On behalf of the people (some divergence between Patrick and

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at xxxxxxxxxxx.xxx
Wed Jan 24 00:55:59 MST 2001

Mark Jones wrote:

> > I think I'm the target, today, of Mark's (>) scathing tripple >s
> > (having recently endured my fair share of surprise Xmas whacks from
> > Jonesy on his Crashlist):
> I don't think I've been attacking you on Crashlisrt. I raised some issues on L-i,
> and am waiting hopefully for your responses.
> >
> > > From:          "Mark Jones" <jones.mark at btconnect.com>
> > > > > Still, in a more practical vein,
> > > Oy, vey, spare me this 'practice' of yours.
> >
> > Damn Mark, I used to get this kind of cynicism from Louis, prior to
> > Seattle. Then he got smart and now leaves me alone when I talk about
> > radical social movements.


> >Pat, 50 years after a gigantic wave of national liberation and anticolonial
> struggles, what is left?
> >Now you are putting forward the 'new social movements' as an alternative: this is
> just a cruel joke.

Important observation yet still worth considering. I don't know if  the usage dates
earlier, but the concept of  "new social movements" must have been  invented by Jurgen
Habermas in the 70s to account for the rising  ignifigance of civil society movements
in the  _West_ ( egalitarian feminism, peace, environmental and student
movements).Contrasting "new" social movements with "old" social movements, Habermas
argued that the former was driven by non-economic concerns whereas the latter was
motivated by economic concerns (class struggle). This distinction was further
elaborated by mainstream political scientists like Ronald Inglehart to initiate a
discourse about  the end of  class politics and  rise of post-industrial society.
Inglehart argued that class was no longer relevant in the age of  new identity
politics; Marxism was outmoded, communism collapsed,  anti-colonialism was defeated,
liberal culture won etc...

Furthermore, Habermas saw _new_ social movements emerging in the West as agents of
progress (In Towards a Rational Society, The Structural Transformation of the Bourgeois
Public Sphere). Then, he designated the movements staying outside his own
category--anti-colonial struggles in the 60s, minority movements in the West, recent
Islamic& ethnic/indegenous movements around the world-- as  potentially destructive,
identiterian, culturalist and parochial. Later on, Foucault scholars and revisionist
historians from the Gramscian camp (Ryan and Eley), and currently post-modernist crowd
underlined the potential modernist bias in Habermas and instead came up with the idea
of "new social movements" as potentially resisting and transformative. Radical
pluralists charecters ( Iris Young) have recently joined this trend in search of
inserting "group specific" demands into politics. Autonomous Marxists have the similar
kind of transformation from below rhetoric despite Negri's predictions for
globalization and declining signifigance of the nation state.

In my iview, hardly any of these folks, even the ones inspired by Gramsci (ie Mouffe),
has clearly defined a  notion of  social movements in anti-capitalist sense. In fact,
there is a urgent desire to *separete* social movements from the class basis of
capitalism. As Mouffe said .the "common denominator of all new social movements" is
their "differentiation from workers’ struggles, as class struggles" . That is what the
bourgeois concept of  *new* social movements imply--either a loosely defined people's
movements or multiplicity of alliences encountering globalization on a wide range of
issues (important but not enough!) The emphasis is on the *supposed* failures of
Marxism&central planning and substitute of Marxian politics with new social movements&
styles of strategies.

In _Marxism and Culture_  Fields,  “In Defense of Political Economy”, p.155), offers a
critique of  social movements literature  from the stand point of political economy.
Here is a small excerpt from Field's critique of  radical pluralist democracy and
"transformation from below" thesis.

“the thrust of micrologic analysis is toward a single issue strategic approach,
precisely the opposite of anti-imperialist approach. Within the US context, the
micrologic approach receives strong support from the ideology of practicality One of
the major ways by which US political culture has been rendered nonideological is
precisely by the emphasis placed upon local, short term results and correlation of such
success with micrologic strategies” (Fields, “In Defense of Political Economy”, p.155)

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
Ph.D Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222

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