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On Rethinking Our Dance : Some Thoughts, Some
Jai Sen
The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance
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Table of Contents
The Movements of Movements
MOMBOP Advance Pre-Final Movement Edition, 2016-17
Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?
Proem :
Shailja Patel What Moves Us
Introduction :
Jai Sen The Movements of Movements : An
Introduction and an Exploration
1.1 David McNally From the Mountains of Chiapas to the Streets
of Seattle : This is What Democracy Looks Like
1.2 Fouad Kalouche and Eric Mielants Antisystemic Movements
and Transformations of the World-System, 19681989
1.3 André C Drainville Beyond
: Anti-Capitalist
Dialectic of Presence
1.4 Tariq Ali Storming Heaven : Where Has The Rage Gone ?
1.5 Taiaiake Alfred and Jeff Corntassel - Being Indigenous :
Resurgences against Contemporary Colonialism
1.6 Andrea Smith Indigenous Feminism and the Heteropatriachal
1.7 Xochitl Leyva Solano Geopolitics of Knowledge and the Neo-
Zapatista Social Movement Networks
The Movements of Movements :
Struggles for Other Worlds
2.1 Anand Teltumbde Anti-Imperialism, Dalits, and the
Annihilation of Caste
2.2 Jeff Corntassel Rethinking Self-Determination : Lessons from
the Indigenous-Rights Discourse
2.3 Xochitl Leyva Solano and Christopher Gunderson - The Tapestry
of Neo-Zapatismo : Origins and Development
2.4 Roma and Ashok Choudhary - Ecological Justice and Forest
Right Movements in India : State and Militancy - New
2.5 Emilie Hayes Open Space in Movement : Reading Three
Waves of Feminism
2.6 Virginia Vargas International Feminisms : New Syntheses,
New Directions
2.7 Lee Cormie Re-Creating the World : Communities of Faith in
the Struggles for Other Possible Worlds
2.8 François Houtart Mahmoud Mohamed Taha : Islamic Witness
in the Contemporary World
2.9 James Toth Local Islam Gone Global : The Roots of Religious
Militancy in Egypt and its Transnational Transformation
2.10 Roel Meijer Fighting for Another World : Yusuf Al-‘Uyairi’s
Conceptualisation of Praxis and the Permanent Salafi Revolution
2.11 Peter Waterman The Networked Internationalism of Labour’s
2.12 Cho Hee-YeonFrom Anti-Imperialist to Anti-Empire : The
Crystallisation of the Anti-Globalisation Movement in South
2.13 Emir Sader The Weakest Link ? Neoliberalism in Latin America
2.14 Daniel Bensaïd The Return of Strategy
2.15 Peter North and David Featherstone Localisation as Radical
Praxis and the New Politics of Climate Change
2.16 Guillermo Delgado-P Refounding Bolivia : Exploring the
Possibility and Paradox of a Social Movements State
2.17 Alex Khasnabish - Forward Dreaming : Zapatismo and the
Radical Imagination
Laurence Cox ‘Learning to be Loyal to Each Other’ :
Conversations, Alliances, and Arguments in the Movements of
Compiled, comprehensive Bibliography for The Movements of
Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?
Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance
Proem :
Shailja Patel Offerings
Introduction :
Jai Sen On Rethinking Our Dance : Some
Thoughts, Some Moves
Interrogating Movement, Problematising
3.1 Rodrigo Nunes Nothing Is What Democracy Looks Like :
Openness, Horizontality, and The Movement of Movements
3.2 The Free Association Worlds in Motion : Movements,
Problematics, and the Creation of New Worlds
3.3 Jai Sen Break Free ! Engaging Critically with the Concept and
Reality of Civil Society (Part 1)
3.4 Anila Daulatzai - Believing in Exclusion : The Problem of
Secularism in Progressive Politics
3.5 Josephine Ho Is Global Governance Bad for East Asian Queers
3.6 Jeffrey S Juris and Geoffrey Pleyers Incorporating Youth or
Transforming Politics ? Alter-Activism as an Emerging Mode of
Praxis among Young Global Justice Activists
3.7 Tomás Mac Sheoin and Nicola Yeates The Anti-Globalisation
Movement : Coalition and Division
3.8 Stephanie Ross The Strategic Implications of Anti-Statism in
the Global Justice Movement
3.9 Michael Löwy Negativity and Utopia in the Alterglobalisation
3.10 Rodrigo Nunes The Global Moment : Seattle, Ten Years On
3.11 Ezequiel Adamovsky Autonomous Politics and its Problems :
Thinking the Passage from Social to Political
3.12 John Brown Childs Boundary as Bridge
3.13 Chris Carlsson Effective Politics or Feeling Effective ?
3.14 Massimo De Angelis PR like PRocess ! Strategy from the
Bottom Up
3.15 Matt Meyer and Oussenia Alidou The Power of Words :
Reclaiming and Re-Imagining ‘Revolution’ and ‘Nonviolence’
3.16 Jai Sen Break Free ! Engaging Critically with the Concept and
Reality of Civil Society (Part 2)
Reflections on Possible Futures
4.1 Michal Osterweil “Becoming-Woman ?” : Between Theory,
Practice, and Potentiality
4.2 John Holloway The Asymmetry of Revolution
4.3 David Graeber The Shock of Victory
4.4 Kolya Abramsky Gathering Our Dignified Rage : Building New
Autonomous Global Relations of Production, Livelihood, and
4.5 Muto Ichiyo Towards the Autonomy of the People of the
World : Need for a New Movement of Movements to Animate
People’s Alliance Processes
4.6 Samir Amin Towards a Fifth International ?
4.7 Rodrigo Nunes The Lessons of 2011 : Three Theses on
4.8 François Houtart – ‘We Still Exist’
Lee Cormie - Another World Is Inevitable… But Which Other
World ?
Complied, comprehensive Bibliography for The Movements of
Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance
MOMBOP Advance Pre-Final Movement Edition
made freely available for Discussion and Debate on a Not-for-Re-Publication / Distribution basis !
On Rethinking Our Dance : Some Thoughts, Some Moves
Jai Sen
It is time for our people to live again. This book is a journey on the path made for us by those
who have found a way to live as
, original people. The journey is a living
commitment to meaningful change in our lives and to transforming society by recreating our
existences, regenerating our cultures, and surging against the forces that keep us bound to
our colonial past. It is the path of struggle laid out by those who have come before us; now it
is our turn, we who choose to turn away from the legacies of colonialism and take on the
challenge of creating a new reality for ourselves and for our people.
The journey and this warrior’s path is a kind of Wasáse, a ceremony of unity, strength, and
commitment to action. Wasáse
is an ancient Rotinoshonni war ritual, the Thunder Dance. The
new warrior’s path, the spirit of Wasáse
, this Onkwehonwe
attitude, this courageous way of
being in the world all come together to form a new politics in which many identities and
strategies for making change are fused together in a movement to challenge white society’s
control over Onkwehonwe
and our lands. Wasáse, as I am speaking of it here, is symbolic of
the social and cultural force alive among Onkwehonwe dedicated to altering the balance of
political and economic power to recreate some social and physical space for freedom to re-
emerge. Wasáse is an ethical and political vision, the real demonstration of our resolve to
survive as Onkwehonwe and to do what we must do to force the Settlers to acknowledge our
existence and the integrity of our connection to the land.
Although these words are evidently written speaking to other Onkwehonwe, original people (or
Indigenous Peoples’), I believe that that they are today, in the times we live in and moving
into, equally relevant to all those of us who might or might not be Indigenous but who are
concerned with justice and peace in this world. They are words that all of us can draw on : All
of us are suffering colonialism and imperialism; all of us are experiencing the effects of
discrimination, marginalisation, precarity, exclusion, exploitation, and oppression, and
consequent alienation, and of the absence of justice and peace - in our bodies and our lives,
and in the worlds around us.
It is time, as Alfred says, to turn away from these effects and to recover justice and peace - in
our lives, and on Mother Earth; and it is time, as Kolya Abramsky says in his essay in this book,
and the Zapatistas said before him, to gather our dignified rage.
This book, dedicated to the dance of life, is the second part of a two-volume book, and book project,
titled The Movements of Movements.
These two books which are in turn a part of a series
Challenging Empires
and in turn, of a longer-term project that my colleagues at CACIM and I
have undertaken, of critical engagement with and intervention in local, ‘national’, and ‘world’
movement are conscious interventions in and contributions to contemporary world movement.
As we see it, our world today is not only a world in profound crisis but also a world in
profound movement. We live in times when major and sometimes dramatic movements are irrupting
all over the world and sometimes seeming to sweep history aside, and with increasingly large
numbers of people joining or forming movements precisely because of the crises we are facing :
Local, national, transnational, and global, and perhaps in all parts of the world.
It sometimes
however seems even to seasoned activists and to seasoned students, teachers, and observers of
movement bewildering as to just what is happening in our times, and why this is suddenly
happening; all that we can sense is that something different is happening; that we are at a very
special moment. There is a great deal of hope in the air, but there is also perhaps because the odds
sometimes seem so great and the losses so huge (the march of the right, across the world; the
march of neoliberalism; the relentless emergence both of fundamentalisms on the one hand, and of
climate change on the other), and also, perhaps, because so many things are irrupting, so widely and
so rapidly, like sudden stormssome considerable confusion, some despondence.
With this as a background, and with a strong belief in the transformative power of critical
reflection and engagement, we at CACIM have chosen to undertake a project of trying to strengthen
movement worldwide by, even at the very basic level, making what is happening more
comprehensible for all those we hope to reach, by creating spaces for critical reflection, and also,
through this, helping movements and activists become more critically and fully engaged in the larger
movement/s that are unfolding in our times.
At this juncture in the world, and of life and death on Mother Earth, this book - and this book
project which I outline further on is thus an attempt to go beyond individual movements. Together,
they are an attempt to present and to see, hear, feel, and critically explore and engage with the
larger picture that is coming into view : The extraordinary drama of the flow of movement taking
place across the world in our times. We are, all of us, and perhaps more than ever before in history, a
part of or witness to a unique series of interconnected efforts. The project we have undertaken is an
ambitious attempt both to sense movement and also to describe, analyse, interact with, and help
bring together these movements, efforts, and their ‘authors’, in word and in deed. By doing this, the
project seeks both to make more comprehensible the movements and the praxis
movements and
also to contribute to learnings and movements of ideas
and across
movements, including in
terms of the language, grammar, and syntax of movement; and through this, we believe, this project
can perhaps help activists and movements to gain clarity and strength.
There are thus two books we are talking about, this one and its companion volume, titled
The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?. While the two books also
stand independently, it mayI suggest be of considerable value to see them as two parts of a
whole, and especially since the two books were conceived as such and ‘composed’ as such.
Keeping this in mind, and as also explained in the Introduction to the first book,
the overall
structure of the two-part book is as follows :
The Movements of Movements
Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ? Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance
0 : Invocations 0 : Invocations
1 : Movementscapes 3 : Interrogating Movement
2 : The Movements of Movements 4 : Reflections on Possible Futures
Afterword Afterword
Compiled Bibliography Compiled Bibliography
Basically, both books have three Sections. The first book, titled The Movements of
Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?, opens with a Section 0 titled ‘Invocations’,
containing a Proem by Shailja Patel on ‘What Moves Us’ and an Introduction, and then goes on to
sketch out, in Section 1, certain key features of the landscape of contemporary movement in the
world from 1968 till about 2010. The sketches are by people from different parts of the world, and
intentionally include essays by both indigenous peoples and by settlers,
thereby offering
fundamentally and structurally - different views of the landscape they inhabit and see. The same
world, but seen through different eyes, and different experiences.
In Section 2 (of Part 1), we present a wide range of sensitive and reflective portraits of
movement, several of which are critical discussions of how different movements move (and/or have
moved), and in different contexts. The essays are by authors both activists and researchers - from
many parts of the world, North and South, and from many different persuasions;
and broadly
speaking, over the past fifty years. And where this book ends with a major, specially-commissioned
Afterword by Laurence Cox, activist, teacher extraordinary, editor, and co-author of We Make Our
Own History : Marxism and Social Movements in the Twilight of Neoliberalism,
that reads across all
the essays in this book and critically engages with several, in subtle and sensitive ways.
This present book titled The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our
Dancecarries this discussion forward. It too has three sections, as above. As editor, and drawing
on and inspired by the lives and cosmologies of aboriginal peoples across the world and in particular
on the magnificent body of work by Taiaiake Alfred, a contributor to the book
-, I invite you to look
at movements as the dances of warriors; and where this book then asks the question :
How can, and
should, we rethink our dance ?
Here too, and following another beautiful, moving poem by Shailja Patel as the Proem to this
book and this Introduction as Invocations, Section 3 brings together a wide range of essays again,
by both activists and researchers from different parts of the world but in this case critically
reflecting on movement and drawing out some of the fundamental issues that those in movement are
concerned with. The book closes with Section 4, composed of several rich and provocative reflections
on movement and on possible futures by several outstanding thinkers and doers in movement, and
following this, a major Afterword by Lee Cormie - a researcher / teacher / writer and sometime
activist concerning social justice movements and coalitions, a professor emeritus of theology and
interdisciplinary studies who has published many articles on liberation theologies and social
movements and been involved in major church-based social justice initiatives over the entire span of
movement covered by these books, and also a contributor to the first book
- that reads across both
the two Parts of this two-part book and paints an extraordinarily vivid mindscape of the world that
unfolding around us, reflecting as he goes on the meanings of the essays in these two books on and
this collection as a whole.
This book / these books, at this juncture in history
These books therefore, seek to speak to the world as it is unfolding, and to strengthen the dance of
movements for justice and peace. At the time of writing this Introduction however, in March 2016,
when there is a palpable intensification of crisis in the world, I think it is only fair to say that it is
sometimes feels increasingly difficult to understand what ‘the world’ is going to be like, not over the
next five or ten years but even by the time this book appears in public, roughly April 2017
therefore, and in short, and if the crises do indeed do take full force, an obvious question that comes
to my mind as an editor is just how ‘relevant’ this book will be, and in what ways it will be relevant.
As I write, it is a time when there are several things happening,
, which will
clearly have enormous consequences for the entire world. These include the great world-historical
‘project Europe’ looking as if it is going to violently implode; when the polity of the militarily most
powerful nation in the world and in particular the intensity of alienation among its people - has
thrown up a candidate for President within this year not just ‘from the right’ but who is behaving like
a neo-fascist (and who, if elected, will have his unimpeded finger on the nuclear button to
Armageddon); when there are continuing, and in some ways intensifying, violent actions by cells of
either ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other factions of fundamentalist Islam in different parts of the world, and
also, in some countries in reaction to this, a marked rise of the hard right in countries and societies
almost across the world; and when, looming over all this, are the dark gathering clouds of climate
change that we are hardly talking about any more.
As one of the contributors to these books, Kolya Abramsky, has recently written to me to say,
referring both to his essay within this book
and to the book as a whole and concerned about their
relevance to the world that seems to be fast emerging :
The political crisis that I talked about in my article has massively intensified, with the US and
the EU now in complete political crisis. The US stands a very strong chance of electing a
fascist, and a moderate chance of electing a moderate socialist. The former head of the CIA
and US national security agency has said that much of Trumps agenda would not command
the respect or loyalty of the army if he is elected to be president. The EU is unravelling at the
borders and the far right is becoming a significant force both at the level of street politics and
electoral politics. One of the major members, UK, is very likely to vote to leave the EU,
triggering much more of a crisis for the EU. Even Germany, the rock of political stability in the
EU, seems to be teetering on the verge of political instability, with the far right making major
gains. Meanwhile, in Latin America, the left is in great danger throughout the continent. Major
oil producing countries will soon face political crises due to the falling price of oil and revenues.
Saudi Arabia and Russia are both talking about selling off major state assets to make up for
falling revenue.
Reflecting on this, what strikes me is that not only are these several things happening
, and where each of these currents has the potential of having enormous
consequences for the entire worldbut beyond this, where each is very likely to feed into the others,
and to synergise in myriad vicious ways.
I would like to take this a little further here and dwell for a moment not only on the reality
that all this these storms that are today sweeping the world is raging concurrently, but to
consider the possibility that these storms are taking shape not independently but interrelatedly, and
moreover on the implications of this possibility : That that they could well increasingly intertwine in
the years ahead.
In particular, I venture the thought that some of us discussed at a meeting some years ago :
That there is much reason to expect that the changes that are already taking place in the world’s
climate (for example, last year being the hottest in history, and where this year is only going to beat
that, with unbearable temperatures already the case in some parts of the world and increasing
outbreaks of forest fires across the world, as I write this), are going to fundamentally challenge, and
change, politics and movement, at all levels - local, national, regional, and world; and where this may
well only contribute to intensifying the whirlwind of reactionary politics that we are already seeing, in
so many parts of the world.
And where what I say here does not even take into the distinct
possibility of a flash nuclear war in some part of the world, given the huge proliferation of nuclear
weapons that has taken place over the past couple of decades and also the directions in which world
politics seems to be going.
One scenario at least, is that as a consequence of the pressures that climate change is
bringing about (and that too in historically unprecedented, non-linear ways, and where existing,
linear, governance systems are therefore as yet incapable of planning for this), not only are all kinds
of old conflicts inter-state conflicts, inter-community conflicts, and people vs state conflicts going
to intensify over the coming decades, but new forces are also going to rise (indeed, are already
rising) in this process. In a context of increasingly unstable and weakening state and inter-state
systems across the world however, this admittedly extreme reading of possibilities is that aside from
rising inter-state conflict over resources, the new forces are likely to include local warlords rising in
different parts of the world, and also the exercise of the military power that transnational
corporations have, reports suggest, already organised to protect the vast swathes of land, sea, and
other resources that they have grabbed across the world over these past decades, whether against
local community opposition or against attempted state regulation; and where this is likely to at first
take place sporadically, and then as rising storms, as conflicts intensify and as the stakes grow
This is of course only a possible scenario; but at a time like this at a world historical
juncture like this -, I believe that we all need (if we are not already there) to most seriously focus on
such possibilities and taking this into account, to rethink what we are doing and how we are doing it,
individually and collectively. Recalling Taiaiake Alfred’s words in the opening quote, we need today to
urgently begin to rethink our dance as warriors, at the most fundamental levels.
These are things that I am sure that many of us are already thinking about as I write this -,
and given what the intervening months hold for us, are likely to be even more seriously debating by
the time that this book is published and out; for this gathering storm seems to be, and even if this is
very disturbing to accept, the new reality : The new permanent. But if this is so, then how are we to
relate to this ?
Without any suggestion that I have a clear and comprehensive picture of what is unfolding
and the state in which the world is going to be next year, I feel I need to say that these questions
and this questioning is in fact
precisely what these books are all about
(and that in many senses, is
the whole idea behind the
Challenging Empires
series), and which is why I believe that these books
are, and will remain, relevant, at least for a good time to come : Because they may be able to help us
in some ways to address the current moment and the unfolding future.
I of course do not mean this in a literal sense that the essays in these books anticipate and
discuss precisely what is happening at the moment (and even though I myself believe that some of
the essays are profoundly prescient), and provide ‘answers’. I mean it in the sense that the essays in
these books, by virtue of being essays in intense critical engagement and reflection with the past
and with the present (and some, with the unfolding future); with the personal and the political; and
coming from a wide range of cultures, contexts, and persuasions -, can serve, I believe, individually
and collectively, as superb material for engaging with our immediate and dramatically unfolding
Without doubt, we will all of course want and need to also draw on other material, as well;
but I would like to think that the range of essays in these books can make a powerful and meaningful
It is with this in mind that we at CACIM, along with some associates, are presently discussing
and formulating a larger book project, tentatively nicknamed the ‘Movements of Movements Book
Organising Project’, where we are planning to invite all the contributors to these two books (and
perhaps also the contributors to the earlier books in the
Challenging Empires
), and other
interested people, to collaborate in a major process of autonomously organising study circles,
workshops, and/or conferences (a) around the material in these books; (b) to address the political
tasks of the world as it is unfolding; and (c), to loosely associate in a networked process of doing this.
I would in fact like to use the opportunity of this Introduction to invite readers to also consider doing
Towards this, and by agreement between our co-publishers (OpenWord and PM Press), I am
happy to be able to say that the books are being brought out in both hard copy and in ebook format,
and in addition, where most of the essays will also be available in advance pre-publication form from
ahead of the publication of the books, on our organisational website as well as, we expect, some
other websites, to enable and stimulate discussion from as early as possible; and where the as-
published versions of most of the individual essays will then get posted once the books are
respectively out. As editor, I am of course very happy that our original publisher OpenWord has been
able to find a co-publisher like PM Press to collaborate with, and that they have agreed to make all or
most of the material in these books available as widely as possible in these various ways.
In addition, the books are also being published on a Creative Commons license, which
therefore makes it possible for everyone, within the limits of the license, to further reproduce the
material in these books.
In relation to this turbulent, emerging backdrop therefore, the goal of the books and of the
book project is to try and contribute - by looking widely and deeply at and across history - a deeper
and more organic comprehension of what is happening in our times, one that can help us all forge
the tools to cope with the changes that are taking place, and to deepen the struggle for justice,
peace, and social transformation.
The movements of movements
Before coming to presenting this book itself, I would like to take a step back and broadly
sketch out the content, character, and flow of the two books together.
There are of course many excellent books that have come out over the past decade or so on
movement, and in particular many that have presented, celebrated, and in some cases critically
engaged with the emergence of what has variously been called the ‘anti-globalisation movement’, the
alter-globalisation movement’, the ‘global justice movement’, or what writer Naomi Klein at one point
famously referred to as “the movement of movements”
and which, indeed, is a phrase that
several authors in this book also use. This present collection however, titled and focused on
of movements
, takes a somewhat different approach : It firstly focuses on the
verb ‘movement’, and not the noun. This radical shift of focus opens up whole new worlds.
Second, it does not focus on the so-called ‘alter-globalisation movement’ alone, which is often
used as a synonym for the so-called ‘movement of movements’, but rather, opens windows to the
much wider range of movements that are taking place in the world; and third, rather than suggesting
that there is one larger, encompassing ‘movement’ taking place in our world, it accepts that there are
many (different) movements taking place in our world today, and differing perceptions of justice, and
many ways of moving, all of which we can learn from; and by making visible at least a wide range of
the many movements of movements, and their multiple praxes, it tries to enable us readers,
activists, and editors alike both to see the larger picture and within this, to see movements
comparatively and to draw our own lessons.
Reaching back to the great sweeps and swells of movement that have taken place across the
world since the 1960s (see, for instance, the essays in Part 1 by Fouad Kalouche and Eric Mielants, by
David McNally, and by Lee Cormie
), and more specifically to some of the more iconic movements
that have taken place during this period the student-led revolt in France in 1968, the feminist
movements since the 1970s, the Zapatista movement in Mexico since 1994, the ‘Battle of Seattle’ in
1999, and also the emergence during this period of what some today call ‘political Islam’
and also
reaching forward in time to also looking at, for instance, the Occupy movement from 2011 on, most
of the essays in these books focus on the period 2006-2010. They range from discussions and re-
theorisations of struggle at and from the margins, to essays on feminisms, queerdom, struggles of
faith, and the struggles of workers, and on re-imagining the world and ‘forward dreaming’; to ones
reflecting on issues of division, marginalisation, and exclusion within progressive movement; and
more. By juxtaposing essays by a range of people that discuss how movements move, in different
ways and from different points of view each with its own cultural and political cadence and rhythm
, this book seeks to make more visible, audible, and comprehensible the movements and praxis
movements, and also of the larger world of movement
within which
individual movements take place;
and to contribute to learnings and movements
between and across
movements, including in terms of
the language, grammar, and syntax of movement.
Conscious of difference and multiplicity, and committed to engaging across standpoints, the
two books together are an attempt at sketching out not a single, grand, meta-narrative of movement
but rather a landscape that begins to reveal the many intersectionalities of movements and their
organic nature and where each of us, from our positions in relation to what we are seeing, will have
our own perceptions; and through this they hope to contribute to readers developing their own meta-
analyses of movement, and in that sense, to becoming a part of movement and not only a spectator.
Along with other volumes in the series of which they are a part,
these books therefore aim
to make contemporary movement/s more meaningful to the observer - and perhaps also, in some
ways, to those who take part in movement. They hope to be spaces where multidirectional and
transcommunal conversations can open up, both between and across movements and also between
movements and readers; where movements and their ideas speak to each other, and perhaps even
begin to move together; and where it also perhaps becomes possible for all to perceive and sense
both the vastness of the universe of movement and also, at the same time, the extraordinary range
of tactics and rhythms in movement - and just possibly, also some of the fundamental characteristics
of movement as life force. And through this, in turn, and by building on the diverse politico-cultural
compositions that the essays represent, they hope to make audible / visible / comprehensible the
dance and the music of movement - and of a world in movement.
In particular, for me it is a very special privilege that we have been able to include in this
collection several essays by women and men who come from and work on the structural margins of
society, and - as will be evident from their essays, and even from their titles - who offer perspectives
that are at many levels radically different : In Part 1, Anand Teltumbde (on ‘Anti-Imperialism, Dalits,
and the Annihilation of Caste’), Andrea Smith (on ‘Indigenous Feminism and the Heteropatriachal
State’), Taiaiake Alfred and Jeff Corntassel (on ‘Being Indigenous : Resurgences against
Contemporary Colonialism’, and Jeff Corntassel alone on ‘Rethinking Self-Determination : Lessons
from the Indigenous-Rights Discourse’), and Xochitl Leyva Solano (on ‘Geopolitics of Knowledge and
the Neo-Zapatista Social Movement Networks’, and with Christopher Gunderson, on ‘The Tapestry of
Neo-Zapatismo : Origins and Development’); and in this book, among others, Anila Daulatzai (on
‘Believing in Exclusion : The Problem of Secularism in Progressive Politics’) and Josephine Ho (‘Is
Global Governance Good for East Asian Queers ?’).
In addition, and because of who they have written about, I also mention here the essays in
Part 1 by François Houtart (‘Mahmoud Mohamed Taha : Islamic Witness in the Contemporary World’)
and by Roel Meijer (‘Fighting for Another World : Yusuf Al-‘Uyairi’s Conceptualisation of Praxis and the
Permanent Salafi Revolution’). Each of these authors and/or actors bring to us substantially different
points of view, and therefore different lenses through which to comprehend the worlds we live in;
and different headphones - as it were - to hear the languages and the music of movement.
For me, it is not a minor issue that in Taiaiake Alfred and Jeff Corntassel’s essays, almost all
their citations and references are to works by indigenous peoples; which only serves to make their
essays that much more outstanding. In my limited experience, this fact itself is all too unusual, and
constitutes a loud reminder to all of us, indigenous or settler, ‘marginal’ or mainstream, that there is a
lot of excellent work out there by indigenous peoples and crucially, by both women and men at the
margins - and so reading, internalising, and citing this ‘knowledge from below’ is indeed now possible,
if we are only willing to make this our priority. Depending on where one is located socially, this is
therefore a question of pride in ourselves and/or respect for such peoples and their knowledges; and
though seemingly only a small step, this practice has profound epistemological and political meanings
and is therefore a vital contribution to building other politics and other worlds : Because it has the
possibility of changing where one locates oneself and how one sees things, and because it demands
that we make this shift consciously, as a political act.
I have personally also found it fascinating and instructive, in particular, to read certain essays
in relation to each other, such as the ones by Taiaiake Alfred and Jeff Corntassel, and the one by
Andrea Smith, together with the essays by, say, André Drainville, or by Roel Meijer, François Houtart,
and Roma and Ashok Choudhary as above, and also with the ones by Xochitl Leyva Solano (on the
Zapatista movement), Virginia Vargas (on international feminisms), James Toth (on the rise of the
Muslim Brotherhood), Peter Waterman (on ‘labour’s others’), Cho Hee-Yeon (on the transformation of
the perspective of movements in South Korea), Guillermo Delgado-P (on the idea of a social
movement state, in this case in Bolivia), and Alex Khasnabish (on the resonance of the Zapatista
movement) among others. In short, as I see it Alfred, Corntassel, and Smith very consciously and
skilfully use the power of the positions that they have by virtue of their identities in relation to the
movements they write on and to larger society, and that there is much to be learned from how they
have done this. They move, and they dance not merely as researchers and activists, but as warriors
in a dance that is much larger, and that has far wider ramifications, than the immediately apparent.
As an aspect of this diversity and plurality, I think it is also worth pointing out that we also
have - among the contributors to these books -, five streetfighting activists and strategists : Tariq Ali,
the late Daniel Bensaïd, Ashok Choudhary, and Roma, and the late Yusuf al-‘Uyairi (whose life and
struggles are presented and discussed by Roel Meijer); and also, at a different level the late
Mahmoud Mohamed Taha (whose life struggle is presented by François Houtart). I single these
essays out for the obvious reason that the location of these individuals the authors or the
individuals written about, respectively in movement is structurally different from those of scholars
and observers, and therefore also the perspectives that they offer us on movement and on the world
in movement. Each of these activists draws on his or her wide experience under different conditions
and in different parts of the world, North and South, and crucially each engages in deep and
intense polemical struggle, both through their writings but even more so, by the conduct of their
The essay by Tariq Ali in Part 1 for instance, thinks back to 1968 and raises angry questions
about contemporary movement. In some ways, this essay and the questions it puts forward are
strongly complemented by the essay, also in Part 1, by the late Daniel Bensaïd another veteran of
1968 and who also challenges contemporary approaches to movement strategy. I have therefore
found it provocative to read these essays in comparison with the ones in Part 1 by, say, André
Drainville and by Roma and Ashok Choudhary, and in this book, Part 2, by David Graeber, John
Holloway, Rodrigo Nunes, and Michal Osterweil; and to read all these essays on strategy against the
essay by Roel Meijer on the late Yusuf al-‘Uyairi as a strategist of a movement (al-Qaeda) who
however had a radically different understanding of modernity than the dominant liberal understanding
of the term. These essays all challenge each other, but they also jam with each other and dance with
each other. In a way, it becomes a fascinating display that reminds me of
, “[the] Brazilian
martial art and popular street dance that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music, and
that is sometimes also referred to as a game”.
Time-wise, and while the collection focuses on movement during the period 2006-10, we also
have essays on movement at different time periods and crucially set in different cultural-political
contexts. Mentioning here only those essays that deal with more specific places and time periods, we
have essays ranging from the rise of an articulation of an alternative interpretation of Islam from the
1930s through to the 1980s in Sudan (by François Houtart), to ‘1968’ and after in France and Britain
(Tariq Ali), to a discussion of movement strategy in Europe and Latin America from the 1970s through
to the 2000s (the late Daniel Bensaïd), to sweeps across the world from 1968 right through to 1989
(by Fouad Kalouche and Eric Mielants) and from 1994 through to the 2000s (David McNally), to the
rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt during the 1970s through to the 2000s as an aspect of a
renewed rise of a global Islam (James Toth), to the jungles of Chiapas, Mexico, during the 1980s and
90s (Xochitl Leyva Solano and Christopher Gunderson), to critical readings of - and reflections on -
feminist movement/s during the 1980s through to the 2000s in Canada (Emilie Hayes) and in Latin
America and globally (Virginia Vargas), to a discussion of the rise of indigenous peoples’ social
movements during the 1980s through to the 2000s in Bolivia (Guillermo Delgado-P), and to the 1990s
and 2000s in the forests of India (Roma and Ashok Choudhary), in rural and urban South Korea (Cho
Hee-Yeon), and in the ‘clash of civilisations’ emerging in West Asia (Roel Meijer); to the new
movements against neoliberalism in Latin America during the 2000s (Emir Sader); and through to the
2010s, looking at the politics and dialectics of anti-capitalist movements (Ezequiel Adamovsky, André
Drainville, Michael Löwy, Tomás Mac Sheoin and Nicola Yeates, Rodrigo Nunes, and Stephanie Ross),
the rise of new movements around labour (Peter Waterman), and in the context of climate change
the emergence of new movements for radical localisation (Peter North and David Featherstone).
And then there are some timeless essays, such as those by John Brown Childs, John
Holloway, and Michal Osterweil
Why 2006-10 ?
I should perhaps explain why we have chosen to focus in these books on the period 2006-2010 and
not, for instance, from earlier on and why not bringing it right up to date. On the one hand, the start
date 2006 came out of the simple fact that this book is a part of the
Challenging Empires
which was conceived in 2006-7 by Contributing Editor Peter Waterman and myself, together with my
then colleague at OpenWord, Nishant.
Beyond this, during the years before this (2003-2007), Peter
and I had also intensively collected and edited material for essays up to 2006-7 for our first two
books in the series, the first two editions of World Social Forum : Challenging Empires,
and so we
also somewhat naturally chose at that point, and at a more personal and experiential level, both to
move on from that earlier period and to focus on the contemporary and the emerging.
On the other hand, the end date for the material in this book came to be defined by two
coincidental and conjunctural events : Where first, I as lead editor, and after working and re-working
the material we had collected through 2007-10 (and during which time, as explained in the
Introduction to Part 1,
our book project burgeoned from one to two to three books), finally took a
call in December 2010 on how we would organise and bring out the material we had; and / but
where, second, ‘2011’ irrupted on the world (and on us !) precisely at that time, from the start of the
Tunisian revolution in December 2010
and leading directly on to Tahrir Square and the start of the
Egyptian uprising in January 2011;
followed by the amazing irruptions in Spain, Greece, and then
the Occupy movement in North America and then Europe; and in turn followed by huge swells of
movement in Brazil, Turkey, India, Hong Kong, and elsewhere.
Even as we at CACIM along with millions of others, across the world - were swept up in the
swirling spirals of tumult and hope that progressively unfolded across so much of the world during
that year and the next, and however tempted we were to try to also embrace in our books what was
happening, it became clear to me that attempting to do this would further delay books that already
taken a long time to put together. I therefore elected at that point, December 2010, to organise the
material we already had in hand into three books : One as a direct sequel to our previous two books,
focussing exclusively on the World Social Forum,
and the other two on movements in the world
beyond the WSF (but also, at points, impinging on and including it); and with a broad concept that
we would put most of the non-WSF material we had till then collected into the second volume in the
informal trilogy we had conceived of, and would collect fresh material for the third book on the period
2011 on.
I then subsequently added two essays that look at and draw lessons from the Occupy
movement, but in the belief that there is much to be learned by focussing on 2006-10 as a kind of
crucible, have kept away from also trying to embrace and explore the almost entirely new landscape
that subsequent and more contemporary has created.
The actual experience of editing the material we had in hand along with trying to engage
with the movements sweeping the world in those years (primarily through a listserve I moderate,
WSFDiscuss) as well as dealing with some major issues that emerged in my personal life - led to a
further major decision : To postpone the ‘third’ volume, and to bring out what I had earlier seen as
the ‘second’ volume in two parts. Which are the present two books.
Although the focus of these two books remains on the period 2006-10, it has all along been
our approach in the
Challenging Empires
series to locate movement within a historical and cross-
cultural perspective, and so I first decided to include four essays here that specifically took broad
sweeps across movements over the past 40-50 years. The ones I decided to include are the ones in
Part 1 by David McNally, Fouad Kalouche and Eric Mielants, and Lee Cormie. All these essays go back
to the 1960s, but where each essay provides a unique perspective.
Aside from these four essays however, I decided that I would also commission and/or harvest
material that specifically related to major movements of the past whose resonance carried through to
the period we were looking at, and including movements that had ‘anniversaries’ falling during the
period we were focussing on, 2006-10. On this count therefore, we have essays on ‘1968’, with its
fortieth anniversary in 2008 (the essays in Part 1 by Tariq Ali and Daniel Bensaïd); the Zapatista
uprising in 1994, with its fifteenth anniversary in 2009 and twentieth anniversary in 2014 (in Part 1,
the essays by Xochitl Leyva Solano, by Xochitl Leyva Solano with Christopher Gunderson, and by Alex
Khasnabish; and in this book by François Houtart and also by Kolya Abramsky); and the Battle of
Seattle in 1999 with its tenth anniversary in 2009 (Rodrigo Nunes).
(It is perhaps worth also mentioning here that there were some significant other movements
from the past that I also tried to commission and/or collect material on, but where I wasn't
successful, in large part because of our very limited human resources. These included the great
Naxalite uprising in India of 1967,
the resonances of which continue to reverberate widely in the
country and region, forty years and more later,
and PGA (People’s Global Action), founded in 1998
as an outcome of the Zapatista encuentros in 1995-96 and that had strong impacts on ‘the battle of
Seattle’ in 1999 and on the anti-capitalist and alter-globalisation movements that subsequently
emerged in the 2000s.)
Rethinking our dance
Let me now come to this book itself. In short, and against this backdrop, the particular
objective of this book is to contribute against the unfolding backdrop of history to rethinking our
By ‘dance’ however, and in relation to social and political movement, while I am more
generally signalling the interplay that takes place between those in movement, between movements,
and between movements and the context they are addressing and/or taking place in, I am in
particular here referring to
a warrior’s dance
in the sense that is so beautifully conveyed by Taiaiake
Alfred, both in the opening quote and in the following, first citing another author and then in his own
words :
A Warrior is the one who can use words so that everyone knows they are part of the same
family. A Warrior says what is in the people’s hearts, talks about what the land means to them,
brings them together to fight for it.
- Bighorse, Diné
… To remain true to a struggle within Onkwehonwe values, the end goal of our Wasáse our
warrior’s dance must be formulated as a spiritual revolution, a culturally rooted
movement that transforms the whole of society and a
action that seeks to remake the
entire landscape of power and relationship to reflect truly a liberated post-imperial wisdom.
As I understand them, several of the essays in Section 3 and also, for instance, John
Holloway’s and Michal Osterweil’s essays in Part 4
- speak directly to this invocation. They do so
however in their many different ways - just as is the case in the accompanying book, What Makes Us
Move ? -, and so, and since the authors are again from across the world and from a wide range of
persuasions and experiences, and speaking in their own voices, we also see them move in different
ways. Ranging from deeply critical reflections on the global justice movement and the World Social
Forum to other essays asking questions about the problematics of movement and interrogating also
the language and concepts that we use, and their power -, they all suggest that it is time that we re-
we do what we do, and explore the possibilities of moves that we can, and that we
perhaps should, make.
At the risk of repetition, I think it bears mentioning that readers will find it useful to also look
at the essays in Part 1, which in many ways lay the ground for the reflection and interrogation that
characterises the essays in this book and where the essays in this book, for me anyway, dance with
those in the other book. One example among many is the first essay by Rodrigo Nunes in this book,
provocatively titled ‘Nothing Is What Democracy Looks Like : Openness, Horizontality, and The
Movement of Movements’, which plays off several essays in Book 1, including, and most directly,
David McNally’s ‘From the Mountains of Chiapas to the Streets of Seattle : This is What Democracy
Looks Like’.
I urge you therefore not to read these essays in isolation great as they individually are -,
but together with others in the books; you will find meaning in each, but I think you will find even
greater meaning in how they interact and jam. Although I tried saying this in some reflections I once
sketched out on the experience of compiling these books that were earlier to appear in Part 1,
think that Lee Cormie has put it much better than I have, or can, in his Afterword to this book :
The collection of essays in these two books faithfully reproduces - and also itself embodies -
the complex and chaotic character and multiple dimensions of these dialogues, in their diverse
expressions in different places, their increasingly dynamic, frequently jagged, at times
conflicting, always incomplete character, the ever-expanding and ever more complex dynamics
of producing culture and knowledge, the proliferating challenges to conversion arising from the
‘new’ voices of so many ‘others’ on so many fronts, the scope and pace of changes
transforming the world.
…. Taken together in various combinations of two or three or more, these essays often
converge and overlap, suggesting new synergies; at other points they diverge on important
issues, pointing to many differences, possible tensions and clashes. At the same time, though,
they reflect an increasingly shared awareness that, as Nunes says, “the capacity to exchange
and cooperate” with others around the world is expanding.
And, beyond purely abstract and
false universalisms, these contributions push me, and I trust you readers too, to reading across
contexts and movements, looking for cross-cutting experiences and insights, points of
reference, wider solidarities, and expanding horizons on possible futures.
To me, reading this comment on the books is not only music to my ears as an editor, in the popular,
proverbial use of this phrase, but this both the comment and what it is talking about - itself
like music, and dance : Like Ahmad Jamal in his track ‘Ahmad’s Blues’,
and even perhaps like the
great Thelonius Monk’s composition ‘Epistrophe’.
But in any case, however you read and whatever
your own mode of reading is, I suspect that you will find material individual essays, and especially
reading across essays that will spark arcs across your mind and your imagination, illuminating the
reality that surrounds us and that is emerging around us. Material that moves you.
For me the fundamental challenge that arises from all that is happening in the times we are
living through - from the incredible pace that things are evolving, from the seriousness of the multiple
crises that we are simultaneously facing (and that are only heating up, from year to year), and from
the distortions that this ‘perfect storm’ is producing -, is that we must re-think who we are, and that
we must be sure of who we are, and that as a part of this we need to open ourselves to what others
are doing, and rethink our dance. The times we are living through demand this; the ways we have so
far moved are, perhaps, not enough. We need focus and resolve; but we also need urgently, perhaps,
to invent new steps, and new moves.
Let me try and illustrate what I mean, with two examples. I think that perhaps most of us
would agree that one of the most profound challenges facing humankind today is the crisis of climate
change. While it is true that people all over the world have grasped this, and are engaging with this,
and while there are have been some victories, yet I think many of us are feeling that time is rapidly
slipping away and that we have not been able as yet to muster sufficient force to arrest governments
and corporations from the massive damage that they are inflicting.
In this context, I want to point to the argument put forward by Jeremy Brecher since 2013
that what we are seeing today is a “global nonviolent constitutional insurgency” taking shape, where
coalitions of ordinary people in countries across the world, appalled by the climate crisis and outraged
by government complicity and inaction, and informed by legal opinion, are using the Constitutional
obligations of nation-states as trustees of the environment to arrest their inaction and to force them,
using non-violent civil disobedience and the courts, to meet their obligations.
In the US for example,
what presently calls itself the ‘Break Free Public Trust’ and/or theClimate Action Public Trustwhich
is a convergence of people with long experience in the labour movement, in climate movement, and
in direct action - is using the doctrine of ‘Public Trust’ (or ‘Nature Trust’), drawing on US American law
and ancient law, to bring to bear the force of their will.
And where they in the US are now working
with others across the world, with similar moves. The move of civil disobedience, of course, is now of
course known and well-established but the fusion of this with Public (or Nature) Trust is new and,
I believe, is today powerfully relevant, and arguably, more relevant in our times than ever before in
At a different level, my own contribution to this book argues that we need to critically engage
with the term ‘civil society’, and in particular with the word ‘civil’, and that doing this and recognising
the power of incivility has radical implications and potential including empowering us to break free
to achieve our full creative powers.
In my understanding, the essays in this book and its companion volume offer us many moves
some old, some new, but
, moves that can inspire us, moves that can help us find our way;
moves that will move us. Moves of insurgence, moves of resurgence; moves of introspection, moves
of meditation; moves of resistance, moves of celebration. The questions we still have to ask ourselves
though and that Shailja Patel asks so powerfully in her Proem both to Part 1
and to this book
and that ultimately only we as individuals can answer for ourselves, is : Can we hear the music ? Can
we focus in on the enormous and powerful, positive, energies that are surging all around us, and
allow them to course through us ? And are we going to allow our minds, bodies, and souls to dance
the Thunder Dance ?
The Afterwords
As mentioned in the opening section of this Introduction, each of the books have a major Afterword,
by Laurence Cox in Part 1, and by Lee Cormie in this book.
There are a few things I feel I should
say about them, not least because of the scale and ambition of their essays, and of what they
contribute to this collection.
First, some background.
Once I had started to become aware of the scale of the two books
I was putting together scale in terms of scope, complexity, and intensity -, and also, increasingly as
I went along, as I thought about the world-historical context in which they were going to appear, I
realised that these books would be a unique opportunity for someone to step back and engage with
the collections as a whole, and for such a review or reflection to appear
the books would make
the collections only more meaningful, more accessible, and more enjoyable. In more particular terms,
the idea of an Afterword as such came out of the intense discussions I was having with Lee Cormie in
2013 about our collaborating in doing the sequel to these two books that I have mentioned above
looking more at movements from 2011 on, and in the emerging world context. As things turned out,
Lee and I finally decided to not move ahead with that idea, but where, stimulated as I was by the
conversations and especially by his inputs, I turned the idea around and invited him to instead
explore the thoughts we had been discussing through a critical engagement with the material in the
two books, as what I called an Afterword’ to the books. Happily, Lee accepted.
I then decided somewhat later that again, because of the scale of the two books I was
putting together, that it would really be better, and much preferable, if we had two commentaries on
the books rather than one : That we would all gain from the hopefully different takes that the two
commentators would have on the books, and the dance that may take place between them. Again
primarily because of my great respect for what he does, and for his extraordinary facility in writing, I
approached Laurence Cox to do this and it has again been my great privilege that he readily
accepted (though, and as is clear from the opening words to his essay, he also suffered heavily as a
result of accepting !).
More recently, and as the Book Organising Project has started taking shape, I have also come
to realise what a valuable asset these two essays will be for this larger project.
It is of course entirely up to you as a reader to decide whether you agree with me or not, but
in my understanding at least, they succeed magnificently in doing so, each in their own very
particular and different ways. To this, I will add that I think that this is the case even though the
Afterword to this book, by Lee Cormie, has turned out differently to what I had imagined it might be.
I say this because I think I had sort of assumed without ever spelling it out - that ‘the way to do an
Afterword’ was to sculpt the essay out of the material of the essays in the books. Lee however has
taken a different approach, and instead composed what I think is an extraordinary piece of music that
is at times inspired by the material he has found in the books but that at other times simply resonates
and jives with it; but where as a result he hasand where I know I am mixing my metaphors here
painted an even larger landscape,
against which
we can read, view, and comprehend the essays in
the two books, individually and collectively. Lee was of course always free to do as he wanted, and as
it has turned out I have learned so much from what he has written and indeed, perhaps precisely
because it is not what I had expected. Thank you for opening my mind to this, Lee.
Laurence’s Afterword, on the other hand, is an exquisite and painstaking sculpture to me,
that seems sculpted out of meditation on the clay that I gave him -, and with each engagement
crafted as an exercise of critical but patient and respectful engagement. To my understanding, his
Afterword is a model of what we at CACIM try and practise as critical engagement, and is in many
ways also an exemplar of the ethic that my friend and teacher John Brown Childs has urged : Moving
in movement from a politics of conversion to an ethics of respect.
Thank you, too, Laurence.
This said, I think I have to also make some further observations on this little subproject.
My first observation which is something that I came to see only well after we started was
that both authors have the initials LC. How on earth did I manage this, with all the permutations and
combinations that are available in the world around me ?!
Second though, and this I came to know only much more recently (and well after we had
embarked on this project), is that as it has turned out, both are students and practitioners - of
religion. I already knew this of Lee Cormie, who I know well, but I had not known this of Laurence
Cox (and where, and just as a matter of record, he and I have never met in person), and I only got
to know this once I had read the first draft of his Afterword, where he mentions this. I can only say
that realising this further coincidence has left me wondering whether there is not something similar in
their respective work in the way, perhaps, that they see the world, and/or relate to it ? that
comes from this background, and that has drawn me to them and to developing a very special
respect for each of them : Where they perhaps, as students and practitioners of religion, engage with
the world out there and with life within us, in ways that are just a little different; at a different
register ? And that, perhaps, has drawn me to them ?
And third, and especially given my own struggle over the past ten years and more of
compiling and editing books, to ensure diversity and balance, I feel I have no option but to also
engage here with the reality that both Lee and Laurence are white, males, and located in the North.
(Another commonality is that they are both also scholar-activists, but that is of course a characteristic
that was almost a given, in terms of my search for people who could relatively quickly write
Afterwords of the nature I was looking for.) Given my background, and given my declared aim and
practice (of plurality), how and why did I manage to do this ?
I can only venture two answers to this. One is that though I know / am privileged to be in
touch with a wide range of scholar-activists located in many parts of the world, from my fair
experience now of commissioning essays over the past decade and more, Lee and Laurence were
among the few who in my estimation had the experience and overview to be able to write something
of the order that I wanted,
who would realistically consider and accept my request - and who
would also produce an essay within the relatively short period of time I was giving them. I am not
sure if this needs to be added, but they have also, as in the case of all the commissioned essays in
these books, written their essays on the basis of voluntary labour of the labour of love and
solidarity; and perhaps even out of the love of labour. And where both essays are great acts of this
love and labour.
For me, and working as we all have on this project, purely on the labour of love and
solidarity, this was a huge consideration. By saying this, I of course do not mean any disrespect at all
to all the other people I know of other races; of a different gender; and located elsewhere in the
world who I could have approached; but working as I personally have been over these past some
years, in a situation of considerable personal flux, I simply had to be realistic and take my best shot,
as they say. And within these limitations, and although I accept the contradiction of this choice with
what I otherwise try and practice, I personally think that the result has been very successful, and that
we are all gainers.
My second and more personal answer though, and especially now when I look back, is simply
that I was overwhelmed by massive flux I was then going through, and that all said and done, this
represents a failure my part to engage sufficiently critically with the requirements of what was after
all my decision alone, to commission people to prepare Afterwords.
(There is however, also one other way of looking at this, which I have jokingly referred to
with both Lee and Laurence, I think : That they should consider the servitude they have done - as
white males located in the privileged North working for an initiative coming from the South - as small
instalments in the huge historical payback of the North’s debt that is due to the South… and therefore
as their duty to humanity and to the struggle and dance for justice, peace, and social
transformation !)
Jokes aside, I want to underline what an extraordinary privilege it has been for me to work
with both Laurence Cox and Lee Cormie in this project, and what an extraordinary privilege it also is
for me to be able to include and publish their work in these books. I cannot thank them enough.
More thanks
I cannot end without thanking Ramsey Kanaan and Craig O'Hara at PM Press for agreeing to our
request from OpenWord to collaborate in this project and for bringing out these books; and Matt
Meyer who is also a contributor to this book
- for introducing me to PM and for playing such an
important role through the negotiations. Given their repertoire of work at PM Press, as editor I am
delighted that these books have now joined the insurrection that they have built and are continuing
to build. As Ramsey never fails to say, rock on !
Finally, I want to end this Introduction by acknowledging what is already perhaps obvious, or
will become so, as you move through this book
: My profound personal debt to Taiaiake Alfred,
Mohawk Nation and Indigenous scholar-activist, teacher, and warrior, for the inspiration and guidance
he has given me, in my work and in my life since I learned of his work back about ten years ago.
Given that I understand myself to have been an activist for some forty years and something of a
fighter in my time, he has opened new spaces for me. He has inspired me to reflect on what I have
done and can still do towards becoming a warrior, and how I can and should re-think my path and
my dance. In its own way, this book these two books is/are a testament to that.
Let me therefore pay my respect to Taiaiake Alfred by also ending with something by him :
We are each facing modernity’s attempt to conquer our souls. The conquest is happening as
weak, cowardly, stupid, petty, and greedy ways worm their themselves into our lives and take
the place of the beauty, sharing, and harmony that defined life in our communities for previous
generations. Territorial loses and political disempowerment are secondary conquests compared
to the first, spiritual cause of discontent. The challenge is to find a way to regenerate ourselves
and take back our dignity. Then, meaningful change will be possible, and it will be a new
existence, one of possibility, where Onkwehonwe will have the ability to make the kinds of
choices we need to make concerning the quality of our lives and begin to recover a truly
human way of life.
Jai Sen
Ottawa, Canada, on unceded Algonquin territory, and New Delhi, India
March-May 2016
Jai Sen, an architect and urban designer by training and first practice, became an activist around the
rights of the labouring poor in Kolkata, India, in the mid 1970s, and moved on to becoming a student
of the history and dynamics of movement and of the globalisation of movement in the 1990s.
Involved in the organising process of the World Social Forum in India during its first year there, 2002,
he has since then intensively engaged with and taken part in the WSF and world movement through
the organisation he is with, CACIM (Critical Action : Centre in Movement), including as author, editor,
and/or co-editor of several books and articles on the WSF and as moderator of the listserve
WSFDiscuss. While in Kolkata, he was with Unnayan, a social action group, Vice-President of the
Chhinnamul Sramajibi Adhikar Samiti
(‘Organisation for the Rights of Uprooted Labouring People’),
and Convenor of the NCHR (National Campaign for Housing Rights) in India, and represented
Unnayan on the founding Board of the Habitat International Coalition during 1987-91. He is now
based in New Delhi, India, and Ottawa, Canada.
References :
Kolya Abramsky, 2017 ‘Gathering Our Dignified Rage : Building New Autonomous Global Relations
of Production, Livelihood, and Exchange’, in Jai Sen, ed, 2017b – The Movements of Movements, Part
2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Volume 5 in the
Challenging Empires
series. (New Delhi : OpenWord and
Oakland, CA : PM Press)
John Berger, 1977 [1972] Ways of Seeing. London : British Broadcasting Corporation
Tiana Bighorse, 1990 Bighorse the Warrior, ed Noel Bennett. Tucson, AZ : University of Arizona
Break Free Public Trust Work Group, February 2016 Using the Public Trustto frame Break Free
From Fossil Fuels’ Actions : A backgrounder for organizers and participants in ‘Break Free from Fossil
Fuels’’; draft of 11.02.2016. Stored in
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Jeremy Brecher, December 2013b ‘Climate Protection : The New Insurgency’, on TruthOut,
December 28 2013, @
Jeremy Brecher, 2015 Climate Insurgency : A Strategy for Survival. Boulder, CO, and London :
Paradigm Publishers
John Brown Childs, 2003a Transcommunality : From the Politics of Conversion to the Ethics of
Respect. Philadelphia : Temple University Press
John Brown Childs, 2017 ‘Boundary as Bridge’, in Jai Sen, ed, 2017bThe Movements of
Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Volume 5 in the
Challenging Empires
series. (New Delhi :
OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press)
Climate Action Public Trust, nd c.April 2016 – ‘Break Free Proclamation : We Are Here to Defend the
Climate, the Constitution, and the Public Trust’. Stored in
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Possible Worlds’, in Jai Sen, ed, 2017aThe Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us
Move ?. Volume 4 in the
Challenging Empires
series. (New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM
Lee Cormie, 2017b – ‘Another World Is InevitableBut Which Other world ?’. Afterword for Jai Sen,
ed, 2017b – The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Volume 5 in the
Challenging Empires
series. (New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press)
Laurence Cox, 2017 – ‘ ‘Learning to be Loyal to Each Other’ : Conversations, Alliances, and
Arguments in the Movements of Movements’. Afterword for Jai Sen, ed, 2017a The Movements of
Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?. Volume 4 in the
Challenging Empires
series. (New Delhi
: OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press)
Laurence Cox and Alf Gunvald Nilsen, 2014 - We Make Our Own History : Marxism and Social
Movements in the Twilight of Neoliberalism. London : Pluto
André C Drainville, 2012 A History of World Order and Resistance : The making and unmaking of
global subjects. London and New York : Routledge
André C Drainville, 2017 – ‘Beyond
: Anti-Capitalist Dialectic of Presence’, in Jai Sen,
ed, 2017aThe Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?. Volume 4 in the
Challenging Empires
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David Harvie, Keir Milburn, Ben Trott, and David Watts, eds, 2005 Shut Them Down ! The G8,
Gleneagles 2005 and the Movement of Movements. Leeds : Dissent, and Brooklyn, New York :
Autonomedia. Contents available 14.07.10 @
Ahmad Jamal, 1994 - ‘Ahmad’s Blues’, at (accessed
js on 03.04.2016)
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World-System, 19681989’, in Jai Sen, ed, 2017a The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What
Makes Us Move ?. Volume 4 in the
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series. (New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland,
CA : PM Press)
Naomi Klein, 2004 ‘Reclaiming the Commons’, in Tom Mertes, ed, 2004 - A Movement of
Movements : Is another world really possible ? (London : Verso), pp 219-229
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on AlterNet, September 24 2002; @
(accessed js 06.02.2014)
Tomás Mac Sheoin and Nicola Yeates, 2017‘The Anti-Globalisation Movement : Coalition and
Division’, in Jai Sen, ed, 2017b The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance.
Volume 5 in the
Challenging Empires
series. (New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press)
David McNally, 2017‘From the Mountains of Chiapas to the Streets of Seattle : This is What
Democracy Looks Like, in Jai Sen, ed, 2017a The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes
Us Move ?. Volume 4 in the
Challenging Empires
series. (New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA :
PM Press)
Roel Meijer, 2017 – ‘Fighting for Another World : Yusuf Al-‘Uyairi’s Conceptualisation of Praxis and
Permanent Revolution’, in Jai Sen, ed, 2017aThe Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes
Us Move ?. Volume 4 in the
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series. (New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA :
PM Press)
Tom Mertes, ed, 2004 - A Movement of Movements : Is another world really possible ?. London :
Matt Meyer and Oussenia Alidou, 2017 ‘The Power of Words : Reclaiming and Re-Imagining
Revolution and Nonviolence’, in Jai Sen, ed, 2017b – The Movements of Movements, Part 2 :
Rethinking Our Dance. Volume 5 in the
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series. (New Delhi : OpenWord and
Oakland, CA : PM Press)
Thelonius Monk, with John Coltrane, 1957 [1942] ‘Epistrophe’, on Thelonius Monk Trio and John
Coltrane at Carnegie Hall, at (accessed js on
Notes From Nowhere, eds, 2003 - We are Everywhere : The Irresistible Rise of Global Anti-Capitalism.
London / New York : Verso. Online version at,
accessed ea 20.08.09
Michal Osterweil, 2017 ‘ ‘Becoming-Woman ?’ : Between Theory, Practice, and Potentiality’, in Jai
Sen, ed, 2017bThe Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Volume 5 in the
Challenging Empires
series. (New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press)
Shailja Patel, 2017a - ‘What Moves Us’, Proem to Jai Sen, ed, 2017aThe Movements of Movements,
Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?. Volume 4 in the
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and Oakland, CA : PM Press)
Shailja Patel, 2017b – ‘Offerings’, Proem to Jai Sen, ed, 2017b – The Movements of Movements, Part
2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Volume 5 in the
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Oakland, CA : PM Press)
Geoffrey Pleyers, 2010 - Alter-Globalization : Becoming Actors in the Global Age. Foreword by Alain
Touraine. London : Polity Press
Jai Sen, 2017a ‘The Movements of Movements : An Introduction and an Exploration’. Introduction
to Jai Sen, ed, 2017a The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?. Volume 4 in
Challenging Empires
series (New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press)
Jai Sen, 2017c - ‘Break Free ! The Power of Incivility (Part 1), in Jai Sen, ed, 2017bThe Movements
of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Volume 5 in the
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Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press)
Jai Sen, 2017d - ‘Break Free ! The Power of Incivility (Part 2), in Jai Sen, ed, 2017bThe
Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Volume 5 in the
Challenging Empires
series. (New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press)
Jai Sen, ed, 2017aThe Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?. Volume 4 in
Challenging Empires
series (New Delhi : OpenWord, and Oakland CA : PM Press)
Jai Sen, Anita Anand, Arturo Escobar, and Peter Waterman, eds, 2004 World Social Forum :
Challenging Empires. New Delhi : Viveka. Slightly reduced version available @ and @
Jai Sen and Peter Waterman, eds, 2009 World Social Forum : Challenging Empires, updated second
edition, Montréal : Black Rose Books.
Jai Sen and Peter Waterman, eds, 2012 World Social Forum : Critical Explorations
Volume 3 in the
Challenging Empires
series. New Delhi : OpenWord
James Toth, 2017‘Local Islam Gone Global : The Roots of Religious Militancy in Egypt and its
Transnational Transformation’, in Jai Sen, ed, 2017a The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What
Makes Us Move ?. Volume 4 in the
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series. (New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland,
CA : PM Press)
John F C Turner, 1970 ‘Housing as a Verb’, in John F C Turner and Robert Fichter, eds, 1970 -
Freedom to Build. New York : Macmillan
Notes :
Alfred 2005, ‘first words’, p 19.
Abramsky 2017.
The first volume was/is titled The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?, and was
published in [ tbc ] 2017. (Sen, ed, 2017a.)
See the ‘Note on the
Challenging Empires
series’, in this book.
The text in these two paragraphs is based on another document that some of us at CACIM, and people
associated with it, are preparing. I would like to especially acknowledge here Matt Meyer, a friend and comrade
in struggle and also a contributor to this book (Meyer and Alidou 2017), for his contributions to thoughts and
projects we are trying to develop and articulate at CACIM.
For those interested, see also the Annexure in Part 1 where I put forward some personal reflections on the
process of composing the two books, as pieces, or movements, within a larger piece of music. Ed, March 22
2017 : I subsequently decided to omit this essay from the book.
Sen 2017a.
As in the first book, I use the term ‘settler’ here as it is used in certain but not all contexts of colonisation, as
referring to those who come later to a land and ‘settle’ in and on it, usually in the first some waves displacing
and sometimes decimating the indigenous populations that had lived there for hundreds and sometimes
thousands of years prior. See
This historical situation has however become a lot more complicated over the past century or so in structural
terms, and all the more during the post-colonial period from the 1950s onwards and then since the 1980s and
the ravages of neoliberalism, where structurally oppressed and often internally colonised peoples from other
parts of the world, such as refugees, have in certain contexts become the major immigrants. And where the
second generation the children - of such immigrants are today asking themselves, can, and should, they also
be categorised together with the original colonisers - as ‘settlers’ ? Is that how they see themselves ? And most
importantly, how should they relate with the indigenous peoples of their new home ?
(For an example of such reflection, see ‘South Asians in Solidarity with Idle No More’, @
For details on the contributors to this ebook, see ‘Notes on the Contributors’.
Cox and Nilsen 2014.
Cox 2017. For the teacher that Laurence is, see and;
and for the open-access, activist/academic social movements journal Interface that he is one of the guiding sprits
for, see
Alfred and Corntassel 2017; for his larger body of work, see Alfred 2005.
Cormie 2017a.
Cormie 2017b, but with a minor note : “…across both the two Parts of this two-part book” except my essay
(appearing in this book as Sen 2017c and 2017d), where he had access only to a rough prefinal draft.
And with Part 1, What Makes Us Move ?, due out in [ tbc ] 2016.
Abramsky 2017.
Kolya Abramsky, personal correspondence, March 1 2016.
See : CACIM, with ABN - African Biodiversity Network, Climate SOS, GGJ - Grassroots Global Justice Alliance,
IEN - Indigenous Environmental Network, and NFFPFW - National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers,
January 2011.
For a list of titles, see ‘A Note on the
Challenging Empires
Series’, in this book.
If you are interested in doing so, please get in touch with me at along with an outline of
what you would like to do and with details of what you do and of where you are located (place, and movements
/ organisations / institutions, if any).
For your information, we already at the time of writing have some initial commitments for some
conferences, and we are looking forward to this number increasing as the word spreads. As the project
materialises, and events and processes are defined, we will be posting information on our website at CACIM.
This section is an edited extract from Sections IV and V of my Introduction to Part 1 (Sen 2017a). While the
two books are companion volumes, they are being published as independent volumes and so it makes sense to
also have here what is common, and fundamental, to both. If you happen to have read the other Introduction,
then you can afford to skip this section !
Naomi Klein perhaps first used this term in 2002; see Naomi Klein interviewed by Michelle Chihara for AlterNet,
September 2002. For more discussion of the movement as it emerged, and/or the use of the term, see Harvie,
Milburn, Trott, and Watts, eds, 2005; Klein 2004; Mertes, ed, 2004; Notes From Nowhere, eds, 2003; Pleyers,
2010; and for a very different take on the phenomenon, Drainville 2012, and also André Drainville’s essay in this
book (Drainville 2017).
I would like to warmly acknowledge here my introduction to this conceptual shift, first by reading the seminal
work of John Turner on housing back in the 1970s, and then by the great privilege of getting to know John and
of working closely with him, through to the early 80s. In particular, see John F C Turner, 1970 - ‘Housing as a
This shift that I made in how to see things was also greatly liberated, and further inspired, by the equally
seminal work of John Berger, for instance his book Ways of Seeing (Berger, 1977 [1972]).
Indeed, if we for instance look at the essay in this book by Tomás Mac Sheoin and Nicola Yeates, they argue
that “Overall, then, there is no one unitary AGM to be described, and diversity is the essence of the AGM. It is
highly diverse in composition, organisational features, targets, and tactics; it expresses itself at local, national,
regional, and global levels in very different ways”; and that even in the case of the ‘AGM’ itself, “the AGM has
been able to maintain its unity through inclusiveness” and that “the development of what della Porta calls
‘tolerant identities’ : “The self-definition as a ‘movement of movements’ … emphasises the positive aspects of
heterogen[eity]”.” (Mac Sheoin and Yeates 2017.)
Kalouche and Mielants 2017; McNally 2017; and Cormie 2017a.
Though I use this phrase here in this Introduction, I remain uncomfortable with it for obvious enough reasons;
see the opening sections of the essay in the companion volume to this book by Roel Meijer, for a rich discussion
of this world of movement (Meijer 2017), and the essay by James Toth on the rise and globalisation of the
Muslim Brotherhood (Toth 2017).
As above, for information on the
Challenging Empires
series see the Note in this book from the original
publisher, OpenWord, ‘A Note on the
Challenging Empires
I discuss our book project in more detail in my Introduction to the book before this in the
Challenging Empires
series, World Social Forum : Critical Explorations. See Sen 2012b. This section again draws on that material.
Sen, Anand, Escobar, and Waterman, eds, 2004, and Sen and Waterman, eds, 2009.
Sen 2017a.
“The Tunisian Revolution, also known as the Jasmine Revolution, was an intensive campaign of civil resistance,
including a series of street demonstrations taking place in Tunisia. The events began on 18 December 2010 and
led to the ousting of longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.” For one summary, see
As mentioned above, this came out in 2012 as World Social Forum : Critical Explorations (Sen and Waterman,
eds, 2012).
Even though we didn't manage to include an essay specifically on this movement, we are privileged to have an
essay within this book that gives some of that history and comments on its contemporary form. For a critical
view on current resonance of the Naxalite movement, see the essay by Roma and Ashok Choudhary (Roma and
Choudhary 2017).
Bighorse 1990, as cited in Alfred 2005, p 39.
Alfred 2005, p 27. Emphases in original
Holloway 2017; Osterweil 2017.
Provisionally titled A Book In and On Movement : Some Reflections on the Idea and Composition of this Book’,
I finally decided to not include this in the book as published
Nunes 2017b.
Cormie 2017b.
Jamal 1994.
Monk, with Coltrane, 1957 [1941].
Brecher 2013b, 2015.
Climate Action Public Trust, nd c.April 2016; Break Free Public Trust Work Group, February 2016.
For a rich discussion of the principles underlying the new formulation, see Brecher 2015.
Sen, 2017c and 2017d.
Patel 2017a.
Patel 2017b.
Cormie 2017b, Cox 2017.
For those interested in having a full background to these books, please take a look at the Introduction to Part
1 (Sen 2017a).
Cox 2017.
Childs 2003a. See also his related essay in this book (Childs 2017).
Meyer and Alidou 2017.
In the subtitle of this book; in the Acknowledgements and Credits; here, in this Introduction; and in my own
essay in this book.
Alfred 2005, p 38.