Darij Zadnikar

The Geopolitics of the Contemporary Social Movements: Global Resistance

It is quite a challenging task to propose a workable sub-category to the seemingly “outdated” term of geopolitics. Even more, because this term was never genuine part of the life-world of the commons and it's ethical and esthetic layers. Looking at the maps of the current crisis, for instance at the borders of Syria – and the same can be seen on the other maps of war-torn countries, which are mainly located beyond our conformity – we can see the straight borderlines, which are cutting into the real geography and demographics of broad landscapes. These borders were obviously created with rulers and by the rulers, located somewhere far away, in the “metropolis” of the world.

Geo-politics crystallized itself as a clear idea in the times of imperialism at the break of 19th and 20th century. The colonial hegemony over the vast “un-ruled” and “non-Modernized” geographies has been the driving ideological and practical force behind the Western national states, who shaped the idea of geopolitics and it's practice of subordination of “outer” space. This was also the cause of “inner” international conflicts they run between themselves. “Internationality” is, therefore, a result of these historical hegemonic restructurings. The periphery and the “outer” space (Central European, for instance) comprehends this “inter-nationality” mainly as inter-ethnicity, on the basis of their Romantic post-1848 revolutionary counter-hegemonism, which has been established upon the mythological construct of Volksgemeinshaft (people's community), and exists now as a raw nationalism. Hence, there was no geopolitics without national hegemonism.

On the other hand, the geopolitics is not only a concept of hegemonic practices but also a vocabulary entry, a word. Even though we usually identify the words with the concepts, there does not exist such an identity; the concepts, ideas or ideologies are just sticking itself on the words like diverse posted notes. If there obviously are no body snatchers outside the fiction, the matter is different with word-snatching, which is a common practice of ideological warfare. Let's take for example a neoconservative use of the term “revolution”, which has been used in the opposite sense as social revolutionaries did, namely as a “counter-revolution”.

This fact, which from the word creates a refrigerator surface for post-it notes, liberates us and opens a possible path for deliberation and experimentation. The stickers we propose could be easily discarded, but in spite of our intellectual playfulness, we hope they would stick in the public mind, just like a meme previously posted like a marginal or casually entry on the Youtube. This should be the starting point in our non-imperialistic snatching of the word “geopolitics” and creating and putting the new connotations, which are more appropriate for our non-systemic and utopian life-world.

The possibility for such a game emerges from the changing image of capitalism, which nowadays is hard to be identified with the mentioned imperialism from a century ago. A century later we're witnessing the formation of the globalized web of elusive hegemonic power, which consists of fast global fluxes of capital. The capital here has to be understood in the form of subordination and not in strict economic sense. It has been signified by the precarity as a new regime of work and by moving of industry to the places where life is generally cheaper (because of violence, lack of affordable cultural and health resources and absence of social security). Because of the falling profit rate and the threat of the crisis, nowadays the capital circulation embodies itself mainly as an evasive flux of financialization. The role of the national state, therefore, differs inasmuch, that we can now talk about the end of nation-states and the constitution of some other type of sovereignty [1]. It does not mean that this a-centric and uncatchable force is not internationally or informally institutionalized. The subordination of Greek democracy by the informal Eurogroup in summer 2015 is a clear example of this questionable structural force, where it was obvious, that “national” financial ministers were representing the hidden financial institutions (like hedge funds, for instance) and not their respective “democracies”. This also does not simply mean that the national state has already perished. It only changed it's nature [2]. All these changes have been fostered and accompanied by the new ideological belief, we're calling now neoliberalism. Contrary to the common image, it is not an economic theory, which could adapt to the argumentative or empirical processes, it is moreover a kind of the new religious dogmata, which was adopted by the ruling elites to such an extent, that they had to snatch the word “revolution” to describe this turn-over and change its sense to the nonsense.

On the background, there exists also an epistemological question. It is the question of pre-theoretical position, which has been erased from the horizon of mainstream social science and humanities in the name of self-proclaimed and never seriously reflected “objectivity”. It is obvious that this mainstream scholarship strives to achieve “scientificity” by imitating procedures of natural sciences and proclaiming this imitation for “objective methods”. The absence of the position of the narrator and proclaiming this for “objectivity” is doubtful, because he is nevertheless still inside of the observed and researched media. Contrary, we – as reflexive researchers – are involved in the praxis, which demands clarification of our position. Far away from the postmodernist skepticism and relativism, which approves all possible standpoints [3] and destroys all hierarchies of narrated, we have to act consciously from within in our claims to the truth or justice. The well-known example is (or should be) Marx's decoding of capital in the terms of labour force, which was previously, in the classical political economy, misunderstood or conceived only as accumulated work. With other words: the changed position of analysis, this time from the standpoint of the proletariat, enabled the decoding. The partisanship was the precondition for “objectivity” or so-called scientific “truth”.

So, where this arrogant self-consciousness of mainstream scientists comes from and which are their presuppositions?

There is an easy observable ideological mechanism: such “empiric methodology” supports non-reflexive and non-critical attitude towards social phenomena. They are not conceived within the dynamics of social changes and struggles, within their historic transitions, but like a “factum brutum”, which has to be entered into some methodological scheme and from which frequency a “scientific” results about their inter-relations has to be achieved. This kind of social science is hiding the epistemological presuppositions into the self-evident banality of empiricism. It seems, that they do not need any kind of theoretical legitimacy. Deleuze characterized such non-conceptual “science” as marketing [4]. It is convenient for predicting the past.

Beside this ideological production of a blind spot, there is also the issue of force, which gives to the scientists the confidence to name the banality of counting as the truth. Pre-modernity relied on a similar force with God's will, which was supported by the institution of medieval Church. In the times of secularization, God and Church had been exchanged with Reason and State. Like art, also science could be understood within such dispositive, which constitutes the subjectivity. There are mechanisms and hierarchies, that are shaping our belief into science so that the resulting “scientific truth” relies not only on the discursive force (scientific articles) but also on the ritualized practices and sheer institutional force given by the state and other bearers of power. They turned to the dark side. This is the force, which liberates the scientists from the responsibility to clarify their social position within the research of society. The self-confident arrogance has been sponsored by the state and outside such (i)rationality, for us remains only the way of marginalization. Hence, from this standpoint, even the fashionable changes in the mainstream art or science are not at all coincidental [5].

Now, haven't we concluded, that national state, in it's Hegelian broad sense, is nowadays perishing and giving way to the new flexible global sovereignty? This one-sided globalization, as a part of neoliberal faith, is connected with the actual reduction of Reason (the second secularization) to the everyday economic reasonability and equating of social science with primitive empiricism.

Regarding this, the gaze of mind (theoria) has now to change the perspective, which is nothing new in the history, let's just, for instance, compare positions of Platon and Aristotle on the one (aristocratic) side with Diogenes or stoics on the other. If Marx took the position of the proletariat to decode the enigma of capital, then we have to choose a similar position to save the theoria within the realm, which is eminently praxis (normative and not “objective”). Well, the position of the proletariat is surely considered as outdated today, but this is largely a misconception of Marx's notion. The contemporary rise of cognitive and affective work and displacement of industrial production into the Third world could not be the conclusive argument, because Marx never identified proletariat with a sociological class of industrial workers, but with the position within the relation of capital accumulation. Even in Communist Manifesto, he had noted, that also lawyers and the man of science are being proletarianized [6]. Nevertheless, the resistance to the global neoliberal capitalism has changed accordingly.

It means, that the resistance and the processes of emancipation had (and have) to change their terrain and modes of action. They have to globalize, not in the sense of internationality but in the sense of trans-nationality. But which are these new emancipatory subjectivities capable of confronting the geopolitics of evasive capitalism? We can identify them, at least from the end of the nineties, in the new, as a rule, grass root, social movements. Contrary to the beginning of the 20th century, these movements are not and should not be hierarchical and authoritarian or aiming to conquer the state apparatus to rule and change the society from above [7]. They even do not need to be an organization. They are just multiplicities of initiatives and struggles. Initially, they emerge from life-world and have commonly anti-systemic connotation. Be it the identity policy (ethnic identity rights or LGBTQ issues, for instance) or class struggle, environmentalism or free movement of migrants and refugees, peace politics or sustainable economy etc., they all constitute a nonhierarchical conglomerate of the contemporary global resistance. We can grasp it through Adorno's micrological thought, which prevents dialectical reconciliation in the totality. In his negative dialectics, the reconciliation is “mediation on the no-longer-hostile multiplicity”. We can refer to the Negri's and Hardt's notion of multitude. We can be anarchists. We can go to Chiapas or Rojava to educate ourselves on the examples of revolutionary communal experiments. There are even more possibilities to understand these heterogeneous emancipatory multiplicities and limitless possibilities to actively join up. Of course, the changed pluralistic points of resistance, are changing also the epistemological viewpoints. It does not matter that the suppressed, mainly colonized, epistemologies have to be recognized in a renewed hegemonic exchange, which would refute all the heritage of Western reason. Each narration, which is meaningful within the plurality of resistant multitude, creates heterogeneity of contemporary reason, which has to be conceived as a net and result of networked resistance. It should be stressed, that resistance here is not faith and expectation of some future ideal state of the world, but emerges from real experimentations of real worldly practices confronting and replacing the ruling system of life (exploitation, ecological degradation, patriarchy, homophobia, post-colonialism, migration management, commercialism etc. etc.).

After two decades of such networked global resistance frequently the question pops up about its impacts. Through the mainstream media, but also through the numerous defeats, it seems that the global neoliberal rule is invincible. Within the life world, even the defeat should become a valuable experience. But the forms and pace of resistance are even faster than the rule of postmodern capital. We have established the networks on the internet, but also in the real life. Some such networks, for instance, Via Campesina, are today the biggest transnational global social networks. If they are not present to the public consciousness of western hemisphere, because of corporate media censure, the worse for the West. From alter-globalization protests to the world and local social forums, from occupy movements to the anti-austerity movements – all these resistance consists of these vivid heterogeneous subjectivities, initiatives, and topics. This is the life-experience, which counts and persists in spite of the violent systemic pressure. The exodus prevails, in spite of death and suffering.

Still, there's an open question within movements of resistance. Do we need to constitute also an alternative or parallel structure? A structured counter-power? Non-hegemonic provisional hierarchy? Are non-formal networks immune to the informal hierarchies and egotisms? Is it possible to formulate a minimal common platform? How to neutralize the national state-oriented leftists, which were imposing themselves on social forums and anti-austerity movements? How to confront the hijacking of our actions and it's media? What's the role of self-defense? The limits of non/violence?

In this regard, the micropolitics of global resistance not just confronts but also transcends the seemingly homogenous neoliberal block of contemporary geopolitics and is an important if not decisive point of renewable understanding of geopolitics beyond the hegemony of powerful. The contemporary multitude of social movements, their propositions, and struggles, are already shaping the geopolitics of the world brought in peril by lemmings of capital.


Bookchin, Murray, The Ecology of Freedom, AK Press, Oakland 2005.

Deleuze, Gilles, “Postscript on the Societies of Control, October, Vol. 59 (Winter, 1992), pp. 3-7, MIT Press.

Hardt, Michael and Negri, Antonio, Empire, Harvard University Press 2001.

Holloway, John, Change the World Without Taking Power, Pluto Press, London 2002.

Kingsnorth, Paul, One No, Many Yeses, Free Press, London 2012.

Maeckelbergh, Marianne, The Will of the Many: How the Alterglobalisation Movement is Changing the Face of Democracy, Pluto Press, New York 2009.

de Sousa Santos, Boaventura, Epistemologies of the South, Paradigm Publishers, London 2015.

Zadnikar, Darij, Adorno and Post-vanguardism, in John Holloway, Fernando Matamoros and Sergio Tischler (eds.) Negativity and Revolution: Adorno and Political Activism, London: Pluto Press 2009.