Book Review - The Irresistible Rise of Global Anti-Capitalism:

We Are Everywhere

We Are Everywhere is a collection of articles, photos and interviews about the past decade of global anti-capitalist resistance. What marks this book out is that all the contributors are activists and this lends the anthology a sense of immediacy and infectious optimism.

There are 55 pieces by contributors from all over the world. Amongst the glorious Babel of voices are stories of land occupations in Brazil, eco-activism in India, the emancipation of imprisoned asylum seekers in Australia and actions against the privatisation of water in Bolivia. There are tales from the Zapatista heartland in Mexico, the unemployed movement in Argentina and solidarity volunteers in Palestine and a plethora of other accounts of anti-capitalist activity including two pieces written by Irish anarchists. The picture that emerges from the book is a large, multilayered and complex movement for global justice made up of a web of interconnected struggles. Importantly, the Utopian ambitions and fierce hope of the movement is balanced by a firm emphasis on practical solidarity and direct action.

The book is primarily an activist history of the anti-capitalist movement and reading through it you realize that the movement has had a measure of success. The anthology begins in 1994, when the end of history had been confidently announced in the boardrooms of multinationals and in the corridors of power. There was, they said, no reality or dream but the market and there was no other god but profit.

It is clear that over the past decade of anti-capitalist activity has done much to undermine and challenge this neo-liberal orthodoxy. The leading capitalist institutions such as the G8, the EU, the IMF and the World Bank, secretive and unaccountable conclaves of the elite, are now firmly in the public spotlight and can only meet if they are protected by thousands of cops. The plans that these elites concoct at such meetings are now being fought against by a dynamic and global resistance movement. The book's greatest strength is that it manages to capture the spirit of this movement and chart how the ancient struggle for equality and freedom has given birth to a new radical, transnational consciousness.

The editors have arranged the materials in the book thematically to reflect what they believe are the most important characteristics of the anti-capitalist movement. It is striking to what extent these themes have been borrowed and developed from anarchist ideas They highlight the participative and non-hierarchical way that anti-capitalist groups and networks organise themselves, their respect for individual freedom and creativity, their dislike of dogma and established political parties and their desire to build power amongst people rather than seizing it from the state.

All of these are typical concerns of anarchist politics and the tens of thousands of nameless anarchists who have involved themselves with the global justice movement should be lauded for ensuring that libertarian ideas have played such an important part in shaping the movement.

WAE is a well-produced, engaging and persuasive account of the development of the anti-capitalist movement. What it isn't, and didn't set out to be, is a systematic analysis of modern capitalism. The collection doesn't devote much time to analysis or strategy and there is practically nothing explaining the nature of the neo-liberal project. The book is confidently optimistic and celebratory and for that it is worth-while but perhaps more material on the limitations of the anti-capitalist movement could have been included. There is very little about the movement's weaknesses and failures and there is no sustained examination of the differences between those struggling in the global north and those struggling in the global south.

Nonetheless, WAE is an intelligent and impassioned account of ten years of struggle - the victories, the repression, the passion, the frivolity and above all the hope that inspires the anti-capitalist movement. It reminds us that while they make plans we have the ability to make history.

Ellen Walsh

Edited by Notes from NowhereVerso,
October 2003, 520 pages, 150 pho-tos,
Price: 13 euro
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This edition is No81 published in May 2004

Cover of WS81