PGA – a movement we should take note of


Richard Moore

Dear social-movements,

We've been talking a lot recently about how movements arise, how their
agendas are developed, and about the prospects for an effective movement
for systemic change in today's circumstances.  I'd like to put on the table
some empirical data for us to look at.  That 'data' is an actual embryonic
global movement, one whose goal is to help create an effective
counter-revolution to capitalist domination.

"Peoples' Global Action" (PGA) brings together diverse grass-roots
movements from around the world, facilitates the development of consensus,
and coordinates collective actions.   PGA has organized two global
conferences, and each has generated (or is now generating) a rather
comprehensive and sensible 'Manifesto'.   As a seperate message, I am
posting "PGA Bulletin #4 - part 1 of 3" - this is the 'empirical data' to
which I referred above.  I can send parts 2 and 3 of the bulletin to anyone
who wants to see them.

In the development of this embryonic, PGA-coordinated, counter-revolution,
we can see the interplay of 'structural' and 'agency' forces - each of
which signicicantly influences the character of the movement.  PGA is
acting in two different roles - as a faciltator of a 'structural' process,
and as a conscious 'agent' guiding that process.

In its first role, PGA acts as a neutral 'forum-provider'.  Grass-roots
groups come together under PGA auspices and 'spontaneously' develop
common-understanding and a sense of mutual purpose.  This represents a
'structural' process in that the 'conditions' of peoples lives are
articulated within the forum, and these 'conditions' are then collectively
synthesized into mutual-benefit agendas.  This process might well proceed
without any 'singular leaders' or 'pivotal theorists' being at the heart of
it.  Historians might later see it as a 'spontaneous, evolutionary,
response' to capitalism.  That's what I would call the unfolding of a
'structural force'.  If there is a 'causitive agent' involved, it would be
the people themselves, acting collectively through their local
organizations.  PGA, in this role, acts only a neutral vehicle of
communication, empowering 'democratic agency'.

In its second role, PGA acts as a 'leadership agent' - deciding how often
to hold gatherings, whom to invite, how to structure the conference
agendas, etc.  For the most part, the PGA leadership cadre (whoever they
are) seem to be acting in a very responsible, enlightened, neutral manner.
They don't seem to be pushing a doctrinaire ideoloogy; they don't seem to
be buiding a hierarchical organization; they encourage an open consensus
process.  Fair play to them.

And yet, in its role of 'leadership agent', PGA is imposing certain subtle
emphases onto the coalition agenda, and is exercising a certain modality of
leadership.  In both cases, I suggest that we - who want a democratic
counter-revolution to succeed - have reason to be concerned.  I'll explain
first what I mean by 'emphases'.

The 'emphases' I refer to give a certain disturbing spin to the Manifesto,
which may limit efforts to expand the coalition to wider constituencies -
there is already a whiff of 'exclusionism' being built into the Manifesto.
Unless a critical-mass of constituencies can be brought into the movement,
it cannot ultimately succeed in in its revolutionary objectives.  For the
coalition to reach the scale necessary to overcome the global capitalist
system, it must be as inclusive as possible, while being true to its

Only a tiny elite really benefits from capitalist hegemony - why should not
'everyone else' be brought into the movement?  Why should the elite be left
with any allies at all?  Any policy of 'exclusionism' only serves to limit
the movement and to provide constituencies around which an elite-sponsored
counter-reaction can be mobilized.  In twenties' Germany, those who were
left out of the socialist movement became available for recruitment as
storm-troopers for the capitalist-financed fascist reaction.  Any
revolutionary strategy that permits this historical scenario to be repeated
can only be described as suicidal.

What we call the 'right wing' - if you look at the grass-roots membership -
are ordinary, decent human beings, who want a better world just like we all
do.  Demagogic leaders and movements are emerging, who are appealing to the
prejudices of these grass-roots folks, and who are guiding their energy in
frightening directions.  These leaders and movements may well be 'enemies
of our revolution', but the grass-roots folks to whom they appeal are not
our enemies.  If our counter-revolution is to succeed, we cannot dismiss
the 'right wing' as being 'outside the pale' of the movement.  Our
challenge instead is to compete with the demagogues, and help the folks to
see that it is capitalism that is the problem - not the various
conspiracies they are being told to arm themselves against - and we're
talking about real weapons here.  The storm troopers, it appears, are being
assembled even before our movement gets into full swing.  In this
revolution, we must always be aware of reactionary 'capitalist agency', in
all its subtle and evolved manifestations.


My second concern, as regards 'PGA as leadership agent', is the modality of
leadership being exercised.  The absence of a hierarchical 'party
structure' is to be commended, as is the absence of self-appointed 'heroic
leaders' who want us to be 'followers'.  But what _is the structure of the
PGA cadre?  And _who are they?   And what trade-offs are they considering,
when they decide what spin they want to put into their leadership?  The
results of PGA conferences are widely publicised, but the behind-the-scenes
inner organizing process remains a mystery, as is the process by which
final Manifesto language is formulated.  There is an opaqueness, an
anonymity, to the PGA leadership which is in conflict with the requirements
of an open, democratic process.

Until this leadership process can somehow be opened up, and be made
democratically accountable - we must remain on guard against a potential
'Bolschevik Scenario'.  So long as PGA leadership remains opaque and
anonymous - and does not enter into dialog outside its chosen circle of
friends - we cannot be assured that this cadre may not emerge as some kind
of power-brokering agency within the movement.  We all know that power
corrupts, and many a well-meaning revolutionary cadre has evolved (or has
been hijacked) into a tyrannical regime - when the movement's structure
permitted such an outcome.  This line of thinking may well represent an
excessive paranoid concern with worst-case outcomes, but my philosophy is
that any potentially dangerous condition should be nipped in the bud
through exposure to open dialog.

Thus far, <•••@••.•••> has functioned as a one-way channel of
communication - a source of reasonably enlightened and effective movement
leadership and propaganda.  My attempts to enter into dialog with
<•••@••.•••> - the only 'identity' PGA offers us - have not met with
success.  I hope that an appropriate dialog will develop - by one means or
another - so that a democratic outcome can be assured for the movement - if
it is so fortunate as to be successful it its endeavor.


I hope that PGA, as a real-world, real-time 'empirical example' might
provide some grist for our mill of studying and undertanding social

all the best,