Is the world waking up to collective action possibilities?


Massive crowds in Argentina are taking to the streets to celebrate the legalization of abortion.

Hundreds of thousands of farmers are opposing the new legislation in India, while millions are taking steps to help it. 2020 may have been a horrible year, rife with viruses, but it ended with a glimmer of new possibilities. After Uruguay and Guyana, Argentina became just the third South American nation to legalize elective abortion – a victory founded on decades of women’s activism.

The National Movement for the Right to Lawful, Safe and Free Abortion was founded by a number of organisations in 2005.

A decade later, a nationwide mobilization against violence against women took place, a movement that grew to include abortion rights demands.

The House’s lower house passed an abortion bill in 2018, but church opposition forced the Senate to filibuster it.

In the meantime, what has been referred to as “the largest mobilization of the peasantry in independent India” challenges three new laws that deregulate the agricultural market, abolish price guarantees and allow large corporations to intervene.

As many as 300,000 farmers and farm workers descended on New Delhi last November, blocking roads and forming temporary camps.

The BJP government of India believed that the protest will die down and disperse soon.

But the farmers are still there and have witnessed the violence of the police, tear gas and water cannons.

It is the government whose determination is starting to crack. Events from Argentina to India showed the power of collective action in a year which saw the consolidation of authoritarianism around the world.

Signs of optimism for the year 2021. Kenan Malik is an Observer columnist.


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