cj#813> re: Globalization book: ideology vs anarchy?


Richard Moore

From: <•••@••.•••> Bill Blum [author of "Killing Hope, US Military and
                                  CIA interventions since World War II"]
Date: Fri, 7 Aug 1998 22:36:48 EDT
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: Re: cj#812> 1st of series: "Globalization and the Revolutionary

rkm wrote:
  In fact the question of genuine democracy arises when the movement is still
 in its early stages.  A massive global movement must find a way to
 coordinate itself, to find a sense of common direction, and of solidarity.
 This movement won't be led by an existing aristocracy, as was the American
 Revolution, nor does it come with a pre-packaged ideology, as did the
 Russian Revolution.  It is rising from the people themselves, starting from
  a thousand places around the world, and a thousand circumstances, and with
   a thousand agendas. >>

Dear Richard,

though I generally admire what you've written in this essay, I
have a problem with the above paragraph.  On the one hand -- coordination,
common direction, solidarity, plus, earlier, "the vision thing" ... On the
other hand -- no pre-packaged ideology.

    Does everyone bring their "own thing" to the great revolutionary party;
i.e., total anarchy?  Or are there at least a MINIMUM of ideas that MUST, IN
COMMON, be understood intellectually and be inspired by emotionally?
Elsewhere you do list some of these ideas -- though not categorizing them as
rigidly as I am here -- but throughout your writings I find this tension
between the the very appealing "everyone doing their own thing, everyone
bringing to the table their own favorite dish" AND "It's time to get serious,
people", like the first part of the above cited paragraph.

To be continued.



Dear Bill,

What I said is that there is no _pre-packaged ideology.  With Marxism, by
contrast, there is a whole cartload of ideology, such as "all value is
derived from labor", history unfolds from "class conflict" and "dialectic
materialism", etc.  Similarly with globalization there is an ideology, or
at least a rhetoric, that market forces are beneficial and that government
has no useful economic role to play.

I am a proponent of locally-based, grass-roots democracy.  Perhaps _that is
an "ideology", but I think that would be stretching the term a bit.  In
Chiapas, locally-based democracy would translate into communal land
stewardship, while in Norway it would translate into a social-democracy,
mixed-economy system.  An approach which includes that much diversity in
public policy cannot, in my view, be called an "ideology".

My American Heritage dictionary says of "ideology":
        The body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of
        an individual, group, class, or culture.

The Cassell Concise English Dictionary says:
        ...abstract or fanciful theorizing; the political or social
        philosophy of a nation, movement, group etc.

Based on these definitions, democracy is perhaps a "meta ideology", a
_process out of which different ideologies emerge in different places and
from different conditions and cultures -- different "nations, movements,
groups, etc" can be expected to identify their own "needs and aspirations"
and "philosophies".

Let's examine the "current situation", the context out of which a global
movement might be expected to arise.  My observation is that hundreds
(thousands?) of grass-roots initiatives are underway worldwide, with many
different focus of concerns.  Some focus on over-population, others on
fighting corporate influence, election reform, sustainable agriculture,
anti-imperialism, reductions in armaments, improving labor conditions,
media reform, etc. etc.

My belief, which is shared by Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance (CDR),
is that these different initiatives are too isolated from one another, that
their political energy is fragmented, and that they can and are being
played off against one another by existing political regimes.  This is
perhaps most clearly illustrated when environmentalists are accused of
being "anti labor" because they oppose cutting down the last few remaining
Redwood forests.

Our agenda, or focus of concern, is to help build bridges between these
different initiatives or "sub-movements", to encourage people to talk not
only with those in their own sub-movement, but to reach out and dialog with
people in other sub-movements.  Our image of a mass movement is a "web",
with the "spokes" being the diverse existing struggles, and the "circular
strands" being links between the spokes.  Thus we use the term "web
weaving" to describe bridge-building between sub-movements.

Out of such process we hope that a sense of common purpose can be
developed, that the diverse struggles can be harmonized, that shared
agendas can be articulated, and that unity of political action can be

You ask: "are there at least a MINIMUM of ideas that MUST, IN COMMON, be
understood intellectually and be inspired by emotionally?".  I answer "Yes
and no."  "Yes", in the sense that self governance is an idea that we all
can support, and which can inspire us.  "No", in the sense that we don't
need to agree in advance that "population control", for example, is more
important than "taming corporations" or "election reform".

Cesar Roberto, a Brazilian who has contributed to cj in the past, and who
is a "friend of CDR", describes movement building as "establishing
non-discriminatory alliances".  This concept of "non-discriminatory" is
what I mean by "non-ideological".

An ideology-based movement would start by articulating an ideology, and
would then try to get everyone to buy into it.  A non-discriminatory
movement starts from the concerns and initiatives that are already afoot,
and then tries to get them to work together.  This is a _process-based
approach, rather than a _content-based approach.  The "idea content" of the
movement arises from the process of the movement, and varies from place to
place, rather than being uniformly defined (pre-packaged) beforehand.


I can offer an _analysis, not an ideology, regarding why such a movement is
sorely needed, and why there is hope _today for such a movement to succeed,
hope that was _not there as recently as the 1970's.

That analysis, which should be familiar to cj readers by now, is that
globalization is pushing us _all into a desperate corner.  Prior to the
"neoliberal revolution" of the 1980's, we had a system where the middle
classes in the dominant Northern nations were granted privileges.  These
privileges, one might say, were bribes, encouraging dominant populations to
permit the rest of the world (including their own less privileged citizens)
to be exploited by corporate imperialism.

But under neoliberalism (ie, Reaganism = Thatcherism = blind faith in
market forces), the Northern middle classes are now being grossly exploited
as well, with reduced social programs, increased unemployment, declining
working conditions, etc.  As more and more people in these dominant nations
become aware of their declining status, and aware that under globalization
things will only get much worse, it becomes possible for them to find
common cause with those in the Third World who have been suffering for
centuries under imperialism.

Thus the "inherent conditions" today create the seeds of a massive
grass-roots global movement.  These conditions, however, do not insure that
such a movement will arise, nor do they insure that things will move in the
direction of democracy.  Instead the energy of discontent can turn to
religious fundamentalism, or xenophobic nationalism, or factionalism.  When
such discontent is manipulated by those in power, it can result in fascism.

This is why I consider Marxists, and others, to be counter productive, when
they say "Let things get worse, let capitalism collapse, and then utopia
will spontaneously arise".  I see no evidence whatsoever that a benign
result can be expected to arise automatically from increased suffering.
All evidence, in fact, is to the contrary.  There is no evidence, in fact,
that capitalism will collapse.  Capitalism has proven itself to be
extremely adaptable.  It can survive depressions, in fact it can take
advantage of them to consolidate its position even further, as when
farmland in the US was repossessed by banks in the thirties, and as in
Korea, where bankrupt companies are being bought up by outside interests at
bargain prices.

The natural direction of capitalism, I claim, is not toward collapse, but
toward monopolization.  It is leading us toward a world where a handful of
TNC's (transnational corporations) own and run the world.  This is not
theory, this is what is plainly happening, as industry after industry is
becoming rapidly concentrated, on a global scale, into the hands of a few
major operators, and as political power is being monopolized by
TNC-dominated bureaucracies such as the World Trade Organization and the

Ultimately, one cannot deny, the limits of growth in a finite world will
have to be faced.  But with the world owned and run by giant TNC's, this
will be expressed not by collapse, but by a transition to neo-feudalism,
with TNC's in the roles which under classic feudalism were held by monarchs
and landed aristocracies.


The title of my book is "Globalization and the Revolutionary Imperative".
"Imperative" refers to the fact that we _must seize the moment, we must
accomplish a revolutionary change in political power, and we must do it
before our democracies are completely destroyed and disempowered.  If we
wait, if we allow the corporate globalist regime to fully consolidate its
power, then we'll _all be in the position that Third-World peoples have
been in for centuries -- where the forces arrayed against them are so
strong that effective resistance is nearly impossible.

The challenge is for thinkers, and writers, and leaders, and activists to
rise above their individual ideological positions and to work for
"non-discriminatory alliances", to end their mutual factionalism, and to
help build a unified grass-roots movement.  The ideology, or ideologies, if
they are needed, will arise from the process of the movement.  That, I
submit, is what democracy is all about.

in solidarity,
Wexford, Ireland

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