As 2021 began, the world’s attention was focused on the mob invading the U.S. Capitol at the urging of the defeated President Donald Trump. At the same time, the United States and the world remained in the grip of the intersecting global crises of climate change, the Covid pandemic, and economic recession. These multiple crises have intensified and brought new visibility to structural injustices along the lines of race, class, gender, nationality, and other divisions, deeply embedded in histories of global and national inequality.
Despite the transition to the new administration on January 20, the forces that Trump and his followers represent will likely continue to follow an “authoritarian playbook” in which the operative principle is divide and rule. As the phrase indicates, Trump is not alone. Leaders of Hungary, Turkey, India, the Philippines, and Brazil are also often cited as following a similar script despite their diverse national contexts. And international networks exalting white supremacy also count the leader of Russia among their allies.
Transnational solidarity is urgent
Such divisive strategies are undoubtedly easier to codify than the strategies needed to combat them. But it is urgent that progressive forces increase our capacity to join forces across national borders, defeat authoritarian regimes and movements based on hate, and find the strength to build a future based on common humanity and justice for all.
Massive protests, demonstrations, and advocacy around the globe show new awareness and positive energy. This is illustrated, for example, by the mobilization of climate activists on every continent and by the echoes of #BlackLivesMatter in protests against police violence around the world. Virtually every country, every community, and every sector of human endeavor finds those engaged in struggles for social justice.
But it is still true that the forces driving structural inequality and injustice are far better coordinated at both national and global levels than the forces for justice and common humanity. In the United States, where we are based, even progressive movements are still slow to break from U.S. exceptionalism and recognize the need to learn from and foster mutual collaboration with their counterparts around the world.
Learning from each other
That is why we are now beginning a process of collective reflection to draft a Transnational Solidarity Playbook. There is enough collective experience among transnational social justice movements that we should be able to learn from one another. Lessons can be drawn from experience, including but not limited to, adapting earlier strategies and tactics.
The successful campaigns for divestment from apartheid South Africa, for example, provided a model that has been further developed by the contemporary climate justice movement as well as by Palestinian solidarity activists. The Black freedom movement’s broader legacy also offers lessons for today, as the global impact of the Black Lives Matter movement echoes the exchanges and solidarity between Africans on the continent and the African diaspora going back centuries.
Looking beyond Africa, we will also draw on scholars and activists with knowledge and experience of other regions and global movements with long histories such as the trade union movement and the women’s movement.
The playbook will include commissioned short essays and excerpts from and links to selected resources available elsewhere online. We are beginning this process in February this year, with consultations with potential authors about the project and the shape of the essays.
We do not conceive of this playbook as a finished product that can provide definitive answers. Instead, we hope to contribute to the ongoing learning process by which movements working on different issues and different places share experiences and build inclusive visions.
When published, these resources will be available on this website and distributed widely through other channels. Sign up for our email list to make sure you get the latest updates.
Credit: Tax Justice Network-Africa
It is urgent that progressive forces increase our capacity to join forces across national borders, defeat authoritarian regimes and movements based on hate, and find the strength to build a future based on common humanity and justice for all.