2 items on social movements and power

ROAR Magazine has posted two thought provoking articles on social movements and the contest for political power:  an interview with John Holloway on movements and the state, and a reflection from Greece on the current and potential role of the leftist Syriza alliance.

From the latter story:

The effects of such a [left] electoral victory would be equivocal for grassroots movements, since, on the one hand, such a victory may tilt the power balance and, thus, provide breathing space to the movements in their confrontation with capitalist domination, but, on the other hand, it could accelerate the disquieting trend of co-optation and assimilation of social movements by the logic of state management.

The Greek writers reflect on recent experiences from Latin America, as well as Europe, in order to try navigate this challenging terrain, and conclude, in part:

The endeavors in libertarian communitarianism point towards the creation of politically active communities and the use of local institutions as a bulwark against globalized capitalism and as an appropriate field of application of precepts of de-growth and localization. The promise of the self-management of labor, of worker cooperatives and peer production, indicates a path within, against and beyond the state and the market. In any case, the new constituent power will be diverse, reflecting the infinity of militant subjectivities that the domination of capital in all aspects of social life engenders.

The full stories are at http://roarmag.org/2014/09/john-holloway-cracking-capitalism-vs-the-state-option and http://roarmag.org/2014/09/syriza-government-autonomous-movements.


One Reply to “2 items on social movements and power”

  1. Can we change the world without taking power?
    Recently, in ROARMAG, Professor John Holloway revisited his thesis about changing the world. He recognized the need for change, but he wanted to minimize the role of the state, and challenge the workings of capitalism.
    What is meant by ‘we’?
    All references to ‘we’ are usually directed at the peoples who live in Europe and the United States and/or are part of the systems of capitalism.
    Who do I include amongst those who can change the world?
    Should I include all or some of the 7.2 billion people that live on earth and live in families, tribes, sects, classes, working groups; hierarchies; communities; neighbourhoods; nations, states, exercising different languages, celebrating different histories, cultures, and religions.
    What about the tribes of Amazonia in Brazil?: feeding off the trees and flora; with own languages; unaware of the people who live beyond the forests? or the Inuits of the Arctic who survive on the glaciers? What about the the millions of refugees, and migrants desperately trying to find a better, safer place to live?
    Would these communities want ‘survival’ or change? Would it ever be possible for them to act in unison ? Of course, it would not be possible to know all these peoples, although I may come to know what their preferences are by means of modern media.
    Population maps show us that the world population lives in river valleys, estuaries and coastal lands as well as grasslands and forests. The maps also reveal that most of the Earth is empty …….. Yes, it is empty because many lands are unfit for human habitation…the hot deserts: and cold deserts; the tropical rain forests of Africa, and South America; the glaciers of Arctic and the Antarctica; and the cold lands of Russia, and Canada. It may be the case that there will be a natural limit on the number of people on earth. But at the moment it is 7.2 billion….more than at any time in history.
    Can 7.2 billion people change the natural world? When the winds blow at 100 miles an hour; or the rains fall at 50 inches an hour, or the temperature rises to 50c in the summer, it is clear that we cannot cope with the vagaries of ‘nature’. The extreme events destroy our homes and factories and communities.
    However, over a long period of time, the actions of 7.2 billion people are causing changes in the atmosphere, and the biosphere. As a result of our development of industrial processes and products since 1800’s, we are increasing the levels of nitrogen, carbon, and methane in the atmosphere, altering oxygen levels, the balance of green house gases, and raising the global temperatures by +2c each year, We are now being urged by environment agencies to lower the temperatures by changing our behaviour and reducing pollution and emissions. For example, as we have taken to driving cars,and lorries and increasing carbon emissions, so we will have to stop driving petrol vehicles and reduce carbon levels, and adopt renewable energies such as solar power and wind power.

    What is meant by ‘we’?
    The UN and many charities estimate that 5 billion people try to thrive and survive on less than $10 a day; among whom are 3,25 billion on $2 a day 1billion people are known to starve to death each year, of which many are children.
    I live in a world in which the norm is to be poor, and starving. I live in a world in which it is expected that a minority forms a privileged elite. In this world the elites exploit, the majority with no shame. They see nothing wrong with paying little for a lot of work; living amongst communities that have little to eat, depending upon food banks and nowhere to live.
    ‘We’ are poor and starving; abused and exploited. And ‘we’ are the majority. The central element of global society is poverty! That is, lack of money and resources.

    Following more than 500 years of Euro-capitalism and colonialism, it is declared in 2014 by FORBES: Merrill Lynch; Morgan Stanley, the TIMES and other rich lists that 1654 people across the world are billionaires, in control of $6.4. trillion, amongst 12 million $millionaires who control $46 trillion….the so called 1%.
    We consider that money is power; and purchasing power allows 12.16 million people to influence and control the lives of the other 99% of the global population: what is consumed and produced, what jobs are available, how much money is shared: ‘money is power’ The World Bank tells us that in 2013, the world produced $85 trillion: most of which went to enrich the 1%.
    Discussions about ‘wealth’ always seem to assume that ‘wealth’ is the norm, and poverty the exception. This is not true.
    It is true that 12 million rich people form a significant group, but it is less than 1% of the 7.2 billion. Poverty is the norm.
    Any debate about who takes control has to accept the fact that most people in the world are trying to survive. Their poverty results in their starvation; malnourishment; without sanitation; no clean water; subject to disease; inadequate medical care.

    This evidence indicates that the key social change that must take place to reduce poverty and attain a fair, just, equal society, is the redistribution of $52 trillion private wealth, and the $85 trillion world GDP.
    It is clear that the billionaires and millionaires are not going to take part in this social change. Government authorities, State agencies, are to be directed, entrusted to redistribute the wealth of the 1% to the 99%.
    Of course one could argue that the 99% direct their actions to the removal of the 1654, and the 12 million, [all of whom are known] and confiscate their riches for the benefit of all. This needs to be done peacefully in democratic parliaments organizing legislation to promote social change. It will only be done if the actors are committed, honest, just, not corrupt.

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