|1: Internationalism in history
(and six lines)
Aspirations for a single world of peace,
prosperity, equality and friendship can be found as far back as the major
world religions; they reappear in the bourgeois and liberal cosmopolitanism
of the European enlightenment; then in the labour and socialist internationalism
responding to industrial capitalism; now in the internationalisms of the
new global social movements, as well as in projects for some kind of global
civil society - or the civilising of global capitalism and democratisation
of interstate organisations.
2: Whatever happened to proletarian
The old labour and socialist internationalism
had widespread appeal to workers who had lost their old worlds of labour
and community, and were excluded from the authoritarian dynastic/bourgeois/imperial
polities; it lost its appeal with the development of liberal-democratic,
socialist or populist nation states and nationalisms - each promising or
offering protection from the world capitalist market
3: Whatever happened to socialist
The Marxists and other socialists prioritised
the labour/capital conflict, the proletarian as bearer of human emancipation
and internationalism, and a universal socialist republic as the sole and
simple alternative to international capitalism. The prioritisation of one
emancipatory subject, one conflict, one universal alternative has proven
increasingly inappropriate for an increasingly complex world in which capitalism
penetrates all social spheres - and becomes increasingly dependent on these
(e.g. the media, culture, communication).
4: 'Globalisation' is more than
capitalism's latest ideology or highest stage
If 'globalisation' was only a capitalist
ideology, all we would need to do is to critique it. If it was only
the highest stage of imperialism, all we would need to do is to
oppose it with…the highest stage of nationalism (Pol Pot? Ayatollah Khomeni?).
But globalisation, as spatial extension and temporal compression of social
relations, existed before capitalism and will continue after. Our neo-liberal
networked capitalist globalisation is n exponentially increased - and increasingly
dangerous - form of such. What is needed is a people-, cultural-, worker-,
women- and ecologically-friendly globalisation.
5: A complex globalisation provokes
The globalised networked capitalism
(GNC) now transforming the world represents an interdependent complex of
practices (economic, productive, organisational, of force, of culture and
of gender/sexuality), undermining and threatening traditional ways of life
and meaning, and even the ecological base of such - whilst offering significant
seductions and compensations: it therefore provokes a wide range of responses,
including democratic and emancipatory ones, these being addressed to the
varied experiences and problems of capitalist globalisation. [Figure
6: Three ideal-type, interlocked,
overlapping responses to the big G
Radical-democratic responses can be
interwoven with others, in complex, and contradictory ways:
a) in relation to each other, we can
see these responses in terms of celebration (spectatorship, consumption),
rejection (religious, ethnic, nationalist and even socialist fundamentalisms)
and alternatives (working through and beyond capitalism);
b) in relation to capitalist/statist
hegemony, we can see the problematic opposition/dialectic between movement
engagement and autonomy. [Figure B1 & 2]
7: A complex capitalism needs
(sorry!) a complex solidarity
Under a GNC, simple notions of solidarity
need to be replaced by a complex one (with the mnemonic ISCRAR):
this complex understanding not only
allows for the variety of past and existing forms but reveals the one-sidedness
of any particular one and provides a potential instrument for measuring,
comparing and advancing a holistic solidarity project - international,
regional, national, local. [Figure C]
8: South Africa: From a substitution
to a rainbow internationalism?
a) However significant may have been
'international solidarity' with the African National Congress, the Congress
of South African Trade Unions, the civic organisations or alternative media
in Apartheid South Africa, this was largely (not solely) a Substitution
Solidarity - with foreign states, international organisations and even
solidarity movements 'standing in' for the poor, the workers, the rebellious
b) The replacement of the Apartheid
regime by an ANC one, has been followed by a decline in international solidarity
with South Africans, and a de-centering of South Africans' interest in
international solidarity. Although, for example, there may now be a variety
of international labour, women's, ecological or gay solidarity activities
(with varied external stretch, occurring at different levels, with varied
visibility or effectivity), within South Africa, they are not necessarily
mutually linked or even mutually aware.
c) The future development of a sustainable
global solidarity politics and culture in South Africa surely requires
reflection on the many existing or possible areas, levels, reaches, directions
and expressions of such - and of some project for monitoring, coordinating
and furthering them.
9: 'Poor Mexico: so far from
God, so close to the USA'?
a) Contemporary Mexico, in both North
and Latin America, is a laboratory in which the new internationalisms are
being developed. This is all the more remarkable given the traditional
chauvinism of Mexico - elite, left and popular!
b) The Zapatistas of Chiapas, based
on rural and indigenous discontents, have been providing a major new stimulus
to solidarity activity against neo-liberal globalisation and for a meaningful
civil society - locally, nationally, regionally, globally. They offer a
striking new language for discussing such and are innovating with forms
of electronic communication and social dialogue.
c) The largely urban- and labour-based
RMALC (the Mexican network confronting the NAFTA) has not only been in
dialogue and collaboration with its Northern partners. It also provided
a major stimulus to the 'cross-frontier, cross-movement' alliance which
produced the 'Declaration of the Summit of the Peoples of America', Santiago,
Chile, 1997. It overlaps with a Mexico-European Union civil society network.
These do not provide a, far less the, model to be copied
but major new experiences to be related to and reflected upon.
d) Poor Peru: so close to Fujimori,
so far from the USA!
10: Liverpool, UK: Some defeats
are worth more than victories…
The Liverpool Dock Strike (1995-8),
though unsuccessful, reveals that the future of even the old labour movement
lies in a 'communications internationalism'. These West-European industrial
Zapatistas not only established a world-wide waterfront network (now becoming
an organisation?); they also got widespread strike support; they demonstrated
the limitations of the old institutionalised union internationalism; they
produced, or had produced for them, a music CD, TV programmes and alternative
videos; and, after defeat, have set up a worker co-operative to both teach
and produce electronic informational and cultural artefacts!
11: Relating to other people
is not what we do but who we are
A common African saying has it that
'I am who I am because of other people'. It took capitalism's individualist
ethic to convert this into 'I am what I am despite other people'. If we
are relational beings then the question is of what kind of relations one
has with these others (or Others). Globalisation means that we are moving
from a period in which reality and relations are national (or local) to
one in which they are increasingly global. We simply are related
to a global community - one so far largely unimagined. The question is
whether we recognise this, how we imagine it, and what we do about it,
in our global, regional, national, local arenas. Discovering this, and
working it out in dialogical and humane ways is the great adventure to
which we are all invited in the coming century. It is also fun (if you
don't believe this, ask an internationalist).
12: 'The future is not what it
used to be' (grafito, Buenos Aires),
'A map of the world that does not include Utopia is
not even worth glancing at' (Oscar Wilde)
An alternative to our actually-existing
global dystopia must be a not-yet-existing global utopia. We need to have
one foot here, if we are not simply to replace global neo-liberalism with
global neo-Keynesianism (the capitalist utopia of technological and managerial
pragmatists). Our utopia must differ from the old ones in being: a) realistic
(imminent in the contradictions of a GNC); b) not simply a predefined and
static 'good place' but a process of continual global dialogue between
people and peoples; c) not single but one which allows many utopias to
exist. Anyone who wants to help construct it, can join one of the increasing
number of radical-democratic and globally-sensitive networks or encounters.
Which brings us to
13: Global civil society: unimagined
a) Asked on arrival in imperial Britain
what he thought of Western civilisation, Mahatma Gandhi said, `I think
it would be a wonderful idea'. The same surely goes for a global civil
society (GCS), thought of as a democratic project.
b) The challenge of imagining and developing
civil society at more than national level is no more (or less) difficult
than it was to do so for citizenship when it shifted from the city to the
nation, or as it moves from the political to the social and economic. Given,
indeed, the relativisation of the nation-state as the privileged site of
of citizen identity and democratic activity, there is no alternative to
working this out for levels above (and below) the nation-state. There are
and always have been transborder communities of identity and interest.
What is crucial is to develop global civil society as an area both autonomous
from and engaged with globalised capital and the inter-state organisations.
c) Just as the United Nations, the
'international community' and 'international public opinion' have been
forces for the spread of liberal and/or social democracy at regional or
nation-state levels, so can be a new global-civil-society-in-the-making
for post-capitalist and post-statist values. The preservation and further
development of radical democracy and pluralism at nation-state level depends
increasingly on such global guarantees.
14: International democracy as
process: civilising global society
a) In so far as our existing GCS includes
authoritarians and fundamentalists (religious, national, ethnic, socialist,
and even ecological and feminist), this requires the civilising of relations
within and between such also. Whilst we could see the new international
radical-democratic movements and networks as the vanguard of such a process,
this is only to the extent that they 1) overcome vanguardism, 2)
recognise that emancipatory ideas and processes occur in multiple spaces,
3) come to terms with the implications of Fig. B, 1 and 2!
b) Under a GNC we must think of a global
civil society not so much in terms of institutions as of communications
(which institutions traditionally restrict). The `public sphere' nationally
is increasingly in or on TV, rather than in coffee houses, on street corners
or political meetings. A global public sphere is increasingly taking shape
on the World Wide Web, and will do so even more as TV, radio and telephone
merge in cyberspace. This requires both struggle for the democratisation
of an arena continually colonised by commerce, and development of the necessary
mass media skills, popular genres and dialogical styles.
15: Of women's spaces in globalised
places: in and from Latin America, the Caribbean, the Latinas of the North
a) The 1990s have been a decade of
intensive international experience for Latin American/Caribbean/Latina
women's movements and feminists. Confronted by the contradictory and cross-cutting
pressures of liberal-democratisation nationally, of neo-liberalism across
the sub-continent, of the globalisation of policy on women, they continued
their own networking and encounters, whilst being heavily drawn into the
UN's 4th World Conference on Women, Beijing, 1995. In the absence of any
International Gender Organisation, any International Confederation of Women,
Beijing was a historical place and time at which women's contribution to
the civilising of global society could be witnessed - and argued about.
b) Two international logics have been
identified within feminist internationalism: one of lobbying, addressing
and even entering the international/global institutions; the other of developing
an own identity and and mode of relationship between different kinds of
women, feminists, feminisms. The two logics have been sometimes positively,
sometimes negatively, inter-related. Tensions between localism and internationalism,
radicalism and reformism have affected even the now-traditional Latin/a/Caribbean
Encuentros, sometimes marked by bitter conflict or nervous evasion
(e.g. around foreign funding, which still requires analysis, theory and
c) The international is, however, now
a series of levels, and spaces, in which the LA women's movement is a permanent
presence and challenge. The international, as always, provides both support
and stimulus to the national and local. The intensity of engagement and
increasing seriousness of self-critical reflection on such, provides lessons
for other radical-democratic movements, theories and ideologies.
16: On the Battle of Seattle
a) The attempt to further an increasingly
anti- and now unpopular neo-liberal trade and financial order at the conference
of the World Trade Organisation, Seattle, December, 1999, succeeded only
in provoking unease, discontent or outright opposition to the US and and
its multinationals, from Europe and Japan, from the South, and from the
frankly anti-capitalist/statist, the environmental and trade union movements.
Learning the lessons of previous self-defeating inactivity, the US trade
unions brought 40,000 members there. Although these (along with other unionists)
were the overwhelming majority present, they by no means led or even shared
leadership of either the peaceful or violent demonstrations - nor were
they the most visible.
b) Global capital, states and interstate
organs are now taking international social movements, their computerised
communications and their international alliances seriously. Whether the
`Trade Unionists-Turtles' alliance will consolidate and be able to articulate
a common alternative to neo-liberal globalisation remains to be seen. Which
leads us back to where we began, and the problem of
17: Democratising labour's international
a) The transformation from a national/industrial/colonial
(NIC) capitalism to a GNC has brought about a crisis in the two major possible
institutional labour contributors to a GCS, the International Labour Organisation
(ILO) and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).
Both were formed as a result of major international labour struggles around
the turn of the last century. The symbiotic relation of social-democracy
(ICFTU) and liberal-democracy (ILO) is now in question.
b) The ILO, as the instance of inter-state
labour investigation, negotiation and norm-setting, has never had the powers
invested in the international financial institutions, and is now being
circumvented by them. The 11-million-member ICFTU, consists of national
and state-oriented unions that grant their international but one percent
of their income. It is dependent for almost half its expenditure on state
'development' funding. It is virtually invisible internationally when compared
with the much smaller Amnesty or Greenpeace. Although both the ILO and
the ICFTU may still be needed, neither of them is going to inspire, lead
or mobilise a new international movement around imposed work in all its
forms - nor to carry out any self-transformation.
c) The force for a necessary re-invention
of international labour affairs lies in the increasing discontent with
and protest against neo-liberalism at the shopfloor, community and national
level. But it also depends on the new networks and networking, involving
unionised, un-unionised and un-unionisable labour, linking labour horizontally,
open to other community and citizen movements. It is in open international
networks and networking (real and virtual) that alternative labour strategies,
addressed to both the international and the base, are beginning to take
d) If the heroic/tragic age of labour
and socialist internationalism is behind us, an effective labour and socialist
contribution to the new global solidarities and civil society lies
in the future. This will require labour and its ideologists/theorists to
go to school with the new radical-democratic internationalisms. But it
will also require the latter to learn from the history and engage with
present labour and socialist internationalisms. It is difficult to imagine
how a post-capitalist global alternative could be developed without reference
to socialist ideas and labour interests. But it is just as difficult to
imagine how labour and socialists are going to re-establish themselves
as respected partners after their years in the wilderness of a NIC capitalism.
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Figure A: Globalisation, its
discontents, movements and alternatives
of war via
& manipulation of gender, sexuality
commoditisation & programming
Figure C: The meanings of international
of common interest and identity
of the world unite!
You have nothing
to lose but your
chains. You have a world to win'
exclusion of the non-identical; limitation
for those incapable of standing up for
different needed/desired goods/qualities
different emancipatory experiences, ideas, cultural products
exchanges between movements, feminists on any axis
needs, desires; value of qualities, goods exchanged
time of identical goods/qualities
between London and Australian dockers, late-C19
between differently confronted women's rights activists
instrumental rationality, empty of emotion/ethics
border values, feelings, ideas, identities
of pacifists, socialists, ecologists, indigenes
of responsibility for historical wrong
for victims of complicity with Nazis
WW2 victims of Japanese
guilt? Reproduction of guilt/resentment?