From the introduction:
Penned in February 2011, Paul Mason’s blog post “20 Reasons Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere” responded to the recent wave of student unrest, the European anti-cuts struggles, and what was fast becoming known as the Arab Spring. In his short post Mason offered 20 tentative forays into these globally disparate yet somehow connected struggles.
“20 Reasons” was warmly received within the social movements it commented upon, albeit not without criticisms. What resonated for us, was its lack of certainty as to where these movements were headed, and a pronounced distance from either ideological interpretation or “off the shelf” solutions.
It seemed that many in the social movements were content to carry on with business as usual, attaching longheld ideological certainties onto these developments. However some in existing activist groups, networks and organisations, began to question whether ideas, assumptions and certainties held from previous cycles of struggle could stand up to present challenges.
We saw “20 Reasons” as a chance to start an enquiry, a framework around which to better discuss our understandings of the present and as a means to gauge the effectiveness of movement responses to the crisis’s facing capitalism and the nation state.
“20 Reasons” itself highlighted a series of political, economic, social, communicative and technological developments and suggested how these were being appropriated in struggle. The emergence of new or often ignored social subjects were also central to the piece – be that the “graduate with no future” or the socially excluded.
Understanding the present became an issue of importance and urgency for those interested in radical social transformation. As such, we commissioned a series of essays, responding to Paul’s “20 Reasons”, as a means to do just that.