Colin Barker, Gareth Dale and Neil DavidsonJan 2, 2023
Revolutionary Rehearsals in the Neoliberal Age
Haymarket Books 2021
The last several decades have seen a mass consolidation of wealth among a few, the rest of the world left to various degrees of dispossession. On top of this, the revolutionary movements that characterized much of the 19th and 20th centuries have generally disappeared or retreated, reform being the name of the game for most progressives. In spite of this, revolutionary movements and events have actually increased in the last few decades.
This seeming contradiction is one of the animating ideas of the new essay anthology Revolutionary Rehearsals in the Neoliberal Age (Haymarket Books, 2021). A sort of spiritual sequel to the 1987 collection Revolutionary Rehearsals, this book contains several essays on revolutionary movements of the neoliberal era, bookended by more theoretical chapters on the nature of social and political movements. International in scope, the essays start with struggles in Eastern Europe at the end of the Cold War and end with the Arab uprisings in Egypt. In between are essays on South and Sub-Saharan Africa, Indonesia, Bolivia, Argentina and Latin American Pink Tide movements. The bookending essays deal with theoretical questions; the nature of political movements, contexts in which those movements arise and how change can actually be brought about. Grounded in the reality of our dire political situation but animated by the hope that change is always nevertheless a real possibility, the essays here will provide excellent starting points for activists to think critically about their own situations and how they might rise to meet them.
Gareth Dale is Associate Head of the Department of Social and Political Sciences at Brunel University in London. His recent books include Karl Polanyi: A Life on the Left and Reconstructing Karl Polanyi: Excavation and Critique.
Colin Barker was a lifelong activist and author. His many publications included Revolutionary Rehearsals (1987) and Marxism and Social Movements.
Neil Davidson was a lecturer in sociology and political science. His many publications included How Revolutionary Were the Bourgeois Revolutions? and Discovering the Scottish Revolution.