Social Movements and socialism . What is to be done? . Background .
What is to be done?
1. Social movements are a type of group action. They are large informal groupings of individuals and/or organisations focussed on specific political or social issues, in other words, on carrying out, resisting or undoing a social change. Modern Western social movements became possible through education (the wider dissemination of literature), and increased mobility of labour due to the industrialisation and urbanisation of 19th century societies. It is sometimes argued that the freedom of expression, education and relative economic independence prevalent in the modern Western culture is responsible for the unprecedented number and scope of various contemporary social movements. However others point out that many of the social movements of the last hundred years grew up, like the Mau Mau in Kenya, to oppose Western colonialism. Either way, social movements have been and continued to be closely connected with democratic political systems. Occasionally social movements have been involved in democratising nations, but more often they have flourished after democratisation. Over the past 200 years, they have become part of a popular and global expression of dissent. (Wikipedia, 2011)
2. Social movements are thus in our view, politically and/or socially directed collectives, often involving multiple organisations and networks, focused on changing one or more elements of the social, political and economic system within which they are located.” (Ballard, Habib and Valodia, 2006, p3)
3. New Social Movements: “Indigenous movements, women's movements, Afro-Latino movements, and landless people's movements were all motivated and sustained by aspirations that derive from shared identities, and are directed against social relationships and structures that have adverse consequences for these identity groups” (Bebbington, 2003)
These are present in disciplines such as sociology and political science
All previous historical movements were movements of minorities, or in the interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority. The proletariat, the lowest stratum of our present society, cannot stir, cannot raise itself up, without the whole superincumbent strata of official society being sprung into the air.
Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence. (Marx, German Ideology,1845)