You are invited to co-imagine a  theory and practice of revolutionary love to animate radical social transformation in the 21st century....

© 2018 Love and Alter-Globalisation


Matt York

Department of Government and Politics,

Room 2.50, Block B,

O'Rahilly Building,

University College Cork, Ireland


T: +353 873536539

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Nov 28, 2018

Theory - initial questions....


Edited: Nov 28, 2018


This project is interested in whether a revolutionary love offers potential in igniting a politics of alter-globalisation no longer confined by nation states or party systems….


Could a theory of revolutionary love act as a central, constitutive mode and motor of politics into the 21st century?




Nov 28, 2018

The below is all in quotes for now, from online research, so that's a caveat, but I'm interested in the etymology of "alter-globalisation" and how these terms come into being as a starting point or literally sometimes a "pointing to" of layers of meaning that can be brought into this experience of a new way of being.


"The first current of the alter-globalization movement considers that instead of getting involved in a global movement and international forums, the path to social change lies through giving life to horizontal, participatory, convivial and sustainable values in daily practices, personal life and local spaces. Many urban activists cite the way that, for example, the Zapatistas in Mexico and other Latin American indigenous movements now focus on developing communities' local autonomy via participatory self-government, autonomous education systems and improving the quality of life. They appreciate too, the convivial aspect of local initiatives and their promise of small but real alternatives to corporate globalization and mass consumption.


The "alter-globalisation" French movement was thus opposed to the "Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe" on the grounds that it only advanced neoliberalism and an Anglo-Saxon economic model.

Originally developed in French as altermondialisme, it has been borrowed into English in the form of "altermondialism" or "altermondialisation". It defines the stance of movements opposed to a neoliberal globalization, but favorable to a globalization respectful of human rights, the environment, national sovereignty and cultural diversity.


Following the French usage of the word altermondialist, the English counterpart "alter-globalist" may have been coined. The name may have been derived from a popular slogan of the movement, namely "Another world is possible"

Nov 28, 2018Edited: Nov 28, 2018

Thanks Siobhan.


Yes, the alter-globalisation movement is usually seen as a specific, isolated movement wave spanning from the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999 into the first decade of the 21st century. This (Revolutionary Love and AlterGlobalisation) project reclaims and extends the meaning of the term 'alter-globalisation' as a useful way of framing the ongoing movement of movements whose proponents support global cooperation and interaction while opposing global capitalism – in general subscribing to anarchistic principles of freedom and the practice of a non-hierarchical democratic politics – and within which this project includes movements such as the Arab Spring, Spain’s indignados, radical environmental movements, and the global Occupy movement.


This research suggests that a framework of unity is required for this ongoing movement of movements which avoids the dominations and hierarchies of previous structures, maintains its constituent diversity, and yet allows for the construction of a cohesive collective identity - and is asking whether a Revolutionary Love might provide such a framework!


I would agree with the importance of a political praxis which is responsive to the present and rooted in everyday experience, or as the Zapatistas put it: ‘preguntando caminamos’ (‘walking we ask questions’) -  but also acknowledge that without visions of how the world might be different, struggles will stagnate and decline.  Therefore this project attempts to develop a mode of praxis that imagines futures in order to realign current movement trajectories whilst simultaneously grounding itself in present moment realities - thus providing a space for a utopian re-imagining of current (and therefore future) social relations which are firmly grounded in contemporary grassroots struggle.  



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  • Up till now, a socialist revolution hasn’t succeeded yet, because Ø the socialist movement was split at the beginning of the last century into those striving for a bourgeois society and those striving for a dignified human life. Ø the theoretical foundation came from the bourgeois society and not from the oppressed. Ø economically the revolution is overdue, but the subject of the revolution is missing. The subject of a socialist revolution or the sane character in an insane society looks like this: Ø I am entitled for a dignified human life without service rendered beforehand. Ø After I’ve slept well and had a good breakfast, I need to be useful to the people next to me. Ø I live in the companionship of about 300 people, providing and organising themselves. Ø I’ve only sensuous needs, and so they are limited. Ø I live by my identity, not by some identification. Ø I enjoy life. Ø I love simple things. Ø Small is beautiful. Ø I feel part of nature. Ø Money is ephemeral. Ø Subsistence and co-operation are my guidelines. Ø Economy is part of ecology. Ø No drugs, no illusions. Ø I live in present. Some such revolutionaries have started all over the world, preferably at the periphery of capitalism, creeping to the centre of capitalism, even in a tiny little corner of your heart. For example in Germany, people like this could unite for this policy in Europe: 70 % of the EU trade is EU domestic trade. If this approaches 100 % we are independent of world economy and can rely on our own economy based on regionalisation and subsistence. Yoghurt no longer needs be transported from the south to the north and the other way round. It is no longer necessary to produce more than what everybody needs for a good life. People no longer need be governed centrally; they can govern their lives decentrally by means of neighbourhood councils, district councils, city councils, regional councils, elected democratically elected bottom up and voted out at any time. How can this be arranged? For example, German pressure groups obtrude their bourgeois parliament for some unconditional basic income of 1500 € net per month; other EU states follow up. Now something is going to happen, unbelievable to an economist: A sigh of relief can be heard across Europe. Many people work for nothing. Those who cannot detach themselves easily from luxury and are highly qualified can earn some money in addition to their basic income. So economists’ objection that by an unconditional basic income of 1500 € net per month the whole German gross national product would be spent before produced does not hold. A new government is going to support subsistence economy, i.e. cooperatives, self-governed factories, self-governed housing estates, self-governed schools, self-governed service agencies, the people of which mutually assure themselves of a good life by solidarity networks, leaving behind barter, trade, and trafficking, and saying some day: “Thank you, state authority, we no longer need you nor your basic income.” Unbelievable to an economist. If a human being has slept well, he or she wants to be useful to his or her fellow humans. Without expecting anything in return if he or she has not to care about a roof over his or her head and his or her living, i.e. if he or she gets some unconditional basic income of 1500 € net per month. The people in Germany will even produce more than they need. The yield of this surplus is provided for those Third World countries which have also decided for subsistence economy, democracy, good living, individual freedom and solidarity. A pile of money if other EU countries follow up. Unbelievable for an economist. We presuppose that this is the adequate form of human life and that only by capitalism humans have been so much handicapped that they believe: “There is no contradiction between democracy and capitalism. Capitalism can be tamed.” This handicap can be remedied by some unconditional basic income. No longer people are judged by their performance. Performance is not the basis of socialist, but of capitalist thinking. There is enough for everybody in the socialist realm of freedom so that nobody has to be worried about his or her bad performance, which generates even some best performance ever. Dialectics incomprehensible for an economist. A socialist society is based on: Everybody has to feel comfortable in his or her individual development. We rather defy trade by self-providing and sharing. Human relations are no commercial relations. People you can rely cannot be purchased. Germany for example could proceed on its way to socialism in three steps: 1. In German elections, a majority of people would vote for a government which guarantees a monthly income of 1500 € net. Which stops employment of individuals with a fortune of 250.000 €, and which stops employment of life-partners earning 50.000 € p.a. each. Which stops monthly incomes of more than 15.000 € gross. Which does away with German military forces, secret services, production of arms and subsidies for products produced cheaper by our European and non-European partners, thus taking seriously the rhetoric of partnership. Which taxes speculative investment yields and high earnings highly. Which confiscates real estate in case of evasive capital. Which no longer subsidises churches and political parties. Which reduces German parliament and government and abolishes the German status of a public servant. Which stops nuclear power. Which does not encourage the production and use of private cars, on the contrary levies a toll both on federal roads and motorways. Which sells public radio and TV stations because there is not much difference to private stations. Which closes Federal Research Institutes and stops funding private research institutes because industry is to pay for its research itself. Which cancels public space research. Which cancels EU agricultural export subsidies. Which taxes aviation fuel. Which no longer pays 100 million € each time bad weather washes tons of Sylt sand into the sea as long as the highly industrialised states do not reduce the global greenhouse effect by lowering their emission of toxic gases substantially below the level of 1990. Which closes down the President’s branch at Bonn. Which stops squandering money and takes on more employees for tax audits, for prosecuting tax evasions and parking offenders, for chil-care and care of the elderly, for nurses, street-workers, for inspectors of food and medicine. You see, there is enough revenue in Germany. If the Germans want it this way, it will be done this way. Then many Germans will be prepared to work for nothing. They will get rid of frustration and consumerism. Much of the revenue will be left to support the terms of trade of selected Third World partners. A stream of creative power will be released among people. The German government encourages them for self-government. It furthers collective, self-governed housing projects and keeps the housing and real estate market under control until there will be only co-operative societies in this market. German authorities no longer interfere with education, just make sure that children are offered some sort of education. It furthers free, self-governed school projects where the students decide by themselves what, where, when, how and by whom they want to be taught. Those who are born in Germany become German citizens, this applies also to foreigners who have lived in Germany for five years; immigrations quotas are set by law. Academics are put on a par with workers. Small and medium companies are promoted. The integration of the European Union is supported by subsidising the poor members and the poor applicants. 2. The German society decides for a dynamic, mixed economy: Private companies which tend to become monopolies (let's say with a market share of 30 %) are transformed into co-operative companies. Co-operative companies which tend to become shell institutions are transformed into private companies. Since national competencies are more and more shifted to the European Union, there is no longer any need for a national administration. People vote for a Free State Bavaria, Free State Saxonia, Katalonia, Breizah, Basque, Scotland, Wales etc. German parliaments are accompanied by Round Tables at every level: neighbourhood, quarter, town, district, region. At the lowest level, everybody can take part who lives there; every level delegates members to the next level. People express their political will by Round Tables; where it differs from the will of the respective parliament, this has to cope with it. 3. The United Nations are transformed into a world-wide police organisation which has to interfere officially wherever people try to solve their problems by force. Humanity is governed after the principle of self-sustaining and sharing. For example, all ships needed by humanity are produced only in Indonesia, Korea and at the Meyer shipyard at Papenburg. Other high-tech products, which are needed in these places, are produced in other regions of the earth.
  • The left are searching for a new narrative. Perhaps they do this in the wrong direction. Perhaps the narrative goes the other way round. ° Not from above (e.g. Jesus Christ, Karl Marx), as subordinates are expecting, but from the inside of every individual, from the lower class. ° Not from the head, but from the hands: “What do I like? What do I need?” The economy is no longer about growth, competition, efficiency, consistency, but primarily about sufficiency. I don’t spend more money, just because I’ve got more money. ° Not from men, but from women. ° Not always being in the right, but admitting: All of us are insane somehow, for example when they maintain, people would work any longer if they get an Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) of 1500 Euros. Actually, they would be more productive and creative. The crucial question is: “Can I wriggle out of this quagmire, or do I need some professional support?” These are natural points, but make them a natural course of action keeping in mind: - Appreciate interim solutions (e.g. women’s suffrage, UBI). - Respect elections (e.g. 1919 in Germany). - Don’t rely on others (e.g. men, representatives), but take your life into your own hands. - Think radically, act creatively. - Don’t ask for your rights, but take them. Don’t merit your rights (e.g. women’s suffrage by supporting wars, right to live by waged labour), but take them. - Have the whip hand. The change is not done quickly. But you have to be sane. Crucially important are not books and intellectual borrowings, but you own sensual experience. By following your own narrative and not suppressing it by consumerism or waged labour, you get things straightened out with yourself and you can contribute to your community and to the existence of your species. There are different sorts of primates … The narrative doesn’t come from somebody above, but from the grassroots. It has been handed down in history: “We just want to have a good life. We don’t want to become rich. Drugs are not for a good life.” The impact of such a narrative comes from individuals talking to each other face to face, not from political parties and manifestos. Never forget the left course: v enlightenment v no exchange, sharing instead of bargaining v direct democracy (district council, city council, regional council) v sufficiency v power to the women v power to the children v symptoms of insanity are: aspiring to power, the ideology of growth and competition, consumerism. People basically are not evil, but many have been made insane (by capitalism). This can be cured, however. But, please, don’t vote for insane people like Hitler or Trump! KT 1-12-18
  • It seems clear that in general, the ambitious attempts to theorise the potential application of love in the revolutionary transformation of contemporary global capitalism have so far failed to adequately account for the ‘elephant in the (mainly white male) room’ which are the relations of care and love - overwhelmingly maintained by women - which already exist and without which social life would literally collapse! This hidden loving - caring labour (although currently exploited by patriarchy and capitalism) provides real material evidence of the possibility of organising society in a radically different way. Could existing relations of care, love and solidarity be fully acknowledged and extended as the foundation for a revolutionary love which animates radical social transformation in the 21st century?

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