Why do people dislike globalisation if it allows humans to exchange ideas and pushes the market, like an anarchist idea could reach other countries?
As Noam Chomsky stated in 2002: The term “globalization” has been appropriated by the powerful to refer to a specific form of international economic integration, one based on investor rights, with the interests of people incidental. That is why the business press, in its more honest moments, refers to the “free trade agreements” as “free investment agreements” (Wall St. Journal). Accordingly, advocates of other forms of globalization are described as “anti-globalization”; and some, unfortunately, even accept this term, though it is a term of propaganda that should be dismissed with ridicule.
No sane person is opposed to globalization, that is, international integration. Surely not the left and the workers movements, which were founded on the principle of international solidarity—that is, globalization in a form that attends to the rights of people, not private power systems.
On the contrary, Neoliberal globalization conceives of the market and private capital as the main drivers for the “restructuring of economic, political and life” (this view is commonly associated with the economic principles espoused by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her US counterpart Ronald Reagan).
Marx, in his 1867 work “Capital: Critique of Political Economy”, raised the idea of the fallibility of fetishism, including an “attribution of magical powers to the ‘global market’ as the Chief Good of all human action”. This theme became present to the so called ‘anti-globalization’ activists for the concerns regarding the inequity and commodification apparently necessary for the capitalist system to thrive.
After a decade of TINA (There is No Alternative) indoctrination, a momentous backlash emerged in the 1990s. Activists representing global civil society began to protest, with the intent to expose the internal conflicts and failures within a system that allowed the propagation of global stratification. This principally entailed targeting “large multinational corporations and the governments and international institutions at the service of those corporations’ interests”. Drawing global attention to the inequalities existing between the “core and periphery” of the global order, alter-globalization began to articulate visions for a more democratic future.
Organized and gathered around The World Social Forum (in the form of transnational protest summits and international democratic meetings), activists offered a self-conscious effort to develop an alternative future through the championing of counter-hegemonic globalization, a strategy for revolutionary social transformation extracted to create counter-hegemony.
The unprecedented changes in the global economy - what some commentators have defined as “turbo-capitalism” (Edward Luttwak), “market fundamentalism” (George Soros), “casino capitalism” (Susan Strange), and as “McWorld” (Benjamin Barber) - have been catalysts of a fundamental protest movement in Seattle in 1999. The mobilization on November 30, 1999, known as The battle of Seattle, when the World Trade Organization (WTO) convened at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in the State of Washington, helped define and put together the modern alter-globalization movement.
Activists were convinced that the WTO would be used by transnational corporate influencers as a forum in which to advance the global corporate agenda to the detriment of worldwide civil society and especially the interests of third-world countries. According to Ronnie Hall, trade campaigner at Friends of the Earth International, “The WTO seems to be on a crusade to increase private profit at the expense of all other considerations, including the well-being and quality of life of the mass of the world’s people.”
Since then, counter-globalization activists call for forms of global integration that better provide democratic representation, advancement of human rights, decentralization and sustainable development and therefore feel the term “anti-globalization” is misleading. Hence the more precise definition of ‘Alter Globalization’ or New Global movement.
What is shared is that participants oppose what they see as large, multi-national corporations having unregulated political power, exercised through trade agreements and deregulated financial markets. Specifically, corporations are accused of seeking to maximize profit at the expense of work safety conditions and standards, labor hiring and compensation standards, environmental conservation principles, and the integrity of national legislative authority, independence and sovereignty.
The Porto Alegre Manifesto is a proposal for social change produced at the 2005 World Social Forum. It outlines “twelve proposals, which its authors believe, together, give sense and direction to the construction of another, different world.“ The signatures of the manifesto (so-called “Group of Nineteen”); signatories are Aminata Traoré, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Eduardo Galeano, José Saramago, François Houtart, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Armand Mattelart, Roberto Savio, Riccardo Petrella, Ignacio Ramonet, Bernard Cassen, Samir Amin, Atilio Boron, Samuel Ruiz Garcia, Tariq Ali, Frei Betto, Emir Sader, Walden Bello, and Immanuel Wallerstein.
Economic measures are:
1. Debt cancellation for southern countries.
2. Implement international tax on financial transactions, i.e., Tobin tax.
3. Dismantle all tax havens and corporate havens (described as “paradises”).
4. Universal right to employment, social protection and pensions.
5. Promote fair trade and reject all free trade agreements and World Trade Organization laws, emphasizing the importance of education, health, social services and cultural rights over commercial rights.
6. Guarantee of food security to all countries by promoting rural, peasant agriculture.
7. Outlaw patenting of knowledge on living things and privatization of “common goods for humanity”, i.e., water.
Peace and justice:
8. Use public policies to fight discrimination, sexism, xenophobia, antisemitism and racism and fully recognize the political, cultural and economic rights of indigenous peoples.
9. Take steps to end environmental destruction and the greenhouse effect using alternative development models.
10. Dismantle all foreign military bases and the removal of troops from all countries except those under the explicit mandate of the United Nations.
11. Guarantee the right to information and the right to inform through legislation that would end concentration of media ownership, guarantee the autonomy of journalists, and favor alternative media.
12. Reform international institutions based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and incorporate the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and WTO into the United Nations.
Two events must be highlighted since the turn of the century to provide historical context to alter-globalization’s current political challenge. Despite significant moments occurred in the 1990s have provided a foundation for the movement’s rise, two events in particular severely altered the movement’s direction.
The first is the summit of the heads of government of the 8 major industrialized countries, held in Genoa on Friday, July 20 to Sunday July 22. In the earlier days, the anti-globalization movements and peace associations gave rise to demonstrations of dissent, followed by serious riots, with clashes between police and protesters. The police charges were as violent as unjustified, coming to a nocturne assault against the innocent hosted in school Diaz; the activists were massacred without mercy. Other protesters were abused and beaten in the barracks of Bolzaneto, just outside Genoa. The death of 22 years old autonomist Carlo Giuliani, which was shot in the head by italian police, was a point of no return for the movement. What Amnesty International called “the most serious suspension of democratic rights in a Western country since the Second World War”, was nothing more than the most ferocious face of global capitalism, which approached Genoa with the clear intention to destroy once for all a movement always more dangerous for its continuous growth.
The latter is the historical breakdown of neo-imperial coercion in the years following September 11, 2001. The assault to confidence globally in the prosperity of the neo-liberalist world consequent of ‘9/11’ appeared to provide apposite timing for activists who fought against this hegemony, supporting the creation of the World Social Forum (WSF) in 2001. However, the global atmosphere of uncertainty in the aftermath of September 11 allowed labels of terrorism and disloyalty to be ascribed to such activists. This significantly undermined the legitimacy of the demands of anti-globalization.
Moreover, theGlobal Justice Movementhas experienced shortcomings in mounting a challenge to the dominant ranks of the international political, social and economic world order. Above all it was the lack of a common interpretation of the movement’s objectives that hindered its search for an alternative hegemonic ideology resulting in the absence of a centralizing element to unify disparate voices.
Although the life of the Social Forum has continued until 2013, many activists spread out in other movements such as those against austerity in Europe and finance in the US (Occupy Wall Street).
The renewed feeling of urgency ensuing the 2008 ‘Global Financial Crisis’ (GFC) sparked attention towards finding a ‘humane heir’ to neoliberal globalization. This crisis, as it was predicted to “consume the real economy of jobs and welfare,” was argued to be an opportunity for social movement to get their foot in the door. However, while the dominant global arrangements fell into crisis, the failure to conceive a rapid and popular alternative, the sudden state support to the banks, the splitting of the working class and the triumph of media propaganda, resulted in an elitist reaction retaining its dominance, which was favorable to capital becoming dominant in the aftermath of the Global Crisis.
Nevertheless the hegemony that the alter-globalization movement contended (the existing dominance of the dismantling of the welfare state and privatization introduced by Reagan and Thatcher) is tied to the struggle against the financial austerity measures within the current Global Financial Crisis, that have caused ubiquitous inequities to pervade the global structure. In this sense you have to consider the movement which opposes capitalist globalization, and favor an alternative form of globalization based on new values, not as finished but as constantly able to upgrade and reappear according to new global challenges.