It’s been going on for some time, first in the South — India, Brazil, South Africa,… — and since Seattle primarily, the North has joined in. But all of this is some years back, in the South, decades (which is why the World Social Forum has been held in Brazil and India). The MST and Zapatistas are important components, but only components of much larger protests against the investor-rights version of international economic integration absurdly called “globalization.”
There’s good literature on neoliberal globalization (the so-called “Washington consensus”). I’ve written about it too, for quite a few years. Profits over People to mention one of a number of books, and many articles, including talks at the WSF that have appeared here and there. The rules of the game were more or less formalized in the Uruguay round that set up the WTO, in NAFTA, and other such mislabelled “free trade agreements.” They are a mixture of liberalization and protectionism, designed — not surprisingly — in the interests of the designers: mainly MNCs, financial institutions, the investor/lender class generally, the powerful states that cater to their interests, etc. The rights and interests of people are incidental. The extreme protectionism of the WTO and NAFTA goes far beyond earlier forms of protectionism. The outrageous patent principles, for example, designed to grant monopoly pricing privileges to immense private tyrannies, far in the future, and to stifle innovation and development, in their interests.
Concentrated private power strongly resists exposure to market forces, unless it’s confident it can win in the competition. That goes back centuries. There’s a huge literature on this (I’ve written about it
too) and can’t summarize in a letter. Protectionist devices, such as those of NAFTA and the WTO, are only a fraction of the means by which the wealthy and powerful protect themselves from market forces. In fact, the core of the “new economy” is based on the principle that cost and risk should be socialized, and profit privatized (often after decades in the dynamic state sector). Just to take the obvious example, consider what you and I are now using: computers and the internet. Textbook examples of this process.