We would like to count you among the participants in a new project: a social movements’ international collective intellectual.
Our aim is to create a space where activists and individuals linked to social movements, together with journals and magazines could share and debate broadly and openly on the challenges social movements and civil society organizations face all over the world. We don’t use “intellectual” in the elitist sense, but as a reference to the work of Gramsci and Bourdieu.
Global justice movements are facing multiple challenges and issues. They engage in day-to-day concrete struggles. They fight to empower grassroots communities and to build their capacities to tackle issues from the local to the global.
They are also constantly and deeply involved in a battle of ideas, to tackle the hegemonic ideologies. Through their global mobilizations in Chiapas (Mexico), Seattle (USA), Porto Alegre (Brazil), Geona (Italy) and countless other local, national or regional struggles they have managed to challenge and diminish the conservative principle that “there is no alternative” which was later called the “Washington consensus”.
Out of these tremendous efforts has emerged an “alter-globalist” movement, which is rebuilding and renewing both the theories and practices of internationalism. “New” and “old” actors (from 19th century trade-unions to horizontal affinity groups and assemblies from the early 2000s) have succeeded to confront injustices in the globalized neoliberal era. They have been able to show and denounce responsibilities and to build a frame to tell injustices, through various battles: against the “endless war” of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan, structural adjustments programs from the 80s to the late 90s, the growing influence of the WTO on the world economies, etc.
More recently, the financial and economic crisis has proven the analyses of these movements to be true, and their mains proposals to be relevant. However, it has also trivialized their approach. Quite paradoxically, this means that even if the alter-globalist movements have shown their historical relevance and importance and if the crisis shows the weakening of globalized capitalism, the battle of ideas is still in process.
Indeed, other new challenges are emerging. Since the Obama election, US imperialism, confronting to the crisis of its hegemony, tries to adopt new tactics, by “internalizing” some of the military confrontations, while keeping pace with rearmament and deployment. Southern so-called “emerging” countries, like China, India and Brazil, have gained more importance in multilateral engagements. Europe falls into crisis. The impasse of the elites is particularly visible over strategic issues such as the negotiations on climate change, the demands of the Arab democratic mass-movements, and the scramble over resources in Africa, Asia and South-America.
Our project intends to contribute to this battle of ideas. It is not “another” initiative, nor an isolated attempt. We acknowledge that we are, in many ways, the successors and inheritors of a large, but also problematic, tradition of international beliefs and practices: our movements are not the first ones to try to develop an open and diverse international experience of anti-hegemonic intellectual (in the broad sense of the word).
Moreover, the alterglobalist movement and its tools, including the World Social Forum process, has shown its relevance as a protagonist in these confrontations. There are many other initiatives taken by social movements to “globalize the struggle”, as Via Campesina likes to say.
Our initiative intends to build on these experiences. It will be part of these processes and dynamics. The ICI debates will feed debates and discussions within these other spaces and eventually strengthen them. Indeed, the situation of social movements is full of promises and dangers. Unlike left and social movements of the past, we cannot be blind to the dangers and believe that capitalism, imperialism of colonialism will inevitably collapse from the inside, because of their internal contradictions.
In the World Social Forum process, as well as in other important spaces, these evolving realities are opening new spaces for exploration and debate over new ideas, perspectives and proposals.
A new “collective intellectual of social movements” (in the meaning and tradition of Gramsci and Bourdieu) is breaking the boundaries between social movements and research/education networks, which will help building strategic elaborations that are required by the movements in the next phase of struggle and in order to build counter-hegemonic tools and perspectives.
We would really like you to join this initiative. If you are interested, you’ll find enclosed additional documents presenting the initiative, its first projects as well as it methodologies.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for any question