Monday, 1 September 2014

Just out: Cox / Nilsen, "We Make Our Own History"

#wmooh: We Make Our Own History

Laurence Cox and Alf Gunvald Nilsen,
We Make Our Own History: Marxism and Social Movements in the Twilight of Neoliberalism.
London: Pluto Press, 20 August 2014
ISBN 9780745334813 (paperback); e-book and hardback editions also available
272pp; £17 from Pluto

We live in the twilight of neoliberalism: the ruling classes can no longer rule as before, and ordinary people are no longer willing to be ruled in the old way. Pursued by global elites since the 1970s, neoliberalism is defined by dispossession and ever-increasing inequality. The refusal to continue to be ruled like this - "ya basta!" - appears in an arc of resistance stretching from rural India to the cities of the global North.
From this network of movements, new visions are emerging of a future beyond neoliberalism. We Make Our Own History responds to these visions by reclaiming Marxism as a theory born from activist experience and practice.
This book marks a break both with established social movement theory, and with those forms of Marxism which treat the practice of social movement organising as an unproblematic process. It shows how movements can develop from local conflicts to global struggles; how neoliberalism operates as a social movement from above, and how popular struggles can create new worlds from below.
Short pieces related to some of the book’s arguments can be found at Discover Society, E-International Relations and the Pluto Press newsletter.

Alf Gunvald Nilsen and Laurence Cox refresh historical materialism and social movement theory in this imaginative, lucid book. Their patient explanations, motivated by striking examples from actually existing collective struggle, both clarify and inspire. At once handbook and provocation, We Make Our Own History will reach a broad spectrum of readers in many parts of the world, benefiting analysis, strategy, and action.
(Ruth Wilson Gilmore, author of Golden Gulag: Labor, Land, State, and Opposition in Globalizing California)
Like most books, Laurence Cox and Alf Nilsen’s We Make Our Own History has its pluses and minuses, but overall it is a stunning read, one that every activist – and anyone concerned with the world around us – should read. Beautifully written in many places – with elegant, lucid argument, and with some great turns of phrase that open whole new windows of understanding -, it puts forward two seminal propositions about social movement that help us understand not only ‘movement’ but society itself, and through this ourselves as individuals and our relations to the world around us. An astonishing achievement, and a great contribution to social and political thinking that among many other things, revisits Marx and reveals the relevance of his thoughts to contemporary activism.
(Jai Sen, director of Critical Action: Centre in Movement and author / editor of several books on the World Social Forum and social movements)
Armed with a vocabulary able to grasp the structured agency of social movements and militant particularisms in constructing collective identities, readers will be vastly rewarded by this outstanding book and its understanding of the class struggles of social movements and their campaigns and projects across the past, present, and future transformations of capitalism.
(Adam David Morton, author of Unravelling Gramsci and Revolution and State in Modern Mexico)

1: ‘The This-Worldliness of their Thought’: Social Movements and Theory
2: ‘History Does Nothing’: The Primacy of Praxis in Movement Theorising
3: ‘The Authors and the Actors of their Own Drama’: A Marxist Theory of Social Movements
4: ‘The Bourgeoisie, Historically, Has Played a Most Revolutionary Part’: Social Movements from Above and Below in Historical Capitalism
5. ‘The point is to change it’: movements from below against neoliberalism

About the authors:
Laurence Cox directs the MA in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism at the National University of Ireland Maynooth and co-edits the social movements journal Interface. He is active in a wide range of movements and has co-edited Marxism and Social Movements (2013) and Understanding European Movements (2013).
Alf Gunvald Nilsen is Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, University of Bergen. His research focuses on social movements in the global South. He is the author of Dispossession and Resistance in India (2012) and co-editor of Social Movements in the Global South (2011) and Marxism and Social Movements (2013).

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Margaretta D'Arcy statement from Global Women's Strike

Free Margaretta D’Arcy, Free Shannon
Statement to the Press and the Public

We are outraged to learn that our dear sister and colleague Margaretta D’Arcy has been jailed – again! – for two weeks for protesting the use of the civilian airport at Shannon for US wars. And we are furious that the state ignores the possible effects on her health and well-being as a cancer patient .  This is how they think of those of us who are elderly or ill or have disabilities or are female and insist on protesting injustices, the greatest of which is war.

To underline her case against Irish complicity in war, Ms D’Arcy has also now taken the principled step of abstaining from food in solidarity with prisoners everywhere and all of those who have lost their lives, homes and communities destroyed as a result of US military action, and the actions of their political and military partners, beginning with Israel and its slow genocide of Palestinians. One of the many public services Ms D’Arcy has performed is to protest the Irish government’s many years of complicity in US war crimes and its destruction of Irish neutrality, the precious legacy of our great struggles, where Ireland leads the world. She has been dedicated to highlighting that the most devastating impact of war is on women and our children, both directly from the bombs that rain down on us, and by paying with our poverty and overwork for the horrendous weapons of massive destruction that threaten us all.

Ms D’Arcy is a veteran of Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, which opposed the US military placing cruise missiles on common land in England, and won – the camp is no longer a military base. To dissent from a perspective of permanent war and austerity, and demand the protection of life and the planet, is increasingly labelled subversive and even criminal behaviour. While war criminals are allowed to pass through Irish airports and financial criminals go unpunished, the Irish State in thrall to the US, UK, EU and IMF Masters of War has imprisoned a pensioner who has dedicated herself to highlighting and preventing war crimes.

An attack on courageous and principled Margaretta D’Arcy is an attack on us all.
We demand the immediate release of Margaretta D’Arcy and free Shannon airport from the US military!  We want our neutrality back!

Invest in Caring Not Killing.

Please see and their facebook page for further details:

Friday, 27 June 2014

World Social Forum 2015, Tunisia - call for social movements

Call for Social Movements to mobilize for the upcoming World Social Forum
(Tunisia, 2015)

Dear friends,

During its last meeting held in Casablanca in December 2013, the International Council decided to organize the upcoming World Social Forum 2015 once again in Tunisia.

This decision was made based on an evaluation of the proceedings of the WSF 2013, and a common assessment of the situation of struggles marshalled by different social movements in the region, and the world, as well as the new geopolitical context and the evolving nature of the neoliberal crisis.

Indeed, it is now imperative to realize that since 2011, and after Arab revolutions have represented a source of hope to uplift the region from its status-quo, and a source of inspiration for the entire world to change, the Arab region is currently undergoing deeply worrisome dynamics. Governments in power over the past three years have yet to put in place the necessary policies and programs which respond to the claims of young people seeking freedom and employment, women seeking equality, social movements seeking social justice. On the contrary, throughout the region the flows of weapons and violence abound, and religious extremism is deepening its reach, neo-liberal policies dictated by the World Bank and the IMF are presented as the only solution and the social movements and democratic movements are criminalized. External political and military interventions have become the rule, each time instrumentalizing internal instability to facilitate interventions by the United States, Europe, Turkey and the Gulf countries.

Beyond the Maghreb and the Mashreq, the African continent has become the primary source of raw material, present as the “new economic frontier”, it too a frontier ravaged by violent extremism, the plundering of its resources, and the devastating violence inflicted by structural adjustment programs and the militarization of its territories.

Everywhere in the world, including in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and North America, social movements find themselves facing aggravating economic, social and environmental crisis, as well as a systemic attack on their rights. New tensions, directly related to hegemonic practices to appropriate resources and conquer markets, threaten to bring the worst in Europe, Asia and Africa.

The World Social Forum remains, more than ever, a vital space for social movements which struggle to preserve people’s dignity, so that they remain masters of their own destiny, able to fight for and acquire new economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, and able to construct alternatives to the neoliberal world order.

The social movements of Tunis, as well as of the Mashreq and Maghreb invite (24 to 28 March 2015) you to join their efforts in the construction of a more just world, where justice, equality and peace prevail, and where alternatives for the current world order, to which countless populations aspire, are discussed and debated.

Together, we would like to work to put together an open, participatory and democratic mechanism for the organization of the World Economic Forum 2015.
Another Maghreb Mashreq is possible
Another Africa is possible
Another world in possible
Tunis, June 20, 2014
The Organizing Committee of the World Social Forum 2015
Opening of the website: June 25, 2014
International Council of the World Social Form: Ottawa, August 2014
1st international seminary and meeting of the International Council: end of October 2014
2nd international seminary: February 2015
Liste mailing
People with disabilities

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Call for a public inquiry into the policing of Shell / Corrib Gas protests

There is an excellent call for a public inquiry into the policing of the Shell / Corrib Gas protests in Erris, Co. Mayo, supported by a wide range of local organisations, campaigners, academics, journalists, politicians, artists and others.

The call can be viewed here (AfrI), here (Human and here (Shell to Sea).

See also this Sociology news item.

Monday, 16 June 2014

CEESA year 5 celebration scholarship

The MA in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism (CEESA) is now entering its fifth year. To celebrate we are offering a €2,000 scholarship awarded on the basis of practitioner excellence in community education, action for equality and / or social movements. The award is given on the basis of a personal statement of no more than 1,000 words and the names of two referees who may be contacted if needed.

Full details are here and the deadline is July 7th.

Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Scholarships and bursaries - deadline extended to June 16th

Deadlines for the taught MA scholarships (€5,000, for NUI graduates) and bursaries (€2,000, for any SUSI recipients) have been extended to June 16th. Full details here.

While the official deadline for CEESA applications is May 30th we are usually happy to accept applications after this date, and certainly up to the 16th.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Adíos Subcomandante Marcos

A fascinating change of tack in Chiapas, Mexico: the Zapatistas are abandoning the image of "Subcomandante Marcos" (but without losing the person). There's a good explanation of what this means over on ROARmag. A wee bit different from the world of Irish political parties where the question of "who's in and who's out" is all about getting away from thinking politically...

Update: Here's a translation of Marcos' farewell speech, with pictures.

Monday, 12 May 2014

New CEESA video - please share

Ace social media activist soundmigration has done this video about the CEESA MA. Please share it with anyone you think might be interested!