New Book: Restructuring and Resistance
Diverse Voices of Struggle in Western Europe
13.Apr.01 - Summary: Restructuring and Resistance charts some of the rapid changes in social, political and economic relations which have been occurring in western European society, and the new conflicts which are emerging at the heart of these changes. The particular focus is the last twenty years of the European Unification process. The book is the voices of many different people directly involved in diverse grassroots struggles and processes of social change from across (mainly) western Europe. 77 chapters from 15 countries chart the breakdown in social consensus which has marked western Europe in the post Second World War years, and the emergence of new challenges to the current social order which this breakdown is giving rise to. Analyses of restructuring processes and accounts of resistance are intertwined with each other, showing that they are inseparable from each other. As well as having a wide diversity of stories, the book is also illustrated, with a wide range of cartoons, photos, and propaganda materials.
In the last twenty years, the processes of European integration and globalisation have accelerated dramatically, creating a European landscape which was completely unimaginable a short time ago. As well as the Single Currency being well on its way and a large expansion to the East, there is even a new military force being developed, the European Rapid Reaction Force. We are well on the road to a superpower Europe. All these processes have provoked very major changes at all levels of society, from farming, to transport, immigration, to electoral politics.Despite the rosy image of international friendship and cooperation, and inevitability that most main line media paints these processes in, these processes are in fact deeply contested. Many new and exciting forms of political resistance are emerging. These are increasingly based in direct action, autonomy, and internationalism. The last few years have shown an exciting convergence of different people in different struggles and different places, coming together to reject the directions in which European societies are currently moving. In addition to this, all the major international financial institutions, such as the World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, are facing unprecedented protests, and a major crisis of legitimacy. Capitalism itself, as a social system, is being fundamentally called into question once again. These changes are opening up exciting new possibilities for radical change, both within the area of the European Union, and more generally at a global level.
The main themes discussed in the book are:
• An overview of the historical development of the European Union, up until its current phase involving the Single Currency and expansion to the east. The focus is on changing social relations, rather than on institutions, and on the European Union as the prime expression of capitalist development in Europe.
• In recent years the broad social consensus which western European political systems have been based on is breaking down, and this is resulting in two distinct strands of resistance-internationalist, emancipatory strategies on the one hand, and on the other a resurgence of far right politics, at all different levels, from racist street violence, to electoral successes. This poses a stark challenge for people to take an active role in collectively shaping their futures, rather than adopting a passive approach, which is likely to lead to very authoritarian and ugly scenarios.
• The contradiction between the idea of free movement of goods within the EU, and the efforts to create suitable infrastructure for this (transport networks, communication networks etc), and the heavily restricted movement for people, in relation to immigration cotnrols and Fortress Europe. Both these areas have provoked some very important and dynamic new forms of struggle in recent years.
• The destruction of the countryside and peasant based agriculture, and the parallel rapid urbanisation processes, sparked by European agricultural policy, which is taking place in a global context shaped by the WTO.
• Work and privatisation struggles-ranging from factory work, to domestic work, to homework, educational work, and other areas of service provision. Emphasis on autonomous workers's struggles, and the crisis of trade unionism.
• Case studies of periphery Europe-Spain and Ireland. EU expansion to the east and the effects on border controls and agriculture.
• Ecological conflicts provoked by the current model of development which is at the heart of European integration. • The changing role of nation states-from welfare to repression. By exploring the changes affecting different aspects of state behaviour, this section attacks the myth of many "antiglobalisation" activists that globalisation is weakening nation states. Nation states are in effect becoming a globally coordinated police force to protect the global economy and those interests which benefit from it. Restructuring of the main international military body, NATO, is increasingly laying the groundwork for a global military police force.
• Recent efforts at globalising resistance, and protesting major international organisations, such as the World Bank, World Trade Organisation and the World Economic Forum, which have thrown these institutions into an unprecedented crisis of legitimacy, and opened up very important new spaces from which to challenge the domination of capital over people and the environment.
• Possible convergence processes between different struggles, exploring reasons why radical movements often reproduce power structures they are criticising (particularly around gender and race), and exploring the continued relevance of revolution and autonomy as processes for radical social change in western Europe. What prospects are the rapidly intensifying processes of international communication and coordination, which have been developing in recent resistance efforts, able to offer in terms of creating emancipatory social alternatives which go beyond the nation state?
The book costs £7 plus postage and packing costs. Bulk orders are at reduced prices, and people can sell copies locally, and take a share of the money. As this book is being self published and distributed, any help with distribution in this way is greatly appreciated!
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