Sticking with the song quotes, the times really seem to be a-changin'. It's not easy to see where they're going or what's happening. When I did the first version of this page two years back, I quoted a comrade saying that the current moment might be "1965" in relation to a future "1968", and added "Of course, some of us would say that kind of thing all the time, so it needs to be taken with a pinch or two of salt. But what if it was true?" Now, it feels as though that particular clock could be advanced to "1967". After the protests of February 15th, 2003 in particular, a new level has been reached in popular protest: not perhaps the most revolutionary in feeling, but in terms of connected worldwide opposition to the would-be hegemonic power's declared strategy of "infinite war" as (very aptly) "the last refuge of the scoundrel", I think it is safe to say nothing quite like this has ever been seen before.
This page has three main sections:
Other material related to this subject can be found on the "understanding social movements", "better activism", "call for peace" and "counter culture" sections of the Tools for Change site. Inevitably there is some overlap between all of these, and within the different sections of this particular page. I've tried to organise the page as helpfully as possible, but forewarned is forearmed!
II: the webs we weave
This section is a history of the networking processes which have come together to make up the current movement: a handful of analyses, an outline of the global history of networking which led to Feb. 15th and an overview of the history of networking in Ireland to date. Author John Goodwillie generously gave me permission to reprint his 1988 pamphlet Colours in the rainbow: ecology, socialism and Ireland (Dublin: self-published), which is a very accessible overview and development of some of the 1980s thinking which has found unexpected realisation in the current movement.
Overviews of the networking behind the "movement of movements"
These texts, in their different ways, explore the interrelationships between movements and issues which underlie the development of the new movement against neo-liberal globalisation and the movement against permanent war.
- John Goodwillie's book "Colours in the rainbow: ecology, socialism and Ireland" (1988) can be downloaded here as a Word document (266k) or here in RTF format (1.7 Mb with pics)
- "Structure, routine and transformation: movements from below at the end of the century", or what's the historical context and how do we make movements? (1999, 94k)
- "Globalisation from below? Ordinary people, movements and intellectuals", or getting specific about the history and what needs to be done (2000, 88k)
- "Reflections on February 15th", or how did we get here? (2003, 9k)
- "Global social movements", or why are there global social movements and where does Ireland fit in? (2003, 15k)
Three classic texts
Unfortunately I can't offer these online, but they're well worth chasing up in libraries or movement collections if you have the chance! I think these writers are worth reading for two reasons: they were thinking about these issues in hard times, when things were not going well for social movements; and they were thinking about them as activists, not simply generating theoretical syntheses for the classroom. Our ability to make links with one another now owes a lot to people who worked to convince other activists that those links could and should be made.
- Sheila Rowbotham, Lynne Segal and Hilary Wainwright, Beyond the fragments: feminism and the making of socialism. London: Merlin, 1979 (Socialist feminists.)
- Carlos Antunes, Pierre Juquin, Penny Kemp, Isabelle Stengers, Wilfried Telkaemper, Frieder Otto Wolf,Europe's green alternative. London: Green Print, 1992 (Activists from the left of the European Green movement and the ecological wing of the European left.)
- Red-Green Study Group, What on earth is to be done? A red-green dialogue. Manchester: Red-Green Study Group, 1995 (Mostly ex-members of the Communist Party of Great Britain and the UK Green Party).
Global networking processes and organisations
Some of the global history of co-operation and communication which led to the birth of the "movement of movements" is sketched in the overviews above. Here are some key points in that networking process:
A history of networking in Ireland
After a long period of watching events abroad and struggling to find a hearing at home, the Irish wing of the movement burst into blossom on February 15th, 2003. Perhaps 100,000 people protested against George Bush's war on the streets of Dublin in the biggest protest since the 1980s. But behind this very visible mobilisation lies a long history of much less dramatic attempts at networking and building the "movement of movements" on the ground, some of which is documented, much of which isn't. Here's one particular strand I can document: no doubt many others exist!
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III: mapping the movement
This third section is a sketch of the movement to date: a very skimpy timeline, an overview of some key organisations, resources related to movement issues and other resources related to the development of the movement. This is very basic stuff, and a whole range of books are becoming available with much more detailed and informative versions of this kind of approach: for example, Kolya Abramsky, Restructuring and resistance: diverse voices of struggle in western Europe (self-published, 2001; accessible via AK Press); Emma Bircham and John Charlton, Anti-capitalism: a guide to the movement (London: Bookmarks, 2001); various authors, We are everywhere: the irresistible rise of global anti-capitalism (London: Verso, 2003 - see the project's webpage, particularly the 100-page downloadable taster under "stories"), etc.
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A brief timeline of the international movement to date
- Jan. 1 94: EZLN (Zapatista) revolt against North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) begins in Chiapas
- Jul. 96: Zapatistas organise first International Encounter for Humanity and against Neo-liberalism in Chiapas
- Aug. 97: second Intercontinental Encounter, in Cadiz, gives birth to People's Global Action (PGA) network
- 98: internet-coordinated protests bring about the end of the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI)
- May - Jun. 99: Intercontinental Caravan for Solidarity and Resistance brings together activists from around Europe, culminating in protest at EU summit in Köln.
- Jun 18 99: first Day of Global Action, with protests against financial centres in 41 countries.
- Dec. 99: 60 - 80,000 people from around the world demonstrate as part of Day of Global Action at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in Seattle, from environmentalists protesting against the WTO's effects on the environment to trade unionists protesting the loss of jobs due to neo-liberal trade policies. The meeting collapses in disarray and delegates abandon the meeting early.
- Jun. 00: 7.2 million people take part in general strike in Argentina against "structural adjustment policies" dictated by global financial institutions.
- Sep. 00: 20,000 protestors against World Bank and IMF in Prague.
- Dec. 00: 100,000 protestors at EU conference in Nice.
- Apr. 01: 80,000 protest against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in Quebec
- Jun. 01: tens of thousands protest at EU summit in Goteborg; police shoot and critically injure a protestor.
- Jul. 01: during protests by 200,000 people against the Group of 8 (G8) meeting in Genoa, an Italian policeman shoots and kills the 20-year-old Carlo Giuliani. After the midnight police raid on the Indymedia centre, in which sleeping activists are clubbed, many of those arrested at Genoa are subjected to systematic violence and abuse in police custody. More people take part in demonstrations in defence of civil liberties after this than took part in the initial demonstration itself.
- Summer 01: meetings of the World Bank in Barcelona and the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome are cancelled; further meetings of neo-liberal organisations are scheduled to be held in a remote ski resort in the Rocky Mountains and in the absolutist monarchy of Qatar to avoid the risk of public protests. First World Social Forum meets in Porto Alegre.
- Sept. 01: following the terrorist attacks on buildings in New York and Washington, the "war on terror" in the US and Europe includes a wide range of provisions aimed at criminalizing protest, intensifying surveillance on protestors and restricting civil liberties. Simultaneously plans are laid (and openly announced) for a state of permanent warfare against "rogue states", starting with Afghanistan and moving on to Iraq.
- Dec. 01: protests against the "dollarisation" of the Argentine economy lead to the fall of the government and the reversal of the policy.
- Sep. 02: up to one million people take part in a demonstration at Rome in defence of human rights and freedom and against the Berlusconi government.
- Nov. 02: European Social Forum (ESF) in Florence attracts 300,000 participants. The ESF calls for a worldwide protest against the US-led war on Iraq.
- Feb. 15th 03: over ten million participants in worldwide demonstrations against war on Iraq: largest simultaneous world-wide protest ever.
- Jun. 03: large-scale protests at G8 meeting in Evian.
A brief timeline of the Irish movement to date
- Sep. 00: Extensive weekend of actions in solidarity with WB / IMF protests in Prague.
- Jul. 01: Many Irish activists take part in G8 protests in Genoa. One is arrested; Indymedia Ireland make "Berlusconi's Mousetrap".
- May 02: Gardaí (Irish police) baton-charge Reclaim the Streets / Critical Mass street party in Dublin, hospitalising over a dozen participants and provoking widespread public reaction. Newspaper headlines include "Cop on", "Eight Gardaí jumped on me", "Missing ID numbers queried" and "Crowd 'clubbed with batons, feared for their lives'"
- Aug. 02: Small demo enters Shannon and prevents US warplane from refueling
- Oct. 02: Mass trespass of 150 people at Shannon
- Jan. 03: Shannon peace camp established
- Jan. 30th & Feb 3rd 03: Same US military plane disarmed on two separate occasions
- Feb. 15th 03: 100,000 take part in anti-war protest in Dublin; largest march in Ireland since the 1980s
- Mar. 1st 03: Attempt at pre-announced mass trespass at Shannon
- Jul. 03: the threat of protests from the Irish Social Forum and the Grassroots Gathering forces the cancellation of World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Dublin.
- April 30th - May 3rd 04: over 5,000 people participate in a weekend of events for an alternative Europe in Dublin despite the attempted banning of the "Bring the Noise" march.
- June 25th - 26th: Bush visits Ireland for summit with EU leaders, particularly those involved in war in Iraq. Major protests expected.
An overview of key organisations
For global organisations, see the networking history above.
For Irish organisations, there are two important threads. One is the authoritarian left, dominated by the neo-Trotskyist Socialist Workers' Party, which gave birth to Globalise Resistance as a "front" within the anti-globalisation movement and involving a range of non-SWP members (for a critique, see the Schnews pamphlet "Monopolise Resistance") and subsequently to the Irish Anti-War Movement and Another Europe is Possible, organised along similar lines (and in practice alternating in activity. The Irish Anti-War Movement did very useful work, particularly in organising the 100,000 person demonstration in Dublin on February 15th, and achieved a lot in the way of awareness-raising. It also however managed to alienate virtually all non-SWP members, resulting in the formation of Anti-War Ireland on a broader basis.
The smaller one is the libertarian left thread, which grows out of cooperation between radical ecology groups such as Gluaiseacht and anarchist groups such as the Workers Solidarity Movement. This cooperation gave rise to the Grassroots Gatherings, intended as the non-hierarchical wing of the anti-globalisation movement in Ireland. These in turn gave rise to the Grassroots Network Against War (GNAW), which has been active in non-violent direct action against the US-led war on Iraq, and to the Dublin Grassroots Network (DGN), which organised the May Day 2004 protests in Dublin.
Activists from both of these strands were involved in the Irish Social Forum (ISF), which was originally set up to organise opposition to the World Economic Forum summit in Dublin on October 20th and 21st, 2003. The ISF aims to go beyond existing activist circles and be a voice for all areas of Irish civil society which are in opposition to neo-liberalism. The Deireadh Fomhair pages are a clearing-house for material related to the WEF summit.
Resources related to the issues the movement is organising around:
- Starhawk is a well-known feminist pioneer of direct action. Her web pages contain a wide variety of well-written material from her own involvement in the movement.
- Richard K. Moore has been writing intelligent critiques of capitalist globalisation for ordinary people for several years now. His web pages are well worth a look.
- The Irish-based BlueGreenEarth magazine has a wide range of movement-related material connecting issues of community, ecology and society.
- The Commoner magazine sets out to be something of a theoretical journal for the movement.
- New Internationalist magazine has a long track record of committed involvement in these issues.
- The global Indymedia Centres provide a constant stream of alternative news, debate and information on and from the movement.
- The anarchist Struggle site has a huge variety of useful material. Particularly relevant is their material "Against Capitalist Globalisation".
Other resources related to movement development
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