The New Cultures of Resistance Behindthe Arab Spring1
This chapter argues that we are witnessing the rise and articulation of new political cultures of opposition on a global scale that are different from those that inspired the social revolutions of the twentieth century. Two distinct and rather different new paths to change have arisen: the electoral path to state power being pursued by left-of-center governments, and the opposite route of turning one’s back on state power and carving out autonomous spaces below it at the level of the community. The Arab Spring opens up a third new path, starting with massive nonviolent direct action and following up with a struggle for new democratic institutions. Another path to radical social change has opened up in the twenty-first century: the sustained occupation of public space followed by struggles for a more open democratic polity. Rather than the dichotomous choice between seeking to change the world through elections versus building a new society from the bottom up, the future of radical social change may well lie in committed political coalitions pushed from below by deeply democratic social movements.
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