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Updated dec 2005
The Carriers of Democracy
The global peoples' movement system
Chapter 1: The actors: states, capital and peoples' movements
by Jan Wiklund
When describing a course of events, Kenneth Burke advices us to see it as a drama with act, actors, scene, means and ends. The five questions you have to answer is what?, who?, when and where?, how? and why?. If you forget to answer any of the questions you are guilty of reductionism and misrepresentation of your description .
In this chapter, I will describe which collective actors who appear in the play. The play itself begins in chapter 3.
The actors are three. Each is a representative of, or is based in, a certain type of organisation or structure with a certain kind of built-in aim or driving force, which differs fundamentally from eachother and to a high degree directs the acting of the actor. The actors may be called State, Business or Capital owners, and Popular Movements. Possibly one could add a fourth kind of actor, one we may tentatively call the intellectuals.
The three kinds of actor are organised around the three possible distributional mechanisms for goods and services: redistribution, market and reciprocity .
Redistribution implies that an authority collects tributes from the direct producers to distribute them according to some norm. Market implies exchange of goods and services to prices that are set according to demand and supply, between parties that are free to make the exchange or not. Reciprocity implies that people give eachother things or do eachother services because they are tied to eachother or wish to be so, or because of "spontaneous expressions of life" - a concept I hope to return to because it is essential for the understanding of social movements.
Redistribution can be organised through communities or clans - groups who claim a common biological descent. The actors who organise most of the redistribution in our culture, and win a good deal of legitimacy therewith, are called States. They can be described as administrative apparatuses that are tied to certain territories, consisting of hierarchies of functionaries. Their primary aim is to be fed by taxes, and the means to do that, except managing the redistribution, is to maintain the stability in the system .
Administrative apparatuses tied to territories is an old phenomenon - the first ones appeared in Egypt six thousand years ago. But states with pretensions of total administrative control over a uniform territory appeared about 1450, synchronously with the appearance of the word "state". And a state system covering the whole earth didn't appear until the twentieth century.
The European states which are the core in the present global state system began their existence a thousand years ago as aristocratic bands living by selling "protection" to peasants, artisans and merchants, in a never-ending competition with other aristocratic bands. These conflicts have been the strongest factor in the creation of states; wars have formed their inner organisations even more than they have formed their territories. The conflicts between the aristocratic bands, each coveting eachother's resources, led to two developments. Firstly, it forced them to a more stable organisation, which after five hundred years had begun to resemble what we are used to today. Secondly, it made each state dependent of support and participation from its own "clients", its own capitalists and population. According to John Hall, the difference between the modern states and their predecessors is that the former is well rooted in ruling class while the latter were only a dynasty which even to upper class did its best to evade, mostly with good result .
The states have been forced to buy the participation of their clients to survive and assert themselves. The participation of the capitalists has been bought with facilitating their capital accumulation, for example through protection of monopolies (patent rights, police, in the last resort war) and through rationalizing and disciplining of peoples' behaviour to fit in with world market principles (repression and remuneration systems, schooling). The participation of the popular majority has been bought through concessions in the shape of social integration, i.e. recognition of popular demands and rights through politically defined redistribution of resources (social policy, public consumption of collective goods) and a certain degree of influence and democracy. Which of the two actors that will make its need most heeded by the state depends of course of which of the actors is the strongest. But also the strength of the state contributes to the result. The weaker and poorer the state, the less it can afford to buy support and the more it has to rely on brutal force - this is the reason why civilized institutions have found it difficult to survive in poor countries. Violence as the most important way of solving conflicts is a sign of poverty, a demonstration of failure to build a stable state .
The necessity to buy support is a restriction for the state functionaries that impedes their own desires. Except being an actor for itself, the state is also a battleground for others. For that reason, the state is also a broker of compromises between the two other actors, and a confirmer of the balance of strength of these. But functionaries can also, within limits, act independently. Particularly if the others balance eachother evenly, state functionaries may, thanks to their monopoly of violence, play them against eachother and win a scope for action.
But cooperation between states and capital is the more typical case, which will be elaborated in chapter 2.
Stability in the system is maintained, according to some, by the fact that the states are many. They co-exist in a state system - a new state actually gets it certificate as a state from the other states. In the state system there are different positions; states are strong or weak according to its position, this will also be elaborated in chapter 2. The fact that they are many gives the capitalists great liberty of playing states against eachother, which is a way for capitalists to maintain their independence. But theoretically it should also be a way of maintaining the independence of popular movements.
Business, or capital, is a kind of actor that is built around the market. It deals with organising some kind of production with the aim of selling the product. The purpose is to get the capital to grow. The means is to make business with a profit that can be added to the capital .
In this context I don't pay attention to the organisation's level
of abstraction, i.e. how far it is removed from the production.
I make no difference between an agrobusiness farmer and an international
financier. The crucial fact is that the core in what capital does
is to accumulate capital, not produce for subsistence. Those who
produce for subsistence, they may work for others or on their own,
are called direct producers.
What distinguish capital from other historical organisers and/or exploiters of direct producers' production, like classic landowners, and which make them so extremely powerful in their endeavour to exploit people and nature, is their unconditional need for growth. The need for growth depends on that business actors compete, and constantly need to outflank eachother to survive. They constantly have to search for new resources, new markets, new methods - or die.
It is capital's direct contact with the organising of the all-important production that normally makes it to the key actor, even if it at certain circumstances may be outflanked by the others.
During the age of the world market system, the most important actors within business have always had a global reach. The international bankers and trading houses constructed the system in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, in cooperation with the states . In these times, business dealt little with regular production, and trade concerned few products. As the world market system has developed, business has increased its part of society's total production - production has been commercialized and also increased its control of the direct producers.
It is not completely correct to say that business has organised wholly around markets, if a market implies that parties are free to exchange commodities according to their wish. Firstly, as labour movements have always insisted, selling and purchasing of labour is hardly free; those who sell have to sell to survive as persons while those who buy only risk their existence as organisations. Secondly, some businesses have also succeeded in monopolizing resources in such a way that they can pose terms themselves, or in cooperation with other businesses. Some businesses also cooperate intimately with states to guarantee that their terms are to their advantage. Some researchers, for example Fernand Braudel, talk for that reason about three levels as structuring in society, rather than three mechanisms of distribution: reciprocity, market and capital - capital then meaning the level of hierarchies, violence and coercion, states and big business, that is. In the same way that states have wrecked the redistribution of communities and clans, big business has wrecked the market. If one pose it this way, the societal actors live in the level of capital .
Both approaches have a lot to be said for them; which one that is most productive depends on what you are looking for. The first one is most productive when you identify the actors, the second one when you let them interact with eachother. I return to this in chapter 2.
Reciprocity implies that necessities and prerequisites of life are distributed according to a symmetry, between people who are roughly equals, at least for the moment. It is not ruled by organisations but by culture and, as indicated above, by spontaneous expressions of life belonging to humans as a species. The aim is to survive at decent conditions.
The mechanism that rules reciprocity is that the participants participate to be accepted by their equals, an enormously compelling motive . The means they use it to give eachother gifts, both things and services. The gifts can be given to persons, collectives and even to "ideas" or ethical principles .
The aim of gifts is to set up and maintain relations between people, in order to create stability, pooling of resources, trust and meaning in an insecure world. The transactions are founded in moral economy, that is, they are regulated by the socially desirable rather than by maximal profit. Relations should according to gift economy be prolonged over time, they should be characterized by multifaceted feelings and significances not tied to the individual transactions, as they are in commercial exchange; they should create a long-standing "claim-and-love culture" where gifts and return gifts together creates a reciprocal "we" for sharing the necessities rather than exchanging them with eachother.
Gift economies prosper of course within families and among friends, but may to a certain degree be institutionalised in for example blood banks, or in whole cultures like local communities, communities of interest, scientific research - and peoples' movements.
I will call the sum of rites, routines and customs that are organised around reciprocity to consolidate it "civil society". I know that this is an ambiguous concept that has got a rather loose meaning in the public debate. But when Adam Ferguson introduced it in the eighteenth century he had in mind the rapidly shrinking part of human relations that weren't ruled by markets or hierarchies, and I give myself the right to do that also, since I haven't found anything better . I don't refer to some particular "sector" or "space"; civil society is everywhere where people act reciprocally, and if civil society will assert itself against state and business - capital in Braudel's term - it depends on how much it is defended.
Around reciprocity, and also around the markets and redistributions that may from time to time support reciprocity, an actor is organised to protect them against harm caused by the actors of capital: peoples' movements.
State functionaries and capitalists are interested in having their apparatuses controlling an ever growing part of the world and of human life; this creates favourable conditions for them as classes, that is, as categories of people having their particular role to run and be fed by state and business respectively.
This wouldn't necessarily be a problem except for two things. Firstly, which is trivial, that they run their operations to feather their own nests and exact a maximum fee for it. Secondly, and more important, that state and business are such routine-bound phenomenons . The actions of states are to a dismaying degree conditioned by the need for stability and the actions of businesses by the need for growth. The more they drag along into their magic circles, the less consideration can be given to peoples' other needs. None of them put any value at people's needs per se; the market can only value purchasing power and let rich people's frivolities cut out poor people's necessities, and redistribution at least consider status and hierarchy as very, very important.
Other priorities and other needs have to be defended by peoples' movements.
Peoples' movements are created by the classes and groups of people who are mainly hit by the routines of states and businesses, that is, primarily the direct producers. Peoples' movements are the carriers of democracy. Their foremost aim is to defend the civil society, everyday culture or life-world of the direct producers, infringed upon and lived upon by states and businesses. They defend the interests of the participants, defined as broadly as possible, particularly when these come into conflict with the interests of states and businesses and their personifiers. The interests may look very different at different times, among other things depending on which projects that are pushed for the moment by the other actors and depending what consequences these have for common people. The means of popular movements are the contributions of their participants. Popular movements are the theme for this book.
All thre actors are tied to their aims and their means and can not leave them or they will die. A capital that doesn't aim at growth at the market will be outcompeted by other, more zealous capitals. A state that doesn't aim at stabile hierarchies will break up or be conquered by other states, in our days quite informally. A social movement that doesn't aim at satisfying its members' needs will lose its members and therewith its resources to act.
The three actors are completely equal concerning possible power, but they work under very different conditions. States and capitals have a comparably easy task. Their aims and means are given. They are ruled by routines that very directly prescribe for their functionaries what they should do. The results may be horrible for others but that is of no consequence for capitals and very little consequence for states, as long as the routine is followed.
The peoples' movements have the particular task to put things right when routines have messed up things for people, and sometimes to prescribe new and better routines.
Peoples' movements don't build on routines in the first place. Their nature is rather the breach with the routine. Therefore, their work is always awkward, risky, and dubious, and their success as a total actor depends much more than the success of states or capitals on skill, luck, and good theories. They may do great mistakes. They have more than once thrown spanners in their own works. They are often slow to take action. They are seekers, creators, chaotic in terms of chaos theory. But sometimes they can, with presumably small means, create very great results, when the need is big and their strategy fits the circumstances.
The task of peoples' movements, to "put things right" when the routines messes up, may suggest that they are exceptions while states and capitals represent the normal. In some meaning this is true; due to their routine nature states and capitals can often maintain a strong presence more continuously than peoples' movements. But since the routines of states and businesses always hurt people, social movements are at least as normal in the world market system as are states and businesses.
The possible fourth actor, the intellectuals, or the professions, or the manipulators of symbols, are of particular interest from a social movement point of view, irrespective of their being equal with the other actors or not. They are not easy to put under any of the other labels even if they may be either state functionaries or businessmen, because their aim is to exercise a preferential right of interpretation, or thought control .
Peoples' movements are, due to their relative lack of safe routines, extremely dependent of usable strategies. Because they arise from the need to defend people against hostile actors and circumstances, they are also dependent of good interpretations of what their enemies do, why they do it, who they are themselves, and generally of what happens around them, socalled ideologies. Even if professional intellectuals are skilled in such work, and occasionally can use their skill to the benefit of social movements, they are as often an obstacle for social movements as a help.
The obstacle is both beyond the social movement and within them. For because of their dependence of intellectual careers and their curiosity of new thoughts, professional intellectuals are often interested in successful social movements and do often undertake to be interpreters and PR agents for these. This interest is of dubious value for the peoples' movements. Sure, intellectuals have many times contributed to strong and efficient languages for peoples' movements. But they have as many times contributed to their disorganisation. For they are not primarily interested in the aims of the movements, but exactly in their own role as interpreters. The result is for example that they sooner will organise in professional NGOs  or clubs of professional revolutionaries than they take part in popular organising. The result is also that they jealously look after their preferential right of interpretation and do what they can to thwart other people's attempts to take part in the creation of popular movement ideologies. And finally their interest is often transitory and dependent of the relative supply of other careers .
Intellectuals have existed in all societies and perhaps have been more important for the system in older societies . I will not deal with them more here because they properly don't belong to the preconditions of social movements. Instead, I will call them forth in the narratives, when they have played an important role for the actions of the peoples' movements. A positive one, or probably as often a negative one.
Properties of the three kinds of actors
Peoples' movements are possible to theorise about and describe in principle, in the same way as one can describe the principles of the state or of business. There is a considerable academic research about social movements, even if not as extensive as the research about states and business. It is not as systematised either. According to Veit Michael Bader there are at least five traditions or schools of social movement research who hardly can communicate with eachother. Bader's conclusion is interesting: peoples' movements are such an ambiguous phenomenon that an integrated theory about their functions is not possible, except for trivialities. Since peoples' movements, unlike business and state, does not represent a routine, they are chaotic, they are constantly floating and an interference in one place will not have a calculable result. Before you have accepted this, you can not say anything valuable on social movements .
This doesn't impede the formulation of partial theories. Bader suggests a number of starting points for such partial theories, of which I relate the three I find most important.
1. Popular movement emanate from the civil society, that
is, what isn't ruled by the sub- and superordination of the state
or the market mechanisms of business, but by peoples' "social
responsibility" or their ability to answer eachother's appeals.
One law, ruling both civil society and peoples' movement may be that reciprocity is more important than hierarchies and buy-and-sell relations. Hierarchies and buy-and-sell relations are expressions of the imposed routines of state and business, respectively, while reciprocity is a spontaneous and pristine expression of social responsivity and more or less a property of humans as a species. Peoples' movements defend the spontaneous expressions of reciprocity - truth, trust, compassion - against the artificial routines. But peoples' movements may also, in their efforts to obtain hegemony and societal change, loose the spontaneous expressions of life out of sight and construct new hierarchies and markets .
Another law is that popular movements are at least as rational as individual people. People organise in social movements to assert their collective interests, which is not essentially different from other collective organising like for example a village common. But peoples' movements are, like individual actions, defined in a cultural context. And what one culture consider rational may be unintelligible seen from the viewpoint of another .
2. Peoples' movements express conflicts between groups. If there is no conflict - which is of course extremely hypothetic - then there is no peoples' movement. The conflicts are economic, political and cultural, simultaneously. No peoples' movement can be reduced to a pure "interest"; it is simultaneously a worldview and a way to think and feel. A peoples' movement defends nothing trivial, it defends the civil society, the lifeworld, its reciprocities and spontaneous expressions of life against fundamental threats.
So there are no "one issue movement"; the movement is existential, no matter how limited the mobilization is.
3. Popular movements are, at least theoretically, dissolvable into a successive process consisting of
The stages grow out of eachother, but it is no linear course, rather a cyclical one. An acting social movement recreates unceasingly the acting group and the preconditions for further action. Or as it was expressed by E.P. Thompson: the working class created itself, through the labour movement 
In the light of this, the traditional Swedish definition of a peoples' movement - more or less "big organisation" - as trivial, while many of the organisations that try to freeride on the good reputation of peoples' movements, like sport clubs and charities, hardly belong .
So what belongs? I am not interested in excluding any who feels a part of a social movement, but yet you can not make yourself understood if you don't keep to fairly strict definitions. The most reasonable definition I have seen so far of a social movement has been formulated by Joakim Raschke:
Raschke's definition is controversial on three accounts, at least in Sweden. It seems to be more commonly accepted in Germany.
Firstly, through its emphasis on "weak role specialization". This implies that the more a movement establishes new role specializations, that is relies on employed functionaries, the less it is a social movement. Role specializations and division of labour may be problematic additions to peoples' movements, additions that may choke them if they are carried too far.
Secondly, through the plural form "different organisational and action forms". This hints at the notion that a movement always is larger than an organisation, and that an organisation that is not a "mobilising collective actor" is not a part of a peoples' movement.
Thirdly, through its aim at "fundamental societal changes". This fits well with Bader's interpretation, but it excludes many leisure activities and activities for organisation of the civil socity that have passed as peoples' movements in Sweden: they are counted as belonging directly to the civil society . This doesn't mean that they are not perfectly respectable, and sometimes even may use the same organisations as popular movements, sometimes to mutual gain, sometimes to mutual inconvenience. According to Bader, peoples' movements emanate from civil society to defend it. Social movements are no ends in themselves; civil society is.
Raschke's definition is quite long. I think most of it can be covered by a shorthand version: A peoples' movement is a collective, organised and action-bent expression of will against societal routines, from those who are put in an inferior position through the same routines. But if there is a conflict between the definitions, it's safer to keep to Raschke's.
It is probably simplest to describe social movements if you follow Bader's sequence from the stricken category the whole way to mobilization/action, result and recreation of the category. We may call this sequence a social movement cycle.
For every step of the cycle there are pitfalls and risks for the movement, pitfalls and risks the movement has to get through.
It is important to bear in mind that it is a cycle not a linear sequence. When you have reached the end you begin anew. Rick Fantasia describes in his book Cultures of solidarity a cycle of a few hours, which explodes another time a few months later [25a].
It is not necessary to read the following with an intention to memorize all concepts that are mentioned. But if you see how many pitfalls and obstacles there are, you will probably appreciate the movements that have actually surmounted them, and you may possibly also be more attentive to the problems that arise in your own social movement practice.
1. There has to be a stricken category
With a simple expression one could call it economically, politically or culturally grounded power abuse. Bader calls it exploitation, repression and discrimination, respectively.
Nothing prevents all these to be parts of the same relation. And in reality all these forms are parts of one and the same process: inequality. Inequality, or unequal distribution of rewards between people on different sides of a category border, arises according to Charles Tilly through three different but combined processes:
The stricken category may be small or big - a local community, a youth set, a subculture, a class. The important thing is the subordination.
While collective action may be released as soon as there is a reasonably homogenous exploited, repressed or discriminated category, only the structural exploitation, repression or discrimination can make the conflict, and the potential for action, permanent and a basis of peoples' movements in Raschke's sense. Most researchers seem according to Bader to agree that "modernisation", or in other words the dispersion and intensifying of the world market system, see chapter 2, is the conflict creating structure valid for our time. This implies that its carriers states and capital is the actors that peoples' movements face most.
Bader doesn't tell when exploitation, repression or discrimination reach the critical limit. Other researchers have emphasized the cultural qualification of this; primarily, conflicts are provoked by breaches of what people consider just and reasonable . And this is ruled by tradition. Most probably, conflicts arise when exploitation, repression or discrimination suddenly grows worse, if an old ingrained exploitation, repression or discrimination appears out-of-date and without reason because of changed circumstances, or if the opponent suddenly appears weak and challengeable. The Russian revolution broke out when the government lost the war, and the great mine strike in Norrbotten 1970 broke out when the company, LKAB, sharpened its authoritarian management when development in general favoured softer methods
2. The stricken category develops a common attitude and a culture or habitus
A habitus is a socially shaped disposition for a human being to act, think and feel, according to certain patterns. It is a way of performing, feel and think that is peculiar within a group, compared to others, and that is considered "natural" within the group. Habitus comprise sense of justice, aesthetic preferences, language patterns, posture and ways of doing things. People with similar habitus feel at home with eachother (without always being able to explain why), while they feel strange together with people with different habitus.
Habitus is shaped through experience. If experience tells that conflicts are natural, a habitus tolerant to conflict is shaped. If it is given time, a group culture is developed, manifested in a lifestyle. The shaping takes time, several generations, and the result takes time to change. But much points, according to Bader, to a quicker historical rhythm nowadays, making it easier to change a common habitus. In our time, habitus has become a battleground where the world market system tries to commodify and exploit habituses while scattered movements try to keep away in non-commodified reservations through lifestyle movements, and where popular movements' creating of reservations and the world market system's exploitation of them happen at an ever-growing pace.
A group-specific habitus is a great asset for a peoples' movement. For it is a kind of common reference within the movement, a resource for the "we" that keeps the movement together.
3. Potential conflict categories can become movements only when they develop conscious collective identities
The participants in a movement have to see themselves as a category, a "we", posed against a "they" with at least a partially contrary identity. Such identities work as a defence against the hegemonic worldview of the opposite party, and is constructed under experiences of conflicts with categories of opposite identities. Those conflicts initially express themselves as everyday resistance. Everyday resistance is all the unorganised forms of resistance that exploited, repressed and/or discriminated categories use against their opposite parties - go-slows, slipping away, pilfering, botching, faked ignorance, and moral stigmatizing - too keep the exploiting, repression and/or discrimination at an endurable level without challenging too much .
The constitution of an identity is made easier if the conflict category has a common, homogenous condition of life and habitus, and the collective identity is usually grounded therein. It is also made easier if the group has a dense social network, and if the conflict with the opposite party is polarised. It is made particularly easy if it is impossible for members of the category to leave it. This may be used by the opposite party through cooption, that is, handpicking of key persons and giving them privileges, which has always been a powerful ruler's strategy.
Identities are strengthened by common martyrs, heroes, symbols, actions and rites, and by a common habitus and mutual solidarity. Such means are consciously used by many social movements to strengthen their base's collective identity. But they are also invented spontaneously by the participants, because it strengthen them as persons to belong to a collective with a strong identity.
But given all this, identity building is difficult, and it has been difficult for many potential people's movements to start because repressed, exploited and discriminated categories have failed to develop their identities. Collective identities - "we" - demand a "they". But it is not obvious what "we" and what "they".
For example, it is difficult to leave an old, obsolete identity. According to E.P. Thompson it took thirty years for the English workers to see themselves as workers instead of splitting themselves up as artisans, farm workers, industrial workers and general workers. To make the fusion possible, and to get the workers to realise that they had something in common, the most ruthless repression was needed - a political apartheid according to Thompson .
Moreover, conflicts may arise about several possible identities. They can be constructed about objective conditions of life - being crystallized about classes, elites/non-elites, and in- and out-groups - but they can also be built about habitus, lifestyle and even ideologies. Identities may be built around all these simultaneously and create a somewhat chaotic situation. With whom should for example a black American Muslim female worker identify and look for solidarity?
Peoples' movements have often had problems with conflicts between different possible identitities, and tried to solve them with declaring all conflicts they are not thematizing themselves as irrelevant. National movements have tried to suppress class identities, labour movements have tried to suppress gender identities etc - with slight success because identities can not be talked away but are rooted in real experiences of conflict.
But the reason why peoples' movements try to suppress identities they see as irrelevant is that conflicts of identities create real problems. Divided identities obstruct mobilizations and may at worst induce categories to be increasingly repressed because they can not deal with their own identity conflicts. The most obvious example is the lower classes of the US, always quarrelling among themselves. Which is a hint that diversity, so extolled by liberals, may be a quite mixed blessing.
On the other hand, strong, heavily fortified identities may also
be problematic. A classic example is the pre-industrial village,
where the members were ready to die for eachother but almost never
could cooperate with other villages. Another is the European labour
and agrarian movements in the nineteenth century; they were always
unable to cooperate against common foes but always ready to ally
against eachother on cultural issues. Categories with too strong
identity will find it difficult to reach beyond themselves and may
even be unable to see that it is needed.
4. The conflict category develops an interest against the others, against "them"
The participants in the category have unmet needs. But a need, material or not, becomes an interest only when there is a real or a constructed scarcity, because "they" have monopolised a resource or manipulated the societal structures in some other way to "our" disadvantage. Needs are individual, but the interest is collective, because the scarcity has been collectively organised. The individual third world farmer's need for land is his own, but since there are indebtedness, terms of trade, corrupt bureaucrats and/or other results of impersonal power relations that force him into the urban slums, the interest is collective for all third world farmers.
The interest may be perceived as individual or collective. To perceive it as individual, however, presupposes- if you are going something to about it - individual resources which makes it to an unreasonable alternative for people living under scarcity. And for the conflict category as a whole, it is of course more rational to assert its interest collectively . A developed habitus and a strong collective identity make a collective perception easier, but it is not enough.
5. The conflict category articulates its situation and an alternative
The antagonism of interests has to be articulated to be possible to act upon. A collective has to answer question like Who are we? What do we want? What stops us? Why? and What shall we do? It has to formulate what some people call an ideology and what Bader calls a common language.
To construct a common language is not easy, particularly as such languages have to struggle against other, more or less completed languages, which for a long time have been exposed to the influence of the category's opposite parties.
The opposite party wants that the world should be perceived in such a way that structural inequalities should be invisible, or results of chance or the stupidity or evilness of poor people. That is how the rich see it, and thanks to the structural inequality they have many ways of propagating their view. But before the collective sees the structural inequalities it can't act. To see it, and to see how it should be remedied, requires several steps . It has to
A program has many functions. It should contribute to understanding of realities. It should be a guidance to the participants and contribute to their integration and socialization into the movement. It should be a tool for mobilization. It should tell which aims are more important and which are less. Primarily, a program should be a vaccination against impractical, counter-productive and generally bad reaction pattern within the movement. Without a program, a continuous movement can not survive as a collective, democratic movement with a common direction. A program of course doesn't need to be written.
Some people, f.ex. Ron Eyerman and Andrew Jamison, consider this articulation as the very core of any social movement [32a]. Through its creation of a new understanding of the true nature of society the participants not only build a social movement bat also contribute to the transformation of society, they think. I find their contention somewhat reductionist but I agree that it is a productive way of thinking for the movement itself -- far more productive than only seeing a string of confrontations with the authorities, performed by occasional people directed by a semi-professional campaign leadership.
A program may often cause troubles, however.
Its aims are incompatible. Understanding may be contrary to mobilization - one must often exaggerate to arouse people from passivity. Mobilization may be contrary to integration - to reach outsiders one must sometimes express oneself in a way that alienates the radicals within the movement. Programs are compromises between these demands.
Programs are often dogmatic and disregard that real actions are always depending on context. More than once, movements have done worse than possible because they have gotten over-ideologized, got such a strong, queer and impenetrable language that they can't communicate with possible allies and even have seen them as enemies. Christianity, Islam, Liberalism and Socialism may all have been formulated as proclamations about all peoples' equal value and dignity, but have shown themselves to be equally usable as confusers of language and means of rallying people behind routine-maintaining elites. While identity in the beginning of a peoples' movement arises from the belonging to an exploited, repressed and discriminated category, the language construction tends to form a new identity that arises from the language itself. The socially defined conflict category is made invisible for the benefit of a intellectually defined one. Environmental movements become Ecologism, labour movement becomes Socialism - with all opportunities for disruption of real interests this makes possible.
This has brought some peoples' movement theorists to contend that only immature programs work as communicative languages for a collective. It is during its process of formulation a language fills a function, when it is completed it hardens into dogmas and prevents new insights . Others rather see the hardening process as a result of a fruitless attempt to freeze a social process at a stage that is advantageous for somebody. Anyhow, it is probably possible for a creative conflict category to constantly reformulating its language and keeping it alive, and it is certainly necessary.
Over-ideologization, or the development of languages unintelligible or disgusting for outsiders, may on the other hand be due to the necessity to develop at least some language and identity that is original, new and the collective's own, different from the one attributed to it by the system. This need is strong, without it one can not act at all. And not any ideology is free to use. One may have to use what remains when others have taken theirs.
Bader doesn't mention anything about the difference between anti-systemic and system-compatible programs, or the fact that a program may be more or less concordant with the interests of the opposite party and the system in general. Given that the direct producers, who organise peoples' movements, have needs different from the states and capital owners who dominate the system, peoples' movements' aims may be perceived as independent from, different from or even contrary to the opposite party's needs, in a short or a long run. All options may have advantages and disadvantages.
The advantage of playing down a conflict is obvious: it isn't that dangerous to take such conflicts. If you aim at a broad audience - which is an advantage for a peoples' movement - it may be good to minimize threats of punishments and claim that changes may be easy. Sometimes these advantages may be perceived as so great that all disturbing greater conflicts are swept under the carpet; all interest is focused on the immediate, on what is "realistic", and all challenges beyond that are turned away as "utopian".
The strategic advantage of an anti-systemic approach is less obvious. It is connected with the more enthusing nature of grand aims. Awakening, revival, enthusiasm and devotion - qualities that is more probable in a movement that doesn't forge its position with glancing at the opportune - are valuable resources, exactly of a kind that may determine a conflict with a seemingly superior adversary. According to generally accepted business managing principles, it is better to set the aims according to what you really want, rather than according to what is "realistic". In the later case you have begun compromising before you have made your own standpoint clear, after which other compromises will be done. The more you do like this, the lower level you set for what is "realistic", and the worse will the ultimate compromise be. A labour movement that sets its aim at "we want a little slower rise in unemployment" will probably not even reach that; nobody will sacrifice anything for such a paltry goal .
As it for a human being is the first experience that is most important, for a social movement the first articulations are strongest. The early experiences often make such deep marks that it may never change its understanding of its problems, at least not completely. The language becomes a part of the identity. This implies that it is difficult for an outsider, for example the adversary, to manipulate the language of a collective, for example through media. Another reason for this is that for the collective it is the everyday language and the everyday theories that are fundamental, while the intellectually constructed special theories that adversaries may spread are of less importance. It is from the everyday language ideologies and new patterns of interpretation can be built.
Of course, the same factors may cause that the collective/movement get stuck in an outdated interpretation. This is often caused by en explosion of outdated conflicts. Anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe didn't break out in earnest until long after the Jews had lost their role as merchants and peasant exploiters and been weakened - to the advantage of those who succeeded them.
6. The collective has to organise
Short and incidental movements can do with minimal organisation. But a peoples' movement of any length of life needs permanent networks, that is, more or less permanent groups with dense contacts between the participants. Some of the networks belong more to the civil society while others are explicit conflict organisations, that is, organisations whose aim is to come to grips with the adversaries of the collective.
This organisation is necessary for several reasons.
Organising is the resource of the poor. But it isn't easy to organise.
Organisation is facilitated by earlier organising. The more and denser networks there are within the conflict category since earlier, the easier it is to build new ones for new purposes. This is also true for networks that are so informal that they may rather be called "social spaces", for example workplaces, neighbourhoods and local communities; the denser these are, the easier they are to organise. Labour movements have for example found it easier to organise and be efficient in big industries than in small workshops. And, on a higher level, it is easier to act if there are old identity-strong networks that fit; for example, during the whole twentieth century workers over the whole world have been able to link up with a common labour movement identity, thus short-circuiting a movement cycle that otherwise might be protracted. Organising is also made easier by homogeneity. The more of common habitus and common identity there is in the conflict category, the easier it is for it to organise.
The organising of a movement is always heterogeneous. There are the potential conflict group, the collective action, different movement organisations and networks, and conflict organisations with formal and real leaders, and these overlap so that none is a simple subset of the other. Greater movements make intricate networks of organising where different centers live in rivalry, cooperation and conflict with eachoter, and where the influence of different centers over the movement depend on their mobilising capability and strategic eye.
Organising may be more or less formal, that is, consist of networks with more or less developed routines and roles (in everyday speech only the less formalised ones are called networks, the other are called organisations). The advantage of routines and roles is clear: they contribute to stability and efficiency, one knows that something is being done at a big scale, which is needed should a mighty adversary be defeated.
But, as many activists have discovered, there is a snag tied to it.
Each formal organisation is a step away from the spontaneous expressions of life, and with that also a step away from what the peoples' movements are there to defend. Particularly, four problems or dilemmas have been observed, dilemmas of the "ends are corrupted by the means" type.
These organisational weaknesses imply that an organisation is not identical with a movement. It is a tool, that may sometimes be useful, that may sometimes be unwieldy, may be blunted and need replacement. According to Sartre, a rising movement, a "fusion group", forms an organisation to keep the internal communication, thereafter becomes "serialised", and falls victim to employees that get into the way of the lay members next time the movement is mobilised . Not least for this reason, a vigorous peoples' movement constantly creates new organisations instead of using the old ones - but sometimes an even more vigorous one may reconquer old organisations. The Brazilian labour movement could in the seventies even conquer trade unions that had been organised by the Minster of Works, and use them to the profit of the workers.
7. Mobilization of resources
The resource base of a peoples' movement is by definition often smaller than the resource base of its opponent. This may be compensated for in two ways.
Peoples' movements may also use external resources, for example in the form of alliances with and contributions from other actors that have the same interests as they or at least the same enemy. But the more important the external resources are, the less is the freedom of action for the movement. In extreme cases, the movement may find itself exploited for very strange purposes - one such case was the German agrarian movement that believed it was possible to cooperate with the nazis (see chapter 7). And social movements today that try to cooperate with academic, governmental or business NGOs may get the same kind of trouble. The trouble is grounded in the fact that these partners are often well established and identity-strong - this is the purpose of allying with them - while the peoples' movements are in their inception and for that reason formative. The enemy of the enemy is not necessarily a friend.
Finally one may try a bluff. But this is easier for someone with a resource advantage (resource differences are liable to overestimation), and an exposed bluff is devastating.
But the resource disadvantage of peoples' movements is an important factor to consider. Among other things, it decides greatly their strategies.
Peoples' movements tend to choose demands for concessions rather than popular control, because it is easier to achieve and doesn't call for unwieldy institutions. They tend to choose punishing strategies rather than encouraging ones because they don't have much to encourage with. They tend to choose direct, short run actions "against" rather than indirect, long run "for" since the latter calls for extensive planning resources - peoples' movements are "reactive" rather than "proactive", as it is termed by politologists. And they tend to choose collective action rather than individual, although this is inopportune in the present political climate, because this is the only resource they have got. I have also pointed at peoples' movements dependence of swiftness. Their limited resource base is cause of an equally limited repertoire, as Charles Tilly has called it , a set of traditional methods of struggle that is changed slowly over time, see point 9 Action. Yet: the great successes in the history of peoples' movements is caused by a break with these limitations, and a creative understanding for how the limitations should be surmounted. This is the theme for this book.
8. The conflict category develops relations to the surrounding world
A social movement has to consider, when mobilizing in a conflict,
the present "political field" or "opportunity structure"
. A political field or opportunity structure consists of everything
that a movement has to relate to: opposite party, other parties,
power distribution, and not least the political culture or climate,
that is, what people in general think is legitimate and acceptable
ways of doing things.
This is a strong motive for social movements to influence the state, if for no other reason to prevent the opposite party from influencing it too much. Methods are playing different authorities against eachother, playing different elites against eachother, goading the state into unpopular actions and depriving it of means through tax strikes and boycotts. A historically important method has been to infiltrate or invade the state through political parties - an ambiguous method as we shall see.
There are also other control institutions discouraging people from action and supporting status quo, and they vary from one culture to another. Sometimes the church or organised religion may by such an institution. Sometimes the family is. Schools are, not infrequent. Businesses/workplaces are very often. Sartre has shown how society's material assets as a whole in a certain regard directs our actions and oppose against regeneration, and others have suggested that this is intentional . But an ingenious peoples' movement can exploit all these institutions, easier than it can exploit the state.
There are also the conventional mechanisms of mediation, highly autonomous, privileged institutions whose aim it is to articulate interests and formulate the agenda of society: political parties and the media.
Political parties are problematic for peoples' movements. Even when they in some sense "represent" peoples' movements, their articulation is from the outset gauged at compromises. In the first place, because parties are potential governments, a compromise with the state, but also with other interests they regard as potential voters. Moreover, they can thanks to their privileged position maintain that their version of the interest is the correct one. For that reason, peoples' movements have to struggle against them to get the space to formulate autonomously. This is not easy, particular when movement and party share the same people and the same organisational space.
Media are perhaps less problematic because there are other institutions that may play partly the same role for the movement, for example mass organisations and local communities. The problem is related to the fact that media influence the language or program; this is perverted by the language and program of media, which in its turn is influenced by owners' and journalists' interests and by socalled journalistic evaluation of facts .
Most political parties have their origin with a peoples' movement, and so has media which to a high degree is a creation of the nineteenth century civil rights movements. This is why they are still, by many, perceived as "almost" peoples' movements, and this is maybe a reason for their strength and their capacity to confuse.
Lawrence Goodwyn has, a propos the US agrarian movement and its troubles with party politics in the late nineteenth century, coined the concept shadow movement . It stands for an organising that act as a parasite on a peoples' movement, that tries to ally with it by force of its participants' often high social status, in order to kill what is anti-systemic in the movement and also kill its vulgarly democratic culture. The subjectively perceived intention is probably to win some sympathy for the aims of the movement with the middle class and/or the state. The objective result if a shadow movement wins hegemony over a peoples' movement is that the latter loses its cultural identity, its language and its capacity of self-regeneration.
Shadow movements are inevitable consequences of successful movement mobilizations; it is the form of participation the middle class is able to. Peoples' movements must learn to live with them and find out counter-strategies; a source of strength is that shadow movements are dependent of peoples' movements through their base in the mediation and therefore sensitive to threats, while the peoples' movement does well without the shadow.
Other states may be of consequence for peoples' movements, either as subscriber or as a threat of military intervention. We may just think of the Soviet Union's significance for the anti-colonial movements, or the USA's for the French revolution. Other movements usually play a more important role. As allies, of course, but perhaps more important as participating in the same resource base, the same infrastructure, the same interpretation pattern, the same social organising and the same adversaries. Other movements may play a great part in a peoples' movement's mobilization. A positive one, as informal teachers and contributors, and a negative one, since they easily drag them into their own quarrels and conflicts.
Finally, the situation plays a great role for peoples' movement's mobilizations. Politologists have particularly focused on the importance of other political actors' acts for movements . Politics is always a matter of take advantage of the opportunity, and use them, and other people's actions to their profit. The opportunity may consist of disunity within the elite, emergence of a new actor, or change in the political culture.
Emergence of new opportunities are important for upswings of peoples' movements. Social movement mobilizations are visibly cyclical and follow a self-produced pattern of booms and busts. In the years 1966-1975, there was boom of peoples' movement in the whole world. Such booms can't be related only to for example economic cycles but are also created within the peoples' movement system itself.
The boom is usually set apace by strategic quarrels within the elite, which induce some privileged categories to mobilize for their interests. Successes for them trigger others to mobilize; many contemporaneous mobilizations against the same adversaries enfeeble the latter and make them incapable to withstand in new conflicts. This rises expectations and entices new social movements. All mobilizations together create a strong social movement culture where it is easy to formulate identities, themes, ideologies, strategies and programs; this make things easier for new social movement mobilizations, etc. In the end, the boom is broken through countermobilizations from the elites, according to new strategic principles, linked to rash errors by the popular movements, and not least disagreements about strategic principles. Usually you can see clearly when the reverse is set in: it is when movements begin to quarrel about "further advance" or "consolidation".
For example, the boom of the sixties was created by contemporaneous anti-colonial movements, agrarian movements, and labour movements, each conditioned by the economic and political environments, but that were more effective together than they would have been alone. They were broken around 1970 by internal movement conflicts between "moderates" and "radicals" and by a forced internationalisation that made it easy for those in power to create unemployment and starvation, thus breaking the courage among the direct producers, the base of the peoples' movements .
9. The resources are used for actions
The actions of peoples' movements are of two kinds: to force the adversary to adapt to the demands of the movement, and to realize by their own hands the desired aims in the civil society they represent.
The trouble is to do that in spite of the disadvantage the social movements have by definition.
The actions against adversaries, the confrontations, consist of a rather stable repertoire that changes slowly over time. During the tax rebellions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the action was to prevent the sheriffs of the king to collect taxes. During the bread seizures of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the action was to seize bread and flour and sell it on the market for a fixed low price. During the time of the industrial society the used methods are strike, demonstration, mass meeting and occupation, to some degree boycott, and participation in elections . The stability of the repertoire is not only a disadvantage - both the adversary and the public should understand what one is doing, and confusion among the supporters isn't good either.
On the other hand, it's the creative innovations that bring the greatest successes. For example, only when the US workers learned to occupy the factories in the thirties, they came to grips with the strike-breakers and could force the enterprises to write collective agreements and the state to acknowledge unions legally.
The aim of confrontations is to force the opposite party to concessions.
The aim of war is peace, as the military theorists say; peace on
one's own terms. But there is a particular dynamic in confrontations
that cause them to develop in a way nobody has thought of beforehand.
There is a whole theoretic tradition about this: conflict theory.
Yet, there are certain cores of conflict theory that always apply.
Firstly, the parties define the character of the conflict, no matter how stupid they may seem. This implies for example that what applies is the subjective perception of the parties about the conflicts' costs and proceeds. The party that first thinks that the costs exceeds the proceeds is the first to sue for peace .
Secondly, there are objective limitations for what strategies that are possible to choose.
One is the internal movement conditions - the less resource potential and the weaker collective identity, the more narrow are the limitations. Moreover, the opportunities are limited by earlier articulations; it isn't possible to change articulation overnight.
Another is the relation between the parties - the more they have to do with eachother in the everday life, the greater is their opportunity. For then, they are also dependent of eachother and may exert pressure on eachother. It is easier for a collective of workers to act against the management than it is for a colonized people to act against the colonizers.
A third is what is thematized in the conflict - qualitative themes entice to harder conflict than do quantitative ones, irreversible themes entice to harder conflict than do reversible ones. Fifty cents more an hour don't entice to as much effort as does a threat of laying down the only working-place of a region.
A fourth is the culture - it establishes fixed significations to different actions, and it is preferable that both the adversary and third parties read the action as it is intended. If for example violence against person is unacceptable in a culture it is bad strategy for a movement, regardless of other considerations. There are, as stated above, general political cycles to consider, as are expectations of an action's consequences. It is easier to act in a movement boom than in a movement bust.
Thirdly, confrontations have a tendency to escalate and drag along new parties, themes and aims, meanwhile making the parties less apt to compromise about a reasonable peace. As time goes, the parties invest resources they want dividends from, the collective identity is strengthened, radical utopias and aims are formulated, the conflict organisations tend to be taken over by militants who see the conflict as an end in itself and a base for their own power, and the limits for the culturally accepted means are widened. There is also a possibility that it becomes clearer what divides the parties; real adversaries appear and false conflicts disappear.
Escalation may have advantages as well as disadvantages.
To the advantages belong of course the prospect of substantial advance. To the disadvantages belongs the distortion of the participants' perception of the conflict, that may increase while the conflict escalates. Conflicts are always risky. So the images of the adversary that the participants make are not always accurate; they tend to be black-and-white, and since the communication between the participants are made up of threats and damages, they interpret everything the adversary does in these terms. Even serious offers of compromises tend to be written off as malicious tricks. And the conflict is escalated far beyond what is rational, to the detriment of the civil society that the social movement was intended to protect .
Against this, the Gandhian tactics helps . But it tends unfortunately to contribute to a freezing of the relation between the parties and impede the underdog from upping the ante. It is a tactic for a movement that can afford waiting.
Few conflicts go on escalating until the parties exterminate eachother, because there are also deescalating mechanisms in conflicts. Firstly, both parties exhaust their resources. Secondly, the escalating mechanism may be broken by conscious initiatives from any of the parties. Some may change from threats to promises to make the adversary's worldview less black-and-white, more complex, which may lead up to a more reaslistic apprehension of what level of conflict that is the most reasonable.
A third deescalating factor is the conflict regulating mechanisms that are usually built into society. Other parties, particularly the state, engage in confrontations that threaten its interests, and expectations about that may contribute to cautiousness from the original parties. Such conflict regulation tend to develop to become tenacious in long conflicts, and this may be both advantageous and disadvantageous for peoples' movements. Peoples' movements are usually better at politics than at violence, but on the other hand they are usually not good at long-winded conflicts.
There is also a logic for the end of a conflict, that is not only
a consequence of the character of the conflict. An end is also a
kind of interaction process between parties.
Peoples' movements' efforts to create by themselves the new society within the civil society is sometimes called alternative society. Perhaps one's thoughts go to the utopian societies Christians built in the form of monasteries or to the archipelago of colonies the utopian socialists built in the USA in the nineteenth century. But this view is too restricted. Labour or agrarian movements' cooperation as well as the popular culture that is bred in social movements are also alternative societies. And when the Swedish temperance movement introduced universal suffrage within its own organisations two generations before it was introduced into the Swedish state, it was another expression of the same. Living as if the desired changes were already there may make the changes inevitable. In carrying through the reforms they struggle for within the civil society, the participants strengthen their own faculties - practical and spiritual. And in working out public bodies according to the norms of the civil society - according to reciprocity rather than hierarchy and market - the movements contribute to the strengthening of the civil society at the expense of state and business. And to be sure, this is the aim of peoples' movements.
Research about the working of these mechanisms is scarce. Social movement research has in the main inquired into confrontations with the adversary; this is more dramatic than alternative society mechanisms and perhaps for that reason more attractive for historians and sociologists to follow.
One of those who have investigated the alternative society, or civil society mechanisms initiated by peoples' movements, is Josef Huber . His conclusion is that such organising has a value as long as they have a direct relation to mobilizations in conflicts. As soon as they don't, they are conquered by market or hierarchies and become resources for business or state, that is, they end up as ordinary business enterprises or a part of the welfare bureaucracy. Swedish readers easily think of the impressive alternative society of the social democrat labour movement - housing cooperatives, building enterprises, publishing houses, newspapers, insurance companies etc - became resources for the state in the fifties and resources for capital when the welfare state was downsized in the nineties.
The same conclusion was drawn by UNRISD in its investigation into peasant cooperatives in the South. Only when they were linked to movements against landowners, wholesale dealers or other exploiters, they were a liberating force. In other cases these adversaries will soon dominate the cooperatives and use them for their own ends .
However, their conclusion seems somewhat rash. If the civil society is the end of peoples' movements, and the purpose is to protect it from damages by state and business routines, all alternative society mechanism created by peoples' movements have to be a reinforcement. Some reinforcements may last longer than others, but no reinforcement lasts forever.
For a peoples' movement to be successful it needs both ways of working. A peoples' movement that doesn't try to force its norms upon state and business abandons the struggle for hegemony and ends up like the American alternative society movement, as odd isolates of no importance. A peoples' movement that doesn't itself build the good society lose more and more of its own resource base, not least spiritually, and ends up as a weak, unoriginal and subaltern pressure group. A movement that does both, like the Scandinavian labour movement, may win hegemony in the nation.
10. The result refers both to the movements themselves and their environment
Confrontations between social movements and their adversaries change both themselves and society at large. The most obvious result is the concessions they can force upon the adversaries, but other results are rather more interesting.
The conflict affects the peoples' movement itself, positively and negatively. It is only in the extremely rare cases when it is completely annihilated or wins a complete victory that the movement ceases to exist. When the conflict ends in a compromise, which is almost always, the movement wins a developed collective identity, increased experience, developed solidarity and often a widened array of themes that strengthens the movement in subsequent conflicts and makes it a peoples' movement according to Raschke's definition.
But the movement is often forced, as a part of the compromise, to accept a certain degree of conflict insitutionalization. Such things imply certain advantages insofar as the routines the category lives under and the conflict has dealt with are made somewhat less repressing. But it also carries with it some questionable secondary effects.
The institutionalization has two sides. Firstly, the managing of the conflict is formalized in laws, government agencies and more marked by mediators like political parties and media instead of the social movements themselves. Secondly, the peoples' movements' organisations are forced to manage the evermore intricate institutionalized conflict management through formalizing and labour-divisioning themselves; this formalization and labour division will with the time kill what makes the movement organisations to social movements in Raschke's sense, and also in Sartre's . Moreover, institutionalization tends to give mediators and shadow movement the role as interpreters of the movement's demands.
Both imply that the articulation of the conflict is adulterated - the institutions steal the language of the movement and misrepresent it according to the insitutionalizing functionaries self-interest, which makes the peoples' movement organisation less usable in further conflicts.
The most dramatic example of this is perhaps the rise and fall of the welfare state. The welfare reforms were prompted by peoples' movements, were institutionalized in both government agencies and petrified social movement organisations, began to crumble when the base of the peoples' organisations had demobilized and lost grasp because all conflicts were swept under the carpet.
A less dramatic example is that industrial agreements, which to be sure compel the adversary to show consideration for the workers' human nature but also trap the conflicts of work into a recalcitrant legal strait-jacket .
A peoples' movement has to accept this, and relate to it. In practice this means that a movement continuously creates new organisations as a replacement for those that have been institutionalized and forced the peoples' movement to work under awkward conditions. For example, the initiatives in the labour movement upswing in the seventies were usually taken not by trade unions but by rank-and-file committees, and the new environmental movement was not formed within the old nature conservation organisations but in new local citizens' groups.
This tension between institutionalization and new initiatives is what characterizes the life of peoples' movements.
The results on society are according to Bader impossible to say anything about in general. It depends too much on all the processes and part processes that have been described in this chapter. Confrontations are struggles where different parties try to force through their often incompatible interests and positions under constant uncertainty, and the outcome depends on the resultant of forces, external circumstances and the choice of actions.
This is why you can say that peoples' movements are not routines, that they because they are answers and challenges to routines are chaotic and unpredictable. At each of the steps in Bader's sequence it is possible to do "right" and "wrong", that is, answer more or less adequate and effective to the demands of the situation. This choice will then affect the following sequence including the final outcome.
The first choice is when one decide about the collective identity:
who are "we"? The more possibilities, the more uncertainty,
and the greater risk that the following mobilization will be smaller
and more ineffective because of the ensuing quarrels between the
possible identities. But on the other hand, the greater the opportunity
for a really broad mobilization, if the identity is defined as broadly
as the habitus and the interests allow and becomes a concern for
many without being perceived as artificial.
The organisational form is also a result of choices. And different forms of organisation may be more or less effective in the given situation.
So are different mobilizations, conflict actions, and alternative society constructions. These choices are called strategies, and here there is more understanding that there is really a matter of choices. Nevertheless, an unusual creativity is usually demanded to stretch the limits of time-honoured strategies or create new ones, more adapted to the present situation.
"Right choice" gives a better outcome than "wrong choice". "Right choice", of course together with favourable circumstances, creates a self-strengthening spiral where the peoples' movement cycle grows, the movement becomes stronger, more efficient, capable to ever more commanding challenges to the economic, political and cultural hegemony of the state, business and upper classes. The "wrong choices" may lead to bitter internal conflicts and to the ruin of the movement, or to the abortion of an incipient movement.
All impulses to see the outcome of a movement's ambitions beforehand
is for that reason unwise. Peoples' movements are, because of their
relative independence of routines, sensitive to the quality of its
choices, in relation to the opposite party.
In the confrontation new structures, or routines, are built up for the civil society defended by the peoples' movement. If the mobilization is extensive, a multifarious democratic alternative society grows, which may give the conflict category more power over its everyday life than before, and a more extensive resource base for further conflicts, at least until the mobilization recedes. Peoples' movements create openings for the civil society to use, irrespective of what institutionalization the immediate mobilizations result in. The successful labour mobilizations in Sweden in the twenties and thirties created a political and cultural space, possible for environmental movements to use in the seventies, irrespective of the relations between those two movements, since they created respect for direct producers as actors, not least a self-respect among the direct producers themselves. And peoples' movement principles affect the culture and language in the civil society, as for example when sports organisations in Sweden say they are peoples' movements and maintain that equal right to physical exercise for all is more important than victories for a few.
Such things even happen to some extent irrespective of success or failures the confrontation.
For the result is not only a matter of real actions but also threat of actions, threat of conflicts. A realistic threat may induce an opposite party to behave in another way than in a situation with no threat. But the threat has to be credible. And this depends on the courage to act sometimes even if it is possible that the action results in defeat. Even "failed" actions may be worth their price if the opposite party thinks twice next time. Such were the peasant rebellions of old: they were almost always beaten, but the cost of beating them was so great that kings and barons thought twice before they raised taxes and corvées next time .
Even if actions of popular movements are not always enough to make society more endurable for the direct producers they represent, they are at least the best opportunity the direct producers have. Those who assert themselves have better opportunities to affect the world than those who yield. And at the societal level, the great aggregates assert themselves most.
It is in this sense peoples' movements are the carriers of democracy.
Peoples' movements have contributed in a decisive way to the world we live in. The world is a result of struggle between exploiters, between exploiters and peoples' movements, and between peoples' movements mutually. The aim of this book is among other things to show how. Those of you who think the result is not much to be happy about may reflect what the result should be if they weren't present. Peoples' movements are always defences against destructive forces, and successes are always relative.
As both Ho Chi Minh and Michael Collins, two very different peoples' movement strategists, have expressed it: To win is to not acknowledge defeat.
The peoples' movement I depict in this book have evidently gone through all the steps Bader talks about. I can only regret that I can not represent this fully. The authors of the sources I have used haven't read Bader, and the literature do not always compare. But I hope all steps are there in the totality.
I hope the omissions may inspire the readers to their own thoughts and questions. This is the principal aim of the book - to contribute to the discussion about peoples' movements strategies and future.
 About the rise of the state, see Charles Tilly, Coercion, capital and European states, Blackwell 1993. About its way of working, see Bo Rothstein, The Social Democratic State: The Swedish Model and the Bureaucratic Problem of Social Reforms, Univ of Pittsburgh Press 1995. Göran Ahrne, Agency and Organization, Sage 1990, deals with the states in their capacity as compromise brokers.
 The classic account of capital is of course Karl Marx, Capital, part 1-3, innumerable editions, e.g International Publishers Company, 1982. But capital as an actor is actually better related in Joseph Schumpeter, The theory of economic development, Harvard University Press 1935, or Alfred Chandler, The visible hand, Harvard University Press 1980, and Scale and scope, Belknap 1990.
 David Cheal: The gift economy, Routledge 1998, and Jacques Godbout, The world of gifts, McGilll-Queen's University Press 1998. Cheal deals only with elementary gift economy as played out within family and between friends while Godbout also describes institutionalised gift economies like blood banks or non-profit organisations. Cheal and Godbout refer to a social anthropology tradition going back to Marcel Mauss, but the phenomenon was actually described more than a hundred years ago by Piotr Kropotkin, Mutual aid, many editions, e.g. Freedom Press, 1993
 A source in English is http://socserv2.socsci.mcmaster.ca/~econ/ugcm/3ll3/ferguson/civil.html. I rely on Torben Hviid Nielsen, Samfund og makt, Akademisk forlag 1988, and Per Forsman, Det kluvna samhället, Carlsson Bokförlag 1995. A popular comparison between social society, state and market is given by Erik Sigsgaard, Relationer i förskolan, KRUT 73.
 I prefer the metaphor routine to the one of structure, the later concept calling forth visions about immovable buildings of steel and concrete. After all, people have choices, even if there is a pressure to act in a certain direction, and all laws in social sciences are conditional. A concept that can be used with the one of routine is inertia, which is not the same as the hardness of structures. One definition of routine could be "what is done if there is no decision of the contrary". The theme has been elaborated by Jean-Paul Sartre, Critique of dialectical reason, NLB 1976, related in Inger Jensen & Flemming Vestergaard, Praxis och tröghet, Korpen 1979.
 The classic here is Pierre Bourdieu, who deals with the aim of intellectuals to dominate "intellectual fields". For example in The corporatism of the universal: the role of intellectuals in the modern world, Telos 81.
 NGOs or Non-Government Organisation is the name according to the United Nations of all organisations that are not governmental agencies or, after ca 1990, businesses. Those who use the expression about themselves are primarily organisations that exclusively consist of an employed staff, for example scientific institutes. But in public the term is increasingly used for peoples' movements too, which creates confusion among peoples' movement organisations about their own identity. More about NGOs in chapter 10.
 According to Samir Amin, Eurocentrism, Monthly Review Press 1989, which compares medieval systems and their clergies. I think though that he disregards too much the ongoing industrialisation of words and meaning, the socalled information society that puts creation of thoughts within the power of intellectual hierarchies as never before.
 The concept "spontaneous expressions of life" has been formulated in a Christian discourse as a concept for "the good", before all ideology. One source is K.E. Løgstrup, System og symbol, Gyldendal 1982. I have got it from Henry Cöster, Om gen-etikens innehåll, Ord & Bild 3/1985.
 There was in some older literature, and still is in much vulgar debate, a tendency to write off popular mobilization as expressions of irrational gush of emotions. This has been proven false by for example Charles Tilly, From mobilization to revolution, McGraw Hill 1978.
 The Swedish definitions and their change over time is instructive for a culture where peoples' movements have been extremely influential. Early twentieth century definitions resemble mine: "participation from the popular classes in opposition to the authorities" (Svensk Etymologisk Uppslagsbok 1928), while Prisma's Lilla Uppslagsbok 1977 gives the typical late century definition: "Term for an all-national organisation with large geographical dispersion, a program founded on an ideological community, independence from state and authorities, voluntary membership and durable activities".
 This way of looking at peoples' movements solves a theoretical problem for the official Swedish social movement research. In the report Framtida folkrörelser (Future social movements) from the Swedish Institute for Future Studies the authors were surprised that few people took an active part in movements for societal change; they were however active in organisations without such aims (Sigbert Axelsson & Thorleif Pettersson, Mot denna framtid, Institutet för framtidsstudier 1992). This didn't fit with the traditional image of the importance of "ideas" in a social movement. But if all associations without relation to "fundamental societal change" are characterized as parts of the civil society, all problems disappear. To take part in such associations isn't any more odd than keeping a birthday party.
 See for example James C. Scott, The moral economy of the peasant, Yale University Press 1976. He emphasizes that it is particularly encroachments of certain culturally important minimum levels that provokes conflict. See also below under Interest.
 Another master of managing composite identities was Mao Zedong. His concept for it was "main contradictions" and "secondary contradictions" - but then we are perhaps touching the section about interests.
 Opponents to peoples' movements have argued that individual needs never can be satisfied collectively, and that a rational person never takes part in collective action (most famously stated in Mancur Olson, Logic of collective action, Shocken 1971). The proof is built on game theory, but since game theories never consider peoples' dependence of a social surrounding, this is a weak argument. For example, real people know that psychology is as important as logics in social games, and that the reactions of the public are as important as the reactions of the opposite party. And the concept "collective identity" presupposes that there is a "we" acting as well as an "I". Perhaps the weakness of Olson's contention the final proof that the "rational individual" doesn't exist because all our acts are socially defined?
 Two authors who contends that a social movement is this step from false ideology to a liberating utopia are Daniel A. Foss & Ralph Larkin, Beyond revolution: a new theory of social movements, Bergin & Garvey 1986. The call it "disalienation", but they could as well call it "revival" - the sudden insight that the old familiar routines could be completely different, which releases immense energies.
 An older attempt of reconciling the need for democracy with the need for effective decisions was "democratic centralism": free discussion up to decision, then disciplined unitary accomplishment. This attempt failed, because it was too easy for the functionaries of the movement to refer to the disciplined accomplishment and choke the discussion also in the discussion phase.
 This is also related to the particular interests of salaried employees and with the growth of NGOs as a career path for intellectuals. Both are primarily interested in their own survival with only a lesser interest in solving the conflict category's troubles once and for all.
 Among direct methods for obstruction are withdrawal of contributions, delegitimation of aims, themes and actions, criminalization and direct military repression. Among indirect methods are passivisation of the whole society through "education", control of everyday life and withdrawal of civil rights. Each of these has a price, not least in legitimacy, which is a card a movement could play on. The purpose of supporting a movement may be to divide a movement through favouring certain factions of it, but the purpose may also simply be to buy peace. Support can be given materially, through cooption of leaders and organisations and through public conflict regulation, see below.
 Jean-Paul Sartre, Critique of dialectical reason, NLB 1976. Functionalist city planning as disciplinary action has been analysed by Mats Franzén, Gatans disciplinering, Häften för kritiska studier 5:1982. The argument is that a functionally divided city impedes all actions that are not foreseen and approved by the planning authorities.
 Journalistic evaluation of facts are affected by the fact that media are in showbiz and have politics as a side-line. Its characteristic is that elite views are more important than views of direct producers, that the new, the freakish and the violent is uprated, that form is more important than content, and that the simple is played up against the complicated.
 Lawrence Goodwyn, The populist moment, Oxford University Press 1978. A Swedish example is shown in Björn Eriksson et al, Det förlorade försprånget, Miljöförbundet 1982, dealing with the referendum about nuclear power in 1980. A classic Swedish description about a successful struggle of a peoples' movement against a shadow movement about the right to express its own thoughts is August Palm, Ur en agitators liv, 1905 (Prisma 1970).
 There is a whole literature on this. As the classic among them is considered Sidney Tarrow, Power of movements - social movements, collective action and politics, Cambridge University Press 1994. Most of those I have read are however limited to the "opportunity structure" that is formed by state and political parties.
 Pau Puig i Scotoni, Att förstå revolutionen, Zenit 1980. He considers a conflict as a kind of bookkeeping, where the parties minimize costs and maximize proceeds to make bigger "profit" than the adversary. This may seem exceedingly abstract - but may explain why the resource-less Vietnamese could beat the Americans: the Americans were the first to think that the conflict didn't pay, although the "real" costs were higher to the Vietnamese.
 To judge the level of conflict that favours the peoples' movement most and the adversary least is an art. Generally, a peoples' movement loses in escalating a conflict to a level where personal injuries is natural; generally states and capitals are the strongest at that level. But there are exceptions - they are called revolutions.
 According to Arne Næss, Gandhi and group conflict, Universitetsforlaget 1974, the principles of Gandhian conflict are rather being for something than against, to concentrate on the core of the conflict, to keep there during the whole conflict and not rise demands with the time, to be prepared to compromise about trifles, to find aims that are common for both parties, always to act in the open, to be prepared to sacrifice something to reach the aim, to protect victims of the adversary, never to be afraid of the adversary, never to see the adversary as a personal enemy, and never to exploit the adversary's irrelevant weaknesses.