The Zapatistas, the Battle of Seattle, the carnivals against capitalism and Occupy are just some examples of major protest events that have occurred over the last two decades. All were contra-neoliberalism. Resistance against neoliberalism has emerged all over the globe, albeit unevenly. Social movement scholars have tried to make sense of this resistance by constructing an anti-neoliberal master frame (Benford and Snow, 2000). This has been useful in terms of identifying what the protesters are against and, with the development of the Social Forum movement, what some of the protesters are for. Some of the academic literature declared that a new protest movement was born after the Seattle protests and that it was arguing against a neoliberal version of globalization and for an alternative globalization: a globalization that would foster a sense of humanity, protection for the environment, protecting and strengthening people's civil and labour rights and, to these ends, checking political and corporate institutions, with the aim of making them more publicly accountable.
The first problem I encountered was that the academic literature on the alternative globalization protests reified this phenomenon; it was presented as one, as united, and as a movement that is unified in its opposition to neoliberalism. The scholars of this new movement had neglected to analyse some of the tensions and ideological competition that I discovered between some of the social movement groups in Britain that had been active at summit meeting protests, for example, Prague, Genoa, the European Social Forum (2004, held in the UK) and later in the Occupy movement. In particular, I noticed the ideological competition and conflict between British anti-capitalist groups, who according to the literature are on the same side, opposing neoliberalism. While they were and still are opposing neoliberalism what is clear from my research is that they are definitely not on the same side. British anti-capitalism therefore offered an interesting and highly important empirical case study for developing the field of social movement studies. First, by studying the British anti-capitalist section of the wider alternative globalization protests I show that the 'movement' is not unified in its goals; this is an empirical contribution in and of itself. Additionally, I find the term 'alternative globalization movement' (AGM) to be meaningless since it is not a movement, in the sense that there are far too many diverse sections, some of which are in conflict, to claim this is so. Second, studying the political dynamics of contemporary British anti-capitalism led me to the conclusion that the established social movement theories of contentious politics and the political process approach do not deal adequately with inter-movement or intra-movement conflict. This is especially the case when the competition and conflict is of an ideological nature. These theories tend to frame movements in opposition to elites, or analyse how successful a movement will be according to what resources it has, including its connection with the polity. The problem with these theories is that anti-capitalists do not normally seek concessions from elites or do not have connections with the polity. There have of course been theories on movements versus counter-movements when considering movement conflict, but this is when movements have different objectives. In this case, anarchist and socialist anti-capitalists have the same objective - the overthrow of capitalism - however they disagree on how to realize this objective. This provided an opportunity for me to develop a framework for analysing ideological competition and conflict between movements to explain why and how this occurs. This has been the main task of this book.
In earlier chapters I outlined the political context by providing a brief history of resistance to neoliberalism and the underpinning ideologies of the anti-capitalist movements under study. I then set out a detailed framework of how social movement competition and conflict could be understood and explained using the theoretical technologies of Pierre Bourdieu, in particular, habitus, field, capital and doxa. Each of these concepts has been used to frame chapters 4-7 respectively.
In chapter 4 I used Bourdieu's concept of habitus to understand and explain the political fault line between anarchists and socialists in the British anti-capitalist movement field (BACMF), which I term 'political distinction'. This concept enabled me to trace activists' political socialization, their collective identity as politicos and their preferred action repertoire pertaining to their respective political groupings. Thus the habitus is an embodiment of an activist's history, which shapes and structures their future choices when it comes to deciding what organizations or networks they will join in the anti-capitalist struggle. In essence, the habitus shapes different activist histories, which lead to different political preferences and tastes, and these lead to different forms of political practice according to their preferred ideology. This distinction is reproduced and is durable. This was the starting point for using the field concept and arguing in chapter 5 that activists are part of the BACMF. They are not part of a single movement but rather part of many movements with the same or similar objectives. The activists I interviewed were not in one group, organization or network, but involved in several. Some involved in the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) were involved in the Stop the War Coalition and or Globalise Resistance. Anarchists were involved in Earth First!, Reclaim the Streets and Dissent!, some were part of the social centres movement and so on. Therefore, British anti-capitalist activists are part of a structured field of action where ideological competition and conflict takes place. This conflict is material and symbolic. These activists attempt to accrue capital resources, not necessarily economic ones, more cultural, social and symbolic. The field in this sense is a game, and all the activists play this game to accrue capital. The game has meaning, as whoever wins the ideological struggle becomes recognized as the dominant anti-capitalist group, and if so they represent the ideology which provides the direction for the wider struggles against capitalism.
Chapter 6 developed the field idea and its relationship to capital. By focusing on the anti-G8 mobilizations in 2005, this chapter presented a case study of how obtaining the correct capital is necessary to gain any type of success in the AGM or any field generally speaking. The AGM field was the site of struggle where anti-capitalists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), church and charity groups and elites were fighting over symbolic dominance. I argued that Make Poverty History (MPH), the largest coalition of NGOs in the UK at that time, was co-opted by the New Labour government. New Labour used their superior resources, including governance units in the field (police, local government and council), to thwart the anti-capitalist protesters who were more ideologically critical of the government and G8 policies, and at the same time buy support from the NGOs that had previously been very critical of the government and supranational institutions' policies towards debt in Africa, and the role of corporations and trade policies. Elites entered the AGM field to take over and control the outcome of the protest event. It was sanctioned by the authorities, unlike previous demonstrations such as Genoa, when 300,000 people came out to protest against the G8 (Neale, 2002). By managing the protest in this way the G8 were seen by the public as supporting the reduction of poverty in Africa and reducing the effects of climate change, and not seen as 'the enemy' as authors such as Starr (2000) and Klein had argued (2001).
The year 2011 saw the rise of the Occupy movement, which was inspired by the Indignados movement in Spain and the uprisings in the Middle East earlier in the year. This was a year of significant mobilizations by citizens who faced, on the one hand, the consequences of recklessness by the financial sector and, on the other, austerity measures implemented by governments because the financial sector had to be bailed out by the taxpayer. This, I argued was an exogenous shock from the economic field impacting on the political field. It is for this reason I used Bourdieu's concept of doxa to explain how people were shocked out of their normal everyday routines and experienced a crisis of doxa. They questioned the political system's inability to deal with rising unemployment rates and the way in which the notion of meritocracy was rendered meaningless. All around the world the Occupy movement was formed. It was underpinned by notions of consensus-based organizing and, it could be argued, influenced by anarchist cultural politics. However, from the outset the political practice within these spaces meant that the more organized groups such as trade unions in some instances experienced rejection from members of the Occupy camps. Without the political and social force of larger numbers and lacking even basic resources the Occupy camp simply dwindled. Most camps were eventually cleared by the authorities; some protesters simply gave up the fight. Occupy UK at the time of writing mostly exists online.
Bourdieu's theoretical technologies have much to offer. These concepts provide a framework with which to explain differences in political practice, ideological competition and conflict, and why social protest movements arise out of grievance structures. The use of the concepts overcomes the simple binary distinction present in other social movement theories, which discuss elites versus social movements; they help to explain the complex interaction between different social movements and elites that take place at different levels and at different times. Therefore, these theories can offer a new direction not just for the study of anti-capitalist movements but for the complex interaction between a range of actors and movements more generally.