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How Open Global Governance Divides and Rules
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Felix Anderl’s book is a stimulating analysis of the decline of the social movement against the World Bank and the rise of a new form of transnational rule.

Reflecting on the transnational mobilizations of the 1990s, the book examines activists’ struggles to sustain their momentum since then. It shows how the opening up of world economic institutions contributed to complex rule in global governance, creating access for some while weakening their critique and fragmenting the overall social movement.

The book bridges International Relations and Social Movement Studies to observe international organizations and social movements in their interaction, demonstrating how social movements are divided and ruled in the absence of a ruler.

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This chapter introduces an understanding of rule derived from the experiences of the its critics. Based on Boltanski, it theorizes that rule always has the effect of fragmenting critique. In comparison to ‘simple rule’ which works through oppression in order to crush critique, complex rule is more difficult to detect and grants more room for opposition. Critique is legitimate within complex rule, as long as it is expressed in a specific form. This abstract hypothesis is then developed for the historical constellation of open global governance. In dialogue with a number of critical theories, three dimensions of complex rule in global governance are suggested: an ideological dimension; a discursive dimension, and an organizational dimension.

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The conclusion summarizes the findings and evaluates the concept of complex rule as a specific order with effects on both governance and resistance. First, it discusses alternative pathways and the problem of equifinality, suggesting that the proposed theoretical approach holds against these alternative approaches. Secondly, it discusses the implications for international theory and highlights the promise of a more constellational theory of global governance, covering the subordinating effects of a transnational order without falling into conspiracy-traps by overestimating the agency of a single institution. Finally, the conclusion emphasizes that movement fragmentation was not an automatism but happened as a consequence of (partly conscious) decisions. Complex rule emerged in the process of interaction itself and cannot be explained by an external reason, much less by the power of a single actor. However, the conclusion emphasizes that the perspective of the book helps movements understand how they are divided and ruled by a constellation that keeps their critique in fragmentation.

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The outcomes of the Extractive Industries Review, seen from the perspective of many critics, were perceived as disappointing. They missed tangible changes in the mining and resettlement policies, and the termination of investment in oil and gas in development projects. Yet, as this chapter elaborates, some of the professionalized NGOs came to see the value of gains made during the process of consultation, endorsing the institutional rules and its formalized bureaucratic culture, and enjoying the growing opportunities for participation. Engaging in the Extractive Industries Review, the critics entered a constellation of complex rule by playing along the five governing mechanisms. In effect, the critics became divided among themselves, the result of which was the crumbling of their resistance.

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This chapter describes the mutual critique and incrimination of different parts of ‘civil society’, specifically highlighting the processes of hierarchization and fragmentation that occur during the process of participation. It shows that the process of fragmentation, alongside the mechanisms of complex rule, is still ongoing among the already fragmented group of critics. The chapter describes these processes based on ethnographic observation in one specific session of the Civil Society Policy Forum and the ensuing discussions about it, in which these practices became especially visible: the so called ‘townhall meeting’ with participation of Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, and Jim Yong Kim, Director of the World Bank Group in 2016.

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This chapter traces the history of interaction between the Word Bank Group and its critics from the mid-1980s until 2001. Advocacy against the World Bank Group gained in size and depth quickly. Coalescing with what became the Global Justice Movement after 1988, the strength of this movement was its diversity, ranging from hardcore autonomous street-action groups to reform-minded NGOs. The chapter shows how the World Bank Group reacted to this movement, beginning to take seriously the moderate critics and inviting them in from the mid-1990s onwards. Moderates, in turn, started to defend their newly won privileges by distancing themselves from the radicals. Furthermore, ruptures between activists from the Global North and the Global South are traced with the example of the anti-debt campaigns, leading to a fundamentally altered field of critique after the millennium.

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Starting from the puzzlement of activists faced with the fragmentation of their social movement, the introduction situates their struggle in a changing hierarchical environment of global governance starting from the 1990s. During that time, the ‘opening-up’ of international organizations (IOs) took place and has been theorized accordingly. At the same time, International Relations (IR) has moved away from anarchy towards hierarchy, authority, governmentality, and rule. The introduction brings these discussions together, arguing for a theoretical approach that captures these concepts in a constellational and historical way. It introduces the concept of complex rule, a constellation in which social movements can become divided and ruled even in the absence of a ruler, when governing institutions make offers of participation to their critics.

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Social movements struggle to oppose the managerial mode of rule in open global governance because the latter ‘can avoid the accusation of deriving from a will to domination’ (Boltanski 2011). Critique therefore becomes disoriented and fragments as a result. But how does this happen? This chapter operationalizes this process. It surveys principles and practices of process tracing and introduces an understanding of process as constitutive rather than causal and unilinear. Based on this, five mechanisms are introduced which both constitute complex rule in global governance and keep the social movement in fragmentation: economization, incorporation, legitimation, professionalization, and regulation. These mechanisms are observable in practices both on the side of the institution and among its critics. Among the critics, however, these practices are contradictory, in effect causing movement fragmentation.

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Combining social movement studies and IR holds a promise for both disciplines: overcoming the formalistic emphasis on institutions in IR and the institutional blind spot in social movement studies. This chapter introduces a view on movements and institutions in interaction. It discusses some of the difficulties encountered in studying institutional movement ‘outcomes’ and surveys the ways in which IR has already incorporated some important concepts from the contentious politics approach, notably in the literature on contestation and politicization. Outlining some of the weaknesses in these concepts, the chapter offers the analytical framework of rule and resistance in an interactionist research program, namely the reconstruction of transnational rule from the analysis of resistance.

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In the transnational realm, it feels awkward to speak of rule because traditionally, IR was built on the distinction of domestic rule and international anarchy. Yet, many global governance theories have acknowledged that various kinds of hierarchy exist beyond the nation state. In liberal approaches, these are frequently justified with the epistemic authority, the ‘knowing better’ of international institutions, which are legitimated by their expertise rather than governing through coercion. This chapter critically discusses these approaches and builds on alternative conceptions of authority, rule, and domination in order to shift the perspective from compliance to resistance. In such a view, rule would hence become visible where resistance takes place. Rule and resistance are understood as a dynamic constellation. Through the latter, we know that the former exists, and can consecutively analyse both through their interaction.

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