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- Martin Luther King Jr.
- Chapter 10 Connecting the “Here and Now” with “What Could Be”
- The Role of the State, Labour Policy and Migrant Workers’ Struggles in Globalized China
Martin Luther King Jr.
Resistance to neoliberalism has become as pervasive as neoliberalism itself. As the world becomes evermore entrenched in the grip of a dystopian world order that views the market as the grand leveler of all human relations, more and more people are willing to fight back.
The ratcheting up of a security state to protect the status quo sends an important message to those who would seek to contest the imbalanced power arrangement that neoliberalism has wrought. Yet the prospect of intense conflict with the police and military forces employed by the state to protect the wealth of an elite minority poses less of a risk than watching the creeping darkness of neoliberalism consume the planet.
No longer content to watch the sunset, where to stay the course would be to commit planetary suicide, people are gathering in greater numbers to push back. As twilight moves in and the neoliberal nightmare seems assured, there is increasing recognition that this state of affairs can only be met by a new dawn.
And so we see the vestiges of hope beginning to entwine themselves through a broad range of social phenomena. Defiance of neoliberalism comes in the form of large-scale protests that capture global media attention, but equally, and arguably more importantly, in everyday acts of resistance Purcell , where people continue to organize their lives in ways that break with market logic, bringing light back into the world White and Williams It is the intersection between mundanity and spectacle that marks the current moment of protest, where people are illuminating their struggles and enlightening their opposition in a variety of spaces and encounters as they reassess the world we live in.
Unraveling the lies that the apostles of neoliberalism have spun is not an easy prospect, and yet when committed in solidarity, the task becomes one that intensifies our proclivity for fellowship and convivial forms of being.
I begin this chapter by conceptualizing neoliberalism and its shape-shifting character, suggesting that this nebulous nature at least in part explains why the discourse has been so successful in its enchantments, convincing many that its carceral capacities are somehow representative of our collective liberation. I then trace some of the histories of antiestablishment movements and the influences that have helped to shape its current trajectories, from the rise of indigenous movements like the ELZN in Mexico in the s, to the global force of the Occupy Movement in the s.
I then examine the solidarities that are being expressed in the form of anti-austerity movements and the supports that are being offered to refugees and migrants in the fallout that neoliberalism has produced.
In the conclusion I insist that it is our collective capacity to engage in direct action and prefigurative politics that will ultimately turn the tides in allowing us to awaken from the contemporary neoliberal nightmare. Neoliberalism is a difficult proposition. The concept is a difficult one to define and its amorphous character as it expands into new institutional settings means that precision is necessarily lacking. Yet in very broad terms neoliberalism refers to an emergent set of political, economic, and social arrangements emphasizing market relations, a recalibration of the state, and heightened individual responsibility.
In short, neoliberalism represents the extension of market-based competition into all areas of life Crouch ; Mirowski Paramount to this process is the construction of new subjects, defined by values and social practices that align with market logic MacLeavy As they become embedded in individuals, these values also begin to appear in local level governance practices, giving neoliberalism the appearance of being everywhere Peck and Tickell While omnipresence is seemingly the case, it is important to appreciate the diverse manifestations of neoliberal ideas has they have appeared in state projects and socio-political imaginaries.
Neoliberalism should be understood as a dynamic and unfolding process England and Ward ; Springer , rather than a monolithic project or paradigmatic condition. In spite of the variations, one of the key tenets of neoliberalism is that it ostensibly advocates for a leveling of the playing field, where by assigning all social interactions, political connections, and economic transactions to market relations, each individual has an equal opportunity in advancing their status.
Lacking in such popular analyses is the fact that systemic conditions of impoverishment Bush , racism Roberts and Mahtani , gender discrimination Kingfisher , and other forms of social marginalization have meant that we have never had an equal shot. It further ignores the fact that a system that creates winners and losers will see those who come out on top necessarily attempt to manipulate the structure in ways that consolidate their elite status Rapley In other words, Friedman and his ilk lack a theory of power, when neoliberalism is fundamentally entangled within and inseparable from this very question Springer c.
Those who fail to come out on top are suspect, not only for their supposed lack of responsibility in accounting for their own lives and wellbeing, but also because of the threat they represent to revealing the lie we are all being sold through their very presence in public spaces.
When seen in this light it should be clear why antiestablishment movements have arisen in direct response to neoliberalism and the threat it poses to our collective wellbeing. When everything from our labour to our bodies to natural resources to the planet itself is reduced to a commodified relation, the terror of neoliberalism becomes all too real Giroux Within this movement of movements, diverse as they are, we see a general thematic emerge that distinctly aligns with an anti-neoliberal trajectory.
The primary issue of importance is opposition to large multinational corporations and the lack of regulation that surrounds their activities, particularly when it comes to unfavorable trade agreements and profit maximization without regard for workplace safety, poor labour relations and compensation, environmental ruination, and respect for national sovereignty and legislative authority Ayers Participants are thus not necessarily anti-global in their outlook, but rather want to see a more democratic and egalitarian basis of global relations wherein human rights, fair trade, and sustainable development are embraced Epstein By the early s, neoliberalism was already becoming firmly established in the policy and practices of many states on the heals of the reforms that Margret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan had implemented in the United Kingdom and United States of America USA respectively Harvey Intensive public scrutiny and widespread protests in affected countries ensured that the agreement was scrapped in , but this was not the end of neoliberalism or resistance to its ongoing implications.
Each of these movements expressed a distinct opposition to the now established logic of neoliberalism, organizing in ways that sought to not only undermine the influence of neoliberal policies, but also to express new forms of community and togetherness that broke with a competitive markedbased approach to social organization. The s culminated with the largest mobilization of the movement to date, as a massive 40, person strong protest erupted on the streets of Seattle in response to the World Trade Organization WTO meeting in the city Smith Beginning on November 30th and lasting the duration of the meeting until December 3rd, protesters clashed with police resulting in over arrests.
The targeting of corporations like Old Navy, Starbucks, and other multinational retailers forced the media to respond. The media was baffled and bemused and misrepresentations were rife. The New York Times ultimately printed a retraction on a story that claimed protestors threw Molotov cocktails at police, yet in spite of their subsequent indication that the protests were largely peaceful, wilful distortions and false reporting remained commonplace Kahn and Kellner Seattle was a moment of awakening for the movement, as subsequent protests in Washington, Gothenburg, Quebec City, and Genoa, would employ a similar ethos of contestation on the streets.
A little over a decade latter, in , we can see how it helped to lay the groundwork for the Occupy Movement. Like the Seattle protest, this was a leaderless movement against social and economic inequality. There were a range of issues prioritized among various local groups, but the overarching imperative was to question how large corporations and the present global financial system was undermining democracy Gitlin People showed up on Wall Street on September 17th, , and a movement was born as the idea was replicated in cities around the world as news broke.
It is the inclusiveness of this sentiment that at least in part explains its rapid dissemination and replication outside of New York City. Within a month of the first occupation in Zuccotti Park, Occupy protests had popped up or were ongoing in over cities worldwide Steinberg While the movement was criticized for not articulating clear demands, doing so would legitimize the type of power structures that the movement was calling into question through its commitment to participatory democracy Graeber Ultimately, inspired by the global wave of anti-austerity movements that sought to push back against neoliberal belt-tightening, the Occupy Movement forced the issue of inequality onto the world stage like never before.
It made us recognize that equality is a deeply political question that touches us all. To stay the course of neoliberalism was not in keeping with the ethics and ethos that inspired the many participants of this global mobilization. Occupy was critiqued for not having support in some of the most impoverished places in the world, like sub-Saharan Africa and mainland Southeast Asia. Yet rather than lack of support, the absence of Occupy in these locations may be more related to the authoritarian structures that presently exist than with a lack of sympathy for the objectives of the movement.
Indeed, in places like Cambodia, where the ripple effects of colonialism still permeate the landscape, we have seen neoliberalism arrive in the form of an intensified push to construct a property regime Lim ; Springer What this has meant for many rural Cambodians is an intensive pattern of proletarianization as they are stripped from their land and thus their ability to sustain themselves, having been transformed into a working class that now labors for wages Springer In the urban context similar patterns play out, as traditional landholding practices have prioritized possession, or actual occupation, while the new juridico-institutional system of land tenure has constructed a cadastral system around formal written documentation Springer So not only do we see the marketization of vast swaths of the country in the guise of securing land rights, but so too do we see vulnerable people rendered even more so as they now have to contend with the vagaries of a job market that makes little use of unskilled labour.
Homelessness is consequently rampant in the capital, Phnom Penh, and the strains of neoliberalization in the country have become abundantly clear Springer b. For most, neoliberalism represents a miserable failure and Cambodians have accordingly pushed back in the form of major protests. Many of the emergent protests are centered on very specific experiences of forced eviction, or particular employers, rather than wider movements against land grabbing and labour relations more generally.
There are obvious limitations to how effective such movements can be when wider solidarities have not been as forthcoming as one might hope. Yet there are indications that a broader movement is beginning to emerge, particularly around election times. The official opposition party in Cambodia has been quick to claim that the swelling discontent is in fact an affirmation of their political platform, but this is simply the hubris of party politics and not a reflection of the intentions and interests of the population as a whole Morganbesser Indeed, when we look at policies, what the opposition offers is really more in the way of neoliberalism, but with different leaders at the helm.
The importance of discussing the Cambodian context here is not limited to the country itself, as indeed we have seen similar patterns arise in a variety of countries that have been embroiled in intensive processes of neoliberal reform. Contextual variations are an inevitable part of this larger picture Brenner et al. The emerging lesson from Cambodia is the importance of solidarity.
Fragmentation and individualization plays into the hands of a neoliberal modality, and so if we are to succeed in dethroning this worldview, we must seek to come together. Relations of solidarity are much more obvious in some of the anti-austerity movements that we have witnessed with increasing frequency since about when the global financial crisis hit full stride.
Ireland was the first European country to see major opposition to austerity, as protesters took to the streets of Dublin en masse in November Kearns et al. The Indignant Citizens Movement in Greece was another particularly marked example of people coming together with a common cause against austerity, as between , and , people assembled in front of the Greek Parliament in Athens in a protest that lasted over a month before brutal police crackdowns in August Gerbaudo Major protests were also held in Spain and Portugal that same year.
The response by the state in each of these incidences was to use violence against protestors, who were for the most part very peaceful in presenting their concerns and demands. The implication insofar as neoliberal austerity is concerned, is that violence is part and parcel of its logic Springer d. Should the people disagree with the exclusionary and divisive status quo that the neoliberal conjuncture has produced, they put themselves at the mercy of the full force of the monopoly of violence claimed by the state.
So while neoliberal states represent a rolling back of social supports like education and health care as part of their austerity measures, spending on the security and policing apparatus has not been subject to the same sorts of cuts, and indeed there appears to be an increasing appetite for states to funnel money into these particular channels.
What this says about neoliberalism as an ideological system is quite clear: it is an expression of a deeply held authoritarianism that positions the interests of financial elites and the security of their wealth as the apex of its concerns Tansel Aside from the austere nature of neoliberalism, the unfolding of its policies undoubtedly plays a central role in economic migration Mitchell As its competitive relations manifest in the form of speculative and extractive economies, neoliberalism tears apart local communities by stripping the basis of their livelihoods, which sets in motion a process of what in many ways can be considered a forced migration.
This phenomenon is particularly acute in the Mexican context as people risk their lives to enter the USA in search of a better life having been denied that within their own villages, towns, and cities Bacon The frequency of migration is often expressed as internal displacement, but it has an increasingly international composition, where wealthy nations like Australia, Germany, and the UK are viewed as ideal destinations.
Yet there is a glimmer of light amid the dark racist shadow that hangs over neoliberalism, which is to be found in the ways that communities are organizing supports for migrants, often in direct defiance of state policies. The Sanctuary City movement in North America, the UK, and Ireland can accordingly be seen as an anti-establishment approach that responds to the broader currents of neoliberalism Bauder At a smaller scale migrant supports are being set up by anarchist communities in Greece to provide shelter to those fleeing the carnage in Syria, a war triggered by economic liberalization and lack of political reform Hinnebusch and Zintl Greece has received over 1 million refugees since , and as the country struggles to deal with the implications, some are taking direct action by re-appropriating abandoned buildings and setting up squats for migrants, reconnecting the water and electricity to ensure livable conditions Mudu and Chattopadhyay One of the key lessons to come out tracing the lineages of the various iterations of anti-establishment movements that have arisen around the world in response to neoliberalism is that taking action into our own hands may be the best and only response.
The reclamation of our own authority in the face of neoliberalism represents a means without ends. It is a constant struggle, where winning means that resistance is an ongoing and continuing commitment to the unraveling of the world we knew in the hope of stitching together alternatives that are empowering and affirming for us all White Those who would seek to disempower the majority to their own benefit come in many guises, and even when neoliberalism does finally recede into the annals of history, there will be new threats posed to our collective wellbeing and the bonds of solidarity that we forge.
The remaking of the world then is fundamentally up to each one of us. While some on the political left, like David Harvey , may lament the notion that matters are always in our own hands as being an avenue for the intensification of neoliberal values, such an argument entirely ignores the substantive content of the forms of direct action and prefigurative politics that are evolving. It misses the point of collective resistance and paints in broad strokes, where any an all initiative outside of the parameters of the state is somehow pro-capitalist.
Unyielding Marxist that he is, Harvey is more than willing to caricature anarchist ideals and disingenuously misrepresent their intentions. So instead of waiting for state or municipal authorities to do things for us, we instead take action for ourselves.
Instead of handing over our autonomy to the interests of a minority of individuals who purport to have our best interests in mind, we articulate and realize the vision of our best interests by ourselves. This is the heart of what an anti-establishment ethos is and should be all about.
Neoliberalism espouses autonomy in the sense of markets unfettered from regulation so that the accumulation of wealth continues to flow in one direction Springer et al.
Prefiguration in the form of anti-establishment movements espouses autonomy in the sense of people unfettered from the chains of both state and capital so that accumulation is undone, and instead redistribution is ensured on our own terms through our collective means in the here and now Springer a.
The realization here is simple: if we are to shift the direction of the planet toward the realization of a more equitable arrangement for all, we have to be willing to do the hard work ourselves.
Chapter 10 Connecting the “Here and Now” with “What Could Be”
If most of these reforms did not directly address gender equality, they nevertheless received considerable scrutiny from a gender perspective. As its title alludes, achieving gender equality and gender justice will be very difficult in a world that is increasingly unequal. The report presents strong arguments for why gender equality must be placed at the core of efforts to reorient the development agenda. Indeed, if some of the key contemporary challenges economic growth and structural transformation, equality and social protection, and democratization are to be met, this is essential. The full report is available, by chapters, in PDF format. Contents Contents, acknowledgements and preface Chinese edition Overview Chinese edition Chapter 1 - After Beijing: Uneven progress in an unequal world Chinese edition Section 1: Macroeconomics, well-being and gender equality Chapter 2 - Liberalization and deregulation: The route to gender equality?
CHAPTER. Note Taking Study Guide. A RISING TIDE OF PROTEST AND VIOLENCE. SECTION 2. Focus Question: How did the Fugitive Slave Act and the.
The Role of the State, Labour Policy and Migrant Workers’ Struggles in Globalized China
Grievances and Public Protests pp Cite as. Dissent spread across the world in Many people protested against the political and socioeconomic status quo. Outraged crowds took to the streets and occupied the squares in different parts of the globe. The Occupy movements in the United States, the Israeli rallies for social justice, the Arab Spring campaigns and the student revolts in Chile are just some examples.
The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men.
As progressive child labor reformers gained traction during the last quarter of the 19th century, efforts expanded at the state level to outlaw the employment of small children.
The quest for peace and justice
Resistance to neoliberalism has become as pervasive as neoliberalism itself. As the world becomes evermore entrenched in the grip of a dystopian world order that views the market as the grand leveler of all human relations, more and more people are willing to fight back. The ratcheting up of a security state to protect the status quo sends an important message to those who would seek to contest the imbalanced power arrangement that neoliberalism has wrought. Yet the prospect of intense conflict with the police and military forces employed by the state to protect the wealth of an elite minority poses less of a risk than watching the creeping darkness of neoliberalism consume the planet. No longer content to watch the sunset, where to stay the course would be to commit planetary suicide, people are gathering in greater numbers to push back.
Some people feared globalization and questioned the benefits. Others welcomed it.
It is impossible to begin this lecture without again expressing my deep appreciation to the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Parliament for bestowing upon me and the civil rights movement in the United States such a great honor. Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meaning can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart. Such is the moment I am presently experiencing.
The entire report is available here. For a compilation of key recommendations, click here. The summer of again brought racial disorders to American cities, and with them shock, fear and bewilderment to the nation. The worst came during a two-week period in July, first in Newark and then in Detroit. Each set off a chain reaction in neighboring communities.
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