- Hegemony’s dirty tricks: explaining counter-globalization’s weakness in times of neoliberal crisis
- Volume | Issue number
- 10 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Against the backdrop of the international financial and sovereign debt crisis, this article revisits the development of the counter-globalization movements in the global North over the past thirteen years. How can we explain that the systemic failures of the current order are not being met through a broad ideological formation posing a serious challenge to the neoliberal hegemony in international politics and political economy? Why have the mass protests at summit meetings and democratic deliberation experiments at social forums not prepared the ground for such an ideological formation? Drawing on (neo-)Gramscian concepts, this paper argues that the counter-globalization movements' ‘war of maneuver’ has not been complemented by an adequate ‘war of position’. Counter-hegemonic dissent articulated broadly on the streets has not translated into counter-hegemonic capacity. Without focusing on movement-internal reasons, this article highlights the role played by the strength of the opponent in preventing such success. Our analysis sheds light on three important macro-contextual factors: the difficulties created for establishing counter-hegemony in international politics when hegemonic powers insulate themselves from critique; the co-optation of critical discourse that is achieved by bending critique into a new legitimation strategy for neoliberal measures; and the de-politicization of power relations by current international security discourses and policies. Together, these macro-contextual factors help explain how neoliberal forces successfully prevent counter-globalization movements from moving from ‘war of maneuver’ to ‘war of position’ and becoming counter-hegemonic, even in times of neoliberal crisis.
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