Updated May 2012












1. The actors: states, capital and peoples' movements
2. The stage: the world
3. Peoples' movements before the world market system
4. Local communities' defence against the world market system
5. Wage labourers' defence against capital owners
6. System peripheries' defence against the center
7. Agriculturalists' defence against the food markets
8. Marginalized peoples' aspiration for equality
9. The self-defence of civil society
10. The peoples' movement system
In Swedish

The Carriers of Democracy

The global peoples' movement system


Corrections and additions


The author will appreciate corrections of language as well as content.

by Jan Wiklund


The Carriers of Cemocracy was basically completed in 2005. Since then I found out more things that should have been there, and there will be more of it. Since it is hardly realistic to remake the entire book for that matter, I will list the additions here - as indeed is predicted in the book's foreword.


Chapter 1. The actors

About states and capital as routines

I have called states and capital "routines". International research uses the concept of institutions; at least I should mention that. An institution is an organized expectation of a certain action, which exists to limit the freedom of choice as if it were universal would make our lives unreasonably unsafe and costly.

One of the leading researchers of institutions, Douglass North, distinguishes between formal and informal institutions, where the formal probably correspond to what I call states and capital - that is, institutions that without people's conscious influence is still able to produce results because of the expectation of a certain action they create. The informal institutions would then be matched by the civil society's rules, maintained consciously or unconsciously by the people taking part within it.

The formal institutions goes on autopilot - they don't consider the corpses they leave after themselves. They are controlled by coarse abstract principles, the capital by capital accumulation, the state by law and hierarchies, and their co-operation by the sanctified principle of ownership.

Informal institutions are controlled by the social responsiveness and the moral economy, i.e. what the participants deem desirable, which may be whatever. But I have already written about this.

Litt: Douglass North: Institutions, growth and prosperity, SNS 1993, and Understanding the process of economic change, Princeton University Press, 2005

Something about the evolutionary background of the social responsability could be mentioned: that cooperation is profitable, and for that reason is hardwired into our DNA while state and capital are only social artefacts.

Litt: Robert Axelrod: The evolution of cooperation, Basic Books 1984, och Matt Ridley: The origin of virtue, Viking 1996.

The popular movement cycle

This section has proven to be a stumbling block for many readers because of its abstract nature. Reasonably I should have placed it at the very end, perhaps as an addendum, and certainly with many more examples which may be taken be taken out of the book's chapters.


Chapter 2: The stage, the world


It is possible that I have been a little too contemptuous of the notion of "development". There is a kind of development that even the sharpest critic should be able to accept - a growing collective ability to use the laws of nature to man's advantage, to improve the lives of those who are best at doing this, although often at the expense of those not keeping up with the technical developments. However, I would not stress it too hard - the environmental crisis shows that it is not rectilinear, and that what may appear to be an evolution forward can lead to a dead end.

Litt: Erik Reinert: How rich countries got rich and why poor countries stay poor, Carroll & Graf 2007 describes "development" as increased knowledge of production techniques and ability to ensure that knowledge and put it into practice.

On the other hand, one should note that the reason of the constant growth of the world market system is that there are economies of scale in industry, and that the biggest is the winner. With the result that more and more raw materials are drawn into the system, and bigger and bigger peripheries are created.

Since I have noted what is new for each hegemonic cycle, I should add the points of Bunker and Ciccantell (se below):
- the Dutch cut the costs for transports, industrializing shipbuilding
- the British cut production costs, utilizing coal for energy and iron production, and later for transports
- the Americans widened economies of scale radically with the big corporation and cut transport costs with petrol.

Litt: Stephen Bunker & Paul Siccantell: Globalization and the race for resources, Johns Hopkins University Press 2005.

Kondratiev cycles

This section contains the so-called Kondratiev cycles as a background factor for the behavior of social movements. However, it misses completely to describe how social movements themselves affect the Kondratiev cycles.

Presumably, the world system's "normal" state is just speculation. After all, it must be easier to make money on money, and not have to care about messy production. But faced with threatening movement mobilizations, the policy makers of the world conceivably pull themselves together and run the world "seriously" for a while, if possible, to attract the more privileged in movement mobilization to fall away and instead support themselves.

For example, the French Revolution punctured the the speculation phase - "Kondratiev B" - which had ruled 1775-1795, and caused the world's policymakers to channel the resources into the latest technology and the latest, most efficient production methods, i.e. textile industrial machinery.

The speculation period 1830-1850 ended when Chartism and the revolutions of 1848 forced the rulers to be more serious - in that case by focusing on the new technology railways and steam engines

And after the speculation period 1875-1895, it was the increasingly organized labor movement that made it necessary to focus on steel and electricity.

The focus on cars and household appliances after speculation period 1920-1940 is almost too obviously a result of the successful labor movements in the Nordic countries and the U.S. together with the success of national movements in Russia, India and China.

And the seemingly endless extension of speculation period 1975- is correspondingly a result of the absence of effective popular movement mobilization. The "global justice movement" was/is primarily a mobilization of peasants and slum population in the South, and it has only succeeded to change the policies of some of the southern countries; mobilizations in the core of the system has not responded sufficiently to make a "serious" response to occur.

Litt on Kondratiev cycles: Carlota Perez: Technological revolution and Financial Capital, Edward Elgar, 2003; Chris Freeman and Francisco Loucã: As time goes by, Oxford University Press 2001. None of them mention anything about social movements, however.



Chapter 3. People's movements before the world market system

The classical empires

One should perhaps mention, as a background, that the problem of the ancient empires was not the great wealth flows in general, but massive warfare and enslavement.

What should definitely be mentioned is that the goal of social movements in antiquity was generally eliminating debt, and that they often succeeded in doing so, because States had to delete debts to maintain any kind of legitimacy. Perhaps it was this that made later ideological elaborate movements like Christianity and Islam so eager to thematize debt.

My thematization is not consistent however. Christianity and Islam were most heavily hostile to debt, Hinduism considerably less. Perhaps because the Roman Empire was unique among ancient empires never to write off debts. According to Roman law all ownership was absolute, even debts.

I think I have also been too niggardly against Confucianism; according to Graeber it was a sort of compromise between the Empire and the popular movements such as Buddhism, Taoism and Mohism which allowed the empire to survive by becoming paternalistic and put the farmers' welfare foremost - including by becoming equally hostile to debts as the post-imperial regimes in the West.
In any case all these movements implied a huge success for ordinary people - slavery, not the least debt slavery, vanished, wars slimmed to reasonable levels and taxes as well. This should be emphasized.

Litt: David Graeber: Debt - The First 5000 years, describing how the debt and debt slavery was a natural consequence of klasskillnaders emergence of a gift economy. The Roman principle kindness toward speculation and indebtedness has been pointed out by Michael Hudson: Entrepreneurs: From the Near Eastern takeoff to the Roman collapse, in David Landes, et al, eds: The Invention of Enterprise: Entrepreneurship from Ancient Mesopotamia to Modern Times, Princeton University Press in 2010.


It should be clear that Christianity was a movement among the relatively well-established middle class of the urban-based artisans and small merchants who suffered the ravages of empire. And that it was successful because its participants behaved solidarily, not lony towards each other but also towards other related parties, such as during the two major epidemics which decimated the empire's population of the 200s and 300s. It offered a social security that were not available elsewhere - like Hamas today. No public health existed at that time. And non-Christians showed mostly a startling egotism and thought only of their own skin.

One can also point out the practical feminism of the church because that drew women to the Christian movement: it prohibited abortions. Such were common in the Roman Empire. Children were an economic burden, and many children scattered heritage, and for that reason men often forced therefore women to deadly abortions.

Litt: Rodney Stark: The Rise of Christianity, Princeton University Press, 1996.

Maybe it meant something that Christianity also offered the poor to be part of the Roman Empire potlatch culture - "widow's mite" as worth as much as the rich man's gold.

Litt: Peter Brown: Through the eye of a needle, Princeton University Press, 2014.

Christianity was not the only movement that flourished at this time. There were manyof them, all of which primarily characterized by intense public dance events, a kind of ancient rave parties, as a way of expressing community in the chaotic imperial reality. Best known is the Dionysian movement. Some researchers hold for likely that the Christian movement was doing so too, before it became a hierarchy with one foot in the state. But it separated out by also organizing permanently and with a solidarity content, resulting in its hegemony.

Litt: Barbara Ehrenreich: Dancing in the Streets, a history of collective joy, Henry Holt 2006


It should be noted that Islam was a kind of compromise between capitalists and people, based on that debt bondage was totally forbidden. The loser of this alliance was of course States, which were notoriously unstable in the Islamic world.

Litt: David Graeber: Debt.


It is a pity that the Ming uprising is so little known in detail. However, one should be able to say that it started as a series of simultaneous local uprisings, many of them inspired by the popular religiosity, which because of its diversity exceeded the regime's resources. The country seemed rather fragmented into a lot of local regimes of warlord character; a major cause of Ming's final victory was that this movement succeeded in creating an alliance between the popular uprisings and the local upper classes on a national, anti-Mongolian foundation, and focused more on protecting and building up than other groups who mostly fought and plundered.

Litt: John W Dardess: The transformation of messianic uprising and the founding of the Ming dynasty, in The Journal of Asian Studies Vol 29 no 3, 1970.

Something should also be attributed to Taoist and Buddhist-inspired syncretic secret societies which continued to make life insecure for authorities. For example, if the grand White Lotus rebellion in central China, in the newly colonized border between North and South, which almost brought the regime to collapse in the 1790s. The background was the growing corruption plus the regime's attempt to exterminate all opposition to this - ambitious empire building", as Wang calls it. The regime could only be saved by backing off from much of its control, and by handing over to the local elites.

Litt: Wensheng Wang: White Lotus rebels and South China pirates, Harvard University Press, 2014


Chapter 4. Local communities' defense against the world system

Tax Revolt and the Puritans

The text suggests the tax revolt motivated and organized by the Christian reform movements existed only in the Netherlands. But this is wrong, there were many more of them in France, even if these ended in compromise, and not in victory. Possibly because they were led by regional aristocrats instead of merchant interests as in the Netherlands. Aristocrats were easier to conform with small concessions like safe jobs in the emerging state machine.

Litt: Wayne te Brake: Shaping History, University of California Press, 1998. Geoffrey Parker: The Dutch Revolt, Penguin 1977

It should be noted that the underlying factors of all "early mdoern" revolts were that the state had an unending appetite for resources while the tax base never developed as fast as the economy. It never succeeded in taxing the growing elements of it, i.e. industry and trade, since they were more skilful in sneaking. So when opposition appeared, the states were not able to contain it.

It was however only in Europe a disaffected upper class faction was able to unite, momentarily, with poor peoples' movements, based in a program of equal value. problably this was linked to the stable anchoring of a regime in a class in Europe while most regimes were only a dynasty.

Litt: Jack Goldstone: Revolution and rebellion in the early modern world, University of California Press 1991.

French Revolution

Here it should again be noted that the French Revolution broke out after fifteen years of speculation economy.

And that the British system that was established then was based on the "serious" investment-driven mechanization of the textile industry.

Litt: Fernand Braudel: World time, Gidlunds 1988 Florence Gauthier: Political Economy in the eighteenth century: Popular or despotic?, in Economic Thought 4.1, 2015

It is insufficiently noted in the text that the big bread rebellions were nationwide, and led to government lost its grip on the food.

Likewise, it is poorly presented that the farmers constantly struggled to get away from taxes and charges to nominal landowners, as well as defended their collective rights and commons those tried to revoke. This struggle had been the main mover that ensured that the National Assembly was so willing to reform as it actually was. But as the assembled got by, their social standing close to large landowners made them increasingly conservative as time went by and they increasingly defended ownership and market prices. The peasants, who had enthusiastically supported the revolution in the beginning therefore became increasingly disillusioned. In some places it went so far that they began to support the court again, thinking that you could play one authority against the other. This tendency became even more pronounced since the National Assembly and the convention, in order to get money, nationalized church property and began to cut into its organization. For farmers, this meant bureaucratic interference in parish life, and French farmers reacted as violently as Dalecarlians made against Gustav Vasa's withdrawal of church bells.

Litt: P.M. Jones: The peasantry in the French Revolution, Cambridge University Press 1988

The Periphery

It should be mentioned that the great Asian empires began to crumble, partly as a result of popular uprisings, right before the Europeans could seize the inheritance. China thus began a cycle of peasant uprising in the late 1700s, In India Moghul Empire was broken by the Sikhs and the Mahrattas and the Jat farmer rebellion around Delhi in the 16th century, while Iran and the Ottoman Empire rather was worn out by the claims of peripheral political leaders, and by increased difficulty in collecting taxes to pay the new more expensive methods of waging war.

Litt: C A Bayly: The birth of the modern world, Blackwell 2004; Jack Goldstone: Revolution and rebellion in the early modern world, University of California Press 1991; Wensheng Wang: White Lotus Rebels and South China Pirates, Crisis and Reform in the Qing Empire, Harvard University Press 2014


Chapter 5. Wage labourers' defense against capital owners

It should also be noted the system's "serious" response to the mobilizations of 1848, the 1880s and 1930s, in the form of investments in new technologies and real economic growth.

Mass market and industry

Michael Burawoy's ideas about the different working regimes are poorly integrated into the chapter as a whole, one might think. Maybe they should be written like this instead (from "Labour movements' opportunities to act ..." up to "... be another reason for division among the workers":

Workers' ability to resist the capitalists sovereignty varies depending on what form that sovereignty takes, i.e what the labor regime looks like. And it varies over time and space.

In the early industrial society, the activities were small and easily monitored by the capitalist himself, much like master artisans oversaw their workshops in still earlier times. Often the capitalist was an artisan master, and mastered himself every stage of production, which made it possible for the workers to some extent to identify with him. This has been called despotic or entrepreneurial control. It was difficult for the workers in these circumstances to assert their rights, but not impossible as shown by the apprentices and masters in the Middle Ages entered into collective agreements. The workers' disadvantage in the workplace could be offset by the city or even country organization based on the prestige of professional knowledge.

When the workshops grew in the late 1800s, they required a more collective organization to supervise the workers. The first were organized after the traditional military principles, with foremen who supervised the workers and managers who supervised the foremen, often in several layers. This form of control has been called hierarchical or patriarchal. Foremen's control was the most direct because their close contact with the production, and was often brutal and arbitrary. It was against this brutal control, rather than against low wages and long working hours, workers' struggles around 1900 targeted. The pent-up opposition got its release in the popular movement wave of 1905-1912, which forced the capitalists to create new forms of control.

A special form of this hierarchical regime is what Burawoy calls the corporate state. This means that the government assumes much of the responsibility to control the workers at the workplace and in society at large. This is usually common in capital-poor countries that are aiming to rapid industrialization and has been practiced in the USSR and Poland, as well as in South Korea, Brazil and South Africa. The workers are forced to fight the state directly, and indeed, it was also the labor movement that drove the democratization of all the above cases except the Soviet Union.

The new form of control that was created after the popular movement wave 1905-1912 has been called bureaucratic or technical. It is based on control built into the technical structures of the type conveyor belt and on fixed rules enshrined in a mixture of collective agreements and unilateral dictates of the executive management. The workers' resistance is here often aimed at changing the rules to their advantage and uses manipulation of the technical architecture to that end.

Of course, this has not been an even process. The despotic regime remains in small, capital-poor and peripheral businesses, and the bureaucratic one never hit a breakthrough in other than the leading companies. The various co-existing labor regimes have resulted in a fragmentation of the working class that will be explored more in Chapter 8.

Litt: Richard Edwards: Contested terrain, Basic Books, 1979; Michael Burawoy: The politics of production, Verso 1985th

There are clear signs that a new form of control is about to establish itself, and that could be called commercial because it consists of individual bids and contracts in a kind of farming-out system. No fixed labor movement repertoire has been developed yet in that case, but some researchers link the increased use of so-called "social movement unionism" to this one, that is, the mobilization of local communities in labor disputes to this form of labor regime.

Litt: For example, Beverly Silver, Forces of Labor, Cambridge University Press 2003

The Swedish labor movement

The strong Swedish strike movement in the 1920s is mentioned as a source of strength to the welfare state policy after 1932. But one should also mention that this strike movement was given a flying start with what has been called "the hunger riots" in 1917. As a matter of fact they were not riots, but highly organized bread seizures in which workers got about "fair" prices for food as in traditional custom.

The first and most iconic bread seizure took place in Västervik in April 1917 and was organized by a committee related to the major trade unions. Then followed bread seizures a couple of dozen sites, including in Seskarö in Norrbotten where it developed into outright occupation of an entire community for a few days.

The movement was successful in that the old labor movement demands for universal suffrage and the eight-hour day was decided by Parliament. This led to enhanced self-esteem, to almost one hundred per cent union organizing and to the powerful strike movement in the 20s.

Litt: Sigurd Klockare: Svenska revolutionen 1917-1918, Prisma 1967, Hans Nyström: Hungerupproret 1917, Zelos 1994.

Not only Jan Myrdal has certified the very high cultural standard of the Swedish labor movement in the period until the 1950s (and the precipitous decline thereafter), even his ideological opponent, the Social Democrat Arne Helldén made so in his book Social arrogans, Carlsson 1994. Also Jonathan Rose should be mentioned, see ch 10.

Labour movements as junior partners

Regarding the general strike in Hong Kong in 1925-26 it should be noted that it was not only the Chinese merchants in Guangdong who demanded the strike to end - if it had been, it would have probably not been a problem. But even among the strikers themselves the doubts grew about why they alone should sacrifice themselves for Chinese national targets. And the Communist Party, who ran the nationalist line, used quite arrogant methods, often violence, to enforce its position against the local unions which primarily defended their members' interests. Which didn't reduced the doubt.

Litt: Robert James Horrocks: The Guangzhou-Hong Kong Strike, 1925-1926; Hong Kong Workers in an Anti-Imperialist Movement The University of Leeds, Department of East Asian Studies, 1994.

Chapter 6. System Peripheraies' defense against the center

The Russian Revolution

Of course it should be noted how the Russian challenge helped to propel the "serious" investment-driven since 1945.

The European periphery

In the book, I argue that the national movement in Poland was an elite project. So it was until the uprising in 1863. Then the urban middle class began approaching farmers in much the same way as in the rest of the European periphery - with schools, libraries and glorification of peasant culture.
Litt: Maciej Bartkowski: Recovering nonviolent history; civilian resistance in liberation struggle, Lynne Rienner 2013.

Islamist populism

A perspective that does not at all appear in the book is that Islamism flourished under the so-called debt crisis, and that Islam is hostile to the interest rate. Islam must have been very handy for those affected by the IMF diktats.

Final words

A simple reference to the countries of the South increased confidence after 2000 and to Cape 10 should be made.


Chapter 7. Peasants' defense against food market


Possibly, agrarian movements should be placed before national ones; as a rule the latter are an outgrowth of the first.

System centre: cooperation and world market resistance

A propos French agrarian movements, the Wine War of 1907 should be noted. The wine growes of Languedoc stroke against synthetic wines and refused to pay taxes; when the government conceded they went further, inventing the AOC principle - Appellation d'Origine Controllée, a kind of social copyright controlled by the community.

Litt: Georgees Ferré: 1907, La guerre du vin, Loubatières 1997.

The Mexican Revolution

Here I have completely forgotten the Cristeros! That is, the Christian motivated revolt against the revolutionary regime in the 20's which, although launched by the Church for selfish reasons, were enthusiastically joined by the farmers in western Mexico because the regime had ignored the peasants once the rebellious Morelos had got its due. Indeed, the government renewed its interest in the land reform soon after.


Chapter 8. Marginalized people's aspiration for equality

Nineteen Century Feminism

The introduction is somewhat confusing. It becomes clearer if it is clear from the beginning that the 19th century feminism is primarily a creation of the evangelically awakened middle class in the industrialized UK and USA, and to some degree Scandinavia. About the evangelical movement, more is to be said in Ch 10.

In countries without that awakening, the feminists were incredibly weaker and couldn't assert themselves until the 20th century.

There should also be noted someting about methods. The evangelically motivated personal perfection against prostitution and liquor was a spearhead in the struggle for suffrage, and petitions were also used as a kind of gallup.

The decline of the movement in the early 20th century should be clearer - since the participants defined themselves as middle class they felt a stronger identification with class than with sex. In Britain feminists engaged in preserving the Empire, in the US they engaged against Communists, and in Germany they engaged for the Vaterland.

Litt: Richard Evans: The feminists, Croom Helm 1977


Settler colonies pariah movements

Settler colonists are not the only conceivable ethnically exclusive classes, ie ethnically exclusive classes nowadays not necessarily base their advantage in land ownership. Common in our days are ethnically exclusive capitalist network, for example, Chinese in Southeast Asia, Indians in East Africa, and Lebanese in West Africa and Latin America. It is rare that such classes provoke social movements of the excluded, according to Amy Chua; more commonly, it results in populist party politics organized by the competing domestic elites.

However, Chua believes that many authoritarian regimes of our days are rooted in such ethnic exclusivity, for example, Marcos in the Philippines or Suharto in Indonesia who both protected the Chinese takeover; such regimes often provoke cross-class democratic movements of the type that gradually undid both Marcos and Suharto. Typically, it is the indigenous elites who both organize and draw the greatest benefits of such movements. McAdam, Tarrow & Tilly, for example, describes how attempts to parallel organize more mass based claims against Marcos suffered a rather inglorious defeat in the name of unity as soon as the movement began to grow in 1986.

Litt: Amy Chua: World on fire; how Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global instability, Doubleday, 2003; Doug McAdam, Sidney Tarrow and Charles Tilly: Dynamics of contention, Cambridge University Press, 2001.


Chapter 9. Civil society's self-defense

The defense of the resource base

It should be noted early in the text that there are two radically different ways of relating to the environmental crisis. One characteristic of primarily the European settler colonies, emphasizing the wilderness threatened by men. The other is most noticeable in the farming and fish communities in the South, which stresses the defense of the resource base against different footlose profiteers. Europe lies somewhere in between, with the coexistence of both.

The former approach generally leads to the most spineless opportunism - if it is "man" that threatens "nature", it is tempting to ally with anyone, even with the devastating big corporations - we're all on the wrong side of the barricade. If instead it is about the defense of one's own resource base, one do not make these mistakes; then it is clear from the outset where the threat is.

In the international environmental movement discourse, the latter approach has become known as "environmental justice". It is a somewhat improper concept because environmental crisis is not fundamentally about "fair share" but is a conflict between the profiteers and the direct producers who fall into their path.

Litt: Timothy Doyle: Environmental movements in minority and majority vote, worlds, Rutgers University Press, 2005; Ramachandra Guha and Juan Martinez Alier, Varieties of environmentalism, Earthscan 1997.

The Narmada movement should be described in a more serious way than I did in the book (I did not have any good books when I wrote it). It was, as I say, one of the three movements that prompted the rulers partially successful disarmament attempt in Rio in 1992.

It is possible that you can take this description more or less straight down:

In the early nineties, Indian farmers run a sophisticated campaign to save the Narmada valley in western India, which aroused great interest worldwide. They lost the fight, which has attracted less interest. Now Alf Nilsen Gunvald at the University of Bergen summarized the experience in the book Dispossession and Resistance in India - the river and the rage, Routledge 2010.

Save the Narmada Movement had two roots according to Nilsen. The creator of the mass base was the ten-year local, very successful struggle against what he calls everyday despotism, i.e the oppression various local bosses exerts against the peasants. It was these successes that made the peasants daringly enough to question the diktats of the state and squeeze it to make concessions.

The second root was the widespread movement in India against the dams after the success against the Tehri Dam in Uttarakhand, gathered for a meeting and adopted the so-called Anandwan Declaration in 1988, where high dams was declared contrary to the interests of the people. This broad movement of the urban middle class people came to focus on the Sardar Sarovar, the largest dam in the Narmada project and contribute to much of its international impact.

The nerve of the local movement was peasant resistance to deportation. According to the movement's own calculation, a million peasants risked to be flooded, and the Indian states' qualifications in terms of compensation was miserable. The first years of the campaign was all about trying to squeeze them and the Indian central government to the binding promises of compensation. Only when this had failed, the movement turned against the dam project as a whole.

Today the dams are built and the struggle can be said to be lost. One reason for this as Nilsen emphasizes is that the dams meant so much for the Indian upper classes that it could not afford to lose - dams, during the entire period of independence, was a key strategy in their "original accumulation of capital". By allowing taxpayers and international donors to pay the dams and by allowing farmers to pay the land is flooded, the industrial and agro-industrial bourgeoisie was able to get rich for nothing. The governments that have been led by them has taken pride in deceiving the farmers in every way, with and without violence.

The Narmada famers' "struggle infrastructure" was not strong enough to resist, and they gradually gave up, village by village. The first crack came pretty soon, as early as 1991 when the movement in Gujarat fell for one supposedly serious bid by the state government, which after a decade of harrowing was found to consist of pure air.

Another reason that Nilsen just mentions is that the Gandhian strategy of the movement might be insufficient, given the nature of resistance. The Gandhian strategy, or at least the strategy Narmada movement used, focuses pretty heavily on shaming the other party - and it proved in this case be completely wasted. Capital accumulation knows no shame.

Therefore, it is perhaps not surprising that the fringe farmers today, threatened by the initial accumulation of capital in eastern India, turn to other sources of inspiration, mainly Maoist. It is still unclear, however, if its focus on violence will prove more effective than the Narmada movement focus on winning sympathies. As Medha Patkar, the most prominent leader of the Narmada movement put it: If the Indian government decides to use all its ability of violence against us, we have no chance. Possibly, some kind of synthesis in the style of Zapatistas be most effective.

One of the factors that contributed to the Narmada Movement's global impact was its focus on alternative development. The meeting of ten thousand people's movement activists in Harsud in the Narmada valley in 1989 was the largest mobilization ever for alternatives to dams and urban middle class-dominated development. But remarkably little came out of this. The movement's elementary schools in poor fringe areas, with a focus on the fringe areas' needs, have been admired, but the movement's peasant activists according to Nilsen very different answers to what alternative development would be.

Partly because the movement is so internally heterogeneous. There is, as I said subsistence farmers fringe not included in the Indian caste system, called Adivasis, but there are also ordinary farmers who sell food to the cities. And their immediate needs are different. A particularly problematic relationship the movement representatives talks quietly about is the internal class stratification among the activists. In the intensive agricultural areas, the wealthy peasants carry the movement; their workers certainly places up to manifestations but have no opportunity to influence the movement decisions.

However, as long as the needs are different from India's dominant classes' needs perhaps it doesn't matter.

Litt: Alf Gunvald Nilsen: Dispossession and Resistance in India - the river and the rage, Routledge 2010

Chapter 10. Popular movement system

In the review of the overall social movement experience, there is much to say about the period up to 1848 that there will only be glimpses of in the text. There were, in the system center, two parallel traditions after about 1760.

There was the republican tradition, with roots in the medieval communal movements and the mobilizations that led to the revolutions in North America aqnd France. Its leading principle was "we are the people, and the state/municipalities should be led according to our welfare". The leading principle of action was solidarity. It was strongest in France, in the mediterranean and in Latin America, it had the state as a focus, and it was dominant in the labour and national movement traditions.

There was the evangelical traditions, with roots in the medieval heretic movements and the Dutch and English revolutions. Its leading principle was the personal perfection, and the leading principle of action was bearing witness against evil. It was strongest in the UK and USA, it had a focus in everyday life, and it was dominant in the feminist and pacifist traditions.

Litt: About republicanism: Jill Harsin: Barricades; the war of the streets in revolutionary Paris 1830-1848, Palgrave 2002, Maurice Agulhon: The republic in the village, Cambridge University Press 1982, and Ronald Aminzade: Ballots and Barricades, Princeton University Press 1993. Without Europe: C.A. Bayly & E.F. Biagini: Giuseppe Mazzini and the Globalization of Democratic Nationalism, Oxford University Press 2008.

Ablut the evangelical tradition: Michael Young: Bearing witness against sin, University of Chicago Press 2006.

An interesting hybrid was the self-educational tradition that was strongest in the UK and Scandinavian labour movement, exceptionally efficient as long as it lasted.

Litt: Jonathan Rose: The intellectual life of the British working classes, Yale University Press 2002

Reasonably one should also mention the corresponding traditions in at least India, Islam countries and China having a bearing on the social movement development there (aside from the imported republican tradition). This I know sadly little about. For India's part, I know the bhakti tradition, important for Gandhi, for Islam countries Islam and for China the secret societies. But was there more? - It is noteworthy that the indigenous movement traditions all had a focus on collective self-help and to act in everyday life; the European republican tradition is unique in trying to get hegemony in the system as a whole. For better and for worse.

Future movements

This book was written when the social movement wave of 1994-2001 was still a living memory. Mobilization now are much more national in scope. But a new edition should show the victories and shortcomings of the wave - the collapse of the Washington institutions, more power for the south, even within the social movement world.

And the family farmer movement is now possible to describe better than it was in 2005.


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