4.1.B. The ‘Coordination’ format

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4.1.B. The ‘Coordination’ format

Since the mid-eighties, observers have noticed that social struggles have taken a new format as well, that of the coordination . In France for example, all the important struggles of the recent decade, by nurses, by the educational workers, and most recently by the part-time art workers (the 'intermittents'), have been led by such coordinations. Again, such coordinations are a radical innovation. They are also based on the principle of non-representationality: no one is elected to represent anybody else, anyone can participate, their decisions are based on consensus, while participants retain every freedom in their actions. Note how the coordination thus differs from the earlier hyper-democratic form of worker’s councils, which were still based on the idea of representation.

The latest struggle of the artistic ‘intermittents’ was particularly significant. These are creative knowledge workers who move from artistic project to artistic project, and who are therefore, unlike earlier industrial workers, not in permanent contact with each other. Yet their ‘network sociality’, which means they keep in touch with a variety of subgroups of friends and associates to keep informed of opportunities and for permanent collective learning and exchange, meant that, when confronted with a reform they found intolerable, they were able to mount one of the most effective mass social movements in a very short time, through the use of viral diffusion techniques. Traditional power plays by established left political parties and unions are not tolerated in the coordinations, when they happen, people simply leave and set up shop elsewhere. Thus authoritarian political organizations are seriously restrained by this format.

The coordination format aims to preserve 'difference', does not strive for 'unity' and 'centralization' of the struggle, but achieves nevertheless 'common' goals and actions. However, in contrast with the earlier forms of 'mass demonstrations' and 'mass strikes', the coordination-led struggles are often organized in a 'just-in-time' fashion of autonomous micro-actions, often geared to the interrupting of the 'machine of the spectacle', i.e. the mass media, transport flows, and the culture industry. It is very similar to the approach of the alterglobalisation movement, which chooses heavily covered summits as focal points of action.

The alterglobalisation movement and the coordination format are not flukes, but representative of a much more general way of doing politics, which has also been called the 'network-advocacy model' .