Date: Thu, 9 Dec 1999 20:17:18 -0500
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From: Patrick Bond <>
Subject: Re: [BRC-ALL] World Trade Organization
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The Revolt of the Globalized

By Luis Hernandez Navarro, Thursday 2 December 1999

(Originally published in Spanish by La Jornada, Translated by irlandesa)

The 21st century did not begin on November 9, 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Nor will it begin on the first of January of the year 2000. The new century was born on November 30, 1999 with the revolt of the globalized in Seattle, Washington.

The boycott of the opening of the World Trade Organization (WTO) summit - staged by 50,000 demonstrators—is not the last protest by the forgotten of the earth, but rather the great premiere in “society” of world resistance to a globalization model being led by transnational coalitions. Ecologists, farmers from the First World, unionists, homosexuals, NGOs supporting development, feminists, punks, human rights activists, representatives of indigenous peoples, the young and not young, people from the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, Europe and Asia - all unleashed a peaceful protest against the new Babylon.

Beyond their national diversity or their political differences, the demonstrators share their rejection of the slogan “All power to the transnational corporations!” present on the free trade agenda in the abstract. They believe that an ideological alibi is concealed behind the worship of God-Market-creator-of-the-society-of-the-future. An ideology that is trying to limit social victories, levels of wellbeing, environmental standards and the range of intervention of national policies, for the benefit of the great financial capital.

Behind the Seattle protest, there is a convergence of planetary networks and coalitions, built throughout the last two decades. In the United States, for example, the struggle against GATT, against NAFTA with Canada and with Mexico, and against the Initiative of the Americas, has a long organizing tradition that goes far beyond the traditional “protectionist” logic. Its origins go back to the effective boycott organized against Nestle in the early seventies. Its second moment came during their opposition to GATT. Many groups of agriculturists, environmentalists and consumers in that country considered the Uruguay Round of 1985—1986 - promoted by the Reagan administration—to be a government maneuver for achieving reform in agricultural policies through international negotiations—reduction of subsidies—that could not be achieved within the United States. Broad international coalitions were built during this struggle, with organizations of rural producers in Europe and Japan, who form the backbone of the new mobilizations.

In many industrialized countries, international commercial agreements, without checks and without compensation policies, are seen by many citizens as an instrument that allows international bureaucracies associated with the large corporations to mock the social controls won over years of struggle. Modern computer networks, the proliferation of hundreds of NGOs and the ease in moving about the world, have made possible the formation of pockets of resistance which transcend national boundaries and which have created a new internationalism.

The mobilizations against the WTO in Seattle have been preceded by hundreds of new struggles of a new kind all over the world. A few months ago, a French farmer destroyed a McDonald's in his community, in order to protest against the food degradation promoted by this franchise. The conflict attained national visibility and achieved international notoriety. Its main protagonist, a believer in self-management and an old activist from the movement of ‘68, became a modern campesino hero. In India, hundreds of rural men have burned the camps where Monsanto is experimenting with transgenetic cotton, while thousands more have taken over the facilities of the Cargill seed marketer. The trade in genetically modified organisms has brought about an unstoppable avalanche of commercial disputes. Indigenous organizations in South America have presented—and won—legal suits against attempts to patent life forms. Hundreds of personalities and organizations have participated in the encuentros against neoliberalism convened by zapatismo.

The destruction of the old Nation-State, the creation on a large scale of millions of new excluded and the ideology of neoliberal globalization have produced a new transnational political actor: the globalized. The Revolt of Seattle is an announcement that his—and her—hour has arrived.