About us

The International Research Group on Authoritarianism and Counter-Strategies (IRGAC) is an initiative of the-Rosa Luxemburg-Stiftung that brings together more than 20 scholar-activists from across the Global South to share and exchange ongoing research on the rise of the Right and strategic responses from the Left. We seek to combine in-depth studies of national and regional political processes with a global perspective that recognizes and analyzes the universal manifestations of authoritarian capitalism and universalizing processes that lie beyond the “rising tide” of authoritarianism. As the project progresses, we will regularly publish our collective and individual analysis, articles, findings and excerpts here.

IRGAC blog on #authoritarianism worldwide

Check out our #publications section with articles, interviews, reviews and lots of other material on global authoritarianism

New Research Cluster: MENA@IRGAC

Our new MENA research cluster is composed of six scholars and activists who bring research, journalism, and art together to study authoritarianism, political contestation, and counter strategies in and from the Middle East, North Africa (MENA), and beyond.

MENA@IRGAC is a cooperation between the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, and “Europe in the Middle East—The Middle East in Europe”, a research programme at the Forum Transregionale Studien.

2001 as a Murmur, Looting as a Project, and New Promises for Social Change

The economic crisis and the pandemic tinge the 2021 election campaign in Argentina. 20 years after the events of December 2001 it is worth asking about their imprint, lessons, and projection for the future. Is a cycle coming to an end?

… more

Knowledge Production During Revolutionary Times: Reflections From, In, and On West Asia and North Africa

Roundtable Discussion | Friday October 29, 2021 | 17:00–19:30 | Hybrid (register for details)

Speakers: Nader Talebi (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), Nafiseh Fathollahzadeh (EUME Fellow of Rosa Luxemburg Foundation / IRGAC 2021-22), Oula Ramadan (Badael), Sana Tannoury-Karam (EUME Fellow 2020-22), Walid El Houri (OpenDemocracy / EUME Fellow 2013/14), Yasmeen Daher (Febrayer), Chair & Discussant: Jeffrey G. Karam (LAU / EUME Fellow of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation / IRGAC 2021-22)

… more

“Impossible Is Not So Easy”: An Interview with a Political Analyst from the Philippine Left

After more than five years of authoritarian rule, rent-seeking, and a kind of ‘gangster’ neoliberal economic policies, the strongman rule of Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte has begun to unravel as the Philippines gears up for the national elections in May 2022. Realignments of social and political forces are beginning to reconfigure the political landscape amidst the continuing Covid-19 pandemic. Progressive and traditional social forces are drawing their political lines as the mounting opposition against Duterte expands. This conversation with Joel Rocamora, a renowned author, political analyst, and progressive governance practitioner, seeks to examine the rise of Duterte’s authoritarian governance, the reconfiguration of the Philippine elite and other social classes, the political/ideological debates within the Philippine Left, and the political realignments towards the Philippine presidential elections in 2022.

… more

Florestan Fernandes: Explaining Authoritarianism Beyond the Fascist Experience

One of the main challenges for understanding the concept of authoritarianism is the many different meanings it has. Already in the 1970s, Brazilian sociologist and political militant Florestan Fernandes analysed the ambiguity of the concept of authoritarianism and its use in political mainstream discourse. He assessed that if we explain authoritarianism only through the liberal lens – as being in opposition to “democracy” -, we ignore the inherent authoritarian tendencies of liberal democracy and its everyday abuse of power. Florestan proposed a different understanding instead.

… more

The Struggles against Authoritarianism in Brazil: An Interview with Raimundo Bonfim of the National Campaign “Out Bolsonaro!”

Raimundo Bonfim, national coordinator of the Centre of People’s Movements (CMP), talks about the current political situation in Brazil and gives perspectives on the struggle against Bolsonaro and the challenges currently posed to the Brazilian left.

… more

How to Achieve Transnational Solidarity in the Age of Neoliberal Authoritarianism and Border Securitization?

In this essay, I want to address the complications stemming from the political economy of transnational solidarity networks and the power asymmetry in them, mainly through discussing the Turkish case. Neoliberal globalization and its political geography built upon colonial divisions have become the framework for cross-national solidarity as well as the recent authoritarian turn, while at the same time bringing in structural setbacks to the former. Furthermore, the recent migration “crises”, that are caused by imperialist interventions, have been met with heightened border securitization in the Global North, limiting the field for international human rights activism. This introduces a serious additional challenge to the conception and practice of transnational solidarity.

… more

The Alt-Right in Latin America

Following the collapse of left-wing populist movements in Latin America, neoliberal and authoritarian governments have spread all over the region. Clear examples of this resurgence are Bolsonaro in Brazil, Lenin Moreno in Ecuador, and Mauricio Macri in Argentina, not to mention the authoritarian drift of Nicolás Maduro’s government in Venezuela. This authoritarian turn at the institutional-political level has been accompanied by ideological changes in public and ‘non-public’ opinion: hate speech, anti-egalitarian discourses, authoritarian values, and an individualistic common sense. Of course, these discourses existed in the past too, but their virulence and the new constellations in which they are inscribed represent an ideological novelty in the Latin American political landscape.

… more

Making business accountable: The voice of civil society on Telenor’s sale of its Myanmar business to blacklisted company

Even before the coup in Myanmar, the military was preparing to strengthen surveillance mechanism by pressuring telecommunication companies to enforce intercept spyware. Although it was not confirmed whether the Ministry of Transport and Communication under the National League for Democracy government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was involved to some extent in the implementation of these surveillance procedure, the budget amounted to nearly 3.4 million Euro were approved in 2019-2020 financial year for the purchase of spyware products and phone hacking technology. Since the coup, Myanmar military has been exerting control over the Internet service providers and telecommunication companies. The military’s order to intensify electronic surveillance systems lead to a recent speculation that Telenor, Norwegian multinational telecommunications would sell its business in Myanmar. Eventually, Telenor picked up a blacklisted company with bad track record for selling 100% of its share in Myanmar without giving any notice to its customers. This interview shares the voice of an activist who leads the movement for digital rights and the cancelling of Telenor’s sale to M1 group for the data security of 18 million users. The identity of the activist is kept under anonymity due to security concerns.

… more

The Crisis of Brazilian Universities: higher education under Bolsonaro

The attack on science and knowledge production is known to be one of the main elements of the rise of the authoritarian right in the past decade. As one of the main global expressions of contemporary authoritarianism, Jair Bolsonaro is no exception to that. His government has been an important part of the context of difficulties for the higher education sector in Brazil, especially since research is highly dependent on public universities and funding agencies in the country. On top of that, the COVID pandemic in 2020 created difficulties for universities all around the world. If such a global crisis is expected to generate differentiated pressures across the Global North and South, the impact of authoritarian politics is surely prone to making the situation particularly delicate for universities.

… more

Milton Santos: space, technique, and globalization

The relationships between the local and the global in the shaping of space comprise a set of fundamental categories of Milton Almeida dos Santos, one of the greatest Brazilian thinkers in the second half of the twentieth century. He was a geographer who produced a critical and totalizing theory that permeates different areas of knowledge, such as philosophy, sociology, and political economy. In this text, I will present some of his main concepts, due to their relevance and accuracy. His notions of space, technique, place, and territory are fundamental for the understanding of contemporary political, social, and economic dynamics in the Global South and North.

… more