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Critical Globalisation Theory and the
Global Women's Movement:

Some Propositions on Solidarity, Communication and Citizenship

Peter Waterman

 Abstract: The global - level, process, epoch, ideology and episteme - provides an increasingly central terrain for the women's movement. This flies in the face of the idea that whilst capitalism is increasingly global, (women's) social movements are inevitably national, or even more local. The international women's movement needs to be reconceived in terms of globalisation. A theoretically-critical and socially-committed understanding of globalisation can provide the basis for such a reconceptualisation. Globalisation processes imply for women and women's movements threats, promises and seductions. Success here requires not only a new worldview (in both senses of this term), but a new understanding of (women's) global citizenship, of (women's) global solidarity, and of (women's) global communication/culture. The series of propositions and proposals here presented is intended to provoke both theoretical discussion and research. Starting with the First-Wave women's movement in Latin America, we find one that was international before it was generally national. Ending with International Women's Day in a Dutch institute of development studies, we see how the global and local are increasingly part of each other's meaning. 
  The `global' must bend to the local, since the local exists with nature, while the `global' exists only in offices of the World Bank and the IMF and the headquarters of multinational corporations. (Shiva 1993:59)

[T]he capacity of most social movements to command place better than space puts a strong emphasis upon the potential connection between place and social identity. This is manifest in political action...The consequent dilemmas of social or working-class movements in the face of a universalising capitalism are shared by other oppositional groups - racial minorities, colonised peoples, women, etc. - who are relatively empowered to organise in place but disempowered when it comes to organising over space. In clinging, often of necessity, to a place-bound identity, however, such oppositional movements become a part of the very fragmentation which a mobile capitalism and flexible accumulation can feed upon. `Think globally and act locally' was the revolutionary slogan of the 1960s. It bears repeating. (Harvey 1989: 302-3)


The global - level, process, epoch, ideology and episteme - provides an increasingly central terrain for the women's movement. This flies in the face of the idea that whilst capitalism is increasingly global, (women's) social movements are inevitably national, or even more local. The international women's movement needs to be reconceived in terms of globalisation. A theoretically-critical and socially-committed understanding of globalisation can provide the basis for such a reconceptualisation. Globalisation processes imply for women and women's movements threats, promises and seductions. Success here requires not only a new worldview (in both senses of this term), but a new understanding of (women's) global citizenship, of (women's) global solidarity, and of (women's) global communication/culture. The series of propositions and proposals here presented is intended to provoke both theoretical discussion and research. Starting with the First-Wave women's movement in Latin America, we find one that was international before it was generally national. Ending with International Women's Day in a Dutch institute of development studies, we see how the global and local are increasingly part of each other's meaning. 

1. Women's movements: national, inter-national, supra-territorial

[T]he transnational arena held a particular appeal for Latin American feminists. There are a number of reasons this was so. Within their national communities, they were disfranchised; and, as elsewhere, the national social and political arenas were characterised by androcracy. Moreover, Latin American female intellectuals were particularly alienated from politics as practised within their countries, excluded from leadership positions by the forces of opposition as well as by their governments. The inter-American arena in the first half of this century proved to be an important domain for feminist activity, one in which women activists from throughout the Americas pursued a number of the longstanding goals of international feminism. Two of the themes that emerge in the examination of women's concerns in this period and civil reform and the search for international peace. (Miller 1990:10)

I believe it is important to move...into the discussion of what the Beijing experience and other [international UN] conferences meant: what they meant to us as feminists; what they meant to the other expressions of the movement, including those sectors that remained on the margins or were opposed; what paths or risks the criticisms may raise for us; what purpose they served or will serve to modify at least some aspects of the multiple subordinations women are subjected to; and, above all, what...they mean to a long-term feminist agenda.[...] We need to analyse the practices, as well as the tendency of the [Latin American feminist] movement to look inward...and not to confront [or] share its feminist developments with what is happening in other regions and on other continents[...] Only in these terms can we see the national, regional and global as increasingly interdependent. If the processes of domination operate at all levels then an effective struggle for emancipation has to articulate the struggles happening at all these different levels. (Gina Vargas, NGO Coordinator for the Beijing Conference, in an e-mail letter to the movement, prior to the 7th Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Encounter, late-1996).

It seems that First-Wave feminism in Latin America, which began almost 100 years ago, was transnational or inter-American (including North America) long before it was generally national - established in all, or even most, countries of the sub-continent. This is also true of the early labour movement and for similar reasons. Even at that time the national was penetrated and informed by the international, and a positive dialectic between the national and transnational movement appears to have existed. This should subvert assumptions that movements grow or evolve from the local, or at least national, toward the international. 

It does not automatically follow from this that the appeal, or freedom, of the international sphere grew incrementally over time. Nor that it was necessarily reproduced, or increased, during the Second Wave. Nor that the dialectic was, is, necessarily be, a positive one. Between - say - the 1860s and the 1960s came the international replication of the state-nation, in all cases providing an at-least imagined community (Anderson 1983). In many cases the nation-state provided space for both women's movements and worker ones, for feminists and socialists. The international organisations of the state-nation era tended to be literally international ones (institutionalising relations between nations, nationalities, nationalisms, nationalists), whether created by congeries of state-nations or by the movements themselves. In the case of labour, one can consider the International Labour Organisation, in which state-approved national union organisations still `represent' nationally-defined workers, alongside `their' governments and `their' employers. Or the Communist International, in which a single national party was recognised by Moscow, and subject to either public or clandestine intervention by Comintern directives and agents (Semprun 1979). Or one could consider the social-reformist International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), traditionally resistant to recognition of more than one member organisation per state. The privilege provided by formalised, hierarchical inter-state, representative democratic or vanguardist organisations was one of prestige, power or money, and was often at the cost of the autonomy of the social movements concerned. Although there was no International Gender Organisation at this time, women within national-cum-international parties and unions were under similar constraints (Reinalda and Verhaaren 1990). Thus, the Federation of Cuban Women has been constrained by subordination to the Cuban Communist Party/State, and loyalty to the (ex-)Communist Women's International Democratic Federation (Miller 1992). 

The Second Wave of feminism coincides with globalisation, which began to take shape before the word itself became widespread. Globalisation, as we will see below, does not only imply the increasing centrality of an inter-national level (transnational companies, financial transactions, the UN or the World Bank). It also implies experience of the world as a single place, and recognition of global problems, needing holistic solutions. And, in so far as capitalist globalisation is both produced by and producer of computerised means of communication and electronic cultural artifacts, it creates a new kind of non-, supra- or transterritorial space - a space which is not a place. The current crisis of inter-national organisations, like the UN or the ICFTU, is due in large part to the difficulties of dealing with global problems in inter-national fora. They are challenged, in their slippery grasp of the intangible global, by capital, by neo-authoritarian/particularist movements and by radical-democratic ones. The latter are either implicitly or explicitly conscious of the world as a single place, of global problems, of the necessity of global solutions, and of a new kind of global solidarity as necessary for this. Globalisation, finally, is not only a matter of a certain level or extension but of a dramatic compression of space-time, with this informing every locale, including the most local. This has at least two implications: 1) that one can have as intimate and effective relationships globally as locally, and 2) that effective action locally has to have its global sense of place, the sense that women's places in localised spaces are increasingly globalised too (Eisenstein 1996, Massey 1991). 

Women's movements, globally conscious and acting globally, are not confined to inter-state organisations or conferences. They can and do create their own at international or regional level (such as the Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Encounters, for which see Sternbach et. al. 1992, Gobbi 1996, Waterman 1997). And they are present within global cultural and communicational space (Banks et. al., 1997, Kole 1997, Mujer a Mujer Collective 1991). The privilege they enjoy here is not necessarily of the early-20th century Latin American kind since 1) many of them now have much more space in `their own' countries (though many do not), and 2) inter-national and global fora are no longer outside the panoptic vision of capital and state. It seems to me, however, that the non-territorial space of electronic audio-visual media and the internet (which are expanding infinitely and merging rapidly) provide an equivalent space of freedom and creativity to that of the First Wave Latin American feminist one. But this space is now global rather than inter-national. Moreover, the networking form and coalition/alliance strategy of these movements allows them, at least potentially, to subvert and exploit space provided by transnationals, inter-state or other inter-national organisations. The possibility of such subversion and exploitation, however, depends in large part on how globalisation is understood (for Latin American understandings see Alvarez 1996, Vargas 1996). 

2. Globalisation, its discontents and alternatives: a gender-open worldview

Both liberalism and Marxism, in their different ways, implied that the attachment to the local and the particular would gradually give way to the more universalistic and cosmopolitan or international values and identities; that nationalism and ethnicity were archaic forms of attachment - the sorts of thing which would be `melted away' by the revolutionising force of modernity. According to these `metanarratives' of modernity, the irrational attachments to the local and the particular, to tradition and roots, to national myths and `imagined communities' would gradually be replaced by more rational and universalistic identities. Yet globalisation seems to be producing neither simply the triumph of `the global' nor the persistence, in its old nationalistic form, of `the local'. The displacements or distractions of globalisation turn out to be more varied and more contradictory than either its protagonists or opponents suggest. However, this also suggests that, though powered in many ways by the West, globalisation may turn out to be part of that slow and uneven but continuing story of the de-centering of the West. (Hall 1992:314) Previous worldviews - Christian, Liberal, Marxist, Developmentalist, Thirdworldist, World Systemic - have, of course, been gender-blind. They have also, and not-coincidentally, been in different ways people-blind. They have suggested that relations-across-borders (to put this as blandly and broadly as possible) are those of or between belief-systems, nations, economies, states, cultures, blocs. Even when inspired or energised by ideals of peace, emancipation, plenty, justice and democracy, they have delivered - at best - advances incorporating old barbarisms and resulting in new contradictions and conflicts, on ever-increasing scales and with ever-more-dangerous consequences (Melchiori 1996). 

Globalisation, however, makes it possible, for the first time in human history, for emancipatory forces to at least begin to see the world both whole and holistically (Charlotte Bunch in Hartmann 1996), to understand the interlocking of civilisation/barbarism and to propose understandings and strategies aimed directly at the civilising of global society. The propositions offered below represent just one of a number of attempts to do this (e.g. Castells 1997, Giddens 1990, Scholte 1996, Sousa Santos 1996). 

Firstly, then, our present period is one of a complex, globalised, high-risk, networked, information and service capitalism - a condition or moment not of post-modernity but of a high or radicalised modernity. Old social, economic, political, military, cultural and other conflicts are raised to higher levels (in terms of both intensity and sites), these being supplemented by new and truly global ones. The decentering of capitalist and statist power implies a dramatic increase in the number, type, complexity, sites and levels of social tension, conflict and negotiation. An informatised capitalism is one in which society - or societies - are subjected simultaneously to increased scope or stretch and to increased intensity or deepening. This in turn implies increased interdependency, globalised localities and localised globalities, subjected to the simultaneous, complex and uneven effects of homogenisation and heterogenisation. This is, consequently, a world in which we are increasingly condemned to think both dialectically and ethically: dialectically because of the complexity and contradictions; ethically because our choices have sharply increasing socio-geographic and historical stretch and effect. 

Secondly, globalisation and globalism, particularly in their neo-liberal form, provoke new political, social and cultural responses that are increasingly globalised. We can here identify three ideal-type responses: that of celebration (accepting the role of serialised global consumer, individualised voter), that of rejection (on particularistic, essentialist or fundamentalist grounds, whether religious, national, socialist or cultural) and that of critique/surpassal (coming primarily from the new alternative social, or radical-democratic, movements). This is represented in Figure 1. Figure 1a also suggests how the `alternative', local-to-global, response overlaps with/is penetrated by celebratory or rejectionist elements. Figure 1b reveals the tension between `engagement' and `autonomy' in alternative social movements/spaces, suggesting the necessity to move or balance between an excess of engagement with capital/state (incorporation) or of autonomy in civil society (self-isolation). Any `alternative' social movement, or related non-governmental organisation (NGO), can thus find itself in multiple positions, in local-to-global space, or at particular times. It is, for example, possible for a feminist movement, organisation or tendency (local-to-global) to be simultaneously 1) self-isolated - within civil society, from other feminists or women, from men, and 2) incorporated - into reform strategies or intermediating roles promoted by capital or state (for the Latin American case, see Alvarez 1996, Waterman 1997). A complex, interdependent, yet uneven and unbalanced global order, requires complex, interdependent global alternatives, which the alternative movements are beginning to offer. In so far as it is globalised contemporary capitalism promotes communication and culture to increasing pre-eminence, this providing an eminently disputable terrain for such new emancipatory movements. Cultural globalisation makes an alternative global solidarity culture both necessary and possible. The form of the new global solidarity movements is, thus, increasingly that of `information internationalisms'. 

Thirdly, globalisation implies the increasing centrality of the trans-, supra- or non-territorial terrain, as well as of global institutions, processes and instances, and therefore the possibility and necessity for the civilising of global society. Global civil society, understood as one created out of conflict with the capitalist and (inter-)state spheres, is a privileged terrain (not the sole one) for the construction of liberty, equality, solidarity, ecological care and cultural tolerance/creation. This is, however, not a paradise to be announced, discovered or inhabited, it is a habitat to be jointly constructed by autonomous, democratic and pluralist forces. This requires engagement with/in existing inter-state and transnational capitalist instances and processes. It also requires engagement with/in churches, religions, and within and between international NGOs/social movements that often reproduce the structures and behaviours they claim to surpass (Alvarez 1996, Sen 1997, Sogge 1996). NGOs, as earlier suggested, can be found in any autonomous or ambiguous position within the alternative circle of Figure la and the civil society one of Figure 1b. The development of a global civil society both depends on and stimulates the democratisation, deconcentration and decentralisation of inter-state organisations, 

Figure 1a: Responses to globalisation:

local, national, regional, global

Figure 1b: Social movement engagement/autonomy,

local, national, regional, global

transnational capitalist companies and religious institutions. A new concept of world citizenship is required to simultaneously synthesise and surpass those of the past. This would have as its utopian imaginary a citizenship without borders, classes or genders. 

Fourthly, globalisation raises the question of transforming inter-nationalism (etymologically and historically a relation between nations, nationals and nationalities) into global solidarity. The latter is a movement and ethic identifying and addressing global social issues, identities and movements - including the national and ethnic. This means replacing the rhetorical internationalism of the nation-state period (when mass real-life experience was not universal and the universal was therefore unreal to masses) by one addressable and addressed to a world increasingly experienced by such masses of people - though differentially and unevenly - as both real and universal (Collier 1992). A new universalism, both recognising and promoting plurality, must be based on a relational ontology, in which relating to others is not so much what we do as who we are. A monological ethic - in which universalistic principles dominate procedures - requires surpassing with a dialogical ethic, in which procedures allow for the possibility of developing a common discourse between different and unequal partners (Fraser 1986). 

Fifthly, globalisation, and the related collapse of both Communist and Radical-Nationalist alternatives to capitalism, helps us to understand that history does not consist of evolutionary stages (the higher the better), even less of binarilly-opposed phases (civilised v. barbaric, modern v. traditional, post-modern v. modern) (Calderon 1994, Latour 1994). It is becoming increasingly possible to recognise that we are living mixed times (for those who prefer this language: simultaneously pre-modern, modern, and post-modern). It is this that allows the `primitive', `traditional', `barbarian', `pre-modern' Huarani indigenes of Amazonian Ecuador to pass messages to `modern' Netherlanders about a `post-modern' future. 

In case the address of all this to women and feminism remains obscure, Figure 2 may make explicit how the `global woman question' is addressed and placed. It also suggests related addresses for `women's global questions'. Thus, Line F shows gender and sexuality as one of several crucial spheres of high capitalist modernity. Columns 1-4 suggest the others that women's movements and feminists are recognising interdependence with and increasingly addressing themselves to - as they did at the 4th World Conference on Women, Beijing/Huariou, 1995 (see, e.g. Feminist Studies 1996). 

Figure 2: Globalisation, its discontents, movements and alternatives


Aspects of

high capitalist






Dimensions of






global, national

& local











Increasingly rapid movement,






















manipulation &



& consumer

System of






& surveillance









civil &

social rights












repression &







of war via






of information

& culture





of crucial


relations &



& pluralisation

of information

& culture


& diverse


information &

cultural order




Commoditisation & manipulation

of gender, sexuality

& reproduction



Global gender,


sexual, family

commoditisation & programming



sexual rights




& tolerant

G-Z. ???        

The rest of this paper spells out in more detail the implications of such an understanding for (women's) global solidarity, communications/culture, citizenship, and the inter-relationship of the local and global in the era of globalisation. 

3. Looking at solidarity through global lenses

Solidarity is a specific form of knowing that has won over colonialism. Colonialism consists in the ignorance of reciprocity, in the incapacity to conceive of the other as other than an object. Solidarity is the knowing obtained in the ever-unfinished process of one's becoming capable of reciprocity through the construction and recognition of intersubjectivity. The emphasis on solidarity converts community into the privileged sphere of emancipatory knowledge. After two centuries of the deterritorialisation of social relations, the community cannot limit itself to being the territoriality of the contiguous space (the local), and the temporality of the small time (the immediate). We live in an era of opaque, local-global, immediate-final nexus... The neocommunity transforms the local in a way of seeing the global, and the immediate in a way of seeing the future. It is the symbolic sphere, in which the specific territorialities and temporalities are developed, which allows us to conceive of the other in an intersubjective web of reciprocities. Since the new subjectivity does not depend on self-identity but, rather, on reciprocity, it is free of androcentrism: the other may be nature, or may be the beast of which Saint Francis of Assisi considers himself a brother. (Sousa Santos 1995:27)

Simply put, solidarity can be modeled as an interaction involving at least three persons: I ask you to stand by me over and against a third. But rather than presuming the exclusion and opposition of the third, the idea of reflective solidarity thematises the voice of the third to reconstruct solidarity as an inclusionary ideal for contemporary politics and societies. On the one hand, the third is always situated and particular, signifying the other who is excluded and marking the space of identity. On the other, including the third, seeing from her perspective, remains the precondition for any claim to universality and any appeal to solidarity. Conjoined with a discursively achieved `we', the perspective of the situated, hypothetical third articulates an ideal of solidarity atuned both to the vulnerability of contingent identities and to the universalist claims of democratic societies. (Dean 1996:3-4)

Globalisation, as I have suggested, creates a world that can increasingly be experienced as both real and universal, thus allowing for a universalism that is more than faith or obligation, a global solidarity that is more than a merely imagined community. The new global solidarity projects descend from, selectively re-articulate, allow for, but surpass,religious, liberal and socialist universalisms. Proposing neither a return to an unchanging golden past nor a leap into a perfect future - in the here or hereafter - they allow for and require a dialogue of civilisations and ages, a solidarity with both past and future. 

Here I will suggest an understanding of international solidarity that goes beyond both the poetic and philosophical mode (Dean 1969), and any attempt at a one-word qualifier, such as `reciprocal', `transversal' or `reflective' (compare Dean 1996, Helie-Lucas 1996, Yuval-Davis 1995), but by building on rather than dismissing such. The understanding offered is a more political and a more complex one. It is also, I think, one that could aid research. Solidarity is here assumed to be: 1) informed by and positively articulated with equality, liberty, peace, tolerance, and more-recent emancipatory/life-protective ideals; 2) primarily a relationship between people and peoples, even where mediated by state, market and bureaucratic/hierarchical organisations; 3) an active process of negotiating differences, or creating identity (as distinguished from traditional notions of `solidarity as community' which may assume the latter). International solidarity - old or new, local or global, is here understood in terms of the acronym ISCRAR. 

This spells out as Identity, Substitution, Complementarity, Reciprocity, Affinity and Restitution (compare Vos 1976). In terms of Definition, General Example, Feminist Case, and Problem/Danger this delivers Figure 3. In more detail, these aspects and dimensions can be specified as follows. 

Identity or identity creation is what commonly underlies socialist calls for international solidarity, usually in reference to oppressed and divided classes or categories in opposition to powerful and united oppressors (capitalists, imperialists). By itself, however, an Identity Solidarity can be reductionist and self-isolating, excluding unalikes. In so far, moreover, as the identity is oppositional, it is a negative quality, often determined by the nature and project of the enemy or opponent (as with much traditional socialist internationalism). 

Substitution implies standing up, or in, for a weaker or poorer other. This is how international solidarity has been usually understood amongst Development Cooperators and `First-World Third-Worldists'. By itself, however, a Substitution Solidarity can lead to substitutionism (acting and speaking for the other), and it can permit the reproduction of existing inequalities. This is a criticism of Development Cooperation, which may function to create a single community of guilt and moral superiority within `donor countries', whilst creating or reproducing further feelings of dependency and/or resentment in countries where social crises have evidently been worsening. 

Figure 3: The meanings of international solidarity

  Definition General or






danger or


Identity Solidarity of

common interest and identity


of the world unite!

You have nothing

to lose but your

chains. You have a world to win'

`Sisterhood is Global' Universalistic;

exclusion of the non-identical; limitation to the



Substitution Standing in for those incapable of

standing up for





Gender and Development programmes Substitutionism;

one-way solidarity,

with in-built



Complement-arity Exchange of different needed/desired goods/qualities Exchange of different emancipatory experiences, ideas, cultural products To-and-fro exchanges between movements, feminists on any axis Decision on needs,

desires; value of qualities, goods exchanged

Reciprocity Exchange over time of identical goods/qualities Mutual support between London and Australian dockers, late-C19 Mutual support between differently confronted women's rights activists Allows for instrumental rationality, empty of emotion/ethics
Affinity Shared cross-border values, feelings, ideas, identities Solidarity of pacifists, socialists, ecologists, indigenes Lesbian, socialist, ecofeminist Inevitably particular/istic: friendship?
Restitution Acceptance of responsibility for historical wrong Swiss compensation for victims of complicity with Nazis Japanese

support for

WW2 victims of Japanese



Buying-off guilt? Reproduction of guilt/resentment?

Complementarity suggests the provision of that which is missing, and therefore an exchange of different desired qualities. A Complementary Solidarity would mean that what was moving in each direction could differ but be equally valued by participants in the transaction. In so far as it meant that some kind of physical goods (cash, equipment, political support) were mostly moving in one direction and that some kind of moral or emotional goods (expressions of appreciation and gratitude) were mostly being received, we could be involved in an `unequal exchange' of a problematic character. 

Reciprocity suggests mutual interchange, care, protection and support. It could be taken as the definition of the new global solidarity. Global Reciprocity Solidarity, however, could be understood as a principle of equal exchange, in which (as with states) one is trading political equivalents, or (as with capitalists) on the basis of calculated economic advantage. And it could therefore imply that one would defend the rights of others only if, or in expectation of, reciprocation by the other. 

Affinity suggests appreciation or attraction, and therefore a relationship of mutual respect and support, in which what is sought, appreciated or valued by each party is shared. Affinity would seem to have more to do with values, feelings and friendship. An Affinity Solidarity would seem to allow for global linkages within or between ideologies or movements, including between people without contact but acting in the same spirit. In so far as it approximates friendship, it would seem to be inevitably particular, if not particularistic. 

Restitution suggests a solidarity across time rather than space, the putting right of an old wrong, the recognition of historical responsibility, a `solidarity with the past'. This relates to inter-governmental war reparations, with the consequent danger of buying off guilt. 

The value of such an understanding would seem to be the following: 1) that it is multi-faceted and complex; 2) that each type holds part of the meaning and that each is only part of the meaning; 3) that it is subversive of simple binary or (r)evolutionary oppositions between bad and good, old and new, material and moral solidarity; 4) that it enables critique of partial or one-sided solidarities; 5) that it could be developed into a research instrument, permitting, for example, surveys of the meaning(s) of solidarity for those involved. 

4. Global solidarity as communication: from aspect to essence

Feminism, as export, is beamed across the globe. So it exists even where it has no local roots. Anyone can see it if they have a t.v., watch hollywood films, listen to worldwide news, or use e-mail. The feminism they see is affluent and consumerist. But in spite of this capture by the western/global networks, feminism is not entirely contained by its advertisers. Feminism makes women as `female' visible, even if is partial viewing makes women in `the' south and east less visible than those in `the' north and west. [...] Local feminism and women's oppositions can emerge through and in dialogue with this transnational communications network. The telecommunications global web potentially allows communication across the very divides that transnational capital constructs. Women can `see' themselves across the globe, in ways that were just not possible before. (Eisenstein 1996)

[W]hen it is a matter of demanding rights, or of designing strategies to gain spaces of power, the area of communication is usually forgotten; or, in the better cases, it is considered an area of concern only to the communicators. [...] Nonetheless, as an issue that crosses all spheres of action, it ought to concern the movement as a whole. If, additionally, communication today is a space of power contestation, of control, of influence, we women should be present in this contest, with our proposals, our practices, and in defence of our rights; in the absence of this we can surpass our condition of marginalisation only with difficulty. [...] This is one of the great challenges confronting the women's movement at the dawn of the new millennium, since we can anticipate that the right to communicate will be, for the next century, what the right of education was in this century. (Burch 1996:ii-iii)

Like the other alternative social movements operating under the conditions of an informatised and globalised capitalism, that of women is, at least implicitly, a communications internationalism. This has several different but interconnected meanings. The first is that it operates on the terrain of ideas, information and images, revealing that which is globally concealed, suggesting new meanings for that which is globally revealed (compare Melucci 1989). The second and consequent one is that, like other such, it is particularly active and effective on the terrain of communication, media, culture (Riano 1994). The third is that, again like other such, its basic relational principle is that of the network rather than the organisation (Castells 1997, Guzman and Mauro 1996). The fourth, and consequent, one is that the movement needs to be primarily understood in communicational/cultural rather than in the traditional political/organisational terms. These interconnected ideas, incidentally, have been implicit in international feminism for at least 10 years (Bernard 1987) but they still require working out. 

The global sphere of ideas, information and images. There is nothing immaterial, superstructural or derivative about this sphere, although in the industrial phase of capitalism it may have appeared as all three. We do not, at the other extreme, need to become discourse-determinists to recognise both the increasing centrality of this sphere and the potential for emancipatory movement and radical democracy it contains (Castells 1996). That this sphere is created and dominated by the logic of capital cannot conceal its contradictory nature: capital, capitalists, capitalisms, cannot simply control this sphere in the way they have the factory, the state, the school and the gun. This is also a non-territorial sphere, meaning one increasingly capable of that expanding growth, flexibility and democratisation that the capitalism of industry and the state-nation has promised/denied. It is growth here that will make an ecological steady-state possible globally, without such conservatism implying stagnation or reaction. The problem to be overcome is that of the invisibility of this sphere: that it is either transparent to emancipatory movements, or else handled with concepts and understandings borrowed from, for example, politics. The practice of global feminism, fortunately, is much more advanced than its theory, universalising subversive/infectious ideas, information and images even through the capitalist CNN and the statist BBC World radio and TV services (Eisenstein 1996). 

The global terrain of communication, media, culture. At national level, or within a nation-state-dominated discourse, we can recognise as distinct, overlapping and mutually-informing cultural spheres, the Dominant, the Popular and the Alternative. The Feminist-Alternative interacts with the Dominant and Popular ones, on the same model as the circles of Figure 1. But, it seems to me that the Popular (in so far as this implies places actively and intensively lived in and culturally shaped by poorer population sectors) can hardly be said to have much place or space at global level. The Popular is here carried, shaped and articulated by either the immensely powerful Dominant global means or the still tiny and marginal Alternative ones - which are in mutual dispute for hegemony over the Popular. For the new alternative social movements, awareness of the marginality of the Alternative should be less important than their recognition of: 1) the creative freedom permitted by such marginality; 2) the name, and increasing centrality, of this terrain; 3) the necessity and possibility of disputing it. It has been argued, in relation to its democratic potential, that cyberspace is less like a hammer (a means, a tool, for doing something to something) than Germany (a place, space, culture) (Poster 1995). It is, actually, simultaneously a hammer and Germany and Utopia (`nowhere', `a good place', a community yet to be imagined and created). Globally it is a space of increasingly public dispute, as the radical-democratic social movements mobilise for the People's Communication Charter (Hamelink 1994) and related political transformations. Amongst these, national and international feminist projects take a significant place (Allen, Rush and Kaufman 1996). These, and other such projects, both require and are creating democratic and pluralist global communication networks that are increasingly specialised and professional (for Latin America, see Huesca and Dervin 1994). 

Networking as a principle of global inter-relationship. Networking is both the oldest and the most common form of human social relationship. It was only with the development of industrial and state-national capitalism that the formal, hierarchical organisation (authoritarian, representative-democratic, participatory-democratic) came to impose itself, to suck power and meaning out of such networks, to concentrate all decision-making power within itself, to project itself as both the real and ideal relational form. The transformation to a globalised and informatised capitalism brings back the networking principle with a vengeance - primarily vengeance against those subaltern strata now locked into and dependent on the traditional hierarchical organisation! There is, thus, nothing essentially virtuous about networking either now or in the recent - or pre-capitalist - past (Castells 1997). 

In talking of networking however, we are considering human inter-relationships, including those within and between organisations, in communication terms. In so far as networks are conceived of as horizontal, flexible, incorporating participation and feedback, we can also value these over the rigid hierarchical organisation, and attempt to thus distinguish `our' networks from `their' networks. We have, however, also to recognise that within any particular political domain - geographical, social, professional - networking does not only mean an informal and flexible horizontal relationship between equals and alikes, but also informal vertical relationships between equals and alikes, and informal horizontal relations between unequals and unalikes

Networks also have different architectures, such as the star, the wheel and the web (including a World Wide Web increasingly used by women's movements and feminist activists and academics: Burch 1994, Spender 1995) implying differential influence and control. Network-babble therefore needs, today, to be replaced by network analysis, including consideration of roles within, or in relation to, them, of the cost of individual/group involvement, of the extent of their connectivity, of their density, and of the role of opinion leaders (who can evidently convert a network into a following). Internationalist feminists are beginning to develop such ideas conceptually so as to analyse, for example, Latin-American/Caribbean preparations for Beijing (Guzman and Mauro 1996). 

All these complexities and qualifications notwithstanding, the idea, value and practice of networking opens wide perspectives to emancipatory global movements, previously (self-)condemned to reproduce the pyramidical and hierarchical structure of the corporation, factory, state, army, prison, church or (Godess forbid!) university. Indeed, the archetypical political party of liberal democracy was invented by the German labour and socialist movement, in its early emancipatory moment: it was criticised almost one century ago for its creation and reproduction of oligarchy (Michels 1915). If the extreme form of emancipatory internationalism was at one time represented by the Comintern (combining characteristics of early Islam, the Jesuit Order, the illegal insurrectionary movement, the spy ring and the police state), the new ideal must be the Italian one of the `biodegradable organisation' (an ideal feminists are more likely to welcome in general theory than in particular effect or as promoted practice. 

5. From national subjects to global citizens: insiders without outsiders

If citizenship is defined as a `full membership in a community', then usually people are members in more than one community, sub-, supra- and cross-states. Very often people's rights and obligations to a specific state are mediated and largely dependent on their membership in a specific ethnic, racial, religious or regional collectivity, although very rarely they are completely contained by them. At the same time, the development of ideologies and institutions of `human rights' means that ideologically, at least, the state does not always have full control of the construction of citizenship's rights... (Yuval-Davis 1996: 61-62)

[E]cological citizenship emphasises the importance of the planet as breeding ground, as habitat and as lifeworld. In that sense we could call this type of citizen an earth citizen who is aware of his [sic] organic process of birth and growth out of the earth as a living organism. This is based on the notion of care, as distinct from the notion of control. The development of citizenship from the city, via the nation-state and the region to the globe is here not just a matter of an increase in scale. With the notion of the `earth citizen' a full circle is made. The citizen is back to his roots; the earth as Gaia, as one's habitat. (Steenbergen 1992:17)

The notion of global citizenship has at least two inter-related problems attached to it. The first is that of the social, territorial inclusion/exclusion anchored historically in the concept of rights/responsibilities within a city (later state-nation). The second is its relationship to a sovereign power, whether aristocratic, monarchical or republican). A global citizenship would be one without outsiders, unless we are thinking of extra-terrestrial territories or beings. It would also be one recognising that, today more than ever, `sovereign power' at global level is complex and dispersed. Yet, given globalisation, some such notion seems not only inescapable but also attractive. 

The idea of women's global citizenship is an implication of feminist discussion of multi-tiered citizenship, itself a result of the creation of such regional polities as the European Union, and of a relativisation of state-nation centrality (Yuval-Davis 1996). It is attractive for numerous reasons. One is shown by the way in which women have been able to successfully appeal to the European Court of Justice against the British state-nation. Another of these is of `embodying' universal rights and responsibilities in people and peoples rather than the state-nation. A third is that, for the first time, a notion of citizenship and its institutions could be co-invented by feminists and fought for by the women's movement. 

The non-existence of a recognisable global sovereign is less an obstacle than a challenge to emancipatory global movements. That there is no single address for the People's Communication Charter (Hamelink 1994) or the Cultural Environment Movement (Hellinger 1996), does not prevent them from seeking for and identifying the places where power is concentrated, nor from pressing for citizen-like rights - and responsibilities - in this sphere. In this case, perhaps, global-citizens-in-the-making might be also creating a global sovereignty (subject to both perestroika and glasnost) over an increasingly privatised sphere that is monopolistic in tendency, anarchic in behaviour, intrusive and destructive of human sociality and creativity. Alternatively, or simultaneously, they might be demanding decentralisation of ownership, generalisation of access, subsidiarity as a principle of governance (Rush 1996). 

The concept of the world citizen appropriate to the era of globalisation can no longer be that of the religious universalist, the liberal cosmopolitan or the socialist internationalist. Ecological theory has already begun to conceptualise the matter, identifying as hypothetical global citizens 1) the global capitalist, 2) the global reformer, 3) the environmental manager and 4) the earth citizen (Steenbergen 1992). If it is difficult to conceive of a female equivalent to the first type, the second and third are recognisable enough in global feminist reformers and femocrats. It should not be difficult to reconceptualise the fourth in gender-sensitive terms, and to incorporate within it the necessary dynamic between universalism and difference. 

Discussion around global institutions in terms of democracy has already extended the notion of `double democratisation' - of both state and civil society - to the global level (Held 1995). If such discussion often makes a simple identification of global civil society with NGOs, critical reflection on the NGO form suggests the necessity for a third democratisation - of full citizenship within the sphere of NGOs and social movement organisations, that often reproduce the hierarchy, secrecy and competitivity of capital, state (and of those old social movements over which superiority is claimed or simply assumed). 

Conclusion: from a room of one's own to the world as one's country

Global consciousness is not just an additional insight but a frame for broader synthesis. For instance, when feminism's relevance to the whole of society encompasses the globe, it becomes possible to see that what have been defined as `development' issues in the South are called `social' issues in the North. The distinction is revealed as a false one that hides common struggles and marks potentially common activist self-definitions behind unequal donor and recipient relations. (Miles 1996:107)

`The future is no longer what it issued to be', says a graffito on a wall in Buenos Aires[...] What is to be done, then? The only route, it seems to me, is utopia. By utopia I mean the exploration by imagination of new modes of human possibility and new styles of will, and the confrontation by imagination of the the necessity of whatever exists - just because it exists - on behalf of something radically better that is worth fighting for and to which humanity is fully entitled. My version of utopia...calls attention to what does not exist as being the integral, if silenced (counter)part of what does exist... Utopia requires...deep and comprehensive knowledge or reality as a way of preventing imagination's radicalism from clashing with its realism. (Sousa Santos 1995:480-481)

This paper is about the increasing possibility of and necessity for virtuous spirals (compare Ryan 1991 on movements and media), between the local and the global, the global and the local. I have, I hope, also allowed for the possibility that these can also become vicious circles or even downward spirals (see, again, for the feminist movement in Latin America after Beijing, Alvarez 1996, Waterman 1997). So this is a plea for working on virtuous spirals between the global and local - however these are conceived - and for virtuous circles within globalised space. 

It was Virginia Wolfe, as a woman writer, who insisted on the need of a room of her own, and who, as a politically-aware woman, insisted that she had no country other than the world. The notion of a separate space/place for the development of autonomy is familiar to feminist literature. So is that of women as homeless within the nation and sharing this homelessness with those everywhere. I have put the ideas together in a manner that might suggest not only a single thought but the primacy of the global over the local. In fact the movement must go both ways and they provide a dialectical combination. The First Wave Latin American feminists mentioned earlier may, indeed, have felt more at home at an inter-American feminist gathering than within the national or domestic sphere. From this inter-national room of their own, in any case, they launched messages and re-launched themselves into national and domestic spaces from which they felt, to one degree or another, alienated. 

If, at the beginning of the century, it was more or less clear which space was national and which international, which local and which global, at the end this is no longer so. If I reflect on International Women's Day (IWD) 1997 at my own institute, it is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish the global and the local. Convened by students from the Women and Development Programme (W&D), a group of women converted this global event into a locally-relevant one on sexual harassment. An open meeting made apparent that the institute was, in its procedures, failing to fully and effectively recognise the structured inequality between harassers (male) and harassed (female). Further revealed was a locally-, nationally- or regionally-specific combination of patriarchal assumption and liberal-democratic intention. This institute is a Dutch, state-dependent, internationally-staffed and Third-World-oriented institute of Westernised development studies. The students are primarily from the Third World (i.e. two-thirds all globalised people or peoples). A number of them are feminists, formed not only by local struggles and feminists but also by First-World and even First-Worldist feminisms - as well as by such global feminism as was articulated at Beijing/Huariou (where 30-40 past W&D graduates met each other, and where violence against women was a major agenda item). Where, in this case, is the global and where the local? Which is influencing which? And, in this struggle for a citizenship recognising and allowing for difference, where does feminist power and initiative originate or lie? 

The institute is not, of course, local in the way of...Chiapas in the Deep South of Mexico (Castells, Yazawa, Kiselyova 1995-6)? Nor is it the dockers of Liverpool in the North-West of England (Lavalette and Kennedy 1996)? Both of these communities are (conscious of being) involved in globalised struggles, and one can learn about their womenfolk and women's movements from internationally accessible alternative media and the Internet: through the World Wide Web they are increasingly part of a worldwide web. It therefore occurs to me, that as global and local movements increasingly interpenetrate and inform each other, we possibly need to concentrate less on places or levels than processes and flows. 

Let us return to our opening quotations, the first by an internationally-known Indian eco-feminist, the second by a pioneering Marxist theorist of modernity and postmodernism. It is quite possible that Vandana Shiva's global-in-quotes refers solely to the hegemonic global, or to the dominant globalisation discourse: in other words to `globalism'. But there is a danger here not only of hypostatisation of the global and local but also of their binary opposition, and the investment of the first with vice, the second with virtue. There is also an allied danger of abandoning the global arena to the forces that are only trying to hegemonise something they do not fully control. The dangers of localism are revealed in the quote from David Harvey, who would see this as simply reinforcing the fragmenting impact of capitalist globalisation. His solution, however, is apparently the same as that of Shiva: think globally, act locally. 

I do not think we should today repeat the slogans of the 1960s or 1970s, when internationalisation was understood primarily in political-economic terms, when globalisation was a problem without a name and global solidarity was still called internationalism. Another orientation to that of Harvey and Shiva is suggested in the other introductory quotes. 

Emancipatory and even reformist movements are today confronted with the option between globalisation, stagnation or self-annihilation (many socialists and socialisms still seem to prefer the third option). If they do not like, or cannot express themselves, or are ineffective, within the existing global spaces, they can create their own - using the infinitely-expanding cyberspace created by capitalist globalisation. The revolutionary slogan for the next century was already invented in the 1970s, if not the 1960s. It is: `Think globally, act locally; think locally, act globally'. But `local' and `global' should now be also understood as `specifically' and `holistically'. That means that the principles I have argued for above should be valid also for relations between and within women's movements, between women's and other alternative social movements, and, consequently, for the new alternative social movements...well, globally. 


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[Peter Waterman, who retired from the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, in 1998, is author of Globalization, Social Movements and the New Internationalisms (Mansell, London and New York, 1998) and co-editor of Labor Worldwide in the Era of Globalization: Alternatives for Unions in the New World Order (Macmillan, London and St Martin's New York, 1999).

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