1 Introduction

New information and communication technologies have been accompanied by, in some respects, greater power for individuals, in particular, and for civil society, in general. In this context, an increasing number of actors are questioning the neoliberal capitalist status quo, states are losing a degree of centrality in the international system and bourgeois democracy is suffering a profound crisis of representativeness and legitimacy.

We are therefore facing a new landscape of international relations, in which transnational peoples’ movements (TPMs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have emerged as significant new non-state actors within the international system. In turn, we are witnessing the birth of new forms of international organisation that do not strictly respond to the logic of capital accumulation or legitimation of existing international structures.

Since democracy is one of the main losers in the capitalist, globalised world system, we will seek ways of strengthening democratic practices on an international scale, and we will see how transnational peoples’ movements can prove to be an effective tool in this sense. We shall provide a descriptive vision, based on militant research, which will present an example of a TPM as a concrete proposal: the International Peoples’ Assembly (IPA).

An articulation at a global level of peoples’ movements, trade unions and political parties from a broad left-wing sphere from all over the world, the IPA is an initiative that originated with important peoples’ movements in Latin America and the Global South in general. Since its creation, it has sought to promote forms of peoples’ participation on the international political stage, via international solidarity campaigns or the creation of tools that might help to unify discourses and struggles.

Among these tools, we will find both proposals of collective mobilisation and initiatives of articulation with peoples’ schools of political formation, alternative means of communication and an institute of social research at the disposal of peoples’ and emancipatory movements all over the world. All these proposals seek to articulate, in our opinion, peoples’ participation through local and individual counter-power struggles, establishing an attempt to create a coordinated and counter-hegemonic force in Gramscian terms, always with the goal of weakening the discourses and ideologies that legitimate the capitalist system and simultaneously strengthen processes of peoples’ emancipation.

One cannot ignore the fact that in order for something to fall, there has to be a force that pushes it. This requires power, or in this case, counter-power, which renders indispensable the creation of hegemony. This is where the human being, critical thought and the articulation of the latter around the organisation of civil society acquire a fundamental role. Marx and Engels (1973) already underlined the fact that “civil society is the true source and theatre of all history, and how absurd is the conception of history held hitherto, which neglects the real relationships and confines itself to high-sounding dramas of princes and states”.

On another note, with regard to the terminology employed in this work, we will prioritise the term peoples’ movement rather than social movement, understanding that social movements respond to sectorial problems, in other words, address sectorial or one-off struggles (Gil de San Vicente, 2008). We, on the other hand, will analyse above all those movements that have comprehensive, strategic and constant vision, transcending “the narrow limits of the occasional” (Gil de San Vicente, 2008), in other words, peoples’ movements. This is why we will also use the term transnational peoples’ movement or TPM rather than the term transnational social movement or TSM, which is more customary.

The movements analysed will be, moreover, transnational; in other words, those movements that “construct a social space by connecting different countries or social units, that is to say, social formations. This social space, generally referred to as transnational, is created by means of symbolic and social links produced by the ‘unity’ of different social movements – of a sub-national, regional or local nature” (Bohórquez & Pérez, 2011).

In fact, the structural processes that gave rise to the creation of peoples’ movements have always been global, but until relatively recently the organisational responses have been restricted to the state level (Arrighi & Wallerstein, 1999). Thus, around three decades ago, transnational peoples’ movements began to be formed, especially those in opposition to globalisation, in order to provide a global response to global problems.

The reason for presenting this work in these terms is mainly the result of our observation that some of these terms do not abound in academia. We also perceive that Marxism, since its beginnings, has addressed peoples’ movements from a global perspective, although it has not developed transnational peoples’ movements as a concept.

Numerous authors recognise the need, in a capitalist, globalised world system, for revolutionary peoples’ movements to coordinate in order radically to change the structures of the international system, but they struggle to find specific implementations of this proposal. We wish to contribute from this vacuum, because we believe that the International Peoples’ Assembly is the most significant proposal put forward in this direction in recent years.

Following this line of thought, the objective of this work will be to underline the need for a peoples’ internationalism, for the creation of international relations-based solidarity and mutual support for processes of emancipation everywhere, in the belief that the action of proposing purely local or national alternatives to the capitalist world system is a short-term solution.

We are therefore convinced that peoples’ movements articulated at an international level help to create the conditions necessary in order to construct a scenario of democratic intensification or even a scenario of creation of a democracy diametrically opposed to bourgeois democracy, which we could call real democracy.

We shall therefore focus on the role that civil society can play in changing the course of history; the place that can be occupied by participatory politics, freedoms or public interest in the international system; and civil society’s potential to be aware of its daily life so as to take comprehensive decisions in relation to the latter. Ultimately, we will attempt to offer a vision of the importance of articulating the work on an international scale and of the opportunity presented by transnational peoples’ movements like the International Peoples’ Assembly to offer spaces of peoples’ participation on the international political stage, always from a position of counter-power and with a view to creating a new hegemony.

2 Democracy in the Capitalist World System

It is traditional to think of democracy in terms of the nation-state, as if it corresponded to the government of a specific country to make appropriate use of that state’s “democratic” institutions so as to guarantee favourable conditions for that country’s democracy. From a state-centric perspective, it is within the state that the fundamental aspects that condition the life of its inhabitants are determined.

From a perspective of the discipline of International Relations, it is the state that for centuries has been the predominant figure in international relations, as representative on a global scale of the society that inhabits its territory and main actor in geopolitics.

However, based on the understanding that we live in a firmly established neoliberal globalisation, in an increasingly interconnected world in which the interdependence between states is more evident than ever, we observe that the perforation of state sovereignty results in a transfer of state power to private entities that transcend its borders, such as the financial market, transnational companies or major corporations. We thus witness the growing presence of technocratic governments that, far from channelling democratic demands expressed in electoral format, dedicate their efforts to the modification of state legislation to favour the interests of private capital.

All of this occurs within an international system that, in the words of sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein (2005), we can term world system. The world system currently in force, heir to the European world system that spread across the planet from the fifteenth century onwards, represents the very basis of the capitalist neoliberal globalisation definitively established throughout the world since the 1990s (Moghadam, 2019b).

According to the rules of that capitalist world system, there is a centre, a periphery and a semi-periphery that function in integrated and interdependent fashion, in such a way that there are regions of the planet that live in permanent sub-development in order that others might enjoy greater profits, privileges and accumulation of capital.

In neoliberal globalisation, the world functions on an integrated basis, every state has its role in the interstate system and there is considerable interdependence and a predominance of the neoliberal economic policies imposed by Western states or by major powers (often in explicit fashion via the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other institutions created in the West or the Global North).

Throughout history, the strongest states (those of the centre) have created a series of political agreements to facilitate the economic exploitation of the weaker (peripheral) states, so that their resources are extracted, work is divided at international level and trade is organised in accordance with the interests of the stronger nations. Thus, the central countries remain at the top of the hierarchy and obtain profits by exploiting the resources on the periphery. Meanwhile, economic and political processes are never separated, and political capital is used as a resource to reinforce global and neocolonial economic exploitation (Balaev, 2012). This is how the central agents succeed in establishing and maintaining a structural inequality in the world system.

This situation leads to deep relationships of dependence between countries, preventing the countries situated on the semi-periphery and the periphery from experiencing a complete economic development that would enable their inhabitants to enjoy an improved quality of life. According to Puerto Rican author Ramón Grosfoguel, it is impossible to imagine a single country achieving economic development on its own, and the position it occupies within the world system (or its degree of dependence) becomes far more relevant than its domestic policies (Grosfoguel, 2003).

In this context, bourgeois democracy (through the hegemonic media, among other ideological tools) continues to transmit the idea that elections are the main instrument by means of which to guarantee democracy, concealing the systematic oppressions that continue to function independently of elections (such as poverty, patriarchy or racism).

Of course, during the course of history, there have been numerous protests and proposals in opposition to these diverse forms of oppression, although “movements of national liberation [on the periphery] and social-democratic movements at the centre of the capitalist world economy could [not] have engineered a greater change than the one they have brought about given their shared historical concern with maintaining and exercising power inside the inter-state system” (Arrighi & Wallerstein, 1999).

If one is pursuing a genuine reinforcement of democracy or, rather, the construction of a real, direct and peoples’ democracy (diametrically opposed to bourgeois democracy), it is essential to bring an end to the prevailing capitalist system, in order to promote the construction of a society in which the interests of a minority (that accumulates uncontrolled proportions of capital) do not hold sway over the general interest of the population in leading a dignified life – a society in which the population has the right to decide upon every aspect of their life.

One cannot help wondering, however, how it will be possible to build that real democracy, if spaces of power and decision transcend the borders of states and if civil society does not currently have the capacity to influence these spaces. Faced by this question, it seems obvious that, if there is a genuine desire to transform the foundations of the capitalist world system, every peoples’ response and proposal should be expressed in a multilateral sense, firmly based in the Global South and, undoubtedly, in a context of class struggle (accompanied by the struggles against the oppressions of gender, race, origins, religion, sexual orientation and nature).

Modern peoples’ movements, meanwhile, were developed with the creation of the nation-state, and for years the latter has been the principal target of their protests (Della Porta & Tarrow, 2005), but bearing in mind the direct influence of the growth of neoliberal globalisation upon peoples’ lives, it is more necessary than ever for peoples’ movements to acquire an international vision and character that would make it possible to address the situation in a more satisfactory manner. Thus, “the impact of the globalisation of the economy is a universal [...] reason for the mobilisation of non-state actors” (García Segura, 1993).

In a similar vein, we consider transnational peoples’ movements (TPMs) to be an interesting tool available to civil society and with which to influence international reality. American researcher Sidney Tarrow establishes a clear distinction between two different types of TPM, depending on their practices and objectives. On the one hand, he identifies insider TPMs, which would be those movements that act from “within” the system, and usually exercise influence as lobbies or collaborating with international elites, to the extent of being co-opted. On the other, the outsider TPMs (that act from “outside”) tend to oppose the policies of international institutions and may even challenge their very existence (Tarrow, 2005).

Insofar as we are interested in speaking of the construction of a real democracy, not subordinated to the interests of local and international bourgeoisies, in this work we shall therefore focus on those outsider TPMs, to see how they can tackle the existing status quo in order to reverse the prevailing order. In other words, we will observe transnational peoples’ movements as actors that function within the international system, with the capacity to mobilise resources, influence the dynamic of other actors and create the conditions required to bring about structural changes, connecting the local and the global level.

Bourgeois democracy and the system of representative democracy are suffering from a profound crisis of legitimacy, so this is the right time to seek forms of peoples’ participation on the international global stage, the goal of which would be the articulation on a global scale of peoples’ processes of emancipation and the creation of democracy. Because “global justice requires the democratic participation of the people to whom justice is supposedly delivered, if we wish to respect the equal freedom of all” (Gould, 2014).

2.1 Peoples’ Transnational Movements in the Capitalist World System

Transnational peoples’ movements usually employ a series of resources so as to participate in the international system, such as “parallel summits, own forums, international and regional social forums, protests, etc.” (Echart, 2008), but face many challenges when establishing their objectives, if we understand that transformation involves creating true democracy, exercising society’s right to decide in relation to every aspect of life, ending both the limitless accumulation of capital and structural inequality, overcoming any kind of oppression (gender, race, religion, origin, etc.) or the materialisation of abstract concepts like justice, equality and freedom.

Furthermore, one has to bear in mind the challenge posed by the fact that states have such a predominant role in the international system. It is a well-known fact that many transformative movements have restricted themselves to management of the administration and of resources once they have attained government power, often without questioning the foundations of capitalism or without establishing strategic alliances with other states to change their position in the world system. Outsider movements, ostensibly, threaten the logic of the capitalist world system but find it extremely difficult to construct real alternatives.

In addition, many types of oppression incorporated within the system (for instance, gender oppression) are also frequently reflected in TPMs. Among other things, “Hyper-masculinity is a central ideological pillar of both neoliberal capitalist globalization and some forms of ‘resistance’” (Moghadam, 2012). TPMs, therefore, have to tackle both external and internal challenges and limitations in order to achieve their goals and have to take advantage of the tools available to them in order to address the status quo in comprehensive fashion.

Among these tools, we want to place special emphasis on the struggle for cultural hegemony, in other words, the battle of ideas, and on the role that TPMs can play in that struggle. Following Antonio Gramsci’s theory, Robert Cox developed a new theory of International Relations, the neo-Gramscian theory. According to Gramsci, the ruling classes exploit the consensus of the oppressed (more than physical force) to maintain a certain social order and so that the oppressed also defend the interests of the oppressors (by means of various mechanisms, like culture).

Neo-Gramscian theory also explains that it is possible to create a new cultural and ideological hegemony, powerful enough for the oppressed class to cease to recognise the superiority of the ruling classes, thus modifying existing power relationships. In other words, this theory explains that it is possible for the oppressed to form a new historical bloc that could present a new counter-hegemony via the battle of ideas and subsequently, depending on the balance of power, convert that hegemony into a new cultural hegemony (Cox, 1981).

In spite of the difficulties, transnational peoples’ movements therefore have the potential and the capacity to influence this battle of ideas; according to some, “the movements have become an increasingly decisive element in the politics of the world system and have achieved their own successes” (Arrighi & Wallerstein, 1999).

3 The International Peoples’ Assembly (IPA)

In this section we will consider, as we indicated in the introduction, the proposed international articulation of peoples’ and social movements, progressive and left-wing political parties and trade unions from the five continents, the International Peoples’ Assembly (IPA).

To understand its origins, we should focus on the 1990s, for it was during that decade that a series of factors combined and resulted in a certain degree of social upheaval.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the rise of neoliberalism on a worldwide scale was met with a vigorous social response in different parts of the world, and that same historical era saw the emergence of various transnational movements and forums that are now a reference, including La Vía Campesina, the World March of Women and the World Social Forum. The WSF “was formed in a political space of resistance against neoliberalism, involving broad trade union sectors, peoples’ organisations, intellectuals, students, artists, clergy members, NGOs and political parties” (IPA International Operational Secretariat, 2019).

Within the framework of the WSF in Belem (Brazil) held in 2009, there was an initiative to organise a congress of peoples’ movement organisations, as some sectors had already begun to note that the WSF had begun to lose direction somewhat, since in a sense the NGOs had begun to control the process and avoid greater political definition. This initiative of reinforcement of peoples’ movement organisations within the WSF was given form in the “Charter of Belem”, which led to the creation at Latin American level of a continental articulation of peoples’ movements, currently known as ALBA Movements.

The need was identified to create this articulation, above all because there was a shared analysis that the last election victories in Latin America were insufficient to achieve structural reforms, “to strengthen the fight against social inequality, promote the distribution of the wealth and income produced on [the] continent, guarantee mechanisms of peoples’ participatory democracy, and reinforce national sovereignty” (IPA International Operative Secretariat, 2019).

In turn, this new articulation of peoples’ movements understood that “political formation, active solidarity between peoples, communication strategies, the reinforcement of grassroots work and peoples’ mobilisation” (IPA International Operative Secretariat, 2019) were fundamental in order to tackle the devastating force of capital but, at the same time, were insufficient if limited to the American continent. For this reason, significant efforts were made to extend frontiers and reach peoples’ movements, intellectuals, activists and militants on every continent, agents working all over the world for a fair and egalitarian society.

Thus, at a meeting organised by the Brazilian movement MST (Movimento dos trabalhadores rurais Sem Terra) at the ENFF School (Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes), in the state of São Paulo, in 2015, a new transnational peoples’ movement was started up, that was to be called the International Peoples’ Assembly, which would begin to function in the Americas, sub-Saharan Africa, the Maghreb and Arab region, Asia and Europe.

A few years later, in February 2019, this new TPM celebrated its first global meeting in Caracas (Venezuela). Five hundred representatives of 181 organisations from 87 countries “met, debated, sang, chanted slogans and experienced revolutionary solidarity in the common struggle to give hope to the peoples of our planet” (International Peoples’ Assembly, 2019).

The International Peoples’ Assembly, in order to carry out its work, has created a series of frameworks and structures, some with territorial functions and others with political functions (although, ultimately, there are many areas of common ground between both functions and they cannot be completely separated).

As well as the frameworks that exist specifically to structure the TPMs, some specific lines of work are also being developed within the IPA. For example, there is close collaboration with an international network of political training schools. There are many educational projects and schools all over the world (in Brazil, Argentina, Haiti, USA, Tunisia, Ghana, South Africa, Nepal, etc.) that usually work with the IPA.

These schools and projects work to offer political training to members of peoples’ movements, trade unions and political parties, understanding that political training is a continuous process that goes far beyond conferences and workshops. They offer a method in order fully to understand the world and its structures, as they know that the more activists and militants are trained, the more effective will be their actions, at both local and global level.

Furthermore, in collaboration with the IPA, various peoples’ media outlets are also being coordinated: Resumen Latinoamericano (Buenos Aires), Brasil de Fato (São Paulo), Peoples’ Dispatch and News Click (New Delhi), among others. In this way, the IPA advocates the creation of peoples’ media outlets as a channel of empowerment so that displaced classes can wage the battle of ideas against the established common sense and in order to construct peoples’ organisation. Fighting the battle on that front facilitates the strengthening of grassroots work so as to intensify struggles all over the world.

Another important line of work that the IPA collaborates with is social research. In the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research, there are researchers from Latin America, Africa and Asia, with the goal of “promoting debate and reflection through critical thinking and from a perspective of emancipation” (International Peoples’ Assembly, 2019). They explain that they wish to take part in the battle of ideas and build bridges between social and peoples’ movements and left-wing intellectuals, creating a two-way process (International Peoples’ Assembly, 2019).

3.1 Philosophy and Practical Policy of the International Peoples’ Assembly

We have seen what the International Peoples’ Assembly is and how it is organised, but not yet the basis of its political activity, how it sets its political objectives and what activity it develops in order to achieve them.

To this end, we shall begin by saying that the IPA is a meeting point for peoples’ movement organisations, an umbrella organisation, a space of collaboration between different types of organisations in different parts of the world. Moreover, unlike the World Social Forum, the International Peoples’ Assembly is open to the possibility of working with parties and trade unions, as long as they are based on mass struggles and are in accordance with the ideological minimums of the Assembly.

However, in principle it has no intention of working with NGOs, since its analysis is that, on numerous occasions, NGOs do not question the capitalist world system or its form of organising society, opting instead to make good the shortcomings of that same system. In other words, according to this analysis, most NGOs, the large ones at least, are insider agencies that deal with the consequences of the failings of the capitalist system, and there is no prospect of their revolutionising the system. Insofar as the IPA has a more revolutionary approach, therefore, it has no particular interests in working with NGOs.

Thus, the IPA was formed to compensate for an evident shortcoming. Its creators identified, as Samir Amin pointed out, the need to create a “united front at a global level” (Moghadam, 2019a), without dogmatism or major internal conflicts, which, unlike the World Social Forum, would promote direct action and have a more explicit and radical, more transformative, political manifesto than the Forum, in order completely to eliminate the capitalist system and create a new system.

In this sense, it makes a series of proposals so that all its actions are directed, one way or another, towards the attainment of peoples’ sovereignty via the anti-imperialist and anti-colonial struggle; towards guaranteeing women’s rights through the feminist struggle; towards exercising peoples’ democracy by denouncing the bourgeois state; towards the defence of natural resources against the appropriation thereof by capitalist corporations; towards the abolition of financial capital, of tax havens and transnational companies; towards the defence of dignified and humane labour rights; towards the defence of the rights of migrants, refugees and diasporas and the struggle against the causes that provoke them; towards solidarity with political prisoners all over the world; and towards the struggle against all fundamentalism with a view to emancipation (IPA International Operative Secretariat, 2019).

For all these objectives to be achieved, the IPA considers that, beyond alliance and collaboration between movements and parties, it is necessary to articulate the struggles of the masses in as many countries as possible, and in order to reinforce those struggles, particular attention needs to be paid to the battle of ideas. An example of this is that all the lines of work that we have seen in the previous section (schools, communication and peoples’ research) make an important contribution to the battle of ideas in favour of a new cultural hegemony.

Moreover, the IPA attributes considerable importance to the articulation of internationalist solidarity. This is why it has organised various international solidarity campaigns with diverse countries, processes or persons, such as the Palestinian people, the Bolivarian process in Venezuela or political militants such as Ola Bini and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Another element to underline is the importance that the International Peoples’ Assembly accords the Global South. All these lines of work that we have just mentioned, for example, are based in the periphery of the world system or in peripheral or semi-peripheral countries, which is not a coincidence. Indeed, imperialism and colonialism are and have been some of the deepest structural oppressions in the world, and it is essential for the people and countries that have suffered that oppression to occupy the front line if structural changes are to be implemented at a global level.

Researcher Jackie Smith and her colleagues have highlighted the fact that there is an increasing number of movements based in the Global South and a growing number of political and activist groups that condemn neoliberalism and offer alternative perspectives (Smith et al., 2016). Without a doubt, the IPA is a clear example of this trend.

Following this trend, one of the main lines of action of the International Peoples’ Assembly is anti-imperialism. In fact, the first decision taken at the Caracas Conference in 2019 was that the line that would serve as a shared policy in the years to come would be the struggle against imperialism, for which an Anti-imperialist Week would be organised simultaneously throughout the world. In other words, it was decided that anti-imperialism would be worked on, not only as theoretical concept but also to take society onto the streets with that demand and express solidarity with countries directly under attack from imperialism.Footnote 1

For this purpose, in the framework of the Anti-imperialist Week initiative, the IPA has created a broader space in which also to work with agents external to the Assembly, such as São Paulo Forum, La Vía Campesina, the World March of Women or the Party of the European Left. This new framework of the Anti-imperialist Week, aware of the importance of the battle of ideas, is also contributing from the cultural sphere by means of, among other things, a poster design and publication initiative throughout the world.Footnote 2

In general, with the International Peoples’ Assembly, one can see the “new political cultures of opposition and creation” (Foran et al., 2017) and that there is no need to distinguish between revolutionary movements and peoples’ movements, at least in the case of the IPA, because we see clearly that both trends or activities coexist, “as anti-systemic activity within what some call global civil society, in favour of a radical social transformation or a change of system” (Moghadam, 2019b).

In this fashion, the fact of articulating a peoples’ voice at global level with unified demands, the fact of internationalising the struggle for the sovereignty of peoples, involves advancing towards a democratisation of international relations. In this sense, the IPA and the TPMs play a hugely important role, as they succeed in uniting local efforts at emancipation (via the organisations represented in their structures), create connections between different proposals and assign a global vision to struggles born of global causes.

We cannot conceive of the construction of a global democracy without local alternatives, and, in turn, local alternatives make no sense if they remain isolated, if there is no transformative vision that bonds all those forces in favour of substantial changes in the structures of the capitalist world system.

4 Final Thoughts

Early in the twenty-first century, we are witnessing a profound crisis of civilisation as we have known it. It is a profound economic crisis of capitalism, not only economic but also ecological, social, ethical, etc. This is not a crisis that is easy to resolve. In Gramsci’s well-known words, the old world is dying, and the new one needs time before it appears.

But what is the new world? Following the well-known phrase that was spread at the beginning of this century, what other world is possible? How should that other world be organised? In this context, peoples’ movements are not very sure where to look for answers and, at the same time, carry a great responsibility.

Although it is not entirely clear who should constitute the transformative subject, what is clear is that it will have to be multilateral (to provide global answers to global problems), formed by the people (towards a true democracy) and with a solid base in the Global South (to tackle the centre-periphery structural division at its roots).

The class struggle will also be one of the solid bases of change, always from an international perspective, and, as far as is possible, the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggle will have to provide an opportunity for the collaboration of numerous sectorial struggles, without, however, placing some struggles above others and understanding that the struggle against any structural oppression is legitimate when it comes to transforming the structures of the world system.

On another note, women will be a key element of any future revolution (Moghadam, 2019b). “The making of such a movement will not be a simple task, and there will be objections on the part of many ‘horizontals’ as well as those engaged in exclusive identity projects. But then, such dispersion and division are precisely what reinforce the capitalist world-system. A return to a more formal organising structure with clear political goals and a unified strategy to achieve those goals through alliances with like-minded political parties across the globe could finally pose a more serious challenge to the current global system and prevent its capture by the extreme right. The feminist-inflected world revolution proposed here could finally realise the dream that ‘another world is possible’” (Moghadam, 2019b).

There is much work still to be done, and TPMs face major challenges but also great opportunities. In an era more interconnected than any other, movements will have to succeed in building those bridges on the basis of solidarity and continue transmitting conceptions that can transform the world through the battle of ideas. We do not know the exact capacity of civil society to implement substantial changes in the world system, but we know that capacity exists, insofar as most of the world’s population is formed by civil society, the poor, and the oppressed. It corresponds to the transnational peoples’ movements to exploit this potential.

The key to the revolution is not held by any specific sector of society, and the solution will not be provided by any one single line of struggle (feminist struggles alone, class struggles alone, etc.). Predicting where and when the spark will appear is almost impossible, as this could happen anywhere at any time. For their part, the TPMs will have to be sufficiently flexible to maintain the revolutionary spark once it is produced, so as to maintain that tension and, as far as is possible, socially consolidate the changes caused by these sparks.

The capitalist world system that seeks an infinite accumulation of capital is not eternal, because no political system is eternal. Our generation may not see its end, but the system is not static, is in continuous movement, so change will come, and sooner or later, this system will end. Understanding that this is so, civil society and, specifically, transnational peoples’ movements may have the opportunity to force, accelerate and consolidate change and, in essence, represent the key to starting to think of post-capitalism.

With regard to the International Peoples’ Assembly, we believe that it offers a new framework within which to consider the transformative and revolutionary efforts of the world as a whole, giving meaning and coordination to diverse struggles that are waged simultaneously at a local level. In any case, major changes are not only in the hands of TPMs or, consequently, of the Assembly. It is important to understand that these are only instruments and that if there are not a lot of concerned and organised people behind them, they serve no purpose.

What the IPA has in its favour is, among other things, the fact that it represents a comprehensive project, not to resolve specific problems, but to transform the actual structures of the world. In this sense, it will have the flexibility to decide where to shine the spotlight at any given time and to act with flexibility in accordance with the direction that society is taking.

One of its main challenges is that it has to make itself better known and design more effective communicative tools. In this sense, it will also require greater political definition; otherwise, it is very easy for large peoples’ projects of this kind to lose their way and end up becoming insider organisations.

Within this political definition, it will be vitally important to continue exploring the counter-hegemonic approach, not only at a discursive level but also in practice and with specific alternatives. In this respect, the IPA is aided by the fact that it combines, on the one hand, a global and multilateral vision in order correctly to analyse hegemonic trends in the world and think of global alternatives and, on the other, a local vision, close to people, so they feel that the transformative project also belongs to them and, in some way, that the alternatives reach peoples’ lives (or that the alternatives that start from them acquire a global dimension).

On the road to real democracy, it will be fundamental to reconsider the very concept of representativeness. One of the IPA’s strong points is that it represents many people, but this cannot indefinitely be regarded as a strength. If those “represented” do not undertake their own initiatives, the IPA might make the same mistake as today’s bourgeois democracy, making in the name of the people the decisions considered best for them. If, in the name of pragmatism, society’s radical and revolutionary approaches were too often excluded, the Assembly would immediately lose legitimacy.

If we are going to build a utopian, fair, egalitarian, non-oppressive, ecological, feminist, etc. society, it must be clear that, sooner or later, it will be necessary to strengthen decentralised projects so that centres of power are as close as possible to the people and society can participate in a true democracy without losing the global perspective. If the International Peoples’ Assembly does its job well, it can play a key role in the construction of that new society.