[DEBATE] : From Internationalism to Global Solidarity
p.waterman at inter.nl.net
Thu Jun 8 12:10:40 BST 2006
INTERNATIONALISM, NETWORKING, SOLIDARITY IN THE ERA OF GLOBALISATION
waterman at antenna.nl
[Text for self-organised workshop, World Social Forum 2, Porto Alegre, Brazil, January-February 2002]
Globalisation means a simultaneous stretching and intensification of all social relations - economic, political, military, gender, ecological, cultural/ communicational - creating for the first time a meaningfully global society. This is a process that began long before capitalism and will continue after. It is also, actually, something that the major religions, secular humanist and socialist traditions have always sought. Under a neo-liberal capitalist hegemony, of course, globalisation bears the traits of the old imperialism, but has implied a dramatic intensification of all the contradictions of capitalism. This therefore means that it has also produced and enabled an intensification of opposition to neo-liberalism, which is now pretty much worldwide.
Precursors to internationalism can be found in religious universalism, in enlightenment cosmopolitanism, before taking shape in the C19th as labour and socialist internationalism. Inter-nationalism, however, as the name implies, was a relationship between nation-states, nationalities, nationalisms, nationalists. Despite heroic efforts and achievements, it became increasingly attenuated and hollow during the C20th, until it no longer moved anyone or anything. Its contemporary successor is something best understood as a global solidarity movement, in the sense that it addresses global problems (of which those of nations/nationalities are but one part), and that it addresses them holistically (neither isolating one struggle from, nor prioritizing one, over others).
Networking is a relational form that has been the most common one throughout the ages, but was marginalised in the age of organized industrial capitalism. With computerization the network has become the dominant relational form, to the point that globalisation is inconceivable without it. Our present period is therefore most usefully conceived as a globalised networked finance and services capitalism (GNC for short). Whilst networking would seem to suck all wealth and power out of locales in which people live, undermining their traditional communities and organizations, we know that its 'virtual reality' has actually created the terrain on which the new global solidarity movements depend for their speed, flexibility, reach and effect. Whilst capital, state, patriarchy, religious fundamentalisms and racism can use the web, the movement that lives within and from it is the new radical-democratic and internationalist social one.
The notion of solidarity is also contained, in its historically specific forms, within all notions of community, universalized by the major religions, and forming part of the secular trinity of the French Revolution (limited as 'brotherhood', and eventually by the nation-state). 'Solidarity', however, is the forgotten term in this secular trinity, never theorized even by the socialists, reduced, finally to a token. In the age of globalization, however, we are condemned to 'solidarity with others', to 'solidarity with distant strangers', if we are ourselves to survive. Our new global solidarity, however, has to rethought in network (communicational, cultural) terms, and it has to become at least as sophisticated as the GNC it seeks to defend people against, and to eventually surpass. Solidarity needs to be specified according to at least axis, directionality, reach and depth. It also needs to be differentiated in terms of at least Identity, Substitution, Complementarity, Reciprocity, Affinity and Restitution. Each of these carries part of the meaning of Solidarity, each of them alone only carries part. A restoration of this ethical principle to pride of place amongst the values of emancipatory movements would provide them with something no capitalist, no state, can either reduce to a commodity, nor claim as its own.
It is in the articulation of internationalism, networking and solidarity
that emancipatory power rests in the era of globalisation.
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