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Anti-globalization movement

The neutrality of this article is disputed.

The anti-globalization movement is an effort to counter perceived negative aspects of the current process of globalization. Although adherents of the movement often work in concert, the movement itself is heterogeneous and includes diverse, sometimes opposing, understandings of this process, alternative visions, strategies and tactics. Thus, more nuanced terms include anti-capitalist/anti-corporate alternative globalization. Participants may use the positive terms global justice or fair trade movement; or Movement of Movements; or simply The Movement.

Some factions of the movement reject globalization as such, but the overwhelming majority of its participants are aligned with movements of indigenous people, anarchism, green movements, and to a minor extent communism. Some activists in the movement have objected not to capitalism or international markets as such but rather to what they claim is the non-transparent and undemocratic mechanisms, and consequences, of globalization. They are especially opposed to neoliberalism, and international institutions that promote neoliberalism such as the World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO); neoliberal "free trade" treaties like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS); business alliances like the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Trans Atlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) and the Asia Pacific Economic Forum (APEC); as well as the governments which promote these agreements, institutions, and policies. Still others argue that, if borders are opened to capital, borders should be similarly opened to allow free and legal circulation and choice of residence for migrants and refugees. These activists tend to target organisms such as the International Organization for Migration and the Schengen Information System.

Many in France and Quebec, Canada, claiming that their position is not so much an opposition to globalization than an opposition to the particular way it is taking place (neoliberal etc..), prefer their movement to be called altermondialism.

It is also worth noting that many nationalist, far-right movements, such as the French National Front are also against globalization. They are still usually not considered part of the anti-globalization movement, which tends to adopt left-wing approaches.

Table of contents
1 Ideology and causes within the movement
2 Organization
3 Influences
4 Seattle
5 Law enforcement reaction
6 Influence on the developing world
7 Criticisms
8 Anti-Empire development
9 Mobilizations
10 See also
11 External links

Ideology and causes within the movement

There are many different causes championed by movement members, including labor rights, environmentalism, feminism, freedom of migration, preservation of the cultures of indigenous peoples, biodiversity, cultural diversity, food safety, organic farming, opposition to the green revolution and genetic engineering, and ending or reforming capitalism. Many of the protesters are veterans of single-issue campaigns, including forest/anti-logging activism, living wage, labor union organizing, anti-sweatshop campaigns, homeless solidarity campouts, urban squatting, urban autonomy, and political secession. Some protesters identify themselves as revolutionary anarchists, socialists, Gaians, or communists; others agree ideologically but don't immediately identify themselves as such and still others want to reform capitalism, e.g. democratic Greens, some pagans.

Movement members see most or all of these goals as complementary to one another, together forming a comprehensive agenda touching on nearly all aspects of life.

One common thread among the disparate causes is that the World Bank and IMF are seen as undermining local decision-making methods. Local or national sovereignty is seen as key to protecting cultures and ecologies. Governments and free trade institutions, on the other hand, are seen as acting solely for the good of trans-national (or multi-national) corporations (e.g. Microsoft, Monsanto, etc.). These corporations -- rhetorically likened to locusts or rapists -- are seen as having rights that human persons do not have - to move freely across borders, extract natural resources, exploit human resources, and move on after having depleted human capital, natural capital, and biodiversity itself - imposing a kind of global monoculture. Therefore, some of the movements' common goals are an end to corporate personhood and the dissolution or dramatic reform of the World Bank, IMF, and WTO. As protest slogans summarize: "People and planet before profits", "The Earth is not for sale!", or "Teamsters and Turtles, Together At Last!"

Some of the movement's agenda is shared by major pro-capitalist economic theorists who argue for much less centralized systems of money supply, debt control, and trade law. These include George Soros, Joseph E. Stiglitz (formerly of the World Bank), and David Korten. These three in particular have made strong arguments for drastically improving transparency, for debt relief, land reform, and restructuring corporate accountability systems.


Although over the past years more emphasis has been given to the construction of grassroots alternatives to (capitalist) globalization, the movement's largest and most visible mode of organizing remains mass decentralized campaigns of direct action and civil disobedience. These often coincide with meetings of organizations they object to. This mode of organizing, primarily under the banner of the Peoples' Global Action network, serves to tie the many disparate causes together into one global struggle. Exposure to the other causes helps create solidarity and slowly lays the groundwork for a consensus process and basis of unity for the movement itself, which may eventually include any, all, or none of the doctrines listed above.

In the process, it also helps to focus global attention both on the institutions of global capitalism (whose policies most movement members feel people would object to if they knew about them) as well as bring attention to the movement itself. In many ways the process of organizing matters more than the avowed goals or achievements of any given action in the movement. As Ralph Nader has put it:

"You may support some of the goals. You may even like some of the decisions. But you can't reasonably support the way these decisions are being made."

The stated goal of most demonstrations is to shut down the summit it is protesting. Some demonstration slogans to this effect include: "WEF? SHUT IT DOWN!", "CAPITALISM? NO THANKS! WE'LL SHUT DOWN YOUR FUCKING BANKS!", and "WTO? NO! WTO? NO!". Although the demonstrations rarely succeed in more than delaying or inconveniencing the actual summits, this energizes the mobilizations and gives them a purpose.

The movement's organizational model is notable - despite (or perhaps because of) the lack of formal coordinating bodies, the movement manages to successfully organise large protests on a global basis, using information technology to spread information and organise. Protesters organize themselves into "affinity groups," typically a non-hierarchical group of people who live close together and share a common goal or political message. Affinity groups will then send representatives to planning meetings. However, because these groups are easily and frequently penetrated by law enforcement intelligence, important plans of the protests are often not made until the last minute. One common tactic of the protests is to split up based on willingness to break the law. This is designed, with varying success, to protect the risk-averse from the physical and legal dangers posed by confrontations with law enforcement. For example, in Prague, the protest split into three distinct groups, approaching the conference center from three directions: one engaging in various forms of civil disobedience (the Yellow march), one (the Pink/Silver march) advancing through "tactical frivolity" (costume, dance, theatre, music, and artwork), and one (the Blue march) engaging in violent conflicts with the police, the police armed with water cannons and batons, the protesters with cobblestones lifted from the street [Guardian report].

These demonstrations come to resemble small societies in themselves. Many protesters take training in first aid and act as medics to other injured protesters. Some organizations like the National Lawyer's Guild and, to a lesser extent, the ACLU provide legal witnesses in case of law enforcement confrontation. Protesters often claim that major media outlets do not properly report on them; in response, some of them created the Independent Media Center, a collective of protesters reporting on the actions as they happen.


Perhaps more influential than any printed book is the vast array of material on spiritual movements, anarchism, libertarian socialism and the Green Movement that is now available on the Internet. The previously obscure works of Arundhati Roy, Starhawk, Carol Moore and John Zerzan in particular - these inspired a critique favoring feminism, consensus process and political secession, opposing a "tyranny of Number" by which the critics seem to mean any global measurements of people or profit at all. Perhaps the only axiom shared widely by such critics is, in line with this critique, that biodiversity is good, extinction bad.

Other than this vague "biodiversity good, extinction bad, numbers harmful" summary, which would no doubt enrage many followers of specific ideologies, there seems to be no leader who is universally accepted by "the movement".  In this respect it resembles the peace movement, environmental movement, ecology movement, Green Movement, and various forms of anarchism and 
fundamentalism, all of which generally abhor usurpation of power by "leaders", while paradoxically elevating previously obscure figures or doctrines.  Some call this an anti-monoculture movement, and make strong links between ecological, social, and ideological diversity doctrines. 

Several influential critical works have inspired and summarized the anti-globalization movement. These include, most influentially:

Naomi Klein's book No Logo, which criticized the production practices of multinational corporations and the omnipresence of brand-driven marketing usurping popular culture. Vandana Shiva's book Biopiracy, which documented the way that the natural capital of indigenous peoples and ecoregions is converted by forms of intellectual capital (recognized as property under colonialism) and exploited by marketing in order to create a monoculture. Amartya Sen's "Development as Freedom" (winner of The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1999), arguing strongly against traditional macro-economics, and for a system of money supply where currency would be based on free time.


The first major mobilization of the movement, known as N30, occurred on November 30, 1999, when protesters blocked delegates' entrance to WTO meetings in Seattle, USA. The protests forced the cancellation of the opening ceremonies and lasted the length of the meeting until December 3. There was a large, permitted march by members of the AFL-CIO, and another large, unpermitted march by assorted affinity groups. The Seattle riot police, in conjunction with the National Guard and, according to some sources, the Delta Forces of the United States Army, assaulted protesters with night sticks, pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber bullets. Over 600 protesters were arrested and dozens were injured. One demonstrator miscarried her baby after being exposed to CS and OC gas. Three policemen were injured by friendly fire, and one by a thrown rock. Some protesters destroyed the windows of local storefronts which were owned by targeted corporations, such as a large Nike shop and many Starbucks windows. The mayor put the city under the municipal equivalent of martial law and declared a curfew. As of 2002, the city of Seattle had paid over $200,000 in settlements of lawsuits filed against the Seattle Police Department for assault and wrongful arrest, with a class action lawsuit still pending.

Law enforcement reaction

Although local police were surprised by the size of N30, law enforcement agencies have since reacted worldwide to prevent the disruption of future events by a variety of tactics, including sheer weight of numbers, infiltrating the groups to determine their plans, and preparedness to use force to remove protestors. At the 2000 protest of the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, John Sellers, a key organizer of the Ruckus Society, one of the groups organizing the protests, was arrested on charges of jaywalking and held in jail on $1,000,000 bail for the duration of the protests. At the same protest, the police made a point of arresting anybody with a cell phone to impede the organization of the protest. Many protestors have been prevented from crossing borders for the purpose of joining a protest, either because their names matched a list of known protestors or because of their appearance.

At the site of the protests, police use tear gas and pepper spray, concussion grenades, rubber and wooden bullets, night sticks, water cannons, dogs, horses, and occasionally live ammunition to repel the protestors. In Quebec City, municipal officials built a 10-foot-high wall around the portion of the city where the Summit of the Americas was being held, which only residents, delegates to the summit, and certain accredited journalists were allowed inside. Although police claimed that violent elements in the protesters required a firm response, they fired tear gas and rubber bullets indiscriminately, dispersing peaceful assemblies and even teams of medics assisting the wounded; they gassed areas not involved in the protests, even firing off the mountaintop where the confrontations were taking place into the city below. The medical centre and independent media centre were evacuated by police at gunpoint.

One of the bloodiest protests in Western Europe's recent history, resulting in at least three demonstrator deaths and several hundred demonstrators hospitalized after police attacks and torture in custody, was the Genoa Group of Eight Summit protest, from July 18 to July 22, 2001. The response from protestors to such police tactics has included accusing them of brutality in interrupting their right to non-violently protest. However, police and responsible politicians argue that attempting to blockade a meeting is in itself a violent event and an attempt to impede the processes of democratically elected governments. They also argue that police use the minimum force necessary to achieve their goals, and that the protestors claims are exaggerated. All in all, there were several hundred demonstrators injured and several hundred arrests during the days surrounding the G8 meeting; most of those arrested have been charged with some form of "criminal association" under Italy's anti-mafia and anti-terrorist laws. As part of the continuing investigations, police raids of social centers, media centers, union buildings, and law offices have continued across Italy since the G8 summit in Genoa. Many police officers or responsible authorities present in Genoa during the G8 summit, are currently under investigation by the Italian judges, and some of them resigned. Some have since admitted to planting Molotov cocktails in order to justify the Diaz School raids, as well as faking the stabbing of a police officer to frame activists (

Influence on the developing world

Some people claim that the major mobilizations have taken place mainly in the developed world, where there are strong traditions of free speech, police restraint, civil rights, and the rule of law. In these countries, one of the objectives is to demonstrate that the protesters self-govern better than they could ever be controlled by violent force: on March 15 2002 in Barcelona, 250,000 people "rioted" for days with no serious injury on either side - far fewer casualties than would be expected in a typical European soccer riot.

By demonstrating general restraint against attacking persons and restricting demonstrative actions to property damage, the mobilizations have acted as an important influence on the developing world. In Argentina during the winter 2002 economic crisis, millions of ordinary citizens took to the streets for days with similar results, forcing several changes in the federal government. From December 19 and 20 2001, demonstrations (called "cacerolazos") in Buenos Aires forced the resignation of then-president De la Rua; over 32 demonstrators were killed. Since then, Argentine citizens have continued to develop alternative neighborhood-based economic systems, social structures and systems of autonomous self-government. A popular slogan within the uprising was, "Que se vayan todos! Que no se quede ninguno solo!" This means, "Everybody out (of the government)! Nobody stays!" indicating protesters' frustration not only with corruption in government but with the entire governmental structure.

In India, the views of Vandana Shiva and Amartya Sen and Arundhati Roy are very popular, effectively they enjoy full celebrity status. The acceptance and interest in their ideas and in the methods of Mohandas Gandhi are forming a major and specific challenge to both Hindu fundamentalism and Muslim.


The anti-globalization movement has been heavily criticized on many fronts by politicians, members of right-wing thinktanks, mainstream economists, and other supporters of free trade policies. Participants in the movement dismiss these criticisms as carping from a tiny minority who can express their opinions via what they call the corporate media. They claim that the criticisms themselves are self-serving and unrepresentative of informed popular opinion.

One of the most fundamental criticisms of the movement is simply that it lacks coherent goals, and that the views of different protestors are fundamentally contradictory.

For instance, it is argued (for instance, as a constant editorial line by The Economist), that one of the major causes of poverty amongst third-world farmers are the trade barriers put up by rich nations. The WTO is an organisation set up to work towards removing those trade barriers. Therefore, it is argued that people really concerned about the plight of the third world should actually be encouraging free trade, rather than attempting to fight it. Further in this vein, it is argued that the protestor's opposition to free trade is really aimed at protecting the interests of Western labour (whose wages and conditions are protected by trade barriers) rather than the interests of the developing world, despite the proclaimed goals of the movement in favour of solidarity and cooperation, not competition, between ordinary farmers and workers everywhere. Anti-globalization activists counter that free trade policies create an environment for workers similar to the Prisoner's dilemma, in which workers in different countries are tempted to "defect" by undercutting standards on wages and work conditions, and reject this argument in favor of a strategy of cooperation for mutual benefit. More details about the movement's global economics analyses and vision in depth can be found at the ZNet Global Economics site [1].

Another criticism is that, although the movement opposes catastrophic problems (human rights violations, genocide, global warming), it rarely proposes detailed solutions, and those solutions that have been advocated are often what some people regard as failed variants of socialism, e.g. see the debate between Michael Albert, Marvin Mandell and Barry Finger [1]. This criticism ignores the existence of web resources like the Philadelphia IMC alternatives site [1] and the annual World Social Fora where numerous solutions are proposed and debated and empirical data on social experiments are exchanged.

Some have criticized its claim to be non-violent. Aside from the indisputably violent tactics by a minority of protestors (possibly aggravated by the police), some see a blockade of an event as in and of itself a violent action (although many protesters would counter that blockades are a time-honored technique of civil disobedience, and that for alleged war criminals to hold a meeting to plan further crimes is itself a violent act).

Finally, the motivations of the organisers of the protests is often questioned. Some believe that the key organisers are really Trotskyite, who are simply using whatever grievances they can find to enlarge their protests with the aim of provoking violent revolution. The counterargument to this is that the movement has a very horizontal power structure, so that the power of any key organisers is limited, and that the communications structures in rich countries make it totally unrealistic for violent revolution to occur there, since the vast majority of ordinary people reject violence once they have sufficient evidence of it.

Anti-Empire development

In 2003, the movement showed its continued development by wide and deep, global opposition to the war in Iraq. Following the most spectacular show of force on the weekend of February 15, when about 10 million or more anti-globalization protestors participated in global protests against war on Iraq (pre-war), the New York Times dubbed the movement as the world's second superpower.

Although the global protest did not stop the invasion itself, it clearly displayed the contradiction between the claim that the purpose of the invasion was to defend and promote democracy, and the fact that the leaders of many formally democratic countries (UK, Spain, Italy, Poland, Turkey) supported the invasion despite the wishes of the vast majorities of their populations. In the words of Noam Chomsky, these leaders showed their contempt for democracy.

To show how closely linked the economic and military issues are in the eyes of the movement, one new statement of its human rights aims was written as the We Stand for Peace & Justice statement [1], leading in the USA to a coordination of the movement known as United for Peace and Justice [1].







See also

External links