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New Social Movements Politics Out of Doors

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New Social



Movements

Politics Out of Doors


AUTONOMISTS  AND  THE ALTERNATIVE  SCENE

Terrorism  presupposed  extremes  of  alienation,  where  people  lost  respect for  the  system.  This  went  furthest  in  big  cities  with  masses  of  younger people  marginal  to  mainstream  society—with  higher  educational  qualifi- cations yet displaced from career paths, partially employed, stylistically re- bellious, and living and working in distinctive collective arrangements and quarters, often with bohemian or multicultural links, like the Hafenstrasse in Hamburg’s St. Pauli or Kreuzberg in West Berlin, with its 40,000-strong alternative scene, 40,000 Turks, and 50,000 “normals” in 1989. Cooper- ative living and alternative scenes went with squatting—illegal occupations of empty buildings. These “liberated zones” flouted respectable society via style, music, drugs, sex, and indifference to rules of property.10

These subcultures presupposed the countercultural militancies of 1968. They preferred subverting politics to its constructive renewal. The Metro- politan  Indians’ Manifesto  of 1  March 1977  in Italy demanded squats of all empty buildings to create alternatives to the family, free drugs, destruc- tion of zoos, destruction of patriotic monuments, destruction of youth pris- ons, and the “historical and moral reevaluation of the dinosaur Archeop- terix,  unfairly  constructed  as  an  ogre.”11    This  stance,  for  all  its  irony, encouraged  nihilistic  displays  of  public  disrespect—a  profaning  of  demo- cratic  values.  It  produced  violence,  not  just  against  police  but  against unions  and  other  Left  organizations.  Pitched  battles  in  PCI-governed Bo- logna  and  the  barracking  of  Luciano  Lama  in  occupied  Rome  University exposed a savage gulf between Communists and the youth revolt.12

Similar battles involved the SPD in West Berlin and Hamburg. Progres- sive  cities  elsewhere  fared  no  better.  In  the  1980s,  the  Dutch  kraakers,


whose squats dated from 1968, resisted long siege warfare in Amsterdam before succumbing to landlord and police assaults. In Copenhagen, a self- governing commune on Christiania Island secured official toleration, while in the city the Occupation Brigade were active from 1981, seizing buildings and disappearing just ahead of the police, most spectacularly in the guerilla seizure  of  Ryesgade  neighborhood  in  September  1986.  In  Ryesgade,  sup- port services were organized for “normal” inhabitants, barricades were de- fended, the free radio network mobilized wider support, and food, blankets and other supplies were delivered by supporters from the outside. Nine days later, as the army prepared to attack, the media arrived for a press confer- ence  to  find  the  Brigade  had  flown.  The  political  thrust  of  these  actions was clear: the targeted buildings were owned by multinationals involved in arms trade and South African investments.13

Activity  was  highly  organized,  but  on  the  anticentralist  and participa- tory lines of 1968. The Kreuzberg squatters were represented by the Squat- ters’ Council, linked to the Autonomist Plenary, modeled on those in Ham- burg. Inspiration was transnational, flowing north from Italy in 1977 and through Zurich, where demands for an autonomist youth center exploded in 1980–82, to Amsterdam, West German cities, Copenhagen, and Britain. Antinuclear  actions,  wider  ecological  protests,  and  the  Peace  Movement paralleled  these  squatters’  movements.  The  political  forms—direct-action militancy,  no  permanent  officials,  democracy  by  general  assembly—came from 1968.14

PARTIES  AND  MOVEMENTS:  A  DIFFERENT POLITICAL  SPACE

How  should  we  put  this  together—squatters,  alternatives,  autonomists, Metropolitan  Indians,  Marxists,  and  wider  movements  surrounding  the West  German  Greens,  including  ecologists,  antinuclear  protesters,  peace campaigners, and the feminists common to them all? They came from the polity’s grassroots. They involved a politics of refusal, showing at best am- bivalence  to  the  parliamentary  system.  They  faced  mainstream  Lefts  that seemed exhausted, despite an ability to continue winning elections—a Eu- rocommunism (Italy, France, Spain) that failed to break through; a sclerotic social democracy (West Germany, the Low Countries, Britain) stuck in its accommodations  to  capitalism,  dogmatically  dismissing  the  new  left; and a technocratic socialism (France, Spain) shedding all relation to unions or movement cultures of the working class.

Established parties were melting away, and even where socialist parties kept support, they became a different kind of party—drastically losing ac- tive  members  and  no  longer  able  to  rely  on  traditional  “solidarity  com- munities”  among  a  shrinking  working  class. Instead,  they were busily re- making themselves into exclusively electoral machines.15  And beyond them


emerged   “new   social   movements”—feminisms,   ecology,   peace,   Third World solidarities, gay-lesbian rights, and antiracism, as well as squatting and the broader alternative scenes. While most socialist parties ignored this extraparliamentary  arena,  these  new  movements  composed  an  expanding political  space.  Transnationally,  peace  movements  had  the  largest  scale, loosely   coordinated   through   European   Nuclear   Disarmament   (END) launched in London on 28 April 1980, which also pioneered cooperation

from below” across Europe’s two blocs. At the climax on 22–23 October

1983, a million West Germans rallied against the missiles; between 500,000 and a million in Rome; 250,000 in London; 400,000 in Brussels; 100,000 in  Madrid;  followed  by  550,000  in  The  Hague  and  40,000  in  Bern.  The West German Greens translated this into electoral success.16

Elsewhere, moves into national politics varied. Three British feminists, Sheila  Rowbotham,  Lynne  Segal,  and  Hilary  Wainwright,  published  Be- yond the Fragments in 1978, based on talks to a Socialist Unity Symposium and  Socialist  Centers  in  Newcastle  and  Islington.  They  presented  “the women’s movement as an example of new ways of organizing, independent of  the  Labour  Party  and  suspicious  of  self-defined  vanguards.”17    They sparked  a  chain  of  meetings,  including  a  conference  in  Leeds.  Then,  like other 1968ers, Beyond the Fragments’ authors found their way to the La- bour  Party.  When  in  1981  Labour  captured  the  Greater London  Council

(GLC) on a radical program, Wainwright joined an Economic Policy Group and  the  Popular  Planning  Unit,  where  Rowbotham  also  worked.18   With Labour  out  of  office  nationally,  local  government  became  a  key  site.  If Labour  lost  four  hundred  thousand  paper  members  in  1975–81,  it  was acquiring a new activist cohort, a missing generation—supporters from the early 1960s, who left, joined community action or the sects, and returned in the late 1970s.19

Such  activists  appealed  outside  the  old  class-political  framework.  For the GLC leader Ken Livingstone, Labour had to go beyond “the organized working  class”  to  “articulate  the  needs  of  the  minorities  and  the  dispos- sessed”  and  “single-issue  groups”  as  well,  because  people  no  longer  saw themselves  in  the  “broad  class  concepts”  of  “thirty  years  ago.”  London Labour Briefing, started by Livingstone’s circle in 1980, recalled Women’s Liberation  in  the  1970s,  which  had  joined  feminism  to  local  activisms around housing and rents, public transport, welfare rights, recreational fa- cilities,  childcare,  adult  and  further  education,  cultural  and  arts  activity, and the plethora of single-issue campaigns from Northern Ireland and an- tiapartheid  to  Vietnam  and  other  Third  World  solidarities.  The  GLC’s agenda  in  1981–86  paralleled  that  of  the  German  Greens  but  with  the resources and problems of a huge metropolitan region. Its policies—cheap fares for public transit, creative development strategies for mass unemploy- ment—captured  popular  sympathies, while setting a collision course with Thatcher’s Conservative government. It welcomed inflammatory causes, in- cluding Irish Republicanism and gay-lesbian rights. It promoted a new Left




coalition based on “skilled and unskilled workers, unemployed young and old, women, black people, as well as the sexually oppressed minorities.”20

This urban left subcontracted with the grassroots, directing funding to

“small,  relatively  informal,  community  groups  who  were  able  to  develop projects too politically controversial for councils themselves to engage in.”21

This was a decisive breakthrough. It was helped by Labour’s crushing local election defeats in 1967–68 and subsequent corruption scandals, which dis- lodged many self-perpetuating oligarchies linked to union machines whose enmity against activists was entrenched by the Cold War.22   When Labour began  recapturing  local  government  in  1971,  its  political  profile  was  al- ready different. In 1983, 20 of Manchester’s 22 Left councillors were aged

30–45, having joined the party in the mid-1970s. On expulsion from La- bour for refusing to accept spending cuts in 1980, they built alliances be- yond traditional frameworks with feminists, gays, antiracists, housing cam- paigns, community centers, and public sector unions, returning to win the council in 1984.23  The culture shift was extreme: “Councillors in jump suits and  jeans;  clenched  fist  salutes  in  the  council  chamber;  the  singing  (and flying) of the Red Flag; employees wearing CND badges; office walls dec- orated  with  political  posters  and  cartoons;  disdain  for  many  established practices  and  procedures.”24   At  the  first  meeting  of  the  Labour  group,” the GLC’s head administrator remembered, “there was a baby and cans of coke. Senior officers found it a great upheaval.”25

THE  BRITISH  LABOUR  PARTY: LEFT  IN  THE  LURCH

But  if  the  urban  left  and  the  GLC  captured  a  sense  of  opportunity,  the national  Labour  Party  reflected  chances  missed.  Labour’s  Left  acquired a tribune of the people in Tony Benn.26  His New Politics: A Socialist Recon- naissance (1970) declared politics more than “the marking of a ballot paper with  a  single  cross  every  five  years.”  He  contrasted  Labour’s  governing debacle   with   rising   extraparliamentary  activism—“community  associa- tions, amenity groups, shop stewards’ movements, consumer societies, ed- ucational campaigns, organizations to help the old, the homeless, the sick, the  poor  or  under-developed  societies,  militant  communal  organizations, student power, noise abatement societies.” Benn set out to bridge the gap between  Parliament and  the extraparliamentary arena, intensifying his ef- forts after 1970.27

Benn was “hoping to start a great new debate within our movement.”28

He rode the militancy of 1970–74, determined to prevent new betrayals in which  Labour  governments  ignored  the  party’s  wishes.  His  supporters spearheaded pressure for Labour’s constitutional reform via the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) and the Labour Coordinating Com- mittee (LCC). Where CLPD operated inside the party, LCC addressed Left


groups  more  widely,  from  the  National  Council  for  Civil  Liberties,  Am- nesty,  Child  Poverty  Action,  and  Shelter  to  the  Socialist  Education  Asso- ciation, Counter Information Services, and Friends of the Earth. After the

1979  election  defeat,  mandatory  reselection  of  MPs  was  achieved,  estab- lishing  the  principle  of  accountability.  Then  the  Special  Party  Conference at  Wembley  in  January  1981  passed  new  rules  for  electing  the  leader  by membership,  unions,  and  parliamentary  party  rather  than  by  the  last- named alone. Michael Foot, the parliamentary party’s longstanding radical voice, had already succeeded James Callaghan as leader in November 1980. The left’s position seemed stronger than ever before.29

Yet  by  1982  it  was  in  retreat  and  by  1987  utterly  beaten.  In  protest against Wembley, the “Gang of Four”—Shirley Williams, William Rodgers, David Owen, and Roy Jenkins—launched a new Social Democratic Party

(SDP) on 25 January 1981, taking 29 Labour MPs with them.30   Left and right  traded  bitter  accusations  of  splitting  the  party.31   The  right  vilified Benn for contesting the deputy leadership, and after his defeat in October

1981  by  less  than  a  single  percent,  the  Foot-Healey leadership counterat- tacked ruthlessly, removing Benn and his allies from their committees. The

1983 elections, stamped by the patriotism of the Falklands-Malvinas War, proved a nightmare, as Labour crashed to its worst defeat since 1935.32

This fiasco hastened the realignment. Under a new leader, Neil Kinnock, the party was drastically restructured. The National Executive’s control of policy was dismantled, supplanted by the Campaigns and Communications Directorate, which replaced democracy with market research. Kinnock an- swered another election defeat in 1987 with a policy review, and when the

1989  Conference  approved  the  results,  the  left’s  policies  had  all  gone— nationalization  and  a  strong  public  sector,  union  corporatism,  unilateral nuclear  disarmament,  opposition  to  the  EEC,  and  the  guiding  thread  of democratizing  the  party.  Kinnock  bequeathed  a  party  more  united,  more centrist, less distinctively socialist, and wholly demobilized.

This  story  showed  nothing  better  than  the  tenacity  of  right-wing  and centrist social democrats in resisting change. For Benn, democracy required more than simply changing Labour’s Constitution: “If democracy is based on a moral claim to equality, the issues opened up are as wide as life itself,” he argued, and included women’s equality, nuclear energy, gay liberation, racial  discrimination,  immigration,  youth  culture,  pensioners’  rights,  and more.33   But  even  under left-wing  influence, Labour’s 1983 Manifesto had barely integrated these issues with the Alternative Economic Strategy. The latter  invoked  a  Keynesianism  already  under  fatal  attack,  in  a  national- economic framework superseded by global interdependence and the EEC. It said little about the changing nature of work and was innocent of fem- inist ideas on unequal pay, part-time working, or domestic labor. The Man- ifesto adopted new social issues without new social movements. Instead, it cobbled together the old Left goals least appealing to a broader electorate— like  nationalization,  union  power,  anti-Europe,  and  unilateral  disarma-


ment—with a ragtag mixture of new causes conjuring respectable England’s worst nightmares, from Irish Republicanism and lesbian-gay rights to ab- olition of the House of Lords and antihunting. Issues of potentially broad appeal, like feminism, peace, or the environment, were squandered.

There were no thoughts about uniting the parliamentary party with ex- traparliamentary actions in a single movement. And this was precisely the strength of Livingstone’s GLC and other Labour councils—their ability to lower  the  boundaries  between  party  control  and  broader  activism.  The GLC’s real popularity, after the defeat of the Fares Fair campaign in 1982, was perhaps unclear.34   Its relations with community activists, particularly on the racial front, were often vexed. Local socialisms—in parts of London but especially in Liverpool, where Militant ruled—sometimes followed dog- matically  class-centered  approaches  keeping  other  issues  like  gender, sex- uality, and race away. But the possibilities were there, and the Labour left’s national strategy passed them by.

LEFT  FOR  THE  FUTURE?




Thus the space for new politics in the national polity remained unfilled. On the  one  hand,  like  most  of  its  fellow  socialist  parties,  the  Labour  Party remained  stuck  in  a  parliamentarist  groove.  On  the  other  hand,  the  new activism, with its direct-action, participatory, and community-based prac- tices, achieved uneven entry into the Left’s political mainstream and some- times stayed completely outside. This tension defined much of the potential for  the  left’s renewal in  the 1980s,  and the urban Left’s fusion of “class” with  “identity”  issues,  at  its  most  earnest  and  exuberant  during  Living- stone’s  reign  at  the  GLC,  brought  this  home  especially  well.  Two  other examples  from  Britain  made  the  fronts  dramatically  clear:  the  confluence of feminism with the mass peace movement and the great miners’ strike. The Women’s Peace Camp was founded at Greenham Common US air- base on 5 September 1981 by the Women for Life on Earth Peace March, who  walked  from  Cardiff  protesting  the  siting  of  cruise  missiles.  In  Feb- ruary  1982,  the  Camp  became  women-only.  It  was  maintained  continu- ously  until  1994,  when  the  missiles  were  decommissioned.35   The  biggest Greenham actions were held annually on the anniversary of NATO’s orig- inal  decision  to  house  the  missiles  there,  including  35,000  protesters  for

“Embrace the Base” in December 1982 and 50,000 in 1983, together with repeated blockades and many symbolic protests. Invasions, courtroom ac- tions,  small-scale  sabotage,  and  protests  of  all  kinds  occurred,  including monitoring and harassment of cruise missile convoys. Above all, the Camp’s permanence entailed constant inventiveness. This incorporated the legacies of 1968, declaring a new, distinctively feminist presence:

Whether linking together 30,000 women to “embrace the base” or en- tering time after time, through the lethal-looking fence of the base, to


plant snowdrops, have a picnic, dance on the silos, occupy a sentry box or a traffic control tower, or paint peace signs on a US spy plane; whether tearing down mile after mile of fencing and padlocking the gates, dressing up as witches or taking two hours to walk 200 yards, women at Greenham have been able for years to mock at and disrupt the efficiency, security and routine of a key military installation of the most powerful country in the world.36

Separatist  banning  of  men  caused  tensions  with  the  general  peace  move- ment,  and  the  ecological  and  spiritualist dimensions of Greenham philos- ophy made many in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament nervous, wor- rying   about   public   reactions   to   the   Peace   Camp’s   misbehavior.   The spectacle of an  unruly and  unfeminine women’s collective, excluding men and  often  rejecting  husbands,  living  roughly,  celebrating  lesbianism,  and generally  ignoring  the rules,  was an  affront to  “normal” society. But this transgression—the decision of so many women, grandmothers and school students, lesbians and straights, middle and working-class, professional and unemployed,  to  step  unconscionably  outside  society—was  precisely  the point. Greenham women were unassimilable.

The second emblematic event, the miners’ strike, called in March 1984 against  the  government’s  brutal  reduction  of  the  coal  industry,  was  the longest  and  most  violent  industrial  dispute  in  Britain  since  1926.  At  its height, 10,000 pickets faced 4,000 police in full riot gear with truncheons and horses. A massive paramilitary operation deploying eight thousand po- lice cordoned off the Nottinghamshire coalfield against pickets; roadblocks prevented  Kent  miners  leaving  for  the  north;  and  violence  surrounded working mines. Hostility between militant areas hit by closures (Yorkshire, Scotland,  Kent,  South  Wales)  and  richer  coalfields  opposing  the  strike

(Notts)  contrasted starkly  with the unity of 1972–74. Aggressive policing intensified the violence, placing Yorkshire mining villages under the equiv- alent of martial law: 9,750 were arrested during the strike, of whom 7,874 were charged. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) failed to over- come  the  state’s  assaults,  disapproval  from  Labour  leaders  and  the  TUC, and its own internal divisions. The strike lasted a full year, but 71,000 of

187,000 miners had returned to work, and it ended without a settlement.37

For  the  charismatic  NUM  president,  Arthur  Scargill,  the  miners  ex- pressed  the  unchanged  centrality  of  the  traditional  working  class  for  so- cialism, the classic labor movement in motion. Miners were class conscious- ness incarnate: heroic champions of the class struggle, defiant embodiments of working-class masculinity, overwhelming their opponents via their col- lective strength. The strike evoked equally classic images of working-class community in the mining villages’ homogeneous solidarities. It was a pro- test against deindustrialization itself, defending a whole way of life against vandalism. It made an extraordinarily powerful class-political statement.


As such, it condensed the hopes of socialist traditionalists. Thatcherism had to be reversed: “We want to pave the way for an economic recovery, a general election, and the return of a Labour government.”38  Conversely, Thatcher  intended  to  break  the  NUM.  The  new  head  of  the  Coal  Board, Ian MacGregor, had a brief to close mines and weaken the union. For Mick McGahey, NUM’s Communist vice-president, the political stakes were also clear: “In order to dismember the welfare state they had to break the trade union movement, and they needed to break the miners first.” Rhetorically, unions  were  being  demonized.  Early  in  the  strike,  Thatcher  declared: “In the Falklands, we had to fight the enemy without. Here the enemy is within, and it is more difficult to fight, and more dangerous to liberty.”39  Put like this, radicals on the Left had little choice but to support the strike.

But the strike lacked broader working-class enthusiasm. It came during union  retreat,  as  the  main  unions  shifted  right,  unemployment  rose,  and strikes became restricted under law. British Steel was savaged after a 1980 strike, under MacGregor’s previous assignment. In 1984, the “Triple Alli- ance” of coal, steel, and rail failed to cohere, as did the broader workers’ coalitions needed for mass picketing. Worst of all, the NUM itself was split:

20  percent  of  miners  continued  working,  leading  to  the  Union  of  Demo- cratic  Mineworkers,  formed  in  Nottinghamshire  by  a  72  percent  ballot, with  30,000  members.  During  the  strike,  neither  TUC  nor  Labour  gave official support. More generally, the labor movement’s breadth was erod- ing. In 1979–83, Labour’s electoral strength among trade unionists shrank from 51 to 39 percent, while unions lost popularity with the public.40

However,  the  strike  inspired  big  solidarity  along  urban  Britain’s  Left networks.  Left  councils  gave  moral  support.  Supporters  were  twinned  to coalfields  or  individual  mines,  as  in  the  Durham-Docklands Miners’ Sup- port  Group,  or  the  Cambridge  Support  Group,  which  sent  six  hundred pounds  weekly  to  the  Notts  villages  of  Blidworth  and  Rainworth.  A  key bridge  from  the  coalfields  to  the  cities  was  Women  Against  Pit  Closures, originating in Sheffield and Barnsley. From organizing kitchens to joining the picket lines, the women’s movement developed a parallel organization connected  to  women’s  groups  beyond  the  coalfields,  including  Greenham Women.  The  Sheffield  group  gathered  food  for  local  mines,  produced  a leaflet,  and  publicized  itself  via  the  Trades  Council;  it  consisted of “local authority workers, unemployed, nurses, engineers, housewives, pensioners, students, bus drivers, and also the mining women from the villages.”41  In South Wales, such activity amounted to “an alternative welfare state” and helped  sustain  a  wider  political  initiative,  the  Wales  Congress  in  Support of Mining Communities.42



So  the  strike  did  produce  a  politics.  “Mines Not Missiles” provided a common link to antinuclear campaigns. Ann Suddick, a clerical worker in the  Durham  Women’s  Support  Group,  made  connections  between  Blyth Power  Station  and  the  pit  closures,  thence  to  Greenham  Common,  and finally to the global context of nuclear fuels; she organized a conference in


1986  called  “Make  the  Links—Break  the  Chain,”  also  involving  anti- apartheid and peace groups.43  The strike’s cultural politics involved theater, agitprop, and regional film and video workshops.44  The Cambridge Support Group’s  weekly  meetings  drew  15–50  people,  “intellectuals  and  white- collar strata in general, together with people active in issue-politics, partic- ularly  feminism  and  the  nuclear  question.”  It  worked  through  concerts, socials, house meetings, jumble sales, art sales, college collections, and con- certed Saturday street collections. The Milton Keynes Support Group was based in the Unemployed Workers’ Center, linked to the Sikh Society, the Afro-Caribbean  Club,  the  Peace  Group,  and  Ecology  Party,  and  a  mem- bership  of  150–200.45   Multiculturalist support in the cities was especially striking among Afro-Caribbean, Cypriot, Asian, and Turkish groups. There were Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners groups in London, Southamp- ton,  Cardiff,  Manchester,  York,  Edinburgh,  and  Glasgow.  In  December

1984, a national conference of 1,500 Support Groups was held in Camden

Town Hall.

TWO  LEFTS:  PARLIAMENT  AND  PEOPLE

The  British  miners’  strike  dramatized  the European Left’s dilemmas more powerfully  than  any  other  event.  It  evoked  precisely  those  traditions  of class-political  militancy  now  under  erasure.  Languages  of  socialism  had always presupposed the collective agency of industrial workers, backed by broader  community  solidarities,  in  the  ways  the  miners  now  asserted.  A more powerful example of traditional class consciousness could hardly be imagined, but now the latter’s relationship to socialist politics was becom- ing increasingly decoupled and disavowed.

Socialist parties had always mediated their accountability to the work- ing class, whether viewed as the labor movement, an aggregation of inter- ests, or a  social abstraction. As a project of democracy, the Left’s agenda was  also  larger  than  any  class-based  vision  of  socialism.  Once  socialist parties started accepting government responsibility, and certainly when they became  governing  parties,  presenting  themselves  in  parliaments  and  elec- tions as voices of the nation, their relationship to the working class became displaced.  Given  the  power  of  the  changes  since  1968–73—capitalist  re- structuring, with deindustrialization and massive class recomposition—so- cialist  politics  and  traditional  images  of  the  industrial  proletariat became ever more disjointed. The main axis of progressive politics changed, dimin- ishing  the  centrality  of  labor  movements  and  demanding  that  the  Left’s basic  appeals  be  rethought.  During  the  1980s,  socialist  and  Communist parties  began  disengaging  more  explicitly  from  class  politics.  The  British miners’ strike was only the most dramatic commentary on this process. German  Social  Democrats  pointed  the  way.  A  younger  cohort around General Secretary Peter Glotz and Saarland Premier Oskar Lafontaine pro-


duced the Berlin Program in December 1989 after a five-year policy review. Internationally, this proposed a “common security” approach, plus a “fed- eralized  EC  and  “social  Europe.”  Qualitative  growth  was  addressed  by energy-saving,  environmental  protection,  “clean”  industries,  humanizing the  workplace,  and  a  shorter  working  week.  Arguments  about  gender equality, flexible employment, and role sharing marked feminism’s arrival, although  unions  still  balked.  Glotz  even  suggested the slogan “Patriarchy Must Die.”46

But rhetorically listing these new issues wasn’t enough to recast the pol- itics.  It  was  one  thing  for  Glotz to  extend  the  agenda via discussion doc- uments,  reaching  out  to  new  social  movements,  translating  Italian  Com- munist texts, and even talking to feminists; it was another thing to change the SPD’s operative language. Its 1987 election campaign remained boring and  gray,  treating  the  Greens  as  troublemakers  rather  than  allies.  New issues might be noticed as slogans and sound bites—common security, in- ternational economic justice, gender equality at work, rational technology, qualitative  growth,  quality  of  life,  new  forms  of  democracy  based  in  the liveliness  of  civil society.  The  SPD  might eventually convert these slogans into  a  winning  strategy.  But  the  quality  of  political  action  was  also  at stake—the empowerment of participation, the promise of 1968. That was what really lay behind the civic upsurge of the 1980s.47

This was the difference: between an additive approach to new identities and interests, grafting them onto established policies and constituencies, in a  revamped  “people’s  party”  updating  Godesberg  for  the  1990s  and,  on the other hand, imaginatively binding the latter into a new philosophy of the future, harnessing new social movements to the remaining socialist cul- tures and working-class solidarities of the old Left, in a new radical vision. The  new  social  movements  had  a  different  kind  of  drive.  They  were  not based in high-intensity membership parties like the socialist subcultures and solidarity communities of old. Parties in that traditional sense were in de- cline.  Instead,  the  new  activisms  implied  loose  federations  of  the  like- minded, through which autonomous citizens and local groups pooled their electoral hopes.

What did this splitting into party and movements mean? Left-wing par- ties’  ability  to  generate  activist  identification,  binding  their  members  to- gether  with  wider  progressive  networks,  had  gone.  They  became  parlia- mentary  operations.  In  the  extraparliamentary  world,  on  the  other hand, vigorous  social  movements  developed  locally,  unconnected  to  a  national party,  for  in  truth  socialist  parties  were  scared  of  extraparliamentary en- ergy. Broad social movements formed without the backing of socialist par- liamentarians—peace movements, abortion campaigns, West German anti- nuclear protests, Sicilian anti-Mafia campaigns, squatting in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and West Germany, support actions for British miners, and so on.  A  national  politician  like  Benn  was  exceptional  in  endorsing  that ac- tivity. Communists were more open to it, although only the PCI matched


socialist parties  in  weight, given the PCF’s Stalinist decline. The countless neighborhood and city-based agitations of these years overlapped with the local  socialist  parties but rarely  agitated  their national parliamentary sur- face.

The  model  of  the  nationally  organized  socialist party and its affiliated union  federation,  so  effective  from  the  later  nineteenth  century  to  the

1960s, was at an end. For the first time since the rise of labor movements, the  main  impulse  for  democratic  enlargement  came  from  elsewhere—not only  outside  the  socialist  parties  but  often  against  them  too.  But  if  new social movements were potential sources of renewal, how in practice would this occur?








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