File spoon-archives/postanarchism.archive/postanarchism_2004/postanarchism.0403, message 93

Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2004 10:23:57 -0800 (PST)
Subject: [postanarchism] Sullivan: "We Are Heartbroken and Furious: Engaging With Violence in the (Anti-)globalization Movement(s)"

‘We are heartbroken and furious!’ Engaging with
violence in the (anti-)globalisation  movement(s)

by Sian Sullivan   

CSGR, University of Warwick   CSGR Working Paper No
123/03  January 2004    


This piece is intended as an exploratory comment on
the militancy emerging in   (anti-)globalisation
political practice and in the policing of such
practice, rather than as a  definitive analysis. As
someone who attempts to pursue a tradition of the
‘organic intellectual’  – engaging in the practice of
activism as well as the theorising of activist
practice – the paper  has emerged from my own process
of sense-making regarding violence in the
‘(anti)globalisation movement(s)’. It flows from
experience of irruptive situations, my perceptions  of
the contextual causes of violence in these situations,
and my thinking around the subversive  and
transformative potential, or otherwise, of violence in
engendering radical post-capitalist  social relations.
I take as a starting point the recent protests against
the EU summit meeting in  Thessaloniki, June 2003,
which culminated in substantial violence against
property and  towards police by antiauthoritarian
protesters, and was met by the police with violent
attack  and the brutalisation of those arrested. I do
not assume a moral standpoint regarding the value  or
otherwise of violence to ‘the movements’. Instead I
try to consider why violence is  increasing as a
bio-political tactic in these contexts, ‘upfronting’
both the normalisation of  psychological and physical
violence in the everyday circumstances of
late-capitalism, and the  depression and anger this
engenders. In the interests of strategic debate
regarding the  usefulness of violence in potentiating
post-capitalist social relations, however, I attempt
to  disentangle the relative (f)utility of acting out,
acting upon and denying the experience of  anger. My
personal stance is to celebrate the transformative
potential and energy of the correct  attribution of
the contextual sources of anger – particularly in
shifting between the microcosm  of individual
circumstances and the macrocosm of structural societal
violence within which  these arise – whilst upholding
a view that violence as a simple reaction to
alienating  circumstances is likely to maintain rather
than shift their brutalising tendencies. My conclusion
 is both gloomy and hopeful. On the one hand, given
that violence to life is both so systemic to  late
capitalist modernity and that ‘we’ tend to be in such
denial regarding its dehumanising  psychosocietal
effects, I am clear that it is likely that the
incidence of violence in protest  politics as
elsewhere will increase in reaction to this. On the
other hand, I celebrate the creative  energy present
in global anti-capitalist actions and practice, the
emergence of a global peace  movement as a political
force, and the current radicalisation of people
otherwise deemed by  some to be politically apathetic.

Keywords:- violence/violation, militancy,
militarisation (of police), (anti-)globalisation 
movements, anti-capitalism, new social movements,
anarchism, depression, anger, bio-politics    

Address for correspondence:  Centre for the Study of
Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR)  University
of Warwick  Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK  Phone: +44 (0)24
7657 4420   Fax: +44 (0)24 7656 2548  Email:      

(for the full paper go to )

===="Being at one is god-like and good, but human, too human, the 
     Which insists there is only the One, one country, one truth and
         one way."

- Friedrich Hölderlin, 1799

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