avatar
New Targets


Albert

We

anti-globalists oppose imperial trade arrangements. We reject that the rich get

richer. We repudiate that the poor get poorer. We laugh at pundits claiming that

globalization positively entwines world centers via new modes of communication

and travel. We guffaw at the claim that globalization expands democracy and

participation. We live and breathe that globalization is another name for

rewriting international norms of commerce, power, and culture. We see that it

further elevates U.S. and European elites. We feel that it weakens national

governments and populations. We know that it strengthens elite conclaves of

corporate bosses. In short, for us globalization is twenty-first century

imperialism. It’s got to be stopped.

But

given that we are against international inequity and injustice, mustn’t we also

oppose domestic inequity and injustice? As central institutions of international

impoverishment, the WTO, IMF, and World Bank provide obvious targets. What about

the White House? What about Wall Street? What about local Chambers of Commerce?

What about major corporations themselves? What about the information managers

that trumpet globalization from NBC and CBS to local talk radio, and from the NY

Times and Washington Post to local tabloids? And what about the presidential

palaces, stock exchanges, corporations, and mainstream media from Britain to

Thailand, Peru to Australia, Canada to Japan, and Brazil to India?

More,

if we are against profit-seeking, authoritarian usurping of power, and media

manipulation of information, mustn’t we be for just allocations of resources and

wealth, decision-making that gives each actor a say over their lives and

circumstances, and information and culture that respects truth and addresses the

needs of large populations?

Against profit and competition, we advocate equity and cooperation. Against

exclusion and authority, we advocate participation and self-management. Against

lies and manipulation, we advocate truth and honest exchange.

Our

anti-globalization activism is an international phenomenon, a very serious

business. At stake are not only critical proximate institutions like the IMF and

World Bank, but also the capitalist markets and ownership relations that

engender “globalization” in the first place.

To

attain the size, comprehension, and commitment to not only stir up awareness,

but galvanize it into sustained activism and to then parlay that sustained

activism into increasing social costs that elites succumb to, we need to design

movement agendas that inspire widespread interest and provide means for

widespread on-going participation. We need movement focuses that are diverse and

multiple, that are local, national, and international, and that are continuous

and not once or twice yearly.

So

which way for anti-globalization? Some suggestions.

(1) 

The anti-globalization movement needs to highlight what it is aiming for.

We need to clarify our alternatives for international relations and also for

what we mean by a cooperative and just economy able to improve people’s lives

domestically as well as internationally. We need to crystallize our rejection of

authoritarian trade institutions, of course, but as a foundation for that also

our attitude to corporations and markets and our vision of replacements for

each. Of course, attaining shared goals won’t happen by magic hand-waving. We

won’t conquer the vision problem unless we address such matters together, debate

them, explore them, begin to attain some useful agreements about them, and then

put the results forth as widely as we can. The media and more importantly our

potential political allies repeatedly ask us “what do you want?” Making headway

requires that we answer intelligently, convincingly, and passionately.

(2) 

We also need to re-emphasize reaching out as widely as possible and

providing means of participation for as many new people as we can interest. We

need to unequivocally understand that our strategic goal isn’t to have a small

army of courageous, creative, insightful, and bold dissidents. We need many in

motion, not few, no matter how good the few may be. And for our goals, thousands

and even tens of thousands are still few. To attain needed size and scope, we

have to correct the appearance that anti-globalization requires traveling to

distant cities and demonstrating in the midst of clubs and tear gas, much less

hurling paving stones and dodging rubber bullets. First, few people will jump

from no involvement to such confrontation in one vast leap, even if they may

become highly militant at some point in their future experience. Second, few

people are in position to do that kind of thing regardless of their desires.

They don’t have the time, the freedom, or the funds. They aren’t physically,

emotionally, familially, or occupationally in a position to act thusly. Or they

doubt the efficacy. So the facts are simple. (i) A movement that can win change

in international trade relations needs millions and even tens of millions and

certainly not merely thousands of participants. (ii) People aren’t really

movement participants unless they are doing things in a sustained, on-going way

within the movement. So (iii) it follows that to grow sufficiently to win, our

movement needs to offer things for people to do where they live and in accord

with their dispositions and possibilities.

(3) 

Indymedia is an amazing and glorious outgrowth of the anti-globalization

project. But what if these new organizations located all around the world, were

to take up a second agenda? They are now committed and should remain committed

to finding new ways to convey dissenting information to local audiences. That

priority should not stop nor diminish. But what about also becoming the nuclei

around which activism against mainstream media can gel? What about indymedia

organizations sponsoring regional gatherings that set up organizing projects to

raise consciousness about mainstream media and to then plan and carry out mass

rallies and other demonstrations directed at mainstream media? Wouldn’t that add

a new dimension, a new set of focuses, and a whole new tone and dynamic to our

movement?

(4) 

To win we need to generate a trajectory of activism that elites cannot

repress away or manipulatively derail, and which they also can’t calmly abide.

That is the logic of social change in the near and even middle term. But what is

it that threatens elites, that can’t be repressed away, and that can’t be

manipulated off course? The only answer I know of is rapidly growing numbers of

dissidents, varied diversifying focuses of their dissent, and steadily

escalating commitment and militancy of their tactics. To succeed, we need not

just one of these, nor even two, but all three. (i) Our movements need to be

multi-tactical in ways that help each constituency manifest its aims without the

efforts of a few trumping all visibility, tone, and content of the rest. (ii)

Our movements need to be multi-issue, enabling each constituency to mount its

priority claims and aspirations, with none drowning out the others and each

finding means to support the rest. For example, can’t globalization activists

mobilize on behalf of the work of living wage activists, of unionists striking

their employers, of solidarity workers trying to find international space for

East Timor, of anti-war activists bracing to aid Colombia, and with people of

color organizing against police repression, racist violence, and impoverishment?

(iii) Our movements need to have a militant edge that graphically displays a

rising tide of anger and commitment, but which also remains in close touch with

the main body, operating to propel its growth. In other words, if aggressive

civil disobedience is the largest manifestation of our dissent at the targets we

pick, it will have little power. On the other hand, if aggressive civil

disobedience grows naturally from and resides comfortably atop a growing

mountain of broader dissent, with hundreds of thousands and then millions of

people in country after country involved below but no less visibly than those

who are most confrontational—then we will be on the road to serious social

change. All this has been getting steadily better in many respects in recent

months, and we need to keep these aims in the forefront as we proceed.

(5) 

Finally, we also need some clarity about violence. It’s simple. The state

has a monopoly of it. What that means is that there is no way for the public,

most particularly in developed first world societies, to compete on the field of

violence with their governments. That ought to be utterly and blatantly obvious.

Our strong suit is information, facts, justice, disobedience, and especially

numbers. In sum: politics. Their strong suit is lying and especially exerting

military power. A contest of escalating violence is a contest we are doomed to

lose. A contest in which numbers and commitment and increasingly militant

non-violent activism confronts state power is a contest we can win. Yes, the

impetus to manifest anger is powerful. But there is nothing courageous or

strategic about charting a path directly into the lion’s mouth. Our tactical

sense must couple to strategic plans aimed at winning. We can have teach-ins. We

can have rallies. We can have marches. We can have strikes. We can build our own

blockades. We can utilize all manner of creativity and playfulness amidst our

dissent. We can go out and talk to people. We can obstruct. We can destroy

property when doing so sends a clear and coherent message. We can hurl back tear

gas canisters in self defense and tear down walls and other obstacles to remain

mobile. But to attack the police with the intent of doing bodily harm, whether

with stones or Molotov cocktails, simply invites further escalation of their

violence. It does nothing to hinder elite agendas but instead propels and

legitimates them. Anger-fed violence is hard avoid in some situations, I well

know. But avoid it we must.

 

Leave a comment