A new kind of internationalism is shaping up in the Americas today.
Various movements are contributing to the development of some kind of hemispheric
civil society in response to the destructive, divisive and exploitative
globalisation now dominating the landscape. Like earlier internationalisms,
the new one, too, has its active agents. At present we know even less of
this new generation than we know of their forebears. Stimulating or collecting
interviews or testimonies from such activists, would not only provide lively
human accounts accessible to ordinary people (to whom internationalism
may still be foreign or exotic). It would also provide inputs into the
work of movement strategists, media activists, committed researchers. To
do this effectively requires some familiarity with the history of internationalism
(and its limitations), language appropriate to internationalism under conditions
of globalisation, some knowledge of past and contemporary internationalist
activists in the Americas. Offered here in turn are 1) the salutary case
of internationalist icon, Rigoberta Menchu, 2) argument on the value of
(auto)biographies in advancing a contemporary internationalism in the Americas,
3) a `critical and committed' view of globalisation, and a complex view
of solidarity, along with a heuristic model of internationalist types,
4) thumbnail sketches of six individual internationalists in the Americas
(1830s-1990s) and, 5) some concluding reflections on the relation between
the model and these sketches. An extended bibliography and resource listing
complete the paper.
For most of human history,
political and military elites have directed the foreign affairs of their
tribes, kingdoms and nations as they have seen fit, largely unencumbered
by the concerns of the common people over whom they rule [Y]
Recent history, however, has witnessed a difficult, faltering, yet clearly
perceptible, upheaval from belowYIn
recent decades, those ideals have been amplified into a `participation
revolution' around the world. From Algiers to Prague to Beijing, from Soweto
to Santiago to San Francisco, ordinary people are increasingly acting on
the idea that all people, and not just elites, ought to participate significantly
in shaping the decisions and structures that effect their lives. This `participation
revolution' has not left untouched the domain of international relations
and foreign policy making - long restricted to the control of elites. (Christian
Smith, Resisting Reagan: the US Central America Peace Movement,
Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1996, p. xvi).
[G]rasping the flow, finding and
communicating present realities that transgress nation-state imaginaries,
resembles what Walter BenjaminYdepicted
as seizing a flash in a moment of danger, a praxis for historians. The
real task of the historian, Benjamin insisted, was not to relive the past
by empathy, not to set the present aside in order to recoverYthe
way it really was. Instead, Benjamin called upon historians to be cognisant
of debts and danger, debts owed to the dead who had struggled and sacrificed
and danger in the present. This historian realises that `even
the dead will not be safe'Ywithout
historians' active intervention, that memory of losses and sacrifices will
be lost or distorted in the interests of the presently powerful, and most
importantly, that memories of past struggles, the flashes seized, can become
inspiration for political movements in the present and future.(John
D. Kelly, `Time and the Global: Against the Homogeneous, Empty Communities
in Contemporary Social Theory', Development and Change, Vol. 29,
1998. Pp. 839-71).
[T]here are two ways of contributing
to this momentY
to try to analyse the past with distance. The secondYto
break the silence. The best way of doing this - there is no other - is
to speak; or at least to write. This means to present testimony. And presenting
testimony is, perhaps, already writing history. Because the history that
will be written by future historiansYwill
be an interpretative history, done on the basis of testimonies. That of
today, that of our days, has to be, instead, a testimonial history. This
is not the history of the historians; it is that of the actors, and even
if this is not the most true, it is at least the most authentic.
(Fernando Mires, `Chile: Rompiendo el silencio' [Chile: Breaking the Silence],
Servicio Informativo ALAI. No. 279, August 26, 1998, pp. 12-16)
Introduction: of icons and internationalisms
I had just presented a first draft of this paper, in which I had included
a thumbnail sketch of 1992 Nobel Peace Laureate, Rigoberta Menchu, when
a public and international controversy broke out around her. This concerned
both her first book, I, Rigoberta Menchu (Menchu 1987) and her second
one, Crossing Frontiers (Menchu 1998a). Rigoberta was, in my original
paper, the one living internationalist. In so far as I was arguing for
research on internationalism based on either testimonies or interviews,
this controversy raised complex questions about the active agents of such
and how to study them.
I, Rigoberta Menchu (IRM) contributed to making this indigenous
Guatemalan woman activist an international icon, and provided a part of
the stimulus for US/Western European solidarity movements to propose her
for the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded in 1992. It was after this, and
with her consequent international reputation, that Rigoberta became a major
public figure, speaking to an indigenous, national and international audience
on a range of peace, democracy, indigenous rights and related issues.
The controversy about the use/abuse of the Latin American testimonio
actually began earlier amongst anthropologists and other academics in the
US (Chronicle of Higher Education 1999, Gugelberger 1996, Lancaster 1998).
It passed into the public sphere with the publication of a book on Menchu
and IRM by David Stoll (1998). This threw doubt on both the literal veracity
of her first testimony and its claim to represent the whole indigenous
Guatemalan community. Whilst, I think, treating Menchu with respect, Stoll
argues that the testimony was a product of the relationship between her,
her community, the armed insurrectionary movement she then identified with,
and the international peace and justice movement itself. Despite the New
York Times press spin on the book, with Rigoberta as a `tarnished laureate'
(Rohter 1998) Stoll has also publicly stated that he considers the Rigoberta
phenomenon as having contributed to the peace process within Guatemala
(Fernandez Garcia 1998). This was, however, not the first controversy about
the first book, since, as Stoll records, there has been a long and complex
series of disputes between Rigoberta and her Venezuelan/French interviewer/editor,
Elizabeth Burgos Debray, concerning both the text and the income from IRM.
Since the publication in English of Rigoberta's second book, Crossing
Frontiers (Menchu 1998a), another row has blown up. The co-editors
of this one accused Verso Books of intellectual theft in deliberately leaving
their names not simply off the cover but out of the book as a whole. Verso,
however, denies any intention to mislead or misuse, explaining the matter
as due to their translation having been done from a manuscript which did
not carry these names, and the following failure of the copyright holders
to point out any shortcoming in the English draft supplied them for commentary.
They have also promised rectification (Verso 1998). The accusation of intellectual
theft against Verso by Rigoberta's collaborators nonetheless suggests the
sensitivity surrounding her books.
The controversy, more significantly, suggests what happens when the
world's voiceless begin to find tongue, when for the first time the subaltern
speaks. These voices are neither innocent nor simple, nor can they be taken
as the voice of a particular community or universe. Nor are they
even heard without the mediation of comparatively wealthy, sophisticated
or powerful Others, with their own already-developed skills, institutions
and agendas - political, communicational or academic. Rigoberta has, over
the years between her two books, been partially formed by the `international
of goodwill' that both campaigned for and gave her the Nobel. But this
is not to disparage the international solidarity movements either, or even
the funding agencies largely dependent on liberal-democratic states or
capitalist corporations/foundations. It is rather to recognise a turning
point in the history of international solidarity movements. For, as Stoll's
book reveals (though this is not his intention), these have, over the last
20-30 years, operated largely on a one-way, top-down, North/West-to-South/East
axis and direction. This has been a `substitution solidarity' (see below)
in which the rich/powerful/free, left/democratic/liberal movements, in
the North/West, have related to the poor/weak/oppressed in the South/East.
As Stoll further reveals, these solidarity movements needed such icons.
And the regional/national/local movements behind the icons-to-be needed
the international solidarity movements. But this was also during the period
of North-South and East-West dichotomies. And that was before globalisation
made us aware of the South in the North and the North in the South, or
that global problems, global identities and new global social movements
existed (or could exist) across, despite of, and against these increasingly
blurred frontiers (Pollack 1998).
Regardless of the critique and controversy, Crossing Frontiers
(CF) provides a unique contribution to an understanding of the new internationalisms.
This is largely due to the manner in which it illustrates, in practical,
personal and eminently readable terms, recent academic writing on what
is variously called `global civil society', `the new internationalisms'
or `transnational advocacy networks' (see below). Rigoberta's CF will reach
many more readers than the writing of people like Stoll or myself. If these
readers now look at her and her work as my colleagues look at me and mine,
this can only contribute to creating the kind of public necessary for a
self-reflective and self-critical global solidarity culture.
Rigoberta, the person, her testimonies, her iconic status, it seems
to me, stand at another frontier crossing - between an old internationalism
(a relation between nations, nationals, nationalities, nationalisms) and
the new more complex, more critical, more self-conscious global solidarities.
If the case, finally, raises questions about the role and value of testimony
in the creation of international or global community, it also possibly
spells the end of iconisation in creating a contemporary solidarity. Internationalists,
it seems to me, need to see Rigoberta, as neither saint nor sinner but
rather as a compañera (a richly ambiguous term, meaning friend,
workmate, associate, sexual partner, or political comrade). It is in the
light of the above that we should consider study of the new internationalists
in the Americas.
Argument: a new global solidarity culture needs internationalist
So, this is an argument for an academic research project or programme
on internationalism in the Americas. It is also an argument for a research
focus that does not yet exist, but which I consider not only innovatory
but also urgent. It is an argument, further, for carrying it out in a way
that might encourage 1) input from such internationalists and 2) access
to the output by both such people and the broader public concerned. This
is not necessarily research which I will be able to carry out myself, although
I would be happy to contribute. The paper is therefore meant to stimulate
discussion, and, indeed, the independent research work of others. So much
Now for the argument itself. It seems to me that any humane, varied,
sustainable democratic and pluralistic notion of civil society, in and
across the Americas, descends from often unrecognised predecessors, is
shaped by distinct hegemonic structures and processes, but is also self-evidently
dependent on certain active agents. As Christian Smith puts it in his study
of the US-Central America peace movement of the 1980s:
social movements do not consist simply of abstract structures and contexts,
of impersonal forces and events. Social movements are, at bottom, real,
flesh-and-blood human beings acting together to confront and disrupt. They
are the collective expressions of specific people, of concrete men and
women struggling together for a cause. Bringing our focus downYto
real, concrete human beings in this way raises a set of questionsYNamely,
exactly what kinds of people participatedY?
Why did they tend to join or become recruited into the movement:
What personal characteristics or circumstances may have predisposed them
to become activists? (Smith 1996:168)
To which I would add: what lessons can we draw in order to increase
the active membership and effective leadership in such movements?
The case for writing about our particular movement auto/biographically
is as follows. This genre is not an art or skill confined to the academy
or professional writers. Neither is the reading thereof. Auto/biography
can, it seems to me, make the work of internationalist activists accessible
to publics that academic, political or even journalistic writing on internationalism
can hardly touch. It should be remembered - also by the internationalists
themselves - that internationalist activity can seem exotic and even
suspect to the public they hope to reach or claim to speak for. The
popularisation of internationalism therefore remains a permanent challenge.
In the UK recently, and possibly elsewhere, the auto/biographical literary
(and TV?) genre has been going through a boom. This may be due to a widespread
crisis of identity, or even a generalised loss of social meaning. This
in turn may be a consequence of the increasingly fast and often brutal
transition to a new neo-liberalised, globalised and networked capitalism
(GNC) and the consequent undermining of such (now-traditional) structures,
aspirations, life-cycles or relationships as lifetime wage-work, social
welfare, the family (nuclear or not), gender and generational roles, the
national community, an authoritative state, life-advancing science, empowering
education. In certain parts of our increasingly globalised world, the sense
of loss gives rise to an enthusiastic consumptionism (often vicarious)
or apathetic/sensation-seeking spectatorship, in others to mass fundamentalisms
(religious, ethnic, occasionally socialist-nationalist or national-socialist).
These responses have their own active bearers, whose lives or life-styles
may be projected nationally and internationally. It is time to present
other lives, other models, and in ways that encourage critical engagement
rather than passive admiration or thoughtless emulation.
The auto/biographical genre, with its customarily chronological and
narrative form, its varied possible combinations of the public and private
(and questionings of such), its ethical messages or dilemmas, apparently
meets a current social need. In this case it could also provide vital feedback
and raw material for interested activists and researchers. And it could
deliver raw materials for further processing by cartoon-book makers, academics,
dramatists, radio, video, TV, designers/producers of multi-media computer
works. These can, in turn, feed back to mass audiences unreachable by written
work - as well, of course, to the activists, organisers and educators themselves.
In so far, moreover, as the new global solidarities tend to increasingly
take the form of communications internationalisms (see below), this
project both expresses and furthers such. We may add to these arguments
that suggested by Fernando Mires in the introductory quotations. The implication
here is, evidently, not that the historians should be silenced but that
today the chorus should - and can? - speak. The words of John Kelly address
the post-nationalist historian more positively. These two quotations imply
a necessary and constructive dialectic between the actor/witness and the
historian/researcher (who today can increasingly be the same person). The
first introductory one, by Christian Smith, suggests that, today, the parameters
within which the people and the historians can and should speak, are global.
I know of few writings on or by such activists in the Americas,
whether recently or in the past. What exists may be only part of the life
of a figure known or seen rather as a Traveller, a Feminist, a Communist,
a Poet, a Revolutionary, a Pacifist, an Indigena, a Human Rights
Activist. There is certainly more writing, particularly in Spanish and
Portuguese, but also in English - including that sometimes forgotten America
in the non-hispanic Caribbean. More bibliographical work would expand such
databases on internationalism as may already exist. The same possibility
and necessity exists for audio-visual materials and computer websites.
Relation to the literature
This current paper is obviously inspired by my recent book (Waterman
1998a), as well as other work of my own dealing with labour internationalism
or alternative international communication and culture (see Global Solidarity
Site in resources below). Whilst there is an increasing amount of other
work to be drawn on, I will try to suggest, as briefly as possible, the
relevance of my own.
My book addresses itself to the three elements of its title: globalisation,
social movements and the new internationalisms. Globalisation is
understood in terms of a globalised networked capitalism (GNC), a period
high or radical modernity, characterised further as
that of a complex high-risk globalised information capitalism. GlobalisationYmust
be understood as multi-determined: by the market, surveillance, militarisation,
industrialism, patriarchy, technocracy, informatism, racism, etc. (Waterman
The globalisation and informatisation of capitalism is further understood
as providing the conditions necessary for an internationalism Marx thought
already existed in 1848!
The social movement that Marx considered the bearer of human
emancipation was, however, the proletariat of the industrialised capitalist
world. This working class later spread internationally but became less
internationalist with the development of the industrial(ising) nation state,
a liberal-democratic/state-collectivist/populist polity, social services,
and nationalism/chauvinism/imperialism. It has also become increasingly
socially differentiated and dispersed, both nationally and internationally.
Whilst labour internationalism is slowly beginning to revive, the major
international(ist) social movements of our day are rather those concerning
human rights, peace, women, ecology, indigenous peoples.
The new internationalisms must therefore be thought of in the
plural, with no ontological or teleological privilege granted to one of
them. The new internationalisms can be thought of in terms of a global
solidarity movement - meaning one addressed to the increasing number
of global problems produced by a GNC. In so far as the new international(ist)
social movements operate largely in network form, address themselves to
the provision of concealed or limited information, to the creation of new
meanings about that which is available, and work largely through both broadcast
and narrowcast media (particularly the internet), they can also be considered
communication internationalisms. Such new international(ist) social
movements provide the main (not sole) force for the creation of some kind
of global civil society. A GCS is itself understood as in conflict with
both statism and capitalism, as well as with patriarchy, racism, fundamentalism,
militarism and environmental destruction.
Finally a word about solidarity in the light of a complex, globalised
and informatised capitalism. I have already mentioned the necessity for
a more complex or multifaceted understanding. Such an understanding could,
I think, be profoundly liberating (Waterman 1998a:235-8):
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 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 Co-operators 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 Cupertino, 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.
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 exchanging 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 mutual
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 the
putting right of a past wrong, the recognition of historical responsibility,
a `solidarity with the past', a solidarity across time rather than space.
A Restitution Solidarity comes close, however, to inter-governmental
war reparations, with the consequent danger of buying off guilt.
The value of such an differentiated
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. The last point seems entirely relevant to the proposed project.
The argument of my book is intended to be simultaneously conceptual,
analytical and persuasive. Whilst it does not pretend to be or to proclaim
a universal truth, it is certainly intended to stimulate a global dialogue,
to contribute to a global solidarity culture, and thus lead to giving contemporary
internationalisms more shape and impact. It must be recognised that this
argument relates to but may be in tension with a number of others likewise
concerned with what one might call `humanitarian/ecological political action
across borders' or the `civilising of global society'. I will mention here
only the argument of the Brazilian scholar/activist, Mary Garcia Castro
(1998). She 1) mentions her long-time collaboration with a Caribbean/Latin
American confederation of household workers, 2) that she did not realise
until very recently that during 16 years of research and activism in the
Americas she was `transnational' or `getting global', 3) that she is still
moved by the old internationalist utopia but prefers to think of its `proletariat'
in the original Roman sense of the lowest or propertyless, class, 4) considers
problematic the notion of `an internationalist project against the State,
or against theYpolitical economy',
particularly when those supposedly involved may be only networking for
specific goals and may not consider themselves to be part of an internationalist
project, 5) recognises the existence, in Latin America, of a `proxy internationalist
project', represented by certain left-oriented organisations or groups.
I have no serious problem with most of this argument. I also understand
how even someone of socialist background could (given the disuse or disrepute
into which the old internationalisms have fallen) be unaware of their transnational
or global position or role. My only point of difference, I think, would
be that I do not see how one could ever develop an internationalist project,
or even a `proxy' one, without a historical view, a new conceptualisation,
and a strategy for achieving the kind of mass internationalism she seems
to favour! `Transnational', or `transnational organising' - terms much
used at the conference Mary and I both attended (as well as by other democratic
academics and activists in the US and UK) - would seem a limited term by
comparison. If it refers to a movement (migration and/or a social one),
to experience or activity across a border, or several borders, then `transnational'
may be an unobjectionable descriptor. But its relationship to any social
theory or social movement - past or present - is obscure. It contains no
socially/sociologically critical or politically/culturally transformatory
implication. Nor does it provide any self-reflective light that could shine
on either mass or middle-class internationalisms. `The new internationalisms',
`new global solidarity' and `global solidarity culture' are attempts to
express precisely these missing elements. In Mary's terms, they might represent
a `proxy internationalism'. But I do not see how one could turn either
an academic conceptualisation or a political/intellectual elite project
into one serving `the wretched of the earth' without at least offering,
upfront, but for discussion, something that might give them a new view
of the world and encouragement in acting effectively within and against
it. Improvements to or alternatives to such an understanding are, of course,
not only expected but invited.
Questions of method: questioning methods
Perhaps more important for those intending to either do narrative auto/biographies,
or systematic interviewing, would be
For the first, one could start with auto/biographies, published either
in English, Spanish/Portuguese - sometimes, possibly, in all three. The
advantage of published work is that it is evidently already in the public
sphere and therefore open to public scrutiny and critique. This material
does not require the negotiation of a relationship with the person concerned.
The problems with published work are, of course, many and familiar. These
works obviously represent particular (self-)presentations, requiring considerable
background knowledge for their evaluation. They may not themselves be focussed
on the internationalist activities or their subjects: indeed, the subjects
may not even see such activity as internationalism.
examples of auto/biographies, diaries or memoirs (not necessarily exemplary
ones - they could usefully include those of US `trade union imperialists'),
socio-historical methodology (particularly that of oral history),
interview techniques (relevant or adaptable interview schedules?) and tools
(audio- and videotape?).
I have, further, a major question in my mind about whether it is possible
to deal, in one study, with both the icons of internationalism (such as
Che Guevara and Rigoberta Menchu) and its unknown soldiers or officers.
The answer must be: yes, no and maybe. In so far as we are here dealing
with virgin territory, I feel that we need, initially, a map indicating
the main features of the terrain. Or - to change metaphors - the major
voices that are either speaking or can be found and encouraged to speak.
We are not dealing, as does Smith (1996) with a well-established international
solidarity movement, or a number of social movement organisations, with
membership lists, publications, collections of news clippings, coverage
in the media, leaders who have themselves written, and a certain number
of existing studies. The internationalist voices that I have so far found
or heard, tend to be those from earlier generations and those of
people who could be considered icons. In so far as this piece is intended
only to encourage or provoke research, I will leave this matter open for
further consideration of interested readers and putative researchers.
A heuristic model: agitators, agents and communicators
To stimulate the thought of both myself and others I want to suggest
that the active agents of the new internationalisms in the Americas, as
elsewhere, are no longer the internationalist agitators of the 19th
century (preaching, organising and leading the national-democratic or social
revolution wherever they happened to be). Nor are they the internationalist
agents of the 20th century (the overt or covert
representatives of nation-states or state-oriented political parties and
organisations). They are, primarily, communicators (communicating
internationalism to, networking with, and thus facilitating internationalism
by and between specific social sectors or movements).
Although largely drawn from European history and contemporary experience,
this typology has, I would like to hope, some more general value. It could,
perhaps, be argued that these types refer to three aspects of internationalism
rather than three phases. I have no doubt that this is the case.
The predominance of a certain type, however, surely relates to three
successive phases of capitalist and state-national history. These are those
of 1) early industrial and nation-state development, 2) the generalisation
of such, and 3) the current one of a globalised and informatised capitalism.
Whilst an argument can, I think, be mounted for this as an empirical/historical
statement, I am here proposing it more as a heuristic device (stimulating,
inspirational) for examining, through biographies and autobiographies,
the lives of internationalists in the Americas. Let me expand.
The first two types - the agitator and the agent - are
implicitly recognised by Eric Hobsbawm (1988). The third is my own. Speaking
primarily of Europe and the 19th century, Hobsbawm
identifies as his first type:
a small body of men and women to whom the states and the nation(alities)
to which they belonged were genuinely irrelevant, the future revolution
being, as it were, their only real `country'. In this sense Brecht's Comintern
agent `die Laender ofter wechselnd als die Schuhe' [changing countries
more often than shoes - PW] remained in the same territory wherever he
or she found themselves [...] In the Second International period we find
such people frequently among anarchists, quite often as migrants or re-migrants
from one national movement to another, notably among people born in eastern
Europe...Such persons would clearly have put their energies with equal
zeal into the struggle in Switzerland or Portugal if this had seemed politically
desirable. (Hobsbawm 1988:12)
But, talking of the period following the Russian Revolution, he identifies
a second type:
In the Comintern period [the Communist International, 1919-43 - PW]
these international cadres became institutionalised...Under the impact
of the collapse of 1914 the Comintern deliberately developed this form
of internationalism...in the form of loyalty to the international party
line and the USSR. How far this duty was actually felt to be compelling
outside the cadre of professional cadres and functionaries, is a question
which still awaits research. (ibid)
The research is still awaited. But, in the meantime, it seems to me important
to note that Hobsbawm's two types have more significance than he himself
recognises. He is, in the first place, talking about internationalists
in two distinct periods of capitalist and state development:
Hobsbawm refers, in his second phase, only to the Comintern/Soviet Union.
Whilst the USSR was not capitalist, it was certainly industrialising, modernising,
nation- and state-building, reproducing many features of industrial capitalism
and nation-statism in its internal and - in particular - its external relations.
Whilst the Comintern/Soviet Union may therefore provide us with the prototypical
internationalist activist, others were produced by Social Democracy within
industrialised capitalist democracies, as later by third-world(ist) Populist
movements and states. I call the second type of internationalist the agent,
since this word neatly covers both one who represents and one who
spies. The first operates in the public, the second in the covert,
sphere. All three left or socialist traditions - the Social Democratic,
the Communist and the Populist - produced internationalist agents, operating
across this spectrum. (So, incidentally, did the business-union tradition
in the USA, the long identification of which with national capital and
state-nationalism tended to maximise the agent role).
The first period - let us say 1815-1914 - is one of the formation
and spread within Europe (and its semi-peripheries) of a nation-state-dependent
industrial capitalism. This was a period in which the new mass class of
workers was only just undergoing transformation from subjects to citizens,
and initially felt more affinity with workers and the poor elsewhere than
with old ruling and new capitalist elites.
The second period - let us say 1918-68, is that of the maturation
and universalisation of this model (often having more success in the state-national
form than in the industrial-capitalist content!). This was the period of
maximum incorporation of the working and popular classes into the state-nation,
with socialism often acting as a left-populist nationalism.
The third type of internationalist, the communicator,
is my own addition to the typology. I see her/him as a product of a third
period of capitalist and state development:
This third period is marked, firstly, by a crisis in the state/capitalist
developmental mode, and secondly by the present movement toward a globalised
networked capitalism (GNC). Let us date the crisis from 1968. Let
us date the transformation from 1989. These are, of course, crucial
political dates for the left. 1968 is the year of the anti-statist, anti-authoritarian
rebellions (in Senegal and Mexico as well as Paris and Prague), resulting
in the pluralisation of internationalisms, later expressed in the development
of women's, environmental, human-rights and other such movements. 1989
marks another peak of protest, leading however to the triumph of an informatised
and service capitalism globally, penetrating, isolating or destroying not
only the remnants of Communism and Populism but also threatening and undermining
the state-nation and state-nationalism of the industrial capitalist period.
Let me try to characterise this new type of internationalist:
The communicator is primarily a networker, a media-activist,
educator and catalyst. S/he may both agitate and represent, but has as
primary concerns and activities:
The communicator, operating across socio-geographic-political frontiers,
in cyberspace as well as socio-political place, is the creator and bearer
of the new global political solidarities and of global solidarity cultures.
In so far as there is a common logic or ethic amongst such activists, this
could be characterised as that of radical democracy and pluralism. Radical
democracy means the democratisation of all social relations: the economic,
political and socio-cultural; from the local to the global levels; within
society, between movements, within movements, within homes - and even within
beds. Pluralism means recognition of the multiplicity and complexity of
hegemonic power and, therefore, the necessary multiplicity and multifariousness
of contributions to emancipation. Networking opens up the possibility for
large numbers of people to become active bearers/agents of internationalism,
without the special qualities/capacities (including heroism or death-wish),
that past internationalism have confined to an elite.
the provision or creation of information/ideas/images unknown to or concealed
from the public international sphere;
the creation of new meanings and values around that which is public internationally;
the empowerment of those excluded from the international public/political
spheres to formulate their own understandings of the global, to become
globally active, and to create appropriate relations in the light of such.
This third type is, of course, as much a proposed norm as an empirical
generalisation. But the others are ideal types too, as has been suggested
above and will be shown below.
It is not difficult to find evidence for the existence of the three
proposed types. It is, however, also possible, to find:
All three contemporary types are, moreover, conscious or unconscious inheritors
of earlier internationalist traditions.
agents in the first period, acting for organisations and even for
second-period agents who also agitate (as did many Comintern and
third-period communicators who agitate and/or represent (in public,
in lobbies, clandestinely).
In so far as we are only talking of three types of internationalist,
we are also limiting ourselves to the capitalist and state-national period.
Yet there are earlier traditions of what we should probably generalise
as `solidarity beyond frontiers' or `community across borders'. We cannot,
for example, forget or ignore the cosmopolitanism of the European
Enlightenment and the explicit or implicit universalism of the great
religious traditions of West, South and East Asia. These traditions also
had their agitators, agents and communicators. They have a continuing influence
in or on contemporary internationalisms (including, of course, conservative,
authoritarian and even totalitarian ones). If we consider only the immediate
precursors of 19th century internationalism, we will
find both the liberal-bourgeois cosmopolitan and the radical-democratic
(though not necessarily pluralistic) one. The word `cosmopolitan' is not,
as might appear, of Greek origin. It was an 18th century
attempt to give a secular liberal universalism some classical European
licence. The radical-democratic universalism, which preceded socialist
and labour internationalism, certainly itself drew from both the cultural
cosmopolitanism of its bourgeois-liberal predecessor and from the ethical
universalism of Judaeo-Christian religious tradition. The internationalism
of Marx and Engels is clearly and powerfully marked both by European cosmopolitanism
and Judaeo-Christian universalism.
The contemporary communicator, it seems to me, must either implicitly
or explicitly choose between such elements and traditions, as well as clarifying
the novelty of her/his own status. I would argue that this status is
or should be radically new. If globalisation seems to merely universalise
and intensify the (inter-)relations of capital and state, and therefore
to geographically universalise, socially generalise and also subjectively
intensify the contradictions of capitalism and modernity, informatisation
represents an epochal transformation, in which age-old divisions
and hierarchies are put into question. Informatisation/computerisation
not only undermines divisions between the economic, political and socio-cultural,
it potentially breaks down the division between the verbal-rational and
the audiovisual-affective modes of expression and communication. And it
makes culture/communication increasingly central to social life. The failures
of, or limitations on, past internationalisms were surely due to their
failure to become culturally embedded. Internationalism, as has
already been suggested, is itself an essentially political/territorial
notion that both politically and etymologically incorporates - and is thus
dependent on - that which it aspires to surpass: the nation-state, nationalism,
nationality. In so far as they gained influence or power, the old internationalisms
tended to take shape in the political party or the mass organisation (at
best representative-democratic) and the nation-state (at best liberal-democratic).
Whatever the communicational/cultural achievements of past internationalisms
(and they were very considerable), they tended to subordinate these to
political ends. The communicator, however, operates primarily within
communicational/cultural space. This is neither territorially limited nor
organisationally controllable (which is not to deny the relative power
over them of Walt Disney Inc., Bill Gates and the US state). The new radical-democratic
internationalist communicator may work within or between nation-states
and organisations, but s/he acts also as a subversive element within -
or innovatory alternative to - such. How far, to paraphrase Hobsbawm, this
possibility is felt to be compelling outside the cadre of contemporary
internationalists is, of course, another question which awaits research.
Internationalists in the Americas: also agitators, agents and
Here are a few thumbnail sketches of, and reflections on, internationalists
in the Americas. They are based on material I have immediate access to,
and inspired by the concepts spelled out above. They include only one North
American internationalist, with whom I managed to do a short taped interview.
The cases do not include - because of unfamiliarity - the tradition of
bolivarismo, a Latin American internationalism with a long history,
which interpenetrates the others. Many other individual internationalists
or internationalisms are here ignored. Nor do the cases necessarily illustrate
my typology (but this, it will be remembered, is not the purpose of the
Flora Tristan (1803-44) was a pioneering utopian socialist,
feminist and traveller, of Franco-Peruvian origin, who voyaged to Peru
in 1833-34, in an attempt to claim a share of her father's fortune. She
wrote L'Union ouvriere, considered a forerunner of the 1848 Communist
Manifesto, and L'Emancipation de la femme, an early feminist
tract. It was not only Flora who imagined herself a saviour of suffering
humanity. She lost her life whilst travelling in France to spread her doctrine
amongst workers, who themselves considered her `the workers' saint'. Flora
can be seen as both a representative of European cosmopolitanism and a
forerunner of labour and socialist internationalism. Her Peregrinations
of a Pariah is the work of a cultured European traveller rather than
anything reflecting solidarity with any non-elite Peruvians. Her
earlier Necessity for a Warm Welcome for Foreign Women, however,
also makes her a precursor of feminist internationalism. Her later Workers
Union, is expressed in universalistic language, which, in classically
European cosmopolitan style, ignores rather than confronts relations between
nations and nationalities. In her later years she also spoke out against
racial discrimination. Flora was nothing if not an agitator for her radically
democratic and cosmopolitan ideals. In Peru she has been adopted into the
national pantheon, and is memorised in the name of one of its major, internationalist,
feminist centres. Her existence reminds us that our subject matter must
be internationalists in (or and) the Americas rather than American internationalists.
(See the introduction to Tristan 1986, Billington 1980:487-8).
Pablo Neruda (1904-73) is not only the outstanding national poet
of Chile but also of Latin America, and a major figure in 20th
century poetry more generally. Neruda was the son of a railway worker,
entered the bohemian world of Santiago, travelled the Americas, Asia and
Europe, either as a lowly-paid consul, an internationally-hunted exile,
or as an official ambassador and honoured poet. Always identified with
the poor and (semi-)colonised, Neruda's poems sing of the nature, culture,
history and poor of Chile, Latin America and the world. Much of his work
is a poetic journalism, speaking for and to the poor, the rebellious and
their revolutionary leaders. His involvement in the Spanish Civil War confirmed
his movement toward Communism. He organised international artistic solidarity
events and the rescue of those who were trying to escape from Franco. Through
his travels he met numerous radical intellectuals and artists, as well
as leading nationalist and revolutionary leaders and statesmen. In 1945
he read a poem of praise to the newly-released Communist leader, Luis Carlos
Prestes (see below), in front of a crowd of 100,000 in a Brazilian stadium.
In Chile he was a national political figure as well as an artistic one,
identified with successive leftwing regimes there. He was active in the
post-war conferences of the (Communist) World Peace Council. Neruda received
a Stalin Peace Prize (Communist alternative to the Nobel Prize) at the
instance, he proudly suggests, of Stalin himself. Later he became a member
of the now-renamed Lenin Peace Prize Committee, which continued to serve
as an instrument of Soviet policy. Neruda finally received the expected
Nobel Prize for literature in 1971. He wrote poems of praise to the Soviet
Union and Stalin, and was critical of both China and Mao. Even at the end
of his life, and after the Soviet invasion of Prague, he only marginally
qualified his identification with Communism. Neruda's continental and global
vision, his republican nationalism and cosmopolitanism, his combination
of the artistic life with political activity, of the politics of movements
with those of the state, ensure that he rises above and survives the party
with which he was identified. He was a successor to the great cultural
cosmopolitan travellers of the 18th and 19th
centuries (consider Lord Byron and his fatal voyage to aid Greece). His
direct and simple mode of expression made his poetry accessible in translation
beyond the Spanish-speaking world - and the traditional public for poetry.
He was certainly an open agent of national and international Communism,
but also an agitator for a humane and egalitarian world. He reminds us
of the importance of a cultural cosmopolitanism to any internationalist
project. (Neruda 1977, 1993).
Olga Benario (1908-43) was a militant and adventurous German
Communist, who became a Soviet/Comintern agent, was appointed a
bodyguard for the Brazilian Communist leader, Luis Carlos Prestes (with
whom she fell in love), was involved in a disastrous Communist uprising
in Brazil, 1935, was arrested and eventually sent back to Nazi Germany
by the Getulio Vargas dictatorship, and was killed in prison in 1943. Whilst
in prison in Brazil, an impressive international solidarity campaign was
mounted which, whilst rescuing neither her nor him, succeeded in saving
other refugees and suspected revolutionaries who the Vargas regime was
trying to ship back to fascist states in Europe. As a woman revolutionary
and internationalist, Olga has both predecessors and followers, both in
Latin America and more widely, raising questions about the particular sphere
of freedom that internationalist activity might have offered women. But
she is also a typical agent, of either gender, in so far as she
identified with her (inter)national party, and was both trained and dispatched
by the Soviet party/state. The tragedy of Olga, it seems to me, was not
only her involvement in the disastrously misjudged three-day attempted
coup (reminding us of Prestes' background as a radical-nationalist military
adventurer, for which see Post 1997:Chapter 4), nor her murder by the Nazis.
It was the reconciliation of Prestes with Vargas, consequent on the latter
breaking with the Axis powers in 1942, modifying his dictatorship, restoring
relations with the Soviet government, and thus enabling the Brazilian Communist
Party to get a respectable percentage of the vote in forthcoming elections.
After her death Olga had seven streets and 91 schools, factories and workers'
brigades named after her in the no-longer-existing German Democratic Republic.
She also has one such street in a city in the state of Sao Paulo. Curiously,
she is excluded from the official German Democratic handbook on the international
labour movement (Institut fuer Marxismus-Leninismus 1986). Her fate was
not unlike that of many internationalists of the period of nation-state
based capitalist development. Others were even less fortunate, being persecuted
not by the enemy but the state they served (Billington 1980, Caballero
1986, Hooks 1993, Morais 1990, Porter 1988, Post 1997, Trepper 1977).
Che Guevara (1928-67) is not only the most famous revolutionary
internationalist activist of this century but is also considered something
of a theorist of internationalism. Yet, whilst he wrote extensively about
Latin America, the Third World, imperialism, revolution and international
economic, political and military relations, he seems to have rarely addressed
himself to the concept of internationalism and, where he did so, tended
to conflate `ties of proletarian internationalism' with support for - evidently
non-proletarian - `wars of liberation' (quoted Gott 1996:34). Initially
an adventurer, who travelled the sub-continent as far as Miami(!), Che,
an Argentinean, was inspired by the bolivarista tradition, and threw
himself into the struggle to defend the radical-nationalist Arbenz regime
in Guatemala against a US-backed military coup (1953). He then became involved
in the Cuban Revolution and was a leading figure in the new revolutionary
government. Along the way he became a convinced Marxist-Leninist, though
later critical of the Soviet variety. The combination of radical-nationalist
bolivarismo and socialist Marxism-Leninism served well in contributing
to the various tercermundista (thirdworldist) international(ist)
projects produced in Cuba at this time. These ranged from the diplomatic,
to the political-agitational, and, at the extreme, logistical/military/intelligence
support to insurrectionary movements. Nor must we forget the cultural internationalism,
of which the brilliant posters were just the best-known products. Che increasingly
involved himself personally with such revolutionary movements, notably
- and unsuccessfully - in the Congo (1965) and in Bolivia, where he met
his death. Che, combining the youthful irreverence of the 1960s, the looks
of a Dean or Brando and the aura of Jesus - was the outstanding international
icon of the generation of 1968. Che was himself uneasy in the new Cuban
state he had helped bring into existence and sought to contribute personally
to a tricontinental insurrection. After his death, his tradition was continued
by the Cuban party/state, in the person of Manuel `Barba Roja' Pineira.
Later Cuba became increasingly involved in military aid to Third World
regimes, some of a distinctly repressive, militaristic and even imperial
nature. Che as icon lives on, as could be witnessed in streets and shacks
on the 30th anniversary of his death in Latin America,
1997. He has also been the subject of two major biographies, both of which
throw light on his internationalism. He may be the last great representative
of insurrectionary nationalist internationalism. Yet Che, as portable and
reproducible icon, also points forward to the communications internationalisms
of the present day, for which the audio and visual count as much as the
written and spoken. He, too, combines (or exchanges) the roles of agitator
and agent. (Anderson 1997, Billington 1980, Castaneda 1993:51-89,
Castaneda 1997, Dijk 1993, Keane 1995).
Chico Mendes (1941-88) was and remained an organiser of the rural
poor in one of the most isolated areas of the world, but one increasingly
afflicted by globalised exploitation and despoliation. He was trained by
a Communist survivor of one of Brazil's waves of repression, listened to
Radio Moscow, and became a rural labour organiser and ecological activist.
He was associated with the wave of union organising that helped end Brazil's
long period of brutal military rule, as with the Workers Party that came
out of this and that remains a major force within national politics. Yet
it was as an ecological activist that he became internationally known,
being taken to the international stage by environmental movements active
in the Amazon. Chico was one of a new generation of local heroes, enabled
by international social movements, and the globalised media, to become
an international one. Chico's life bridges the old social movements and
the new, the old and new internationalisms. His growing international reputation
was insufficient to protect him from the wrath of local land-owning and
elite interests, who gunned him down and have never been indicted for the
crime. He is one of the first of a new breed of `local internationalists'.
Hardly an internationalist networker, Chico certainly embodied and
communicated the necessity for global solidarity. Ten years after his death
the New York Times was recording his genius in reaching out to the
global environmental movement, and the victory of the PT in his home state.
(Mendes 1989, Revkin 1990, 1992, Schemo 1998).
Rigoberta Menchu (born 1959), a Guatemalan indigena and
human-rights activist, stands in the footsteps of Che as a Latin American
and international icon, but would seem otherwise as much a figure of our
globalised and networked capitalism as he was of the industrialising and
state-national one. She is, as was Chico Mendes, of popular and rural origin,
adding to these brands those of woman and aboriginal. Where he was, however,
ineffectively protected internationally, she has evidently been adequately
so. As a noted figure on the international stage, even before her receipt
of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, she hardly fits the back-office, computer-operating,
networker mould. But Rigoberta's activities and thoughts reveal
the extent to which she incorporates many of those of her less-known opposite
numbers. She also suggests the possibility of becoming a notable figure
on the continental, international or global stage without losing local
roots and relevance. Rigoberta was persecuted locally and nationally, has
lived a life of forced exile, worked with refugees in Mexico, become aware
of herself as a Mayan whilst living in Chiapas, Mexico. With the help of
non-indigenous friends, organisations and churches, Guatemalan and foreign,
she taught herself fluent Spanish and gained basic medical skills. She
spent a number of years teaching herself how to operate within inter-state
organisations and international NGOs, without necessarily succumbing -
or subordinating herself - to their own myths and procedures. Along the
way she has extended her interests, understandings and political demands
to those of the women's, peace and ecological movements. Her second book
is entitled Crossing Borders, but this title does not begin to suggest
the extent to which it is not only about her activities but her reflections
upon such. It is particularly in these chapters that we can find ideas
common to the new internationalists/isms expressed in simple - but by no
means simplistic - ways. All these come within her range: indigenous and
minority cultures, human and democratic rights more generally, respect
for differences (surprisingly or even shockingly encountered), identification
with Muslim women in ex-Yugoslavia or indigenous minorities in South Asia,
the necessity for multi-cultural nationalisms, environmentalism, a critical
but engaged attitude toward modern technology (she travels with a laptop)
and media, the rejection of ethnic or religious fundamentalism. Rigoberta
does not now identify herself with any national or international party
- thereby having been apparently disregarded by the major Guatemalan guerrilla
movement she once identified with. Again in tune with the new internationalisms,
Rigoberta does not hold back in this book from critical self-reflection,
either personal or in relation to indigenous peoples and movements. Rigoberta
has used her international fame and fortune to create a foundation in her
own name (of which we are only provided glimpses). She has turned herself
from a victim of local, national and global forces into a protagonist of
another kind of local, national, regional and global order. (Menchu 1998a).
Steve Zeltzer (born 1949) might be somewhat embarrassed to find
himself in such illustrious company. He is a skilled engineering worker,
married to a Japanese woman who shares his political views and takes part
in much of his activity. Steve lives between a largely Latino main street
and a pleasant middle-class area of the San Francisco peninsular. His house
overflows with left and union books and papers about or from a dozen countries,
with ageing audiovisual and computer equipment, as well as with Japanese,
African, Latin American and other artistic objects he and Kuzmi have collected.
The kitchen is pungent with the Japanese food Kuzmi still evidently favours.
Upstairs there is a mattress on the floor of the spare room, ready for
the visiting comrade from Russia (or The Netherlands). Steve is a third
generation leftist, both his father and his grandfather (a Russian Jewish
immigrant) having been active in labour politics, organising or protest.
He began to be politically active at high school. He studied history and
economics during the heady late-1960s, being involved in an anti-Vietnam
War strike at San Francisco State University - and has an old newspaper
clipping and photo to prove it. As a militant socialist, he wanted to become
involved in labour struggles and found himself a job on the waterfront
(where the radical and internationalist International Longshore Workers'
Union was and is active). He then worked as a university librarian, being
involved in a strike, before qualifying himself as an engineer. He has
long been a member of one of America's tiny vanguardist socialist parties
and is currently a union shopsteward. Steve works at his job 40 hours a
week, carrying out his political activities evenings and weekends. He says
he became a Marxist and an internationalist already at high school and
university in the heady 1960s. As a Trotskyist he considered the workers'
struggle an international one. His early solidarity activities, in the
1980s, included support for Turkish comrades and for the release from prison
of South African union leader, Moses Mayekiso. He was active in a campaign
to prevent US intervention in the Middle East - a controversial issue given
the widespread Zionism of US Jews and the pro-Israeli position of many
US unions. His Latin American contacts are limited. He has been able to
publicise videos of labour struggles in Peru and Mexico. But he points
to the language problem (his?) in developing work with Latin America, as
well as to the low level of labour media work there compared with Japan
and Korea. He is, however, aware of such activity in Brazil, having learned
of this through video. If Steve is known nationally and internationally,
it is because of his work with the San Francisco-based LaborNet website,
because of his work with a national organisation of union communicators,
UPPNET, and - above all - because of his sponsorship of the international
LabourTech conferences. It was in the early-70s that he first became convinced
of the necessity for labour to get on TV. In 1983 he was co-responsible
for setting up the first labour programme on cable TV in the US. This had
some international coverage. The Labour Video Project now has some 10 people
involved, making contributions to the fortnightly programme. It has produced
videos about South Africa and other countries and broadcast numerous foreign
labour videos. He considers it important to simply show US workers how
workers live and struggle abroad. Steve is interested in labour making
use of an interface between video and the internet, thus permitting the
rapid and cheap exchange of labour videos internationally. In 1991 Steve
was the main figure behind the first LabourTech conference, bringing together
video, radio and computer. He invited to the conference people both from
the centre and the periphery of the labour movement, both academics and
activists, both from the US and internationally. LabourTech conferences
have been held in San Francisco, in Minneapolis, in Vancouver and in Moscow.
Steve played a major role in the LabourMedia conference held in Korea,
late-1997. Also present were labour media specialists from South Africa,
East Asia, Canada and the US, the UK and other countries. South Korean
labour-support groups and unions here first demonstrated both their interest
and capacity to play an active role in international labour communication.
The first East Coast labour and electronic media conference was to be held
January 1999 in New York, with Steve and others from his international.
It was in the 1970s also that Steve became aware of the Institute for Global
Communication (better known nationally through its PeaceNet, internationally
through the Association of Progressive Communications). This has been one
of the main bases of and stimuli for movement-oriented computer communications
internationally. Out of APC/IGC came the formation of LaborNet, still one
of the largest labour computer networks in the US. Steve is also a familiar
figure on the left within Bay Area. He made the first computer contact
between the Liverpool dockworkers and the San Francisco longshoreworkers.
He is involved with the LaborFest, held every July, which commemorates
the great San Francisco strike of 1934, and provides an opportunity for
an international labour video festival. UPPNET, as a network of labour
video and radio programmers, has become a national and even international
network. It collaborates with people in Canada, South Korea and Japan.
It produced All for One, a video about international solidarity
with the Liverpool dockers' strike (1995-8). Steve holds to the principles
of labour internationalism he developed as a young Trotskyist in the 1970s.
He sees globalisation and the new information technology as both requiring
and making possible the Marxist ideal. The main difference he notes between
the old left internationalism and the new one is precisely the new communications
technologies. He sees these as tools and channels making possible a democratic
labour internationalism and solidarity threatening not only capital, state
and US world domination but also the traditional labour bureaucracies.
These he sees as highly dependent on both nationalism and the control of
information. Yet the working class, as an international class, and as those
responsible for production and consumption, need to be able to control
these internationally as well. Whilst he recognises the other new internationalisms,
such as those of the ecological movement and women, and their use of the
new technologies, it is obviously that of labour which he considers the
most important. Speaking of communications and internationalism he says:
I think it is the cutting edgeYI
do think that if you are an internationalist - if you consider yourself
an internationalist - you cannot beYwithout
being a communications internationalist. So in that sense, it's actually
critical to be into communications, at least with the computer on the internet.
You have to use the tools of telecommunications to be a real internationalist.
And whether you like it or not that is the reality. (Zeltzer Interview
Conclusion: holding up a mirror to the model
There are more things on earth and in cyberspace than are dreamed of
in our discourses. It is therefore time for at least some rapid reflections
on the relationship between the model offered and the cases sketched.
First our historical cases. I have already commented on the relationship
between Flora and Neruda, on the one hand, and a liberal cosmopolitanism
on the other. The same is, however, also partly true for Che. Although
he is evidently someone of my second period and someone who could still
be alive today (like Fidel Castro), he seems to me a 20th
century bearer of a much older radical-democratic, cosmopolitan and insurrectionary
internationalist tradition. This is well represented historically by 1)
Tom Paine (1737-1809), the Englishman who threw himself successively into
the American and French Revolutions, and who was known in the Caribbean
(Dyck 1993, Keane 1995), and 2) Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-82), an Italian
who organised a guerrilla war for the liberation and unification of Italy
in the 1860s, after having also fought for the independence of Uruguay
(Billington 1980). Their hopes and struggles for universal justice found
expression in the creation of modern liberal (and either more or less democratic)
nation states. We may here have recourse to the notion of `mixed times'
(Calderon 1994) offered as a way of understanding a contemporary Latin
America that is simultaneously premodern, modern and postmodern. This notion
is subversive of the evolutionary typology it reproduces, suggesting a
dialectical understanding of history, and an appreciation of what the past
can offer both present and future. Che, representing a charismatic and
heroic nationalist internationalism (Latin American or Third Worldist),
burst upon a world in which the reproduction of a European state-building,
industrialising nationalism was not only blocked (by transnational capitalism
and Western military power). It was also a world in which new social movements
were beginning to question statism, nationalism, militarism, industrialism
and machismo. Yet the notion of a Latin American (or wider) identity
and community, and of a total personal commitment to such, is one which
remains to be realised and which certainly still has some appeal in Latin
I have treated Olga Benario as a second period agent. These tended to
be subordinated to organisations and institutions that required loyal representatives
- whether legal or clandestine. It is not universally true that such people
lacked personal autonomy (take the critically-minded US citizen, Joseph
Freedman (1938), who worked for the Comintern). But Olga appears to have
been overwhelmed by the insurrectionary nationalism of Luis Carlos Prestes
and his comrades, on the one hand, and the (from time to time) insurrectionary
internationalism of the Soviet Union/Comintern, on the other. Additionally,
as I have already suggested, she draws our attention to the particular
attractions of internationalism - and clandestinity - for women. The international
provided and sometimes still provides a space of relative freedom for women
(Waterman 1998a:Ch. 6). This understanding provides a link back, or sideways,
to the woman cosmopolitan or traveller. It also points us forward to the
internationalism of those US women who provided the majority in the Central
America peace movement (Smith 1996), and, of course, to feminist internationalists
in the Americas (Alvarez 1997, Randall 1992:13-39, Vargas 1996, 1998).
Neither Rigoberta nor Chico may be the kind of person who springs to
mind as an active agent of internationalism in the present era. I have
myself been thinking more of those operating more modestly, or out of the
public eye. These are exemplified, perhaps, by the earlier-mentioned Manuel
Pineira (and his muchachos machos). The sketches above, however,
do remind us that the creation of an internationalist culture has, till
now, required both exemplary public figures and spectacle (combined in
Pablo Neruda's 1945 poem to Luis Carlos Prestes, read before tens of thousands
in a Brazilian stadium. See Neruda 1991:144-6). This may also seem to be
the case in our present epoch, marked, as it is, by an increasing loss
of respect for elite figures, whether from politics, the churches or elsewhere,
and the increasing centrality of the newspaper, movie, TV or musical spectacle.
In the UK, and elsewhere, the playgirl but dissident Princess Diana (and
her work for the poor and rejected (inter)nationally!) became, dramatically,
if momentarily, invested with public virtue. In the same year, for different
people in other places, the dying Mother Teresa filled this role. The existence
of icons, however, is inevitably connected with the creation of both myths
and worship. If they encourage idolatry they also provoke iconoclasm, neither
of which would seem helpful to the creation of a friendly exchange between
different-but-equals that a global solidarity culture would seem to require.
The cases of Chico and Rigoberta also raise the question of the
class/social origin, occupation and lifestyle of internationalists. Most
19th and early 20th century socialist
internationalists were, like Marx, Engels, Lenin, and the Peruvian Jose
Carlos Mariategui, from the intellectual and/or cultural elite, however
modest their origins or restricted their lifestyles. The skilled English
engineering worker, Tom Mann (Tsuzuki 1991), is one famous exception, in
so far as he customarily travelled with the tools of his trade, harking
back to a pre-industrial world of wage labour; and his later Communism
might have insured against him becoming, in the inter-war period, a comfortably-paid
international bureaucrat. The much-travelled left-nationalist Latin American
revolutionaries of the era of Che were customarily from the educated classes
(an exception might be Pineiro's muchachos). In so far as Rigoberta
takes part in (inter)national political life, she is surrounded by a lifestyle
customarily enjoyed by an educated, urban and cosmopolitan elite. The question
is whether, today, computerised and globalised communication and culture
will make possible a matching/opposed democratisation of internationalism.
Can it, in other words, make internationalism part of daily life for the
There are here at least two aspects for consideration: the first
is of the extent to which the common people can take control of
an internationalism that traditionally speaks for them; the second, the
extent to which it can take place where they live, work and - often prematurely,
sometimes violently - die. Whilst it is evident that a GNC is being shaped
by and for globalised and networked capitalists, the technologies these
dominate do allow for both democratisation and localisation. In so far
as the new global solidarities need to be both borne by the relevant collective
social subjects (workers, lesbians, consumers) and expressed locally (in
Liverpool, UK or Chiapas, Mexico), if they are to be both meaningful and
effective, such possibilities surely need to be realised (Lipschutz 1996).
This leads me, finally, to the case of Steve Zeltzer, the one live,
back-office, internationalist in the set, the only one interviewed in the
light of my paper. He reminds us, firstly, that internationalists in the
Americas do not necessarily confine themselves or even concentrate on internationalism
in the Americas. Steve, secondly, shows how it is possible to have quite
traditional views on internationalism whilst acting effectively in the
present (mixed times?). He is not the only such case I know, particularly
amongst those involved precisely with labour internationalism. I know a
number of (ex-) vanguardist socialists who are active as communications
internationalists. Like some of the others I am acquainted with outside
the Americas, Steve has thrown himself enthusiastically, and with some
technical competence, into the new mediated world order. If these men have
little feeling for the new social subjects and their internationalisms
(particularly women and feminism), they all see the new media as a privileged
space for creating an internationalism for labour. Steve is, again, not
the only one of them who sees the electronic media as `tools' or `channels'
- as means to a previously known end. Whilst having a strong feeling for
the democratic potential of the electronic media, and whilst evidently
themselves here discovering a privileged space for internationalist self-expression,
they do not necessarily consider that what is created in this space might
be subversive of the old labour and socialist internationalism. As someone
who abandoned his own vanguardism 30 years or more ago, I felt an initial
reluctance interview, as a communications internationalist, someone who
reproduces the socialist myths of 50 years ago! How is it possible that
Steve nonetheless makes a valuable contribution, even plays an innovating
role, in the advancement of the new internationalism? I believe this has
to do with something which does not come out of the interview: a certain
type of personality and a way of relating to others. Steve combines great
energy, a devotion to his work, technical competence in carrying it out,
and a capacity to relate to a broad range of people within the labour movement.
Whilst he is not averse to plugging, in international events, his own particular
political line, he has evidently won the respect of even those very US
labour bureaucrats he most berates!
It seems - and with this thought we must bring the paper to an end -
that the creation of a new internationalism requires not so much the right
ideology but a particular kind of behaviour, a way of relating to other
people, and to their ideas. A communications internationalism is not simply
an internationalism that uses the media or communicates through
it - even if this might be the way that Steve and his fellows see the matter.
A communications internationalism is also an internationalism that communicates
in the sense of creating a sense of community. And here we return
to the necessity and possibility of a growing number of ordinary citizens
of all the Americas (armed with information, disposed to tolerance and
flexibility, culturally sensitive, equipped with technology, committed
ethically) creating global solidarity communities of their own. In order
to achieve this, we need to show people internationalist activists to whom
their response may be `I admire her/him', but must be `I
should do that', `I could do that' and even `I would enjoy doing that'.
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Dictionaries and handbooks. I have used these
whilst writing this and related papers. They are useful not only for the
provision of names and dates but also for what they themselves reveal of
their own presentation, interpretation - and silences - concerning the
cosmopolitan/international (see above: Appiah and Gates 1997, Buhle, Buhle
and Georgakas 1992, Institut fuer Marxismus-Leninismus 1986). Appiah and
Gates is an excellent handbook but has no entries on women or feminism
as such. BB&G 1992 has a number of valuable entries (such as Garveyism
and C.L.R. James) but is surprisingly thin on internationalism, for which
it has no specific entry. The IM-L, despite its (East) German Communist
origin, has nothing on the internationalist German Communist heroines,
Olga Benario or Tamara Bunke (the German/Argentinean `Tania' who accompanied
Che Guevara in Bolivia and died there also).
Amazon electronic bookstore The major US electronic
bookshop www.amazon.com often works
better than a library or database, and most of the books can be ordered
(or looked up in a local library). It can be usefully searched for `international',
`labour' and even `international labour' (to give one relevant example).
It also lists some Spanish titles. Amazon now operates in and from the
UK and Germany, providing a more rapid ordering service in Europe. Searches
of Amazon for `internationalism' and `global solidarity' can be found under:
Cultural Survival International http://www.cs.org/main.html
This provides an on-going international site for information and debate
on indigenous issues, including both academic and activist voices, and
has had considerable coverage of the Rigoberta Menchu controversy.
Cities, Citizens and Power http://www.chavez.demon.nl/
A Uruguayan Ph.D. student at the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague,
Netherlands, Daniel's particular interest is urban democracy, development
and movements, from the city to the global level. He has a more general
interest in regional civil societies internationally. He has web skills,
as can be seen from his self-designed site. He lists useful Latin American
links, and, at time of writing, has ambitions to extend these to global
civil society. The site is bilingual.
The Global Solidarity Site (GloSoSite) http://www.antenna.nl/~waterman/,
is divided into two major parts, one personal, the other general. The personal
side includes my own books, articles, and, particularly, recent review
articles related to networking, labour and other internationalisms, and
a global solidarity culture/communication. The general side includes articles
and documents by others, some mentioned above, others relating to the theme.
A sidebar on the home page provides a limited number of relevant linkages,
mostly to sites that themselves provide good links and other resources
in their specialised areas. GloSoSite is currently being improved and extended.
The latest version of this paper can, e.g., be found under
Mayday Database http://www.antenna.nl/~waterman/ALISIS.MFN.html
is my personal computerised bibliography, on WinIsis, with some 3-4,000
entries, many of them concerned with internationalism, some with internationalists
and some with the Americas. The data is not always systematic and there
are no abstracts and the data is not searchable except by names and keywords,
either online or after downloading. I am negotiating with my Internet Service
Provider, Antenna, to convert this into a searchable on-line bibliography
of an increasingly familiar type.
Patria Grande: Una pagina con sabor latinoamericano.
is an imaginative and attractive site, created by Hector Velarde, from
Mexico. Covering outstanding individuals (some mentioned in this paper
or the bibliography), countries, ideas and further relevant links and resources,
this site reflects the spirit of bolivarismo.
Sociofile bibliography on internationalism.
This major academic database (to be found in US and other libraries as
a CD-ROM) covers a period of more than 20 years, is a major resource for
research. My search, using the keyword `internationalis*', turned up 384
entries. Many may be irrelevant to `internationalism' and `internationalists'
but it nonetheless reveals angles usually forgotten in movement-oriented
research on these topics. These include `internationalism' or `internationalists'
in sociology, social work, education and science. This is very much a US
database (though Spanish-language entries can be found), and `internationalism'
in this country is most frequently understood as meaning the opposite,
in foreign policy or international relations, to `protectionist'! I have
saved a copy of my search on GloSoSite. But, although I have marked it
with @ and @@ for relevance to my project proposal, readers are advised
to go to the source: http://www.antenna.nl/~waterman/sfinternatbib.html.
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).