Anti-Globalization Movement

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Anti-Globalization Movement 

What is Globalisation? 

  • Globalization is the process of interaction and integration among people, companies, and governments worldwide.  
  • Globalization as a phenomenon has accelerated since the 18th century due to advances in transportation and communications technology.  
  • This increase in global interactions has caused a growth in international trade and the exchange of ideas, beliefs, and culture.  
  • The philosophy behind Globalization is Neo-Liberalism. 
  • While the old Liberalism preached that the State should not interfere in the economic activities, the Neo-Liberals preach that the State should withdraw from all economic and welfare and leave people to fend for themselves. 
  • The model preached by advocates of neo-liberalism is Globalization-Marketization-Privatization. 

Anti-Globalization Movement 

  • Anti-globalization movement or counter-globalization movement, is a social movement critical of economic globalization.  
  • It is an effort to counter the perceived negative aspects of the current process of globalization. 
  • It is opposed to neoliberalism and international institutions that promote neo-liberalism like the World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization of Cooperation and Economic Development (OECD); neoliberal “free trade” treaties like the North American free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). 
  • The movement is also commonly referred to as the global justice movement, alter-globalization movement, anti-globalist movement, anti-corporate globalization movement, or movement against neoliberal globalization. 
  • The participants oppose large, multinational corporations having unregulated political power, exercised through trade agreements and deregulated financial markets. 
  • Specifically, corporations are accused of seeking to maximize profit at the expense of work safety conditions and standards, labour hiring and compensation standards, environmental conservation principles, and the integrity of national legislative authority, independence and sovereignty. 
  • Opponents of globalization argue that power and respect in terms of international trade between the developed and underdeveloped countries of the world are unequally distributed.  
  • The diverse subgroups that make up this movement include some of the following: trade unionists, environmentalists, anarchists, land rights and indigenous rights activists, organizations promoting human rights and sustainable development, opponents of privatization, and anti-sweatshop campaigners 

Origin of Anti-Globalization Movement

The origin of the anti-globalization movement is traced back in the 1970s with the birth of the movements like: 

  • The Feminist movement 
  • Non-aligned movement 
  • The first United Nations Environment Summit in Stockholm in 1975 
  • The creation of the world’s first Green Parties in Australia and New Zealand in 1972
  • The “Battle of Seattle” in 1999 marked the unofficial start of the anti-globalization movement. Organizing under the radar, this new protest movement burst onto the scene with tens of thousands taking to the streets – and shutting the city down. 
  • Protesters criticized the World Trade Organization (WTO) as promoting a “race to the bottom” in terms of environmental, human rights and labour standards. 

Development of the Movement 

  • 1980s that saw the first stirrings of the present day anti-globalization movement when the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) became the focus of large protest. 
  • The World Bank and the IMF projects like the Narmada Dam Project in India and the Transmigration Project of the Suharto regime were the targets of the anti globalization movement. 

Timeline of development of the anti globalization movement 

  • The Multilateral Agreement on investment (MAI)- a draft agreement negotiated in secret between members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) between 1995 and 1998. 
  • The new round of global trade negotiations by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle in December 1999 
  • The anti globalization movement mounted a huge campaign against the multilateral agreement on investment and a bold new era in the anti globalization debate begin with the massive opposition at Seattle. 
  • Protest campaigns in the anti globalization movement 
  • April 2000- Huge protest took place in Washington against the IMF and the WTO 
  • May 2000- in Chiang Mai against a meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) 
  • April 2001- in Quebec city against the Summit of the Americas 
  • June 2001- in Gothenburg against a European Union (EU) Summit 
  • July 2001- largest protest in Genoa, Italy against the G8 meeting 

Nature of the Anti-Globalization Movement 

  • The nature of anti-globalization movement is diverse and there exists a great degree of disagreement on the name of the movement as for many social scientists the anti-globalization movement tag is a media driven label. 
  • It is therefore also labelled as the anti-capitalist movement, the global justice movement, the civil society movement, the alternative globalization movement or the movement against global corporatism. 

View of the Anti Globalist thinkers: 

  • The anti globalization movement does not object to the idea of globalization, but rather to the way it has developed.  
  • Anti globalization activists note that contemporary globalization practices have resulted in unfair and devastating conditions in many nations.  
  • They contend that multinational corporations have grown in strength, power, and wealth, while developing nations continue to struggle with dire poverty.  
  • They point out that globalization has led many corporations to hire low-wage workers in developing nations, taking jobs away from people in industrialized countries.  
  • Environmental protection has also been sacrificed in the name of globalization, according to opponents. 
  • Some critics also argue that, in addition to exporting goods to other countries, powerful Western nations have exported their cultures as well, imposing their ways on distant lands and eroding native cultures, languages, and practices. 

Characteristics of Anti-Globalization Movement 

  • Anti-globalization activists note that contemporary globalization practices have resulted in unfair and devastating conditions in many nations.  
  • The movement is more a grass-root-level movement, and has the support of some intellectual elites. 
  • Though most supporters of anti-globalization movement support close ties between various peoples, cultures and societies, they are particularly opposed to capitalist globalization. Hence, the anti-globalization movement is also known as the anti-capitalist or anti-corporate movement. 
  • The movement is spontaneous, decentralized, networked, self-organizing, and based on grassroots democracy.  
  • Anti globalist thinkers see this organizational form as an expression of the changing organizational features of society that is increasingly transformed into a flexible, decentralized, transnational, networked system of domination. 
  • The movement is heterogeneous in nature. It includes diverse and at times even opposing perceptions of the globalization process, the visions, strate­gies, and tactics. 
  • A majority of the movement’s participants are associated with movements linked to indigenous people, human rights, environment movements, and even non-capitalist political movements such as socialism and communism. 

Reasons for the development of Anti-Globalization Movement 

  • Trans nationalization of Production: During the 1970s, transnational corporations have started to build factories in low wage countries of the third world, and this process has been continuing with growing intensity.
    Due to the globalization of production, the components of an ordinary trouser or a car may be made and assembled in a number of different countries. 
  • Trans nationalization of Finance: International capital markets have globalized at an accelerated rate. The capital has become rapidly mobile, which brought about financial speculative markets able to destroy a nation’s economy in incredibly short times, and leave long-term negative effects behind.  
  • Global Institutions: The World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB), and similar multilateral institutions have developed far greater powers and have used them to accelerate the globalization process. 
  • Corporate restructuring: While corporations have always operated on an international level, during the 1980s they have started to restructure in order to adapt to the operations in a global economy. They started to develop new corporate forms by strategic alliances, global outsourcing, and transnational mergers, which allowed for what some economists called the “concentration of control with the decentralization of production”. 
  • Changing structure of work: Globalization processes favored “flexible” workers. To facilitate labor mobility most of the OECD countries have loosened labor laws on hiring and firing. 
    “Flexible” workers are also expected to be “flexible” in working hours, wages, benefits, and health and safety standards. 
    In an economy where workers are “flexible” jobs are expected to be “flexible” also. “Flexible” jobs are often casual, part-time and temporary, with few if any benefits beyond the wages offered.
    “Flexibilization” showed itself with the deterioration of the working conditions, especially for less skilled labor, and increased insecurity in the workplace.
    This has also resulted in rising unemployment and stagnation or declining growth rates in developing world. 
  • Neoliberal ideology and policies: Starting with monetarism and supply-side economics, globalization has been accompanied -as well as accelerated-by an emerging neoliberal ideology, which mainly argues that markets are efficient and government intervention in the markets is almost always unwanted and has negative consequences.  
    The main features of the policy implications of neoliberal ideology that are imposed on governments all over the world are; privatization, deregulation, open markets, balanced budgets, deflationary austerity, and the dismantling of the welfare state. 
  • Neo-imperialism: Globalization brought much of the global dominance of the former imperialist powers back. With the collapse of communism that dominance has also spread to the formerly communist world. 
    Globalization has taken the control of economic policies away from the hands of the nation states, especially the poor third world states, and handed it over to the capital. 
    While it has enriched some Third World elites it has subordinated them to foreign corporations, international institutions, and dominant states. 
    It has intensified economic competition among the rich powers, and intensified the economic interdependencies, so that it is almost impossible to isolate one nation from the global economy and develop an independent self-sufficient economic system. 
  • Changing role of the state: While some governments actively encouraged globalization and most complied, because globalization considerably reduced the power of the nation state, particularly their power to serve the interests of their own people.  
    As mentioned above capital mobility undermined the power of national governments to pursue full employment policies or regulate corporations. 
    International organizations and agreements increasingly restricted environmental and social protections.  
    “Neoliberal ideology reshaped beliefs about what governments should do and what is able to accomplish 
  • Movement of people: Globalization has accelerated migration in two different ways: First, globalization has resulted in the development of a professional class which follows the capital and travels with the capital. Second, with the economic disruptions and accompanying job losses globalization has created an illegally migrating class (due to the border barriers of developed nations to the poor people) in search of jobs and subsistence. 
  • Cultural homogenization: Globalization has undermined the economic base of diverse local and indigenous communities all over the world. Growing domination of global media based in a few dominant countries and companies has led to an increasingly uniform culture. 
  • Destruction to the Environment- globalization has resulted in aggravated pollution, global warming, losses in biodiversity and species extinction. another major concern of the anti globalists is how the developed countries export hazardous waste to third world countries. 

Approaches within the anti globalization movement 

  • Fair Trade or Back to Bretton Woods School 
    • It argues for the immediate reform of the world’s trading system like the World Bank, IMF and the WTO. 
  • Localization School 
    • It argues for the abolitions of these institutions and ought right winding of globalization. 

Major Concerns of the Anti-Globalization Movement 

  • Democracy- the movement aims to protect the democratic control for the ordinary people and claims that the neoliberal policies of free trade, privatization and open markets should be left at the democratic disposal of developing countries and should not be forced by the rich nations. 
  • Labour and social reproduction- the key concern of the movement is the substance of what gets pursued by the neo liberalisers 
  • Human rights- the movement is concerned with the human rights for those in social reproduction, for labour, or for communities in their own environments, especially indigenous people, who are faced by the power of big states and large scale capital. 
  • Human health and environment- the movement is also concerned about the food security, health risks, genetically modified crops, the privatization of water and patenting. 
  • Development- the movement is concerned with the issues of development especially in the developing countries like India, Vietnam, etc. 

Impact of the Anti Globalization Movement 

  • The global justice movement or the anti globalization movement has been quite successful in achieving some of its key aims, according to academic and global justice movement activist David Graeber. For example, many countries no longer rely on IMF loans and so, by the mid-2000s, IMF lending was at its lowest share of world GDP since the 1970s. 
  • International lending institutions like the IMF and the World Bank responded to worldwide pressure and began the process of cancelling some third world debt.  
  • Citizens' groups in Bolivia successfully prevented corporate and government attempts to privatize the water supply. 

The World Social Forum 

  • The World Social Forum emerged as a response to the growing anti globalization movements against neo liberalization and the effects of neoliberal economic policies prevalent in most of the countries. 
  • It was conceived as an open meeting space for deepening the reflection, the democratic discussion of ideas, the formulation of proposals, the free exchange of experiences and the articulation of civil society organizations and movements that are opposed to neoliberal globalization and the domination of the world by capital and by any other form of imperialism. 
  • The first edition of the World Social Forum (WSF) was organised in Brazil, from January 25 to 30, 2001. 
  • It was attended by approximately 20,000 people comprising delegates from 117 countries, Youth Camp and Indigenous Nation Camp participants. 
  • In order to facilitate international articulation of the organizations processes the international council of the WSF was established in 2001. 
    • The international council was mandated to enhance and expand the diversity of the World Social Forum at the global level. 
    • The international council is a group of international networks from different regions of the world. 
    • It is constituted by several organizations working on issues including economic justice, human rights, environmental issues, and labour, youth and women rights. 
    • It contributes to the WSF methodology, outreach, communication strategies as well as the local and regional organising processes. 

Criticism of Anti Globalisation Movement 

  • Lack of evidence- pics assert that empirical evidence does not support the views of the anti globalization movement 
  • Disorganization- the anti globalization movement lacks coherent goals, and the views of different protesters are often in opposition to each other. 
  • Lack of effectiveness- one of the major causes of poverty amongst the third world countries are the trade barriers put up by rich nations and poor nations alike. the WTO is an organization setup 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. 
  • lack of widespread support in developing countries 


Under the umbrella of the anti globalization movement, organizations with widely different purposes and goals have found common ground in the quest for a more humane approach to globalization. Anti globalization activists seek to replace or reform the existing global trade agencies so that their leaders answer to citizens rather than corporations. Activists urge leaders to protect humankind and the environment rather than profits.
Looking at the benefits of globalization it is clear that turning away from it is not an option. It is therefore desirable to bring some reforms in the current globalization process to ensure that development and prosperity is equitable as well as sustainable across all the countries.


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