recent cycles of conflict

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Nate's picture
Nate
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Jul 3 2013 18:27
recent cycles of conflict

hi all,
Since my kids were born I have a much harder time keeping up with world event, let alone really thinking about them. It seem to me that there's a lot of unrest/conflict in the world currently, with events in Egypt, Turkey, etc. I'm curious if we could talk about when this current time of conflicts started and what the different moments. I'm not interested in arguing about its boundaries, like exactly when it started or whatever, I think it'd be more productive to keep it fuzzy. (It may also have different beginning points in different countries.) I'd also be interested in talking about when people think the last round of conflict like this was (and I know it's always possible to find roots in earlier events. I was just getting into radical stuff when the anti-globalization protests kicked off. It felt to me in 1999 like the Seattle WTO protests came out of nowhere, I know people who were plugged in before that were aware of precursors.)

A few important moments for the current cycle, mostly US focused. (Though maybe some of these are prehistory of the current cycle?)
Republic Windows occupation, late 2008
events in Tahrir Square, throughout 2011
events in Madison, Wisconsin, early to mid 2011
Occupy Wall Street, beginning late 2011

antiglobalization cycle of protests
(lots of people excited about the EZLN stuff kicking off in 1994)
Carnival against capital, London,1999
WTO, Seattle, 1999
World Bank/IMF protests in Washington DC, 2000
Genoa protests, summer, 2001
(September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks had a big impact against this cycle of protests IMHO)
events in Argentina in december 2001

I don't want to make too much out of where to draw the boundaries of one cycle or another, like I said I think it's good to keep stuff fuzzy. But I think it's possible to point to different times, vaguely defined, where some people feel a different sense of possibility. In late summer 2001, a lot of people paying attention to antiglobalization stuff (at least in the US) had a relatively new and relatively rising sense of political possibility, and a new willingness/excitment about mobilizing, and a new sense of international connection with stuff happening around the world. (I realize lots of stuff about that cycle of struggle and people involved in it is worth criticizing and whatnot.) At some point that sense of possibility and whatnot sort of dried up for a lot of people (definitely me for a while). I think sometime after 2008, maybe starting in 2011, there's been a similar thing starting to happen, or at least potentially starting to happen.

All of this is pretty subjective, I realize. I'm sure there's a lot in here that I've left out. I'm not as well informed as I'd like to be. That's part of why I want to hear from people about this, in a kind of timeline of these events, and to get a sense on what may be happening again now.

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Devrim
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Jul 3 2013 18:58

I think that there is a cycle of events at the moment. I think there are lots of common points between the events of the 'Arab spring', the 'green movement' in Iran, and the current events in Turkey, Brazil, Egypt, and Indonesia.

I don't think that the events in the US are very connected to this. People have tried to tie the occupy movement in with these events, but I don't think it is really of the same nature. At most it is a very pale reflection of what has been happening in other parts of the world.

My feeling with a lot of the stuff that goes on in the US is that it is only made such a big thing of because the US is the centre of world media attention, and because the level of class struggle there is so low that what in other countries would not be such big things.

I think there is a huge difference between movements which have engaged huge numbers of people in countries like Egypt, Turkey, and Brazil, and what was essential an activist movement in 'Occupy'.

Devrim

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mikail firtinaci
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Jul 3 2013 21:10

Nate;

I think there is a slow escalation of working class militancy around the world since early 2000s.

The reason why in US, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey the occupy like movements are seen as "middle class" or "student-activist" movements are:

First; The working class has emerged ideologically weakened from the terrible "post-USSR" era of 1990s. So, the class is still not able to put forward a positive program, which in my opinion can only be communism (as Libertarian or Left Communists understand communism of course).

Second; The Proletariat is deeply re-structured especially in the west and to a certain extend in Middle East and the third world throughout 80s. And now a significant part of the workers are casual, part-time or "white collar" in these countries - a phenomenon starkly different than 1970s. And these new proles are especially concentrated under the stratum "student". Governments especially in the third world tried to hide unemployment by opening universities and turning the education into a process of proletarianisation. This strategy is exploding now with the crisis.

Third; the working class is still divided. The new segment of the workers, especially young educated white collar workers, working students etc. have partially lost their ties with the older generation of workers or older working class traditions emerged in late 60s or 70s. Especially in countries like Turkey and Egypt old generation of workers are heavily voting for conservatives like AKP or MB which are at least anti-army. And army in middle east has a special, significant role in the traditional state-capitalist establishment. For a part of the older generation of workers, petty bourgeois conservatism looks at least anti-establishment to a degree, as a "lesser evil" in the virtual absence of a better political alternative.

I believe the unity will not be achieved up until communism will emerge on the horizon. So, I think it is necessary to be very cautious of anti-intellectual or "workerist" ideologies which try to downplay the role of proletarian element and spirit in the movements like Occupy or Taksim Resistance. Those ideological "sociologisms" will play a divisive role and they will make the waters muddier so to speak.

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Jul 3 2013 21:19

My feeling is that literally, every country in the world is undergoing huge change that's more extreme than the early 90's, 80's and late 70's combined, bearing in mind how extreme that time was.

The fact is that even here in the UK, there's a strong possibility of an Argentinian style situation of total economic collapse which means people's savings will lose a huge amount of value in a very short time, unlike the short period in the 70's when inflation ate into people's savings and unlike the mass strikes of the time there is pretty little optimism, there's also been a very very deep erosion of welfare that's taken an incredible toll on daily life (as I see it anyway).

I've seen a lot of people with a good living and a home.. become penniless and homeless in a very short amount of time recently, I've also found myself homeless for the first time in my life, which short of being a horrifying experience, has woken me up to the daily struggle of living an austere lifestyle with the bare minimums.. and it not being enough to survive with.

The WTO and Genoa protests and the 'anti-globalization' movement aren't even slightly relevant to the everyday struggle for any worker. Fair enough you've mentioned Argentina, but those prior mentioned events did little except provide a huge spectacle and something to get emotional about, re the HK WTO protests.. there was a genuine problem for the farmers and the erosion of their land in Hong Kong but it wasn't the main reason most people joined in the protests.

The whole world is going through deep change at the moment and a lot of people are suffering and are going to suffer a whole lot more from it, but let's hope something good comes out of it all in the end.

Harrison
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Jul 4 2013 02:08

I can't really speak for the alter-globalisation movements as my knowledge of it is entirely third hand as they had just about ended around the time i started secondary school. my involvement only began after the beginning of this cycle, so i'm more or less forced to skip out reference to the former. I'm also writing this post when i should be asleep, so i hope it is understandable.

With regard to the present cycle, I think we're seeing the break down of the present international composition of capital, and a large part of this formed by a crisis of neo-liberalism. something akin to the break down of social-democracy, in order to recover capital will have to revolutionise itself and recompose itself in some new form, both in the dominant national models, and the international division of labour between nations. its a case really of who is waiting in the wings with the next form of capitalism.

i think there are several potential forms it could take, but presently it strikes me that there is no new emergent moral-political force socially powerful enough to assume the reins of the state to yet force this capitalist change. in some ways it is like the crisis of pre-welfare capitalism, and pre-neo-liberal capitalism, but before the successful composition of a new form. i think we will continue to teeter into further crisis until this happens, so there is lots of opportunity for a communist refoundation in the coming years, maybe even decade.

the overt defining characteristic of this cycle of protests has i think been a demonstration of how successfully workers political composition has been diffused in the advanced western capitalist nations by the combination of fascism/ww2, and social democracy followed by neo-liberalism, and it is the impact of these that we are still reeling from, having not yet recovered the construction of a workers movement akin to the first half of the twentieth century, perhaps out of loyalty to the tail end of historic communist tendencies rather than active practical-theoretical research into the changed conditions, and what works and what doesn't work.

if there are two moments of struggle - continuous shop floor conflict, and on the other hand explosions on a massive scale, it strikes me that the failure on the shop floor in the period following ww2 to the present to properly reconstruct a powerful labour movement and corresponding workers socialisation and class political composition, is directly responsible for the failures of the current cycle of struggles. they are explosions of mass participation with horizontal characteristics and great material power, but they are marked by a politically weak class that doesn't know its own strength due to near half a century in which it hasn't been able to properly and effectively defend from the excesses of capitalism.

I'm not sure how true the above holds for every nation, for example it probably doesn't fit squarely on semi-dictatorial less developed nations used for heavy industry outsourcing, but i think it is applicable to the americas and europe, and also i should point out that this doesn't mean the current cycle is anything less than the most valuable thing to have occurred in decades. if anything it is a starting point for the re-emergence of politics in world that attempted for far too long the pretence of post-politics.

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Jul 4 2013 05:39

this is gonna sound weird but i trace the current struggles back to around the time of the anti-CPE...and similar struggles in europe. it really seems the idea of occupation was taken up again around that time and laid the ground for future struggles using that tactic that popped off more between 2008 (GREECE!) and now. you saw the new school occupations taking the tactic up by looking at the french and greek comrades. then the California students took it up. later the general strikes that we saw in fall 2010 in spain and france then the student/anti-cuts movement in late 2010/ winter in the uk... THEN the arab spring and so on and so forth...

honestly though this might only seem like this to me because i got initially radicalized around the time of the anti-CPE struggle come to think of it...though i wasn't really paying attention i was more feeling alienated at university and catching up with the tail end of the anti-war movement.

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Jul 4 2013 06:30

Thanks all. Thought provoking stuff. I need to get to sleep here, so just two things.

Devrim, I agree with your points. I think implied in what you've said is that the current cycle of events contains... like, multiple cycles. As you put it, there are a lot of common points between some events, and there's less common points between events in the US and elsewhere. Still, there's definitely something happening in the US, I think. That doesn't mean it's globally significant, or that it's having an effect elsewhere, or is affected by events elsewhere, it may matter only to people who live in the US. I think it'd good to try to sort out where there are these kinds of common points and how they came about, and where there aren't, and why.

Two, I'm interested in hearing people just name points for when the current cycle began, if you wouldn't mind. Again not because I want anything hard and fast in terms of drawing clear lines, I just kinda want to know. I think that it may also be, thinking again about Devrim's comment, that there's not one single cycle and instead there's multiple, with some of them more disconnected. I take Devrim's point that stuff in the US isn't as big as in other places, for sure. But I think in the US stuff really kicked off in 2011 with stuff in Madison (and stuff in Egypt happening at the same time made that feel more exciting) and then with Occupy. (I'm also genuinely not sure if that cycle continued/continues or has ended here.)

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Jul 4 2013 08:47

Nate, I think this is a really interesting thread.. nice one for starting it!

I would say that, strictly speaking, this cycle of struggles started in 2011 with the Arab Spring, Occupy, Greece really kicking off etc.. though obviously everything has it's roots further back i.e. Egypt's 2006 strikewave, Republic Windows occupation, murder of Alex Grigoropoulos etc..

Though I think Devrim has a point that the US Occupy stuff isn't really comparable to, say, the Arab Spring, I think he kind of answers his own point when he says it's important partly because of the low-level of class struggle in the States.. I think that from the 1990s up until the last few years, I think capitalism was basically unquestionable everywhere and what we're seeing now with the cycle of struggles is the re-emergence of, at the very least, the question of whether this is the best or only possible way to organise society.

So I think in basically all countries where there have been struggles, even ones with really full-on riots and shit burning all over the fucking place, they've lacked independent working class action like strikes and workplace occupations on a mass scale to really tip the balance in favour of the working class (with the movements usually just punching themselves out with constant riots).. that said, there have been experiments here and there, in Greece for example or even the (sort of) general strike in Oakland.. and more generally working class initiatives against evictions etc.. but all still fairly small and isolated..

But tbh, that's not too bad for now imo.. I mean, the crisis started in 2008 with the working class as a whole basically unexperienced in conflict and with little/no belief in it's collective strength and ability to change the world. But, relentlessly (if cautiously) optimistic as I am, I do feel like there has been a little break in the dominant ideology over the last few years and that, even if it won't bear fruit during this period of economic crisis, I think it could do as we move into a 'post-crisis' world that's unable to maintain its legitimacy..

A bit rambly.. but the discussion has been something I've been thinking about and talking to friends a lot about recently (crisis is a popular discussion point in Italy, funnily enough)..

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Jul 4 2013 13:06

Good discussion.

I want to add a few of what I see as flashpoints in this recent round of struggles.

I'm gonna start with that proto-Occupy movement that cropped up in Israel-->Occupy-->UK Uncut-->Indignatos-->Arab Spring-->Wisconsin-->Turkey-->Brazil

What I do think it is interesting here--and this has already been pointed out by other posters--these movements are emerging within a class that's been on the retreat for decades. As such, much of the focus has been on 'reclaiming public spaces' and using what most of us would identify as activist tactics. That is, I think, a fair enough response to a lack of confidence on the shop floor.

But as Ed alludes to above, there have been little experiments in making these movements more specifically class-oriented. Turkey has led me believe that the idea of a constant mass protest is pretty unsustainable, but people are still pretty pissed off and if that anger can be focused and more material, well, then we could see a very real resurgence in class politics.

I also think we need to include things like the riots in London and around the UK as well as the riots in Sweden. Different, but certainly not unrelated to the larger societal shake-up we've seen post- 2007.

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Jul 4 2013 13:25

Quickly, do people think it's significant that the 'meme' of occupying notionally public space has explicitly bounced around across the supposed 'civilisational' divide that's supposed to define the post cold war, and especially post-9-11, world?

I mean, it's not exactly internationalist class consciousness in the traditional sense, but struggles in Egypt, Brazil, Turkey, US etc seeing more in common with each other than their own governments, in a period where 'the clash of civilisations' is constantly banged out, seems worth noting at least.

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Jul 4 2013 13:49

I think that one obstacle to conflict assuming a self-conscious class character is the fact that increasingly since the late 70s, the workplace is not the public space. It used to be far more common in the west for a town to have maybe just a couple of sites where most people worked, and that defined the terms of struggle. And you can still see this pattern of struggle in places like Bangladesh and Guangdong province in China. I think there is a significant extent to which this has been a conscious decision of the capitalist class, with the intent of lessening labour unrest. I think it's also a result of capital's increasing reliance on service industries, rather than manufacturing, to stay productive. I think maybe the search for and defense of 'public spaces' is in some ways a response to this recomposition of capitalist production.

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Jul 4 2013 14:33

Most policies are geared towards false self-employment, casual working and even black market working - again that's on the rise, even though the capitalist class have the agenda to regulate it, they'd rather squeeze fines, penalties etc out of people nave it there than stamp it out despite any rhetoric bilge. This is obvious in migrant workers cases, such as that here on the south coast - cockle pickers and unlicensed fishermen, which is a huge multi-million pound industry.

They'd rather regulate the proletariat out of official existence than pay a decent wage, even though numerous respected peer-reviewed studies simply recommend paying your workers a good wage and giving them good conditions. Similar studies conclude that nearly all the things they're cutting save money - from any country you name it - housing benefit, legal aid/advice, benefits, health, elderly care etc. They'd rather not listen and profit off of quick things like selling the NHS, in short they're on a crash course of get rich quick and fuck everyone else off no matter what damage it causes. Again that experience in the UK, follows a repetitive pattern around the globe, in most sectors, most employers and the government are on the exact same page.

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Jul 4 2013 15:02

Well, there's obviously a connection between events in the US, Greece, France, Egypt, Brazil, and that obvious connection is the condition of the economy. Not to be too simple-minded about this, but there have been huge economic "dislocations" since 2007; I think what we see with this wave of "democratic" "civil" protests in Egypt, Brazil, Iran, Turkey is just that-- a wave driven to the surface by profound conflicts, and limitations, in capital.

Over the course of 10 years, Egypt's economy, by many measures has withered; Brazil's expansive growth has made acute the inability of that growth to achieve efficiencies in infrastructure essential to sustain that expansion.

I don't know that there is an actual "cycle" to these protests as much as they represent different, but linked, moments or phases.

EDIT: The 'tactic' isn't new-- people were occupying government buildings, public spaces back in the 1960s, no? Except now we call it "occupy"-- it's been branded so to speak, so it gets its historical shelf-space-- and as a brand its all the easier to empty the class content out of it-- as the OCCUPY movement in the US originally attempted to do (remember its was against the influence of corporate money in politics?).

The issue isn't the tactic, but the content behind the demonstrations. "Occupy" occurs in Madison, where Michael Moore and his merry band of big D social Democrats can't work hard enough to canalize the movement back into election/recall mode.

It occurs in the UK with youth in the estates ("projects" we call them here), give Cameron a taste of what it means to pose as a posh Thatcher. And there is, at least to me, the glorious battles of the students, trashing the Tory headquarters (do I remember that right? hope so).

It occurs in Spain. And indeed, at the outset, these manifestations have more class consciousness than later manifestations in Turkey, Brazil, Egypt. The more "OCCUPY" it is, the less class conscious.

Will the struggles "deepen" and/or be replaced by class-conscious struggle articulating itself against capitalism-- not just debt, or austerity, or unemployment, or "civil freedoms"? I don't see how that can NOT occur. Doesn't mean this "advance" will be successful.

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Jul 4 2013 16:05

I include this section from a recent article (on the "not with a bang, but a whimper" obituary of the anti-summit mobilisations following the recent farce in Fermanagh) by one of our members, as it kinda ties in - at least in terms of the origins and influences of the anti-globalisation movement.

Quote:
[...]
What we are seeing [in the latest cycle of struggles] is not only revolts against the political parties of government and opposition, but also the mainstream trade unions and other bodies that historically, were supposed to represent the working class.

It may seem odd to say it, but the counter-summit protests of the past, for all their refusal to be lined up behind established political parties or unions, and the influence of libertarian or anarchist identities and practices within it, were themselves part of this representational model that the new wave of uprisings are in revolt against.
[...]
The anti-globalisation, counter-summit movement began in response to a lack - that is a lack of a movement for truly international solidarity across national borders. By the late 1980s, despite lip-service to internationalism by the traditional labour movement and its left-wing fringes, there was little to no real active movement at this level other than the occasional token “solidarity” march or picket.

In the context of that absence, the first counter-summit mobilisation against the World Bank conference in Berlin in 1988, inevitably was going to have a politically representational character, in its goals, if not its structures. The young black-clad Autonomen from across Germany, and their supporters from further afield, rioting all week against the cops and attacking the World Bank delegations, were not fighting on behalf of their own material needs, but on the basis of their political commitment to opposing the “Washington Consensus” despoliation of the Third World (as it was then known) and in an imagined solidarity with the peasants and dispossessed slum-dwellers and workers of the global South.

In many ways this politically representational or substitutionist character of the struggle was analogous to the utopian stage of the early socialist movement. The process of becoming, from nothing to reality, must necessarily pass through the stage of being first imagined, that imagination being manifested by the representational struggle of a voluntarist cohort, so that the possibility of its being made real can be spread to the wider - in this case world-wide - audience of potential actors.

The week-long chaos of rioting in Berlin 1988 was not followed up by any significant counter-summit engagements in the immediately following years. The fall of the wall the very next year plunged the German Autonomen movement, and the semi-Maoist, RAF-supporting Anti-Imperialist (Antiimp) ideology that had dominated its Northern sections, into a period of disorientation, new splits (e.g. the Antideutsche) and urgent needs to respond to a new rising neo-Nazi tide. Nonetheless, the 1994 Zapatista uprising soon breathed new life into the idea of an international anti-capitalist movement against neoliberal globalisation.

By 1998, ten years on from Berlin, following numerous international Encuentros - first in Mexico, then in Europe - the European supporters of the Encuentro process (People’s Global Action - PGA) chose the 28th G8 Summit in Birmingham, England as their target. Being in the UK, the PGA organising brought in activists from the UK Anti-Roads protest who were looking to connect their environmental activism with a more internationalist and anti-capitalist direction - the prestige of the Zapatistas and the impeccably third world and environmental credentials of their indigenous roots, made them the perfect fit. The resulting Global Street Party, taking a form adopted from Reclaim the Streets, went under the radar of the global media, but the following year’s Carnival Against Capitalism in the City of London on June 18 made a real splash. Frenetic TV news footage of protesters brawling with trading floor city boys at the London Metals Exchange was accompanied by reporters’ breathless voiceovers of an attack on the City by anarchists and “Anti-capitalist protesters”. This was the first time the term “anti-capitalist” had appeared in the global media discourse in the neoliberal era, and was itself a key stage in the birthing of the movement and its own conception of itself. However J18’s shocking “newness”, at least to the general audience, was soon eclipsed later that same year by Seattle - and the rest, as they say, is history.

But history, in the post-Berlin wall and Cold War period, was also moving along in the 1990s and early 2000s. The Zapatistas may have been one of the first indications of that change, but they were far from being the last. The states of Central and South American continent, so long imprisoned under US-backed “free world” military dictatorships, were one by one transforming into the representational electoralist states of today. One by one, also, the Guevaraist-inspired guerrilla groups that the Antiimps had supported in their struggle against Western-backed dictatorship, were laying down their weapons and re-engaging with civilian politics. The possibility for representatives of capitalist interests other than the old landowning hacendado elites who had supported the military dictatorships had opened. Many of the ex-guerrillas went on to lead or participate in more “social-democratic” governments of national (capitalist) development. This of course reflected the changing face of the global economy that had transformed some (but not all!) of these countries from part of the “Third World” into the “emerging economies” of the BRICS and other high-growth areas (e.g. Turkey).

Since the 2008 crash in the West (but, NB, not in the “emergents”) this transformation has meant the possibility for the mass protests we see in Brazil or Turkey and Egypt, today. Protests that would previously have been wiped off the streets by machine gun fire under the old military regimes (as indeed Assad is still trying to do in Syria). There is no longer even the illusion of any role for Western European or North American young idealists to physically manifest a utopian internationalism “on behalf of” workers in the post-colonial world. The era of a purely political representation of international solidarity by the voluntary actions of ideologically motivated activists in the global core is over. And its passing reflects the fact that the global core is not so “core” anymore - as evidenced in the height of the post-2008 crisis when in taking emergency measures to rescue global capitalism, the G8 had to give way to the G20 - an event as epochal as the fall of the Berlin Wall.
[...]

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Jul 4 2013 16:27

In terms of the recent cycle of struggles, I'm with Devrim - or perhaps Nate's interpretation of Devrim's point about not confusing what is happening in Turkey, Egypt, MENA with stuff in the US. That's is I think there are multiple mutually-influencing and interacting cycles going on.

For me, one is the "emergents" cycle. That is, for all the differences, there are common resonances between Turkey, Egypt, Brazil, etc. Firstly that these are regions that were previously colonial and then post-colonial spaces (generally under military dictatorship). Secondly that they have more or less recently emerged from that status and have also recently had high rates of economic growth and development. Finally that the struggles are, in the main, no longer "peripheral struggles" - i.e. primarily concerned with resisting subaltern status, against an external "metropolitan" or "core" power (US, Europeans) but the struggle for the future is primarily one between internal social and class forces.

There is also a Eurozone constitutional crisis, which does have some of the old "core/periphery" dynamics - but expressed through 21st century market forces, rather than the imperial military forces of 19th & early 20th century. But also occurring in a post-Keynesian, post-partnership context of decaying traditional working class institutions and structures.

The UK and North America are outside of both of the emergent and eurozone cycles, but are obviously influenced by what's going on beyond their Southern borders.

In terms of point of origin, I locate it in #sidibouzid. That is I think the emergent cycle is the historically dominant one. To a certain extent the European and North American cycles are marked by the very relation of no longer being at the centre of everything (economically and culturally).

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Jul 4 2013 16:34

Also

mikail firtinaci wrote:
I believe the unity will not be achieved up until communism will emerge on the horizon. So, I think it is necessary to be very cautious of anti-intellectual or "workerist" ideologies which try to downplay the role of proletarian element and spirit in the movements like Occupy or Taksim Resistance. Those ideological "sociologisms" will play a divisive role and they will make the waters muddier so to speak.

^^This. A lot.

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Jul 5 2013 17:34

First of all why the talk about cycles. At what level are these events cyclical.

Devrim wrote:
People have tried to tie the occupy movement in with these events, but I don't think it is really of the same nature. At most it is a very pale reflection of what has been happening in other parts of the world.

Few people would doubt that they have a different nature. The question is if they actually have the same cause desplite their geographical spread and variety in expression. Are the grievances about local political issues or capitalism?

other thread

Ocelot wrote:
I would agree with Ablo's post above in the sense that the underlying pressure is economic and there doesn't appear to be any political force or actors on the immediate horizon that have any will or capacity to address that in anyway. Which makes Egypt different from Brazil or Turkey where the economic capacity to address popular grievances actually does exist.

Is there really capacity to address grievances anywhere? Will Turkey and Brasil actually be able to resolve the issues? The protests will undoubtedly die out for now but the issues will probably remain and flare up again.

It seems to me that even boom countries (which are few I guess) can't resolve the issues within the parameters of capitalism. Obviously the crisis ridden ones have no chance.

The Blaumachen piece pointed out the issues of differing expressions and strata but on a slightly more local level and had some good points. The all to neat narrative of lumpens smashing their prisons (london, stockhom riots) makes me a bit uneasy though.

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Jul 5 2013 22:07

Cooked, thanks for the Blaumachen link, will read it soon. About 'why call them cycles', it was just a term I used without thinking about it. I don't care about the term 'cycle', it'd just be good to have a term to use. I'd be fine to say 'sequence' or 'string' or 'stretch' or 'stuff' or 'somethingsomethingsomething'. How about nifty? A nifty of struggles?

That aside, I think implied in what people have said is that there can be objective/structural things in common (responding to crisis, similar political circumstances etc), and that there can be subjective things in common (people in one place being inspired by events elsewhere, trying to learn from experiences elsewhere, etc). I find that helpful.

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Jul 6 2013 00:55

Perhaps escalation or rise might be a better term then cycle. Because the struggle seem to be coming in steps; only that in each beat it is deeper, involving more people and becoming more threatening. So;

Late 1990s - anti summit gatherings
2002 and 2003 - anti war protests all over the world
2005 and 2006 - anti-CPE movement in France, a few minor but publicly inflaming strikes in Turkey, Egypt, Oaxaca, NY transit... Deepening tensions in East Asia.
2008-2009 - Revolts in certain countries due to the rising cost of food items. TEKEL strike in Turkey.
2011-2012 - Revolts in the Middle East toppling dictatorships. Street Demos in Russia. Italy, Greece, Spain, France, England ... Occupy in the US.
2013 - Revolts in Turkey, Brazil, Egypt, Bulgaria, Indonesia.

I think the leap of the revolts to "developing countries" like Turkey, Bulgaria, Brazil etc, is significant since there is at least a democratic facade or illusion and an economic stability that makes these regimes seem "stronger." Of course there were riots in Greece or France earlier but I believe the Turkish and Brazil riots were probably massive compared to those. So is this escalation going to persist? It seems so. Because regimes everywhere are falling apart gradually and slowly but surely and ceaselessly.

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communal_pie
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Jul 6 2013 01:25

2010 was fairly eventful too - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:2010_riots etc

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Nate
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Aug 13 2013 16:43

Ocelot, I read that article. I'm not sure what to make of it. I think the relationship between these recent struggles and different kinds of representation is important. I like that that article is talking about that issue but I'm not sure I understand the point it's making about representation.

The article sounds quite positive about the Seattle events. (“We’ve all come a long way since the 30th November 1999 when thousands of protesters effectively mobilised against the World Trade Organisation’s convention in Seattle. (...)  Seattle was about the emergence of a movement which operated along anarchist organising principles, and close knit affinity groups partaking in direct action.  There were no leaders who could be called upon to put forth the demands of the movement, there were no people to be bought off or bribed.”) And it sounds quite negative about their repetition. (It talks about the exhaustion of “the tactic of blockading and bringing about a revelation of the cosy links between world leaders, corporations and the financial institutions” and how “to continue with this tactic had lead us to the farcical scenes played out in Fermanagh.”)

It suggests that the problem is at least in part that “counter-summit activism came to be dominated by the representational and substitutional elements it always contained, but was not originally restricted to.” But I don’t think that’s the main change. It seems to me that the difference after Seattle or Genoa isn’t a change in representation. If we compare Berlin, 1988 through Genoa, 2001, to events after Genoa, I don’t think there’s really much of difference is the role of representation in those mobilizations and the movements tied to them.