Expose, Oppose, Propose: Alternative Policy Groups And The Struggle For Global Justice – Less a Review More A Reflection by Peter Waterman

img_1276IWilliam Carroll (with Elaine Coburn and J.P. Sapinski).2016. Expose, Oppose, Propose: Alternative Policy Groups and the Struggle for Global Justice. London: Zed Books. 2016.

Introduction

This is a book on such an important subject, carried out with such serious theoretical underpinnings and such an original methodology, that it might seem churlish to take issue with what it fails to deal with.[1]

expose-oppose-propose-320x501But, then, 1) I used to teach on international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) and preach on and against NGOisation, 2) I am familiar with various of the alternative think tanks Bill Carroll is writing about and know personally numerous of his informants, 3) the‘subject position’ I here adopt is that of an academic specialist (pensioned but unretiring) on international labour movements, networks and communication. And these three points may allow me to critique a book I would otherwise simply recommend to all those interested in, or working within, the global justice movement,with which the author is himself clearly identified.

But I had better first say why I value the work.

The subject is crucial because, in the absence of any institutional partysan (sic) International (with its official Theory, Leaders, Analyses, Strategies, Anathemas and Factionalisms), such centres – and I stress the plural – play a crucial international role in what we (in at least the international I once worked for) used to call ‘the battle of ideas’.

The theoretical underpinningsof the work are broadly Marxist, primarily of the Gramscianvariety, as suggested by Chapter 1: ‘Hegemony, Counter-Hegemony and Organic Crisis’.

Whilst clearly sympathizing with class analysis, Carroll distinguishes his position from

Many anarchists, autonomist and social democrats [being] based in a commitment to counter-hegemonic globalization […][This] synonym for justice globalism, resonates with a broader, deeper post-Enlightenment, shorn of colonialism–a commitment to rigorous self-criticism and social criticism, as in Marx’s…call for a ‘ruthless criticism of all that exists’. (30. Italics in original)

More theory and often novel conceptualization is however introduced along the way,as Carroll seems to require. Thus, he draws on his background as a radical communications specialist in analyzing the centres’ relations with the dominant and alternative media (177-89).

The methodology is one that combines two major types: a highly-technical network analysis, with numerous diagrams showing both the ‘external’relations (e.g. with funders) and ‘internal’ relations (e.g. between the centres identified); drawing from interviews with 91 ‘protagonists’, amounting to one million words. The latter are drawn from 16 key ‘transnational alternative policy groups’ (TAPGs), drawn from the authors’ selection of 84 considered.I further note that Carroll’s 16 are either in the Global South or largely Northern-based and addressed primarily to the South. They lie, thus on the North-South axis and are largely dependent on a North-to-South flow of ideas and/or funding.[2]Of the ones I know best, in which I have most friends, have collaborated with most recently, or otherwise benefited from would be (in order of relational-intensity):

The Centre for Civil Society (CCS, Durban, South Africa)
The Transnational Institute (TNI, Amsterdam)
The Network Institute for GlobalDemocratisation (Helsinki)
The Indian Institute for Critical Action: Centre in Movement (New Delhi)
These may or may not be those I below make reference to. But the might allow readersto see the majorsourcesor biases within what follows.

In critiquing the work I willfollow the one, two, three of my initial paragraph, thus starting with the accusationthat such policy groups are either infected by or condemned as unclean by their capitalist/statist/imperialist funding.[3]

NGOs as subordinate to funding agencies/political hegemons

Insofar as I once taught ‘alternative development strategies’ to a student body of largely ‘Third World’, and of NGO-background or future, my response to the ‘agents of the hegemons’ argument was: ‘Yes, No and Maybe’. The accusation, at least by the Vanguardist Left, seemed to me in part sour grapes (The Party’s failure to reach the low-hanging fruit,in a vineyard considered their own, this fruit being illegitimately swallowed by the funded NGOs) and in part based on insurrectionary fantasies (that the Working Class, or the People, had been – or would in the future be – revolutionary if it were not for the Evil NGOs).

I, rather, saw NGOs as highly ambiguous bodies: in part recognition by the state, or by the inter-state organisations,that they could not themselves directly reach/control civil society in general, the marginalized in particular; in part an attempt to recoup these masses for hegemonic purposes. Further, I pointed out – mischievously – the heavy, if secret, dependence of Marx on an industrial capitalist and rider-to-hounds (Engels), and that of Lenin, not only on the much-discussed ‘sealed train’, but on very considerable,and more-easily hidden or denied, funding from the same source, with both intended to undermine the Tsarist war with the Kaiser’s Germany. This might suggest, contrary to Incite (2007) that, yes, ‘The Revolution can be Funded’ – at least in part.

I also rejected the Manicheanism, explicit or implicit, in the vanguardist thesis (compare here Saxonburg 2015):

Their NGOs=Vicious:

Our Labour/Front Organisations/Party/Intellectuals=Virtuous

Finally, I insisted on the necessity to investigate and argue on the basis of cases.

Carroll and colleagues follow this third strategy. Now, although the book suggests that its own network analysis lends credence of the ‘Grand Narrative’ of Ngoisation, and although this reveals funding sources (though not amounts), I do not find enlightening either the ‘Mean Intra- and Intersectoral Distances among Four Types of Organisation’ (Table 5.1) or ‘Site and Composition of TAPG’s Immediate Neighbourhoods’ (Table 5.2). But this may just be due to my difficulty with numbers and diagrams.

The interviews are much more suggestive of not only the foundational (sic) ambiguity of using the Master’s Funding to expose and oppose the Master’s House and to propose a socially-just alternative to such. The tension with funders has been increasing with the funding crisis consequent on that of global capitalism since 2008. Fiona Dove and Jun Borras of the Transnational Institute (the Amsterdam-based TNI) both speak frankly of the pressures, and Carroll himself points out that one particular TNI project, on Drugs and Democracy, is more acceptable to big – and dubious – funders than others. PietjeVervest, of TNI’s Economic Justice, Corporate Power and Alternatives Programme, noted one of the effects of the funding crisis: ‘I spend more than half of my time fundraising and reporting on it’ (120).

Carroll’s own conclusion on the matter is that it is not to gainsay the accuracy of NGOisation as a descriptor for processes of hegemonic incorporation, particularly among NGOs that embrace ‘apolitical’ service-orientated mandates. The point is that such processes are not automatic. For critically reflexive groups such as TAPGs, NGOisation captures only ‘one side’ of reality in which they are active protagonists. In a neoliberal political-economic environment, the future of counter-hegemonic politics hinges partly on our identifying how ‘preventative measures’ can be brought to bear against NGOisation processes. (138)

In the absence of a critical examination of the output and impact of the TAPGsI find this conclusion somewhat lacking in force. We will have to return to this matter below.

More on my familiarity with the TAPGs

I have mentioned this topic above, if in specific relation to just four TAPGs. Now, in so far as I was during this 20-30 year period myself an academic in an institute of (so-called)‘development studies’,[4] I was both a paid servant of the Dutch state and one who tried to exploit this dependent position – to the max – in pursuit of global life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Such a position is, of course, one of profound ambiguity, with pressures coming from the Ministries or Departments of Education or of ‘International Cooperation’, from colleagues, and from the hegemonic institutional culture (laissez-faire in the 1970s, neo-liberalising in the 1980s-90s). Such pressures on academia have increased exponentiallywith neo-liberalisation.

So the existence of these TAPGs has been welcome to me, providing spaces where I was surrounded not by the banalities of state-subservient (or inter-state-dependent), development-oriented, academics, but, yes, radical-left intellectuals, oriented rather toward civil society, social movements – and the search for alternatives to at least neo-liberal capitalism, sometimes to capitalism tout court. And, given my own decades-long dependence on capitalist-state funding, the financial dependence of theseTAPGs has been, I guess, only in the back of my mind. I have been primarily interested in what they produced and how this related to what I call the ‘global justice and solidarity movement’ (GJ&SM).

In so far as this GJ&SM is increasingly targeted at capitalism, not just neo-liberalism, then it does seem to me that the role of these TAPGs has been both differentiated and ambiguous. So what? No one (except our naïve selves?) ever promised us a rose garden – or at least of roses without prickles.

Carroll and colleagues include amongst their 16 centres, the Delhi-based Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), founded 1982.They characterise it as ‘critical liberal’ (44-6). But they also show that it is not opposed to neo-liberalism, is pragmatic, yet somehow represents an imminent critique of liberalism. I seem to recall it taking shape in Delhi, in the early ‘80s, and considering it precisely lacking in what I would then have calleda ‘class’ or ‘anti-capitalist’ orientation. It has, since then (and in the continuing difficulties of developing such a class movement in India) had remarkable success, appearing from its website to have around as many staff as my old institute in The Hague. For the rest, however, it would seem to exemplify precisely that NGOisation discourse of which Carroll is critical.

On the other hand, or at the other extreme, I might place the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) in Durban, South Africa. Whilst possibly even less ‘global’ than PRIA, this tiny centre has been wholly oriented toward the myriad social movements that have come out of and fed into the making of South Africa one of the most conflict-intense societies in the world. It would be difficult to find a South African list that not only gives such a broad view of social movements in that country but which also presents – from a generally Marxist perspective -these as effects and/or expressions of global social structures/processes and of radical-democratic (as well as anti-democratic) movements protesting against such.

But, whilst there has been a small team behind the CSS, it has been dominated by its founder.This dependence of TAPGs on one individual, or a small group of such, is not uncommon. And with it the risk of rise, fall or serious unpredictability. Evidently, this has occurred neither with PRIA nor with the TNI. But the ease with which an individual with organisational capacities, or access to such, can create an NGO and get it funded, would seem to be in tension with contemporary emancipatory emphasis on collective and active participation rather than individual control.

I am not sure whether such matters are addressed in the Carroll book. Whilst one can at least imagine an evaluation of such outputs, an evaluation of their effects would require interviewing not only TAPG ‘protagonists’but their putative audiences and even their detractors/enemies (the neo-liberal or capitalist hegemons against whom they pit themselves and against whom they propose their emancipatory alternatives). A Herculean task, but would it have been more so than the highly-technical network analysis?

About and from international labour movements, networks and communication

This is a matter of considering these TAPGs from my background in and involvement with, well, international labour resource centres (ILRCs). These might have been excluded from this book in so far as they are focused on one particular movement rather than being concerned with social issues and social movements in general. Carroll’s selection of these alternative bodies requires that they are involved in a wide range of issues; that is, it is not specialized in one domain (such as water, trade or capital-labour relations) (31)

But this does not seem toexcludefrom the book the gender/development-fixated centre, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN).[5]And, on the other hand Carroll’s book and his TAPGs focus on ‘a wide range of issues’ that seem toexcludeor at least marginalize capital-labour relations!

This marginalization of labour issues and the labour movement is significant for a long-standing tendency and a continuing trend, dominated by left discourses on the ‘new social movements’ and/or ‘global civil society’. Labour movements and trade union organisationshave been considered ‘single-issue movements’, oras part of the problem rather than of any holistic solution.

Thus, on offering, around 1990, my services to one of the centres Carroll focuses upon, I was told, rather too bluntly I thought, ‘We don’t do labour; that is done round the cornerby theABC’.The ABC, in the meantime, had been afflicted by the decline of the 1970s wave of labour militancy in at least Western Europe and (consequently?) the interest of one or more funders of such an ILRC. And when, after I had attended a conference on its behalf, I approached the ABC with several possible lines of future activity, its coordinator said to each them, ‘that is not fundable’.Sad is not only that the then-coordinator had himself been a worker involved in the ‘shopfloor internationalism’ of that passing era but that he had so rapidly learnt the logic and language of NGOisation.

Now, there has been a distinct revival of ILRCs in recent decades (Senalp and Senalp 2015a, b). In the first of these pieces the authors use the notion of ‘Connecting dots in [the] Collective Worker’s Global Brain’.The notion of the collective worker does occur in Marx, and the ambition of this finding form and expression, thanks to ICT – or rather in subverting ICT for emancipatory purposes – seems to me both necessary and possible. I am not, however, sure that even amongst the authors’ subsequent list of ‘Research and Social Justice Networks’ we can find more than one or two that would seem to fit within the set of multi-faceted centres identified by Carroll and colleagues.

The only one listed by Senalp and Senalp that might seem to provide some kind of alternative model is the P2P Foundation. Could this be considered a ‘single-issue’ centre?It would no doubt consider itself rather a general- or universal-issue one. The P2PF does in its Guiding Principlesstate

That it reconnects with the older traditions and attempts for a more cooperative social order, but this time obviates the need for authoritarianism and centralization; it has the potential of showing that the new more egalitarian digital culture is connected to the older traditions of cooperation of the workers and peasants, and to the search for an engaged and meaningful life as expressed in one’s work, which becomes an expression of individual and collective creativity rather than a salaried means of survival.

But the P2PF hardly seems to address itself to either the labour movement in general or to trade unions in particular. Why, however, I mentionit here is because it gives the impression of providing one model of aTAPG that, unlike those of Carroll and Co, exists not so much in place (on the ground, with anoffice, sometimes with foreignbranchoffices) as in space (as a website or a series of online emanations). The P2PF addresses itself to governments and capitalists as well as civil society and social movements. And it may be that this somewhat indiscriminate address, combined with a lack of specific address to the labour movement (with the exception of coops) that keeps me at an angle from it.

But what I am intrigued by is the possible model it provides for the ‘collective worker’ or ‘collective emancipatory intelligence’ in the era of cyber-capitalism. Its homepage states:

The P2P Foundation is a global network of researchers, activists, and citizens monitoring and promoting actions geared towards a transition to a Commons-based society. We are a decentralized, self-organized, globally distributed community building an information-commons ecosystem for the growing P2P/Commons movement. We examine both the digital and the material worlds, their freedoms and restrictions, scarcities and abundances. We are an incubator and catalyst, focusing on the “missing pieces” and the interconnectedness that can lead to a wider movement.

This leads to three further sites/spaces, a Blog, a Wiki and a Lab. The Lab ‘is an independent media lab interested in interdisciplinary research on free/open source technologies and peer-to-peer practices’. It links, further, to its Members, Projects and Publications, these evidently being place-based and institutionally-tied. The Wiki also leads us, eventually, to ‘Category: Labour’, and some pages contributed by, amongst others, Hilary Wainright (of the TNI and of the UK magazine Red Pepper).[6]

In so far as P2PF is searching for funding, it can hardly be seen in binary opposition to the place-tied and funding-dependent NGOs with which Carroll and colleagues are dealing. But, with its numerous activity areas, continuing discussions and massive archive, I am wondering whether this basically virtual operation does not represent a possible alternativeto the NGO form that Carroll presents us with. And then one that is wider-reaching, hypothetically crowdfunded,[7] and that is – in both form and content – more compatible with the capitalist era within which we are all trapped, against which we are inevitably pitted, beyond which any emancipatory project must reach.

The embryo of what we might call a Global Labour Cyber Resource Centre (GLCRC?) can be found on P2PF. This is a page placed within a Networked Labour University project of the earlier-mentioned OrsanSenalp. This amounts to a syllabus for such a university, even if such would require substantial human and, well, yes, financial resources, to launch.

And the question remains of whether we would consider such projects as online sites or online media. They would seem to make such a distinction irrelevant.

Carroll and colleagues do address themselves to the media (see, again, 177-89). Thus, whilst recognizing that their TAPGs both use and produce alternative media,

The alt media they produce is typically instrumentalised within [their] action-oriented domains. Although alt media organisations such as Inter Press Service, Indymedia and Pambazuka News are important carriers of counter-hegemonic perspectives, they concentrate on reportage of events or commentary, and the mobilization of alt knowledge within public and counterpublic…Such a focus distinguishes alt media from TAPGs, whose activities centre on the production of counter-hegemonic policy perspectives and visions. (178).

Now, I do not think this is the case for P2PF, which exists primarily online. Nor is it the case for the Global Research site of the Canadian, Michel Chossudovsky.

Global Research, founded 2001, is a humungous online operation, which offers theory, analyses and strategies. It also produces print books. It is as wide-ranging in coverage as any of the ‘grounded’ IRDRCs dealt with by Carroll.[8] Its home page indicates its areas of interest as including US-NATO War, Economy, Civil Rights, Environment, Poverty, Media, Justice, 9/11, War Crimes, Militarization, History and Science. Indeed, a search on its site reveals it to give considerable news coverage – if little theoretical/strategic consideration – of labour and women and even of feminism. Although ideologically self-imprisoned within the left categories of the Cold War and Third-Worldism, I am left wondering why the long-established Global Research did not fall amongst those TAPGs highlighted by Carroll, nor even rate an index mention.

I here mention P2PF and Global Research – birds of very different feather – because I am wondering whether they do not suggest the model of the TAPG in the age of a computerized, globalized and increasingly regressive/aggressive Neo-Liberalism.[9]This creature of my utopian imagination would, of course, have to have a name with rather more bite, such as ‘Emancipatory Global Justice Resource Centre’ (though one with a pronounceable and memorable acronym would be preferable).

It is not simply a matter of such online sites being dramatically cheaper, widely accessible or further reaching. Nor of them hypothetically drawing from crowdfunding rather than that of the state or capitalist foundations. (For the Podemos case of such crowdfunding in Spain, see here). Even if it is being argued that the revolution will be crowd-funded (Thill 2013).[10]Neither is it a matter of seeing ‘the web’, ‘the cellphone’,‘the internet’, ‘social media’ as instruments that radical democrats can use. As much as – even more than – climate change, one has to recognize of ICTthat ‘This Changes Everything’. By which I mean that Cyberia (as I call it) is the increasingly central terrain of capitalism, but one of epochal contradictions, one that can be and is increasingly disputed, and one containing globally emancipatory possibilities that Marx’s national industrial capitalism evidently has not implied.

Beyond the ‘ends’ of the TAPGs

I return here to the final chapter of the Carroll book, entitled ‘Convergent Visions: The Ends of Alternative Knowledge’ (Chapter 8). I feel that this is about as close as Carroll gets to that product or output I have mentioned above as missing. It is also about as close as we get to Carroll’s political preferences or bias, as distinguished from what he might have revealed of the various activities of his TAPGs.

He lists as the core elements of their ‘convergent vision’ the following (192), which I here slightly abbreviate:

The critique of hegemonic political-economic structure
A vision of global justice and sustainable development
That this requires grassroots democratic movements
North-South solidarity
Critical analysis to inform effective strategies for change
Grounding such in practice through dialogue with activist and subaltern communities.
Whilst such a listing might be demonstrated by or acceptable to the TAPGs the book focuses on, I note the absence of reference to capitalism (since what is ‘hegemonic’ could be addressed to only its neo-liberal emanation) and to socialism – or any utopia beyond capitalism. Actually, however, it seems that Carroll himself does name names, his chapter sub-titles addressing such topics as

The Spirit of Ubuntu[11]
Open Democratic Socialism
Reclaiming the Commons
BuenVivir[12]
Green Transformation
It is, indeed, under this last head that Carroll seems to reveal his particular sympathies. This would seem to be for the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (for which see Footnote 2). One of its prominent figures, Mario Candeias is listed 10 times in the index,being referred to most extensively on pages 204-7. This TAPG is named after acontemporary for whom Lenin and Trotsky had high respect. It is funded, under German law for such political foundations.And it is affiliated to itsLinkePartei (Left Party). These features make it surely unique amongst Carroll’s 18 TAPGs. And, despite superficial appearance it surely inhabits a different universe to Carroll’s other large TAPG, the New Delhi-based PRIA.[13]

I am not quite sure how to conclude this piece.

Whilst I value the work of the TAPGs, it does seem to me that they are creatures of our particular period, one between the pre-eminence of the national capitalist (or Communist) welfare state and that of their global capitalist de-structuring. Further, that grouping these bodies under the common title of ‘transnational alternative policy groups’ obstructs recognition of the dramatic differences between them. And that Carroll and his colleagues do not succeed in establishing the critical distance necessary for placing these historically and considering their possible or desirable future.

Perhaps they should have been called not transnational but transitional alternative policy groups?

It does seem to me that the next generation of such bodies will be found, as I have suggested, in cyberspace, they will be crowdfunded, although such will have local and earthly connections with the TAPGs as-we-have-known-them, along with universities, publishers and journals (as-we-have-also-known-them). And that they will then be known as ‘Emancipatory Global Justice Resource Centres’. Although, as earlier suggested, with a more pronounceable (and striking) acronym.

Finally that this new generation of such bodies will consider the ‘emancipation from wage-slavery’ as an essential part of their remit. Whilst, of course, there will also be specialized emancipatory labour resource centres online, with these demonstrating that emancipation from labour-for-capital requires a global (worldwide, holistic) emancipation from capitalist alienation in all its interlocked and mutually dependent/reinforcing forms.

Peter Waterman worked for the International Union of Students and the World Federation of Trade Unions in Communist Prague (mid-1950s, later-1960s). Later he became an academic specialist on international labour and social movements, internationalisms (and electronic communications relating to such). This was at the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague (1972-98). Since retirement he has published various books, compilations and papers (Search on line: “peter waterman the hague”, or here: ResearchGate). He spends several months a year in Peru, where his wife, international feminist activist and writer, Virginia Vargas, lives. He recently published his autobiography, From Coldwar Communism to the Global Emancipatory Movement: Itinerary of a Long-Distance Internationalist, online and free. It includes his experiences in India, early 1980s. Email: peterwaterman1936@gmail.com

Resources:

Bieler, Andreas, Robert O’Brien and Karin Pampallis (eds). 2016.Challenging Corporate Capital: Creating an Alternative to Neo-Liberalism. Johannesburg: Chris Hani Institute.

Incite. 2007. The Revolution will not be Funded. Boston: South End Press.

Karat, Prakash. 1984. ‘Action Groups/Voluntary Organisations: A Factor In Imperialist Strategy’, The Marxist. Vol. 2, No. 2.

Macpherson, C. B. 1965.The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McMillan, Stephanie and Vincent Kelley. 2015. ‘The Useful Altruists: How NGOs Serve Capitalism and Imperialism’ Counterpunch, October 20.

Postil, John. 2016. ‘Freedom Technologists and the Future of Social Justice’, State of Power. Amsterdam: Transnational Institute. Pp. 148-63.

Saxonburg, Steven (ed). 2016. Beyond NGO-ization: The Development of Social Movements in Central and Eastern Europe. London: Routledge.

Senalp, Orsan and Senalp, Mehmet. (2015a). Transnational Networks of Radical Labour Research and (H)Activism: Connecting dots in Collective Worker’s Global Brain’.

Senalp, Orsan and Senalp, Mehmet. (2015b). ‘Appendix to Part II: Transnational Networks of Radical Labour Research’, in Keesv.d. Pijl (ed), Handbook of the International Political Economy of Production. Cheltenham: Elgar. Pp. 376-88.

Solis, Richard. 2013. ‘Forms of Social Organizations in the Third World: NGOs and POs’, Europe Solidaire sans Frontières.

Thill, Scott.2013. ‘Alan Moore: The Revolution will be Crowd-Funded.The “Watchmen” Creator Talks About his new Kickstarter-Funded Film Series, Zombies and the Surveillance State’. Salon.

Waterman, Peter. 2012.‘Linking Labour and the Commons Internationally’, P2PF Wiki.

[1] Or for that matter with its cover, which is not going to win any Cover Design Olympics for the customarily-imaginative Zed Books.

[2] The exception here might be the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, which whilst massively rooted in ex-East Berlin, addresses itself to and has offices elsewhere in Brussels, North America, the ex-Communist East as well as the Global South. This does not mean that Rosa Lux is free of the North-to-South syndrome. A recent book (edited by Bieler, O’Brien and Pampallis 2016) whilst produced by a Futures Commission of the vociferously ‘Southern’ Sigtur (Southern Initiative on Globalisation and Trade Union Rights) and published in South Africa, has amongst its nine editors and contributors, a preponderance of Northerners (if we here include Australia) and the heavy presence of one Northern university (McMasters, Canada). Whether the content is also West-Eurocentric is a matter requiring examination elsewhere.

[3] This accusation began, at least for me, not in 1997 with the here-credited James Petras (Carroll p. 122), but with the condemnation of ‘Action Groups/Voluntary Organisations’ in the India of the 1980s (Karat 1984). Here a more-sophisticated Trotskyist source nonetheless reproduces the general argument, whilst only providing one piece of (erroneous) evidence (Richard 2013).Most recently the argument has been regurgitated by McMillan and Kelley (2015). On the basis of the Haitian case they identify the following features of NGOs

1) NGOs undermine, divert, and replace autonomous mass organizing.

2) NGOs are a tool of imperialism.

3) NGOs replace what the state should be doing.

4) NGOs support capitalism by erasing working class struggle.

Between the two dates one can find energetic, but rather more nuanced, criticism of NGOisation. For example, that concerning the feminist movement in Latin America by Sonia Alvarez (1999) or the marginalized in the US more generally by the also-feminist Incite (2007).

[4] For that matter, I got my PhD (funded by my state employment) in a Dutch department of ‘Non-Western Sociology’ which was of course overwhelmingly one of the ‘Western Sociology of Non-Western Societies’. My own 1983 PhD on Nigerian trade unions must be qualified by this.

[5] The question arises in my mind of whether or to what extent DAWN offers alternatives to patriarchal-capitalism in general rather than its present neo-liberal emanation. In a recent publication one contributor argues that:

DAWN’s critique of the state remains closely tied to the project of reclaiming the state – making it more accountable to ordinarycitizens and more transparent, and strengthening institutional and civil society checks on executive power – not destroy itslegitimacy, institutions and capacity to check runaway capitalism. Full and equal citizenship remains an unfulfilled promise foran overwhelming majority of women in today’s fierce new states in the South, requiring redoubled feminist advocacy efforts .to re-make national social contracts so that full and equal citizenship is constitutionally enshrined, promote global citizenshipand multilateralism, and secure more ethical modalities of global governance and global trade that do not conflict withinternational human rights norms.

In the book summary, from which this quotation is taken, there seems to be no consideration of capitalism, as distinguished from ‘runaway capitalism’. This does not imply dismissal of DAWN, though it surely does imply the necessity of considering what kind of ‘alternative’ it offers.

[6]And, admittedly, one edited item by myself (Waterman 2012).

[7]Crowdfunding was obviously, if regrettably, not invented by the Left, even if early unions, parties and cooperatives were funded by the ‘crowds’ they served. But there are sites for crowdfunding for ‘non-profits’. And appeals for funding on such sites require of the fund-seekers a combination of a concept, of design and – obviously – a familiarity with web technology. See here and here.

[8] Global Research, I should point out, is also totally imperialism fixated, with its sole evil empire clearly headquartered in the US, and with little time/space for left criticism of Russia (Soviet or Capitalist?), Cuba, Venezuela, or North Korea. Nor, for that matter, does it have any time for the World Social Forum, which serves as some kind of fulcrum for the Carroll book. I find Global Research a fascinating, if appalling, indication of an electronic-left trapped in a machine-age past.

[9]Boaventura de Sousa Santos (2007)referred just a few years ago to a world of ‘political democracy and social fascism’, and discussed the multiple forms in which the latter penetrates or can dominate the former.

[10] This is actually a long interview with Allan Moore (UK comic book writer and anarchist), which appeals to my sense of the ironies of history because Moore suggests he doesn’t even have a functioning TV. But I am also charmed by his living in Northampton, which I recall from childhood days in 1942. During WW2 its most advanced technology might have been the pneumatic cash transport device in the co-op from which I also got my first bike with the pre-transnational name of Rudge-Whitworth.

[11]A Bantu notion that I understand to mean ‘I am who I am because of other people’, a nice contrast to the European liberal notion of ‘possessive individualism’ (Macpherson 1965).

[12] The Andean indigenous concept of ‘living well’, a another nice contrast, this time to the Western notion of endlessly ‘living better’ (the commodity-fetishist utopia).

[13] Yet, as far as its base and source of funding is concerned, Rosa Lux actually shares the same universe as the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (German initials, FES), linked to the German Social Democratic Party – the FES receiving no mention in the Carroll book.

http://www.countercurrents.org/2016/12/06/expose-oppose-propose-alternative-policy-groups-and-the-struggle-for-global-justice-less-a-reviewmore-a-reflection/

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