Balancing Two Extremes w
Movement of M
A Middle Way
Transition Toward A New Paradigm
By John Wood
, Assistant Professor Rose State College
Britain’s Tory Party anointed former Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher the nickname “TINA” in 1980 at
their convention, which launched her candidacy’s tough economic policy.
TINA, the infamous acronym
for “There Is No Alternative
adopted by free trade activists.
an economic philosophy that unabashedly dominates
and obscures other alternatives
osing this hegemonic philosophy though are activists
World Social Forum (
in the last
4 of 5 ye
ars at Porto Alegre, Brazil. These activis
alternatively want to work on
and tolerant dialogues popularly sloganized as
“Another World is Possible
and are in direct conflict with
(Fisher and Ponniah 2003).
A hegemonic world is like having a government without a h
opposition. It becomes a kind of dictatorship. It’s like putting a plastic bag
over the world, and preventing it from breathing. Eventually, it will be torn
open (Roy 2002: 131).
ardt and Negri (2000:101) agree
: “the ruling ideology abou
t the present form of globalization
is that there is no alternative.” Carlos Tiburcio of the Action for a Financial Transaction in Supporting
Citizens (ATTAC), speaking to an organization committee press conference a day before the official
ny, in a similar light, told an auditorium that the war on terrorism
, like neoliberalism,
"an attempt to impose a single line of thought throughout the world." He argued further that: "That line of
thought, one that crimi
nalizes anyone who opposes neo
liberal globalization, will not stand” (Sullivan
opposition to hegemony is pervasive among activists, there is little a
greement as to what to
do with the
centralization of authority within activism itself
, as an outcome of a counter
with the emergence of transnational civil society, the
, has become and
remains “an arena of struggle, a fragmented and contested area” (Keck and Sikkink 1998: 33
way, there seems to be
a lot of
agreement as to the
need for social change,
there is little agreement
on how to do it and the direction that change might take them.
Another World Is
leaves open an alternative, maybe, even many of them
activists, such as
and Burbach (2000)
, and ot
a way to get at societal change
of some sort
These authors argue that it is the
paradigm, or the “money paradigm”
they call it, that
really this dominant paradigm, rather than institutions
themselves that activists at
rld Trade Organization (WTO)
tests and at the WSF are
calling for today. They want a
with a different rubric, what these authors ca
an emphasis on saving the environment and
human rights. Other scholars like
paradigm as one that “would challenge both the viability and
desirability of conventional v
alues, economic structures and social arrangements.” They argue that this can
only happen if leaders from the world society revise their respective agendas. These authors argue further
what they call
a new “Global Citizen’s Movement” may
be the k
what they call the
toward this new paradigm. For this to happen,
civil society must unify “into a coherent voice for redirecting global development” (Raskin
while some scholars articulate a need for a paradigm shift and a possible end point,
there is no consensus among activists or s
cholars on how to transform the world
creation or vehicle of
I argue t
in order to consider a paradigm shift,
currently in social change movements
must grapple with two key philosophical tensions that have historically di
vided activists and have
a large barrier in uniting with the common goal
and alternative world. The tension
centers on how to unite. Should
, on the one hand,
fragmented movement on t
he Left unite one
day among a “M
ovement of movements
, or on the other hand, should activists
preserve the cur
, considered by some movement activists as a s
However, this paper takes both philosophies to task in search for a middle ground.
For social movement scholars like Charles Tilly (1
986: 546), fragmenta
tion is only a first
stage before it
transforms into a “unified challenge from disparate and changing coalitions.” However, many activist
scholars embrace thi
s fragmented unity and state: “
We have absolutely no intention to making ourselves
2003: 88). This means that there is currently no clear direction for these
movements to go. Choose a homogenous
type of unification
the potential of tremendou
but yet may invite
suffocation through a lack of re
cognition of difference
, or the path of a
d diversity with a diffuse and, therefore,
and a cacophony of
ineffective strategies to move these movements forward? Which pat
h is th
e correct one? Why are activist
forced to p
ick between two stark choices? Is there another way? Will the uniting or continued
fragmentation of these movements
“tap on the glass”
transition the world into a New Sustainability Paradigm?
Before I answer th
latter questions, let us
ckground on why we have been placed
between a “rock and a hard place” in terms of direction.
discuss in this article two
of unity and diversity amon
on the Left and
“Movement of Movements
that will put in perspective a third way for
movement activists to co
nsider in transitioning toward
a new paradigm.
The tension is a
debate over how
diverse social movements on a global scale can either hang together or sepa
rately toward a better world.
Horn (2000) argues that many scholars fear that extreme forms of diversity can lead to cultural relativism,
conversely, embracing an hegemonic system, which is an extreme form of unity,
dictatorships, blind sp
ots, and marginalization of the minority.
theoretical tensions, I argue, are between two
renowned social theorists
and Antonio Gramsci.
Both scholars differ in how they describe
unity in terms of a hegemony
relations toward p
, Gramsci (1971)
basis for a
,” or a powerful
change, counter to the dominant hegemonic force.
He describes hegemony a
s the way in which dominant
groups maintain their supremacy
through what he calls, “spontaneous consent” of subordinate
The Movement of movements is currently fragmented, evidenced by the fact that within the movement itself, there
are many names. For ex
ample, Callinicos (2003) argues that “antiglobalization” is not a proper name for a
movement that is actually proglobalization. He notes further that Activist and Writer Susan George found, at the
2001 World Social Forum, that the movement is proglobaliza
tion because “we are in favour of sharing friendship,
culture, cooking, solidarity, wealth and resources” (Callinicos 2003: 133). The most popular name is “Anti
globalization movement,” but includes “Global Justice Movement,” “Movement of movements”, and “
Solidarity Movement” (Milstein 2001).
Initial calls to activists have had strong reactions against the name; therefore,
by listening to those in the field, it might be more accurate to call it right now the Movement of movements. This
moniker for th
e movement is useful, but not necessarily a name any one group, I am studying, or person otherwise.
“Tap on the glass” is a metaphor borrowed from chemistry. It is essentially a catalyst. C
atalysts work by changing
the activation energy, in other words
, the minimum energy needed for a reaction to occur. Basically, this latency
hypothesis simile to chemistry describing the need for a “magic bullet” type paradigm shift described by the Tellus
Institute as “l
ike a super
saturated liquid that needs only a t
glass to precipitate a crystalline form.”
A political prisoner who died in an Italian prison in 1937 because of his writings.
groups through a negotiated construction of a political and ideological consensus. He argues that such a
sense of dominance is
unquestioned as it i
“common sense,” which
who are different
However, Smart (1985) argues that Foucault conceptualizes a different notion of
hegemony. Hegemony for Foucault, Smart argues, is a set of practices that
construct human subjects and
truth claims, creating specific forms of social cohesion in society.
For Foucault, unity is suspect. Karst
(1986), for example, argues that many oppressed social movements have questioned assimilationist, or
have rejected the “path of belonging,” and have instead followed a
. This means that, for Gramsci, un
ity is more universal and potent
, while for Foucault, unity is
mented and weak in response and, therefore,
to a suffocating Gramscian unity, one that
disregards difference. While Gramsci’s unity might be powerful and efficient in creating social change,
Foucault’s sense of unity respects differe
nce and internal conflicts in which
meaning that its acting alone weakens its capacity to unite.
In this way, the two extremes of unity dovetail in their respective understandings of power.
Where Foucault (1984) sees power as a web of subjectifying thought
in which all people are caught,
(1971) sees power as something exercised in a direct, overt manner. Therefore, while Gramsci
would support dire
confrontation, Foucualt (1984) sees that everyone has power over someone else and
direct confrontation is sometimes hyprocroful.
ci (1971) argues for an emancipatory struggle, or
historic bloc, against the hegemonic bourgeois.
However, Gramsci’s (1971) theory is rather limited in
that, according to Laclau and Mouffe (1985), his model is grounded only in a class struggle, without
ficient weight given to concerns for the multiplicity of issues involving sex, race, or the environment.
Because Foucault (1984) argues that everyone has some sort of power, a subjectifying force
which we are all a part of, the notion of unification for h
im is ludicrous and he would most likely describe
Gramsci’s view as self
serving and naive. Although such unification is denounced by Foucault (1980), he
is not totally against struggling against oppressive forces. However, he does condemn a unified strug
for transformation with a centralized command structure. His critique is centered on a fear of tyranny of
the majority and on oppressive hierarchies, thus,
emphasis on egalitarianism. This is evident o
fear of too much control of a
ation in which one group might try to impose on one another
Foucault (1980: 95) argues that “there is no locus of great Refusal, no soul of revolt, source of all
rebellions, or pure law of the revolutionary. Instead there is a plurality of resista
nces, each of them a
special case.” Kritzman (1988) argues that Foucault’s notion of genealogies is a construct to reveal how
an objective, or central, reason is not a natural force, but only contingent; therefore, malleable.
Foucault, then, is hesitant
to proscribe any organizing efforts that might seem oppressive, a philosophy to
New Social Movements (
), arising in the 1970s and 1980s,
seem to have been mired, with
their goal of activist organizing in a prefigurative way falling short in
obtaining a more egalitarian society.
Foucault’s hesitancy, though, has led many NSMs in a postmodern nihilism that undermines the efficacy
of social change. However, Gramsci neglects
today’s reality with powerful
and possibly militaristic
here difference is often lost through assimilation. The lingering reality is that the Gramscian
philosophy still seems alluring as it is a philosophy that can provide the capacity to justify and build a
powerful fighting force for change. On the other extr
eme, Foucault’s sense of unity is rather diffuse giving
r respecting difference. Nevertheless,
his conceptualization is a comparatively a weaker type of
unity and likel
y mired in conflict because of
differences over objectives, strategy
s (Zald and
McCarthy 1987). It seems that after the May 1968 revolts in France and the fall of the New Left thereafter,
Foucault’s notion of organizing took center stage with the New Social Movements (NSM’s) fragmented
identity politics. Identity politics
a lot of reflexivity and learning after the failure of the
Marxists to win in their class struggle on the Paris college campuses, representing the metamorphasis from
form of unity toward ineffecti
This sense of unification follows the
Webster’s Desk Dictionary’s
(1996) definition in which everyone is
d into “the state of being combined with others into a whole.”
Foucault does not necessarily say confrontation is wrong, but that such confrontation is often contradictory.
It seems that both theories have their positive and negative qualities. Historically though,
have pushed for more recognition of difference and since this is the case, I will discuss how
Foucault’s theory fin
ds credence with an emergent movement of the 1970s
Foucault’s Theory Wins Out With the NSMs
Although such debate is between the followers of these two social scholars who have never met, it is an
one because it seems that NSMs
e taken Foucault’s lead
the Foucaultian notion of
decentered identities, or identity politics, striving for recognition.
NSMs are important today because the
ovement of movements is what former Global Exchange activist Juliette Beck (2001) argues is
mposed of many groups associated with the NSM literature, such as the ecological, womens’, and gay
movements, but also peace, human rights, labor, anti
capitalists, democracy, civil rights, and even various
Seidman (1994) argues that post
modern social discourse has itself emerged thanks partly
. These NSMs are described by Melucci (1989) as social movements that tend to contest
dominant codes and create new discourses that avoid coherent and universalized alternative visions.
ns (1990) argues that these movements thrive on “life politics,” which critique a modernist search
for economic justice, much like past social movements; instead these movements seek to have a fulfilling
life for everyone and a respect for “others.” Best
and Kellner (1991) argue that constituent social
movements, such as the women’s and the gay and lesbian movements, as well as the ecological social
movements are constituent parts of the NSMs, which, they argue, embrace micropolitics as the legitimate
in which to struggle. NSMs, Best and Kellner (1991) argue, shied away from Marxism, as they found
such a theory oppressive and hegemonic. I
nstead, these movements embrace
political alliance, which these authors argue presupposed
postmodern principles of decentering and
A decentered politics makes sense because, as Zald and McCarthy (1987) find, some groups
resist working in coalition often fearing a loss of autonomy, control, or recognition over a campaign.
y, these scholars note that social movement organization
s may lose credit for their
among donors and supporters. Rose (2000) argues that between
labor and environmentalists, their incompatible interests and ideology ha
ve kept them divided and in
conflict. However, Carroll and Ratner (1996) contend that these decentered movements are so fragmented
that they cannot make change on a broader scale. B. Epstein (2001)
similarly fears that
much like their predecessors, which experience multiple tensions and clashes
because of structural and ideological rigidities. These clashes and their subsequent
fragmentation of efforts
leave no basis for a common i
nterpretative framework. This lack of a
framework in either
conceptualizing what injustice means to them or envisioning alternatives together has resulted in a
plurality of incommensurable, and particularistic frames, with narrow and monistic conceptualizations.
These narrow or monistic
frames place high barriers toward a common ground through affirming identity,
difference, and the self, over the mutual empowerment and recognition of others who might also share
their common plight.
Not surprising th
en, Hardt and Negri (2000) is in agree
ment with the World Socia
Forum activists, calling the M
ovement of movements
most interesting characteristic
today is their
diversity. This assortment of entities includes a wide range of divergent organizational structures from
to NGOs to students all the way to adherents of traditional politics, such as labor
and third world movements
an uneasy partnership that once seemed unlikely, but now is commonplace
in protests globally.
Tormey (2004) argues that the defeat of the communists in Paris in May 1968 wa
s simultaneously the emergence
of the NSMs, which rejected communism and labor.
Identity politics are based on either essentializations or social constructions
social scientists often emphasize the
importance and relevance of the latter and activists
the former more often, according to Fuller (1999).
Epstein (1991) argues, however, that for a
n effective strategy, social movements must have a
strategy, something that both NSMs and the postmodern theory that informs it, lacks.
that the political Right,
have a hegemonic project, one that resonates with America
prosperity, international standing, and “traditional” values. She contends that the postmodern celebration
of fragmentation is not a proper response: “the left needs to define its own hegemonic project” (p. 256).
reiterates Gramsci’s notion
hegemony and a construction of a
Aspirations in Gramsci
Carroll and Ratner (1996) agree
that since NSMs are fragmented, or separate and
uncoordinated, they are weak and incapable of cre
ating sufficient social change. Therefore, they argue,
ould search for ways for these
ovements of movements to work toward common goals in
coordination for the sake of their mutual empowerment.
Social movement literature seems to back up the
fact that coalitions are empowering. To illustrate,
Ganz (2000) argues that coalition building i
ncreases group resources and thu
s will improve their strategic
capacity. Zald and McCarthy (1987) add th
at more resources mean more social movement
Additionally, Gerhards and Rucht (1992) find that coalition
building improves political support for their
particular demands. Gramsci, i
still has an influence on these social movement
rates that Gramsci also felt th
change had to be centered cognitively with his
emphasis on a cultural revolution, not to seize power, but to challenge the domination of the ruling class in
the ideological sphere, and expand people’s sense of the “limits of the possible,” bustin
g the myth that
“there is no alternative,”
through legitimizing alternative intellectual resources and institutions, while
delegitimizing other conceptions of how life could be organized (p. 53). Additionally, the Marxian notion
of “Revolution,” even a mo
dified one is
not lost on this contemporary M
ovement of movements. For
example, the S
outh End Press Collective
edited a book called
Talking About A Revolution
in the introduction that “the lessons of the last 30 years have led these movemen
t leaders to see
‘revolution’ and that ephemeral promised land of justice, less as an immediate aim and more as a gradual
(p. xi). Gramsci notes that a
hegemony would involve building bridges to other
movements and social groups.
, a counter
hegemony still assumes the problem of assimilation,
which has broken up many social movements
in years past
. Historically, as one can see, in the following
examples, this is nothing new. The first example is that of the early 1960’s Civil Right
s movement. Even
after some of this movement’s victories, such as the Civil Rights Acts, the radical Black Power movement
emerged (Carmichael and Hamilton 1967). These authors contend that the Black Power movement
severely criticized the Civil Rights comm
itment to integrate and its over
reliance on liberal whites. They
tried to separate from all whites and push for their own goals, organization, and culture. Cornell (1988)
argues that Red Power soon followed the Black Power movement. The assimilation of
he notes, had been in existence for more than 60 years by this time. Groups such as the American Indian
Movement (AIM) claimed the right to govern their own lands, as well as to have some voice in Bureau of
Indian Affair decisions in Was
hington D.C. (Cornell 1988). Cornell also argues that American Indians
have fought to preserve and recover tradition
language, customs, and rituals
in an often fierce
inclined movement. A decade later the gay and lesbian social movement s
ought a sexual
identity that did not seem to fit societal norms (Steven Epstein
1987). In the 1970s, Steven Epstein
argues, there was a clear shift in the movement from assimilation to a goal of removing the homosexual
stigma and creating a positive iden
tity. Even women’s movements had shifted from assimilationist ideals
by the 1970s, because many women found that assimilation seemed to just legitimate and perpetuate
Possibly not unlike the WSF slogan of “Another World Is Possible.”
This paragraph is the only reference to Steven Epstein, all other Epstein references are for Barbara Epstein or B.
exclusion from many social and political activities (Young 1990). Women at this time beg
an to create
only institutions and safe places to talk and trade stories.
would a counter
hegemony really respect difference?
Would it at the same time move
beyond its assimilative proclivities?
The NSMs fragmented precisely because of heg
emony of the
Gramscian unity of 196
0s. It seems though indigenous people of Mexican
powerful example of a movement that has found a formidable, unique, and inspirational organizational
framework via the Internet, opposing thei
r enemy without a hegemonic project.
And yet, these indigenous
people, who call themselves the
embrace the Foucaultian politic
Between the two extremes of Foucault’s fragmentation w
ith its emphasis on recognition and Gramsci’s
empowering hegemonic bloc, an indigenous movement has found some wiggle
room between the two
This movement is important to note, especially because t
he organizational structure of a
nd “leaderless” resistance at the protests in Seattle and thereafter was largely inspired by
the Zapatista movement
ignited five years prior in 1994. Although there is a diversity of skeptical
responses to globalization, they seem to hold a common i
nspirational story. Activist
scholar Chris Dixon
(2003), who helped coordinate the Seattle protest through the Anarchist Direct Action Network, stated
that he was inspired by the Zapatistas’ philosophies of social movement diversity. He argues that it all
started more than ten years ago, at that time, collective voices percolated and then subsequently b
over in the little
Chiapas, Mexico. Hayduk (2003) argues that the Zapatista and the anti
apartheid campaign before it were imp
ecursors to these
. The Zapatistas
articulated a sharp critique of the impact of both the “globalists’” philosophy of “neoliberalism” and
exclusive international meetings, such as those for the WTO, World Bank, IMF, NAFTA, the FTAA,
NAFTA agreement, which was a free trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United
had the impact of privatizing their commonly
held and indigenously
owned land in Chiapas.
Hayduk (2003) notes that the Zapatista
launched their movement th
e day the NAFTA took effect, January
, 1994. John Sellers, Ruckus Society director, described the Zapatista uprising as a watershed moment
for this movement against corporate globalization (Manilov and Sellers 2001).
Subcomandante Marcos, the masked
leader of Mexico’s Zapatista National Liberation Army,
uniquely laid out his
vision for an “intercontinental network of resistance” at the Second
Declaration of La Realidad (Graeber
resistance struggled against neolib
with a network “that covers the five continents and helps to resist the death that Power promises us”
(Ponce de Leon 1996). This Declaration
’s Foucaultian orientation,
eschewed an organizing structure,
which was once invisible save for the Interne
t. She notes further that the Zapatistas are “the voice that
arms itself to be heard. The face that hides itself to be seen” (p. 212). The Zapatistas, who stopped the
Mexican army from taking their land, utilized the Internet to get their words out. She qu
otes Marcos who
boasts: “What other guerilla force has struggled to achieve a democratic space and not taken power? What
other guerrilla force has relied more on words than on bullets?” (p. 212). Amazingly, the Zapatistas found
a political space, and a voi
ce all their own even as they were denied legitimacy by the Mexican
government, and yet after struggling, they did not seek to take power, only recognition. This new way of
looking at social movement struggle is reminiscent of Esteva’s (1992) resistance t
capitalism with “One
supports the development of “Many Yeses,” or alternatives to the current system. The Zapatistas
have popularized these ideas and, along with their philoso
phy of power, have influenced
the Movement of
and their appa
rent fragmented approach to struggle with anarchist undertones (Dixon 2003).
For example, Hayduk (2003) finds that movements in the southern hemisphere convened meetings with
the Zapatistas and created the People’s Global Action (PGA) in 1998, which is a n
etwork, including a
rade Organization (WTO, International Monetary Fund, (IMF), North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA), and the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA).
PGA listserv, to facilitate organizing. Little did Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapitistas know what
they had started and what they would later influence both philosophically as well as organizationally. This
network was the outcome of
a 1998 Geneva meeting among more than 70 countries, and 400 NGO
activists to begin “a world
ordination of resistance against the global market” (Hayduk 2003:
25). The PGA was further set up to have a “confrontational attitude,” and “a clear rejecti
on of the WTO
and other trade liberalizing agreements” (p. 25). Strategically, the PGA called for an autonomous and
violent civil disobedience and the construction of local alternatives by local peoples as
answers to the action of govern
ments and corporations”(p. 25). Finally, the PGA opposes “patriarchy,
racism, religious fundamentalism and all forms of discrimination and domination.”
eems evident that thes
e Movement of m
borrowed the Zapatistas’ successful
sophy of a
networked decentralization opposing neoliberalism. Dixon (2003),
who helped organize the Direct Ac
tion Network, a diversity of social movement
s with an anarchist
sensibility, borrowed from the successful Zapatista strateg
a new form of unity against a “common
enemy” in the WTO.
further describes the model of power among the protesters
Movement of movements
as decentralized, a “leaderless” movement, in which the leadership is treated as
a part of t
he whole. She further describes that the activists at Seattle were empowered in making their own
decisions, while the structure was based on coordination
not control. This lent to flexibility and to a
sense of resilience “and many people were inspired
to acts of courage they could never otherwise have
been ordered to do. Here are some of the key aspects of our model of our organizing” (p. 36). Klein
(2000) argues that protests in Seattle and, later, in Washington mirrored the decentralized and inter
structure of the Internet, which facilitated a mass protest capable of getting protestors to specific street
corners, but with little to no abilit
y to coordinate an agreed upon
set of demands while there or thereafter.
At the protest, Beck (2001) find
s that activities such as street theatre and protest training, as well as
making, affinity group formation, and mass action skills helped create trust among a
vast set of groups and other people who “had not previously seen themselves as
part of a unified
‘movement.’” (p. 6). Communication and coordination over the Internet created a decentralized network,
or web of communication, with the goal of unifying people with a common vision, or purpose, while at the
same time participating in d
iffering activities. Beck (2001) supports rationale of placing a common vision
of Gramsci to unify versus the typical Foucaultian inward
oriented goals, as she finds Seattle a success
story in finding common ground. “The act of pulling resources to work t
ogether for a common purpose
beyond organizational goals and campaigns was critical in putting globalization on the social agenda”
(Beck 2001: 6). Castells (2003) argues this communication network among identity groups has blurred the
lines separating the
m, a line of thought that does not seem to fall in line with Gramsci extreme notion of
unity. This is because Castells seems to follow
the Foucaultian critical
notion of fuzziness of reality. Even
tough reality is often portrayed as cloudy, G
atively answers with
the clarity of a forceful
response to oppression. The Foucaultian response regardless
seems to side with finding the hidden value
in differences, whether it be sex, race, or class. However, for
Gramsci, and Marx’s before him, optimism
for a consistent and steady epistemology of
guides activists toward social change, not difference,
which impedes effectiveness of a strategic force. Subsequently,
envisions the possibility
of “building a global movement to overthro
w corporate control and create a new economy based on
fairness and justice, on a sound ecology and a healthy environment, one that protects human rights and
serves freedom” (pp. 39
40). Although Jobs for Justice organizer Russ Davis (2002) agrees with
for social change, he
instead takes the more cautious stance for reform, as he suggests
that it will take a long
term commitment to movement
building to create this vision of “Another World Is
Possible.” Davis refers to the tensions deep wit
hin the idyllic notions of a new unity. Although su
unity seems like it is strong
really one mired with fragmented tension.
And, while the Zapatistas were
a movement inspiration, can activists balance both unity held by a commonality to change
the world, while
maintaining a respect for difference on a much larger scale with a more diverse population?
New Directions or more tensions?
Although the Zapatista
like response in Seattle was formidable in facing a common enemy with activists
swarm tactics,” their efforts fa
ll short as a long
term coalition model for the utilization of
forces across difference. It seems that with the use of the Internet as a tool, activists from many stripes
were able to meet on the streets of Seattle; h
wever, such a large
diversity of social movements made
standing tensions surface.
, such as
excited to describe th
e model of
power among these various social movement
s as an empowering decentralizat
ion, a “leaderless”
movement. This celebration of a “leaderless” movement, however, runs counter to what scholars such as
Voss and Sherman (2000) find that alliances are built
in a counter hegemonic way
, especially with labor
unions with strong leadership.
Therefore, a lack of clear authority might hamper coalition building.
In a study paid for by the National Defense Research Institute, analysts Arquilla and Ronfeldt
(2001) argue that activists are finding unity beyond what was found at Seattle difficult b
ideological differences. Movement activists, they find, experience conflicts among themselves, often from
their strong commitments to ideological purity as a response to threats to personal well
are further divided over
how far to change the world. The more radical groups are most likely to
call for revolution, while the more moderate groups are likely to call for reform. Although the Zapatista
Movement and subsequen
Movement of movements
have found some
connections have been established, creating tensions among various movement factions and actors, which
need to be worked out in order to seek a strong unity in practice. Additionally, movement actors tend to
prioritize their notions of wha
t are the primary
oppressions worth fighting. Social movement
s tend to prioritize some oppressions over others. For example, environmental movements
prioritize environmental degradation over employee wages for middle
Environmental groups tend to look through monist, or
. More specifically,
environmentalists tend to have ecologically
focused glasses, while la
bor movements look through labor
colored glasses. Often, activists and organizers are busy wor
king on projects and have little time to work
on efforts to unify; unfortunately this reluctance might even hurt their individual efforts in the long run.
Because of a lack of time
efforts by other movement activists are often seen as distracting, even
Recently, the possibilities for a new sense of unity have been not so clear
cut as previous protests
seem to indicate. For example, in the summer of 2002, student groups and activists at Evergreen State
College hosted a conference cal
Total Liberation Project
According to their website, their goal
was to explore a wide range of alternative expressions of resistance and liberation; these alternatives
would not privilege any particular type of oppression over any other, but w
build a common
work, with a strong sentiment for
respect and further the autonomy of all movements within a
greater context of solidarity. Adams (2003) argues that although the conference had promise, the diverse
groups could not agree, favo
ring instead particularization. Adams (2003) explains: “Most of these
denunciations [of the conference] sought to valorize the purity of ideology over the eclecticism of theory
on the one hand, or to valorize the primacy of action over the ‘intellectualism
’ of theory on the other.”
This outcome is reminiscent of Albert
effort after their book
in which their collaboration broke down and no future book was created, which would have had
the goal of furthering th
eir concept of a “complementary holism
a common framework with the goal to
strategies to implement
both unity and diversity together without compromising
. Although there is a “vague consciousness” among th
ese movements of an
interlinked set of oppressions, Michael Albert (2003)
, who co
there are little to no constructive outcomes so far in terms of uniting disparate groups.
How would a
Global Citizen’s Movement emerg
? It may be through, I argue, a constructive dialogue a
ovement of movements
beyond the artificial debate, pitting
The Total Liberation Project website is: http://www.geocities.com/ringfingers/totality2.html.
Going beyond this dichotomy,
The Argument Culture: Moving From D
If you limit your view of a problem to choosing between two sides, you
inevitably reject much that is true, and you
ur field of vision to the
s of those two sides, making it unlikely you’ll pull back, widen your f
of vision, and discover the paradigm shift that will permit truly new
The difference then between the limited debate between these two scholars is in creating dialogue
between groups who do not necessarily see eye
It seems from the discussion above, that a productive place to work from is with the me
Foucault’s notion of a
recognition of difference, which is
considered by many as a
along with Gramsci’s counter hegemony
to give the
Movement of m
unification from fragmentation
a sense of balance
Both philosophies are important as the
world and its
oppressive forces are too entrenched and intertwined to succumb to partial assaults.
This was true i
hile Marxism’s assimilative tendencies created splinter groups like the Black Power Movement in
the 1960s and the women’s movement from the civil rights movement thereafter, creating a
criticized for its diffuse power
and lack of solidarity,
we can never fully turn back. While
the inspiration of a Gramsci’s counter hegemony is tantalizing, today’s world needs to respect the
movement’s diversity, its creativity,
imensionality. Ignorance of these dynami
ovements of movements in the dustbins
just one more story of
the status quo, short
largely impotent, save for maybe a few reforms.
However, in Gramsci lies our fascina
tion with a powerful social force, one that can mobilize a large
contingent full of change potential and realization. And, yet such a counter hegemony can only remain an
ideal unless it can embrace the Foucaultian notion of recognition of other struggles a
gainst oppression as
valuable, and important as any other.
do we move these two philosophies together with a more
diverse and sizeable population than
what was found in
has been some practical and theoretical wor
moving toward a middle ground.
Adams (2003) points to
ldian notion that power is both
creative and repressive as
well as multidimensional; therefore, resistance is always interconnected and irreducible. He argues
further that resi
stance can be through either protesting in the street either violently
or peacefully, or even
atomistic “lifestyle politics.” Agamben (1993) in his book
The Coming Community
, he describes
being,” seems to embody this multidimentional
approach as he notes, this being is not
reducible to either a universal or a particular, which is beyond identity, neither individual or generic.
Zohar and Marshall (1994) argue that particles resemble each resemble individuals, or identities, locally
dded, while waves are “nonlocal,” meanings spread throughout time as well as space. They argue
that the particle is the self, while the wave is basically meaning we attach to others. They argue as well
that these waves extend themselves, overlapping with
other waves to create something new. Zohar and
Marshall (1994) call this interrelation “relational holism.” Adams (2003) offers another conception the
theory of “complementary holism,” which basically means that we cannot really understand, say, the
my without a diversity of critiques and integrated into a whole. Similarly, Albert (2002) offers the
Autonomy in Solidarity
in which social movements are autonomously searching for self
determination, while maintaining different perspectives tha
t like relational or complementary holism, or
even the wave, a diversity of critiques integrate into something greater than the sum of their parts.
Therefore, it can be argued, as does Carroll and Ratner (1996), that fragmented social movements are
ly to make an effective fight with the forces of hegemony that often neglects differe
ce, unless, of
course, groups consider
the interrelations of waves or meanings. In the context of the
, communication and coordination over the Inter
net has created a decentralized network of
communication to with the possibilities to have these waves overlap, with the potential to unify people
with a common goals, or purposes, while at the same time participating in differing activities. “The act of
pulling resources to work together for a common purpose beyond organizational goals and campaigns was
critical to putting globalization on the social agenda” (Beck 2001: 6).
the Second World Social
Forum in February 2002 at Porte Alegre, Brazil
adopted a statement: “We are building a large alliance
from our struggles and resistance against a system based on sexism, racism, and violence, which
privileges the interests of capital and patriarchy over the needs and aspirations of people” (World Soci
Forum Website 2003).
This middle ground suggests a balance between the two extremes of unity,
partly because in reality strength is in the “interrelations of waves,” “autonomy in solidarity,” and
One place where this Movement
of movements is building bridges is the World Social Forum.
Anuradha Vittachi, Director of the One World International Foundation, argues: "The World Social
Forum has become an incredible celebration of alternative views on democracy, global governance an
development. Its value is not just in opposing the forms of globalisation that are undermining social
justice but also in bringing together so many people and organisations that are providing the ideas and
concrete actions to make another world possible”
(OneWorld.net 2003). Bello (2003) commends the
World Social Forum provides a space where social movements can explore ways to work together despite
their differences. He further argues that the World Social Forum process “may be the main expression of
he coming together of a movement that has been wandering for a long time in the wilderness of
fragmentation and competition. The pendulum, in other words, may now be swinging to the side of
unity.” However, I think that although there are is some dialogues
going on, often constructive among
people with differing views, it can not move forward without more work toward finding middle ground
beyond the book
and the largely fruitless
Total Liberation Project
important, but obvio
usly it is somehow lacking something important
dialogue that has a search for
common ground as its goal. For example, the WSF Charter of Principles reflect a Foucauldian philosophy
rejecting “a locus of great Refusal, no soul of revolt (1980: 95). The 6
principle says in part: “It thus
does not constitute a locus of power to be disputed by the participants in its meetings, nor does it intend to
constitute the only option for interrelation and action by the organisations and movements that participate
n it” (WSF website 2004).
Through both the Internet and global forums, progressive intellectuals from around the world are
able to communicate in free spaces. Although Habermas (1987) argues that the members of a new class
may want and demand that the wo
rld become more rationally accountable, I argue, that since many
frame the world differently, i.e.
in a fragmented way, that many perspectives can evolve if
diversity is respected.
Free spaces are important because, I argue
Movement of movement
opposing a McWorld, or the free market neoliberistic mentality,
that tends to say that there is only
one way of seeing the world and app
roaching society’s problems.
because of this stifling
ment of movements
another “better” world through free spaces
like the World Social Forums and on the Internet
maintaining both their unique identities, while
working toward common meanings in dialogue over the acceptance of their mutual di
that there are
rnatives, actually many of them.
Possibly, through this new understanding of
unity and diversity’s relationship, the current impulse to align and yet maintain their respective group
identities will give the
ovement of movements
a new sense of what it means to create another possible
This means that movement actors must be able to see
on multiple levels.
humans, are not reducible to eit
her the universal or particular
we are dynamical
Kearney (2001) finds that there is still a “digital divide” between those who have computers and those who do not,
such as people of color and the poor.
Milstein (2001) doubts that the World Social Forum can make a differ
ence because many radical voices are left
out due to a lack of travel expenses. Petras (2003) argues that there was a polarization between both insiders and
outsiders at the World Social Forum in 2002.
One No, Many Yeses. Esteva (1992).
this way, these movements are not fragmented, but diverse.
amic multidimensional aspect must
maintained by the cumulative impact of a dialogue
centered effort to create the foundations
shared sense of history, which
indispensable to the future prospects for peace.
should strive to see that
are simultaneously unique individuals with
identities in a specific locale
and at the same time
all universally human beings,
mbedded in a community with others,
on a shared planet. Embracing such a dynamic
multidimensionality toward each other means that, f
example, environmental movement
must move beyond monist, or single
issue lenses, such as the prioritizati
on environmental degradation
over employee wages for middle
Americans. Likewise, labor unions must move beyond labor
disputes to see how their corporations may be degrading the environment. While there are many examples
of a single focus, as well as
examples of multiple partnerships,
if social movement activists
are going to
move society toward a new paradigm,
there needs to be more dialogue over differences as well as
common ground among social movement activists.
This does not mean that movement act
ivists will have
to give up on their focus, but that their social and political analysis
necessarily like them
To illustrate, i
f a feminist group wins
in their struggle
, gay, lesbian, and bisexual
ise, when a Marxist group wins, an Anarchist group wins
. The analysi
incorporate the whole L
, not parochial fights. This means that radical groups should see
as well as revolutionaries
as filling a niche and vice vers
battles and agendas over others
can create gaps in knowledge and
potential analysis may be i
see the movement
as a potential division of labor allows single
issue groups to mai
ntain a deep, insightful
while groups with a broad analysis can help in gaining allies, finding
middle ground, and seeing the big picture
with the goal of more revolutionary proportions
The WSF is a
great place for such dialogue and network
, but critics
point to activists only talking past ea
ch other in
likeminded workshops. There needs to be more of a mixing of the two. There also must
be more agenda
building to move activists forward toward
While a “
” a 12
was created at the WSF in 2004,
for a Tobin tax
on international financial transfers
critics find that few people were actually invited to
though on the platform itself
. Otherwise, there was a “Wall of
Proposals” open to everyone, but with little direction, probably because of the fear of a Gramscian
hegemonic document that might try to assimilate
instead of accept
A way to mov
these WSF problems,
embrace their dialogic power is to have more and more smaller forums.
Activists should s
tart pushing for forums on the state and local level.
here are a variety of
groups out there
i.e., Backbone Campaign, the Progressive
Democrats of America, and
that see oppressions and interconnected and can potentially provide ways to get a
dynamic multidimensional group of activists to the table and hammer out common ground
and get past
across ideology and different problem foci.
Local groups can
With dialogue, it will take reframing messages based on what activists really want from their
values to create common ground and a middle way. Paul Ray’s (2002:60) “In
the New Political
Compass,” argues that beyond merely “tapping on the glass,” these Movements of movements have been
“converging for 20 years or more, and it has been preparing the ground for a
new political constituency to
emerge.” He says fur
We are now at the stage of needing to link together thousands of small groups
who have had an unfortunate tendency to stay narrowly focused
that’s what Modern culture teaches you: to succeed, you gotta focus on the task
at hand. And we’r
e all children of Modernism. As all the diverse, fragmented
constituencies start to emphasize all the values they have in
common, then they
can let go of their tendency only to pay attention to surface differences of
re, for a “sudden”
a new paradigm shift, and to tap into these 50 million
folks in the U.S. and at least as many in Europe, according to Ray (2000), we need to emphasize
common values and common frames. So, the locus of change is within movements because,
ccording to Ray (2000; 2002)
social movements “reframe,” changing the order of facts and events
in a way that reorients what people once thought natural. For example, slavery and segregation were
once thought the way the world worked. However, abolitionis
ts and a century later, the civil rights
movement, “reframed” the issue. Was this a “tap on the glass” type of change, or was it a long
struggle by mainly blacks from the bottom? Martin Luther King Jr.
and many other Civil Rights
whole belief system as not being natural. After a time, Ray (2000) notes, people
start to ask: “Who’s benefiting from keeping this view of reality in place?” Social movements make
people question the status quo. Social movements are the refined lenses, po
inting out particular cases
of injustice, inequality, unsustainability, and general oppression in our world. Once, people’s sense of
reality is questioned, they can either react negati
as seen after 9/11
reflection of the
power the U.S. adm
inistration held after spending more than $200 million in public relations to
reframe an invasion of Iraq as a “war on terrorism.”
Or, people can reframe from their values (Lakoff
2004). The problem today is how movements are framing the invasion of Iraq,
or the plethora of
events out there, not cohesively, but reactively. This Movement of movements’ frames are often
reactionary, they seem to know what they are “against,” and yet they are still trying to find out what
they are “for.” Imagine the potential
of these fragmented “movements of movements” if linguist
George Lakoff (2004) is right when he says, that there is real power in these movements finding what
they share in common
values of empathy and responsibility. The point her
is that we can seek
a “tap on the glass” model,
nurture those already on the gro
und as paradigm shifters
The key is representing
of foci and ideology
with the goal of a new unification,
balancing the counter hegemonic potential of
Gramsci and Foucaultian recognition of individual
autonomy and difference
through constructive dialogue
that reframes differences
. Such a balancing act
will not be an overnight affair, but one that should sit squ
arely as a Movement of movement’s
However, if dialogue remains mired in conflict and a
new philosophical unification fails in
, scholars may have to
look toward the unpredictable
“tap on the glass,” that de
already in existence in an effort
to create a new soci
whether a tap on the
civil unrest because of a natural catastrophe
or that of a disastrous war.
Before it is to
it makes sense,
in the meantime,
ovement of movements can work
in dialogue toward
a new type of unification
. This social
the proposition that while we
“One No,” we cannot ignore
“Many Yeses,” who may
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