vol.7, no.3, (November 2001)


The End of Traditional Antisystemic Movements and the Need for A New Type of Antisystemic Movement Today


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Abstract: The aim of this article is to examine the systemic parameters which gave rise to the flourishing of antisystemic movements in the 19th and 20th centuries and their subsequent decline in the era of neoliberal modernity. It is shown that their recent decline is not irrelevant to the nature of the traditional antisystemic movement which challenged a particular form of power rather than power itself, as a result of the one-dimensional conception about the ‘system’ adopted by these movements which typically saw one form of power as the basis of all other forms of power. Today, the issue is not anymore to challenge one form of power or another  but to challenge power itself, which constitutes the basis of heteronomy. In other words, what is needed today is a new type of antisystemic movement that should challenge heteronomy itself, rather than simply various forms of heteronomy. The antiglobalisation ‘movement’, which is seen as a continuation of the democratic movement that began in the 1960s, has the potential to develop into such a movement provided that it starts building bases at the local level with the aim to create a new democratic globalisation based on local inclusive democracies that would reintegrate society with the economy, polity and Nature, in an institutional framework of equal distribution of power in all its forms.




Postmodernist ideas do not simply constitute the core of today’s ‘dominant social paradigm’[1]. As I will try to show in this essay, they have  penetrated even radical social movements like the old social movements (socialist, anarchist), the ‘new’ social movements (feminist, Green etc) as well as the anti-globalisation movement. Thus, at present, we are supposedly witnessing not only the end of History, as liberal postmodernists declare, but also the end of modernity, the end of political ideologies, the end of revolutions, the end of classes, and, par excellence, the end of antisystemic movements together with any kind of ‘universalism’ —the latter, on the grounds that it supposedly leads, more or less ‘automatically, to totalitarianism.

No one would deny of course that we are going through significant transformations both at the institutional level, as is indicated by the major structural transformation of our times, the establishment of  globalised neoliberal modernity but, also, at the ideological[2] level, as the predominance of postmodernist ideas itself shows. As one could expect, these two main transformations are directly related. In other words, postmodern ideas play the role of justifying either deliberately, (as in the case of the liberal side of postmodernism), or objectively, (as in the case of mainstream and ‘oppositional’ postmodernism) the universalisation of liberal ‘democracy’ and the present marketisation of the economy and society. In this sense, postmodernism plays the role of the emerging dominant social paradigm which is consistent with the neoliberal form of modernity. The issue therefore is not whether we are going through fundamental transformations. The real issue refers to the nature of these transformations and their implications as regards the possibility of systemic change today.

In this context, having considered elsewhere the nature of today’s’ structural transformation,[3] the postmodern myths about the end of modernity[4] and the corresponding myths about the end of classes,[5] the crucial issue that arises is whether antisystemic movements are still possible in the era of globalised neoliberal modernity or whether, instead, we have to assume, as many in the ex-radical  Left do, that the era of systemic change has passed.[6] Furthermore, the issue of the conditions under which a new global antisystemic movement could develop out of the present anti-globalisation protests, capitalising the bitter historical lessons of the failures of the antisystemic movements of the past, becomes critical.


1. The meaning of ‘antisystemic movements’

Antisystemic vs. reformist movements

A good starting point in discussing the significance of antisystemic movements in the past or in the present is to define our terms and, in particular,  to make explicit the analytical framework which we use in determining the meaning of the ‘system’.

As regards first the meaning of social movements we may define them, in general terms, as the collective carriers of a particular paradigm, in the broad sense of a system of beliefs, ideas and the corresponding values. As this definition implies, a social movement is characterised by a number of elements :

  • some sort of  organisation, which distinguishes it from spontaneous gatherings of people with similar ideas and values,

  • a common outlook on society, i.e. a common world-view and

  • a common set of values that include, on the one hand, the program, which is derived on the basis of a set of shared long-term goals with respect to society’s structure and, on the other, the ideology, i.e. the body of ideas which justify the program and the strategy of the movement.

The type of social movement that we will consider in this article, the ‘anti-systemic’ movement, is distinguished by other social movements because it is characterised by a crucial extra element: it  explicitly or implicitly challenges the legitimacy of a socio-economic ‘system’, both in the sense of its institutions, which create and reproduce the unequal distribution of power (considered here as the ultimate cause of systemic social divisions[7]), and also in the sense of its values, which legitimise the domination of a human being over human being, or of Society over Nature. In this sense, an antisystemic movement differs radically from a reformist movement because whereas the former aims at the replacement of the main socio-economic institutions and corresponding values with new institutions and values, the latter aims at simply changing the existing institutions (‘deepening democracy’, better regulating the market economy etc)

The above differentiation between reformist and antisystemic movements differs from the usual distinction drawn between reformist and revolutionary movements in which the former aims at a slow, evolutionary change and the latter at a rapid, precipitous change. It is obvious that this taxonomy is based on the means used to achieve social change and not on the goal itself that may still be either systemic or reformist.

Similarly, we should not confuse the distinction that should be drawn between violent and non-violent movements with that between antisystemic and reformist ones since, again, the former refers to the means used to achieve a given goal rather than to the goals themselves. The social democratic movement for instance, both before the first world war and, even more so, after the second world war, when it abandoned  even the goal of socialising property, has always been a non-violent reformist movement and never an antisystemic movement. For Bernstein, the father of revisionism and social democracy, socialism meant the gradual socialisation of the existing political institutions and property rather than the replacement of representative democracy and the market economy with new institutions securing the equal distribution of political and economic power. Thus, as  Kolakowski points out:[8]

The essential question (for Bernstein) was not whether  to accept or reject revolutionary violence but whether  processes of socialisation within  the capitalist economy were ‘already’ part of the building of socialism (...) The movement towards socialism was not the prelude to a great expropriation but simply meant more collectivisation, more democracy, equality and welfare —a gradual trend with no predetermined limit and, by the same token, no ‘ultimate goal’. When Bernstein said that the goal was nothing and the movement everything (...) he meant, first and foremost, that the ‘ultimate goal’ as understood in Marxist tradition —the economic liberation of the proletariat by its conquest of political power— had no definite content.  

On the other hand, the communist and the anarchist movements were clearly antisystemic preaching the revolutionary change of society. However, the above categorisation does not imply that an antisystemic movement should necessarily see the systemic change of society in revolutionary terms. It is possible to envisage an antisystemic movement aiming at a  radical rupture of the system, which uses non-violent methods for this goal and resorts to violence only in case that it is attacked by the ruling elites in the transition towards the new society. This is the case of the Inclusive Democracy (ID) project that we shall consider in the last section, which aims at a systemic change through the establishment of new institutions (and corresponding new values) that would reintegrate society with the economy, polity and nature.

Types of antisystemic movements

The traditional antisystemic movement, implicitly or explicitly,  challenges the legitimacy of a system that institutionalises the inequality in the distribution of a particular form of power (political, economic, social), as the basis of all other forms of power, and aims at the replacement of the fundamental institutions and values which it considers responsible for the inequality in the distribution of this form of power with new ones promising an equal (or at least a better) distribution of power.

  • Thus,  depending on the form of power which was the target of the traditional antisystemic movements, one could distinguish  between:

  • political antisystemic movements that challenged the unequal distribution of political power, (e.g. the ‘civil society’ movements against bureaucracy in ‘actually existing socialism’),

  • economic anti-systemic movements that challenged the unequal distribution of economic power (e.g. socialist movements)

  • social antisystemic movements that challenged the unequal distribution of particular forms of social power, as it was reflected in  social institutions that established sexual, racial discrimination etc (e.g. women’s’ or black liberation movements), 

  • ecological antisystemic movements that challenged the unequal distribution mainly of economic and political power, and the corresponding cultural values, with respect to the effort to dominate Nature  and so on.

This type of antisystemic movement, which explicitly or implicitly challenged a particular form of power, was the inevitable consequence of the one-dimensional conception about the  ‘system’ adopted by these movements—a conception which, in fact, expressed their world view about the defining element within the system that creates the fundamental social divisions.

Thus, Marxists define the ‘system’ as ‘the world system of historical capitalism which has given rise to a set of antisystemic movements’[9] based on economic classes and status-groups aiming at the replacement of capitalism with socialism. In other words, for Marxists, the defining element of the system is the mode of production —an element which refers to the distribution of economic power[10] in society— which, in turn, determines, or at least conditions, the distribution of other forms of power.

On the other hand, for anarchists the defining element  is a political one, the State, which expresses par excellence the unequal distribution of political power[11] and determines, or decisively conditions, the distribution of other forms of power. As Bakunin puts it:[12]

It is clear that the juridical idea of property, as well as family law, could arise historically only in the State, the first inevitable act of which was the establishment of this law and of property. 

Finally, for feminists the defining element is the patriarchal structure of society, whereas for ecologists this element is the culture of domination of Society over Nature —a culture which is conditioned by the unequal distribution mainly of economic and political power.

However, today we  face the end of ‘traditional’ antisystemic movements which used to challenge one form of power as the basis of all other forms of power. The question is not anymore to challenge one form of power or another but to challenge the inequality in the distribution of every form of power, in other words, power relations and structures themselves. It is this collapse of the traditional antisystemic movements which raises the need for a new type of antisystemic movement, as I will attempt to show in the last section.


2. The change in the systemic parameters in the era of neoliberal modernity

There is little doubt that the traditional antisystemic movements, both old (socialist and anarchist) and ‘new’ (Green, feminist etc) have collapsed. As I will attempt to show in the following sections, although these movements are still around, they have predominantly lost their antisystemic character and continue to exist either as reformist movements (most communist parties, many anarchist currents and all the ‘new movements’) or as supposedly antisystemic moments which however do not raise any explicit antisystemic demands adopting instead the familiar ‘popular front’ practice of the Left around a program of reformist demands (Trotskyites and others). In fact, the only significant anti-systemic forces today, which directly challenge the ‘system’ (i.e. the  market economy and representative democracy) are some currents within the anti-globalisation movement. The issue arising therefore is how we may explain this effective collapse of antisystemic movements today and how we may assess the chances for a new global antisystemic movement. To discuss this issue we have to consider first the systemic parameters today since it is the change in these parameters in the last quarter of a century or so that may explain both the collapse of the antisystemic movements, as well as the form that the present antisystemic forces within the antiglobalisation movement assume.

To my mind, the following are the changes in the systemic parameters which are important in explaining the present crisis of antisystemic movements:

a. The shift from statist to neoliberal modernity

b. The consequent class structure changes and their political implications

c. The ideological crisis and the rise of postmodernism and irrationalism

In the remainder of this section I will consider briefly these parametric changes which have been discussed extensively in previous issues of Democracy & Nature.


The shift from statist to neoliberal modernity

As I attempted to show elsewhere,[13] in the ID problematique, the main developments which marked the emergence of modern society, about two hundred years ago, were the institution of the separation of society from the economy (market economy system) and the parallel institution of the separation of society from polity (representative ‘democracy’). Once the market economy system was established, a long social struggle began that raged for over a hundred and fifty years, from the Industrial Revolution up to the last quarter of the twentieth century, between those controlling the market economy, i.e. the capitalist elite controlling production and distribution, and the rest of society. The elites controlling the market economy (with the support of other social groups which were benefiting by the institutional framework) aimed at marketising labour and land as much as possible, that is, at minimising all social controls that had as their goal the protection of labour and land, so that their free flow, at a minimal cost, could be secured. On the other hand, those at the other end, and particularly the working class that was growing during this period, aimed at maximising social controls on labour that is, at maximising society's self-protection against the perils of the market economy, especially unemployment and poverty.

The interplay of ‘subjective’ factors (i.e. the outcome of this social struggle at each historical moment) and ‘objective’ factors (the ‘grow-or-die dynamic of the market economy and its technological and organisational implications) has determined the character of modern society over time, which has gone through the following transformations that defined the three  historical forms of modernity:

  • first, liberal modernity, which barely lasted half a century between the 1830s and the 1880s and was accompanied by the first attempt to internationalise the market economy—an attempt that for the reasons I mentioned in the last issue of D&N[14] failed,

  • second, statist modernity, which followed liberal modernity (after a transitional period of protectionism) with an extreme form of statism being established in the East (as a result of the first successful socialist revolution in 1917) and a milder form of statism in the West —at the beginning, in the form of national socialism and later on in the form of the welfare state (as a result of the flourishing of the socialdemocratic movement in the aftermath of the second world war). The statist form of modernity was characterised by a systematic attempt to eliminate the market-based allocation of resources in the East, and a parallel attempt to introduce significant controls over markets to protect labour in the West. But, for reasons on which I expanded elsewhere[15], both forms of statist modernity collapsed. Thus, the Eastern form of statist modernity collapsed because of the growing incompatibility between, on the one hand, the requirements of an ‘efficient’ growth economy and, on the other, the institutional arrangements (particularly centralised planning and party democracy) which had been introduced to these societies, in accordance with Marxist-Leninist ideology.[16] Similarly, the Western form of statist modernity collapsed because of the fundamental incompatibility between the requirements of a growing statism and the parallel accelerating internationalisation of the market economy,[17]

  • third, the present globalised neoliberal modernity, which followed the collapse of ‘actually existing socialism’ (the Eastern form of statism) and the parallel collapse of social democracy (the Western form of statism). It is globalised, because for the first time in History a successful, almost self-regulating, internationalised market economy has been established and its reproduction is guaranteed by the activity of the transnational elite that manages this globalisation. And it is neoliberal, because the opening and freeing of markets is the necessary condition for the reproduction of a successful  self-regulating internationalised market economy. ‘Successful’ does not of course mean, as socialdemocratic economists and politicians argue confusing the aims of social democracy with those of the elites, that the present globalisation secures that everybody benefits from this process or even that growth accelerates as a result of globalisation. The degree of success of the present globalised economy should always be assessed with respect to the aims of the elites controlling it. Their main aim has always been to secure the reproduction of an economic system that guarantees the maximum concentration of economic power in their hands and on this account the present internationalised market economy is highly successful in achieving this goal, as the data about the accelerating concentration of wealth and income (i.e. the growing inequality) in the era of neoliberal modernity show.[18]

In this problematique, it is a grave error to assign the present neoliberal globalisation solely to ‘objective’ factors or, alternatively, to subjective factors alone, ignoring the interaction between these two sets of factors.

The first type of approach is the one adopted by neoliberals and ‘social-liberals’[19] who stress the importance of technological changes (information revolution etc), ignoring the crucial importance of the decline of the labour movement in the aftermath of the de-industrialisation of the last quarter of a century and the consequent predominance of the neoliberal movement over the socialist movement. 

The second type of approach is the one adopted by the reformist Left, within which we may distinguish two main trends.

One trend (Bourdieu, Chomsky et al[20]) refers to capitalist plots aiming to impose a neoliberal globalisation, ignoring the objective factors and particularly the rise of the transnational corporation and the subsequent emergence of the transnational elite, in their daft effort to show that the present neoliberal globalisation is reversible —if not a myth! Their groundless conclusion is that a controllable globalisation (i.e. a return to some form of statism) is possible even within the institutional framework of the present market economy.

Another trend (Handt & Negri), claiming Marxist orthodoxy, adopts a more sophisticated version of the capitalist plot theory according to which capital, faced with a crisis of its ability ‘to master its conflictual relationship with labour through a social and political dialectic’, resorted to a double attack against labour: first, a direct campaign against corporatism and collective bargaining and second a reorganisation of the workplace through automation and computerisation, thereby actually excluding labour itself from the side of production’.[21] The conclusion drawn by Hardt and Negri is that ‘the neoliberalism of the 1980s constituted ‘a revolution from above’. This ‘revolution’, as they stress in a later  book,[22] was motivated by the accumulation of the proletarian struggles that functioned as the ‘motor for the crisis’ of the 1970s, which in turn was part of the objective and inevitable cycles of capitalist accumulation. The interesting aspect of this analysis that is mainly based  on unfounded assertions about the nature of the welfare state (which they assume still exists in neoliberal modernity ignoring the fact that it is being replaced everywhere by a ‘safety net’) and a confused as well as contradictory analysis of neoliberal globalisation is that it also ends up with reformist demands and no clear vision for a future society.

Thus, although the content of the demands proposed by these two trends in the  Left are not exactly the same, the former suggesting a return to a kind of statism to control globalisation and the latter proposing  free movement of labour, a social wage, a guaranteed income for all, free access to sources of knowledge, information, communication etc[23], the reformist character of the demands of both these trends is striking. However, whereas the first trend assumes that the present neoliberal  globalisation is reversible, even within the system of the market economy, the second trend not only assumes that globalisation is irreversible but it also views it favourably, as an ‘objective’ basis on which an alternative globalisation could be built (although the meaning of this alternative globalisation is never spelled out).[24] But, as I attempted to show elsewhere[25], the internationalisation of the market economy is a process, which was set in motion with the very emergence of the market economy itself. Therefore, although it is true that throughout the post-war period the internationalisation of the market economy was actively encouraged by the advanced capitalist countries, in view —in particular— of the expansion of `actually existing socialism' and of the national liberation movements in the Third World, still, this internationalisation was the outcome mainly of `objective' factors related to the dynamics of the market economy. The ‘subjective’ factors, in the form of the social struggle, played a passive role with respect to this intensifying internationalisation of the market economy; particularly so after the above mentioned major retreat of the labour movement.

In this sense, the changes in the policies of the major international institutions (IMF, WTO, WB etc) and the corresponding changes in national policies that aimed at opening and liberalising markets were ‘endogenous’, reflecting and institutionalising existing trends of the market economy, rather than exogenous, as those in the reformist Left suggest. In other words, although the creation of a self-regulating market system in the 19th century was impossible without crucial state support in creating national markets, still, once this system was set up, it created its own irreversible dynamic which led to today’s internationalised market economy.[26] Therefore, the emergence of the neoliberal internationalised market economy is basically the outcome of this dynamic process and not the result of conspiracies, or of the policies of evil neoliberal parties and/or degraded socialdemocratic parties, as reformists in the Left assert. It represents, in fact, the completion of the marketisation process, which was merely interrupted by the rise of statism in the 1930s that however collapsed l  in the 1970s when It became obvious that the kind of state intervention in the market that marked the statist period of marketisation was no longer compatible with the new internationalisation that emerged at the same time. This monumental event, at the political level, implied the end of the social democratic consensus which marked the early post war period –i.e. the consensus involving both conservative and socialdemocratic parties which were committed to active state intervention with the aim of determining the overall level of economic activity so that a number of socialdemocratic objectives could be achieved (full employment, welfare state, better distribution of income etc).

As one could expect, the fundamental changes in the economic structure mentioned above, which mark the shift from statist to neoliberal modernity, had their implications at the political level. As I pointed out elsewhere,[27] the typical form of political structure in a modern society, which can be shown to be more consistent than any other form of political structure  (theoretically as well as historically) with the market economy, is the representative (liberal) ‘democracy’. However, there are significant variations between the various forms of political structures in the era of modernity. Thus, the representative ‘democracy’ of liberal modernity evolved  into a political system of a much higher degree of concentration of political power in the hands of the executive during  statist modernity, both in the West and, even more so, in the East. This system is presently being replaced by new internationalised political structures to fit the already internationalised economic structures, representing an even higher degree of concentration of political power to match the corresponding huge concentration of economic power brought about by globalisation. Thus, in neoliberal modernity, the old Westphalian system of sovereign nation-states is being replaced  by a multi-level system of political-economic entities which at the micro-level extends to ‘micro-regions’, world cities and up to traditional states, whereas at the new internationalised macro-level (where the most important decisions are taken)  extends to the new transnational elite[28] and its political and economic expressions (G7+1, IMF, WTO, World Bank etc)’. xe "internationalised market economy"

However, if neoliberal globalisation is neither a plot, nor irreversible within the market economy system, this does not mean that it should be welcome, as Hardt and Negri[29] do, because it supposedly provides an ‘objective’ basis on which an alternative globalisation could be built —reminding one of the usual ‘objectivist’ type of analysis about the ‘necessary evils’ supposedly created by the process of  Progress.  One should not forget,  as I pointed out elsewhere,[30] that the adoption of the idea of Progress (shared by very few nowadays) implies also the endorsement of such ‘progressive’ conclusions as the  Marxist one about the 'progressive' role of colonialism[31], or the corresponding anarchist one that the state is  a 'socially necessary evil'.[32] On the other hand, if we adopt the view that there is no unilinear or dialectical process of Progress and a corresponding evolutionary process towards forms of social organisation grounded on autonomy and we assume, instead, that the historical attempts for autonomy/democracy represent a break with the past, then, forms of social change like colonialism and the institution of the  state can be seen as just 'social evils', with nothing 'necessary' about them, either as regards  their emergence in the past, or  the form that social change has taken since, or will take in the future.

The same applies to neoliberal globalisation which has  nothing ‘necessary’ about it, as it is simply the inevitable outcome of an initial choice imposed on society by economic and political elites: the choice for a market economy and representative ‘democracy’.[33] Furthermore, neoliberal globalisation cannot be the ‘objective basis’ for a new democratic society. Such a society should, instead, unravel what passes for political and economic democracy today and create genuine democratic institutions that will hardly have any relationship to the present supposedly democratic institutions. Therefore, if by systemic change one means a real  change towards a new society based on the equal distribution of power, like the type of society envisaged by the ID project, then obviously neoliberal globalisation is far from the objective basis for such a society!


Class structure changes and their political implications

The shift from statist to neoliberal modernity had very important implications on the class structures, particularly of the North but also of the South, although the peripheral character of the market economy in the South has led to the creation of some significant differentiations on their class structures with respect to those of the North. The neoliberal internationalisation of the market economy, in combination with the significant technological changes (information revolution) marking the move of the market economy to a post-industrial phase, led to the creation of new ‘class divisions’ both at the economic and the non-economic levels, as I attempted to show elsewhere.[34]

At the economic level, the combined effect of these developments was a drastic change in the employment structure which reduced massively the size of the manual working class. For instance, in the `Group of 7' countries (minus Canada), the proportion of the active population employed in manufacturing fell by over a third between  the mid seventies and the mid nineties —a fact which had significant implications on the strength and significance of trade unions and social-democratic parties. Thus, in the US, trade unions have been decimated in just two decades, their membership falling from about 35 million to 15 million, while in Britain, 14 years of Thatcherism were enough to bring down trade union membership from 13.3 million in 1979 to under 9 million in 1993. Similar trends are observed  in union membership in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway and even Sweden.[35] Using economic categories alone we may see the following class divisions in today’s internationalised market economy. xe "internationalised market economy"At the two ends of the economic class divide are the underclass and the overclass. The  underclass consisting mainly of the unemployed and those of the inactive (which do not consist merely of women staying at home as before, but, mostly, of men of working age and single parents) and the underemployed (part-timers, casual workers etc.) who fall under the poverty line. The underclass therefore includes a variety of underprivileged, ranging from old aged pensioners and state-supported single parents, to the ‘working poor’,  migrants and ‘guest’ workers, the unemployed and the homeless. In Britain, it has been estimated that the “absolutely disadvantaged”, (a  term defined similarly to the underclass)  constitute about 30 percent of the adult working population[36] and a disproportionately large number of women, blacks and other ‘second class citizens’ (ethnic minorities etc) belongs to the underclass, as a result of their relative lack of political and economic power with respect to first class citizens. At the other end of the scale is the new overclass consisting of the upper class and the upper middle class, that has been created by the marketisation process in neoliberal modernity. The overclass, in a country like Britain, amounts to about 5-6 percent of the population but receives a disproportionately large part of income and wealth.

Finally, between these two poles are the ‘middle groups’ which constitute the vast majority of the population.  If we take the British example again, these middle groups constitute about two-thirds of the population. However, to get a better glimpse of this class structure we should distinguish between the lower and the upper part of these middle groups, given the important differentiations characterising the social groups belonging to each part as regards their income, safety of employment, values and politics.

Thus, the lower middle groups, consisting of about 30 percent of the population, include all those in insecure, usually low-paid and poorly protected jobs (the marginalized and the insecure as they have been called)). Most of the growing army of part-timers and occasional workers in low-paid jobs with no formal employment protection but with incomes above the  poverty line, as well as the traditional blue collar low-skilled working class,  belong to this category. So, in this part of the population we may include the following class divisions: the petty bourgeoisie, which in the neoliberal phase shows signs of an increase in numbers as a result of a significant rise in the number of self-employed; the farmers, whose numbers continually decline as a result of the intensification of international competition; and, finally, the traditional working class, whose numbers also fall drastically during this phase, particularly in advanced market economies, as a result of technological developments and the transfer of parts of the manufacturing process to low cost  areas in the South.  On the other hand, the upper part of these middle groups consists of  what we may call the new middle class which plays a crucial role in supporting the neoliberal consensus. It is composed mainly of those employed in high paying occupations in the booming service sector of advanced market economies. Today, it is estimated that the number of professional and technical workers alone, in most advanced market economies, constitutes more than 20 percent of employees.[37] However, the new middle class overall should include approximately 35 percent of the population,[38] forming what has been described as  the privileged minority[39] or  the contended electoral majority.[40] It is only this part of the population which is in full-time, well-paid and secure jobs and controls almost two thirds of national income,[41] while by its political and economic power determine the electoral outcome.

The values, culture and behaviour of the new middle class are located somewhere between those of the petty bourgeoisie and the overclass. As a result, on some issues they may ally with the petty bourgeoisie and the traditional working class whereas on other issues they may ally with the overclass. The former is the case with respect to such issues as taking measures to avert a complete marketisation of society, or a deterioration of the ecological crisis –issues on which an electoral alliance from below has been formed in advanced market economies (new middle class, petty bourgeoisie, traditional working class) that constitutes the power base of the social liberal or centre-left parties (ex-social democratic parties) as well as of the Green parties. The latter is the case with respect to such issues as the  hostility to any expansion of statism and the welfare state —an electoral alliance on these issues between the new middle class and the overclass constitutes the power base of the ‘pure’ neoliberal or centre-rught parties. It is obvious that as the new middle class is also the electoral majority (because its members take an active part in the electoral process, unlike the members of the underclass who usually do not bother to vote frustrated by the inability of political parties to solve their problems), the electoral outcome in advanced capitalist countries is basically determined by the attitudes of the members of this class. Furthermore, the predominance of the service sector today, with the polarisation characterising it between a middle-class salaried professional stratum (a significant part of which is women) and a lower paid stratum working under increasingly factory-like conditions, was of tremendous importance for the rise of the ‘new social movements’ (feminists, greens etc)

At the non-economic level, social divisions based on gender, race and other ‘identity’ categories, (e.g. the national identity), which throughout modernity did not take the form of class divisions in the Marxist sense but were nevertheless simmering, became even more important in the era of neoliberal modernity due to the changes I mentioned above. Thus,  hierarchical structures, like the patriarchal family structures, not only remained unaffected by the rise of classes, but, in effect, were interacting with class structures and became a basic means of reproducing them. Similarly, the  rise of the nation-state in early modernity set the foundations for conflicts of nationalist character. Finally, a new development in late modernity,  the ecological  crisis, which was the inevitable outcome of the growth economy, added one more ‘transclass’ problem: the problem of the environment and quality of life. These developments at the non-economic level are crucial in explaining the rise of the ‘new social movements’ (ecological, feminist, ‘identity’ movements and so on) in neoliberal modernity.

However, the fact that dominance and conflict are being socially constructed  today around such diverse focuses as racism, sexual preferences, gender discrimination, environmental degradation, citizen participation, ethnic self-determination, religious commitments rather than economic class issues does not mean of course the end of class divisions, as some assumed. What it does mean is that the class struggle (which may perhaps better be called “the social struggle” to take into account the conflict arising from all forms of unequal distribution of power), is not anymore —exclusively or even mainly— about ownership of the means of production but about control of oneself at the economic but, also, at the political and the broader social level. This is a  matter which, directly or indirectly, raises the issue of democracy, as it was clearly expressed first in May 1968 and today again  by the emergence of the antiglobalisation movement.


The ideological crisis and the rise of postmodernism and irrationalism

The above changes in the structural parameters were accompanied by a parallel serious ideological crisis which put into question not just the political ideologies, (what postmodernists pejoratively call ‘emancipatory metanarratives’), or even ‘objective’ reason, but  reason itself, as shown by the present flourishing of irrationalism in all its forms (revival of religion but also of all sorts of spirituality). Thus, not ignoring some positive aspects of  postmodernism, one may argue that postmodernism in general and irrationalism have become the ‘two curses’ which constitute the most serious ideological enemies of any kind of antisystemic movement.

However, although the two sets of phenomena mentioned above, i.e. the structural changes that marked the entry into the present neoliberal modernity (or neoliberal globalisation) and the ideological crisis that gave rise to postmodernism and irrationalism, have taken place roughly during the same period of time, i.e. the last quarter of a century or so —a fact which, by itself, indicates a close relationship— this does not imply a strict causal relationship between them of the type that Marxists used to assume between changes in the economic base and changes in the ‘superstructure’. Postmodernism, in particular, developed mostly independently of these economic structural changes, as the result of a combination of parallel developments at the epistemological level (the crisis of ‘objectivism’ and ‘scientism’), the ideological level (the decline of Marxism that was linked to the collapse of ‘actually existing socialism’) and the ecological level (the vast ecological crisis which cast a serious doubt on the idea of progress).[42] 

In fact, as I attempted to show elsewhere,[43] the present era of neoliberal modernity has already developed its own dominant social paradigm. Thus, the various forms of modernity have created their own dominant social paradigms —which in effect constitute sub-paradigms of the main paradigm as they all share a fundamental characteristic: the idea of the separation of society from the economy and polity, as expressed respectively by the market economy and representative ‘democracy’ (with the exception of Soviet statism in which this separation is effected through central planning and Soviet ‘democracy’). On top of this main characteristic, all forms of modernity share, with some variations, the themes of reason, critical thought and economic growth.

Within this main paradigm, the dominant (sub)paradigm in liberal  modernity features, also, the belief in a mechanistic model of science, objective truth, as well as some themes from economic liberalism such as laissez faire and minimization of social controls over markets for the protection of labour. Similarly, the dominant (sub)paradigm in the statist period still features the  belief in objective truth and (a less mechanistic) science, but also certain elements of the socialist paradigm, i.e. socialdemocratic statism based on  Keynesianism in the West, or Soviet statism based on Marxism-Leninism in the East. Finally, the present form of neoliberal modernity is characterised by the emergence of a new (sub)paradigm which tends to become dominant, what I called elsewhere‘[44] neoliberal postmodernism’ (Bell, Fukuyama etc), whose main elements are certain neoliberal themes, such as the minimisation of social controls over markets, the replacement of the welfare state by safety nets and the maximisation of the role of the private sector in the economy, as well as a critique of progress (but not of growth itself), of mechanistic and deterministic science (but not of science itself), and of objective truth. However, if the main elements of the present dominant social paradigm express one pole of postmodernism, i.e. neoliberal postmodernism, the ‘new social movements that developed in the past quarter of a century express the other pole of postmodernism, what has been called ‘oppositional’ or ‘reconstructive’ postmodernism that attempts to reconstruct Enlightenment values and socialist politics using the postmodern critiques of essentialism, reductionism, and foundationalism. The events of May 1968, as well as the collapse of Marxist structuralism, played a crucial role in the development of this form of postmodernism with its main themes of rejection of:

  • an overall vision of History as an evolutionary process of progress or liberation;

  • ‘grand narratives’, in favour of plurality, fragmentation, complexity and ‘local narratives’;

  • closed systems, essentialism and determinism, in favour of  uncertainty, ambiguity and indeterminacy;

  • ‘objectivity’ and ‘truth’, in favour of relativism and perspectivism.

As the listing of the main themes of postmodernism shows, the flourishing of postmodernism is not  irrelevant to the corresponding rise of irrationalism. In fact, some postmodernists are explicit about this connection. Thus, for  Griffin[45]‘postmodern science seeks to loosen the boundary between scientific and “non-scientific knowledge” in order to incorporate other realms of knowledge and value in the sciences, involving “a new unity of scientific, ethical, aesthetic, and religions intuitions” and a “creative synthesis” of premodern, modern, and postmodern ideas. In fact, the irrational element, despite the efforts of rationalist postmodernists (usually of the post-Marxist variety) to downgrade it, exercised  a decisive influence in the postmodern paradigm.  Jeremy Rifkin’s New Age ecometaphysics and mystical tendencies that ‘wax poetically about love, the “timeless” realm of the spirit, and the ‘natural goodness of the cosmic process’[46] are well known.

The irrationalism[47], which has flourished both in the North and the South in the last quarter of the last century or so, has taken various forms ranging from the revival, in some cases, of the old religions (Christianity, Islam etc) up to the expansion of various irrational trends (mysticism, spiritualism, astrology, esoterism,  neopaganism, "New Age" etc) which, especially in the West, threaten old religions. The spreading influence of  irrationalism is such that in the USA for instance a new kind of sub-science is created (something similar to the sub-culture promoted by today’s Hollywood) in which scientists supposedly use ‘scientific’ methodology to ‘prove’ the need for religious belief![48].

The reasons which may account for this flourishing of irrationalism, apart from the indirect influence of postmodernism I mentioned above, are, as I attempted to show elsewhere[49] the universalisation of the market/growth economy and the consequent rise of neoliberal modernity, the ecological crisis and the collapse of ‘development’ in the South. In particular, the realization of the social effects of the rise of the consumer society, as well as of the ecological implications of growth, together with the expansion of poverty, insecurity and the cultural homogenisation— all of them brought about by the neoliberal globalisation —as well as the parallel failure of ‘development’, were instrumental for the rise of irrationalism in the North and the consequent expansion of various fundamentalisms in the South.

As we shall see in the next two sections, the influence of postmodernism and irrationalism are crucial in interpreting the loss of the antisystemic nature of both the old and the new social movements.


3. ‘Old’ antisystemic movements

In this section, I will discuss the two main forms of the ‘old’ antisystemic movements which were born in the context of  the split between statist and libertarian socialism —a split which reached its climax in the dispute between Marx and Bakunin within the First International. Today, almost a century and a half since this debate, the socialist project is in ruins after the collapse of both versions of statist socialism (the form of socialism which has been dominant within the socialist movement since then) i.e. the ‘actually existing socialism’ of the East and social democracy of the West.  Furthermore, despite the fact that libertarian socialism is still untried, (after the most serious attempt to implement its principles during the Spanish civil war was stifled by the fascist hordes, which were acting under the tolerant eye of Western ‘democracies’), the collapse of the statist version of  socialism has not led to a revival of its libertarian version. Instead, the institutional framework defined by modernity (i.e. the  market economy and liberal ‘democracy’) has become universal; consequently, the chronic multidimensional crisis (political, economic, ecological, social and cultural) which arose with the emergence of this institutional framework has also been universalised and exacerbated.

Antisystemic movements are very much a product of modernity. It was the separation of society from polity  and the economy, heralded by the modern era, which created —for the first time in History— a  ‘system’ controlled by political and economic elites. The emergence of  correspondingly organised social movements against the system, i.e. against the control of political and economic power by elites, was therefore inevitable. Thus,  in the middle of the 19th century, the first antisystemic movements emerged, when groups of persons involved in antisystemic activity began to create a new institution: the continuing organisation with members, and specific political objectives. In fact, as Arrighi et al point out,[50] it was the lessons that oppressed groups learned from the 1848 uprisings, i.e. that ‘spontaneous’ uprisings would not be able to achieve a systemic transformation, that led to the creation of the first organised antisystemic movements. It was clear at the time that since the states could control the masses and the powerful elites could control the states a serious effort of social transformation would require counter-organisation —both at the political and cultural levels. The fact that these first antisystemic movements were organised on a bureaucratic basis, which later led to Bolshevik totalitarianism, does not of course make redundant the need for organisation of antisystemic currents as organised social movements with their own long-term goals, strategy and means to achieve them —as supporters of direct action for its own sake think today. In fact, what these experiences teach us is that a different form of democratic movement is needed to achieve a true democratic society.


The collapse of socialist statism as an antisystemic movement

As I hinted in the last section, the decline of socialist statism and the antisystemic movements around it began well before the actual collapse of social democracy in the West and ‘actually existing socialism’ in the East. The decimation of the manual working class was the ‘objective’ factor which, together with the decline of class solidarity (the ‘subjective’ factor) —mainly due to the gradual conversion of active citizens and workers into passive consumers— led to the rapid decline of the labour movement in the era of neoliberal modernity and, even more so, of the antisystemic movements based on statist socialism that have always relied on the labour movement as the ‘revolutionary subject’. Thus, the traditional political expressions of statist socialism, the communist and socialdemocratic parties, have entered a period of terminal decline since the mid of the 1970s, when the neoliberal globalisation began taking hold. Then, several communist parties in Western Europe, in an effort to slow down or even reverse their electoral decline, attempted to expand their electoral base by attracting parts of the flourishing middle class, through adopting the ‘eurocommunism’ stand —a stand, which was indicating not simply a position of independence from the Soviet Communist Party but, even more so, a trend towards socialdemocratic reformism. However, it was soon realised that this effort to attract parts of the expanding middle class was futile, particularly so since it was inevitably accompanied by the loss of traditional labour support. As a well known statist socialist was stressing at the end of the 1980s, ‘our movements, the classic socialist or Communist labour parties, were born in a specific epoch which has now passed’[51]. At the same time, the decline of the labour movement in the 1980s, in combination with the change in the systemic parameters I mentioned in the last section, let old socialdemocratic parties like the German and British ones to a sharp turn to the Right and the abandonment of the traditional socialdemocratic goals (socialisation of means of production, economic equality, full employment through direct control of the economy etc) in favour of the ‘social-liberal’ goals (i.e. privatisations instead of nationalisations, safety nets instead of welfare states, ‘empowerment’ instead of full employment policies and so on.)

However, the cataclysmic event, which led to the final collapse of  socialist statism as an antisystemic movement, was the passing away of ‘actually existing socialism’. Thus, instead of learning the lessons of the failure of socialist statism, most supporters of antisystemic socialist statism either abandoned any antisystemic goals for good, or simply covered up this choice under the well known ‘popular front’ strategy around reformist demands. A typical example is Eric Hobsbawm (who —for many years now!— has prophesised the end of neoliberal modernity, attracting the ironic comments even of the renewed New Left Review[52]) for whom the marketless and moneyless ‘utopia’ of old socialists including Marx cannot be maintained any longer:[53]

socialists of all varieties have ceased to believe in the possibility of an entirely non-market economy’ (...) the debate between liberals and socialists today (...) is about the limits of capitalism and the market uncontrolled by public action (...) in short, the difference between liberals and socialists today is not about socialism but about capitalism (...) socialists and liberals (with the exception of the neoliberal theologians) both accept a mixed economy in principle

Today, most Marxists have joined various forms of postmodernism rejecting any idea  of a ‘universalist’ antisystemic project. Furthermore, it is indicative of the way in which postmodernism is taken for granted by all versions of the statist Left that, even when more ‘orthodox’ Marxists condemn the outright rejection of antisystemic projects, they still agree with the axiom that postmodernism cannot be attacked from without but from within and adopt the  position that the only viable modern left politics today could develop from within postmodernism itself.[54] However, many in the statist Left not only take postmodernism for granted but also the supposed impossibility of building any ‘credible’ alternative to neoliberal modernity. Thus, Jeffrey Isaac[55] conveniently  ignores (or implicitly characterises as ‘not credible’) the ideas recently promoted by the libertarian left for a wholesale alternative to capitalism[56] :

[N]aïve confidence in a future beyond commodity production, surplus value, exploitation and alienation is no longer possible (...) given the history that we have inherited and the world that human beings have created, there exists no credible wholesale alternative to capitalism (...) there exists neither a credible idea of what might replace it nor a substantial portion of human kind committed to any ‘universal’ alternative to it.

But, as far as the argument that there is not at the moment a  substantial portion of human kind committed to any ‘universal’ alternative to it, this is  only partly true. In other words, as the development of certain currents within the anti-globalisation movement shows, there is surely a rising anti-capitalist movement, even though at the moment it does not adopt a concrete alternative ‘universal’ alternative to it.[57] Furthermore, it seems that  supporters of such views are not aware of the fact that it took many years for the early anticapitalist movement, which developed after the establishment of the market economy system, to adopt a concrete universal alternative to capitalism.[58]

Finally, another confirmation of the collapse of socialist statism as an antisystemic movement (if further confirmation was needed!) is that even what has been widely characterised as ‘the new communist manifesto’, i.e. Hardt & Negri’s Empire, comes down not in favour of building a new antisystemic movement with clear goals and means, as the original Communist Manifesto did, but in favour of global ‘resistance’ against a nebulous ‘empire’ (which has no centre in the form of, say, a transnational elite, or even a transnational capitalist class) on the basis of a set of reformist demands. Still, the authors do not hesitate to end their book by extolling the ‘joy of being communist’ –the communist militant being resembled by Hardt & Negri to Saint Francis of Assisi,  who also happens to be  Mrs Thatcher’s’ idol!

What however is ironic and at the same time disturbing for the future of the alternative libertarian tradition is the development of a similar ‘pragmatism’ among several currents in the libertarian Left, as I will attempt to show next.


The bankruptcy of anarchism as an  antisystemic movement

The decline of the anarchist movement (which, almost by definition, has always been antisystemic with no significant reformist trends within it ever recorded in the past) began earlier than that of the socialist statist movement. The last historically significant appearance of this  movement was in the Spanish civil war when it was subjugated by the fascist forces (often with the significant contribution —for their own reasons— of socialist statists) sealing its fate as a mass antisystemic movement. In the post-war period, if we exclude the events of May 1968 and today’s anti-globalisation movement—the emergence of certain currents in which I consider to signify the appearance of a new democratic movement, significantly influenced by libertarian ideas but by no means constituting just another expression of the anarchist movement—the anarchist movement has been fractionalised and marginalized, whereas lately significant parts of it are even becoming reformist! All this, at the very moment when, for the first time in History after the split in the First International, the anarchist movement had a real chance to ‘take its revenge’ and  prevail over statist socialism.  

In the post second world war period, anarchism as a significant movement has mostly disappeared and it was only in the 1960s that some relatively significant manifestations of it began emerging. In France, the Situationists, although not a proper antisystemic movement in the sense defined above[59] (i.e. a mass movement with clear antisystemic goals and strategy) but rather a cultural movement, played a significant role in demystifying some aspects of the ‘system’ and in particular the role of consumerism in reproducing it. In Italy, despite some slight revival of anarchism amongst disenchanted workers after the war, the New Left in the 1960s was dominated by the statist Left, and today significant anarchist currents within the anti-globalisation movement, like Ya Basta!,[60] are clearly reformist. In Holland, the interesting experiment to initiate social change from below (even with participation in local elections) expired when the Provos and the Kabouters were eventually absorbed by the libertarian wing of the Greens. In Britain, the two main trends in the post-war period were anarcho-syndicalist and ‘life-style anarchism’ but, with the eventual disappearance of the former, life-style anarchism, together with eco-anarchist and direct action trends, are today dominant. However, Reclaim the Streets, which have been heavily involved with the anti-globalisation movement, seem to overcome ‘British pragmatism’ that has led to the cul-de-sac of life-style anarchism, although they have not as yet taken  the next step to function as catalysts for a new antisystemic movement in this country. Similarly, in the USA, anarchists today are mainly influenced by life-style anarchism, irrationalism (see, for example, eco-libertarian trends like Deep Ecology) and rising postmodernist trends.

But, let us briefly see these trends, most of which, to my mind, clearly signal the end of anarchism as an antisystemic movement. In fact, one may argue that the only trend which has a clear antisystemic character, in the sense that it tries to build a programmatic antisystemic movement, is Murray Bookchin’s social ecology (to distinguish it from various hybrids, most notable that of John Clark[61] which has nothing to do with an antisystemic trend) sometimes called confederal municipalism, libertarian municipalism and lately communalism. Bookchin has always stressed that if we are going to change the direction of society in a libertarian way, we will need to build a systematic and coherent project and that the overriding problem is to change the structure of society so that people gain power. Furthermore, he insisted that the best arena to do that is the municipality —the city, town, and village— where we have an opportunity to create a face-to-face democracy. But, contrary to the wishful thinking of the main trends in today’s anarchist movements, he has always insisted that:[62]

People will never achieve this kind of face-to-face democratic society spontaneously. A serious, committed movement is necessary to fight for it. And to build that movement, radical leftists need to develop an organization — one that is controlled from the base, so that we don't produce another Bolshevik Party. It has to be formed slowly on a local basis, it has to be confederally organized, and together with popular assemblies, it will build up an opposition to the existing power, the state and class rule.

However, these are not the dominant views among American, or generally Anglo-Saxon, anarchists, as Bookchin himself recognised when in his late years increasingly dissociated himself from the anarchist movement (which, however, he attempted to renew more than any other thinker of the second half of the 20th century) and unequivocally condemned individualistic anarchism, postmodernism and irrationalism, the main trends in today’s’ anarchism.[63] Thus, the American Institute of Anarchist Studies (prominent Board members of which are also faculty members at the Institute for Social Ecology) seems to be dominated by postmodernist influences, as it was recently indicated by the fact that its theoretical organ heavily promoted  a new book on ‘post-structuralist anarchism’, going as far as to host an interview of the IAS General Director with the author.[64] In this interview, the author made explicit his anti-universalist, if not anti-democratic, tendencies as well as his hostility against any kind of mass antisystemic movement with clear democratic goals and strategy. As the author of post-structuralist anarchism stressed, ”I would point to the necessity of understanding and participating in struggles against racism, sexism, the WTO, etc., and in doing so to see the interactions among those struggles and the oppressions those struggles seek to overturn, without trying to reduce them all to a simple formula”, the ‘formula’ consisting —as he then goes on to explain— of the main political and economic institutions of the present system:

If capitalism and the state were the sole culprits, then eliminating them would by itself open us up to a utopian society. But we ought to be leery of such simple solutions. One of the lessons of the struggles against racism, misogyny, prejudice against gays and lesbians, etc. is that power and oppression are not reducible to a single site or a single operation. We need to understand power as it operates not only at the level of the state and capitalism, but in the practices through which we conduct our lives

The obvious conclusion is that there is no need for any antisystemic movement but that we have to rely instead on the various ‘identity movements’, —or generally the ‘new’ social movements (which, as we shall see next, have already lost any antisystemic character)— to fight ‘the power relationships that arise in various practices’. It is clear that in this ‘analysis’ —which confuses the (correct) view that political and economic power are not the only forms of power with the (reformist) view that there is no ‘single Archimedean point for change’— there is no space for a view that sees the system of organisation of political and economic power as interlinked with the  other forms of power. Instead, it is assumed that eliminating political and economic power relations (state and capitalism) would by itself open us up to a utopian society! Clearly, the supporters of such views and the American Institute for Anarchist Studies[65], which promotes them, provide one more indication of the bankruptcy of today’s anarchism as an antisystemic movement.

Another indication of the same bankruptcy is the present flourishing of individualistic anarchism with its offsprings ‘life-style’ anarchism, pragmatic anarchism etc. To interpret this rise of individualism one has to go back to the movements that arose in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Schematically, two were the main elements that dominated this period. One was the ‘individualistic’ element expressed by the counterculture movements but also by the reformist currents within the ‘new’ social movements. The other was the ‘antisystemic’ element, expressed particularly by radical students and some workers, as well as by the radical currents within the ‘new’ social movements (feminism, Greens etc). However,  the antisystemic feelings which culminated in May 1968 did not only represent a rejection of statism in all its forms but also the desire for a new truly democratic society, beyond capitalism and bureaucracy, in which power in all its forms was equally distributed. It is in this sense that I pointed out above that, to my mind, the events of May 1968 have sown the seeds for a new democratic movement, which implicitly expressed a synthesis of the best elements in the ‘old’ antisystemic movements with some elements of the rising at the time ‘new’ movements and, particularly, the radical currents within feminism and the Green movement

Still, a radical democratic movement, in the form of an organised antisystemic movement with clear goals and means to achieve them, did not materialise at the time. Instead, the statist Left in its various forms (Maoism, Trotskyism etc) attracted most of the antisystemic activists, whereas the individualistic elements were either absorbed by postmodernism or simply enhanced the individualistic trends within the ‘new’ movements and the anarchist movement —in which a strong individualistic tendency was always in conflict with the collectivist tendency. Furthermore, the general turn to individualism, marked by the rise of neoliberal postmodernism as the core of the dominant social paradigm, had its inevitable effects on the anarchist movement. Thus, irrational tendencies, as well as postmodern influences mixed with counterculture currents, created today’s mix of ‘life-style anarchism which is presently dominant  in Anglo-Saxon countries.

But what is lifestyle anarchism? Bookchin described it as follows, attracting much hostility from many self-declared anarchists: ‘spray-can graffiti, postmodernist nihilism, antirationalism, neoprimitivism, antitechnologism, neo-Situationism, cultural terrorism, mysticism’[66], i.e.  any form of activity in which, as he puts it, ‘the sporadic, the unsystematic, the incoherent, the discontinuous, and the intuitive supplant the consistent, purpo­sive, organized and rational, indeed any form of sustained and focused activity apart from publishing a “zine” or pamphlet—or burning a garbage tin’,[67] or as he summarised these behaviours, all those activities which articulate Foucault’s approach of ‘personal insurrection’ rather than social revolution’.[68]

Although these trends are obvious among many activists involved in communes of various kinds, like for instance the ‘eco-village movement’ I discussed elsewhere[69] or those involved in ‘affinity groups’ organising various forms of direct action, I will also include in  lifestyle anarchism such activities as ethical finance, co-ops, community supported agriculture, rural economic renewal, town banks, land trusts, LETS, permaculture, as well as Third World alternative development projects. In other words, this broad description covers all those who are involved in such activities for their own sake rather than with the aim to build a new antisystemic movement with a clear vision about a future society and a strategy to reach it. These activities often present many of the characteristics attributed by Bookchin to life style anarchism, for instance,  assailing organization, programmatic commitment and se­rious social analysis, as well as rejecting the need for building a political movement (unlike the anarcho-syndicalist movement which in its heyday tried to en­gage in creating an organized movement) and relying instead on bringing social change ‘by example’ and the corresponding change in values.

Such trends are rampant in countries like Britain since the 1970s, when the ideas of Colin Ward and others around him (concerning what they called ‘Anarchy in Action’ —in fields as diverse as town planning, housing, education and allotments) became influential. Similar trends are expressed today by various anarchist currents that extol the virtues of co-ops, which they consider as ‘anarchism in its latest practical manifestation’ since ‘they allow  the practice of anarchism to be conducted within the larger capitalist economy’,[70] or adopt a ‘pragmatic’ anarchism, which rejects the traditional antisystemic demands of anarchists to abolish the market economy and money![71]

However, such activities not only are usually not related to radical antisystemic politics in the sense of promoting an alternative society —if indeed they are related to politics at all— but, in fact, are often so politically harmless that the political elites frequently use them for their own ends. In Britain, for instance, Tony Blair’s social-liberal government openly endorses schemes like LETS with the obvious aim to alleviate the pressures created on the budget, as a result of the running down of the welfare state –a process which was initiated by Thatcher’s neoliberalism and continued by Blair’s social-liberalism.[72]  As I pointed out elsewhere,[73] this sort of activities are utterly ineffective in bringing about a systemic change. Although helpful in creating an alternative culture among small sections of the population and, at the same time, morale boosting for activists who wish to see an immediate change in their lives, this approach does not have any chance of success —in the context of today’s huge concentration of power— to create the democratic majority needed for systemic social change. This is because the projects suggested by this strategy may be too easily marginalized, or absorbed into the existing power structure (as has happened many times in the past) while their effect on the socialisation process is minimal —if not nil. Furthermore, life-style strategies, by usually concentrating on single issues, which are not part of a comprehensive political program for social transformation, do not help in creating the ‘anti-systemic’ consciousness required for systemic change. Finally, systemic social change can never be achieved outside the main political and social arena. The elimination of the present power structures and relations can neither be achieved “by setting an example”, nor through education and persuasion. A power base is needed to destroy power and the only way in which this goal could be consistent with the aims of the democratic project would be, to my mind, through the development of a comprehensive program for the radical transformation of local political and economic structures.

Finally, as regards the other major trend within present anarchism, direct action, its major expression is the anti-globalisation ‘movement’ which I will consider below. Briefly, although some of the anarchist elements within the antiglobalisation ‘movement’ do raise anti-‘systemic’ demands, still, they have not as yet shown that they are able to function as catalysts for the formation of a new  democratic movement for systemic change. 

In conclusion, the general picture emerging as far as  post-war anarchism is concerned, is one characterised by an unwillingness of anarchists to build a programmatic movement with its own concrete analysis of the situation and long term goals and strategy. This fact constitutes the fundamental cause for the present withering away of the anarchist movement as a significant antisystemic movement. Another aspect of the same crisis is that very few libertarians today (notably, Murray Bookchin) attempted to renew libertarian theory in general and, to my knowledge, none (with the exception of the work around the project of Inclusive Democracy) attempted to make it compatible with the reality of today’s economy and society and the democratic trends that emerged since 1968, which rejected any ‘objective’ bases to found the liberatory project. Instead, most anarchist writers have either been stuck to the old debates with statist socialists, or  have turned to various forms of ‘pragmatism’, postmodernism and irrationalism.

Therefore, unless the radical elements within the anarchist movement, which is presently torn between direct action for its own sake and life-style anarchism, manage to overcome their present inability and unwillingness to function as catalysts for a new antisystemic democratic movement, missing in the process the historical chance that the collapse of the project for statist socialism has created , they are bound to confirm the present trend towards the terminal demise of anarchism as an antisystemic movement.


4. ‘New’ Antisystemic  movements

The rise of the ‘new’ social movements

If the ‘old’ antisystemic movements  were very much the product of ‘liberal’ and ‘statist’ modernity, the ‘new’ social movements (student, black, feminist, Green), which emerged in the 1960s and the 1970s, as well as the antiglobalisation movement which I shall consider in the last section,  were correspondingly expressions of late (‘neoliberal’) modernity. As such, they clearly reflect the changes in the systemic parameters I considered in the second section and in particular the changes in the class structures brought about by the rise of neoliberal modernity, as well the parallel ideological crisis which was accompanied by the flourishing of postmodernism and irrationalism.

As regards first the influence of the class structure changes, as I pointed out above, it was the rise of the middle classes in the 1960s and the 1970s, specifically the expansion of the salaried professionals and of women service sector employees, which provided the basis for the emergence of these movements, particularly the Green and the feminist movements.

Second, the influence of the ideological crisis and of postmodernism and irrationalism in particular was manifested in several ways and specifically in the rejection of universalist projects that has resulted in the fractionalism which characterises these movements, in the frequent adoption of reformist demands, as well as in the irrational elements that characterise the ideology of several currents within these movements.

However, there were several ‘antisystemic’ currents within the new  movements and particularly within the student, feminist, black  and green movements. In fact, some of them specifically charged the ‘old’ antisystemic movement as being no longer antisystemic, or sufficiently antisystemic. As a result, the period 1960-75 was one of deteriorating relations between old and new antisystemic movements, which however was succeeded by a new period of  rapprochement between old and new movements once the reformist currents started dominating  the ‘new’ movements.

Another general characteristic of the new social movements is  that they seem to be much more influential than the old movements in the North —a fact which is confirmed by at least one study[74] according to which the relative mobilization of the new social movements in countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland accounts for about two-thirds of the total mobilization.

However, the ‘new’ social movements reached their peak in the 1970s up to the mid-1980s and then  started to decline. As the authors of a the same study point out, the new social movements ‘seem not so much to have disappeared as to have become part of established interest-group politics, and thus to have followed a trajectory similar to that followed earlier in this century by the labour movement’[75]. In fact, the particular form the trajectory of the ‘new’ social movements has taken was also very much influenced by  the changes in the systemic parameters mentioned above and in particular the rise of postmodernism as well as the economic implications of neoliberal modernity.

Thus, by the 1990s, the "new social movements" had become transformed into "identity politics," i.e. the kind of postmodern politics which implies a turn away from general social, political, and economic issues toward concerns with culture and  identity. This is the kind of politics that Best & Kellner define as the politics in which individuals construct their cultural and political identities through engaging in struggles that ad­vance the interests of the groups in which they identify.[76] It is therefore obvious that identity politics constitutes a continuation of the type of politics supported by the individualistic element that flourished, in conflict with the antisystemic element, in the 1960s. As a form of postmodern politics, identity politics express a disdain to modern reductionism, universalism, and essentialism. Still, as the same authors point out, ‘although postmodern theory usually attacks essentialism, there is a mode of essentialism in many forms of identity politics, which privileges gender, race, sexual preference, or some other marker as the constituent of identity’.[77] This is for instance the case with some versions of ecofeminism that reduces all domination to the psychosexual domination of men over women.[78]

Finally, the economic implications of the rise of neoliberal modernity had crucial consequences on the antisystemic currents within the new social movements, as one could expect. The neoliberal form of modernity is associated with the fear of unemployment and uncertainty concerning the ability to adequately cover basic needs (health, education, housing). This uncertainty, therefore, was bound to significantly enhance  the  supposedly ‘realistic’ reformist currents within these movements and the corresponding retreat of radical currents within them, the withdrawal of students from public life and so on.

The decline of the ‘new’ social movements gave rise to what some consider an offspring of them, i.e. the various Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) which have rapidly proliferated in the era of the  globalised neoliberal modernity. Although their growth began in fact in the 1960s it was mainly in the 1970s, when globalisation began flourishing, that their boom began. Thus, whereas the number of NGOs operating in at least three countries was 176 in 1909 it grew to around 29,000 in 1993 and while the number of participants inthe early 1980s was about 100m by the early 1990s it was approx 250m.[79] However, as Demirovic has persuasively shown, NGOs are not social movements, both because they are reformist and because they are financed mostly by the political and economic elites[80]. In fact, one could argue that NGOs play the role of intermediate organisations between the transnational elite and society at large, forming complex political networks and negotiation systems that take part in global governance. No wonder that the main organs of the transnational elite (IMF and WB) work closely with NGOs since the 1980s, whereas on many occasions the NGOs simply replace the state’s role in the protection of labour and environment —a protection which is also privatised in direct proportion to its phasing out in the era of neoliberal modernity.[81]

In the remainder of this section, I will concentrate on two ‘new’ social movements in particular, the Green and the feminist movement, which are clear examples of the conversion of these movements into reformist ones, after the marginalisation of the antisystemic currents within them.


The end of the Greens as an antisystemic movement

The promise of the Green movement in the early seventies was of a new and, predominantly, antisystemic movement that saw the ecological crisis as the inevitable outcome of the ‘growth economy’, which the more radical currents within the movement considered as the by-product of the grow-or-die dynamic of the market economy whereas  others viewed it as the outcome of industrialism and consumerism. This radical view was contested by the ‘realists’ within the movement, which blamed the technologies used, or the prevailing values and the corresponding government policies —as is they were all somehow  independent from the economic system.

However, once this division between radicals and realists, (in the German Green party case it was formalised as the division between ‘fundis’ and ‘realos’), which roughly corresponded to a division between antisystemic and reformist currents, ended up with the outright victory of the latter over the former, the transformation of Green organisations into ‘normal’ parliamentary parties or generally reformist organisations, was inevitable. Thus, today, the dominant trends within the Green movement do not challenge the fundamental institutions of the market economy and representative ‘democracy’ but, instead, either adopt the social-democratic ideology of enhancing the civil society and adopt various forms of environmentalist reformism (Europe) or, alternatively, stress the importance of changing cultural values, which they consider as being amenable to change even within the existing institutional framework (USA).

As far as the European Green movement is concerned, the disgraceful role that the European Green parties played in NATO’s crime against the people of Yugoslavia[82], and their present involvement in the machinations of the transnational elite to smash the antiglobalisation movement,[83] are clear indications of the end of the Green movement as an antisystemic liberatory force. However, this development of German Greens was hardly unexpected after the victory of ‘realos’ over the ‘fundis’ and the transformation of the ‘non-party party’ into a normal parliamentary party, as Murray Bookchin[84] rightly pointed out:

The early claims of the German Greens to be a "non-party party" reflected a tension that could not continue to exist indefinitely once the Greens were elected to the Bundestag. Whatever may have been the best intentions of their spokespersons, participation in the state of necessity reinforced every party-oriented tendency in their organization at the expense of their "non-party" claims. Today, far from being a challenge to the social order in Germany, the Greens are one of its props. This is the product not of any ill will on the part of individual Greens but rather of the inexorable imperatives of working within the state rather than against it. Invariably, it is the state that shapes the activities and structures of those who propose to use it against itself, not the reverse.

In fact, all these changes have now become formalised in the draft of the new program of principles to be discussed in the next party congress in November. As the chairman of the German Greens stressed when he presented the draft in Berlin in July 2001, the party has  ceased to be an antiparty party and it is now an alternative solution within the party system, as the Left of centre. At the same time, the commitment in the old program for the socialisation of big business and the right of workers for democratic self-management  is now being replaced by the right of employees to ‘co-determine’ business policy! As Betina Gauss, a German political scientist put it, “the rebellious children of the bourgeois class now return to their families for good, as the wealthy people’s Left».[85]

Similarly, the eco-Marxist antisystemic movements, like the Red-Greens who still have some influence among European Greens and much less influence in the Anglo-Saxon world, have also recently adopted a reformist line. Thus, James O’Connor, the editor of Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, the main eco-Marxist journal today, in a recent speech at Italy’s new Environmental Forum, defined the red greens as those who wish ‘to revolutionize the capitalist production relations and productive forces, and to democratise material existence in every way possible’. The proposed strategy to be used to reach these goals is described as follows:[86] 

Social movements including the anti-globalisation movement are divided on the main strategy to use to reach their goals. Some social movements (and labour movement) stay within the traditional paradigm of mobilising their forces and pressuring governments (at all levels) to legislate the changes that they demand. More social movements however have abandoned this paradigm for another based on the idea that civil society can better deal with the global corporations (and global capital) via direct action against offending corporations. Labour’s campaign to defend social security and raise minimum wages is an example of the first paradigm. Greenpeace’s campaign against toxics produced by the paper and pulp industry is a good example of the second (...) My own view (shared by the Environmental Forum) is that social movements and political parties are (dialectically) essential for each other, and that one without the other is politically a losing strategy… those who choose the civil society paradigm (...) which is more populist and anarchist than social democratic or socialist (...) are asking big capital to live up to their own promises.

Notwithstanding the funny characterisation of this kind of politics (which relies on ‘asking big capital to live up to their own promises’) as ‘more anarchist’ than social democratic or socialist’(!), it is obvious that the degradation of the eco-Marxist Left today is such that, far from urging the need to build a new global movement with clear antisystemic goals, they now deposit their hopes for a new society on an alliance of reformist movements (most, if not all of which are fully integrated within the New World Order, as their stand on NATO’s criminal war against Yugoslavia confirmed) and political parties, like the one proposed by O’Connor for the USA that will include ‘the Labour Party, the Green Party —both wings—, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Socialist Party, and other small left-of-center parties in the U.S. with more or less similar public values and socio-economic and political aims backed by the many-faceted anti-globalisation movement’. 

Finally, as regards the green movements in the Anglo-Saxon countries, the change in the systemic parameters and particularly the rise of postmodernism and irrationalism mentioned above had important implications on these movements. it is not accidental for instance that postmodern science has been linked with ecology mainly through deep ecology, which is considered a form of postmodern ecology, but which at the same time, as Best and Kellner admit, is ‘typically mystical, and its deification of nature usually leads to neglect of the socio-economic forces that are destroying nature’.[87] The same applies to ecological movements like Earth First! the motivation behind which, as Marangudakis[88] points out, ‘could be arguably described as a kind of religious revelation, which in the eyes of the members of the movement, is supposed to lead to a meaningful and in all respects, true life’. Also, as I attempted to show elsewhere[89], irrationalism in the form of ‘spirituality’ is one of the main components of the ecovillage movement.

At the same time, the rapid rise of the New Age movement in neoliberal modernity, which once was a joke but today has become big business financially but also spiritually and threatens established churches, is another consequence of the ideological crisis marking the move from statist to neoliberal modernity. In other words, New Age ‘philosophy’ was the perfect ideological complement for the consumerist life-style of the thriving middle classes, which desperately needed a spiritual ‘bubble’ to fill the void created by material consumerism.[90]

In conclusion, the green movement has abdicated any antisystemic or liberatory role and today is, directly or indirectly, reformist. Directly, in the case of parliamentary green parties and red-green organisations, and indirectly in the case of movements like deep ecology which emphasise ‘spiritual change over political and social change, and the cultivation of a reverential consciousness or sensibility about the natural world rather than organization and movement building’.[91]


The death of feminism as an antisystemic movement

Before we discuss the evolution of the feminist movement it will be useful to define the meaning of an antisystemic feminist movement. To my mind, for a feminist movement to qualify as an antisystemic one the fundamental condition is that it would see the goal of equality between men and women as only the first step on the way to achieve the goal of human liberation—a goal that could only be realised within an institutional framework and a corresponding set of values that secures the equal distribution of all forms of power between all human beings, irrespective of gender, race, ethnic or cultural identity.

In this problematique, the goal supported today by socialist feminists like Johanna Brenner ‘to create the conditions under which women can enter relationships from a position of equal access with men to economic survival and political power (and) to recapture the radical potential of sexual politics and integrate these issues  into other struggles for reform’[92] could hardly be defined as an antisystemic goal. Similarly, what the same author describes as ‘the historic victories’ of the first wave feminism in the interwar period (to make women citizens) and of the second wave feminism in the post-war period (to make them fully free sellers of their own labour power) should only be described as intermediate steps towards the goal of human liberation. This is because all that these victories achieved was to equalise (to the extent of course that such movements were successful) the conditions of inequality within a system which institutionalises the inequality in the distribution of political power (through representative ‘democracy’) and of economic power (through the market economy). But, the fundamental goal of an antisystemic feminist movement should be to abolish the conditions of inequality in the distribution of power rather than simply to equalise them.[93] Therefore, such achievements (as well as similar achievements by other identity movements, (black, gay, ethnic minority etc) could be considered as victories only if contrasted to the demands of reformist movements, which of course are not particularly concerned if these ‘historic victories’ have led to new divisions and a widening gap between, on the one hand, a small elite of relatively successful  professional women, blacks and others, and, on the other, the majority of the members of the respective groups. In the US for instance, whereas at the end of the 1950s only 6.8% of all full time women workers were earning  over $30,000, by 1986 10.3% earned the same amount (adjusted for inflation) whereas, at the other end of the spectrum, the proportion of women earning less than $10, 000 remained the same in this period.[94]

In effect, this is simply another indication of the fact that such ‘identity’ movements are only meaningful when they are an integral part of an antisystemic movement that aims to abolish the present system which institutionalises (through representative ‘democracy’ and the market economy) the inequality in the distribution of political and economic power. Alternatively, as long as such movements do not have an antisystemic character, as  is predominantly the case today with the new social movements, they are bound to further enhance inequalities within society, this time between women, blacks etc.

The decline of the feminist movement in general, (which was inevitably accompanied by the collapse of antisystemic feminism), as a result of the change in the systemic parameters, was evident at the end of the 1980s. As a disillusioned socialist feminist wrote in the early nineties:[95]

Without access to the resources of strengthened social democratic  reformist structures, as decentralised and accountable as possible, and without strong trade unions, the social movements (particularly as conceived by the theorists of difference) can offer little more than the enjoyment of an endless game of self exploration played on the great board of Identity.

In fact, as Brenner[96] pointed out, several of the gains of the feminist movement proved to be double-edged with increasing autonomy matched by increasing economic insecurity, economic independence purchased at the cost of doing a double day and greater personal freedom accompanied by a frightening vulnerability to exploitation and abuse’. At the same time, as the same author pointed out, the  feminist movement was being converted into, essentially, a ‘lobby’:

There is no longer a radical grassroots feminist movement (...) second wave feminism has made the transition from a social movement to a broadly institutionalised and effective interest group (...) a ‘women’s’ lobby’, a vast array of feminist organisations representing ‘women’s’ interests’ in bourgeois politics…trade unions, professional associations, Women’s’ Studies programmes in colleges and universities (...) Feminism is no longer a mass movement based on grass roots, local, voluntary, political activism.

The  reformist character of this lobby, which consists of liberal and social –welfare (i.e. socialdemocratic) currents, is enhanced by the very ‘victory’ of the feminist movement in promoting a minority group of professional women into the political, economic and professional elites, who, as members of these elites, had to function within the constraints imposed by their newly acquired social position within the existing institutional framework. As the same author points out with respect to the ‘academisation’ of feminists, the institutionalisation of academic feminism has not come without costs in terms of depoliticising feminism to conform to academic norms, whereas the rewards of collegial recognition and the demands of career-building have increased exponentially.

It is not surprising therefore that, as Bookchin stresses,  much of feminism turned today into a lobbying movement for getting women into corporations and high military positions,[97] devolving from an initially universalised challenge to hierarchy as such into[98]:

parochial, often self-serving, and even materially rewarding species of ecofeminism and express theisms that pander to a myth of gender superiority (no less ugly when it concerns women than when it concerns men) in one form or another —not to speak of the outright wealth-oriented "feminism" promoted by Naomi Wolf et al.

One may therefore argue that the trajectory followed by the feminist movement was very similar to that of the Green movement. Thus, in the same way that the victory of ‘realos’ over the ‘fundis’ led to the end of the Green movement as a potentially antisystemic movement, the victory of ‘insiders’ (i.e. the liberal feminist groups oriented toward gaining position and power within the system) over the ‘outsiders’ (i.e. the autonomous women’s’ movement oriented to revolutionary change) led to the end of the feminist movement as a potentially antisystemic movement. Furthermore, in exactly the same way as the decline of the Left in general, which began in the early 1970s, had induced many anarchists to substitute lifestyle for politics and  ‘spirituality‘ for rational analysis, the decline of the feminist movement had induced many feminists to substitute ‘cultural feminism’ for radical feminism  and spiritualism for rationalism.

At the same time, as I stressed elsewhere,[99] ecofeminism, which is particularly influential among radical feminists, not only adopts an anti-industrial rather than an anti-capitalist analysis but also supports a kind of utopian reformism aiming to  reform the present system through a series of subsistence activities, which in the North involve life-style activities and easily marginalized communes whereas in the South involve activities that are mainly the remnants of the premodern society —gradually being phased out under the pressure of the internationalised market economy.


5. The anti-globalisation movement and the need for a new type of antisystemic movement

Whither the antiglobalisation movement?

As we have seen in the previous sections, there has been such a wide ranging shift of the political spectre to the Right during the era of neoliberal modernity that today there is hardly any movement that could be characterised as antisystemic. Thus, the old socialdemocratic movements and their political expressions have moved to social-liberalism (i.e. joined the ideology of neoliberal modernity with some minor qualifications) whereas the old anti-systemic state-socialist Left has moved to occupy the space left vacant by social democracy and are now keen supporters of a mixed economy. Thus, as the editor of a ‘reformed’ journal of the antisystemic statist Left recently pointed out:[100]

No collective agent able to match the power of capital is yet on the horizon…the only revolutionary force at present capable of disturbing its equilibrium appears to be scientific progress itself…if the human energies for a change of system are ever released again, it will be from within the metabolism of capital itself. Only in the evolution of this order (capital) could lie the secrets of another one

At the same time, the antisystemic currents within the new social movements have withered away whereas some anarchist currents, which are still raising antisystemic demands, in no way constitute (nor they wish to!) a movement. In fact, the only significant antisystemic currents today can be found within the antiglobalisation ‘movement’.

As regards the latter, I examined in detail elsewhere[101] the nature of this movement and I attempted to show why it is neither a ‘movement’ nor an antisystemic one. Briefly, it is not a movement, because the heterogeneous nature of those participating in the antiglobalisation activities (who are mainly activists belonging to other movements and organisations -anarchists, communists, Greens, feminists, nationalists etc united by their opposition to neoliberal globalisation), does not allow the formation of a common outlook on society and a common set of values. And it is not an ‘antisystemic’ movement because most of the participants involved do not even see neoliberal globalisation as a systemic phenomenon but, usually, see it as just a matter of policy, if not a capitalist plot and, as such, reversible within the market economy, provided appropriate pressure is put  on the elites.

In this problematique, it seems that the antiglobalisation ‘movement’ in the form it has today will not be able to transcend its present character as an organised ‘resistance movement’ of the ‘multitude’ against the ‘empire’ on the basis of a set of reformist demands —as described by Hardt & Negri[102]. One could therefore foresee that the antiglobalisation ‘movement’ in the future will either be phased out or, more likely, will be transformed into another kind of ‘new’ social movement, like, for instance, the green movement, and will be integrated within the ‘system’soon afterwards.

However, this does not deny the fact that there are antisystemic elements within the ‘movement’ that could potentially function as catalysts for the creation of a true antisystemic movement. The problem with these antisystemic elements at the moment is that they do not have any clear vision for a future society and therefore a  long-term strategy and short-term program. In short, the problem is that the antisystemic currents within the antiglobalisation ‘movement’, either because they are strongly influenced by the postmodern hostility against ‘universalist’ projects, or because they prefer direct action for its own sake, are not interested in building an antisystemic movement. Their implicit assumption is that, through direct action and the inevitable state repression, the situation will be revolutionised and then, ‘spontaneously’ the movement itself will somehow create the analysis needed for the present situation, complete with a clear vision of the  structure of future society, the transitional strategy  etc. Obviously, this is a romantic and historically false view about how societies change that puts us back to the period before people discovered, as I explained in the first section, that organised antisystemic movements are needed to replace a system and that the majority of the population should have developed a clear antisystemic consciousness, through actually living within the institutions of a new society, before the actual transition to it takes place.  History has taught us that this is the only way to avoid another totalitarian experiment.

It is therefore obvious that, sooner or later, the antiglobalisation movement will have to choose whether it will be predominantly a resistance movement against the excesses of neoliberal globalisation (as organisations like ATTAC, the offspring of Le Monde Diplomatique —with the support of the ‘progressive elements within the transnational elite— wish it to be), or, whether instead it will be an antisystemic movement. If it chooses the former, either in order to save some achievements of the subordinate groups in the past, or in order to create, within the resistance process, the conditions for the development of a movement for anti-systemic change, it is bound to fail. A resistance movement is necessarily a reformist movement, unless it is an integral part of an anti-systemic movement. This is because its political platform could only be based on the consensus of several heterogeneous trends and, inevitably, the consensus will be based on the least common denominator, so that the reformist trends remain on board. Furthermore, such a movement cannot raise the level of consciousness of participants towards antisystemic change. A resistance movement may succeed in attracting many activists, but given their heterogeneous nature, no consistent anti-systemic consciousness may be created. Inevitably, the level of consciousness in such a movement remains uneven, facilitating the predominance of a reformist ideology. On the other hand, if direct action is an integral part of an anti-systemic movement then the chances are very high for the creation of a democratic majority for anti-systemic democratic change, something that has never happened in History.

Therefore, unless the radical currents within the antiglobalisation ‘movement’ —the only potential basis for the creation of a global  antisystemic movement today— could adopt a new antisystemic project for the era of neoliberal modernity, this ‘movement’ will eventually have the fate of the ‘new’ social movements. Particularly so when it is now clear that neither direct action nor life-style anarchism could, by themselves, lead to systemic change, or even create the mass consciousness for it, unless such activities (among others) are part of a programmatic political movement for systemic change, with its own analysis of the present crisis, clear goals about a future society  and a comprehensive transitional strategy leading to it. Such a project should be based, as the Inclusive Democracy project proposes,  on a synthesis of the libertarian socialist and democratic traditions with the radical currents within the ‘new’ social movements (green, feminist etc) aiming at re-integrating society and economy, polity and nature in the form of an ‘inclusive’ (i.e. political, economic, ecological and ‘in the social realm’) democracy. So, what form should a new antisystemic movement for the realisation of such a project take?

Towards a new type of antisystemic movement

Today, as I attempted to show in the previous sections, we  face the end of ‘traditional’ antisystemic movements: the issue is not anymore to challenge one form of power or another  but to challenge power itself, which constitutes the basis of heteronomy. In other words, what is needed today is a new type of antisystemic movement which should challenge heteronomy itself, rather than simply various forms of heteronomy, as used to be the case in ‘traditional’ antisystemic movements.

A clear indication of the need for such a movement is the fact that  today we face not simply the end of the traditional antisystemic movements but also of traditional class divisions, based on the Marxist conception of class. However, the fact that we face today the end of antisystemic movements, as well as the end of class politics, does not mean that there is no ‘system’ anymore as such, or ‘class divisions’ for that matter. What it does mean is that today we face new ‘class divisions’ and therefore there is a need for an antisystemic movement of a new type.

In our problematique, the phasing out of economic classes in the Marxist sense simply signifies the death of traditional class divisions and the birth of new ‘holistic’ class divisions, i.e. divisions which are located into the power structures of the socio-economic system itself and not just to some aspects of it, like economic relations alone, or alternatively gender relations, identity politics, values and so on. In other words, the present social divisions between dominant and subordinate social groups in the political sphere (professional politicians versus the rest of citizenry), the economic sphere (company owners, directors, managers versus workers, clerks etc) and the broader social sphere (men versus women, blacks versus whites, ethnic majorities versus minorities and so on) are based on institutional structures that reproduce an unequal distribution of power and on  the corresponding cultures and ideologies, (i.e. the ‘dominant social paradigm’). In today’s society, the main structures which institutionalise the unequal distribution of power are the market economy and representative democracy, although other structures which institutionalise the unequal distribution of power between sexes, races, ethnicities etc cannot just be ‘reduced’ to these two main structures. So, the replacement of these structures by institutions securing the equal distribution of political, economic and social power within an inclusive democracy is the necessary condition (though not the sufficient one) for the creation of a new culture that would eliminate the unequal distribution of power between all human beings, irrespective of sex, race, ethnicity etc.

Therefore, although it is not meaningful to talk anymore about monolithic class divisions, this does not rule out the possibility that, when the subordinate social groups develop a shared consciousness about the values and institutions which create and reproduce structures of unequal distribution of power, they may unite, primarily, not against the dominant social groups as such but against the hierarchical institutional framework and those defending it. The unifying element which may unite members of the subordinate social groups around a liberatory project like the ID project is their exclusion from various forms of power—an exclusion which is founded on the unequal distribution of power that characterises today’s institutions and the corresponding values. At the same time, the differentiating element which differentiates members of the various social groups is not just their attitude towards the established system but also the very basis of their subordination, i.e. whether their subordinate position is founded on the unequal distribution of political, economic, or social power in general.

It is therefore obvious that what we need today is a new paradigm which, while recognising the different identities of the social groups which constitute various sub-totalities (women, ethnic minorities etc), at the same time acknowledges the existence of an overall socio-economic system that secures the concentration of power at the hands of various elites and dominant social groups within society as a whole. Such a paradigm is the Inclusive Democracy paradigm which does respond to the present multiplicity of social relations (gender, ethnicity, race, and so on) with complex concepts of equality in the distribution of all forms of power, which acknowledge people’s different needs and experiences. In fact, the main  problem in emancipatory politics today is how all the social groups which potentially form the basis of a new liberatory subject would be united by a common worldview, a common paradigm, which sees the ultimate cause of the present multidimensional crisis in the present structures that secure the concentration of power at all levels, as well as the corresponding value systems. In this problematique, given the broad perspective of the project for an inclusive democracy, a new movement aiming at an inclusive democracy should appeal to almost all sections of society, apart of course from the dominant social groups, i.e. the ruling elites and the overclass. 

The comprehensive character of the inclusive democracy conception and its analysis of today’s ‘class’ divisions indicates that the antisystemic movement envisaged by the ID project radically differs from the traditional antisystemic movements and offers a conception for a new type antisystemic movement. Thus, the movement envisaged by the ID project differs fundamentally  from the old reformist movements, like the social democratic movement, as well as the revolutionary movements, like the communist or anarchist movements, both with respect to the goals pursued and also the means used to achieve these aims.

As far as the goals is concerned, although the ID movement is, like the communist and anarchist movements, antisystemic, still, there is a crucial difference between the antisystemic goals of the ID movement on the one hand and the goals of the communist and anarchist movements on the one other. Thus, the vision of an inclusive democracy is radically different from the communist vision[103] of society in general and democracy in particular, as well as from the anarchist[104] versions of it. Briefly, the communist visions (Marxist or anarchy-communist), unlike the ID project, presuppose a post-scarcity society and therefore rule out the idea of economic democracy, whereas the anarcho-syndicalist versions are based on workers’ councils rather than, as in the ID project, on citizen’s assemblies —a collective unit of decision-taking of a far broader scope.

Also, as far as the means suggested by the ID project versus the traditional antisystemic movements, again, there are deep differences between the two types of movements. Thus, the envisaged ID movement uses a variety of means to achieve its antisystemic goals but not participation in parliamentary elections, which is the main means used by reformist movements and also by some communist ones. Furthermore, whereas the ID project envisages the use only of defensive violence in case the ruling elites attempt to use state violence in order to stop the radical transformation of society, the communist and anarchist movements preach the revolutionary transformation of society.

Finally, the revolutionary strategy adopted by both communist and anarchist movements is rejected by the ID movement because, as I pointed out elsewhere[105], the major problem of any revolutionary strategy, either ‘from above’ (as envisaged by Marxist movements) or ‘from below’ (anarchist movements), is the uneven development of consciousness among the population, in other words, the fact that a revolution, which assumes a rupture with the past both at the subjective level of consciousness and at the institutional level, takes place in an environment where only a minority of the population has broken with the dominant social paradigm. Then, if it is a revolution from above, it has a good chance to achieve its first aim, to abolish state power and establish its own power. But, exactly because it is a revolution from above with its own hierarchical structures etc, it has no chance to change the dominant social paradigm but only formally, i.e. at the level of the official ideology. On the other hand, although the revolution from below is the correct approach to convert people democratically to the new social paradigm, it suffers from the fact that the uneven development of consciousness among the population may not allow revolutionaries to achieve even their very first aim of abolishing state power and, even if they manage to do so, the very rapid and precipitous character of revolutionary change guarantees that the uneven levels of consciousness will mark the first crucial stages after the revolution.

According to the ID project, the establishment of the democratic institutions of a future society, which would be radically different from what passes for democracy today, would not have to wait for the revolution to come. A crucial element of the ID strategy is that the political and economic institutions of Inclusive Democracy begin to be established immediately after a significant number of people in a particular area have formed a base for ‘democracy in action’. It is through action in building such institutions that a massive political movement with a high level of consciousness can be built. Therefore, the ID strategy would involve the gradual building of alternative political and economic institutions through the taking over of power at the local level by a programmatic political movement committed to systemic change. This would enable citizens, especially disadvantaged people, to start meeting some of their own urgent needs and, likewise, provides an incentive for involvement and experience of participation and co-operation, while actually constructing the first elements in the new democracy.

The fight to build a new antisystemic movement  inspired by the paradigm for a true (inclusive) democracy, which to be successful has to become an international  movement, is urgent as well as imperative. The antiglobalisation movement has the potential to develop into such a movement, if it starts building bases at the local level with the aim to create a new democratic globalisation based on local inclusive democracies that would reintegrate society with the economy, polity and Nature in an institutional framework of equal distribution of power in all its forms. If it does not catch the chance, it will eventually wither away or, worse, be integrated. In the latter case, the transnational elite will proceed with its management of the neoliberal globalisation that will marginalize the majority of the world population and worsen the ecological situation, whereas the anti-globalisation ‘movement’ will play the role of the ‘loyal’ opposition fighting for a slightly lower degree of concentration (through the Tobin tax, the easing of South’s debt etc) and a slightly smaller ecological crisis (through the Kyoto treaty and its subsequent amendments)!


[1] The dominant social paradigm is defined as the system of beliefs, ideas and the corresponding values, which are dominant (or tend to become dominant) in a particular society at a particular moment of its history, as most consistent with the existing political, economic and social institutions.

[2] The controversial term ‘ideology’ is not used in this text in the Marxian sense of ‘false consiciousness’ but in  the loose sense of the word as a system of ideas. Similarly, the ideological crisis is defined to include the present  crisis  of political ideologies,  objective reason and sometimes reason itself.

[3]  Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Globalisation, the Reformist Left and the Anti-Globalisation ‘Movement’ Democracy & Nature, vol. 7, no. 2 (July 2001) pp. 233-280.

[4] Takis Fotopoulos, ‘The Myth of postmodernity’ Democracy & Nature, vol. 7, no. 1 (March 2001) pp. 27-76.

[5] Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Class Divisions Today-The Inclusive Democracy Approach’ Democracy & Nature, vol. 6, no. 2 (July 2000) pp. 211-252.

[6] In this case we should obviously join the Perry Andersons and Tariq Alis of this world in some sort of "uncompromising realism "See Perry Anderson, ‘Renewals’ New Left Review no. 1 (new series) Jan/Feb 2000, pp. 5-24; see also Boris Kagarlitsky ‘The Suicide of New Left Review’ and Tariq Ali’s deplorable reply ‘The third period in outer-space: a brief comment on Boris Kagalitskys suicide’, ZNet (May 6 2000).

[7] Systemic social divisions are defined as those social  divisions which refer to the very structure of the social system and explicitly or implicitly challenge the legitimacy of a hierarchical system that creates and reproduces the unequal distribution of power

[8] Leszek Kolakowski, Main Currents of Marxism, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978) vol. 2, pp. 109-110.

[9] Giovanni Arrighi, Terence K. Hopkins & Immanuel Wallerstein, Antisystemic movements (London: Verso, 1989), p. 1.

[10] Economic power is identified not with concentration of income and wealth but with the capacity of a set of social groups to control the economic process and particularly the production and distribution processes.

[11] Political power is defined as the capacity of a set of social groups to control the political process, which is defined in a broad sense to include political institutions (government, parliament etc) as well as cultural/ideological institutions (education, church, mass media, art, publishing) and repressive institutions (army, police, prisons and so on).

[12] G.P. Maximoff, The Political Philosophy of Bakunin (New York: Free Press, 1964),  p. 179.

[13] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘The Myth of Postmodernity’

[14] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Globalisation, the Reformist Left and the Anti-Globalisation Movement’.

[15] See T. Fotopoulos, Towards An Inclusive Democracy, pp.28-33; see also ‘The Catastrophe of Marketization’ Democracy & Nature, vol. 5, no. 2 (July 1999) pp. 275-310.

[16] See Takis Fotopoulos, Towards An Inclusive Democracy, pp. 73-85 and 100-104. See also, Takis Fotopoulos, ‘The catastrophe of Marketization’ , Democracy & Nature, vol. 5, no. 2 (July 1999), pp. 275-310.

[17] See T. Fotopoulos, Towards An Inclusive Democracy pp. 28-32 & 85-100.

[18] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Globalisation’, the Reformist Left and the Anti-Globalisation Movement’.

[19] ibid.

[20] ibid.

[21] Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri, Labor of Dionysus (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1994) p. 240-241.

[22]Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri, Empire  (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2000) p. 239.

[23] Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri, Empire, pp. 393-413.

[24] No wonder that this sort of analysis and conclusions have been heavily promoted by the establishment media controlled by the transnational elite with Empire being characterised as a new ‘communist manifesto’ (The Observer, July 15, 2001)  —see, also, New York Times, (July 20, 2001)— and (not surprisingly — after all this mass promotion by the establishment media), fast becoming a best seller.

[25] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Globalisation’.

[26] Takis Fotopoulos, Towards An Inclusive Democracy, ch. 1.

[27] Takis Fotopoulos, ‘The Myth of Postmodernity’.

[28] We may define the ‘transnational elite’ as the elite which draws its power (economic, political or generally social power) by operating at the transnational level —a fact which implies that it does not express, solely or even primarily, the interests of a particular nation-state. It consists of transnational political, economic and professional elites and is differentiated by national elites because of the fact that it sees its vital interests in terms of the international markets rather than the national markets (see Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Globalisation’).

[29] See M. Hardt & A. Negri, Empire.

[30] See Takis Fotopoulos, Towards An Inclusive Democracy, ch. 8.

[31] See, e.g., Shlomo Avineri, ed., Karl Marx on Colonialism & Modernization (New York: Anchor Books, 1969), p. 13; and Anthony Brewer, Marxist Theories of Imperialism (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980), p. 18.

[32] See G.P. Maximoff, ed., The Political Philosophy of Bakunin p. 145. See, also, M. Bookchin, The Philosophy of Social Ecology (Montreal: Black Rose Press, 1995) p. xvi.

[33] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘The Myth of Postmodernity’.

[34] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Class divisions Today: The Inclusive Democracy Approach’.

[35] See Takis Fotopoulos, Towards An Inclusive Democracy, pp.  36-41 and Pakulski and Malcolm Waters (London: Sage, 1996) The Death of Class, p. 86.

[36] Will Hutton, The State We’re In, London:Jonathan Cape, 1995), p. 106.

[37] Jan Pakulski and Malcolm Waters, The Death of Class, p. 56.

[38] According to an ICM/Guardian poll , 35 percent of the population in Britain classify themselves as middle class today (versus  28 percent in 1955), 12 percent as lower middle class (versus 7 percent in 1955) and 11 percent as skilled working class (The Guardian, 29/12/99).

[39] Will Hutton, The State We’re In, p. 108.

[40] Galbraith, The Culture of Contentment, p. 15.

[41] World Bank, World Development Report 1995 (New York: Oxford University Press)  Table 30, IFS, For Richer, For Poorer (London: Institute for Fiscal Studies, 1994).

[42] See Takis Fotopoulos, Towards An Inclusive Democracy, ch. 4.

[43] see  Takis Fotopoulos, ‘The Myth of Postmodernity’.

[44] Takis Fotopoulos, ‘The Myth of Postmodernity’.

[45] David Ray Griffin, The Re-enchantment of Science (Albany: State University of NY Press, 1988) and Spirituality and Science (Albany: State University of NY Press, 1988) quoted by Best & Kellner, p. 242.

[46] Steven Best & Douglas Kellner, The Postmodern Turn, p. 267.

[47] We may generally define an irrational belief system as a system whose core beliefs are not derived by rational methods (i.e. reason and/or an appeal to ‘facts’) but by intuition, instinct, feeling, mystical experience, revelation, will etc. As such, these beliefs are therefore outside any rational discourse.

[48] This is the case for instance of Andrew Newberg who in a very recent book [Andrew Neuberg et al, Why God Won't Go Away : Brain Science and the Biology of Belief, (Ballantine Books, 2001)], using high-tech imaging devices to peer into the brains of meditating Buddhists and Franciscan nuns, found ‘solid evidence’ that  the mystical experiences of the subjects "were not the result of some fabrication, or simple wishful thinking, but were associated instead with a series of observable neurological events." On the basis of this evidence Newberg concludes "mystical experience is biologically, observably and scientifically real.... spiritual experience, at its very root, is intimately interwoven with human biology”. Of course, the methodology used by these ‘scientists’ has little to do with scientific processes as it is indicated first of all by the use of a highly unrepresentative sample (meditating Buddhists and Franciscan nuns!) to show the existence of mystical experiences in their brains. There was never any doubt that mystical experiences are very real for  Buddhists and Franciscan nuns and  that therefore they should be associated with a series of observable neurological events, in exactly the same way that false beliefs (delusions), and false perceptions (hallucinations) are very real  for schizophrenics and therefore correspondingly associated with some neurological events. But, although potentially everybody may have the ability to have mystical experiences or hallucinations many people do not have  such experiences. This fact  shows that human  brains are not biologically programmed to seek God  (as the author asserts) in the same way as, for instance, they may be programmed to understand the formal principles underlying the grammatical structures of language, as Chomsky maintains—an also very controversial hypothesis. In other words, it was always a matter of choice whether people would believe or not to God, (a fact which shows that religion has much more to do with socio-economic rather than biological factors), whereas it was never a matter of choice whether they should eat or drink (unless they wished to commit suicide) or even talk (unless they joined some sort of religious/spiritual sects.

[49] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘The Rise of New Irrationalism and its Incompatibility with Inclusive Democracy’, Democracy & Nature, vol. 4, nos. 2/3 (July/November 1998), pp. 1-49.

[50] Giovanni Arrighi et al, Antisystemic movements, p. 98.

[51] For a statist socialist  interpretation of the decline of the labour movement see Eric Hobsbawm, ‘Farewell to the Classic Labour Movement’? New Left Review, 173, January/February 1989, pp. 69-74.

[52] Perry Anderson ‘Renewals’ NLR, no. 1.

[53] Eric Hobsbawm, ‘The Crisis of today’s ideologies’, New Left Review no 192, (March-April 1992, pp. 55-64.

[54] Thus, although orthodox Marxists are critical of Anderson’s defeatism, they still do not attempt to built an alternative paradigm to the postmodernist one but they agree with Anderson’s conclusion that the only viable modern politics could develop from within postmodernism itself [see Paul Blackledge, ‘Perry Anderson and the End of History’, Historical Materialism 7 (winter 2000), pp 199-220].

[55] Jeffrey Isaac, ‘Marxism and Intellectuals’ New Left Review, no. 2 (new series) March/April 2000, pp. 111-116.

[56] For instance, the Inclusive Democracy project promoted by this journal, the Confederal Municipalism project proposed by social ecologists, or the Participatory Economics project proposed by Z magazine — just to mention a few.

[57] The confused reply by Callinicos to Isaac’s arguments (see Alex Callinicos, ‘Impossible Anti-Capitalism?’ New Left Review no 2, pp 117-124) in which he seems to adopt a revolutionary Marxist stand and at the same time  supports not only many of Bourdieu’s reformist stands but even the purely reformist anti-globalisation campaign of Le Monde Diplomatique and its offspring  organisation ATTAC is simply another indication of  the contradictions of statist Left analyses on globalisation that I attempted to show in Fotopoulos, Globalisation.

[58] In this sense, Isaac is a typical representative of the bankrupt statist Left which, after the collapse of what passed as ‘socialism’ in the soviet bloc countries, ignoring all the critique from the libertarian left about the true nature of these regimes (see ‘The Catastrophe of Marketisation’), draws the easy conclusion that there is no alternative to capitalism—a conclusion highly compatible with the careerist considerations of the academics adopting similar views.

[59] No wonder that Guy Debord, the father of Situationism, as the author of a book on him writes “finally entered the pantheon of great French thinkers last month when he was featured on the cover of Magazine littéraire, the highbrow journal which makes the TLS look like Hello!. His admirers have installed him as the incarnation of the spirit of revolt of 1968 - the Che Guevara of the 21st century, a figure whose iconic status defines his impotence. Since 1989, I had admired the fact that Debord's lone and defiant voice was still waging war against what he called "the forces of spectacular domination". I did not want to believe that he had been defeated by them. But, whether Debord's disciples in Paris like it or not, he was”. Andrew Hussey, Situation abnormal”, The Guardian (July 28, 2001).

[60] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Globalisation, the Reformist Left and the Anti-globalisation “movement”’. Also, Luca Casarini, a spokesman for Ya Basta! and Tutte Blanche, in a recent interview made it clear that for them the problem is not the market economy system but globalisation and neoliberalism (Interview with the Athens daily Eleftherotypia 15/7/01).Not surprisingly, one of the few remaining anarchist journals in Italy, Libertaria, even promotes the purely reformist Zapatista movement (the main inspiration of Ya Basta!)  as supposedly proposing ‘a new social model based on self-management and direct democracy’ (Libertaria, no 2, April-June 2001). All this, despite the fact that the Zapatista movement never challenged the market economy itself but simply rejected neoliberalism and Marcos himself declared that ‘in the new relationship we are proposing representative democracy would be more balanced; it would enrich itself with direct democracy’! [see his interview in International Affairs 75 (April 1999), pp. 269-81].

[61] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Social Ecology, Eco-Communitarianism and Inclusive Democracy’, Democracy & Nature, vol. 5, no. 3 (November 1999), pp. 561-576.

[62] See the ‘Interview with Murray Bookchin’, by David Vanek, Harbinger, A Journal of Social Ecology, vol. 2, no. 1 (2000).

[63] See for instance M. Bookchin, Re-enchanting Humanity, (London: Cassell, 1997).

[64] Todd May interview with Rebecca  DeWitt in Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Fall 2000).

[65] An indication of the confusion mixed with sectarianism reigning among the anarchists of the IAS is that the same General Director of IAS, who so prominently hosted the postmodernist views of Todd May, in an article on the anti-globalisation movment stresses the need for anarchists to ’develop a theory of a free society with the intention of guiding ourselves from the means to the end, otherwise we will not be able to make the necessary step from idea to political movement and will end up fighting for things we do not believe in’, Rebecca DeWitt ‘An Anarchist Response to Seattle:What Shall We Do With Anarchism?’ Perspectives on Anarchist Theory (vol. 4, no. 1 Spring 2000). Needless to add that the IAS and its theoretical organ not only never bothered to refer to the Inclusive Democracy project, the only kind of project I am aware of in the libertarian space, which offers the kind of theory she talks about, but that it also refused to include in its website (which includes links to almost every journal/magazine under the ‘libertarian’ sun) any link to Democracy & Nature! 

[66] Murray Bookchin, Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism, (Edinburgh: AK Press, 1995), p. 19.

[67] Murray Bookchin, Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism,  p. 51.

[68] Murray Bookchin, Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism,  p. 10.

[69] See Takis Fotopoulos, The Limitations of Life-style Strategies: the Ecovillage ‘Movement’ is NOT the Way Towards a New Democratic Society’ , Democracy & Nature, vol. 6, no. 2 (July 2000), pp. 287-308.

[70] Tom Cahill, ‘Co-operatives and anarchism’ in For Anarchism, ed by David Goodway (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 235-258.

[71] John Griffin, ‘Dodgy Logic and the Olympians’, Total Liberty, vol 2 no 1, 1999; see also my reply ‘Pragmatic "anarchism" or anarchism?’ Total Liberty, vol. 2, no. 2 (2000).

[72] See T. Fotopoulos, ‘Welfare state or economic democracy?’ Democracy & Nature, vol. 5, no. 3 (November 1999) pp. 433-468.

[73] Takis Fotopoulos, The Limitations of Life-style Strategies.

[74] In the period 1975-89, the percentage of participation in events organised by the new social movements in Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland ranged between 64% and 68% whereas in France it was only 11%. On the other hand, the percentage of participation in strikes was 56% in France versus 15% in Germany, 10% in the Netherlands and 1% in Switzerland. This could explain why supporters of the old antisystemic movements, like Trotskyites, attempt to justify their adherence to them on the basis of the French example—which however is very much the exception in the North—whereas supporters of the new social movements use as examples the other countries in the North. [Hanspeter Kriesi et al, New Social Movements in Western Europe (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995) table 1.5].

[75] Ibid. p. 250.

[76] Steven Best & Douglas Kellner, The Postmodern Turn, (New York: The Guilford Press, 1997) p. 33.

[77] Ibid. p. 274.

[78] See my exchange with Ariel Salleh, Democracy & Nature, vol. 7, no. 2 (July 2001) pp. 363-367.

[79] Alex Demirovic, ‘NGOs and Social Movements’, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, vol. 11 (4) (December 2000), pp. 131-140.

[80] For example, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications are significant sources of finance for the international activities of some Japanese NGOs , see Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ‘For and Against NGOs’, New Left Review, no 2 (March-April 2000), pp. 63-84. The Greek government also officially finances the activities of some NGOs.

[81] Alex Demirovic, ‘NGOs and Social Movements’.

[82] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘The First War of the Internationalised Market Economy’, Democracy & Nature, vol. 5, no. 2 (July 1999) pp. 357-383.

[83] The proposal to create a European riot police, in the aftermath of Genoa, to smash the antiglobalisation protests came from the German government in which the Green party plays a crucial  role. Furthermore, the European Green parties that share government power take full part in the current campaign to curb civil liberties within Europe, as part of the anti-terrorist campaign initiated by the US bombings in September 2001.

[84] Murray Bookchin, ‘The Unity of Ideals and Practice’, Left Green Perspectives, no. 38 (April 1998).

[85] See N. Chilas, Berlin correspondent of the  Athens daily TO BHMA (22/7/2001).

[86] Jim O’Connor, House Organ, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, volume 12 (2), June 2001, p. 166.

[87] Steven Best & Douglas Kellner, The Postmodern Turn, p. 269.

[88] Manussos Marangudakis, ‘Rationalism and Irrationalism in the Environmental Movement – The Case of Earth First!’ (in this issue).

[89] See Takis Fotopoulos, The Limitations of Life-style Strategies: the Ecovillage ‘Movement’ is NOT the Way Towards a New Democratic Society’.

[90] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘The Rise of New Irrationalism’.

[91] See the ‘Interview with Murray Bookchin’, by David Vanek.

[92] Johanna Brenner, ‘The Best of Times, The Worst of Times :US Feminism Today’, New Left Review, no. 200 (July-August 1993), pp. 101-159.

[93] See e.g. Val Plumwood, ‘Feminism, Privacy and Radical democracy’, Anarchist Studies, vol. 3, no. 2, 1995, pp. 97-120; see also Takis Fotopoulos, Towards An Inclusive Democracy, pp. 211-213.

[94] Johanna Brenner, ‘The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: US Feminism Today’.

[95] Lynne Segal, ‘Whose Left? Socialism, Feminism and the Future, New Left Review, no. 185, January-February 1991.

[96] Johanna Brenner, ‘The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: US Feminism Today’, New Left Review, no 200, July-August 1993, pp. 101-159.

[97] See the ‘Interview with Murray Bookchin’, by David Vanek.

[98] Murray Bookchin,When "Realism" Becomes Capitulation, Left Green Perspectives, no. 33 (October 1995).

[99] Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Globalisation, the reformist Left and the anti-globalisation movement’.

[100] Perry Anderson ‘Renewals’ NLR no. 1.

[101] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Globalisation, the Reformist Left and the Anti-Globalisation Movement’.

[102] See Hardt & Negri, Empire.

[103] See Takis Fotopoulos, Towards An Inclusive Democracy, pp.196-198.

[104] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Social Ecology, Eco-Communitarism and Inclusive Democracy’ Democracy & Nature, vol. 5, no. 3 (November 1999) pp. 561-576.

[105] See Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Mass Media, Culture and Democracy’ Democracy & Nature, vol. 5, no. 1 (March 1999) pp. 33-64.