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The rise of new social movements and ‘pink tide’ governments across Latin America has been accompanied by a burgeoning range of texts exploring the phenomenon. The relationship between the state and social movements is commonly approached by counterposing the ‘bottom-up’ approach of grassroots social movements and the ‘top‑down’ orientation of populist leaders. In this scenario, hope for real change ultimately resides with autonomous social movements operating independently of parties, governments and states.
Defying the prevailing orthodoxy is this book, an insightful and invaluable collection of case studies, which dares to delve deeply into the multifaceted circumstances and challenges facing the Latin American left.
For example, Daniel Hellinger argues that the Venezuelan experience ‘challenges many preconceptions about the need for strict borders between the state and civil society’, given the presence of a state which, through its control over oil rents, remains central to the process of capital accumulation. He points to the success of government-promoted local community councils in democratising rent re-distribution and creating the embryos of a new state built from below.
A ‘dynamic tension’ exists within this relationship; and so does the risk that the relationship may transform into one based on ‘co-option’ or ‘confrontation’. While Argentina shows how a government can reassert social stability by co-opting and marginalising movements, the Brazilian example lays bare how a strategy of avoiding co-option by focusing on ‘exerting pressure from below’ has also faltered.
If a common pattern can be found, the book’s editors argue it is that ‘the parties of the left need the enthusiasm and renewing qualities of the mass social movements if they are to achieve state power . . . [similarly] the social movements cannot hope to achieve all or part of their ambitious projects without the mechanisms of the state apparatus that a left party in power can provide. Inevitably their relations will be filled with conflict, but that is the nature of politics.’
Grace Blakeley investigates the curious case of Carillion: how the company’s slow decline and abrupt liquidation reveals the nature of modern capitalism.
The collapse of Carillion could be a watershed moment. Let's seize it to end economically disastrous outsourcing schemes. By Cat Hobbs.
Campaign groups highlight UK complicity in Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns