Anarchism in the Web of

Transnational Social Movements

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PLza8XDUmSk/T3SsDDiq-6I/AAAAAAAAACU/JByJUpTRjEA/s1600/600px-Anarchy-symbol.svg.png

Christopher Chase-Dunn, Joel Herrera, John Aldecoa,

Ian Breckenridge-Jackson and Nicolas Pascal

For presentation at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Atlanta, Georgia, March 19, 2016. SC73: Anarchist Perspectives on the Capitalist World Economy

 

Institute for Research on World-Systems

University of California-Riverside

Draft 3-12-16; 8307 words

 

This is IROWS Working Paper #107 available at http://irows.ucr.edu/papers/irows107/irows107.htm

 

 

 

Abstract: Anarchists and anarchism have played a visible role in global civil society since the 19th century and in the New Global Left since it began to emerge in the 1990s.  Horizontalism and social libertarianism have been central components of the World Revolution of 20xx, and were important aspects of the world revolutions of 1968 and 1989.  Self-professed anarchists have participated in the Social Forum process at the global, national and local levels and have had an important influence on the emerging character of the contemporary world revolution. We use surveys taken at a succession of Social Forum gatherings to examine how self-identified anarchist activists are similar to, or different from, the other attendees at these events and to investigate the links that this movement theme has with other social movements. We note that some anarchist ideas are more important in the discourse of the New Global Left than would be suggested by the number of activists who say they are anarchists.  We find that self-identified anarchists are more radical, younger, more likely to be males and more likely to see the local terrain of struggle as more important than national or global terrains in comparison with other attendees at Social Forum events.

 

Anarchists and anarchist ideas have been important elements of the New Global Left and the current world revolution since the Zapatista rebellion in Southern Mexico against the neoliberal North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994.The World Social Forum process has been an important venue for the formation of a New Global Left since 2001 (Santos 2006; Reitan 2007; Smith et al. 2014). The founding of the World Social Forum in 2001 was a reaction to the exclusivity of the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland since 1971. The emergence of the World Social Forum signaled the coming together of a movement of movements focused on issues of global justice and sustainability. The social forum process has since spread to all the regions of the world. [1]

The Transnational Social Movement Research Working Group at the University of California-Riverside[2] began conducting paper surveys of the attendees at Social Forum meetings at the world-level meeting held in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2005. Similar surveys were mounted at the United States Social Forum held in Atlanta, Georgia in 2007, the world-level Social Forum held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2007 and the U.S. Social Forum meeting held in Detroit, Michigan in 2010. The surveys included questions on demographic characteristics, levels of activism, political attitudes and involvement in a long list of movement themes[3] (Chase-Dunn et al. 2007 Coyne et al. 2010; Reese et al., 2008, 2012). In this article we use the Social Forum survey data to examine the ways in which Social Forum attendees who claim to be actively involved in anarchism are similar or different from other attendees and from other attendees who also are actively involved in other movements.  We also use our survey data to examine the connections that anarchists have with other social movements based on their assertion of active involvement in other movements.

Anarchism in the geoculture and in the New Global Left

          Individualism and personal liberty have a long and complicated history. Many foraging (hunter-gatherer) societies make it the responsibility of each person to find particular spiritual allies and to cultivate a personal relationship with these allies so that they may be called upon to provide power and medicine when needed. But this kind of foraging individualism is embedded in a kin-based mode of production in which individual persons are understood to be importantly linked and co-dependent upon nature and other family members. These small-scale societies highly value egalitarianism and the autonomy of rather small polities (Flannery and Marcus 2012; Bettinger 2015; Scott 2009). The emergence of complex and hierarchical societies produces a new kind of individualism beginning with the allegedly unique qualities of chiefs and kings, and eventuating in the idea that each human is a unique being that is endowed with important rights [little gods as John W. Meyer (2006: xxx) puts it.] Taoism in ancient China asserted the individual’s right to contravene all social institutions in pursuit of harmony with the force (Bender 1983). But Taoism is very different from those versions of modern anarchism that demand heroic action. Bringing the self into harmony with the force proscribes heroic action (Raphals 2001).

 Human rights emerged with the appearance of confessional world religions in the Iron Age with the focus on each individual’s personal relationship with god.  Secular humanism and modern citizenship are extensions of this idea of a powerfully constituted unique person with great capabilities and responsibilities.  Anarchism as an explicit political ideology emerged in the context of the English revolution, employing a philosophy of radical Protestantism. Gerard Winstanley and the True Levelers challenged property rights and the authority of both the king and parliament. This kind of radical egalitarianism in religious contestation had been a recurrent theme in Europe since medieval times (Cohn 1957).

            Thus anarchist ideas are very old and something reproduces them so that they reemerge again and again in somewhat different forms. Some think that human biological nature is inherently individualistic, (e.g. Turner and Maryanski 2008) whereas others see a dynamic in which all forms of hierarchy and authority produce reactions against themselves that legitimate a strong desire for autonomy and the assertion that individual persons are capable of deciding important issues for themselves.  It is our observation that, despite the fact that anarchists conceive of themselves, and are perceived by others, to be oppositional figures within an emerging global culture, their actions and ideas are importantly sanctified and reproduced by global culture itself.  The modern moral order sanctifies radical individualism in profound ways. It is now commonly believed that each individual has the right and obligation to construct a unique sexual and gender identity rather than allowing the larger moral order to assign conventional gender roles.  Not everyone agrees that this is a good thing, but many think that the old authorities should not be allowed to interfere with a person’s rights and duties with regard to identity construction.[4]

            But anarchism is not just reproduced in every generation.  Its significance in the
World Revolution[5] of 20xx is much greater than the number of activists who identify as anarchists or who are actively involved in anarchist movements.  So this radical form of individual autonomy has great appeal in the context of a powerful modernity that legitimates individualism.

Robert Schaeffer (2014) notes that social movements have learned from Roberto Michels’s analysis of the oligarchical tendencies of political parties. The social movement literature has long observed that most movements go through a life cycle in which they begin as inchoate, spontaneous and unorganized mass movements and then turn into more institutionalized organizations. When they get to the organizational phase they often become more interested in the survival of the organization than in the pursuit of the original goals of the movement. This observation has been confirmed by the observation of what happened to the movements of the 19th and 20th centuries, and social movement activists have devised methods for trying to prevent the oligarchical tendencies. Mao Zedong mobilized the Red Guards against the Chinese Communist Party to try to prevent the restoration of capitalism in China (unsuccessfully). Anarchists abjure participation in electoral politics and devise methods for direct democracy such as those developed by the Occupy Movement. They also abjure hierarchical organizational structures and prescribe horizontalism. The autonomists in Europe abjure support from formal governments and advocate independence from official resources. The Zapatistas in Southern Mexico refuse to participate in Mexican electoral politics. The anti-statist ideas that were proclaimed by the New Left in the world revolution of 1968 have found broad support in the global justice movement. And the debacle of Syriza in Greece reinforces the idea that involvement in electoral politics leads to the sacrifice of radical alternatives to institutionalized structures.

            Schaeffer (2014) also contends that social movements that use violent tactics are less likely to be supported by women.  The World Social Forum Charter proscribes movements that advocate armed struggle from sending representatives. There has been a shift away from violent tactics in the New Global Left after the terrorist antics of some leftist groups in the 1970s. And anarchists, who used to advocate “propaganda of the deed,” have generally moved away from assassination in the direction of property destruction. The debate about tactics was heated in some locations of the Occupy Movement, especially Oakland, California, but the direction has generally been toward non-violent forms of confrontation.  Beheadings and suicide bombings are left to the radical Islamists.  Dana Williams (2016) notes that anarchists often display a greater degree of hypermasculinity than other movements, and our survey results show that anarchists are significantly more likely to be male (58.0%) than the other movements (42.3%).  The reputation of the Black Bloc would seem to confirm this, but the stress on property destruction rather than injury to people implies that the anarchists are part of the larger trend on the left away from violence as a tactic.

And anarchism does not suffer as much as socialism and communism do from the perceived heritage of what happened in the 20th century. Socialists were major agents of the construction of the welfare state in the core, and Communists took state power in the semiperiphery. Anarchists do not bear the brunt of the perceived failures of the 20th century to the same extent as Socialists and Communists do.  This allows them to plausibly claim that their political formulae have not yet failed because they have not yet really been tried, except in small and little known contexts.  Important anarchist political principles include participatory democracy, delegation instead of representation, consensual decision-making, and refusal to participate in electoral politics and other institutionalized political mechanisms. Anarchists believe that formalized states with legal and coercive powers over people are bad and unnecessary.  As a matter of principle, they do not participate in state institutions. Of course, there are many different kinds of anarchism, and the history of anarchist movements, though a global history, differs greatly from place to place and has diverse meanings for contemporary political activists. Nevertheless the responses we got in the four different survey venues are generally consistent with one another.[6]

Who are the anarchist activists in the Social Forum Process?

We have used survey responses from the four Social Forum meetings at which surveys were mounted to see how many attendees identified themselves as either strongly identified with, or actively involved in, anarchism. We also looked to see whether or not anarchist activists were similar to, or different from, other attendees regarding demographic characteristics and attitudes toward political issues.[7] The survey question was worded as follows:

Check all of the following movements with which you:

(a) strongly identify                (b) are actively involved in:

In the Porto Alegre 2005 survey this was followed by a list of 18 movement themes, including “Anarchist.” In the other surveys the list included 27 movement themes.

 

Porto Alegre 2005

Nairobi 2007

Atlanta 2007

Detroit 2010

All

Strongly identify with anarchism

66 (11.7%)

23 (5.5%)

77 (14.7%)

121 (25.9%)

287 (14.5%)

Actively involved in anarchism

20 (3.6%)

6 (1.4%)

41(7.8%)

46 (9.8%)

113 (5.7%)

Total  Number of Attendees surveyed

563

422

524

468

1977

 

Table 1: Anarchism and activism in the Social Forum Process

Table 1 shows the numbers and percentages of those who identified themselves as identifying with, or being actively involved in, anarchism at each of the four venues.

 A number of important observations are implied by the findings in Table 1. Each of the surveys included around 500 respondents, but we are not entirely sure how representative our samples were of all the people who attended the Social Forum meetings and so we are not sure how well we can generalize to the whole group of attendees. A truly random sample would have required a complete list of participants, which we did not have. In order improve the representativeness of the sample, the surveys were distributed at a variety of locations where people congregated at each meeting (e.g. registration lines, workshops, food stalls, etc.). Combining the results from all of the surveys increases the number of respondents to 1977, which is useful for this study because we are examining a group that is small minority among the whole sample of attendees. There are difficulties involved in combining the results from the different surveys because in some cases the wording of questions was somewhat different, and also because anarchism may not have a uniform global meaning. It very likely means something different in Brazil and Kenya from what it means in the United States.  And self-identified anarchists who chose to participate in Social Fora may differ in motivation and orientation in different regions of the world. Our surveys were done in the major languages that were used at the different venues (English, Portuguese, Spanish, French and Swahili).

            Table 1 shows that only a small proportion of respondents report active involvement in anarchist movements—about 6% across all four meetings. These proportions are especially small in the global meetings where only 3.6% and 1.4% of respondents said they were actively involved anarchists (Porto Alegre and Nairobi, respectively). Although still small, there were proportionately more anarchists at the U.S. Social Forum, where close to 8% and 10% of respondents at the Atlanta and Detroit meetings, respectively, were actively involved in anarchism. Table 1 also shows that there were proportionately more attendees who say they strongly identify with anarchism than who say they are actively involved in anarchism – from twice to three times as many. Comparing rows 2 and 3 shows the large drop-off from “strongly identify” to “actively involved”. We have found this same large drop-off for all social movement themes in all of our surveys (e.g. Chase-Dunn and Kaneshiro 2009). It is not unique to the anarchist movement. It means that attendees take seriously the difference between sympathizing with a movement and actually doing work for that movement.

            Table 1 also shows that more than one fourth (26%) of the surveyed attendees in Detroit say they strongly identify as anarchists.  And the percentage that says they are actively involved was higher than at any of the other venues (9.8%) including Atlanta.  We are not sure why there were proportionately more anarchists at the Detroit meeting, but it might have to do with the increasing radicalism after the financial crisis of 2008.

The following tables compare, across the four venues, actively involved anarchists with all other attendees and with all other attendees who were also actively involved in at least one of the other social movement themes. We include other “actively involved” because some of our findings imply greater radicalism on the part of the anarchists activists, but we want to know if this is related to the focus on anarchism, or is just a feature of all those who are actively involved. It is generally known from social movement research that higher participation by individuals is related to greater concern and we suspect that this may also be related to greater radicalism.

Similarities and Differences between anarchists and other attendees at the Social Fora

AGE

 

Total

Not actively involved

Actively involved (any)

Anarchist

 

17 and under

 

3

19

2

24

 

1%

2%

2%

2%

18 - 25

 

88

245

46

379

 

36%1

24%

53%1

28%

26 - 35

 

54

251

26

331

 

22%

25%

30%

25%

36 - 45

 

42

147

8

197

 

17%

15%

9%

15%

46 - 55

 

28

148

3

179

 

11%

15%

3%

13%

56 - 65

 

26

130

1

157

 

11%

13%

1%2

12%2

65 and over

 

3

59

1

63

 

1%

6%

1%

5%

Total

 

244

999

87

1330

1Z-value: 18-25 anarchists vs total --- (z= 4.81, p< .001) ***

2Z-value:            56-65 anarchists vs total --- (-3.06, p< .001) ***

Table 2: Age composition of anarchists at the Social Fora

Anarchist activists are significantly younger than other activists and than the whole sample of attendees.  Fifty-three percent of the anarchist activists are in the 18 to 25 year age group, whereas only 38% of the attendees are in that group. And whereas 12% of the attendees were between 56 and 65 years old, only 1% of the anarchist activists are that old.

            We also found that much less likely to be religious than other attendees and that they are more than twice as likely to say that they are radicals than the other activists. And as we mentioned above, more of the anarchists activist are male than are the other activists (58% vs. 42% (sig. P<.05).

            Table 2 shows the racial/ethnic composition of the actively involved anarchists compared with the racial/ethnic breakdown of the other Social Fora attendees.[8]

 

 

Porto Alegre 2005

Nairobi 2007

Atlanta 2007

Detroit 2010

All

Actively involved in anarchism

White or Caucasian

6 (33%)

0 (0.0%)

25 (66%)

23 (60%)

54 (54%)1

Black, African

2 (11%)

4 (68%)

1 (3%)

1 (3%)

8 (8%)2

Latina/o

3 (17%)

1 (17%)

4 (10%)

5 (13%)

13 (13%)

Mixed or multi-ethnic/racial

3 (17%)

1 (17%)

6 (16%)

3 (8%)

13 (13%)

Arab/Arabic/Middle Eastern

0 (0.0%)

0 (0.0%)

0 (0.0%)

0 (0.0%)

0 (0.0%)

Asian

0 (0.0%)

0 (0.0%)

0 (0.0%)

4 (10%)

4 (4%)

Indigenous

1 (6%)

0 (0.0%)

1 (3%)

1 (3%)

3 (3%)

Other

3 (17%)

0 (0.0%)

1 (3%)

1 (3%)

5 (5%)

Total

18 (18%)

6 (6.0%)

38 (38%)

38 (38%)

100 (100%)

NOT actively involved in anarchism

White or Caucasian

147 (39.8%)

94 (33.0%)

193 (50.5%)

181 (54.2%)

615 (44.9%)1

Black, African

54 (15%)

117 (41%)

51 (13%)

33 (10%)

255 (18.6%)2

Latina/o

23 (6%)

10 (3%)

53 (14%)

51 (15%)

137 (10%)

Mixed or multi-ethnic/racial

33 (9%)

10 (3%)

38 (10%)

34 (10%)

115 (8%)

Arab/Arabic/Middle Eastern

3 (1%)

6 (2%)

7 (2%)

3 (1%)

19 (1%)

Asian

25 (7%)

30 (10%)

17 (4%)

17 (5%)

89 (6%)

Indigenous

7 (2%)

9 (3%)

2 (0.5%)

3 (1%)

21 (1%)

Other

77 (21%)

9 (3%)

21 (5%)

12 (4%)

119 (8%)

Total

369 (27%)

285 (21%)

382 (28%)

334 (24%)

1370 (100%)

Strongly identify with anarchism

White or Caucasian

17 (39%)

5 (31%)

42 (65%)

50 (62%)

114 (56%)

Black, African

6 (14%)

8 (50%)

2 (3%)

7 (9%)

23 (11%)

Latina/o

3 (7%)

0 (0.0%)

6 (9%)

10 (12%)

19 (9%)

Mixed or multi-ethnic/racial

3 (7%)

0 (0.0%)

7 (11%)

7 (9%)

17 (8%)

Arab/Arabic/Middle Eastern

0 (0.0%)

1 (6%)

0 (0.0%)

1 (1%)

2 (1%)

Asian

4 (9%)

1 (6%)

1 (1%)

2 (2%)

8 (4%)

Indigenous

1 (2%)

1 (6%)

1 (1%)

1 (1%)

4 (2%)

Other

10 (23%)

0 (0.0%)

6 (9%)

2 (2%)

18 (9%)

Total

44 (21%)

16 (8%)

65 (32%)

80 (39%)

205 (100%)

 

1: z=2.05, p< .05; 2: z= -3.11, p< .001

 

Table 3: Racial/ethnic composition of anarchists at the Social Fora

The majority of anarchist both actively involved and strongly identified anarchists in our entire combined sample identify as white (54% and 55%), which is considerably larger than the proportion of whites that are not actively involved anarchists (44%).  This difference also holds for the Atlanta and Detroit surveys, but not for the Porto Alegre or Nairobi surveys.  So whiteness is related to anarchism in the U.S. but not at the global meetings. In the combined sample actively involved anarchists are less likely to be black (8% versus 18.6%) and so are strongly identified anarchists (11.2% vs. 18.6%) and this difference holds for Atlanta, Detroit and Porto Alegre, but not for Nairobi.  In Nairobi both the actively involved and the strongly identified anarchists were more likely to be black and less likely to be white.  The next two largest racial/ethnic groups are Latinos and mixed-race persons—both at 13%. Both are slightly overrepresented in comparison to non-anarchists and strongly identified anarchists but these differences are not statistically significant. 

            We also found that more anarchists say they are working class (38%) than other activists (27%), and more anarchists claim that they are lower class (20%) than do other activists (10%).

 

 

Table 4 Attitude toward capitalism
Do you think we need to reform capitalism or abolish it?

Non-activist

Activist

Anarchist

All

Reform it

179 (56%)

558 (41%)

19 (18%)

756 (42%)

Abolish  it

105 (33%)

726 (53%)2

81 (76%)1, 2

912 (51%)1

Neither

35 (11%)

80 (6%)

6 (6%)

121 (7%)

Total

319

1364

106

1789

1Z-value: 5.088***

2Z-value: 4.624***

*p < .05 (two-tail), **p < .01 (two-tail), ***p < .001 (two-tail)

            The results in Table 4 suggest that anarchists are radically anti-capitalist in comparison to other activists as well as non-activists. Fewer anarchists want to reform capitalism, and three-fourths of the anarchists think capitalism should be abolished only one half of the other actively involved and one third of the non-activists want to abolish capitalism. Z-tests show that these differences are statistically significant.  

 

Table 5 Attitude toward the World Bank

In the long run, what do you think should be done about these existing global institutions: World Bank

Non-activist

Activist

Anarchist

All

Reform

110 (52%)

322 (34%)

7 (8%)

439 (35%)

Replace

30 (14%)

204 (21%)

19 (23%)

253 (20%)

Abolish

58 (27%)

406 (42%)2

54 (66%)1, 2

518 (41%)1

Do Nothing

14 (7%)

27 (3%)

2 (2%)

43 (3%)

Total

212

959

82

1253

Notes: This table does not include respondents at the Porto Alegre meeting.

1Z-value: 4.362***

2Z-value: 4.131***

*p < .05 (two-tail), **p < .01 (two-tail), ***p < .001 (two-tail)

Table 5 shows the pattern of responses to a question about global institutions, specifically the World Bank. The Porto Alegre survey is not included because this question was not asked in a way that clearly separated the World Bank from the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations in the Porto Alegre survey. The results in Table 4 indicate that 66% of the actively involved anarchists are in favor of abolishing the World Bank, whereas only 42% of the activists in other movements want to abolish the World Bank.  The differences between these proportions and between anarchists and the overall sample are statistically significant. The same differences were found in response to questions about the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization.

Table 6 Attitude toward the United Nations

In the long run, what do you think should be done about these existing global institutions: United Nations

Non-activist

Activist

Anarchist

All

Reform

158 (74%)

713 (76%)

37 (46%)

908 (74%)

Replace

17 (8%)

122 (13%)

19 (23%)

158 (13%)

Abolish

14 (7%)

57 (6%)2

24 (30%)1, 2

95(8%)1

Do Nothing

23 (11%)

49 (5%)

1 (1%)

73 (6)%

Total

212

941

81

1234

Notes: This table does not include respondents at the Porto Alegre meeting.

1Z-value: xxxxxx

2Z-value: xxxxxx

*p < .05 (two-tail), **p < .01 (two-tail), ***p < .001 (two-tail)

 

A similar pattern is found in responses to a question about the United Nations, but there is also interesting difference. As with the other international institutions discussed about, anarchists are more likely than other attendees to favor abolition and less likely to favor reform.  But in comparison with the other international institutions (the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization) anarchists are much more supportive of the United Nations. Only 30% of the actively involved anarchists want to abolish the U.N. whereas 66% want to abolish the World Bank.

 

Table 7 Democratic World Government

Do you think it is a good or bad idea to have a democratic world government?

Non-activist

Activist

Anarchist

All

Good idea and plausible

126 (39.7%)

497 (38.8%)

32 (33%)

655 (38.6%)

Good idea but not plausible

106 (33.4%)

450 (35.1%)2

17 (17.5%)1, 2

573 (33.8%)1

Bad idea

85 (26.8%)

334 (26.1%)4

48 (49.5%)3, 4

467 (27.6%)3

Total

317

1281

97

1695

1Z-value: -1.104

2Z-value: -1.133

3Z-value: 4.566***

4Z-value: 4.893***

*p < .05 (two-tail), **p < .01 (two-tail), ***p < .001 (two-tail)

The surveys also asked Social Fora attendees about their attitude toward the idea of a democratic world government. Table 7 shows that anarchist activists are more likely to think that a democratic world government is a bad than those who are not involved in anarchist movements and this is not related to active involvement in general. These differences are statistically significant.

Table 8 Best Level for Solving Problems

Out of the following, which level is most important for solving the majority of contemporary problems?

Non-activist

Activist

Anarchist

All

Communities/sub-national

177 (59%)

730 (59.1%)

76 (78%)

983 (60.2%)

Nation-states

27 (9%)

126 (10.2%)

4 (4%)

157 (9.6%)

International/global

96 (32%)

380 (30.7%)

17 (18%)

493 (30.2%)

Total

300

1236

97

1633

1Z-value: 3.495***

2Z-value:  3.666***

*p < .05 (two-tail), **p < .01 (two-tail), ***p < .001 (two-tail)

The surveys also asked about which level is most important for solving the majority of contemporary problems: communities, nation-states, or international/global. Table 8 shows that 78 percent of anarchist activists indicated that the community level is most important and this percentage was higher than for those who were actively involved in other movement themes (59.1%). The differences in proportions are statistically significant according to the z-test.

 

Table 9 Global Social Movement?

Do you consider yourself to be a part of a global social movement?

Non-activist

Activist

Anarchist

All

No

88 (38.3%)

141 (14.2%)

7 (7.6%)

236 (18%)

Yes

142 (61.7%)

851 (85.8%)2

85 (92.4%)1, 2

1078 (82%)1

Total

230

992

92

1314

Notes: This table does not include respondents at the Porto Alegre meeting.

1Z-value: 2.6141**

2Z-value: 1.8092

But the local focus indicated by the results in Table 8 is somewhat contradicted by the results in Table 9. The surveys asked attendees whether or not they think of themselves as involved in global social movement. Ninety-two per cent of the anarchist activists said yes, and this was a higher percentage than those that were actively involved in other movement themes and with the total sample. The difference between anarchists and other activists is not statistically significant according to the z-tests reported in Table 9, but the difference between anarchists and the total sample is.

 

The connections that anarchist activists have with other social movements

Social movement organizations may be integrated both informally and formally. At the formal level, organizations may provide legitimacy and support to one another, and strategically collaborate in joint action. Informally, they are connected by the choices of individuals who are active participants in more than one movement. Such informal linkages enable learning and influence to pass among movement organizations, even when there may be limited official interaction or leadership coordination.  The extent of formal cooperation among movements within “the movement of movements” both causes and reflects the informal connections. In the analysis below we assess the extent and patterns of informal linkages among social movement themes based on the responses we got from our four surveys of attendees at the four Social Fora meetings we studied.


 

 

 

 

 

Media

Anarchist

Anticorp

AntiGlob

AltGlob

HmnRights

Comm

Env

FairTrade

Food

Queer

HealthHIV

Indigenous

Labor

NatLib

Peace

Socialist

Feminist

AntiRacism

Autonomist

Devaid

IPR

Housing

JoblessWrk

Migrant

Religious

Land Ref.

Media

271

38

86

79

86

116

19

103

107

81

53

67

52

62

32

112

44

85

121

43

56

40

51

42

75

42

33

Anarchist

38

93

56

51

31

40

14

44

40

29

31

27

22

32

14

38

10

37

49

33

20

17

34

18

34

11

21

Anticorp

86

56

212

128

91

109

22

106

117

80

53

53

51

78

31

114

46

86

126

43

46

30

51

43

79

31

36

AntiGlob

79

51

128

233

98

118

30

105

108

81

40

60

49

72

28

108

53

85

126

45

51

26

50

38

86

33

47

AltGlob

86

31

91

98

270

147

20

118

142

99

54

62

60

70

36

118

53

88

108

37

74

35

51

48

88

42

41

HmnRight

116

40

109

118

147

421

32

165

178

116

77

118

88

113

57

202

76

150

197

41

87

36

105

91

156

76

63

Comm

19

14

22

30

20

32

82

23

23

18

17

23

13

36

16

32

39

31

35

16

19

9

18

18

24

10

13

Env

103

44

106

105

118

165

23

360

164

138

76

99

72

75

36

163

56

127

146

36

94

48

72

62

91

56

52

FairTrade

107

40

117

108

142

178

23

164

354

146

64

85

68

96

47

172

64

120

149

41

89

39

71

65

116

58

57

Food

81

29

80

81

99

116

18

138

146

238

59

63

49

62

31

102

46

85

96

29

62

38

52

49

68

39

57

Queer

53

31

53

40

54

77

17

76

64

59

159

50

44

45

24

70

25

83

75

20

37

25

43

42

61

31

32

HlthHIV

67

27

53

60

62

118

23

99

85

63

50

233

40

52

28

90

47

109

112

32

58

27

60

58

71

52

38

Indig

52

22

51

49

60

88

13

72

68

49

44

40

128

39

30

72

26

62

68

22

41

32

42

34

62

30

46

Labor

62

32

78

72

70

113

36

75

96

62

45

52

39

235

31

99

76

91

101

31

47

27

55

73

98

34

35

NatLib

32

14

31

28

36

57

16

36

47

31

24

28

30

31

75

46

32

27

46

21

25

20

30

28

33

23

27

Peace

112

38

114

108

118

202

32

163

172

102

70

90

72

99

46

362

78

131

164

38

72

42

77

68

122

78

61

Socialist

44

10

46

53

53

76

39

56

64

46

25

47

26

76

32

78

154

63

67

20

33

21

31

43

54

27

28

Feminist

85

37

86

85

88

150

31

127

120

85

83

109

62

91

27

131

63

308

147

36

59

35

68

62

105

54

46

Antirace

121

49

126

126

108

197

35

146

149

96

75

112

68

101

46

164

67

147

383

54

74

29

84

77

133

60

47

Autonomist

43

33

43

45

37

41

16

36

41

29

20

32

22

31

21

38

20

36

54

95

24

19

29

26

36

13

22

Devaid

56

20

46

51

74

87

19

94

89

62

37

58

41

47

25

72

33

59

74

24

189

29

45

47

59

37

33

IPR

40

17

30

26

35

36

9

48

39

38

25

27

32

27

20

42

21

35

29

19

29

76

26

21

25

23

33

Housing

51

34

51

50

51

105

18

72

71

52

43

60

42

55

30

77

31

68

84

29

45

26

160

60

64

33

48

Jobleswrk

42

18

43

38

48

91

18

62

65

49

42

58

34

73

28

68

43

62

77

26

47

21

60

141

64

33

34

Migrant

75

34

79

86

88

156

24

91

116

68

61

71

62

98

33

122

54

105

133

36

59

25

64

64

264

40

51

Religious

42

11

31

33

42

76

10

56

58

39

31

52

30

34

23

78

27

54

60

13

37

23

33

33

40

163

27

LandRefor

33

21

36

47

41

63

13

52

57

57

32

38

46

35

27

61

28

46

47

22

33

33

48

34

51

27

106

Overlap

1725

791

1792

1795

1897

2754

570

2327

2426

1775

1231

1581

1214

1630

799

2469

1158

2072

2491

807

1318

752

1350

1244

1895

993

1028

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Descriptive Statistics

Mean = 59.664

Minimum = 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Std Dev = 36.530

Maximum = 202

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variance = 1334.457

Number of Observations = 702

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 10: Affiliation matrix of movement links: the number of affiliations based on active involvement in 27 movement themes from the Social Fora surveys in Nairobi, Atlanta and Detroit


 

The Porto Alegre survey included eighteen movement themes and combined human rights with anti-racism. This original list of movements was created based on previous studies of global justice movements (Starr 2000; Fisher and Ponniah 2003) and our surmises about which movements would be represented at the Porto Alegre event. The Nairobi, Atlanta and Detroit surveys included a longer list of 27 movement themes and separated human rights from anti-racism. Some of the network analyses that follow use all four surveys. In order to make the later surveys comparable with Porto Alegre we combined human rights with antiracism and used only the 18 movement themes that were on the Porto Alegre survey. But for some analyses we drop Porto Alegre and use the longer list of 27 movement themes.[9]

Table 10 does not include the Porto Alegre survey because we want to see how anarchism is related to the longer list of movement themes and to separate human rights from anti-racism. This is the affiliation matrix for the combination of responses from the Nairobi, Atlanta and Detroit surveys. The affiliation matrix displays all the instances in which respondents chose two or more movement themes as ones in which they were actively involved. As we found in our earlier studies, the affiliation matrix shows that all of the movement themes are connected with all of the other movement themes by a least some overlaps. There are no zeros. This is the structure of a multicentric network that does not contain separate factions. The smallest number in Table 8 is 9, which ironically is the intersection between Communist and Open Source/Intellectual Property Rights. The central diagonal shows the total number of respondents who indicated active involvement in each movement theme.  So for anarchism there were 93 attendees who indicated that they were actively involved.

The numbers on the second row in Table 10 show the overlaps between anarchist activists and the other movement themes. The movement theme with the least overlaps with anarchist activism is socialism (10). The movement theme with the largest number of overlaps with anarchism is anticorporate (56). But see the percentages discussed below.

 

 Figure 1: Movement links: the number of affiliations based on active involvement in 27 movement themes from the Social Fora surveys in Nairobi, Atlanta and Detroit

Figure 1 displays the network connections for the 27 movement themes using data from Nairobi, Atlanta and Detroit. In order to produce this figure it is necessary to dichotomize the distribution of affiliations shown in Table 10. We use the same cutting point that we have used in earlier studies of the network of movement ties, 1.5 standard deviations above the mean number of affiliations in Table 10. Using this cutting point results in a figure that indicates that anarchism is below the threshold for showing its relations with the other movements. This happens because anarchism is a relatively small movement theme and so when we use the mean of the whole distribution as the cutting point the ties that anarchism has with other movements are coded as zeroes. By this same criterion the six movement themes in the upper left corner have no connections with other movement themes that are large enough to show up in the diagram. This figure is good for showing the relative location of the largest and most central movement themes such as human rights, anti-racism, environmental, fair trade, and anti-corporate and the overall multicentric structure of the movement of movements, but it is not very helpful for showing the nature of the connections between peripheral movement themes like anarchism with other movements.     

 

1

2

3

4

Movement Themes

Anarchist

Total # of Movement activists

% of which are anarchists

% of the 93 anarchists

Anarchism

93

93

100%

100%

Autonomism

33

95

35%

35%

Anti-corporate

56

212

26%

60%

Open-Source/Intellectual Property Rights   

17

76

22%

18%

Anti-globalization

51

233

22 %

55%

Housing

34

160

21%

37%

Land Reform

21

106

20%

23%

LGBTQ

31

159

19%

33%

National Liberation

14

75

19%

15%

Indigenous

22

128

17%

24%

Communism

14

82

17%

15%

Alternative Media

38

271

14%

41%

Labor

32

235

14%

34%

Immigration

34

264

13%

37%

Anti-racism

49

383

13%

53%

Jobless Workers

18

141

13%

19%

Environment

44

360

12%

47%

Food Rights

29

238

12%

31%

Feminism

37

308

12%

40%

Health/HIV

27

233

12%

29%

Alternative Globalization

31

270

11%

33%

Fair Trade

40

354

11%

43%

Development Aid

20

189

11%

22%

Peace

38

362

10%

41%

Human Rights

40

421

9%

43%

Religious

11

163

7%

12%

Socialism

10

154

6%

11%

Table 11: The percentage of each movement who are anarchists

Table 11 uses the affiliation data that was in Table 10 but looks at it from the point of view of the anarchist movement theme, a so-called ego network approach, rather than from the point of view of the whole network. Column 3 in Table 11 percentages the number of connections on the relative sizes of the other movement themes so it shows the percentage of each movement that is made up of anarchists.  Autonomism has the highest percentage of anarchists (35%)[10] and socialism has the lowest (6%). The movement with the second largest percentage of the anarchists is the anti-corporate movement theme and the third largest is with Open Source/Intellectual Property Rights. Only twelve per cent of the feminists are also anarchists, but forty percent of anarchists are also feminists. Column 4 of Table 11 shows the percentage of the 93 anarchist activists who overlap with the other movement themes. Sixty per cent of the activist anarchists are also actively involve in the anti-corporate movement theme, and fifty-five per cent are also anti-globalizationists. Only eleven per cent of the anarchist activists are also socialists.

Ego Net Diagram.jpg

Figure 2: Anarchist Ego Network, 3 Survey Dataset (27 movements – No Porto Alegre) Cutting point  >36

Figure 2 uses lines of different width to distinguish between connections of different strength in the anarchist ego network. This figure used the combined data from Nairobi, Atlanta and Detroit with 27 movement themes. Once again production of such a figure requires dichotomization of the affiliation matrix, but here we used 1.5 standard deviations above the mean calculated at the average of the anarchist overlaps. Figure 2 shows the big overlaps discussed above as well as some of the links among those movements that are well connected with anarchism. We have not yet mentioned anti-racism, but in Figure 2 it can be seen that anti-racism is an important movement theme that connects anarchism with other movements.

In Figure 2 anarchists show overlaps with the following movements: Media, Anti-corporations, Anti-globalization, Human Rights, Fair Trade, Peace, Anti-Racism, Environment, and Feminist. The direct connection with the feminists contradicts, to some extent, Williams’s (2016) notion that anarchist culture is hypermasculine. Anarchists show a large overlap with the anti-globalization movement, but a low overlap with the alternative globalization movement. Anarchist skepticism about alternative globalization is plausible given the findings above regarding attitudes toward existing international institutions and a focus on local communities. Anarchists were least connected with the religious activists (12%) and the socialists (11%).  But even a twelve percent overlap with religionists is higher than many would expect. We also found that 12% of the anarchist activists identify as being “very religious!”

 

 

 

Summary

Our main purpose is to investigate conditions of the current world revolution and ways in which anarchism is working within it. Anarchism as an ideology is far more important than the number of people who consider themselves to be anarchist activists.  Anarchist ideas have been central elements in the emergence of the New Global Left and they are  also an important features of the larger geoulture.  We have used the results of surveys conducted at Social Forum meetings to see how anarchist activists are similar to, or different from, other attendees. The Social Forum process is itself a project of the New Global Left, so we are mainly comparing anarchists with other progressive activists, not with the population of the world as a whole.

            The Social Forum anarchists are younger, whiter (except in Nairobi), more likely to be male, more likely to identify as working class or lower class and more likely to be students. While Social Forum attendees in general have higher than average educational attainment, the anarchists are not significantly different from the other in this regard.

We find that anarchists at these meetings tend to have more radical positions against capitalism and international financial institutions such as the World Bank, and they are more likely to favor abolition of the United Nations than others, but they are much more sympathetic to the U.N. than the other international institutions. They are also not drawn to the idea of a democratic world government. When it comes to solving contemporary problems, anarchists tend to prefer more local levels such as communities, but they concurrently believe themselves to be part of a global social movement. 

Almost all anarchists consider themselves to be part of a global social movement. However, the majority of anarchists at all four meetings also consider the community to be the best arena to solve most global problems. While anarchism is inherently local and community-focused, anarchists are aware of global processes and their role in transnational activism.
            Regarding the links that anarchists have with other social movement themes as indicated by overlaps in which individuals claim active involvement with other movements we find that anarchists are strongly connected with autonomists, anti-corporatists and anti-racism but not with human rights. The network map shows that anarchists are peripheral in the structure of the WSF meetings. The ego-centric map shows that anarchists are most related to nine other movements: human rights, anti-globalization, anti-racism, fair trade, feminism, peace, anti-corporate, environment, and alternative media. The weighted lines also show that even within this snapshot of the larger network, anarchists are still peripheral. Note how the connections are stronger between the aforementioned movements than between those movements and the anarchists. It is also important to note that the nine movements anarchists are most connected to are also the most central movements in the larger network.

            Table 11 also shows which other movements the anarchists are connected to, showing the percentage of anarchists that make up a given movement. Note how anarchists make up a considerable proportion (20-25%) of other movements such as the anti-corporate and anti-globalization struggles. This suggests that anarchism plays an important role in these movements. Also note how, while anarchists are connected to the peace and human rights movements in the egocentric network, they only make up a small proportion of those movements. This paradox is explained by the great relative size of the peace and human rights movements, which dominate the overall network in terms of both numbers and network centrality.

            Our study confirms some of the widely held views about anarchists but contradicts others. Anarchist ideas are important beyond the numbers of conscious anarchists in the New Global Left. The attacks on individualism mounted by socialists and communists in the world revolution of 1917 were misplaced. A more humane, egalitarian and democratic world society is quite compatible with individualism, and the eventual emergence of global governance institutions will be enhanced and legitimated by great attention to the rights of individuals. This said, the great skepticism that anarchists have toward formal organization, which is very widespread in the New Global Left since 1968, is a hindrance to the ability of the egalitarian social movements to have important effects on world politics. The solution to the problem raised by Roberto Michels is not to abjure organization, but rather to pressure social movement organizations to do more than fight for their own survival and to start new organizations when the old ones become moribund. The anarchists and the autonomists are right to be critical of sclerosis, but party-networks can be democratic and responsive to grass roots constituencies, and when they are not they can be replaced.  Transnational social movements of the Left badly need broad-spectrum organizational instruments that can coordinate action on a global scale in order to move world society toward an egalitarian, sustainable and democratic  global commonwealth.

 

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[1] Demographic and attitudinal characteristics of attendees are presented in Reese et al 2008

[2] The project web site is contains the WSF05, WSF07 and USSF07 and USSF 10 survey instruments. See http://www.irows.ucr.edu/research/tsmstudy.htm . All network calculations employed the UCINET 6.130 software package (Borgatti, Everett & Freeman 2002).

[3] What we call “movement themes” include both ideological constellations (e.g. anarchism, communism, etc.) and topical issues. The latter groupings of social movement organizations around their goals have been called “social movement industries” (Zald and McCarthy, 1987; Snow and Soule 2010:152).

[4] Queer theory locates the responsibility for gender and sexual identity construction with the individual. A new class on hip-hop music at the University of California-Riverside allows students to change their gender pronouns during the quarter.

[5] World revolutions are periods in world history in which local rebellions cluster in time across the world-system. Iconic years of rebellions are used to symbolize the meaning and organizational nature of world revolutions: 1789, 1848, 1917, 1968, 1989 and 20xx for the one that is occurring now (Chase-Dunn and Niemeyer 2009).

 

[6] It was originally our intention to also study autonomists but it became clear that autonomism does not have a consensual meaning across the venues we studied. The word means something very different in Europe than it means in Africa, Brazil or the United States. We find much more consistency across venues for the word “anarchist.”

[7] The data set and additional tables and figures that we produced for this paper are available from the paper appendix at http://irows.ucr.edu/cd/appendices/anarchpap/anarchpapapp.htm

[8] The question was asked in somewhat different ways in the different surveys (see http://www.irows.ucr.edu/research/tsmstudy.htm)  but we have combined the answers to make them as comparable as possible.

[9] In earlier studies we have looked at the networks produced from each Social Forum meeting separately (e.g. Chase-Dunn and Kaneshiro 2009; Chase-Dunn and Breckenridge-Jackson 2013). Our main finding is that, though there are some differences from meeting to meeting, the overall pattern of a single multicentric network in which all the movement themes are connected with one another holds across all the meetings.

[10] We originally intended to analyze autonomists along with anarchists in this paper, but we found that the word “autonomism” apparently means very different things in different contexts. In Africa it appears to be associated with national autonomy, whereas in the United States there seems to be relatively little knowledge of the autonomist movement that emerged in Italy, Germany and France. The issue what movement themes mean in different contexts is an important one that we should also consider when we are discussing other social movement themes as well.