominating attitude - the focus being on marking identities and claiming separate rights, rather than taking part in the formulation for common claims and utopias concerning all.
It is striking that pariah movements which are not suffering from this limitation, like the Indian movements of Ecuador and Bolivia, don't have any difficulties at all to take part in the present demonstrations of strength. The same is apparently the case with women's movements. The movements in the South seem less fixated at identity and culture and seem more capable of cooperating with a starting-point in an interest, more present and more forceful, see chapter 8. But the women's movements of the South have so far not been able to take the struggle for movement hegemony I think is necessary to break the upper middle class grip in the North and make women's movement more effective .
Finally, it seems that the states of the South/system peripheries are beginning to get a capability to cooperate against the dominance of the North. The broken negotiations of extended free trade in Cancún in 2003 was the first occasion when the South has acted in unison, and ambitions of cooperation should continue despite the shortcomings of this first attempt. We can't tell if they will be successful, and of course it would never have happened in Cancún either were it not for the struggles of family farmers and middle class mobilizations around Third World Network. But all the same, it is remarkable, against a background of earlier constant fragmentation of the system peripheries.
In all, there was during the years around 2000 a certain modest peoples' movement resurgence, and it will probably be consolidated. The family farmer mobilizations will continue and probably be stronger. The labour movements will probably recover somewhat after its all-time-low around 1995. Mobilizations for commons tend to broaden their base, not only in the South. (Concerning tendencies and opportunities of the women's movements, I don't know of any research).
A common peoples' movement identity is slowly emerging. It began to be formulated in the mid-nineties, in counter-summits parallel with summits of state and capital, so-called Peoples' summits, and was directed against the destructive consequences of the Washington Consensus .
The initiatives came from several sources.
Meanwhile, the hegemonic power is enfeebled and a world more riven by conflict is appearing. As are the limits of the system. What will this imply for the movements?
The evident answer to this is that to a fascinating extent depends on ourselves. The objective preconditions have perhaps never been as good as they are - a systemic chaos implies that the structures of states and capitals are split and lose their grips, and the global peoples' movement system is in a phase of growth and organising we see no end of.
But the successes of peoples' movements are indeed to an extreme extent depending on strategic choices, skill, luck and good theories, and this is even more true in the uncertain era we are moving into. Are there any weaknesses in that respect in the present peoples' movement mobilization?
There are many bids on that. Frederick Buttel and Kenneth Gould suggest that the weakness is that the resource advantage of the NGOs over popular movements, and their inherent tendencies of lobbying for small reforms . Jai Sen and others point at the attempts of "shadow movements" in the form of lukewarm reformist parties and NGOs to co-opt the movement by disgracing all who don't conform to their norms . Immanuel Wallerstein points at the difficulties of all the disparate movements within the global justice movements to get together about any common project . Walden Bello suggests in an admittedly time-bound article that the counter-forces to the corporate globalization are so different that they don't even acknowledge each other's legitimacy . One guidance may be to look at the global justice movement through the lens of Baders peoples' movement cycle, see chapter 1. Can we then see any decisive thresholds it may find it difficult to surmount?
Step 1, the exploited, repressed or discriminated category, offers no problem. The corporate liberalism of the Washington consensus adds to the gaps over the whole world. I have pointed at specific conflicts - the emergence of a wage labourer proletariat on a grand scale in the system periphery, the threat of turning earlier autonomous family farmers into subcontractors for the food industry, the difficulties for indebted peripheral states to make contracts of integration with their majorities and the difficulties for not so indebted center states to maintain their contracts of integration with their majorities. These are important reasons why a movement have emerged and grown as far as it has.
Step 2, the exploited, repressed or discriminated category develops a common habitus. This appears to be impossible. There are too many categories. The founding idea of the Social Forums, not to establish any common strategy, is an acknowledgement of this impossibility. To be sure, there are examples of movement alliances able to do great things acknowledging internal differences, like CONAIE in Ecuador, but in the global justice movement the differences are immensely greater, between for example Indian family farmers and North American middle class youth. Perhaps it is more meaningful to speak of peoples' movement contemporaneousness, of the same kind as the contemporaneousness between movements for land reform in the South, labour movement in West Europe and youth revolt in the North between 1965 and 1975. This implies that movements in the system center have to be better at articulating their own issues and problems to play ball, instead of only focusing on the issues of the South. And this implies more of politics of interest, less of politics of conscience.
Step 3, the hardening of the habitus into a common identity, and step 4, development of a common interest, are of course also impossible since the interests of categories may be formulated in different ways and may even come into conflict with each other. Those who have small privileges - for example most of the direct producers in the North - may ally upwards and kick downwards to protect their small privileges. Or they may ally downwards and kick upwards to abolish the big privileges and win the world. What they choose depends probably of what seems most accessible from case to case. And what they choose affects the strength and direction of the peoples' movement contemporaneousness.
Step 5, developing of a common language, has obviously progressed a far way. The Bretton Woods institutions, the government of the USA and the EU, and some very visible transnational corporations have obligingly offered a common enemy and also presented an obvious common bogeyman, corporate liberalism. This doesn't mean however that the alternative to this is equally obvious. The corporate liberalism of the empires of the nineteenth century provoked not one counter-language but several, and the inability for workers and peasants to cooperate made it possible for the upper classes to survive as upper classes. Today we can also see different counter-languages - fundamentalist religion, introverted group-asserting or nationalism, and the diversity-accepting equality ideology of the global justice movement - and as the rulers in the nineteenth century were able to play off their opponents against each other it will be possible today. Probably the ability of peoples' movements to succeed in this respect will be a result of their finding a less neurotic attitude to the so-called modernity than did the movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - their finding a base in interests for cooperation between movements using old languages and movements using new ones, and avoiding to make language into the principal thing.
Step 6, development of common organisations, proceeds irregularly. The trade union organisation in the South has gone far concerning the family farmers, and less far concerning workers. But the least organised are the direct producers and local communities protecting commons in the North. Some authors, for example Alberto Melucci, seem to suggest that it is inevitable and even good that popular movements of today only are able to construct habituses and identities but not organisations . But only small mobilizations can survive that way, and only during a short time. Popular movements need institutions to pool resources, facilitate communication between participants, accomplish effective action planning, carry a presence between mobilizations and assert the ownership to victories. This despite the fact that institutions will create their own problems.
Step 7, resource mobilization and step 8, action, have been demonstrated at Seattle and Cancún. Far from being "action tourism" as some journalists have called it, the manifestations were tips on icebergs of local mobilizations, primarily in agrarian movements. But, as many have pointed at, a successful movement for another "possible world" (as the Social Forums have it), can't confine itself to spot-marking of summits. They have to be much better at creating cultures of interest struggles, local or by all means global. Like the labour movements of the twentieth century were constructed around the strike and the national movements were constructed around the boycott. Only to rely on Tilly's public displays of respectability, unity, number and commitment is not enough in a world where the rulers fell less and less committed to the will of the majority.
The problems for the present movement alliance against the Washington consensus and against corporate liberalism may be summarized as follows:
It isn't easy to tell how possible this is. Much of the abovementioned may change rapidly and make this whole section out of date. Peoples' movements are like the weather. Small mobilizations for small aims may lead to big changes within the whole system if they are successful. Many apparently small events in the history of peoples' movements have become mythical for this reason. The bronze founder strike in Paris in 1867, the sowing of maize in Anenecuilco in 1910, the demonstration for bread in Petrograd in 1917, the student demonstrations against Japanese economic demands in Peking in 1919, the salt march in the Indian west coast in 1930, Mrs Parks's refusal to leave a bus seat in Montgomery in 1955 - all can be described as catalysators, as small events giving expression to long-cherished needs by big categories of people, and a pattern for continued action which quickly makes earlier patterns for subordination as well as mobilization outmoded.
Is it possible to use this history book to tell something in general about popular movements? Veit Michael Bader thought that theories about peoples' movements are impossible except from the trivial ones, because of the chaotic character of peoples' movements. Then he proceeded to formulate a number .
Bader was primarily interested in peoples' movements as a social phenomenon. My interest is more pragmatic: how should we as exploited, repressed and discriminated people, as people in the non-favoured end of an inequality relation, best use the peoples' movement mechanisms as a way of asserting ourselves, without having to pay an unreasonable price for it? Without seeing our ambitions break down, giving room for new inequality relations or (even worse) leaving the old ones strengthened? But rather gaining something on the effort?
How are peoples' movements made effective?
Such questions are generally answered by "ideologies", languages which have been formulated in a particular situation but with time hardened into eternal truths, often in completely new situations they are unfit for. This is the most common way of managing issues in the third problem level, the complete mess where everything depends on everything else .
To transform the problem to one of the second level where there
are rational answers "depending on", one should compare
An easier (and more unreliable) method would be to do as I did when I tried to assess the opportunities for the global justice movement above - go through Bader's peoples' movement cycle, point at the occasions when a movement has to make a choice, if possible give some clues to the criteria the choice should fulfil to be "right". Since all peoples' movements have in common that they are mobilizations by people in the non-favoured end of an inequality relation, with the purpose to assert themselves and their spontaneous manifestations of life, there ought to be some common criteria for success (even if one should not overstress the similarities).
The first thing that happens when a category has formed a habitus separating it from others is that it forms an identity. And here is the first trap: what identity is relevant? or most relevant? Sometimes the identity can force itself on, as during Apartheid in South Africa, but there are often some choices, and the choice may matter. In chapter 5 I have maintained that workers in Europe during the nineteenth century seem to have consciously dissociated themselves from the farmer majority and had to take much beating for that, and in chapter 8 I have expressed misgivings that different pariah categories define themselves so narrowly that they end up in wars among themselves. On the other hand, the Indians who took up the struggle for the urban commons in the townships of Durban defined themselves as "the poors" to appeal to other poor people, and in Ecuador you are welcome as Indian if you don't belong to the urban colonial upper middle class. Broadest possible relevant identity may be a reasonable rule-of-thumb if you have powerful antagonists. The labour movements of the South are right when they organise all workers, not only the waged ones, and also their local communities. The youth of the USA were wrong when they tried to make "counter-culture" the unifying theme for the resistance to the Vietnam war.
Next trap is when one is going to discern the interest of the category. Against whom should you hit, and what should you demand? Is the interest to keep a privilege, or to abolish all privileges? Are only the long run interests worth anything or are also the short-run ones? Are the farmers of Karnataka right when they blame the food businesses for the plight of the country-side, or are the farmers of Maharashtra right when they blame the state?
Of course the aim of a social movement is up to themselves. But some aims are more rational than others, even if it is not self-evident.
One criterion may be, again, broadest possible relevant identity - interests which make it narrower should have very strong arguments for it not to be wrong. Interests of the nimby type - "not in my backyard" - or which call for privileges narrow the identity and are probably wrong.
Meanwhile, but taking somewhat longer time, the budding movement has to develop a language or ideology. This is necessary, if for no other reason to liberate itself from the false language the adversary tries to foist upon it. But ideologies are double-edged tools with great capacity to take command over the artisan, force him to ineffective actions, create conflicts with natural allies and co-option with natural enemies. What should an ideology be like to minimize the risks?
Fool-proof ideologies don't exist. Any formulation is liable to turn into its opposite; even ideologies about the equality of all have been used to legitimate privileges. The criterion is rather how you use ideologies. As long as you keep identity and ideology apart, let the social belonging be the base for the identity, the "we", and let the ideology be the language for action, you don't risk to be too wrong. For then, there are always opportunities to articulate new ideologies when the old ones get counter-productive. This opportunity doesn't exist when you let the identity be based on ideologies ("we Muslims", "we in the Left") .
Another trap may appear when you organise. In an organising there are always functionaries as well as sympathizers, and everything in between. But functionaries have, regardless if they are salaried or not, other concerns than their base - salary, recognition, perhaps power - and they have also other opportunities than ordinary members and sympathizers to form the practice of the movement. This has historically tended to result in that the rank-and-file lose interest in the movement and the movement dies.
Many models have been tried and failed to solve this conflict and possibly it is insoluble. Bader suggests a way of minimizing the harm, which he calls "complex movement democracy" - greatest possible resources for letting all decide in the main issues while smaller issues should be managed with creative spontaneity. Unfortunately Bader doesn't say which issues are the main ones. But a criterion may be that the most important issue is what makes the base, the laymen, into the main actors and giving them hegemony in the movement. To organise the environmental movement in the North into NGOs and political parties was wrong, according to this approach, while it was right to organise the anti-systemic youth culture in Italy in the eighties into local culture centers.
When the movement begins to form relations to the outer world there are immediately new traps emerging. How do you avoid being entangled by shadow movements and mediation agencies? By accidental allies? The first is easy, they are more dependent of you than you are of them; they are therefore at a strategic disadvantage and can be treated ungraciously. The other is more difficult; you are dependent yourself. A frightening example may be the colonial labour movements who could be dazzlingly successful when the national movements supported them but were extremely vulnerable to repression when the national movements thought them too strong and the lower classes too saucy. A criterion for assessment of the value of alliances may be what you want them for. If you are strong enough to manage without them, they may be good, if not they are a risk or a shot in the dark.
Action has historically been almost ritualized - a repertoire has been established, without doubt because it has been practicable, and competing patterns of action has been quickly weeded out from the program.
But for the moment there is no uncontested repertoire which causes some uncertainty in the peoples' movements, at least in the system center. The uncertainty concerns among other things what the reasonable conflict level should be - sometimes it can go so far that people run savage controversies about "dialogue with the rulers" or "confrontation with the rulers" in the abstract, as in the European commons defence movements of the nineties.
I can not anticipate the established repertoires of action of the twenty-first century, but again it may be illuminating to refer to the criteria. With the broadest possible relevant identity, and decisions on fundamentals within the movement base, the focus is at least moved from the relations to the rulers to what happens within the category the movement represents. Confrontations and dialogues can be relegated to their right place as pragmatic instruments, and the main concern of the movement can be to maintain the mobilizations within the category and its self-reliance as actors.
This may be enough. I don't expect to have exhausted the possible criteria, I am not even sure the suggestions above are right. But it is at least a way of making questions that doesn't emanate from ideologies of what ought to be right. A more pragmatic discourse about appropriate means to achieve reasonable aims would probably be beneficial for the peoples' movement scene of the twenty-first century.
If this book can contribute to this, and to setting the aims high,
it is worth to have been written.
 The dating of the social movement advances are given by André G Frank & Martta Fuentes: Civil democracy; social movements in recent world history, in Samir Amin (ed): Transforming the revolution, Monthly Review Press 1990.
 Sidney Tarrow, Power in movement, Cambridge University Press 1994; Charles Tilly, Social movements 1768-2004, Paradigm Publishers 2004. Tilly contends (without telling why) that the concept "social movement" should only be used by movements using this kind of repertoire.
 Journeymen's companionships and other lower class organising are described in Charles, Louise & Richard Tilly, The rebellious century, Harvard University Press 1975. The radical movements and their likeness with movements of today are described by Craig Calhoun, "New social movements" of the early nineteenth century, in Social Science History 17, 1993. Middle class organising is described by W.H. van der Linden, The international peace movement 1815-1874, Tilleul 1986.
 Tord Björk, Folkrörelser ur ett tredje världen-perspektiv, KRUT 103/104, 2001. He emphasizes the similarity of the first, second and fourth model - professionalization - while the third appears as unique.
 This process is decribed in many articles by Immanuel Wallerstein, for example The Insurmountable Contradictions of Liberalism: Human Rights and the Rights of Peoples in the Geoculture of the Modern World-System," South Atlantic Quarterly, XCIV, 4, 1995, and Globalization or the age of transition? - a long-term view of the trajectory of the world-system.
 About NGOs see for example Michael Edwards & David Hume (ed), NGOs, states and donors - too close for comfort, Macmillan 1997; Terse Ted, Angels of mercy or development diplomats: NGOs and foreign aid, James Currey 1988; Ian Smillie, The alms bazaar: altruism under fire, Inermediate Technology Publication 1995; David Sogge (ed), Compassion and calculation, The business of foreign aid, Pluto Press 1996, and William Robinson, Promoting polyarchy, Cambridge University Press 1996. The last is about the way northern states promote NGOs to avoid confronting with authentic peoples' movements. Alejandro Bendaña, Which way for NGOs?, Centro de Estudios Internacionales, Managua, sums up the problems: 1. Narrowing of the perpectives. 2. Blurring of political conflicts. 3. Focusing on the small instead of the big. 4. Unrepresentativeness and unaccountability. 5. Over-emphasizing of theory. 6. Disempowering of the majority who learns to trust NGOs instead of dealing with problems themselves.
 Hanspeter Kriesi et al, New social movements in Western Europe, University College of London Press, 1994, describes the way popular movement waves during the eighties have been broken by coopting parts of them as lobbyists while those who have protested against this have resorted to violence which a majority of the movements' base have seen as illegitime, which has killed the movement entirely. Michel Wieviorka, The making of terrorism, University of Chicago Press 1993, describes "terrorism" as a sterile reaction against opportunism in a part of a popular movement.
 Tord Björk, World Social Forum and popular movements confronting globalisation, 2003. Håkan Thörn has also argued that also the Anti-apartheid movement did a lot to create a transnational social movement culture, at least in the North, see Håkan Thörn: Anti-apartheid and the emergence of a global civil society, Palgrave Macmillan 2006.
 Peoples' Global Action is described by Paul Routledge, Converge of commons, Process geographies of Peoples' Global Action, The Commoner 8.
 Thi is the assessment of Peter Waterman, Globalization, social movements and the new internationalisms, or the Norwegian trade union leader Asbjørn Wahl, Social dialogue, social pacts or a social Europe? in Kolya Abramsky (ed.): Diverse Voices of Resistance, London 2001, and other articles by the same author.
 The trade unions of the South have made this a starting-point and are to a great extent general class organisations in the civil socity. Interestingly enough there is a strand in the new unionist organisation thrust in the USA following the same way, see for example Kim Moody, Workers in a lean world: unions in the international economy, Verso 1997, or in Labor Notes.
 Ashwin Desai, We are the poors; community struggles in post-apartheid South Africa, Monthly Review Press 2002, tells about a struggle between workers and the biggest oil business in South Africa, which was won by the workers despite a weak organisation on the worksite, because they organised well in the civil society.
 Jai Sen, A tale of two charters, at Choike, or The World Social Forum and the struggle against "globalisation", Aspects of Indian Economy 33. They point at the fact that Peoples' Global Action in practice has been crowded out from the social forums becase the zapatists don't "dissociate themselves from violence" - while on the other hand reformist politicians are welcomed although they accept that states have armies
 Walden Bello, Falluja and the forging of the new Iraq. The great trouble of communication is of course between the progressists around the World Social Forum and the nationalists/islamists.
 As pointed out by Russell Ackoff there are three problem levels: 1. The riddle, the well defined question that has only one answer. 2. The problem, the well defined question which have many answers "depending on". And 3. The complete mess, where nothing is defined or well formulated. In principle, it is always possible to remake a problem of the third level to a problem of the second. See for example Tom Ritchey, Morphological analysis, a general method for non-quantified modelling, in Regulation management - new tools for the process of lawmaking, IT-kommissionen, Seminar, 25 October 2001.
 A first step has been taken by Doug McAdam, Sidney Tarrow and Charles Tilly, Dynamics of contention, Cambridge University Press 2001. They compare mobilizations pairwise to detect what mechanisms are at work. Much more can be discovered this way, particularly if one start from the need for knowledge in social movements rather than academic traditions which the authors do. They assume for example from that all conflicts are the same, and that internal quibbles of elites are the same thing as peoples' movements' contention against structural inequalities, which makes the conclusions somewhat schematic.
 A wise popular movement keeps several competing
languages in constant discussion - constructive disunity, or unconcluded
ideologies (Thomas Mathiesen, The politics of abolition: Essays
in political action theory, Martin Robertson 1994). Unconcluded,
or immature is what is in the process of being but not yet hardened;
it can be used differently for different practical needs, and it
keeps the discourse going.