The Rhizomatic Left, Neoliberal Capitalism and Class: Theoretical Interventions on Contemporary Social Movements in the Global North

Peter N. Funke, University of South Florida


This article begins to theoretically explore today's left social movement formations in relation to shifts in capital and class relations. The article links the emergence of a novel matrix of social movement politics, which it calls the Rhizomatic Left, to the structural shifts from Fordism to neoliberal capitalism. Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari, the image of the rhizome is insightful for outlining the nature and workings of contemporary social movement powered politics. The article briefly sketches four central characteristics of the Rhizomatic Left: transnationality, diversity, multi-connectivity and communication. Despite arguable success, however, the Rhizomatic Left also faces inherent challenges for sustained movement building. The article locates these limitations in the absence of a unifying or transversal dimension of and for the diversity of the constitutive groups and movements of the Rhizomatic Left. The article suggests that re-emphasizing capitalism and class relations as such a transversal axis might allow the Rhizomatic Left to begin congealing as a more resilient movement formation, shifting from a ‘class in itself’ to a ‘class for itself’.