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Anti-globalization (anti-globalisation) is a political stance of opposition to the perceived negative aspects of globalization. The corresponding movement is widely known as the anti-globalization movement, and is a largely grassroots effort, with support from some intellectual élites . Many regard the term "anti-globalization" as a misnomer, and see this as a tag meant to discredit the movement; in fact, many of those involved in the anti-globalization movement do support closer ties between the various peoples and cultures of the world — in particular, they often show solidarity with peoples they consider to be oppressed and campaign for asylum and immigration rights — and are opposed only to capitalist globalization. This is why they tend to use more nuanced terms to describe their movement, such as anti-capitalist, anti-corporate or positive terms as alternative globalization (see Alter-globalization) global justice or fair-trade movement, Global Justice and Solidarity Movement (GJ&SM), Movement of Movements or simply The Movement, and use slogans like "globalize justice" and "globalize liberation."

Many nationalist movements, such as the French National Front, are also opposed to globalization. However, they are not part of the anti-globalization movement as such, and they are usually rejected by anti-globalization activists. The overwhelming majority of the anti-globalization movement tends to adopt left-wing approaches.

The movement could be seen as a critical response to the development of global economy and capitalism that commenced with Margaret Thatcher's and Ronald Reagan's fiscal attitudes towards the welfare state and social-democracy (so-called neoliberalism) and continued with the change in policies of global institutions expecially after the end of the Cold War and the decisions, even of centre-left governments, to privatize vast sectors of their countries' economies. The movement opposes the diffuse conviction that the increase of free trade and the reduction of the public sector will bring benefits to poor countries and to disadvantaged people in rich countries, and they resent what they perceive as a loss of sovereignty of democratic institutions. It should be noted that many who oppose neoliberalism are not "anti-corporate", and that anti-globalists often accuse left-wing governments of pursuing neoliberal policies while these dispute the assertion.

After the September 11 attacks the movement has typically been critical of American responses to terrorism and has opposed the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. The movement saw the war as a hysterical response to the crisis of an economic and political model hegemonized by the United States, rather that as a reaction to actual dangers or as an intervention to bring democracy to the Middle East, as claimed by supporters of the war. Many members of the movement also support Palestinians in what they see as a struggle for self-determination.


Ideology and causes within the movement

The anti-globalization movement developed in the late twentieth century to combat the globalization of corporate economic activity and all exploitation of developing nations that might result from such activity. Anti-globalizationists are sometimes perceived to be marginalized by mainstream media and governments because of their strongly "anti-business" views; most media across the world are owned by wealthy individuals or large corporations, who are believed by activists to have conflicting interests with the rest of society.

Although adherents of the movement often work together, the movement itself is heterogeneous and includes diverse, sometimes opposing, understandings of the globalization process, alternative visions, strategies and tactics. The groups and organizations that are considered part of the movement and participate in its initiatives, more or less frequently, were not founded as "antiglobalist" (with the possible exception of ATTAC), but have their roots in various pre-existing social and political movements. The movement finds its heritage in such movements as the 1968 movement in Europe and the protest against the Vietnam War in the United States. The movement as it is known now was born from the convergence of these different political experiences when their adherents begun to demonstrate together on particular occasions, especially international meetings such as the Seattle WTO meeting of 1999 or Genoa G/8 summit in 2001.

Many different causes are championed by members of the movement. Generally they try to promote awareness for human rights NGOs, advocate socialist or social democratic alternatives to capitalist economics, and seek to protect the public interest and the world's ecosystem from what they believe to be the damaging effects of globalization. They struggle for 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. Although movement members see most or all of the aforementioned goals as complementary to one another, the number of different (and sometimes contradictory) issues has been a point of annoyance for the people they are protesting against. Critics claim many views are inconsistent or unrealistic.

Several influential critical works have inspired the anti-globalization movement. No Logo, the book by the Canadian journalist Naomi Klein which criticized the production practices of multinational corporations and the omnipresence of brand-driven marketing in popular culture, has become a "manifesto" of the movement, presenting in a simple way themes more accurately developed in other works. In India some intellectual references of the movement can be found in the works of Vandana Shiva, a scientist, ecologist and feminist, who in her book Biopiracy documents the way that the natural capital of indigenous peoples and ecoregions is converted into forms of intellectual capital, which are then recognized as commercial property without sharing the private utility thus derived. The writer Arundhati Roy is famous for her anti-nuclear position and her crusade against India's massive hydroelectric dam project, sponsored by the World Bank. In France the authoritative monthly paper Le Monde Diplomatique has embraced the antiglobalization cause and an editorial of its director Ignacio Ramonet brought about the foundation of the association ATTAC. The works of Jean Ziegler and Immanuel Wallerstein has contributed regarding underdevelopment and dependence in a world ruled by capitalist system. Pacifist and anti-imperialist traditions have strongly influenced the movement. Critics of American foreign policy such as Noam Chomsky or Susan Sontag are widely accepted inside the movement.

Although they may not recognize themselves as antiglobalists and are pro-capitalism, some economists who don't share the neoliberal approach of international economic institutions have strongly influenced the movement. Amartya Sen's Development as Freedom (winner of The Nobel Prize in Economics, 1999), observes that third world development must be understood as the expansion of human capability, not simply the increase in national income per capita, and thus requires policies attuned to health and education, not simply GDP. The Nobel Prize in Economics James Tobin's proposal for a Tax on financial transactions (called, after him, the Tobin Tax) has become part of the agenda of the movement. George Soros, Joseph E. Stiglitz (another Nobel prize, formerly of the World Bank, author of Globalization and Its Discontents) and David Korten have made strong arguments for drastically improving transparency, for debt relief, land reform, and restructuring corporate accountability systems. Korten and Stiglitz's contribution to the movement include involvement in direct actions and street protest. As many supporters of the movement do not share the same basic assumptions of capitalism and economics itself, their particular agendas may not dominate the movement or its perceptions, but it potentially provides greater credibility.

In some Roman Catholic countries such as Italy there have even been religious influences, especially from missionaries who have spent a long time in the Third World (the most famous being Alex Zanotelli). The confluence between this tradition and post-communist tradition is often perceived as odd, but not completely at odds.

Internet sources and free-information websites, such as Indymedia, are a powerful means of diffusion of the movement's ideas. The vast array of material on spiritual movements, anarchism, libertarian socialism and the Green Movement that is now available on the Internet has been perhaps more influential than any printed book. The previously obscure works of Arundhati Roy, Starhawk, and John Zerzan, in particular, inspired a critique favoring feminism, consensus process and political secession.

Opposition to International Financial Institution and trans-national corporations

Protestors believe that the global financial institutions and agreements undermine local decision-making methods. Many governments and free trade institutions are seen as acting for the good of trans-national (or multi-national) corporations (e.g. Microsoft, Monsanto, etc.). These corporations are seen as having privileges that most human persons do not have: moving freely across borders, extracting desired natural resources, utilizing a diversity of human resources. They are perceived to be able to move on after doing permanent damage to the natural capital and biodiversity of a nation, in a manner impossible for that nation's citizens. Activists also claim that corporations impose a kind of "global monoculture". Some of the movements' common goals are, therefore, an end to the legal status of corporate personhood and the dissolution, or dramatic reform, of the World Bank, IMF, and WTO. As protest slogans (simplistically) summarize: "People and planet before profits", "The Earth is not for sale!", or "Teamsters and Turtles, Together At Last!".

The activists are especially opposed to "globalization abuse" (neoliberalism), and international institutions that are perceived to promote neoliberalism without regard to ethical standards, 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) and "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). They claim that the "free trade", considering the economic gap between rich and poor countries, wouldn't be free but would result in enforcing the position of the industrialized nations, sometimes called the "North" in opposition to the developing world's "South".

Activists often also oppose 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 such agreements or institutions. 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 organizations such as the International Organization for Migration and the Schengen Information System.

"Anti-empire" development

In 2003, the movement showed wide and deep global opposition to the war in Iraq. Its participants where among those 10 million or more protesters that on the weekend of February 15 participated in global protests against war on Iraq and were dubbed by the New York Times as the "world's second superpower". Others pacifist appointments where organized by the antiglobalization movement as such: see for example the big demonstration against the war (at the time only planned) that closed the first European Social Forum on November 2002 in Florence, Italy.

Antiglobalization militants saw a confirm of their preoccupation on the functionment of democratic institutions in the fact that the leaders of many formally democratic countries (Spain, Italy, Poland) were acting against the wishes of the majorities of their populations in supporting the war. Noam Chomsky claimed these leaders "showed their contempt for democracy". Critics of this type of argument have tended to point out that this is just a standard criticism of representative democracy — a democratically elected government will not always act in the direction of greatest current public support — and that, therefore, there is no inconsistency in the leaders' positions given that these countries are parliamentary democracies.

To show how closely linked the economic and military issues are in the eyes of some in 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 [2].


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. This mode of organizing, sometimes under the banner of the Peoples' Global Action network, tries to tie the many disparate causes together into one global struggle. For each member, exposure to other causes helps create a sense of solidarity and may lay the groundwork for a consensus process and the basis of unity for the movement overall, which could eventually include any, all or none of the doctrines listed above. Peoples' movements around the world are working to demonstrate that the path to sustainable development, social and economic justice lies in alternative models for people-centred and self-reliant progress, rather than in neo-liberal globalisation.

In many ways the process of organizing matters overall can be more important to activists than the avowed goals or achievements of any component of the movement.

At corporate summits, the stated goal of most demonstrations is to stop the proceedings. 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 visible, short-term purpose (in addition to their long-term goals). Critics claim that this form of publicity is expensive in police time and the public purse. Although not supported by many in the movement, rioting has occurred in Genoa, Seattle and London and extensive damage can be done to the area, especially "capitalist" targets like McDonalds Restaurants.

Despite (or perhaps because of) the lack of formal coordinating bodies, the movement manages to successfully organize large protests on a global basis, using information technology to spread information and organize. Protesters organize themselves into "affinity groups," typically non-hierarchical groups 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 baton-armed police, with the protesters throwing cobblestones lifted from the street. (See 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; therefore, some of them created the Independent Media Center, a collective of protesters reporting on the actions as they happen.

Main Demonstrations and appointments


One of the first international Anti-globalization protests was organized in dozens of cities around the world on June 18, 1999, especially London, U.K. and Eugene, Oregon. The protest in Eugene, Oregon turned into a mini-riot where local anarchists drove cops out of a small park. One anarchist, Robert Thaxton, was arrested and convicted of throwing a rock at a police officer. As of 2004, he is still in prison.


Main article: WTO Meeting of 1999

The second 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, met the protesters with nightsticks, 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 storefronts of businesses owned or franchised 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 preparations for the use of force to remove protesters. 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 protesters have been prevented from crossing borders for the purpose of joining a protest, either because their names matched a list of known protesters or because of their appearance. In the UK, a coach heading to a rally was turned back and escorted back to London — a police operation later found to be illegal by the courts.

At the site of some of the protests, police have used tear gas and pepper spray, concussion grenades, rubber and wooden bullets, night sticks, water cannons, dogs, horses, and occasionally live ammunition to repel the protesters. In Quebec City, municipal officials built a ten-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 allegedly fired tear gas and rubber bullets indiscriminately, dispersing peaceful assemblies and even teams of medics assisting the wounded. It is claimed they also gassed areas not involved in the protests, 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.


Main article: Genoa Group of Eight Summit protest

One of the bloodiest protests in Western Europe's recent history, resulting in the death of a young citizen of Genoa called Carlo Giuliani during the demonstration 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 protesters to such police tactics has included accusing them of brutality in interrupting their right to non-violently protest. 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 [3].

International Social Forums

See main articles: World Social Forum European Social Forum, the Asian Social Forum.

The main appointment of antiglobalization militants has become the World Social Forum (WSF). The first WSF was an initiative of the administration of Porto Alegre in Brazil. The slogan of the World Social Forum was "Another World Is Possible". It was here that the WSF's Charter of Principles was adopted to provide a framework for the forums.

The WSF became an periodic meeting: in 2002 and 2003 it was held again in Porto Alegre and became a rallying point for worldwide protest against the American invasion of Iraq. In 2004 it was moved to Mumbai (former known as Bombay, in India), to make it more accessible to the populations of Asia and Africa. This last appointment saw the participation of 75,000 delegates.

In the meantime, regional forums took place following the exemple of the WSF, adopting its Charter of Principles. The first European Social Forum (ESF) was held in November 2002 in Florence. The slogan was "Against the war, against racism and against neo-liberalism". It saw the participation of 60,000 delegates and ended with a huge demonstration against the war (1,000,000 people according to the organizers). The other two ESFs took place in Paris and London, in 2003 and 2004 respectively.

Recently there has been some discussion behind the movement about the role of the Social Forums. Some see them as a "Popular University", an occasion to make many people aware of the problems of globalization. Others would prefer that delegates concentrate their efforts on the coordination and organization of the movement and on the planning of new campaigns.

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 apparently no serious injury to individuals on either side — far fewer casualties than would be expected in a typical European soccer riot, for example. There was, however, much damage to private and public property — which is, arguably, unnecessary in public protest.

In Argentina during the winter 2002 economic crisis, millions of ordinary citizens took to the streets for days with similar results to the Barcelona protests, forcing several changes in the federal government. On the 19th and 20th December 2001, demonstrations (called "cacerolazos") in Buenos Aires forced the resignation of then-president De la Rua, though over 32 demonstrators were killed. Since then, Argentine citizens have continued to try and develop 'alternative' neighborhood-based economic systems, social structures and local systems of autonomous self-government. A popular slogan within the uprising was, ¡Que se vayan todos! ¡Que no se quede ninguno solo! ("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, Amartya Sen and Arundhati Roy are very popular, effectively enjoying 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 and Muslim fundamentalism. The three have also had a substantial impact on views within the "anti-globalization" movement.


The anti-globalization movement has been heavily criticized on many fronts by politicians, members of conservative think tanks, mainstream economists, and other supporters of capitalist globalization. Participants in the movement often 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 common criticisms of the movement, which does not necessarily come from its enemies, is simply that the anti-globalization movement lacks coherent goals, and that the views of different protesters are often in opposition to each other. Many members of the movement are also aware of this, and argue that, as long as they have a common enemy, they should march together - even if they don't share exactly the same political vision.

One argument often made by the opponents of the anti-globalization movement (especially by The Economist), is 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, 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 protesters' opposition to free trade is sometimes aimed at protecting the interests of Western labor (whose wages and conditions are protected by trade barriers) rather than the interests of the developing world. This contrasts with the stated goals of those in the movement, which are to improve the conditions of ordinary farmers and workers everywhere.

Anti-globalization activists counter these claims by arguing 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" or "betray" other workers by undercutting standards on wages and work conditions. Therefore, the anti-globalization movement supports a strategy of cooperation for mutual benefit, and argues for fair trade - which is specifically aimed to provide third-world farmers with better terms of trade.

Another criticism against the movement is that, although it protests about things that are widely recognized as serious problems, such as human rights violations, genocide and global warming, it rarely proposes detailed solutions, or it proposes solutions that have been tried and shown to be faulty in the past (e.g. see the debate between Michael Albert, Marvin Mandell and Barry Finger [4]). However, proponents of the movement point to the existence of web resources like the Philadelphia IMC alternatives site [5] and the annual World Social Fora where numerous solutions are proposed and debated and empirical data on social experiments are exchanged.

Some have also criticized the movement's claim to be non-violent. Aside from the indisputably violent tactics used by a minority of protesters (possibly aggravated by the police), some see an enforced blockade of events and public throughways as a violent action, in and of itself. Many protesters counter that blockades are a time-honored technique of civil disobedience, and that the organizations they are protesting against are themselves guilty of crimes.

The motivations of the organisers of the protests are often questioned. Some believe that the key organisers are really communists who aim to start a revolution. The counter-argument to this is that the movement has a very horizontal power structure, so that the power of any key organisers is limited, and that if we've reached the point where violent revolution can be considered a real possibility, then it is a clear sign that something must be very wrong with our current system.

Finally, critics argue that the anti-globalization movement uses anecdotal evidence to support their view and that worldwide statistics instead strongly supports globalization. One effect being that the percentage of people in developing countries living below $1 (adjusted for inflation) per day have halved in only twenty years [6]. Life expectancy has almost doubled in the developing world since WWII and is starting to close the gap to the developed world where the improvement has been smaller. Child mortality has decreased in every developing region of the world [7]


Main article: Anti-globalization and Anti-Semitism

Some commentators have claimed that anti-Semitism is rife in the movement. These charges are generally related to the fact that solidarity with Palestinians and criticism of Israeli government policy are common within the movement. People such as Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Jewish Voice for Peace have argued that this is not indicative of anti-Semitism.


Note that the start of this timeline only reflects the start of major American mobilizations; international anti-corporate globalization mobilizations occurred prior to Seattle.

See also

Opponents of global corporatization

Opponents of anti-globalization (pro-globalists)

External links

Last updated: 05-07-2005 17:12:35
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04