The State of Resistance

Issue section: 
(320)

Ed: François Polet, Zed Books, £16.99

The State of Resistance is a collection of articles and reports from across the Global South. From familiar struggles such as those in Venezuela and Bolivia to those rarely heard of, as in Senegal and Cameroon, this book gives an international, if politically inconsistent, account of the global movement.

Hector Lucena sheds new light on the impact of social reforms on the working class in Venezuela. He argues that the two-tier assault on private capital creates a bizarre situation where businesses that are legally bound to become cooperatives are still essentially privately run in all but name.

The impact that this has on workers' organisation is interesting, as they are still operating within the limits of the market but profess to be giving a fair deal to both worker and buyer.

In Africa the fight against neo-colonialism and imperialism continues to be waged. The cynicism about Tony Blair, Bono and Bob Geldof's politics of the Make Poverty History campaign are summed up as a "propaganda exercise that ended in resounding failure".

In Senegal the NGO-dominated movement, which also includes peasant and women's groups, was galvanised by the events of Seattle. From this, the creating of a conference on "Africa: From Resistance to Alternatives" brought trade unions into the movement where they continue to play a central role. Strikes, occupations and demonstrations are frequent, as the Senegalese continue to be on the frontline of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank policies.

The domination of NGOs throughout many of the movements covered in the book poses problems. Huge budgets and international recognition allow organisations to steer the politics and distort the voice of the movement. While references are frequently made to working class, trade union based organisation, the fractured development in the Global South is reflected in the organisational structures of resistance.

François Polet has brought together a very interesting and important selection of work, one which aids a more generalised analysis of resistance globally and succinctly helps to fill a gap in knowledge about the movements in the Global South.