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Other Roads: Politics and policy after Neo-liberalism. Presentation to Conference on ‘Other Worlds: Social Movements and the Making of Alternatives’ Sydney: April 28-29, 2005 John Wiseman Professor of Public Policy, Victoria University [email protected]

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Other roads politics and policy after neo liberalism

Other Roads: Politics and policy after Neo-liberalism

Presentation to Conference on

‘Other Worlds: Social Movements and the Making of Alternatives’

Sydney: April 28-29, 2005

John Wiseman

Professor of Public Policy, Victoria University

[email protected]


Building other worlds learning from the rise of neo liberalism

Building other worlds: Learning from the rise of Neo-liberalism

Social and political paradigm shifts are built on…

Other voices: Clear, compelling stories about what is wrong - and why

Other views: Clear, compelling stories about better ways forward

Other actions: Institutions and practices capable of turning alternative ideas into reality

Other movements: Broad, strong networks and alliances

Other knowledge: Learning new ways of seeing, living and working


Other voices the importance of critique and resistance
Other Voices:The importance of critique and resistance

‘The naming of the intolerable is itself the hope. When something is termed intolerable, actions must follow.’

John Berger

‘Resistance, exodus, the emptying out of the enemy’s power and the multitude’s construction of a new society are one and the same process.’

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri


Other voices what s wrong with neo liberalism
Other Voices:What’s wrong with Neo-liberalism?

The world run as a ‘market without edges’ by and for the rich and powerful is a world of…

  • Deepening inequalities and exclusions

  • Rising levels of fear and insecurity

  • Unsustainable environmental damage

  • Stifled democracy

  • Shrivelling political imagination and hope


Other views the importance of alternative ideas
Other Views:The importance of alternative ideas

‘The world suffers under a dictatorship of no alternatives. Ideas are not enough to overthrow that dictatorship. We cannot, however, overthrow it without ideas.’

Roberto Mangabeira Unger

‘The affirmation of alternatives goes hand in hand with the affirmation that there are alternatives to the alternatives. The other possible world is a utopian aspiration tat comprises several possible worlds. The other possible world may be many things, but never a world with no alternatives.’

Boaventura de Sousa Santos


Other views sources of alternative political ideas
Other Views:Sources of alternative political ideas

  • Anti-corporate globalisation movements including World Social Forum networks and participants

  • Peace and anti-war movements

  • Socialist, trade union and labour movements

  • Ecological movements

  • Feminist movements

  • Indigenous peoples’ movements

  • Spiritual and faith communities

  • Local and community development movements

  • Movements for democratising global governance

  • Alternative economic perspectives

  • Alternative public administration perspectives


Other views sources of alternative political ideas1
Other Views:Sources of alternative political ideas

  • New Democracy

  • Subsidiarity

  • Ecological sustainability

  • Protecting and respecting the common heritage of humanity

  • Diversity

  • Human rights

  • Jobs, livelihood and employment

  • Food security and safety

  • Equity

  • The precautionary principle

    John Cavanagh and Jerry Mander

    International Forum on Globalization


Other views deepening democracy
Other Views:‘Deepening Democracy’

‘It comes back to deepening of democracy. What we have at this moment is democracy reduced to the rule of lies…It's a vicious cycle, and we need instead to create virtuous cycles that allow economic democracy to feed political democracy, cultural identities, and cultural diversity.’

Vandanna Shiva

‘We define the reinvention of democracy to mean the reinvention of a society such that the mode of economic production, the structures of political governance, the dissemination of scientific innovation, the organization of the media, social relations and the relationships between society and nature are subject to a radical participatory and living democratic process.’

Thomas Ponniah and William Fisher

‘Another World is Possible’


Other actions the importance of alternative institutions and practices
Other Actions: The importance of alternative institutions andpractices

The importance of experimentation and attention to detail…

…deepening democracy at

local, global and national levels


Other actions local knowledge and local democracy
Other Actions: Local knowledge and local democracy

‘I think democracy is going to be reclaimed at the local level in a globally networked fashion… I’m not talking about retreating into localism, dropping out of the international debate, but I think that what we’re seeing internationally is a trend to resist a further erosion of democratic rights globally and a reclaiming of participatory democracy locally.’

Naomi Klein

Local resistances and experiments

  • Chipko

  • Kerala

  • Chiapas

  • Porto Alegre…


Other actions democratising global governance
Other Actions:Democratising global governance

Defending national sovereignty

Regulating and replacing corporate globalisation

Reforming and replacing the World Bank, IMF and WTO

Revitalising the United Nations

UN Economic Security Council; UN Conference on Trade and Development; UN International Insolvency Court; UN International Finance Organisation and Regional Monetary Funds; UN Trade Disputes Court; UN Environment Organisation; UN Organisation for Corporate Accountability: John Cavanagh and Jerry Mander

Exploring new forms of transnational civil society


Other actions democratising national governance
Other Actions: Democratising national governance

‘No internationally-focused movement can sustain itself—let alone fundamentally challenge capitalism—without also sinking the deepest domestic roots. Any politics that is anti-capitalist must carry the fight into the national states which remain the ultimate bases of capitalism’s power, and any anti-capitalist politics with staying power can only evolve out of the collective experiences and struggles in workplaces, neighbourhoods, universities, and within historic communities such as nations.’

Sam Gindin


Other actions democratising economics
Other Actions:Democratising economics

  • Strengthen long term productive investment, reducing power of finance capital and mobilising social savings

  • Endow citizens and workers through social inheritance mechanisms and universal life long education

  • Democratize the market, decentralising and broadening access to knowledge, capital and resources

  • Expand investment in the caring economy and opportunities for social solidarity and co-operation

  • Broaden and deepen participatory, deliberative representative democratic process; radically expand access to information and communication media

  • Strengthen role and capacity of civil society organisations and networks

    Roberto Mangabeira Unger

    ‘Democracy Realized’


Other actions democratising economics1
Other Actions: Democratising economics...

  • Social rather than private ownership

  • Nested worker and consumer councils

  • Balanced job complexes rather than corporate workplace organisations

  • Remuneration for effort and sacrifice rather than for property, power or output

  • Participatory planning rather than markets or central planning

  • Participatory self management rather than class rule

    Michael Albert ‘Parecon’


From neo liberalism to new democracy alternative directions in public policy
From neo-liberalism to new democracy? Alternative directions in public policy

  • From competitive and acquisitive individualism to…Rediscovery of importance of connectedness, co-operation and creativity

  • From narrow economic and market logic to…Valuing and linking environmental, social, economic and cultural perspectives, strategies and outcomes

  • From short term profit and consumption to…Longer term investment in sustainable, resilient communities and environments

  • From inevitable growing gap between winners and losers to…Strategic action to strengthen inclusion and respect for diversity

  • From maximising privatisation to..reinvesting in community and public sector capacities, infrastructure and partnerships

  • From opaque and unaccountable bureaucratic and corporate hierarchies to…engaging and involving citizens and communities in informed, democratic decision making.

  • From contracting and risk management…to Co-ordinating and connecting multiple sources of knowledge and expertise

    • Wayne Parsons


Other actions alternative institutions and practices
Other Actions: Alternative institutions and practices?

  • Cancel public debt of countries in the South

  • International taxes on financial transactions (eg. Tobin tax)

  • Dismantle fiscal, legal and banking havens

  • Defend right to work and to receive social security

  • Reject WTO free-trade regulations

  • Defend nutritional sovereignty and security

  • Prohibit ‘patents on the mind’ and on living things.

  • Strengthen policies against sexism, anti-Semitism and racism

  • Strengthen measures to end the destruction of the environment

  • Dismantle foreign military bases and remove foreign troops

  • Strengthen right to information for all citizens

  • Profoundly reform and democratize international organizations

    Manifesto released at WSF, Porto Alegre, 2005


Other movements the importance of building broad strong networks and alliances
Other movements: The importance of building broad, strong networks and alliances

The movement of movements – The World Social Forum - One No and Many Yesses

Key debates…

  • Reform or revolution?

  • Socialism or social emancipation?

  • The state as enemy or potentiality?

  • National or global struggles?

  • Direct or institutional action?

  • Principle of equality or respect for difference?

    Boaventura de Sousa Santos


Other movements the importance of building broad strong networks and alliances1
Other movements: The importance of building broad, strong networks and alliances

Exploring new relationships between social movements, political parties, government and states…learning form recent Latin American political experience:

  • Brazil

  • Venezuala

  • Uruguay

  • Bolivia


Other knowledge the importance of new sources and spaces for learning
Other Knowledge: The importance of new sources and spaces for learning

‘Democracy is about the utilization of knowledge. A democratic society is one in which all members are able to develop and express their capacities to the full in the running of that society. One of the tasks of a democratic state is to create the conditions for this. Democracy is threatened by by institutions that appropriate and, in effect privatize knowledge.’

Hilary Wainwright

Learning spaces…

  • Political and social movements (eg. WSF)

  • Civil society and NGOs (eg. MSF)

  • Governments (eg. Venezuela, Porto Allegre)

  • Universities (eg. International Network of Scholar Activists)

  • Internet (eg. Open Democracy)


Reality check
Reality check? for learning

  • How widely understood and accepted are the criticisms of Neo-liberalism?

  • How widely understood and accepted are ideas about alternative political directions? (Capitalism as the ‘least worst system’?)

  • How strong are the alternative institutions, practices and movements – compared to the strength of dominant institutions and practices?

  • Are spaces for learning about new political directions expanding or shrinking?


Other roads key policy and research challenges
Other Roads: for learning Key policy and research challenges

  • Document and communicate evidence of the damage and dangers of Neo-liberalism

  • Identify, share and learn from the most promising alternative:

    • Political and policy ideas

    • Institutions and practices

    • Networks and movements

    • Knowledge and skills

  • Continue to open up space for learning and dialogue about key dilemmas and debates


  • Other roads the importance of hope
    Other Roads: The Importance of Hope for learning

    ‘Against the International of terror, that neo-liberalism represents we must raise an International of Hope. Unity beyond borders, languages, colours, cultures, sexes, strategies and thoughts, of all those who prefer a living humanity. The International of Hope. Not the bureaucracy of Hope. Not an image inverse to and thus similar what is annihilating us. Not power with a new sign or new clothes. A flower. Yes that flower of hope. A song Yes. The song of life.’

    Zapatistas, First Declaration of Realidad: For Humanity and Against Neo-Liberalism

    Chiapas, 1997


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