Sunday, February 25, 2007

To Tallgeese

Thanks for pointing out the Immanuel Wallerstein newsletter. I now have it bookmarked. I've read him before, though not his newsletter, and like him because he's realistic, but not bleak. Bleakness is not useful today. We need hope and some kind of plan of action. How do we fix the world? There has to be a way. I see many ways, which may add up to a grand plan at some point. Though I suspect it will not be a centralized grand plan, or only centralized in places. One of the lessons of the 20th century is -- top down planning has some serious problems.

2 Comments:

Blogger Tallgeese said...

Thanks for your post Eleanor. Immanuel's perspective is that movements from below matter, and that hierarchy is one of the problems with the modern world system that needs to be changed. World systems analysis emerged from the vision of 1968, and is just as critical of "actually existing socialism", considering the "socialist" states to have been somewhat more egalitarian state actors within a capitalist world economy -- yet bound by its logics.

His view on mass movements taking over states, as well as revolution from above, is realistic: national liberation movements and other 20th century revolutions typically accomplished about 20% of what they set out to do when the took power.

Often, as in post-apartheid South Africa, this was still an enormous improvement -- but many other basic issues remain on the table (such as class polarization on a world scale, and the axial division of power within the world system). All to often, the logic of the world system forces progressive movements to act like other state actors once they take power.

Immanuel supports the world social forum, but I think he would also say that purely consensus models of organizing are insufficient. Some groups will need to decide to act together to make change happen across states, even if others do not.

Two books really put together Immanuel's vision: "Utopistics" and "European Universalism: the Rhetoric of Power." The first essay in the latter book is on the Las Casas vs. Sepulveda debate, which he shows continues to be one of the core tensions in the modern world system (i.e., is "Universalism" really universalism?).
--TG

11:30 AM  
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