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Non-Violent Collective Action: Grassroots Change Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Nov 26th, 2021

The essay is about how political and mass movements arise out of the contentions between the different political and social structures and traces the genealogy of Marxist and Post-Marxist struggles for social justice and fights against resource shortages and famines. The essay examines the Marxist concept of class struggle and why it did not yield the desired results except in some regions of the world.

For instance, the essay argues that the question of the leadership vacuum was not addressed by Marx properly leading to the same being seized upon by Lenin and made into a basis for collective action. Gramsci on the other hand felt that the consciousness of the workers needed to be molded to a state where they would be receptive to the need for changes in the way they worked and earned a living.

What this means is the concept of political movements arising out of discontinuities in the power structure leads to opportunities for the elites and mass leaders alike to express their sense of power and this often leads to chaotic situations that lead to a flux like situation that gets resolved only after prolonged struggle and clash between the different groups (Williams, 1995, 10).

The line of thinking employed by the author of the essay is very much reasoned and academic and leads to questions of how mass movements and political movements alike arise spontaneously or are driven from above. This is a pertinent question in light of the various movements for social justice that have dominated the headlines as well as movements that arose out of resource shortages and famines. As the author states, the movements against resource shortages have invariably called upon the resource mobilizers and resource entrepreneurs whose sole function was to act in such a way as to garner resources for the group that they represent (Tarrow, 1994, 8).

To take some recent examples, the war in the breakaway region of South Ossetia in 2008 between Russia and Georgia was primarily about the land and resource conflicts spilling over to the point where armed action was inevitable. Further, there are many commentators who view the Iraq invasion as being driven by a need to control the abundant oil resources in the Gulf Coast (Klare, 2008, 120).

The essay examines the question whether there need to be conditions for political movements to emerge and whether they emerge as a reaction to perceived or real threats to the political structure as well as resource conflicts. Hence, the point that in the recent years, conflicts over resources have taken centre stage has to be mentioned as well. It is becoming increasingly apparent that resource conflicts would dominate the global landscape in the years to come.

In conclusion, political movements arise both as reactions to unequal and unjust social and political structures as well as due to built up pressures and stresses that have accumulated in the body polity and burst out into the open when pushed beyond a point. The contention as to which theorist described the question of how they arise must be answered from the perspective of the movements themselves. It is the position of this writer that social movements because of their contentious nature cannot be classified as having arisen as a reaction or driven by affected social groups.

Reference

Klare, M. (2008). Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet. New York: Metropolitan Books.

Tarrow, S. G. (1994). Contentious politics and Social Movements: Power in Movement. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Williams, R. H. (1995). Constructing the public good: Social movements and cultural Resources. Social Problems, 42(1):124-144.

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IvyPanda. (2021, November 26). Non-Violent Collective Action: Grassroots Change. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/non-violent-collective-action-grassroots-change/

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"Non-Violent Collective Action: Grassroots Change." IvyPanda, 26 Nov. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/non-violent-collective-action-grassroots-change/.

1. IvyPanda. "Non-Violent Collective Action: Grassroots Change." November 26, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/non-violent-collective-action-grassroots-change/.


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IvyPanda. "Non-Violent Collective Action: Grassroots Change." November 26, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/non-violent-collective-action-grassroots-change/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Non-Violent Collective Action: Grassroots Change." November 26, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/non-violent-collective-action-grassroots-change/.

References

IvyPanda. (2021) 'Non-Violent Collective Action: Grassroots Change'. 26 November.

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