By Stefan Berger
Moving the Social Journal
What’s New in the History of Social Movements: a Review Article
Craig Browne: Critical Social Theory, London: Sage, 2017, 216 pp., ISBN: 978-1- 44624-693-1 (pbk).
Timothy J. LeCain: The Matter of History: How Things Create the Past, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017, 366 pp., ISBN: 978-1-31646-025-2.
Constance Bantman and Bert Altena (eds.): Reassessing the Transnational Turn: Scales of Analysis in Anarchist and Syndicalist Studies, Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2017, 256 pp., ISBN: 978-1-62963-391-6.
Kevin Morgan: International Communism and the Cult of the Individual: Leaders, Tribunes and Martyrs under Lenin and Stalin, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2017, 363 pp., ISBN: 978-1-137-55667-7.
Konstantin Vössing: How Leaders Mobilize Workers: Social Democracy, Revolution, and Moderate Syndicalism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017, 320 pp., ISBN: 978-1-107-16517-5.
Marcelo Badaró Mattos: Laborers and Enslaved Workers: Experiences in Common in the Making of Rio de Janeiro’s Working Class, 1850–1920, Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2017, 186 pp., ISBN: 978-1-78533-629-4.
Markus Lundström: The Making of Resistance: Brazil’s Landless Movement and Narrative Enactment, Cham: Springer, 2017, 143 pp., ISBN: 978-3-319-55347-4.
Priska Daphi: Becoming a Movement: Identity, Narrative and Memory in the European Global Justice Movement, London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017, 164 pp., ISBN: 978-1-78660-380-7 (pbk).
Ekaterina Tarasova: Anti-Nuclear Movements in Discursive and Political Contexts: Between Expert Voices and Local Protests, Stockholm: Södertörn University, 2017, 305 pp., ISBN: 978-91-87843-81-5.
You Jae Lee: Koloniale Zivilgemeinschaft: Alltag und Lebensweise der Christen in Korea (1894–1954), Frankfurt/Main: Campus, 2017, 323 pp., ISBN: 978-3-593- 50672-2.
Amerigo Caruso: Nationalstaat als Telos? Der konservative Diskurs in Preussen und Sardinien-Piemont 1840–1870, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017, 516 pp., ISBN: 978-3-11- 054207-3.
Uwe Fuhrmann: Die Entstehung der „Sozialen Marktwirtschaft“ 1948/49: Eine his- torische Dispositivanalyse, Konstanz: UVK, 2017, 359 pp., ISBN: 978-3-86764-665-9.
Social movements critical of capitalist society have often found inspiration in forms of critical theory.1 In his new book on critical social theory, the Australian-based sociol- ogist Craig Brown reconceptualises Critical Theory in order to better understand how diverse social actors attempt to develop autonomous solutions to the contradictions produced by capitalism. The search for a more just social order is thus intrinsically connected to explaining and critiquing the oppressive workings of capitalist societies. Brown’s analysis of capitalist modernisation uses Critical Theory to do just that, com- bining elements from Marx’s labour theory of value, Weber’s idea of rationalisation as a process of institutionalisation, Habermas’s theory of communicative action and Honneth’s concept of social freedom.
In addition, he borrows liberally from thinkers such as Cornelius Castoriades, Luc Boltanski and Anthony Giddens. He intensively discusses the idea of self-organisation as one of the most interesting and innovative features of the operation of contemporary social movements, only to warn, with Bol- tanski and Ève Chiapello, against the adaptation and accommodation of forms of self- organisation under and by capitalism. Nevertheless, for Brown, the alter-globalisation movement and forms of ‘unplanned coordination’ (basically rioting) have been creat- ing forms of ‘creative disrespect’ that have been challenging contemporary global capi- talism. In the forms of ‘creative democracy’ that these transnational forms of resistance to global capitalism have produced, Brown sees a sign of hope for a radical democratic politics that is informed by Critical Theory and able to develop a transformatory po- tential. He also extensively discusses theories of ‘justification’, ‘recognition’ and ‘cos- mopolitanism’ which, in his eyes, are central to the extension of social freedoms and the achievement of greater autonomy. At 178 pages of text, Brown’s is a relatively short book, but it is not easy to read, as it presupposes considerable knowledge of Critical Theory and its associated thinkers. It is written in a language that is also not easy to understand and therefore can only be recommended to specialists in social theory and
Critical Theory in particular. This is in some respects a great pity, as the history of so- cial movements would, I believe, benefit from a book explaining how Critical Theory might help historians to analyse and understand the history of social movements.
Another theoretical book that is valuable for historians of social movements is Tim LeCain’s volume on the agency of things.2 He provides a truly post-anthropo- centric look at the interrelationship between human beings and objects. I found it dif- ficult to put this book away and it easily counts among the ten most fascinating books that I have read over the last decade. It should indeed be of extreme interest to all scholars in the humanities. Written in a highly accessible language, it discusses the re- lationship between the human and non-human world in fascinating ways—drawing on a range of insights from the natural and cultural sciences, including epigenetics, evolutionary theory, cognitive linguistics and the vast amount of scholarship on the human body. The first two chapters of the book are theoretical. Here LeCain lays out what he calls his theory of ‘neomaterialist humanism’. He starts with the contention that material things have helped in specific ways to form us into who we are as hu- mans. Yet, an enduring anthropocentric understanding of human beings ranging back to early Christianity, has to date prevented a fuller appreciation that there is no real division between humans as creators of things and the things themselves. Both only make sense if thought together. Things, LeCain argues, have their own dynamism and agency that have shaped humans as much as humans have shaped them. Against R. G. Collingwood and idealist philosophy more generally, he argues with Bruno La- tour that culture and nature, humans and things should not be artificially divided but thought together. What is necessary, according to LeCain, is a new understanding of the material world and how it shaped human development. His neo-materalist humanism is not anti-humanistic, quite the contrary: it looks for a “richer and more inclusive humanism”. (p. 15) He rejects biocentrism as much as he rejects anthropo- centrism. Instead, he develops the notion of ‘the material environment’ which would bring humans and things together. His emphasis on ‘thing-power’ stresses that creativ- ity did not simply lie with humans in history but also with things that were able to make culture. In this sense culture is taken out of the realm of the ideal and related to ‘matter’, becoming ‘a matter of culture’. Ultimately, if we follow his train of thought, historians would abandon the long anthropocentric tradition and develop a fresh per- spective on the dynamic inter- and exchanges between humans and their environ- ments.
LeCain explicates his theoretical ideas in four very strong chapters that put meat on the theoretical bones that are put together in the first two substantive chapters of the book. He first takes us to the world of mining and looks at how toxic pollutants like sulphur and arsenic impacted on humans in diverse ways in different places like the Anaconda mine in the U.S. and the Ashio mine in Japan. Here, the brilliant his- torian of mining is fully coming into his own in showing on his home turf how, in concrete ways, things developed a dynamism that shaped humans.3 The remaining three chapters deal with other non-human things: Longhorn cattle, silkworms and copper. The humans in the American open-range cattle industry and in the Japanese sericulture industry would have been entirely different had it not been for Longhorns and silkworms, but ultimately both ‘creatures’ were defeated by copper, who, in both the U.S. and Japan helped to forge modern nation states—impacting hugely on the everyday life of humans. Things, biotic and non-biotic, interact in manifold ways with humans and ultimately determine who we are as humans. This is the powerful mes- sage that is hammered home by these intriguing case studies that are a delight to read. The argument that is being pursued by LeCain’s book is not merely one that calls for a different practice in the humanities subjects, it is also one that ultimately pleads for a different understanding of the world as basis for a new attitude to the world and a new practice in the world. If we have indeed underestimated the power of things and overestimated the power of humans, then this has practical consequences for an age in which species extinction accelerated at an unprecedented pace and in which envi- ronmental destruction is barely touched by the feeble efforts of global politics to bring about more sustainable ways of living on and with the planet that humans inhabit.4 Historians of social movements will benefit from considering the manifold ways in which ‘things’ impacted on humans active in social movements, but ultimately ‘thing power’ also calls for actions of social movements to end the anthropocentric view of the world that still powers politics to a considerable degree everywhere on this globe.
The materialist turn in history-writing, of which LeCain is a powerful advocate, has been paralleled by a transnational turn that has been attempting to overcome the “methodological nationalism”5 and nation-orientation of much previous historical research. This transnational turn has also reached the history of social movements, as noted in previous review articles in this journal.6 Constance Bantman’s and Bert Altena’s edited collection re-assess the transnational turn for the field of anarchist and syndicalist studies. It is a new edition of a book originally published by Routledge in 2015 and the chapters go back to papers first de- livered at the European Social Science History conference in Glasgow in 2012. How- ever, they have lost nothing of their freshness of perspective and intellectual stimulus and the collection can be recommended to all who are interested in the relationship between the transnational, national and local in the history of social movements. The contributions in this collection are testimony to the rich fruits that have grown from transnational views on the anarcho-syndicalist movements—movements that prided themselves in their internationalism and that were often very self-consciously trans- national. As the editors point out in their stimulating introduction, many national and regional studies on anarchism and syndicalism have considered transnational con- nections, e. g. between the same language-groups, for example Italian anarchists in It- aly and in Latin America, or within particular urban hubs of anarchist and syndicalist activities, such as London, San Francisco, Sao Paolo or Buenos Aires, in which activ- ists with different national and linguistic backgrounds joined forces. Biographies of anarchists and syndicalists also often included attention to transnational connections. Indeed, anarchism and syndicalism can be seen as part and parcel of a counter-hege- monic first wave of globalisation around the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in which activists served as “rooted cosmopolitans”.7
All of the articles in this volume carefully calibrate their geographical scales, often moving seamlessly between the local, the national and the transnational. In the joint endeavour to examine the geographical scales of transnational activism, the authors come back time and again to the role of the state. Given the famous anti-statism of the anarchist and syndicalist movements, studies on these movements have, for a long time, underestimated the role of the state for these movements. Hence, the articles here assemble an important corrective to this view, as they clearly demonstrate that those movements and their theoreticians had to address the state in many situations, whilst, at the same time, the states developed considerable transnational activities in the international fight against anarchism. The contributions to this volume also un- derline to what extent anarchist and syndicalist movements were social movements, i.e. “networks of networks”8 and assemblies of individuals rather than firm party or union organisations, as was the case with both the Social Democratic and Communist parties. Despite the rather loose organisation of anarchist and syndicalist networks, studying them in depth would clearly benefit from more systematic prosopographic studies on anarcho-syndicalism, which might shed more light on factors attracting activists to the movements, be they place of residence, employment, migration or generation. Indeed, anarchists and syndicalists belonged to a highly mobile group of political activists who often had to go into exile and frequently crossed borders. This contributed to the ‘glocal’ character of anarchist and syndicalist groups, and the vari- ous kinds of adaptation of ideas and practices from other local, regional and national contexts made for very lively transnationalisms. However, as the contributions to this volume also underline, physical migration was not a necessary precondition for trans- nationalism, as the anarcho-syndicalist world was an intensely print-based world, in which books and journals travelled extensively in a multi-lingual community of activ- ists. Finally, many contributions to this volume problematise the relationship of anar- chists and syndicalists to the nation-state and nationalism. Whilst they undoubtedly belonged to the most internationalist social movement activists imaginable, many examples here show that they were by no means unaffected by nationalism and rac- ism, even if their nationalism was at times cloaked in anti-imperialist and anti-statist ideology. Hence, the volume is also a warning not to take the overt cosmopolitanism of anarchist activists at face value but instead to examine in detail specific situations in which activists were confronted with demands for loyalty to nation and ‘race’. The book has a Western-centric bias, with only two of 10 contributions including the non-Western world, mostly the global south. Nevertheless, anyone interested in social movements and transnationalism will find the contributions to this volume inspiring, and it is a fitting testimony to the wonderful work of one of the editors, Bert Altena, who died far too early in 2018—at just 68 years of age.9
Anarchism and syndicalism produced powerful and often domineering leaders, such as Mikhail Bakunin or Domela Nieuwenhuis. Yet, as movements, the syndical- ists in particular remained wary of leadership and tended to emphasise the collective rather than individuals more than other movements on the political left. Especially Communism is well-known for the leadership cults that were developed by Stalin in the Soviet Union and by Stalinised Communist Parties everywhere else in the world. Kevin Morgan has provided us with a masterful analysis of these cults of the individ- ual in international communism between the 1920s and 1956. His history is also an explicitly transnational and comparative one, and he succeeds admirably in demon- strating how valuable such a perspective is in understanding both commonalities and differences in the communist movements of the world. His study is thus part of a wider trend that has picked up steam since the end of Communism in the early 1990s, namely to end the analysis of nationally distinct Communist Parties and to see Communism as a transnationally networked international movement.10
Morgan is very adept at skilfully discussing the many disparate political circumstances in which lead- ership cults operated and at analysing its different functions at different times without losing sight of the many interconnections between the different cults. Like the edited collection on anarchism and syndicalism discussed above, this book on international communism has a distinct Western-centric focus. With the exception of some refer- ences to Mao, the global south is largely absent.
Morgan does not reduce the leadership cult to singular explanations, such as an al- leged sacralisation of sovereign power, or a universal desire to follow strong leaders, or a political religions approach, or, indeed, theories of modernity. What he does instead, is to ask in different spatial and temporal situations, what functions leadership cults had and what purposes they fulfilled—questions that allow him a far more differen- tiated look at the phenomenon itself. His strongly historicist approach does, however, make one important theoretical distinction—he differentiates, in chapter three of the book, between integrating and enkindling leadership cults—a terminology that he derives from Eduard Bernstein via Eleanor Marx. An integrating cult sought to bring together a highly heterogeneous group and make it believe in common com- munist aims and objectives, whereas an enkindling cult was meant to bring into the communist orbit wider parts of the population not fully subscribing to communism. In subsequent chapters, Morgan comes back to this distinction time and again. Here, he looks at party leaders, starting off with J. W. Stalin and then discussing Maurice Thorez, Harry Pollitt and Joseph Jacquemotte. He astutely analyses how the leader- ship cult subordinates all other types of cults, including cults surrounding the martyr, the pioneer, the founder, the intellectual or the tribune. Notable other Communist figures discussed in Morgan’s book include Georgi Dimitrov, Ernst Thälmann, Henri Barbusse, Louis Aragon, Clara Zetkin, Tom Mann, Marcel Cachin, W. Z. Foster and Antonio Gramsci. In what I personally found to be the most fascinating chapter of a truly inspiring book, Morgan analyses the mediatisation of leadership cults through film, radio, photography and literature, especially biography. Overall, Morgan distin- guishes two distinct phases of the leadership cult—a first one that coincided with the popular front phase of international communism and a second one that reflected the logic of high Stalinism and the beginnings of the Cold War after 1947. In each phase, distinct cult communities were both situational and functional and what Morgan can show, in particular for the second phase, is how the cult contributed both to internal state-building processes and to forms of an “international realpolitik of the utmost cynicism and brutality”. (p. 336)
Leaders also figure prominently in Konstantin Vössing’s book on how leaders were able to mobilise workers in 20 industrialising countries between the 1860s and the 1920s.11 Contrary to Morgan’s accessible style of writing, however, his is very much a book in love with its own scientificity which is bordering on the unreadable at times. There is a strong attempt at model- and typology building, and as so often with po- litical science literature, I feel that the net outcome of the study remains rather limit- ed. What Vössing claims to have discovered is that leaders matter because they make certain choices that affect the ability of political parties to mobilise interest. Who would have thought so? In a very long introduction of over 40 pages, he develops his theory of national variation in interest mobilisation that rests on the assumption that the response of leaders to their political environments has a decisive role to play in explaining that variation.
Where repression of labour was high, as in Russia, Bolshevik insurrectionism was a fitting response to the specific environment; where there was at least limited incorporation of labour, various blends of radicalism and pragmatism were more fitting responses, which is why we often have ‘quasi-revolutionary social democracy’ appearing here. An evolutionary type of social democracy was most fitting where we find high labour inclusion, such as in Britain and Switzerland. The search for fitting strategies among labour leaders depends on specific decision-making con- texts and the availability of adequate information. So far, so banal. Much of the rest of the introduction is used by Vössing to review the literature that has so far tried to ex- plain decisions of labour movements to follow revolutionary or evolutionary roads to socialism. He distinguishes between structuralist approaches, focussing on economic and political factors, and history of ideas approaches, emphasising the power of ideas over political processes and paying attention to the cross-national diffusion of ideas. His intention is to build on all of those approaches, add leaders to the mix and his concept of labour inclusion already referred to above. His typology of class politics looks pretty much like the tired old typology of comparative labour history from the 1970s and 1980s: evolutionary social democracy, quasi-revolutionary social democra- cy, Bolshevik insurrectionism and moderate syndicalism. So far, nothing new.
Labour leaders, in Vössing’s view, can make ‘fitting’ or ‘ill-fitting’ choices, depend- ing on their judgement of best strategy for the mobilisation of their constituency. The problem with such a view is complete disregard for the factor of contingency in his- tory. Political science here reduces history to the predictable, which leaders are either too incapable or too ill-informed or too incompetent to realise. There is much in this book that is well-known, including the summary in chapter two recalling why partic- ular labour movements in different countries have developed different strategies and organisations. Chapter three recalls different environments of class politics and again this reviewer could detect little new here. The next chapter discusses how different labour elites made their choices for diverse forms of class politics ending in a rather predictable typology of choices for the 20 countries discussed here. The next chapter then makes much of the predictive power of Vössing’s theory in being able to explain cross-national variations, and the final chapter makes the surprising discovery that labour movements were more successful in establishing themselves where their leaders had chosen the right strategy. Here the argument turns full circle. Those choices pos- ited as most-fitting by the author also produced the greatest successes in institutional- ising labour movements. I am a great admirer of many works of historical sociology,12 and I am all in favour of political scientists, sociologists and historians learning from one another, but Vössing’s book, I fear, belongs to a category of sterile theory-driven scientifistic social science that makes history look bloodless, lifeless and boring. As a historian, I find that rather sad.
Class formation figures prominently in Vössing’s book, but it does so in highly abstract ways. The difference could not be bigger to the way that class formation is treated in Marcelo Badaró Mattos’ account of the making of the working class in Rio de Janeiro between the middle of the 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th century. Building on a Marxist understanding of class that sees it as a process and relation,13 Mattos, wearing his theory lightly and elegantly, builds on works by E. P. Thompson and Herbert Gutman to explore in a fascinating multi-faceted analysis how enslaved and free workers in Rio shared work environments and how they were sometimes united and sometimes divided in a complex process of class formation that cannot be understood without paying due attention to the institution of slavery in Brazilian society.
In a first chapter Mattos provides the reader with a lively portrayal of living and working conditions in Rio, determined by economic structures that were based on ex- ploitative practices affecting free and unfree labour alike. The second chapter then pays due attention to the workers’ organisations that were formed as a response to those exploitative conditions: brotherhoods, mutual assistance organisations and political parties are all discussed here. In the third chapter, Mattos puts resistance and struggle centre-stage, analysing a great variety of modes of mobilisation both before and after the abolition of slavery. Strikes, riots, rebellions, the abolitionist movement and urban communities of fugitive slaves all feature prominently here as does the attempt to re- press workers’ movements with the help of the police and the state. The fourth chapter turns to class consciousness and analyses the discourses of activists of working-class organisations, which are read as evidence of an emerging class consciousness. The last chapter then puts the question of class formation in Rio into a wider Brazilian and international context. This relatively short book is brimming with fascinating insights, among which one stands out: it is impossible to think of the fights of urban waged workers in Rio during the second half of the 19th century without thinking about and referring to slaves’ fight for freedom. The two struggles were tightly interconnected in the formation of a working class in the city. Mattos succeeds brilliantly at reconstitut- ing the life-world of those who worked in the city recovering very early forms of work- ing-class organisation and revealing patterns of collective action that preceded formal trade unions and political parties. He shows that free workers were important in the greatest social movement of the 19th century, abolitionism. Mattos also re-assembles the political logic behind the urban rebellions in Rio and he makes great strides in a more sophisticated understanding of how class consciousness in the city emerged in the spaces where free und and unfree labour interacted. Much more work remains to be done, as Mattos himself points out. In particular, the whole realm of working-class culture needs to be far more thoroughly analysed in future studies on class formation in Brazil, but this book will undoubtedly be a huge inspiration to a new generation of scholars attempting to do precisely this.14
This ethnographic, history-from-below perspective on the history of early social movements in Brazil sits very well with a book on the more recent history of the Brazilian landless labourer movement (MST) that rose to prominence through spec- tacular land occupations in the 1970s and 1980s and managed to become one of the most powerful social movements in Brazil in the first two decades of the 21st century. Markus Lundström’s innovative analysis of the role of historical narrative in this success story of the MST makes for fascinating reading. He found MST activ- ists to be highly adept storytellers, who use history writing in order to bring about a strong sense of cohesion inside the movement and advance the aims of the movement through alliance-building. Their narratives have had the power to mobilise supporters and sympathisers in many battles fought to achieve the aims of the movement. If Lundström were to understand the narrating of history as a form of memory, his book would be part and parcel of a very recent trend to analyse the relationship between social movements and memory that is undertaken both by memory study scholars and social movement studies scholars.15 Thus, for example, Dennis Bos has provided us with a magnificent history of the memory of the Paris Commune.16 Donatella della Porta and her collaborators have analysed how memory strengthened the struggle of social movements in several Mediterranean countries to counter neoliberal policies since the 1990s.17 Ann Rigney’s ongoing ERC project on ‘Remembering Hope: the Cultural Memory of Protest in Europe’ will produce important results on the inter- relationship between memory and social movements.18 And Yifat Gutman’s and Jenny Wüstenberg’s ongoing project on memory activism will provide us with an overview, in the form of a handbook, of how diverse social movements have used memory to advance their aims.
Lundström does not take this step from history to memory, but his study is still part of a wider intellectual trend. In four all-too-brief chapters he sets out, first, the history of the MST itself, introducing main actors and organisational features as well as analysing the political subject formation within the MST. The second chapter of his book looks at how the past is mobilised within the movement through narrativi- sations that construct a long, 500-years-old history of resistance against both the state and capitalism in the search for more autonomy and freedom for landless labourers. The past struggles for land are put into relation to the present ones. Lundström, in his analysis, makes very effective use of Reinhard Koselleck’s famous exploration of the relationship between the spaces of experience and the horizons of expectation that are generated from those spaces of experience.19 In the third chapter, the author looks at how academic storytelling has accompanied and strengthened the movement’s story- telling in powerful ways. He argues convincingly that the narratives produced by the movement and by academics studying the movement have both not been static over time. They showed remarkable abilities to address new situations. Thus, for example, there has been a marked narrative shift from an emphasis on landless labourers looking for land to small farmers and farmers’ cooperatives defending their land against the in- terests of big landowners and foreign investors in agriculture. As far as the antagonists of MST are concerned, we also see a development over time, with large landowners being replaced as main enemy by agri-food corporations.
Lundström also shows that the flexibility of the narrative finds its limits in its capacity to build internal cohesion within the movement. The latter function of the narrative always takes precedent over the desire to achieve narrative flexibility. In the last substantive chapter of the book, the author focusses on narrative re-enactment, arguing powerfully that the narratives have been changing not only as a consequence of changes to narrativisations but also changes to actual practices of protest. The narrative is thus embodied in protest and fully understanding the changing narratives is only possible by paying due attention to the actual practices of protest championed by MST.20
How narrative constructs identity within social movements and how memory can be a highly effective resource for a movement’s aims also stands at the centre of Priska Daphi’s book on the Global Justice Movement (GJM) comprising of a highly diverse alliance of groups that were particularly active during the 1990s and 2000s.21 Focus- sing on Italy, Germany and Poland, Daphi highlights the differences of the GJM in the three countries. Thus, unions were far more involved in the movement in Italy than in either Germany or Poland, whereas NGOs played a larger role in Germany in comparison to the other two cases, and mobilisation levels were generally much lower in Poland when compared to either Italy or Germany. In Italy, the collapse of the tra- ditional party system in the 1990s allowed for the emergence of a powerful alliance of third-sector associations, social movements and radical grassroots organisations that were joined by the Communist Party (Rifondazione) and the unions. In Germany, the GJM emerged later than in Italy and the autonomist, militant and radical left groups played a more significant role, although reformist left-of-centre groups were also pres- ent in the alliance. The traditional distance between trade unions and social move- ments in Germany meant that unions played a lesser role with some exceptions such as the service sector union Ver.di. The party Die Linke as well as the party political foundations of the centre-left also played a significant role in the alliance.
In Poland, anarchist and autonomist groups merged with communist and socialist organisations and environmental NGOs to mobilise resistance, above all, against the World Eco- nomic Forum in Warsaw in 2004.
Using over 70 interviews with activists and focus groups very effectively, Daphi traces a “GJM narrative” (p. 12), underlining both the specificities of each of the three countries and the similarities across all countries. In all three countries, more radical and militant members of the GJM emphasised the importance of counter-summits whereas more moderate forces referred more often to activities during the World and European Social Forums. The strongest master frame uniting virtually all factions in the GJM was the opposition to neoliberalism. The narrative ark starts with a situation in which the weakness of the left and the dominance of neo-liberalism is emphasised. Against this background, the growth of the GJM is then narrated finally ending in a peak event in which left-wing divisions are overcome and a powerful counter-move- ment to neo-liberalism emerges. Yet the narrative does not have a happy ending as the movement does not prove strong enough to overcome neo-liberalism. But the story does also not end in disillusionment. Rather, the narrative is characterised by an ongo- ing desire to search for ways of challenging the neo-liberal hegemony more effectively. The moment of the GJM becomes a proud moment in a long history of resistance to capitalism. The book is particularly strong in revealing how cognitive, relational and emotional factors came together in the formation of a powerful movement narrative that had the ability of constructing a collective identity even though the activists did not share the same political perspectives. Daphi concludes by arguing that movement narratives are particularly successful if they combine the idea of shared experience with a plurality of diverse perspectives uniting in common agency. Overall, her book very successfully underlines the importance of memories for social movements.
One of the classical new social movements of the 1970s was the anti-nuclear move- ment.22 Ekaterina Tarasova’s book on anti-nuclear movements in Sweden, Poland and Russia focusses on the discursive contexts for their strategies in the period from 2000 to the present—a period witnessing a resurgence of the nuclear industry and an ac- companying resurgence of the anti-nuclear movement. At the heart of the book stands a thorough discourse analysis of the competing discourses of those in favour of using nuclear energy and those against. It also combines its attention to discourses with an in-depth analysis of the political opportunities of anti-nuclear movements in the three countries that Tarasova examines. She rightly points out that they have a very different history of nuclear energy. Whilst the nuclear industry in Russia is one of the oldest and most established in the world, in Poland a nuclear power programme has only recently been announced. Whilst an open anti-nuclear movement in both Russia and
Poland only emerged in the post-Communist period, the latter could build on dissi- dent movements active in the final years of Communism. Only in Sweden a strong anti-nuclear movement existed from the 1970s onwards, like in other western states. It campaigned heavily in the Swedish referendum on nuclear energy in 1980, where it succeeded, together with other political groupings, in keeping the nuclear industry in state hands and, at the same time, agreeing on a phasing-out of nuclear energy. The movement was revived by the 2010 decision of the centre-right government to aban- don the phase-out plan.
Tarasova’s study is particularly welcome as we have very few examinations of the anti-nuclear movement in Eastern Europe to date and as its author arrives at a number of intriguing conclusions. Those advocating the continued use of nuclear energy have been arguing successfully that it brings stronger energy security, mitigates the conse- quences of climate change and makes economic sense. In particular the discussions surrounding climate change are identified as a key driver in the revival of the fortunes of the nuclear industry. It allowed the pro-nuclear energy lobby to align discursively to narratives of ‘progress’ and ‘modernisation’. Furthermore, the pro-nuclear energy lobby has been establishing, again very successfully, a narrative of ‘there is no alterna- tive’, which has depoliticised the issue of nuclear energy and kept it out of the realm of public debate. Overall then, the author paints a picture in which the pro-nuclear energy lobby has been successful in dominating the discourse on nuclear energy thus putting the anti-nuclear movement on the defensive. At the national level, the an- ti-nuclear movements have been professionalising themselves and using a range of expert scientific voices to highlight the dangers of nuclear energy. At local level, grass- roots initiatives use far more confrontational strategies than environmental NGOs at national level. Finally, Tarasova pursues an intriguing argument that different levels of democratisation do not necessarily impact on the fortunes of anti-nuclear movements, as long as they have channels of communication that promise influence with those in political power. Overall, she very effectively uses discourse analysis to highlight the ongoing struggles over nuclear energy and its uses.
Discourse analysis has been a prominent methodological tool for the anal- ysis of social movements more generally for some time now.23 This is also true for religious social movements which have been massively influential around the globe.24 The book by You Jae Lee looks at Christians in the Northern part of Korea between the last decade of the 19th century and the mid-1950s. He situates them in a trian- gle of agency: Western agency, in particular from German missionaries, both Protes-
tant and Catholic, Japanese imperialist agency and the agency of Korean Christians themselves. Christianity grew rapidly in Korea during the period under investigation, despite the fact that it was banned and its followers persecuted well into the 1880s, and despite the fact that the colonial power in Korea was not a Christian one. The central question of this fascinating study is how the Korean colonial subject translated and adapted Christianity from Christian missionaries and how they positioned their self-understanding as Christians visàvis the Japanese imperial power. Lee starts off with an insightful chapter on changing values in Korea around 1900 and focusses on the discourse of civilisation which, he argues compellingly, was the main reason why many Koreans were so willing to take up Christianity in the early decades of the 20th century. Christianity was connected to civilisation and to the alleged need to become modern.25 The missionaries promulgated and at the same time symbolised that civili- sational discourse, both in their writings and their everyday life practices to which the third chapter of the book is dedicated. Becoming a Christian meant entering a com- munity that defined itself as modern through a new way of living. Lee understands that community as an attempt to build a civil society in Korea—an attempt that soon was regarded with suspicion by the Japanese colonizers who attempted to suppress all civil society initiatives for political participation and instead emphasised that religion belonged to the private sphere.
The fourth chapter of Lee’s book discusses the limits of the Christian community with special reference to its political potential. The author argues that the latter cannot be reduced to anti-colonialism and instead points to a complex mixture of resistance to, collaboration with and accommodation to Japanese imperial power. In chapter five the book that has so far dealt with Protestantism turns to Catholicism. Lee finds many parallels and similarities between the Protestant and Catholic Christian com- munities in Korea—both were modernising forces. The main difference which Lee sees is in their positioning towards Japanese colonialism. Protestants were more likely to resist colonialism than Catholics. Especially through the activities of the Catholic missionary Norbert Weber the book demonstrates how Catholicism also styled itself as bringer of civilisation in Korea, creating forms of community not dissimilar to the Protestant communities, despite the fact that Catholic missionary work was much more based on monastic life and principles, which are the subject of chapter six. A separate chapter is dedicated to the women’s mission where Lee shows that the mis- sionaries paid a lot of attention to women doing missionary work for women, but he can also illustrate the gendered hierarchies inherent in both Protestant and Catholic missionary work. Politics moves to the fore again in the eighth chapter of the book, where Lee explains why the Catholic missionary efforts remained far less politicised than their Protestant counterparts. In the final chapter of the book, Lee discusses the tragic end of the missionary work of the Benedictines in Northern Korea and their long years of incarceration and internal exile in a remote mountain camp where a third of them died, before the rest were released through an intervention of the Soviet Union and the GDR acting on a request from the West-German authorities. Intrigu- ingly many of those who could return to West Germany via the GDR in 1954 almost immediately returned to South Korea to continue their Christian work there.
Lee is particularly good throughout his well-written account at giving the Chris- tian Koreans a voice visàvis the missionaries, showing that missionary work, like Eu- ropean colonial expansion as a whole, cannot be seen as a history of diffusion, as the agency of the colonised transformed and changed, sometimes radically, the messages they received from the colonisers. Inspired by Alf Lüdtke’s ideas on power as social practice, Lee emphasises throughout how the colonised practiced forms of “Eigen- sinn”26 and mimicry27 in order to carve out a space of their own that was distinct from the Western missionaries and from the Japanese colonisers. Lee understands the ‘post-traditional communities’ that Korean Christians were trying to build in the first half of the 20th century as one attempt to “provincialize Europe”28 in a corner of the world that had more than its share of a Western history of violence. Overall, Lee’s book is a highly successful example of the many intriguing insights that a transnation- al history of religion can bring to the history of social movements.
Religion also plays a prominent role in Amerigo Caruso’s outstanding book on the conservative re-appropriation of the languages of modernity through Christian values, the cult of the monarchy and the redefinition of the nation in Italy and Germany between 1840 and 1870. Caruso’s masterpiece of intellectual history charts the im- mense and strikingly similar learning curve that the Conservative political discourse in both countries underwent from the French revolution of 1789 to the formation of the Italian and German nation states in 1861 and 1871 respectively. Caruso’s analysis underlines their immense and so far undervalued success in rallying mass support for political Conservatism. Especially their emotional appeal, via the languages of religion and nation, was overwhelming. The reinvention of the conservative language of poli- tics focussed in particular on re-appropriations of the nation, which were so success- ful that the idea of the nation became predominantly conservative by the last third of the 19th century. Caruso effectively buries the idea that conservatives in Europe reacted defensively to the challenges of modernity. He shows how they very active- ly invented their own vision of a conservative modernity around notions of nation, Christianity and monarchy. Based on a staggering amount of primary sources from political pamphlets to popular novels, poetry, songs, scientific treatises, religious writ- ings, sermons, petitions, public speeches, memoirs and newspaper articles as well as diplomatic documents and archival sources, Caruso sets out to show that the post-rev- olutionary languages of politics came to be dominated by conservatives in Italy and Germany, who successfully domesticated liberal ideas of progress and made the nation into a conservative concept. Conservatives used their considerable powers to accom- modate themselves pragmatically to the ‘new times’ of the 19th century. The idea of the nation they constructed rested on dynastic, religious and paternalist justifications. In particular, conservatives proved very adept at combining local forms of patriotism with the idea of the nation. History and historicity became major resources for this conservative re-appropriation of the nation. Conservative political thinkers across Eu- rope put forward the idea of positive lines of a long tradition that they juxtaposed to the dystopias of revolution, associated widely with anarchy and terror. The modern political speech that formed in the 19th century was shaped by conservatives more than by liberals. Caruso summarises the elements of that modern political language in four characteristics: first, the reduction of complexity and the introduction of emo- tions and passions to politics, secondly, the idea of the necessity of resolute agency, thirdly, the belief in political necessities being without alternatives, and, fourthly, the invention of identities which were capable of integrating larger, supra-regional groups, especially around ideas of nation, monarchy and religion. Caruso’s book is compara- tive and transnational history at its very best, and its many insights on the language of political conservatism in Europe make it a landmark publication which everyone interested in the shaping of western modernity should read.
The importance of key concepts for political legitimacy is also at the heart of Uwe Fuhrmann’s attempt to re-write the foundational history of the ‘social market econ- omy’ in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in the years 1948 and 1949. As he points out, the ‘social market economy’ has become the central defining characteristic of Germany’s system of ‘Rhenish capitalism’. It has become remarkably consensual in the political sphere and Germany has been the key driver in trying to establish it not only as a German but as a European concept. The notion that Europe, i.e. the European Union is different from the U.S. in that it does not follow a free market economy but has developed its own ‘social market economy’ variant is an important one in today’s European politics.29 Only the ‘social market economy’, so the argument goes, is capable of restraining the greed of an unfettered capitalism and thus produce a minimum of social equality that is seen as necessary for the stability of societies. Thus, the concept of the ‘social market economy’ is significant not only for Germany, but also for Europe and, as a model for the ordering of society, it is of global significance. Fuhrmann’s re-evaluation of the origins of Germany’s ‘social market economy’ is thus far from being a parochial affair.
Fuhrmann bases his study on a sophisticated theoretical and methodological ap- proach, a Foucauldian-inspired discourse analysis of the dispositif of ‘social market economy’. Using this instrument flexibly and constructively he can show how the dominant narrative of the ‘social market economy’ having its origins in the ideas of Alfred Müller-Armack and the politics of the FRG’s first economics minister, Ludwig Erhard, is nothing but a historiographical myth. Erhard is shown to be a staunch advocate of a ‘free market economy’ following the American model in the early post- war years. As the U.S. occupying forces were gaining in weight in comparison to the British, who had more state interventionist ideas on how to re-organise Germany’s economy, this free market attitude seemed, for a while, to be in line with the win- ners of the occupation regime in Western zones of occupation. However, Fuhrmann points to the importance of a forgotten history of resistance to the introduction of a free market economy coming in particular from local trade union organisations that successfully channelled the discontent of workers into a powerful movement challeng- ing the reconstruction of free-market capitalism which many held responsible for the demise of the Weimar Republic and the rise of National Socialism. This massive wave of opposition to the re-introduction of free-market capitalism culminated in the last general strike in Germany to date. Resistance did not only incorporate the political left but also significant sections of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), including members of its trade union wing and some of those who championed a Catholic so- cial policy. Only when faced with such opposition did Erhard adopt, rather belatedly, the concept of ‘social market economy’.30 The trade unions and the Social Democrats endorsed this development, as they reckoned that they were to gain from references to the ‘social’—often identified with the left rather than the right. Indeed, the ques- tion of how to fill the ‘empty signifier’ ‘social market economy’ became a central one after 1948 with the left putting forward very different ideas from the right. However, ultimately it was Erhard and the CDU who were identified with the concept of ‘so- cial market economy’ and they reaped the electoral benefits in the years after 1949. Overall, Fuhrmann makes a very persuasive argument in favour of reconsider- ing to what extent Erhard, Müller-Armack and a handful of other economists devel- oped the idea of the ‘social market economy’ after 1945 and put it into practice in a continuous stream of policies.
Instead, he paints a picture of the concept of ‘social market economy’ emerging out of a situation in which it was impossible to push through a free market economy. The new concept served the purpose of placating the opposition to a reconstitution of the old capitalism and was only filled with content in the years after 1949. Since then it has become part and parcel of the economic success story of the Federal Republic,31 but forgetting its origins also means forgetting that at the beginning of the ‘social market economy’ stood a powerful social movement rejecting free-market capitalism as undemocratic and demanding a more democratic restructuring of the economic sphere. This is also what connects the protests of 1948 with the protests of the GJM after the 2000s.
Stefan Berger is Professor of Social History and Director of the Institute for Social Movements at Ruhr University Bochum, where he is also executive chair of the Foun- dation History of the Ruhr and head of the House for the History of the Ruhr.