What Would it Mean to Win?

Sometimes all it takes to get moving again is a nudge in a new direction… We think now is a good time to ask the question: What is winning? Or: What would–or could–it mean to “win?”

Movements become apparent as “movements” at times of acceleration and expansion. In these heady moments they have fuzzy boundaries, no membership lists—everybody is too engaged in what’s coming next, in creating the new, looking to the horizon. But movements get blocked, they slow down, they cease to move, or continue to move without considering their actual effects. When this happens, they can stifle new developments, suppress the emergence of new forms of politics; or fail to see other possible directions. Many movements just stop functioning as movements. They become those strange political groups of yesteryear, arguing about history as worlds pass by. Sometimes all it takes to get moving again is a nudge in a new direction… We think now is a good time to ask the question: What is winning? Or: What would—or could—it mean to “win?”

Contributors include: Valery Alzaga and Rodrigo Nunes, Colectivo Situaciones, Stephen Duncombe, Gustavo Esteva, The Free Association, Euclides André Mance, Michal Osterweil, Kay Summer and Harry Halpin, Ben Trott, and Nick Dyer-Witheford.

This edition includes a foreword by John Holloway and an extended interview with Michal Osterweil and Ben Trott of the Turbulence Collective.

“Where is the movement today? Where is it going? Are we winning? The authors of the essays in this volume pose these and other momentous questions. There are no easy answers, but the discussion is always insightful and provocative as the writers bravely take on the challenge of charting the directions for the Left at a time of ecological crisis, economic collapse, and political disillusionment.” –Walden Bello, Executive Director of Focus on the Global South

“Turbulence presents an exciting brand of political theorising that is directed and inspired by current strategic questions for activism. This kind of innovative thinking, which emerges from the context of the movements, opens new paths for rebellion and the creation of real social alternatives.” –Michael Hardt, co-author of Commonwealth, Multitude and Empire.

“The history of the past half-century and particularly the last decade is as easily told as a series of victories as defeats, maybe best as both. Sometimes we won—and this is what makes the What Does It Mean to Win? anthology such a powerful vision of the possible and the seldom-seen present. The authors of this book connect some of the more remarkable events of the last decade⎯in Oaxaca, in the banlieus of Paris, in the crises of neoliberalism⎯into a constellation of possibilities and demands, demands on the world but also demands on the readers, to think afresh of what is possible and what it takes to get there. As one author begins, ‘The new movements embodied and posited deliberate reactions to the practical and theoretical failures of previous political approaches on the left.’ This is the book about what came after the failures, and what’s to come…” –Rebecca Solnit, author of Hope in the Dark and A Paradise Built in Hell.

Since 2006, the Turbulence collective has produced a series of text-based political interventions. Each has focussed on a particular problematic: our ability to measure success, the issue of visibility, the question of how we think about the future. The goal has been less the creation of another new journal or magazine which hopes to offer a ‘snapshot’ of the world’s diverse movements for change, but rather the carving out of a space where the difficult debates and investigations into the political realities of our time can be carried out.

‘Turbulence’ is the term used to describe the disruption caused by movement through a non-moving element, or an element moving at a different speed. Its unpredictability has posed enormous problems for conventional aerodynamics. Yet in certain contexts it can be tremendously productive: The turbulence produced by the movement of the bumblebee’s tiny wings is the secret to its ability to fly.

The editors are: David Harvie, Keir Milburn, Tadzio Müller, Rodrigo Nunes, Michal Osterweil, Kay Summer, Ben Trott and David Watts. They variously live in Berlin, Carrboro (North Carolina), Leeds, London, and São Paulo. The Turbulence Collective itself has had pieces published in ephemera: theory & politics in organization (November 2007), Le Monde diplomatique Brasil (July 2008), Anarksiterna (Sweden, 2009) and carried as supplements by the German magazines analyse & kritik and grundrisse: zeitschrift fuer linke theorie & debate (both 2008). Besides Portuguese, Swedish and German texts have also been translated into Greek, Italian, Serbian and Spanish.

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