Thursday, January 31, 2008

Post electoral statement from Die Linke

Statement by Die Linke central office, Karl-Liebknecht- Haus, Berlin

January 28, 2008 -- DIE LINKE (The Left) emerged successful from regional elections on Sunday, January 27, 2008, in the German federal states of Hesse and Lower Saxony. After the state of Bremen, where the party in May 2007 for the first time entered a West German federal state parliament, DIE LINKE will have parliamentarians in two further West German states.

In Lower Saxony (capital: Hannover), the party got 7.1% of the vote, while in Hesse (capital: Wiesbaden) it just stepped over the 5% threshold with 5.1%. In both counties, the big parties had tried to prevent DIE LINKE entering parliament with anti-communist campaigning.

In Hesse, the incumbent prime minister [premier] Roland Koch (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) failed with his strategy to win the elections with a polarising and populist election campaign, demanding draconian punishments for young delinquent immigrants. The CDU lost 12% and the absolute majority of the former CDU-FDP [Free Democrats] government. The rejection of the homophobic and racist rhetoric by the voters was widely commented as an encouraging signal.

The SPD [Social Democratic Party] election campaign was led by Andrea Ypsilanti, member of the left current of the SPD, and who appropriated important political messages of DIE LINKE (such as the minimum wage, reform of the school system and progressive tax reforms), trying to compete with DIE LINKE this way. DIE LINKE's top candidate in Hesse, Willy van Oeyen, a trade unionist and prominent representative of the German peace movement, announced that DIE LINKE would continue to pressure the SPD in order to make it act in the political direction it had promised during the election campaign. The composition of the future Hesse state government is still fairly vague because of the narrow majority situation.

In Lower Saxony, a structurally conservative state, DIE LINKE reached an unexpectedly high result. This might partly to be explained by the fact that no one had a doubt about a clear victory of the CDU and the incumbent Prime Minister Christian Wulff and his CDU-FDP coalition, unlike in Hesse where a neck-and-neck race between the two biggest parties had been expected. DIE LINKE's top candidate Tina Flauger announced that DIE LINKE would become a strong opposition force.

The German political landscape will be substantially changed by these two elections. A system of five relevant political parties is now being sustainably established, and thus not only at the national parliamentary level, but backed by the federal state parliaments.

Lothar Bisky, chairperson of DIE LINKE, stated in a press conference: “We have caused a shift of the political landscape. With regard to the total number of mandates, we are the third political force in Germany. DIE LINKE takes effect.” And he added: “We made a big step forward in our party building process. To enter the parliament in two big federal states is an important milestone and a breakthrough. We are now on the way towards the regional elections in Hamburg (February 24) and the local elections in Bavaria (March 2) and Schleswig-Holstein (May 25).”

Oskar Lafontaine, chairperson of DIE LINKE, said: “Even more important than the entry of DIE LINKE into parliament is to change by these elections the social climate in favour of all those who rely on social justice. I am predicting that in the question of the pension formula or in social policies, the CDU-SPD coalition will have to make concessions towards us, as they have suffered substantial losses in votes.” And referring to DIE LINKE positions in regional politics, he declared: “We are the party against privatisation, for the system of non-denominational schools, for studies free of charge, for the maintenance of energy and gas prices directed by municipalities, for safe jobs in public services, for tendering procedures implying social standards such as minimum wages.”

Another important vote took place last Sunday in the town of Leipzig: In the first referendum in the history of the city, 87% of the participating citizens voted against the privatisation of the municipal utility company. The referendum had been supported by DIE LINKE.

Gaza: ‘The week we broke their prison state’

For daring to elect a Hamas government the people of Gaza have been starved of food and supplies by the West. Now, writes Simon Assaf, they refuse to be pushed any further

The Middle East witnessed the dizzying potential of mass movements from below over four days last week. Walls tumbled, a dictator was humiliated and US strategy to isolate the Palestinian resistance was smashed into ruins.

It began on the morning of Tuesday 22 January when thousands of Palestinian women and children laid siege to the border crossing at Rafah separating Egypt from the Palestinian territory.

The demonstrators were demanding entry into Egypt following Israel’s tightening of its grip over the Gaza Strip.

Since the outbreak of the second intifada (uprising) in 2000, the Gaza Strip has been economically isolated. In 2005 the resistance forced Israel to abandon its illegal settlements established when it seized the territory in the 1967 war.

This withdrawal was followed by a shock 2006 election victory for the Hamas movement – a resistance organisation that rejects any peace deal with Israel that does not address the central issues faced by Palestinians. Despite being declared a “free and fair election”, the West refused to recognise the new government.

The Egyptian-Palestine border was closed using the wall built by Israel over 40 years, denying Palestinians a way out of Gaza and stranding hundreds of Gazan residents on the Egyptian side.

Israel, the US and Egypt attempted a coup in June 2007, but this was thwarted when Palestinian security forces refused to join the attack on the Hamas government. Following this failed take over Israel moved to isolate the Gaza Strip completely.

Its blockade of the Gaza Strip was central to a strategy adopted by the US and its allies to bring the Palestinians to their knees. The punishing ­blockade turned into a full-blown siege after Israel cut all fuel supplies. This plunged 1.5 million people into darkness.

With the region in the grips of one of the coldest winters for years, desperate groups of women and children marched towards the border crossing.

Egyptian riot police lined up to block them. Some demonstrators chanted insults against Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak as children indignantly slapped the riot shields.

To the cries of “cowards, cowards”, the riot police began to buckle. Around 50 women broke through the border post before they were driven back by gunfire, water cannon and batons.

Security forces

As news spread that Mubarak’s hated police were beating desperate Palestinians, Egypt’s opposition Muslim Brotherhood and the Socialist Alliance – a coalition of left wing organisations and individuals – issued a call for a demonstration on Wednesday morning on front of the Arab League building in central Cairo.

Other protests were organised outside Egyptian embassies across the Arab capitals.

A terrified Mubarak mobilised his security forces and declared that the demonstration would not go ahead. Hundreds of activists belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and left wing organisations were seized from their beds, or as they prepared to travel to the capital for the protest.

As Mubarak’s security forces were mobilising to snuff out the Cairo protest, Hamas engineers destroyed the border fence that separates the Gaza Strip from Egypt.

It has since been revealed that the engineers had been secretly cutting through the six metre high steel barrier for months. On Wednesday night they brought the whole fence tumbling down.

As word went round that the border fence had fallen, tens of thousands of Palestinians began crossing into Egypt. The security forces were powerless in the face of this human wave. Some abandoned their posts, while others stood aside.

In Cairo news began to filter through that the border had fallen. Although over 450 key activists had been arrested, 2,000 people began to assemble in Tahrir Square, in the centre of the capital.

Fearful that the attempts to stifle open protests had failed, the state security police shut Cairo’s underground stations and swept through working class areas randomly arresting people. For the Egyptian state the enemy was everywhere.

The chants of “cowards, cowards” were taken up by the demonstrators in Cairo. As news reached the demonstrations that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were now flooding into Egypt the riot police attacked protesters chasing them into side streets. Over 1,500 were arrested.

But the crackdown could not stop what was rapidly becoming a major humiliation for Mubarak. With his border police in disarray and his riot police retreating in the face of a mass of people, he announced on national TV that he had in fact “invited the Palestinians in”.

“I told the security forces to allow the Palestinians to buy their basic needs and go back to Gaza as long as they are not carrying arms or anything illegal,” he said.

Events along the border with Gaza have further weakened Mubarak’s rule after over 26 years in power. Since December 2006 a wave of strikes, factory occupations and protests have broken his regime of fear.

This growing popular power is giving rise to a new generation of young militants, with women and young workers often taking the lead.

The movement from below is growing at such a pace, one veteran left wing activist described its impact as “dizzying”.

“After years of small deeds in the face of harsh repression, we are overwhelmed by the scale and depth of the movement,” he told Socialist Worker.

Mubarak’s regime is a key US ally in the region. Two weeks ago George Bush dropped in on the Egyptian dictator in the last stop on his “democracy tour” of the Middle East.

Bush wanted to firm up an alliance of pro US-regimes against Iran, Hamas and Lebanon’s Hizbollah movement.

At the heart of this strategy was isolating any resistance to imperialism and its allies.

Israel took the cue from the visit to unleash a new round of murderous attacks on the Gaza Strip. The cutting of fuel supplies would be the final blow, and as the territory descended into darkness the Palestinians would see the “error of their ways” and turn on the Hamas government.

But instead of humbling Hamas, the resistance movement blew holes in Israeli policy.

The siege was undone. A frustrated Israeli minister announced on Thursday that Israel was “washing its hands” of the Gaza Strip.

“We need to understand that when Gaza is open to the other side we lose responsibility for it,” the minister said. “So we want to disconnect from it.”

These mealy mouthed words indicated that after 38 years of occupation, settlements and a rule of terror, the Israelis are finally admitting defeat.

The Israeli statement set off alarm bells in the White House.

The under secretary of state Nicholas Burns called Mubarak and demanded that the “border be sealed”, while the US Congress threatened to withhold $100 million in aid if the Egyptians did not reimpose the siege.


Meanwhile the Egyptian government denounced the Israeli statement saying that Palestine “was Israel’s responsibility”.

The Egypt/Gaza border was transformed into a festival. According to the United Nations by Thursday morning, “roughly 350,000 Palestinians – or more than 20 percent of Gaza’s population of about 1.5 million – walked, drove or rode on donkey carts into Egypt”.

By Sunday this reached 750,000. Many families were visiting loved ones, stocking up on supplies or enjoying the atmosphere of freedom.

The Egyptian state set up a new, temporary border in the city of El-Arish, about 37 miles from Rafah. The panic caused led US and international military observers stationed near the Egyptian city to abandon their base. As the Palestinians moved in, the troops and their equipment moved out.

On Friday Mubarak ordered his police back to the border while security forces rampaged through El-Arish attacking Egyptians who were giving aid to Palestinians. They set up roadblocks across the Sinai to stop any more supplies from reaching the Gaza Strip.

That afternoon the Egyptian riot police attempted to reassert control over the Rafah border. A cordon of riot police nine deep formed along the breached fence in an attempt to stop any more Palestinians from escaping their Gaza prison.

They were met with a barrage of stones while militants used a bulldozer to demolish another section of the border fence. By Sunday the border fortifications had been reduced to rubble.

The Egyptian government has been forced to invite representatives of the Hamas government to talks, breaking the boycott imposed by the US and Israel. The Israelis have agreed to allow supplies back into the strip.

The siege and the occupation of the Gaza Strip are over, for now.

The following should be read alongside this article:
» London protest for Gaza

Monday, January 28, 2008

Massive breakthrough for Germany's Left Party

Lower Saxony results here
Hesse results here

Die Linke, the German Left Party, has scored two major victories in the State elections of Hesse and Lower Saxony. It scored 5.1% in Hesse, the area around the wealthy city of Frankfurt, and a staggering 7.1% in the North Western state of Lower Saxony. Big losers are Chancellor Merkel's CDU party in Hesse, which ran a racist moral panic campaign over immigrant youth crime, and the Social Liberal SPD in Lower Saxony, which despite making a verbal turn to the Left, could not stop the hemorrhage of support to the newer Die Linke party.

Die Linke unites socialists, Left Social Democrats and former Communists against the neo-liberal politics of Germany's Grand Coalition government, and this solid vote in two Western German states announces its arrival on the political stage big time. As the Financial Times puts it-

"campaigning for a minimum wage of €8.40 ($12.15, £6.25) an hour – matching the French level – as well as for nationalisations, a cap on managers’ pay and the departure of American troops from Germany and of German troops from Afghanistan has struck a chord with voters. In particular, its programme has chimed with a widespread feeling that after five years of wage restraint, the fruits of Germany’s robust economic recovery are not being shared widely enough. Opinion polls put the party’s national rating at 11-12 per cent, ahead of both the FDP and the Greens".

A strong anti capitalist Left party in Europe's biggest State will encourage wider left wing unity in other countries- France's Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) looks set to follow the example after debate at its conference this weekend.

Other media: Red Balloon on the rise (FT)

The perspective of a new left: 'Die Linke'

With the foundation conference in June 2007 there now exists officially a new parliamentary left party in Germany. 'Die Linke' is the product of a struggle against neoliberalism and its most important next step. The Left Party in the last federal election of 2005 got 8.7 % or 54 seats. This process is an interesting example for everybody against the attack of capital on social rights. The following essay is written by Christoph Hoffmeier, a member of the former Socialist Worker NZ sister organisation Linksruck that joined Die Linke to be part of this new project. He will be analyse this new body with its specifics and discuss its perspectives from a point of view as an international socialist.

Political Situation - SPD in Crisis

The German social democrats (SPD) is in a deep crisis. In 2003,under pressure of the German capital, the second Gerhard Schroeder Government pursued a radical neoliberal policy. This policy was called 'Agenda 2010' and was the totally opposite for the programme on which they were elected. Schroeder argued, a protection of social rights in the process of globalisation makes social cuts necessary. It was a capitulation to capital to protect its profits. In the following years, the SPD lost thousands of members and plummeted down in the polls. This process was so dramatic, that they called for elections two years before they were due. Under the new Grand Coalition government of conservatives (CDU) and SPD, they lost they even more authenticity. There are three main reasons:

They weremaintaing attacks on social rights like the raising of GST by 3% or the retirement age from 65 to 67. Also, the mass of the people could not participate at the small economical boom (2.7 % rate of growth in 2006) and with the increasing of the Afghanistan mandate lost they her image of an anti war government that they earned with their position to the Iraq war.

The new left

Schroeder's politics of neoliberalism produced a rampant discontent in the working class and also inside the trade unions. This discontent transacted into an open protest against it. A handful of western Germany trade unionists and SPD members started an initiative to keep pressure on the SPD leadership to stop the policies of Agenda 2010. Their reaction was clear, they were expelled. But this does not stopped the process; they started a debate about the initiative and after several discussions formed the electoral initiative for work and social justice (WASG). In autumn 2004 began a process of weekly demonstrations of tens of thousands against social cuts. It was mostly a protest of unemployed people because the most savage cuts were against this group. The demonstrations spead throughout the whole of Germany, but was strongest in the east part. A look at the unemployment statistics gives an explanation, the rate is at 16%- twice as high as in the west.

And there are even more differences to explain by an analysis of 'Die Linke'. This party is an combination of different traditions of the German left of both parts, expressed in the founding of WASG and the subsequent fusion with the party for democratic socialism (PDS) last year. The WASG is a product of the protest against social cuts and mass dismissals under Schroeders red-green government. It is primarily a constellation of former social democratic trade unions with classical left Keynesian ideas. Furthermore found the protest against negative aspect of globalisation and the Iraq war its condensation in this group, there got many members her first political experience or got her re-politicization after the 1970s.

The PDS in contrast has another history. It has emerged from the former state party of the GDR (eastern Germany). After the collapse of the eastern state, this party did not exist any more as the party of a ruling bureaucracy. All careerists and bureaucrats left the party quickly and convinced socialists and a small circle of full-time functionaries convinved of the party's importance remained. The advancement of the PDS during the 1990s is best described as the social democratisation of a former Stalinist party with a Marxist ideology. Any longer, the PDS understands politics like a ruling party and as politics via ministries and administrations. It does not exist an understanding of great or change of society by a mass movements, because it had no experience in it like the left in western Germany.

Hence the new left party is best characterised as a "wide coalition of various political traditions" (LR 224, 11/06). The political tendencies inside 'Die Linke' can be divided into three main wings. There is one strong right wing, a big left wing and also a small tendency of revolutionaries. Both the right and the left wing believe in change inside the bourgeoisie system. Their aim is to get in government to enforce political claims. The strategy of both wings is based on a policy of corporatism between employers and labour. It follows a wrong assumption, seeking to replicate the Keynesian policy of the 1960s and 1970s, leaving unnoticed a near disappearing of the margins for workers' participation inside eines verschaerften (getting worser) capitalism.

However, the left wing try to implement this policy by the support of a successfully mass mobilisation of social forces. They know about the relevance of a shift to the left inside the balance of power between the main social classes. To get into power at any costs is disclaimed by this political wing. So called the former SPD leader, that joined the WASG in 2005, Oskar Lafontain a couple of requirements to the SPD for a possible government. One of its requirements was a tacking back of Agenda 2010, stop of all military interventions, especially in Afghanistan and a minimum wage of 8 Euros. The clearest expression of this class and movement orientated wing is the platform 'Sozialistische Linke' (SL).

Last but not least a small tendency of revolutionary lefts. This tendency agrees with the second wing in its orientation on mass mobilisations to implement political claims. But at the same time this tendency goes further with its accentuation on revolution as that perspective for a self-sustaining protection of social rights and a development of society. Part of this tendency is the former separate revolutionary organisation Linksruck that appreciated "a movement party that is under influence of different ideological and social particles (Teile) as appropriate and developable" and further defined, "in a socialist sense as important" Linksruck was from the beginning part of the process of building a new left and argued hard against reservations for a fusion of WASG and PDS. The current political situation in Germany with the foundation of the new left is understood as a situation where "all political thrust are only via 'Die Linke' possible and get effectively influenced inside the society". ("Alle politischen Vorstoesse koennen nur ueber die Linke wirksam in die Gesellschaft politisch eingreifen"). Linksruck decided to collaborate in building 'Die Linke' and try to win majorities for a revolutionary socialist position in a tradition of Luxemburg, Lenin and of an International Socialism inside that party. (Bulleton II, 04/07)

For connecting all supporters of this roots and for a deeper impact inside this process of building a new left is the magazine Marx21 designed. It will discuss which kind of a new left party has to be built for a successful struggle against attacks by the capitalists on social rights. It will be a platform for building a growing revolutionary wing inside the party that could be a base for a future revolutionary mass organization. Therefore, all former members of Linksruck are called to be part of the 'Sozialistische Linke' inside the new left. This wing is not as strong as it could be for an organization of 71,000 members but with 400 supporters a reliable start has been made so far.

Anyway, the single number of members has nothing to do with the real political impact. In the whole process of building the new left argued Marx21 consequently for a fusion of WASG and PDS against sectarianism on the right and left. The strongest doubts came from the left inside the WASG, that feared a drift to the right by a PDS that governed in the state government of Berlin with the SPD. But in the same time, Marx21 was an uncompromising critic against this politics of the PDS leadership in that state. With this combination of unity and criticism Marx21 earned a large influence inside "Die Linke' that is far larger than it's own size assumed. This policy was also a basis for a close alliance with founders of the WASG from the left social democratic camp. Now, there are two supporters of Marx21 members of the electoral committee. By the next state election in Hess on January 27 this year one of them could become MP of the state parliament. Also, supporters of Marx21 played an important rule by the generation of an SDS student association. This facts are the current expression of that policy based on an activity inside different local branches.

Perspectives for the new left

The new left 'Die Linke' gets its practical potency from its programmatically weakness. It is a project in progress and the way that it will takes unpredictable. This progress deepens on different factors like the objectively balance of power between the classes and on subjective factors like a balance of ideas inside the party. Both factors are important and only understandable as reciprocal progress. For instance, Oskar Lafontain as one of its leaders represented the party well, when he described themselves as social democrat. He is right, than the SPD with its policy has been changed but also the general conditions. An intensification of competition inside the capital system abates the margins for a policy of social rights a la 1970s. To implement such simple claims will call capitalism basically into question. If this question will be answered as a new effort of human capitalism or as a fundamentally alternative is still open. So wrote the party whip during the debate to the political program that "'Die Linke' wins plausibility with proposals and schemes that are realizable inside this given frame (structure)" (LR 227, 03/07). Therefore, it is important to be involved in this project even more for revolutionaries; it could be the crucial different.

Today, the balance of 'Die Linke' is to be impressive, so far. The plain fact of existing the new left brought the SPD in shier panic. They try to go adrift from its image as party of social cuts and adopt one of the main claim of 'Die Linke' for a minimum wage. But it shows at the same time, the biggest faults that you can do if you try to built a counter hegemony is to underestimate your political opponent. The SPD lost its allure for a bulk of the working class not yet, that shows the current pools for the state elections in Hess where they gets nearly 34%. Therefore, it has to be built a left that includes all groups and milieus of the working class. It has to organize more young workers and students, migrants and womans than it does today. The new left should become to, what Thomas Haendel member of the executive committee formulated as follows: "We built the new left. Capitalism will never make its peace with the human beings; therefore, we will never make our peace with capitalism. Let us be the strongest that the weakest have."

Gaza- People Power revolt shakes Egypt, Israel


Ali Abunimah discusses US presidential candidates on
Democracy Now!

Transcript, Democracy Now!

25 January 2008

http://electronicin v2/article9254. shtml

You can also watch/listen at:
http://www.democrac 2008/1/24/ where_do_ the_presidential _contenders_ stand

As the news out of Gaza makes international headlines,
Democracy Now! took a look at where the Republican and
Democratic presidential contenders stand on the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Democracy Now! spoke with
Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah on 24 January:

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Chicago to Ali Abunimah, the
co-founder of the online publication The Electronic
Intifada, author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End
the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Ali Abunimah. Your response to
what's happening now in Gaza, from here in the United

ALI ABUNIMAH: Well, I'd like to say that the suffering in
Gaza has been so unremitting and so horrible and will
continue. But I think we have to recognize and celebrate
the resistance and the power of the people in Gaza. And we
have to recognize that there has been a deliberate siege
on them by Israel, a decision taken by the leaders of
Israel to starve and inflict suffering on a
million-and- a-half people.

The government of Egypt has been complicit in this. They
could have opened the borders months ago. Israel has been
besieging Gaza for almost two years in this way. Egypt
didn't have to wait until Palestinians took matters into
their own hands to free themselves from this barbaric

The United States is complicit. And, by the way, Amy, this
is another setback for the Bush Doctrine. The people of
Gaza have been the victims of an experiment by the Bush
administration and Israel, where, first of all, they had a
democratic election. The US and Israel didn't like that
result, so they tried to overthrow Hamas using
Contra-style militias and using a starvation siege. Hamas
turned the tables on them and got rid of those militias.
So they decided to tighten the siege on the people of
Gaza, and the people of Gaza decided to break out of it

But the thing we have to absolutely focus on is the
responsibility here. Israel, as the occupying power in the
Gaza Strip, remains fully responsible for everything that
happens there. Under Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva
Convention, passed, by the way, after the horrors of World
War II, Israel is legally required to provide as much
food, water, medicine and fuel as the civilian population

And the excuse that the Israelis are using, that they're
doing this in response to rocket fire, we know for a fact
that Israel has rejected ceasefire after ceasefire put
forward by Hamas and other Palestinian factions. We know
for a fact that there are no rockets coming out of the
West Bank. And yet Israel continues to carry out
extrajudicial executions in the West Bank and military
attacks on Nablus, on Balata refugee camp and all the
other places in the West Bank.

We have to be clear that what Israel is trying to do is a
massive experiment in ethnic cleansing to get rid of a
million-and- a-half people who do not fit its demographic
desires and the desire to remain a state where one ethnic
group has special and better rights by virtue of its
religion. That's what's going on.

AMY GOODMAN: Ali Abunimah, I wanted to ask you about the
candidates in the United States. You're speaking to us
from Chicago, so let's start with Barack Obama. The
stances of the presidential Democratic and Republican
candidates on the Israel-Palestine conflict -- I can't
remember when in a debate they were asked about the
mounting crisis there.

ALI ABUNIMAH: I don't know if they've been asked in a
debate, but whenever they have been asked, they have all
gone out of their way to express full support for what
Israel is doing. Barack Obama is not distinguished from
the rest of the pack, except by for how far he has moved
to try to appease AIPAC and pro-Israel movements.

I remember, Amy -- I knew Barack Obama for many years as
my state senator -- when he used to attend events in the
Palestinian community in Chicago all the time. I remember
personally introducing him onstage in 1999, when we had a
major community fundraiser for the community center in
Deheisha refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. And
that's just one example of how Barack Obama used to be
very comfortable speaking up for and being associated with
Palestinian rights and opposing the Israeli occupation.
And just yesterday, he apparently sent a letter to Zalmay
Khalilzad, the US ambassador at the UN, to urge the US not
to allow any resolution to pass criticizing Israel and
saying how Israel was forced to impose this barbaric
medieval siege on [Gaza].

None of the other candidates in the mainstream have spoken
out for Palestinian rights. The only ones who have taken
forceful positions opposing the current US strategy are
Dennis Kucinich on the Democratic side and Ron Paul on the
Republican side. The mainstream are all perfectly
comfortable with the war crimes that Israel is committing,
no matter how much they talk about human rights elsewhere.

AMY GOODMAN: Hillary Clinton, her view on the
Israel-Palestine conflict, specifically also what's
happening now in Gaza?

ALI ABUNIMAH: Again, we saw Hillary Clinton, the moment
her political ambitions became pronounced, shift. You'll
remember, when she spoke in the 1990s in favor of a
Palestinian state, since then she has become one of the
most anti-Palestinian hawks. For example, a couple of
years ago, she went and staged a photo opportunity in an
Israeli settlement by the apartheid wall and talked about
how the wall was necessary. This wall, of course, which
has been condemned as illegal by the International Court
of Justice, which has ordered Israel to tear it down,
Hillary Clinton went and stood in front of it and endorsed

And we've seen that time and again. John Edwards, the
same, staunchly pro-Israel. On the Republican side, you
have John McCain, who talks like a maverick on other
issues, but on this one he has gone out of his way to
offer full support for Israel. You have Huckabee, who is
on the Christian evangelical right, that is historically
not very friendly towards Jewish people, but is very
strongly pro-Israel for reasons of biblical prophecy. And
Huckabee, who is -- according to a report in The Jerusalem
Post, talked about a Palestinian state in Egypt or Saudi
Arabia, so really talking about the forced transfer or
ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians as a solution. That,
unfortunately, is the level of discourse.

And maybe it's because there's such a consensus in the
mainstream on unconditional support for Israel, no matter
how illegal its actions or how harmful they are to the
United States, perhaps because there's such a consensus,
that's why there's no debate.

AMY GOODMAN: Governor Romney?

ALI ABUNIMAH: Governor Romney, I haven't heard his
specific words, except that he has been particularly
outspoken in claiming that Islamic militancy, of which he
claims Palestinians are a part, is the greatest threat to
the United States. And what we've seen is this debate
happening, this discussion happening in a broader context,
Amy, where many of the candidates, not just on the
Republican side, whereas they claim to be running against
Bush or at least away from Bush, have actually absorbed
some of the basic tenets of Bush's world view, which sees
the United States and the West engaged in this massive
civilizational struggle against Islam. It's a very
dangerous and false idea.

And many Muslims feel that they are now the targets of a
hysteria, which is similar or has even become worse than
the anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s, where Islamic
militancy is under every bed and where any form of
resistance, any form of resistance to US imperialism, to
Israeli colonization and occupation, is defined as
extremism. And there's nobody who's -- you're not even
allowed to go and get food for your family from Egypt if
you're starving without being called an extremist, without
being accused of militancy or terrorism. That's level
we've reached.

No resistance is permitted, Amy. But what we've seen from
Gaza and what we've seen time and again in Lebanon is that
resistance will continue, that people will not quietly
accept the fate that has been designed for them in the
boardrooms of the Pentagon and the White House and the
Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. People will resist.

AMY GOODMAN: Ali Abunimah, I want to thank you very much
for joining us from Chicago, co-founder of The Electronic
Intifada. His book is called One Country: A Bold Proposal
to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.

************ ********* ********* ********* ********* **

Sword dancing while Gaza starves

By Osamah Khalil

The Electronic Intifada
24 January 2008

http://electronicin v2/article9249. shtml

A staggering disparity in images has emanated from the
Middle East over the past two weeks. While US President
George W. Bush received a warm welcome during his tour of
the Persian Gulf, Israel pounded Gaza killing over 40
Palestinians, nearly half of them civilians. Bush
participated in sword dancing ceremonies, watched the
prowess of hunting falcons, and in the United Arab
Emirates he was finally greeted with the flowers that he
once believed American troops would receive in Iraq. The
obscene displays of wealth and extravagant gifts by the
Gulf states, whose coffers are flush with cash from
near-record oil prices, contrasted sharply with the images
of death and destruction unleashed on impoverished Gaza.
This was compounded by Israel's total closure of the tiny
strip late last week, leaving the 1.5 million Palestinian
inhabitants with dwindling food and fuel supplies. As the
only power plant in Gaza shut down Sunday night,
Palestinian children in a candle-light march covered by Al
Jazeera asked, "Where are the Arabs?" Yet, the Arabs
weren't the only ones absent from the scene. Indeed, Gaza
appears to have been abandoned by the entire world,
further revealing the state of fragmentation and isolation
of the Palestinian national movement.

Responding to the crisis, the Arab states again
demonstrated their impotence and callous disregard for
Palestinian suffering. In the diplomatic equivalent of a
sword dance, an emergency meeting of the Arab League was
held in Cairo on Monday. The result was a request by the
League that the UN investigate Israel's actions. [1]
However, it is unlikely that any such investigative body
will be created. Even if impaneled, it is unlikely to have
any impact, as was demonstrated with the UN investigative
committee into Israel's 2002 invasion of the Jenin refugee

Displaying the height of cynicism, Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak deployed 300 riot control troops to the
Rafah border crossing rather than send food or fuel.
Egypt, which has come under pressure from Israel and the
US Congress for its inability to stop black-market tunnel
traffic into Gaza, clearly wanted to demonstrate that
while it publicly denounced the closure and privately
mediated with the Israeli government, it was not about to
unilaterally lift the siege. Instead, Hamas demonstrated
on Wednesday that it could, as its militia destroyed 200
meters of the metal barrier separating Egyptian and
Palestinian Rafah, allowing Palestinians to stream through
and get needed supplies. Mubarak later claimed he ordered
his troops not to interfere and that Palestinians could
"come in and buy food" and return to Gaza as long as they
were unarmed. [2]

Not to be left out, the UN held its own diplomatic sword
dance in New York on Tuesday. Ambassador Riyad Mansour of
the Palestinian Observer Mission to the UN, who five
months ago blocked an effort by Qatar and Indonesia for a
Security Council Resolution on the pending humanitarian
crisis in Gaza, finally found the "specific need" absent
in August. [3] Mansour called the situation "absolutely
untenable" and argued that Israel was "creating a
humanitarian catastrophe. " [4] However, the resolution
faltered in the Security Council, like many before it due
to American pressure. Instead, the Security Council
expressed "deep concern" in a non-binding and ultimately
meaningless Presidential Statement. [5] While world
leaders converged on Paris last month to shower money on
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in an
attempt to bolster the "peace process," their silence on
Gaza is deafening.

Back in Washington from its trip to the region, the Bush
administration appears content to give Israel free reign
and diplomatic cover in Gaza. Indeed, the escalation of
Israeli military incursions and attacks began with Bush's
arrival in Tel Aviv and climaxed last week as the trip was
winding down. In his joint press conference appearance
with Abbas, Bush called Gaza a "tough situation" that was
unlikely to be "solved in a year." [6] The time table for
that solution appears to have accelerated.

Rocket fire from Gaza has provided Israel with a
convenient excuse to pursue punishing attacks and tighten
its siege of the territory. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert justified Israel's actions by stating that "a war
is going on in the south, every day, every night." [7]
Meanwhile, Israel's supporters in the US, echoing Israeli
government spokesmen, argue that Israel cannot be expected
to sit still while its cities are targeted by Palestinian
rockets. Yet, no rockets have emanated from the West Bank
and the occupation not only continues there, it is further
entrenched through settlement expansion, continued
construction of the Apartheid Wall, and near daily
military incursions, arrests and assassinations. All of
this occurring under the watchful eye of American
mediators designated to judge Israeli and Palestinian
compliance with the terms agreed at November's Annapolis
conference. After Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel
claimed that Hamas had an "interest in exaggerating, "
Israel relented slightly by allowing enough fuel to
restart Gaza's power plant on Tuesday. [8] However,
implicit in the shipment was the threat of continued cuts
and closures.

Perhaps most disturbing of all has been the actions of the
Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA). While Abbas has
publicly uttered words of sympathy for Palestinians in
Gaza and condemnation of Israeli actions, privately his
officials have continued their ongoing whispering campaign
against Hamas. An anonymous PA official explained to The
Jerusalem Post that "'We hope the residents of the Gaza
Strip will now realize that Hamas has only brought
disaster upon them'" and added, "'the only way to resolve
the crisis is by getting rid of Hamas.'" [9] More telling
has been Abbas' unwillingness to suspend negotiations with
Israel until the blockade is lifted. If Gaza's children
ponder Arab inaction, the same can surely be said for the
PA in Ramallah.

Nor is Hamas blameless in this crisis. It has been almost
two years since its stunning election victory, and the
movement has yet to decide whether it wants to be a
resistance movement or a government -- it cannot be both.
If it is solely a resistance movement then it must begin
to elucidate a clear political and military strategic
vision for its followers, other political factions and the
Palestinian people as a whole that demonstrates how it
will achieve its goals. If it is an elected representative
government, then it must begin to compromise and
accommodate alternate points of view, even those it
disagrees with. In addition, the movement cannot continue
to behave like the opposition party when it has assumed
the role of governing authority in Gaza. Although Israel
bears ultimate responsibility as the occupying power in
the West Bank and Gaza, Hamas wanted and took control of
Gaza, and is at least partially responsible for the
actions that occur within the territory and the
consequences for the population. While this does not
excuse Israel's brutality or the criminality of its
actions, the Palestinian people are owed an explanation
from Fatah, Hamas and the other factions for the political
and military strategies they pursue and their
implications. The failure of these groups to reconcile and
their continued adoption of tactics that have proven to be
detrimental to the national movement demonstrate their
selfish myopia and expose their negligence and

As the region is gripped by the coldest winter in memory,
the sword dancing will continue. Gaza will remain under
siege with Israel allowing the minimal amount of food and
fuel supplies into the territory, attempting to slowly
punish the Palestinians living there. The US, the EU, the
UN, the Arab League, and even other Palestinians will sit
back and allow it to happen in a conspiracy of silence and
complicity. One can only hope that the people of Gaza will
forgive the world's silence and inaction. But they have no
reason to, nor should they.

Osamah Khalil is a Palestinian- American doctoral candidate
in US and Middle East History at the University of
California at Berkeley, focusing on US foreign policy in
the Middle East.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Malaysian Socialist Party activists arrested and detained: Protest messages needed urgently

Continuing their brutal crackdown on democratic rights over recent months, Malaysian police today attacked a peaceful protest against fuel price hikes held in Kuala Lumpur. (See for AP article.)

Fifty eight activists were arrested, including leaders of the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) chairperson Nasir Hashim and secretary-general S. Arutchelvan.

Fifty five of those arrested are being held at the police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. Three others, including Arutchelvan, have been taken to Pudu, the main jail.

Please send urgent text messages or telephone the Malaysian authorities on +60-3-21460522 to protest against these arrests and demand the activists’ immediate and unconditional release. Also send to the Malaysian embassy in your country – contact details for Malaysian embassies are at:

zzEmail messages can be sent to the PSM at, for forwarding to the relevant authorities.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

As the Gazan Wall falls, the Egyptian Dictatorship stands exposed

Over 2,000 Egyptian activists were arrested today as they attempted to assemble a peaceful demonstration in front of the Arab League in downtown Cairo.

The demonstration was to protest at the latest atrocities against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It had been called by the Socialist Alliance – a coalition of leftist organisations and individuals – and was supported by Muslim Brotherhood members.

From Tuesday evening the government rounded up Islamist activists at their homes and workplaces in different governorates across Egypt, in an effort to abort the demonstration.

Among those seized was Dr Magdi Abdo from Cairo, who is still receiving treatment after a recent stroke – his whereabouts are not yet known. Also taken was Ali Abdel Fattah from Alexandria, who is a leading member of the International Campaign Against Zionist and American Occupation.

The arrests and violence climaxed on Wednesday morning when, according to eyewitnesses, subway stations were closed down and security forces randomly rounded up people around the neighbourhood.

State security forces still did not manage to stop the demonstration on Wednesday morning, despite using tear gas and mass arrests. More than 300 hundred activists were arrested on sight, including veteran left-wing activists, Shahenda Maqlad, Adel El-Mashad, Abdel-Ghaffar Shurk and Salah Adly.

As we write there is still a heavy security presence and arrests are continuing in downtown Cairo.

The exact number arrested should be known tonight or tomorrow morning, when the detainees arrive at the General Prosecutor’s office, and more statements are collected from demonstrators. Some of those arrested are in a security camp in Darasah, Cairo, but the whereabouts of others is still unknown.

Statement from the Centre of Socialist Studies, Cairo
Wednesday 23 January, 4pm

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Maxx Klaxon - Internationale 2000

Maxx Klaxon - Internationale 2000 lyrics
Artist: Maxx Klaxon

Arise you workers from your slumber
All you wage-slaves, everyone
The revolution comes like thunder
And the age of hypocrisy is done

Turn off their televised illusion
Stand up and look them in the eyes
Declare your mental liberation
Shake off the dust, and claim the prize

Chorus: (2x)
So comrades, come rally
And the last fight, let us face
The Internationale unites the human race

We've got something, something to prove
And everything to gain
We've got nothing, nothing to lose
Nothing to lose, except our chains


We see through their disinformation
Designs to dream us into war
And soon the soldiers in formation
Will break their ranks and fight no more.

And if those thieves think it's their right
To sacrifice us to their dream
They'll see we've just begun to fight
It's time to change our world regime

We've got something, something to prove
And everything to gain
We've got nothing, nothing to lose
Nothing to lose, except our chains

We've got something, something to prove
And everything to gain
We've got nothing, nothing to lose
Nothing to lose, except our chains

Friday, January 11, 2008

Me and the Big Guy

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

wei quan- The fight for labour rights in China’s cities

Huang Qingnan lies injured after he was attacked with a machete for helping workers fight for their rights

The fight for labour rights in China’s cities

Brutal oppression of workers underlies China’s economic boom, writes Tim Shepherd

In mid-afternoon on 20 November labour activist Huang Qingnan was chatting to a friend outside his local shop in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, one of the epicentres of China’s spectacular economic growth.

Out of the blue, two young men approached, one armed with a machete. In the ensuing melée, Huang was slashed so badly that doctors expect him to lose the use of his leg.

Huang runs a centre which dispenses services to workers who are in dispute with their employers. His legal advice, offered on a “pay what you can” basis, to workers chasing unpaid wages or compensation for work injuries has made him powerful enemies among factory bosses and various “interested parties”.

The labour arm of China’s growing civil rights movement is known simply as “wei quan” or, literally, “to uphold rights”. People involved in it face a rising level of attacks.

On 13 November another labour rights activist, Li Jinxin, was attacked by thugs and remains in hospital as a result. The violence haunts and underpins the Chinese “economic miracle”, which has produced one of the widest gaps between rich and poor in the world.

Li helped out at a law firm specialising in labour rights work. He was kidnapped and both his legs were broken in a vicious and prolonged beating after meeting a “client” outside the offices.

China’s rise as the “world’s factory” has been largely based on the exploitation of over 100 million internal migrants leaving poor rural areas to work in the factories and building sites of prosperous East China.


Their residential status in the cities is similar to Germany’s “guest workers”. They are only allowed to stay in urban areas while they are in work.

If a rural migrant is picked up by the police without the relevant papers he or she is transported home – usually via a 15-day spell in detention. It’s an arrangement that the bosses have found conducive to keeping wages low and workers on the defensive.

Huang, Li and other activists have been concentrating on publicising the contents of the new Labour Contract Law that will come into force on 1 January next year. One of its positive features is that it will make it more difficult for employers to dismiss workers.

The law was passed despite fierce and sustained opposition from multinationals led by the American Chamber of Commerce, who threatened capital flight.

A compromise draft was eventually approved by the National People’s Congress – China’s non-elected parliament – with the bosses reassured by the certainty that implementation will be lax, not least because China’s only legal trade union is constitutionally and legally bound to uphold the leadership of the Communist Party of China.

While this link gives the organisation considerable leverage in law drafting, the union has barely any influence on the shop floor. Local government officials frequently find common interest with capitalists and ensure that enterprise-level trade unions are run by management or their stooges.

The rare instances of union officials speaking out on behalf of workers usually leads to their being sacked or transferred. Workers who organise outside the traditional union structures face arrest and imprisonment.

Although there is no protection of the right to strike in China and freedom of association is banned, there has been a marked increase in strike activity, as workers have made good use of recent labour shortages and a growing awareness of workers’ rights to demand a living wage paid on time.

Independent unions are banned, but workers often form hometown associations that are sometimes capable of organising strikes. Occasions where these associations unite in strike action are increasing.


Since 2004, the Shenzhen government has twice been forced to raise the minimum wage to calm the militant atmosphere. Workers are also more likely to take employers to court and this has resulted in some important victories.

The latest attacks on labour activists are part of what appears to be a generalised effort by the rich and powerful to ensure that their profits are not threatened.

It is only a matter of time before an attack ends in a fatality. Activists frequently receive phone calls from anonymous thugs with the same message: “Stop helping workers to protect their rights, or we’ll chop you to death.”

Meanwhile Huang Qingnan remains in hospital facing medical fees of at least £10,000. Unions and labour organisations have arranged a solidarity fund.

THE MOVEMENT OF MOVEMENTS: Reforming, Refusing and Resisting Capitalism in the Global Justice Movement

Thesis submitted by Joseph Carolan to the National University of Ireland in accordance with the regulations for the Degree of Masters of Science in Equality Studies, September, 2004.

I would like to thank all the staff at UCD Equality Studies Centre, in particular Jurgen for his insightful and succinct supervision and commentary. I would also like to thank my friends and comrades, the activists of the Global Justice movement who took the time to give me their impressions of the development and strategies of anti-capitalism both here and abroad. I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to my parents Joe and Breda for their help and patience throughout the Summer months, and to my partner Heather for her unstinting support and assistance. Finally, this thesis is dedicated to my aunt Veronica, whose passion for social justice influenced me at an early age.
La Lotta Continua.




1.1 A Holocaust of Hunger

1.2 The Semantics of Globalisation

1.3 Empire: How powerful are the Corporations?

1.4 “There is No Alternative!”

1.5 Anti Capitalism- A Revival of Movement and Critique

1.6 Seattle- The Battle for the 21st Century Begins

1.7 The 3 Rs- Reforming, Refusing and Resisting Globalisation


2.1 Unfair Trade- A Case Study of Sudan

2.2 Deglobalisation and Walden Bello

2.3 Localisation and Colin Hines

2.4 Fair Trade Organisations and Global Assemblies

2.5 Under ATTAC- the Tobin Tax and Susan George


3.1 Ya Basta! The Zapatista Uprising and its influence on the movement

3.2 Peoples Global Action and the Rise of the Autonomists

3.3 Direct Action and the Neutrality of the State

3.4 Soft and Hard Autonomism- The Black Bloc Tactic

3.5 Ignoring the Machine- State and Party

3.6 The Tyranny of Structurelessness

3.7 Social Movements and Leadership

3.8 Dual Power- the Paradox of Autonomism


4.1 Inequality and the Boom- A Case Study of Ireland

4.2 Hard Labour- Social Democracy moves to Social Liberalism

4.3 Vote Coke or Pepsi? The Golden Straitjacket

4.4 Time to Party- The Movement and Political Organisation

4.5 Working Class or Multitude as agent of change?

4.6 Life after Capitalism- Participatory Economics and Democracy

4.7 An Anti Capitalist Manifesto


Literature Review and bibliography

Acronyms and Organisations index

Appendix- Chronology of the Movement of Movements Post-Seattle


November the 30th 1999, and in the dying days of the 20th Century, nearly a decade to the day since the Berlin Wall fell and the subsequent collapse of Communism led Francis Fukuyama to declare “the End of History”, the Battle of Seattle announced to the world the birth of a new Global Justice movement that has since grown and developed in the last five years. Concern at the powers of the World Trade Organisation and its neo liberal agenda of corporate-led globalisation, brought together an unprecedented rainbow coalition of students, trade unionists, environmentalists, human rights activists and many leftist political strands into what the media began to define as the “anti capitalist” or “anti globalisation” movement. Indeed, media representations of this movement, when not focussing on violence at summit protests to the detriment of issues addressed by this movement, have always stressed what this movement is “against” rather than what it is “for”. However, the five years since Seattle have seen the development of the economic, political and philosophical theories and strategies of this movement, which now seeks to articulate a number of distinct schools of thought as to how greater social justice and equality may be achieved globally in the 21st century.

One of the strengths of this movement has been its unity in diversity. The Zapatista uprising in Mexico 1994 from which it drew its inspiration talks of “many yeses, but one no”. The development of the World Social Forum and the European Social Forum facilitated new organisational networks and international days of action, in particular the momentous achievement of the Feb 15th 2003 demonstrations against War in Iraq in which over 40 million people worldwide participated. However, there are real political, economic and developmental differences between the main strands within this diverse movement- real debate that this thesis wants to examine. These schools of thought can be likened to the alternatives to Marxism discussed in the second part of Marx’s Communist Manifesto, where Marx discusses “bourgeois socialism”, “utopian socialism” and so on. The main strands within the global justice movement are Reformist, Ecologist, Autonomist and Socialist anti capitalisms.

The basic question the thesis is concerned to answer is how these distinct schools propose to achieve the other possible world, in particular their political strategies and their social and economic visions. Although these schools are quite distinct and have their own theorists and organisations, it must be noted that there is still much overlap and synthesis within the movement. For example, writers Susan George and George Monbiot draw on reformist and localist / ecologist schools of thought.

After a short historical introduction tracing the movements development from Seattle to Feb 15th, each schools defining principles and objectives, and developing political strategies be discussed in Part Two of this thesis. Because of space constraints, both reformist and eco-localist strategies will be examined in the chapter ‘Reforming Globalisation’. Autonomist and anarchist ideologies will be discussed in the chapter ‘Refusing Globalisation’. Finally, Marxist theory and socialist critiques within the movement will be explored in the chapter ‘Resisting Globalisation’.

Each chapter will examine that school’s historical background, it’s major theorists and contemporary writers, it’s principles, objectives and political strategies and it’s recommended changes to global institutions and neo liberal policies

Specific questions the thesis wants to answer are the key differences between these schools. We know on what they are agreed- the interesting thing is on what they differ. For example, attitudes to the nation state are central to the crux of this debate-
Reformists believe that it can be used to regulate the excesses of corporate globalisation, autonomists do not believe in taking state power, localists believe in creating a new world based on fair trade in small communities from the bottom up, and socialists believe the state is not neutral but a tool that is used by corporations to increase their power and dominance. Clarity in this debate became important when the world lurched closer to war in the run up to the invasion of Iraq- many reformist and localist anti-capitalists believing that if the movement took up the issue of the war, its critique of corporate neo-liberalism would be blunted. Debates at the First European Social Forum in Florence between reformist intellectual leaders such as Susan George and Bernard Cassen from ATTAC, and the more radical and socialist currents were long and protracted. However, this global justice movement showed that it could potentially be what the New York Times editorial on February 16th 2003 called “the world’s second superpower”, when it mobilised over 20 million people internationally in the largest demonstrations in history.

Equality Focus
The Equality Focus of this thesis is very much fixed on the re-emergence of what Lyotard called the “grand narrative critique” of capitalism in the 21st century, nearly ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the supposed “End of History.”
Neo-liberalism is now truly global, and rather than seeing inequalities lessen through a trickle down of resources to the very poor, we are now seeing a huge transfer of wealth from Global South to Global North through unfair trade, and within nations from poor to rich through policies like privatisation, deregulation, market liberalisation and increased rates of exploitation. If inequality is to be fought in a globalised economy, it must be fought both locally and internationally- by a real movement of people in their communities, workplaces and organisations. This thesis would examine the theories and principles of equality each school within this movement possesses, and how equality relates to the movement’s core values of justice, sustainability, efficiency and democracy.

Disciplinary Balance
This thesis will draw heavily upon the fields of Economics, Development Studies, Politics, the Sociology of mass movements, and critiques of neo-liberalism explored in both the Feminist theory and Equality and Education modules. From Politics and Sociology, critiques of capitalism, in particular Marx’s work on class and exploitation and modern thinking on social movement theory, would inform an examination of contemporary political thinkers and strategists such as Susan George, George Monbiot, Antonio Negri, Noam Chomsky, Walden Bello, Alex Callinicos and Naomi Klein. The publication of Equality: From Theory to Practice by the Equality Studies Department will provide a framework for examining the movements different strands- in particular, chapter 12, entitled ‘Strategic Issues for the Equality Movement’ raises what the authors term the ‘Benn’, ‘Chomsky’ and ‘Nader’ options for political engagement.

Methodology- Sources
As an activist within the movement since it’s beginning, I have met many of the movement’s grassroots actors both in Ireland and internationally. My intent in this thesis is to primarily review the key texts of each schools major theorists, but these have been augmented with some Limited Primary Data from the grassroots, in the interests of an emancipatory research method. Thus, key texts and media historical record form the backbone of this thesis, are informed by a limited series of interviews conducted via phone, email and face to face meetings with both domestic and international activists from all schools of thought. I have been a participant in this movement since its beginning, and have worked, organised and oftentimes debated with many of these people.

This thesis can only make a contribution to understanding this movement’s huge diversity and dynamism, and by no means is intended to be a comprehensive critique or solution to its many real differences and problems. It is my intention to pursue my research in the spirit of the movement- to be inclusive of opinions, strategies and theory from those who I may not agree with totally. In a minor thesis, there is not sufficient scope for primary research or a huge amount of interviews, but I have aimed to include voices from the full spectrum of the movement.


1.1 A Holocaust of Hunger
More than 1.2 billion people—one in every five on Earth—survive on less than $1 a day. In Sub Saharan Africa, half the population lives on less than 1$ a day. In South Asia, one in three people still struggle to survive on less than $1 a day. Hunger and poverty are also joined by disease and epidemics in these poor countries. In 34 countries life expectancy has fallen in the 1990s. Every year more than 10 million children die of preventable illnesses- the UNDP 2003 report estimates this at over 30,000 children a day. It notes that more children have died through diarrhoeal disease in the past decade than all people lost in conflict since World War 2.[1]
Around the world 42 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, 39 million of them in developing countries. Tuberculosis remains (along with AIDS) the leading infectious killer of adults, causing up to 2 million deaths a year. In Sub-Saharan Africa, a woman is a 100 times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than in a wealthy OECD country- 500,000 women die in pregnancy or childbirth each year, one for every minute of the day.
Yet foreign aid from the rich to the poor countries fell in the 1990s—by nearly a third on a per capita basis in Sub-Saharan Africa. The UNDP report observes that OECD countries subsidize agricultural production and exports by over $300 billion a year, nearly six times what they give in overseas development aid. It notes that in wealthy countries, cotton bolls and western cows get more in subsidies than we give to people in overseas aid in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The UNDP reports illustrate the huge crisis of inequality on this planet. Millions of ordinary people in the West want an end to the exploitation and impoverishment of their brothers and sisters in the Global South- the Jubilee 2000 campaign to abolish “Third World” debt has the biggest petition in human history with over 40 million signatures. Many people now becoming active in local and national egalitarian campaigns are inspired to act by seeing a global system that allows thousands to die of hunger whilst devoting huge resources to war and the industries of pollution. In recent years, a huge movement has risen up around the world to challenge these priorities, and the political orthodoxy that justifies them. For some, this system is called Globalisation, for others Neo Liberalism. There are also many radicals who identify themselves as anti-capitalists, suggesting that it is just not current economic policies that need reforming, but rather a revolutionary systemic change globally from the bottom up. In this chapter, we explore what is meant by globalisation, empire, and neo liberalism, and trace the origins of the Global Justice movement that challenge their legitimacy.

1.2 The Semantics of Globalisation
Globalisation is thought of by many contemporary politicians and economists as an inevitable and unstoppable process, a process that ‘opens up’ global free trade and helps economic development. By eliminating protectionist tariffs and bureaucratic, state owned industries, the globalising vision is a world where corporations are free from the old fashioned restrictions of national governments.

In the ‘developed’ world, this means that firms can escape the “bureaucracy of state controls” and inefficient “trade union monopolies” by moving production from state to state. They argue that state intervention and control have led to market inefficiencies, using the record of Latin America and the former Eastern Bloc as proof. Naomi Klein examines the experience of the maquilodoras in Mexico, where jobs leave unionised factories in North America to export processing zones (EPZs) just south of the Rio Grande. Here the workers work for less and are more flexible (e.g. have less rights). Environmental controls in these regions are largely non-existent, allowing the corporations to escape the need for costly anti pollution programmes.[2]
In the ‘developing’ world, particular regions must specialise in what they do best (usually the extraction of raw materials or cash crops such as coffee for export) in a system where nation states must compete and use their comparative advantages to attract foreign investment. Oftentimes, the growth of these cash crops provides the only source of revenue for these nations to service their huge foreign debts, which are administered by the World Bank and the IMF. They impose severe conditions known as Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) on these poor nations spending plans, cutting back on areas such as health and education to the detriment of millions. Many people see this form of trade as unfair- arable land that could be used to grow food to feed the starving instead is given over to cotton (such as in Sudan) or flowers (as in Kenya) for export. Oftentimes, the prices of these commodities fall as the interest on the debt rises.
Joseph Stiglitz, Noble Prize winner for Economics in 2001, evaluates this system of unfair trade in his controversial work Globalization and its Discontents-
“The critics of globalisation accuse Western countries of hypocrisy, and the critics are right. The Western countries have pushed poor countries to eliminate trade barriers, but kept up their own barriers, preventing developing countries from exporting their agricultural products…” [3]
Stiglitz, an ex-Chief Economist at the World Bank who resigned his position in disgust at their policies, believes that globalisation as a process needs rescuing from what he calls the “free market fundamentalists” of the neoconservative right. He claims that global institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have been captured by the disciples of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, who “preached free market ideology in the United States and the UK. The IMF and the World Bank became the new missionary institutions, through which these ideas were pushed on the reluctant poor countries that often badly needed their loans and grants” [4]

In this observation, Stiglitz is correct. The movement that criticises the policies of the IMF, World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is oftentimes incorrectly defined by the media as “anti globalisation”. It would be more correct to define this movement as one that is opposed to corporate led globalisation, or in political terms, neo liberal globalisation. For example, one of the movement’s key slogans is “No Borders, No Frontiers”, which champions the right for human beings to move and live wherever they like, whilst the system brands them ‘illegal’, asylum seekers or economic migrants. The movement would argue that they are the true believers of globalisation, but a globalisation of workers rights, environmental protection and human justice.

The battle over these semantics is important, because what was once portrayed as an inevitable and unstoppable process has now been derailed and challenged; leading to what Filipino academic Walden Bello calls “a crisis of legitimacy” in the institutions of global governance.

1.3 Empire- how powerful are the Corporations?
Paul Kingsnorth, in his introductory history of the movement written from an autonomous point of view, One No, Many Yeses notes that “Of the world’s 100 biggest economies today, 51 are corporations, only 49 are nation states. General Motors is bigger than Thailand. Mitsubishi is bigger than South Africa. Wal-Mart is bigger than Venezuela”. One of the main intellectual debates within the movement concerns the relationship of the nation state to the global institutions and the transnational corporations (TNCs), and what role, if any, the state should play in controlling or regulating these groups. For example, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in their book Empire argue the ‘Hyper Globalisation position’- that economic globalisation has transformed the nation state into a tool of global capital, and that the nation-state and inter-capitalist competition and rivalry are in decline in this new imperial world order. They argue that multinational corporations
“…directly structure and articulate the territories and populations. They tend to make nation states merely instruments to record the flows of the commodities, money and populations that they have set in motion. The transnational corporations directly distribute labour power over various markets, functionally allocate resources, and organise hierarchically the various sectors of world production. The complex apparatus that selects investment and directs financial and monetary manoeuvres determines the new geography of the world market…” [5]

Negri and Hardt argue that globalisation is a new phase of capitalism different from the old Imperialism, a global Empire with a three tier transnational structure blending different power nodes, akin to the Roman Empire of old. Just as the Romans had emperors, nobles and a republic, the new Empire has its Monarchical, Aristocratic and Democratic global institutions. The Monarchical groups are the key players in the system- the USA, the G8, NATO, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO. The Aristocratic actors in the middle are nation states and the multinationals. Finally, like the Senate in danger of being crushed by a new Caesar are the ‘Democratic’ global institutions- groups such as the United Nations General Assembly, NGOs etc.
“In contrast to imperialism, Empire establishes no territorial centre of power and does not rely on fixed boundaries or barriers. It is a decentred and deterritorialised apparatus of rule that progressively incorporates the entire global realm within its open, expanding powers… The distinct national colours of the imperialist maps of the world have merged and blended in the imperial global rainbow”.[6]

Negri and Hardt’s thesis may have been fashionable before the invasion of Iraq, but the very real clash of nation states and imperialisms that Empire was to transcend is now evident in increased tensions between the US, the EU, and other blocs such as the G21 Group of the poorer countries from the Global South (led by Brasil, South Africa and India), who rebelled against the WTO round in Cancun, September 2003. Kim Moody, writing from a trade unionist’s perspective in Workers in a Lean World, argues against this idea of Globalisation as Empire-

“The trans-national corporations (TNCs) have neither the desire nor ability to create a world state. They have opted instead for a system of multilateral agreements and institutions that they hope will provide coherence and order the world market. Through their 'home' governments, the TNCs have attempted to negotiate forms of regulation through the GATT, the new WTO, and the various regional and multilateral trade agreements. They have also transformed… the old Bretton Woods institutions, notably the World Bank and IMF” [7]

Nation states are still needed by corporations to fight for their interests, and the occupation of Iraq has shown that competition between states and regional economic blocs can still lead to armed conflict and war. As such, an examination of how the different tendencies of the movement relate to the state is a key tactical question.

1.4 “There Is No Alternative!”
Before the Great Depression of the 1930s, the dominant economic orthodoxy of Western nation states was one of “laissez faire economics”, where the state should do nothing to interrupt free trade. This would be largely the thinking of the Classical economists such as Adam Smith, economic liberals who argued against any controls or restrictions on the workings of the free market However, the strength of rising trade union movements in the 19th and early 20th centuries forced concessions from these nation states, notably around the conditions for workers in employment, the eight hour day, universal suffrage and increases in wages and trade union power. As these nation states grew in military power and wealth, the ruthless competition between them for resources and colonies intensified. Karl Marx described this process in the Communist Manifesto. It is interesting to note that in this early portrayal of how capitalism at home leads to imperialism abroad, is an accurate account of the modern workings of corporate led globalisation-

“All old established national industries have been destroyed, or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged… by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the productions of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands”[8]

Conversely, this era of imperialism led not to the satisfaction of desires, but to increased economic and military competition between the Great Powers. This was to have tragic consequences in the 20th century, leading to both the First and Second World Wars. After the slaughter of millions in war, and the experience of mass unemployment, slum housing and the mass unemployment of the Great Depression, many European workers decided that fundamental changes were needed to the system. Millions looked to the experience of the Russian Revolution, which (for a brief period before the rise of Stalin) saw huge gains and rights for working people.
Members of the ruling classes were aware that, in the words of Lord Beveridge, a founder of the NHS- “either we give the people social reform, or else they will give us revolution”.

Social cohesion and consensus politics was built between the dominant political parties around various degrees of Welfare States. Slums were cleared and social housing constructed. Public hospitals were built and healthcare was provided, pensions and unemployment benefits became legal entitlements. Strong trade unions and parties of the left, such as Labour in the UK, or the Social Democrats in Scandinavia, helped deepen and extend these gains when they came to power.

This consensus was shattered by the upsurge of New Left militancy and protests in the late 60s and the economic downturn of the 1970s. The recession brought the governments of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the US and UK in the 1980s. Inspired by the policies of Milton Friedman and his Chicago school, they revived the ideas of ‘laissez-faire” economics- that capitalism should be free from interference. These Neo liberals championed a reduction in taxation on corporations and for those with high incomes, and embarked on wholesale privatisation of state owned industry. Water provision, railways, electricity and telecommunications were sold to the highest bidder. The defeats of the Air Traffic controllers in the US and the Coal Miners in the UK were followed by widespread attacks on trade unions and workers rights in both countries. Social welfare benefits were slashed, as Thatcher argued that “there is no such thing as society”. Her economic was being summed up in the acronym TINA- “There is no alternative”.

For much of the left, there appeared to be no alternative throughout most of the 80s and early 90s. The collapse of the State Capitalist regimes in the USSR and the Eastern Bloc led many who identified these dictatorships as “already existing socialism” to throw in the towel and accept the market as the only way of distributing goods and resources. Social democracy in power moved to the right, accommodating to various market socialisms and social liberalisms. Neoliberalism may have had its roots in Thatcherism and Monetarism of the 1980s, but today it is included in the ‘Social Liberal’ “Third Way” philosophies Tony Blair and his favourite sociologist Anthony Giddens champion.[9] Francis Fukuyama’s essay “The End of History” proclaimed the 20th century as a victory for Liberal Democracy and its economic system capitalism over the twin evils of Fascism and Communism. For many in academia, any attempted critique of capitalism was now an economically reductionist, socially constructed ‘grand narrative’, that had to play a much smaller role in a post modern world of largely identity politics. Naomi Klein decries this intellectual fragmentation in the Universities of the late 80s in her book No Logo, seeing the beginnings of an anti capitalist response to the post-modern ghetto-

“Five years earlier, campus politics was all about the issues of discrimination and identity- race, gender and sexuality, “the political correctness wars”. Now they were broadening out to include corporate power, labour rights and a fairly developed analysis of the workings of the global economy… Simply put, anti corporatism is the brand of politics capturing the next generation of troublemakers and shit disturbers, and we need only look to the student radicals of the 1960s and ID warriors of the 80s and 90s to see the transformative impact such a shift can have” [10]

1.5 Anti Capitalism- A Revival of Movement and Critique
A revival in the critique of capitalism in its Neo Liberal form was not just limited to the ‘Student against Sweatshops’ groups in North American campuses, but had its roots in several sources. The Zapatista uprising in Chiapas against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was to inspire many around the world that radical resistance was possible (see Chapter Three). This inspired a global coalition of groups in civic societies to defeat the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) in 1998. The French ‘Hot Winter’ was to revive the socialist and trade union left- the attempted Thatcherite reforms of state pension, social welfare and employment rights by the Juppe government led to a massive, successful three week long General Strike wave in November-December 1995. With this defeat of right wing economics by organised labour with its slogan 'Tous ensemble!' ('All together!'), came a revival of the intellectual analysis of Neo Liberalism, organised first in France around the academic Pierre Bourdieu and the paper Le Monde Diplomatique.

Bourdieu criticised the intellectual retreat of the post-modern left and its surrendering of the ideological battlefield to the Neoliberal right, which throughout the 1980s had “the effect of a shared belief- the work of the “new intellectuals”, which has created a climate favourable to the withdrawal of the state and so submission to the values of the economy”. He observed that ‘globalisation is more of a political imperative than an economic fact… a policy aiming to extend to the world as a whole the American economic model’ and that “the left hand of the state (reflecting previous struggles and embodied in the welfare state) has been rolled back, but the right hand (treasuries and finance ministries acting to secure the conditions for capitalist reproduction) has been strengthened”[11]
Bourdieu supported the strikes, recruiting other intellectuals critical of the government’s Neoliberalism to his new radical group Raisons d”Agir (Reasons to Act). According to a colleague, Bourdieu felt that 'with the railway workers, he was defending a civilisation' [12]
After December 1995 Bourdieu supported an explosion of new movements in France, from the occupation of churches by immigrants denied residence papers (the ‘Sans Papiers’) to the militant direct action of the unemployed (the ‘precarious’) in 1998. The search for an alternative to neo-liberalism and its left wing version in Tony Blair’s Third Way led Bourdieu to call for an 'Estates General of the European Social Movement', and was a driving force behind the formation of ATTAC (see chapter two). Across France, the emergence of a ‘left of the left’ took hold, as the effects of the strike waves deepened.

Intellectually, Bourdieu’s early contributions were to be joined by many new “thought leaders” of the movement, with writers such as anti-debt campaigner Susan George, journalist George Monbiot, environmentalist Colin Hines, autonomist Tony Negri and Global South activist Walden Bello constructing new methods of reforming or abolishing corporate globalisation (See Chapter Two). There has also been a vigourous rediscovery of Karl Marx’s analysis of capitalism; re examined by writers such as Alex Callinicos in his book An Anti Capitalist Manifesto. However, it was at the Battle of Seattle in November 1999 that these different threads of the movement became not only visible, but succeeded in toppling the World Trade Organisation’s Millennial Round. Although elements of the movement were involved in struggles such as Jubilee 2000’s ‘Drop the Debt’ campaign or the June 18th Carnival Against Capitalism in the City of London, it was at the blockades of the WTO that they became fused into global consciousness as “the Movement of Movements”.

1.6 Seattle- The Battle for the 21st Century Begins
After four days of tear gas, pepper spray, baton charges, mass street blockades, solidarity between students, environmentalists, trade unionists and fair trade campaigners, the World Trade Organisation’s Millennial Round negotiations collapsed. The New York Times of 5th December 1999 noted that
“The collapse of the talks ended a tumultuous week of riots on the streets of Seattle, the arrest of more than 600 protesters and bitter infighting among 135 nations. They could not agree even on whether to discuss workers’ rights and the environment in trade negotiations that were supposed to be started here. In the end, weary ministers headed for the airport without even issuing a final communiqué.”

Over 60,000 people take part in the blockades, uniting groups that were previously ideologically opposed. For example, direct action environmentalists had often come into conflict with groups of unionised workers such as loggers- greens seeing their jobs as destructive of the environment, unions viewing them as anti-jobs and anti-worker (e.g. militant groups such as Earth First! sometimes spiked trees with iron rods, which caused chainsaws to buckle, oftentimes injuring loggers).

Some environmentalists were furious that the WTO forbade a US Congress Act guaranteeing that shrimp nets had escape vents for endangered turtles (150,000 are killed every year), arguing that these laws discriminated against foreign companies and were ‘protectionist’. Labour groups such as the Teamsters, Steelworkers and Dockworkers (who shut down every port on the West Coast of the US in solidarity strike action with Seattle) were furious that the WTO was attacking workers conditions, with many corporations moving their operations to zones where union organisation was weaker or non existent, such as China, Indonesia, and the Mexican border. In Seattle, these groups united in the Teamster-Turtle alliance, both groups
realising there would be no advance without environmental sustainability and workers rights.[13]

1.7 The Three R’s: Reforming. Refusing and Resisting Globalisation
After the events of Seattle, the Global Justice movement mushroomed, and it gave rise to its own “thought leaders”, who began to articulate different political and economic strategies for the way ahead. Colin Barker (2001) notes that movements face both “collective identity” and “collective action” problems. Collective identity forces a movement to define itself, asking the questions- “who are we? What conflict are we involved in? What are our interests? What are our demands?” He observes that movements attempt to form collective identities, however temporary, developing shared ideas which define their members, allies and opponents. Collective action is then necessary if a movement is to mobilise effectively, to popularise and realise its demands. However, all movements are ‘networks composed from distinct strands and tendencies’, and that they cannot as themselves formulate independent ideologies and strategies in the course of their struggles. “They may move together but they also move unevenly. It is only in mythological thinking that whole movements can be considered as thinking the same, or as acting as simple and undifferentiated entities.”[14]

In the recently published EQUALITY- from Theory to Action (John Baker, Kathleen Lynch, Sara Cantillon and Judy Walsh 2004, Palgrave), these separate tendencies are explored by what the authors refer to as the “Tony Benn, Noam Chomsky and Ralph Nader options.” (p234) Indeed, the whole of Chapter 12, entitled “Strategic Issues for the Equality Movement”, grapples with many of the same issues that now confront the Global Justice movement, and how they should relate to the dominant economic system and left mainstream parties (in both Social Democratic and Green colours).
Tony Benn is seen by many as a left winger who has kept his principles inside the British Labour Party. The strategy here is that it is possible to win back social democratic parties to a campaigning egalitarian programme, away from their current social liberal, Third Way trajectory. This tendency sees the possibility to change aspects of the current system without abolishing it root and branch, and is referred to as reformism, and is examined in ‘Reforming Globalisation’ in chapter two.

Noam Chomsky is a self described ‘Libertarian Socialist’, who remains outside any party structure, leaving him great independence to critique both US Foreign Policy and the workings of the capitalist economic system. Chomsky here symbolically represents a whole stream of activism that views party politics as hierarchical and prone to compromise, encompassing a wide range of views that often come under the umbrellas of anarchism, syndicalism or libertarianism. This tendency is often referred to as autonomism, and is examined in ‘Refusing Globalisation’ in chapter three.

Ralph Nader, “the Seattle man” now vilified by the US Democratic Party for ‘costing’ them the 2000 election and ‘splitting’ the anti-Bush vote, represents for the authors a more radical option. In the United States in 2000, this tendency coalesced around a very radical, anti capitalist programme of the US Green Party. This party has since rejected Nader, succumbing to the “Anyone but Bush” lesser of two evils, effectively backing the Democrats. In Europe, where Green parties are increasingly members of government coalitions, this constituency has been represented by parties to the left of Social Democracy and Labour, who would identify themselves as socialist, and is examined in ‘Resisting Globalisation’ in chapter four.


The dominant current within the Global Justice Movement looks to reforming economics in some way to make trade fairer and the economic system more humane, just and sustainable (the injustice of unfair trade is first explored by a case study of the economy of Sudan). There are hundreds of different ideas and suggestions as to how this might be achieved- in this section, because of limits of space; I want to look at four of the more popular ideas within GJM reformism, which are Deglobalisation, Localisation, Fair Trade Organisations and the Tobin Tax.

2.1 Unfair Trade- A Case Study of Sudan
“During Ireland’s famine of 1846-7, which killed a million people, large landowners routinely exported food to Britain as poor peasants dropped all around them. Substitute Ireland for developing countries, large landowners for transnational corporations, and Britain for the Western world, and little has changed. Food is still being exported from countries where there is gross hunger and people are dropping as a result”. [15]
Dr Abdullah El-Tom is a Sudanese researcher lecturing in NUI Maynooth, who specializes in comparative studies of the Great Irish famine of 1847-48, with modern famines in Africa. In his paper Towards the Concept of Famine Criminals, he agrees with John Madeley’s observation that the Irish economy was exporting food whilst thousands died. He finds the same pattern at work in the modern famines of Africa-

“The mid 1980s famine of Africa was not caused by food shortage as such either. At the very time Bob Geldof and his other Band Aid associates were airlifting food to the Sudan; Sudanese grain was being exported to feed the Saudi camel industry”. He argues that many African governments had at their disposal enough grain to feed the starving- “Had the Sudanese government recirculated only 2.5% of its local grain production, famine would have been averted. Estimates for other African countries are higher, running at seven to eight per cent for Kenya and Tanzania”.

He argues that British imperialism in Ireland forced poor farmers to grow “cash crops” to pay for land rent- making them artificially dependent on one major subsistence crop- the potato was cheap, nutritious and abundant. Here we see parallels with famines of the modern era- many nations now experiencing hunger are using huge tracts of arable land to grow cash crops such as cotton, coffee, cocoa, tobacco, and sugar for sale in the global market, to help pay IMF/World Bank loans. During the famine in Senegal, 55% of the arable land was growing peanuts for export. The Indian Eco-feminist, Vandana Shiva has argued that “Globalisation of food markets is an instant strategy for creating hunger”.

The economy of Sudan was forced by British imperialism to produce coffee, tea and cotton for export on its most arable land. Farmers had to pay taxes in cash, forcing them to work on government farms and huge agricultural schemes like the two million acre cotton plantation scheme in Gezira, the most arable land in Sudan where the Blue and White Nile meet. After independence from Britain in 1956, the scheme was continued to provide hard currency to help service its foreign debt. It is now supervised by the IMF and the World Bank.
2.2 Deglobalisation and Walden Bello
Walden Bello is a professor at the University of the Philippines, a leader of a left-wing political party in the Philippines; and is a director of Focus on the Global South, based in Bangkok ( For many in the movement, he represents the radical voice and intelligence of the Global South- his fiery eloquence within the WSF events and debating opponents at WEF or World Bank meetings has made him one of the more prominent “thought leaders” to have emerged from the so called ‘Third World’.
Bello argues that the global economy needs to be ‘deglobalised’- that the international system must be redesigned to become more self-reliant. He calls for a reorientation of economic life “from the emphasis of production for export to production for the local market”. In his essay ‘The Global Conjuncture”, Bello (2001) lays out a vision of a deglobalised economic order where a movement of reform would-
1. Draw “most of our financial resources for development from within rather than becoming dependent on foreign investment and foreign financial markets;”
2. Carry out “the long-postponed measures of income redistribution and land redistribution to create a vibrant internal market that would be the anchor of the economy”
3. Would de-emphasise growth and maximise equity “in order to radically reduce environmental disequilibrium”.
4. Would not leave “strategic economic decisions to the market but making them subject to democratic choice”.
5. Would subject “the private sector and the state to constant monitoring by civil society”
6. Would create “a new production and exchange complex that includes community co-operatives, private enterprises and state enterprises, and excludes TNCs”
7. Would enshrine “the principle of subsidiarity in economic life by encouraging production of goods to take place at the community and national level if it can be done so at reasonable cost in order to preserve community.”
Bello goes on to argue that this process of reinforcing both local and national democracy cannot be done under the old Bretton Woods triumvirate of the World Bank, IMF and WTO. He rejects any re-imagining of these institutions as they attempt to go on what he calls a “soft offensive”, by inviting and recruiting NGOs and reformists to join with them in constructing ‘social clauses’ within their international trade treaties. He sees these institutions as irreformably serving the interests of the multinational corporations, “and, in particular, US corporations”, and calls for their abolition.
Bello rejects any scheme to replace these global forms of governance with any social democratic ones, claiming that they will suffer an “inability to tolerate and profit from diversity”. He questions the workings of any “one central set of global rules”, be they neoliberal or social democratic, instead arguing for “a pluralistic system of institutions and organisations interacting with one another, guided by broad and flexible agreements and understandings.”
It is here that Bello seems to suggest that global trade should return to the international system that preceded what Stiglitz called the “free market fundamentalist” hijacking of the Bretton Woods institutions in the 1980s. In what he calls a Plural World, the formation of any “new international and regional institutions… would be dedicated to creating and protecting the space for devolving the greater part of production, trade and economic decision making to the national and local level.”
This strategy would “include strengthening diverse actors and institutions such as the United Nations trade and development body UNCTAD, multilateral environmental agreements, the International Labour Organisation and evolving economic blocs such as Mercosur in Latin America, SAARC in South Asia, SADCC in Southern Africa, and a revitalised ASEAN in South East Asia”. Aware that these organisations have been used by the rich of the Global South to further their own agenda, Bello further stipulates that “a key aspect of 'strengthening', of course, is making sure these formations evolve in a people-oriented direction and cease to remain regional elite projects.”[16]
In the 20th century many nationalist movements succeeded in driving out colonial imperialism, but were then forced to participate in unfair trade terms with the global economic system. This has led to what is referred to as “Dependency”, with a Global economic core and periphery. The Core nations (usually the old mother countries of Empire) sell industrial goods and commodities, whilst the Periphery nations (the ex colonies, now economic “neo colonies”) provide raw materials at rock bottom prices, prevented by tariffs from selling their own manufactured goods. Corrupt nationalist politicians form what is called a “Comprador class”- the success of nationalism creates a new bourgeoisie within its own country, who continue to exploit the urban and rural poor with no real interest in development. The Brasilian sociologist F H Carduso claims that this led to the development of “Dependent capitalism” in the Global South.
Bello’s strategy advocates a return to the strategy of industrialisation for Third World countries based upon control on imports, a strategy that many supporters claim helped to develop the economies of South Korea and the ‘Asian Tigers’ preceding the 1980s. This strategy within the movement champions the left nationalism of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and the Workers’ Party government of Lula in Brasil. However, it seems to place a lot of trust in the local elites of the Third World (as represented by the G21 group), many of whom are corrupt members of the ‘Comprador’ class, who exploit their own populations and make their profits from the international trade regime. The idea that when these regimes meet within UNCTAD that they can form a progressive bloc, belies the real fact that these elites are whole hearted supporters of exploitation and privilege in their home countries.

2.3 Localisation and Colin Hines
Coming from an eco-localist perspective, Colin Hines echoes many of Bello’s concerns. In his book Localisation- A Global Manifesto, Hines argues for “a set of interrelated and self-reinforcing policies that actively discriminate in favour of the local” summed up in the phrase “Protect the Local, Globally.”[17]
These include-

a ‘site-here-to-sell-here’ policy for manufacturing and services domestically or regionally; multinationals are put under local control around the world, preventing them from selling in local markets unless they produce there, or leaving to other countries to seek lower wages. He also suggests that this would challenge the economic law of comparative advantage that forces countries like the Sudan to grow cotton for export (instead of food for their people) because globally “it’s what they do best”. Localisation “means that everything that could be produced within a nation or region should be. Long-distance trade is then reduced to supplying what cannot”, arguing that “local businesses have a central role and much to gain”.
localising money, so that the majority stays within its place of origin- here Hines tackles the laws of ‘capital advantage’ that sees profits and capital re-invested not in the areas where they are made, but where multinationals think they can make even more profit. Under Localisation, profits must be re-invested locally, and he also sees the expansion of mechanisms such as LETS schemes to provide local employment.
introduction of resource taxes to increase environmental improvements and help fund the transition to localisation, under the principles of “polluter pays”.
increased democratic involvement both politically and economically to ensure the effectiveness and equity of the movement to more diverse local economies- “A citizen's income will allow involvement in the economy as a matter of right. Political funding will be strictly constrained and power will pass from the corporations to the citizens”.

A New Protectionism- the reintroduction of protective safeguards for domestic economies such as tariffs, quotas on imports, and a reorientation of aid and trade rules so that they contribute to the rebuilding of local economies and local control, particularly through the global transfer of relevant information and technology. Hines challenges the power of the media and the logic of the market that decries any labour laws or environmental standards as ‘Protectionism’- “if a thousand economists were asked if they wanted to be protected, in their everyday lives, by the police, say, or by an insurance policy, they would undoubtedly reply with a unanimous 'yes'. He claims that this process is not autarkic- “Its goal is maximum local trade within diversified sustainable local economies and minimum long-distance trade”.

Many environmentalists rightly point out that a lot of international trade is both useless and damaging to the environment, needlessly increasing greenhouse gas emissions. In 1997, Britain imported 240,000 tonnes of pork and 125,000 tonnes of lamb while it exported 195,000 tonnes of pork and 102,000 tonnes of lamb. The transport involved in these ‘food swaps’ produces huge amounts of carbon dioxide that add to the greenhouse effect: one kilogramme of apples imported from New Zealand has an energy cost equivalent to 1kg of CO2 compared with 50g of CO2 for locally grown English apples.[18]

There is a certain romanticisation of ‘the local’ in Hines’ proposals- the process of exploitation can be just as vicious from a local business as from a multinational firm. Controversially, the imposition of refuse charges on working class communities whilst the corporate sector produces the majority of pollution in society was seen by many in Ireland to be a neo-liberal attack on public services and a double tax on PAYE workers, rather than a “polluter pays” resource tax. Like Bello’s proposals for Deglobalisation, Hines is not explicitly opposed to the domestic or national processes of competition or exploitation- it is not capitalism per se which is at fault but the particular transnational character it has taken under pro corporate globalisation. Instead, like Bello, he proposes a more humane and sustainable form of capitalism, one with greater self-sufficiency on a local and national scale.

Hines argues for a society which is 'more labour intensive'- for him, this a rejection of the ‘Green revolution’ of the 1960s that saw more machinery and chemicals being used in world agriculture with a resultant fall in employment for agricultural labourers. This demand is not shared by millions of trade unionists around the world, who are working longer hours in more stressful conditions whilst millions more are unemployed. Many workers complain of ‘flexploitation’- increased exploitation with flexibility that means less free time. Socialists argue that it would make sense to share the workload with the unemployed and increase leisure time for all. Similarly, many small farmers, peasants and campesinos around the world, such as the Brasilian MST, actively seek machinery whilst shifting to organic farming methods. The problem is not technology itself- when used co operatively it can drastically reduce collective working hours and the need for back breaking manual work, allowing the long suffering campesino some leisure time and freedom.

He also admits that there could also be no ‘Localisation in One Country’- Hines looks to the parliamentary process and the European Union to implement these policies to set an international example and trigger a similar response in North America, Asia and the Global South. The political forces he looks to lead here are predominantly members of the European Greens, many of whom have been active in the movement. However, Green Parties have also come to power in coalition governments, most notably in Germany and France where they shared power with the ‘social liberals’ of the SPD and Parti Socialiste. There has been much debate within the ecological wing of the movement about this participation in parliamentary power- many of these Green Parties were supposedly “anti-hierarchical”, having their roots in the anti nuclear, peace and environmental movements of the 1970s and 80s. The German experience has seen the Green Party compromise on its demands to shut down nuclear power stations, support the use of the German armed forces in Kosovo and Afghanistan, and stand shoulder to shoulder with Gerhard Schroder’s SPD as it implements its Agenda 2010 neoliberal attack on the welfare state.

This has led to a so called “Realo/ Fundi” split within the ecological movement- the Realos being ‘realistic’ and willing to compromise and accept the system to implement some limited reforms. The Fundis are supposed fundamentalists who view these compromises as sell outs, many of whom have rejected parliamentarianism and gravitated to the more explicitly anti capitalist wing of the movement. In the 1990s, a wave of direct action against the building of motorways, nuclear power stations, tree fellings, incinerators, genetic engineering and the domination of car culture in cities saw more radical ‘ecological’ groups such as Earth First, Reclaim the Streets and Gluaiseacht being formed. After Seattle, many of these groups brought the experience of non-violent direct action (NVDA) to the global justice movement.

2.4 Fair Trade Organisations and Global Assemblies
George Monbiot is a campaigning journalist with the Guardian newspaper in Britain, whose book Captive State- the Corporate Take Over of Britain detailed the increasing power corporations had over democracy in Britain. In particular it examined the effects of ‘globalisation at home’- the links between big business and Tony Blair’s New Labour party, and how this paved the way for neo-liberal reforms of the UK’s public services through public-private partnerships (PPPs). PPPs in the UK and Ireland now build everything from hospitals and schools to motorways.

Recently, Monbiot has published his programme for the movement, The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order (Flamingo). Loosely tied to the Green movement, he now openly criticises aspects of Colin Hines’s Localisation agenda.[19]
He calls instead for the establishment of alternative organisations of global governance- the most prominent being a Fair Trade Organisation, an International Clearing Union and a World People’s Assembly.

Monbiot sees a threat to multilateralism coming from the USA, in particular under the regime of George Bush, who has refused to accept international agreements such as the Kyoto Treaty on Global Warming, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the International Criminal Court (especially on war crimes) or the decisions of the United Nations when it votes against US policy. Monbiot sees the danger of this unilateralism going unchecked in world trade, where the continuing failure to achieve multilateral agreement in the WTO would be replaced by an Imperial order.

Monbiot disagrees with Walden Bello’s ‘Plural World’ approach, and proposes precisely the global social democratic structures that Indian activist Arundathi Roy claims ‘have a predilection for gigantism’

Writing in the Guardian, he states that-
“The only thing worse than a world with the wrong international trade rules is a world with no trade rules at all. George Bush seems to be preparing to destroy the WTO at the next world trade talks… not because its rules are unjust, but because they are not unjust enough. He is seeking to negotiate individually with weaker countries, so that he can force even harsher terms of trade upon them.”

Instead, Monbiot argues that the countries of the Global South use the potentially massive bargaining power of a collective default on their debts to the World Bank and the IMF to change the World Trade Organisation into a Fair Trade Organisation.
“Poor nations, for example, now owe so much that they own, in effect, the world’s financial systems. The threat of a sudden collective default on their debts unless they get what they want would concentrate the minds of even the most obdurate global powers.”[20]

Historically, the Great Powers developed their industries through mercantilism, protecting their domestic industries from competition until they were strong. In the Age of Consent, he notes that these powers only began to support ‘free trade’ when it was advantageous for them. Thus, he argues that this FTO would allow the Global South to apply protectionist measures to boost local industry while giving them access to the rich world’s markets.

Drawing from Joseph Stiglitz’s account of the early mission statement of the Bretton Woods institutions was to assist rather than exploit poorer nations; Monbiot proposes that an International Clearing Union replace the IMF and World Bank. Here, Monbiot looks to the vision of an economist who inspired social democratic economic policy in its Golden Age, proposing that this ICU be “a body rather like the one designed by John Maynard Keynes in the 1940s, whose purpose was to prevent excessive trade surpluses and deficits from forming, and therefore international debt from accumulating”. [21] If a return to global Keynesianism is the panacea for the world’s ills, then Monbiot fails to explain why these policies were shipwrecked on the rocks of economic crisis in the global recessions of the 1970s.

Monbiot also proposes radical changes of the supposed ‘Democratic’ institutions of global governance- “The UN Security Council should be scrapped, and its powers vested in a reformulated UN General Assembly. This would be democratised by means of weighted voting: nations’ votes would increase according to both the size of their populations and their positions on a global democracy index. Perhaps most importantly, the people of the world would elect representatives to a global parliament, whose purpose would be to hold the other international bodies to account.”[22] This he calls the ‘World People’s Assembly’ – a representative democratic body independent of nation-states and to which everybody in the world would have a single vote. This would address the democratic deficit of the ‘Monarchical’ institutions of global governance such as the G8 and the USA- countries such as China and India with populations over one billion would have more votes than Britain or France. Monbiot concedes the possibility that people in these nations may vote to continue developing their industries to the detriment of the environment, but insists that “danger is what democracy is all about”. Philippe Legrain, a former World Trade Organisation official, pours scorn on this suggestion, insisting that “world elections to a world parliament” are not “realistic”- “Sixty million Britons would not accept 1,300m Chinese outvoting them.” However, Monbiot insists that there is a residual fear of the Yellow Peril behind such assertions, and that it is only with such global democratic structures that the hegemony of the wealthy nations over the Global South can be challenged. He concludes that

“War, climate change, international debt and trade between nations…these issues can be addressed only at the global level. Global governance will take place whether we participate in it or not. Indeed, it must take place if these issues are not to be resolved by the brute force of the powerful. Our task is not to overthrow globalisation, but to capture it, and to use it as a vehicle for humanity’s first global democratic revolution”.

2.5 Under ATTAC- the Tobin Tax and Susan George
Susan George has been a prominent campaigner against the debts of the Global South, calling for its cancellation in books such as A Fate Worse than Debt, The Debt Boomerang (1992) and The Lugano Report: Preserving Capitalism in the 21st Century. Her books are brilliant exposes of the true horrors of the effects of debt on the poorest countries, and have inspired many people to become involved in the Jubilee Campaign and in her own group, the Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens (ATTAC), of which she is vice president. She sees no progressive role for many of the corrupt elites in the Global South who preside over the misery and hunger there. She especially condemns their role in implementing Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) on their populations, slashing health and education spending to pay the interest on World Bank and IMF loans-
“Wealthy and influential people in the debtor countries are not necessarily displeased with the way this crisis has been handled. Structural adjustment has forced down workers” wages, and laws – such as they are – concerning working conditions, health, safety and the environment can easily be flouted ... Having largely escaped debt fallout, their concern is to belong to the increasingly globalised elite to play on the same courts as their counterparts in New York, Paris or London.” [23]
George, a prominent thought leader in the movement, became a leading figure in ATTAC, which looked to a strategy of putting pressure on social democratic governments by creating civic alliances in civil society. This strategy was suggested by Pierre Bourdieu, when he looked for a European Social Movement that would recapture ‘the nation-state, or better yet the supranational state - a European state on the way toward a world state - capable of effectively controlling and taxing the profits earned in the financial markets and, above all, of counteracting the destructive impact that the latter have on the labour market’ [24]

ATTAC re imagined a new reformism opposed to the social liberal, Third Way orthodoxy of Blair and Schroder. Susan George was adamant that
“Neo-liberalism is not the natural human condition, it is not supernatural, it can be challenged and replaced because its own failures will require this. We have to be ready with replacement policies which restore power to communities and democratic States while working to institute democracy, the rule of law and fair distribution at the international level.”[25]
Nearly seven years before the Battle of Seattle, George predicted the kind of alliances that the Global Justice movement would throw up. She believed that these alliances could exert enough moral pressure on social democracy for their governments to change policies. She writes, in The Debt Boomerang, of: “Building bridges in the North between environmentalists, trade unionists …activists for immigrants’ rights, members of Third World solidarity groups or non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and that broadest category of all-taxpayers. We hope that each of these constituencies will see the need to work together for alternative policies and, simultaneously, the need to work effectively with their counterparts in the South.” [26]

ATTAC’s main demand is for (social democratic) governments to implement a
Tobin tax on capital transactions, in order to fund social programmes and strengthen the ability of national government to regulate economic life. First proposed by Nobel prize-winning economist James Tobin in the 1970s, his idea of a currency transactions tax (CTT), or Tobin tax is seen by many to be a concrete demand of the Global Justice movement. According to the Irish ATTAC website, over one trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) changes hands every day on global foreign exchange markets. More than 80% of this trading is of a speculative nature, buying and selling money for profit’s sake. (This speculation was blamed for accentuating the economic crisis in East Asia and Russia, where millions lost their jobs.) It has been estimated that a tax of 0.1%, collected by Central Banks or regulatory authorities, could raise between $50 and $300 billion a year (see The US has already spent nearly $100 billion on the war in Iraq. It has also spent around $30 billion on "homeland security". Yet, according to the UNDP report, just $80 billion a year would provide universal access to basic social services, give everyone clean water and reduce poverty enough to eliminate malnutrition.

Even though many individual parliaments and parties have broadly supported the Tobin Tax, it has yet to be implemented internationally. In a climate where overseas aid from the rich countries is actually dropping in real terms, there is a danger that this reform becomes its substitute. The problem with most of these reforms- localisation, fair trade, Deglobalisation or Tobin tax, is that the structural causes of exploitation and poverty remain intact. The next two chapters examine more radical currents within the movement who call for a total break with the system. They avowedly define themselves as Anti Capitalists- the Autonomists and the Socialists.


3.1 Ya Basta! The Zapatista Uprising and its influence on the movement
On the 1st of January 1994, the Zapatista (EZLN) uprising began on the same day that the North American Free Trade Agreement came into effect. Demanding justice for the indigenous Mayan people who lived in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, it was to become a beacon of hope to a generation that was told history was over. Armed with rifles, they occupied several towns in the province, including the capital San Cristóbal de las Casas, and shouted to the world “Ya Basta!”- Enough!

The Zapatistas were an army of the poorest people in North America, “the people of the colour of the earth” who were conquered by Spanish colonialism 500 years previously. Although their province produced half of Mexico’s hydro-electricity, had huge cattle ranches, exported the most coffee and was the second largest produce
of oil in Mexico, the indigenous people were pushed off their lands by ranchers.
Now NAFTA was to give multinational corporations more control over their resources whilst they lived in grinding poverty.

The spokesperson for the CCNI, the Indigenous People's Coordinating Committee, made explicit that this rebellion was part of a larger global resistance against neo-liberalism. In one of his many poetic communiqués from the Lacandon Jungle (when asked his real identity behind his balaclava and pipe), Subcommandante Marcos declared that

“We are you- Marcos is gay in San Francisco, black in South Africa, an Asian in Europe, a Chicano in San Ysidro, an anarchist in Spain, a Palestinian in Israel, a Mayan Indian on the streets of San Cristobal, a Jew in Germany, a Gypsy in Poland, a Mohawk in Quebec, a pacifist in Bosnia, a single woman on the streets of the metro at 10pm, a peasant without land, a gang member in the slums, an unemployed worker, an unhappy student.”[27]

Over 150 people died during the short rising, before the Zapatistas withdrew to the jungles. They were surrounded by the Mexican Army and bombed from the air, but by that stage their rebellion had captured the imagination of Mexico and the world.
In solidarity, hundreds of thousands demonstrated in the Zocalo, the central square of Mexico City, forcing the government to abandon a crushing final offensive. Since 1994, an uneasy truce has existed, with the Zapatistas controlling 30 odd autonomous zones, encircled by thousands of troops.

Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, was herself inspired by this uprising, claiming that the Zapatistas and Marcos were the
“…theorists of a new movement, another way to think about power, resistance and globalisation. Zapatistas aren’t interested in overthrowing the state or naming their leader, Marcos, as president. If anything, they want less state power in their lives. The goal is not to win control but to seize and build autonomous spaces where democracy,
liberty and justice can thrive. Free spaces, born of reclaimed land, communal
agriculture, resistance to privatisation, will eventually create counter-powers to
the state simply by existing as alternatives”.[28]

3.2 Peoples Global Action and the Rise of the Autonomists
Communicating with the outside world through the new medium of the internet, Marcos and the Zapatistas represented for many a new form of politics, a
Post-Stalinist uprising that rejected the quest for state power. In January 1996, they invited ‘rebels from all continents’ to their jungle bases for an ‘encounter’, the ‘International Encuentro for Humanity against Neo-liberalism’- 3,000 people came.
This Encuentro was to found the basis for what was later to become the People’s Global Action, a loose federation of international groups inspired by the autonomous philosophy Zapatismo, which rejected state power and all traditional left wing parties in favour of ‘decentralised, anti-hierarchical horizontal’ networks. PGA formulated itself in Geneva in 1998, agreeing on five hallmarks for international affiliates. These were laid out on its website-
1. A very clear rejection of capitalism, imperialism and feudalism; all trade
agreements, institutions and governments that promote destructive globalisation;
2. We reject all forms and systems of domination and discrimination including,
but not limited to, patriarchy, racism and religious fundamentalism of all
creeds. We embrace the full dignity of all human beings.
3. A confrontational attitude, since we do not think that lobbying can have a
major impact in such biased and undemocratic organisations, in which
transnational capital is the only real policy-maker;
4. A call to direct action and civil disobedience, support for social movements'
struggles, advocating forms of resistance which maximize respect for life and
oppressed peoples' rights, as well as the construction of local alternatives to
global capitalism;
5.An organisational philosophy based on decentralisation and autonomy.

Within the movement, they became known as the autonomists; consciously anti-party activists who ranged from groups with their roots in the ecological anti road struggles of the 1990s such as Reclaim the Streets to Italian post-Marxist groups such as Ya Basta! This current was also joined by many different shades of the anarchist, libertarian and syndicalist traditions.

In some European countries, Autonomism as a political tradition had preceded the Zapatista uprising. George Katsiaficas details these groups in his book, in particular the German autonomen and the Italian autonomia, declaring that "Autonomy is the political form appropriate to post-modern societies"[29]
3.3 Direct Action and the Neutrality of the State
A major factor in the growth of the Global Justice movement was its determination not to simply protest and be ignored, but to take forms of peaceful civil disobedience known as non-violent direct action (NVDA). In Seattle, The Longshoremen Unions strike action shut down every port on the western seaboard of the USA in solidarity with the protesters. Factories were occupied in Argentina, delegates to the WEF were blockaded in Melbourne, and the forbidden ‘Red Zone’ was breached in Genoa. Thousands of school students led walkouts from class when the invasion of Iraq started. In Ireland, mass direct action such as the Ring around the Dail blockaded parliament in protest against government support for the US military in Shannon airport. Riot police were brought out against a peaceful sit down protest, but were forced to retreat as they realised they could only break the line with politically embarrassing mass arrests of young and old.

This resistance brings a lot of vitality and energy to the Global Justice movement, but police forces internationally have escalated the use of force and violence. Over six hundred peaceful protesters were arrested in Seattle- thousands more were tear-gassed, pepper sprayed and batoned. Live rounds were fired in Gothenburg and Genoa. Here, in Ireland, the crackdown became a national issue when the first Reclaim the Streets party in Dublin on Mayday 2002 saw savage attacks by the Gardai Siochana. Around the world, national states were giving the green light to a crackdown on protests outside large international summits- in Ireland, dogs, snipers, water cannon and tanks have joined armoured ‘Robocops’ in full riot gear on demonstrations such as the Mayday ‘Bring the Noise’ demos at the EU summit and the ‘Stop Bush’ events of June 25/26 2004.

Many legal observers in the global justice movement believe that this was an attempt by the States concerned to beat this movement off the street, and that civil liberties since Seattle and September 11th are now under attack in Western democracies- the Irish state attempts to criminalise those involved through the use of the Public Order Act (POA). Those charged under this act since 9/11 includes: 2 members of the Irish Anti-War Movement; 14 activists from Globalise Resistance; 8 people arrested on a Critical Mass bike day; 7 anti-war campaigners who protested in Shannon, and 22 people at Reclaim the Streets. Dave Lordan, a Globalise Resistance member who was lobbying support for Irish activists detained in Genoa outside the Department of Foreign Affairs, was arrested under the Act for the use of the word “Bullshit”.

The Burlington protest in October 2001 was called by Globalise Resistance against the 2nd Global Summit on Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), where international corporate delegates banqueted with ministers of finance from countries leading the way in neo-liberal privatisation of public services. “After 20 minutes of a sit down protest, the Superintendent instructed those sitting down, that unless they moved within one minute, they would be forcibly removed under the Public Order Act. Within 30 seconds, a group of six Gardai, with numbers removed, jumped forward and began beating protestors on the head with hard, wooden batons.”[30]

“Gardaí were accused of using excessive force to disperse the crowd. They used batons on some of the protesters, several of whom were believed to be hurt in the incident. "The march to the door was more high spirits than intimidating and then the batons came out," said one protester. "It was a peaceful protest and there were a lot of young kids there with their parents." 12 people in total were arrested under section 6 and 8 of the POA.”[31]

The Burlington happened at nighttime, away from the glare of the media’s cameras. When the Gardai used the same tactics on the Reclaim the Streets protest in eight months later, it was a bright Mayday weekend. Activists from Indymedia videotaped the assaults and it became a national policing issue. 22 people were arrested under the POA, 14 people being hospitalised as images of vicious, baton wielding “Robo-Cops” flooded into Ireland’s teatime homes. The nation now could see what the activist community had known for months.

Liam Herrick of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties released a hard-hitting statement-
"The Garda response to last night's event has been to say that no 'innocent' people were hurt, but we weren't aware that being an environmentalist or being politically critical of globalisation was a crime! The right to peaceful protest without police violence is a fundamental requirement in a democracy and having the Garda Complaints Board investigating this incident is not good enough". [32]
Activist and civil liberty groups have since been campaigning for the abolition of the POA, on the grounds that “the legislation contains provisions that restrict the citizens' rights of free _expression, assembly and movement.” In addition, they have also called for a genuinely independent body to investigate cases of Garda brutality, as there have been no external inquiries into episodes such as Mayday or the Burlington.

3.4 Soft and Hard Autonomism- The Black Bloc Tactic
Internationally, Autonomist activists were divided as to how to respond to this crackdown. Some, such as the Italian Ya Basta!, opted for a “soft autonomism”, professing NVDA but wearing body armour and padding to protect themselves from brutality. This “professionalisation” of direct action led to stand offs at Prague, but proved no defence to a savage police operation in Genoa. Others opted for a more confrontational, “hard” autonomism- a minority of protesters in Seattle had engaged in so called property damage, smashing the windows of corporate outlets like Nike, Starbucks and McDonalds. Usually clad in black, wearing masks or balaclavas, the Black Bloc inspired similar formations in Prague, where they attempted to break through police lines.

In Germany, the autonomen had grown out of the post 1968 New Left, which had rejected both Stalinist and social democratic politics. In the downturn after what appeared to be a wave of revolutionary possibility, many activists retreated into the squatting scene, incorporating the outlook from the rising feminist movement that “the personal is political”. Punk was to provide a sub culture of gigs and ‘zines around which the Autonomen organised. In the 1980s, this current was involved in urban confrontations with emergent Neo-Nazi groups, and with the West German police forces as they attempted to evict squatters. Black blocs were formed for the first time- street fighting groups clad in black with balaclavas to conceal identities from both police and Neo-Nazis.[33]
In Gothenburg, they rioted. In Quebec, they breached the FTAA summit security wall. In Genoa, they engaged the Caribenieri in running street battles, and lobbied the G8 with petrol bombs. Many suspected that the Black Bloc in Genoa had been infiltrated by police provocateurs in an attempt to discredit the movement. Nevertheless, the scale of violence used by the state against pacifists, journalists and sleeping protesters exposed the fact that the majority of the violence in Genoa had come from the state.

Genoa was a turning point, and some reformists such as Susan George argued that the movement could no longer take to the streets. “Wherever we are, in my view, we must declare ourselves unequivocally a non violent movement, and isolate politically and physically the violent elements who believe that breaking windows, setting fires or attacking cops can in some obscure way threaten capitalism. Yes, I know that the cops often start the violence. Yes, I know that many people, especially young men, are desperate and enraged. But I still maintain that ‘capitalism’ is only too happy to watch us making stupid mistakes that can be blown up on television, and gain sympathy for our adversaries whilst isolating us from people who might otherwise be our allies”[34]
For the reformists, the state was a supposed neutral tool that could be used by the movement to manage the worst excesses of the system. After clashes like Seattle, Genoa and Mayday 2002 in Dublin, it stood exposed as one willing to use force to defend the agendas of its ruling parties. These events confirmed what pro capitalist journalist Thomas Friedman had long boasted- “The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist. Mc Donald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas. The hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the US army, air force and Marine Corps” [35] For the more radical anti capitalist wing of the movement, it led to a crucial debate about how those who believed the system was irreformable should proceed.

3.5 Ignoring the Machine- State and Party
Autonomists reject the modern nation state and also reject the need to organise in parties. Some call for an anarchistic revolution, some instead try to create autonomous zones ‘in the here and now’. They claim that any strategy that seeks to contest state power will lead to authoritarian hierarchy. They also reject the Marxist strategy of overthrowing the capitalist state and replacing it with a worker’s one, claiming that this will lead to Stalinist dictatorship. The philosophy is best summed up by the title of a new book by British autonomist John Holloway- Change the World without taking power- the Meaning of Revolution Today. However, this strategy of refusing to take power has led to some real problems for the movement.

The Zapatista rebellion was forced by circumstance to begin negotiations with the powerful Mexican state- about 30 “autonomous zones” are still surrounded by the Mexican army. They are increasingly reliant on support from progressive NGOs and international solidarity groups, as documented by Kingsnorth (2003) in the chapter ‘A Crack in History’. However, in the rest of the country, the struggle of the Zapatistas has inspired hundreds of thousands of people. In 2001 they led a march on Mexico City, the Zapatour, which saw huge crowds support them in every town and city along the way. However, they refused to lead a movement against the Mexican state, with Marcos claiming that each group must find their own way. Interviewed by the New Left Review, he explains that during the Zapatour, “in every town square we told people: ‘We have not come to lead you, we have not come to tell you what to do, but to ask for your help’

There was verbal support but no national political co-ordination with other struggles, such as those of strikers in the maquiladoras in the Northern Provinces or the year long occupation of the UNAM University in Mexico City, involving at its height a quarter of a million students. Eschewing any ‘centralised’ decision making, each group was left to “do their own thing”, autonomously and independently. In subsequent negotiations with the Mexican state, the Zapatista uprising seemed to become less of a global struggle against capitalism than an attempt to enshrine certain rights (the San Andres accords agreed in 1996) for Mexico’s indigenous minorities. These are still to be granted.

In Argentina, the huge wave of factory occupations and popular neighbourhood assemblies against IMF austerity plans that began in December 2001 was outmanoeuvred by politicians of the old political order- they called an election in 2003. Naomi Klein notes “that some autonomists turned not having a plan into its own religion: so wary were they of cooptation that any proposal to move from protest to policy was immediately suspect.” As the election process gained momentum, she later notes that the refusal to contest the political arena led to a deflation of the mass movement from below-
“People weren't able to vote for the sentiment behind December 19 and 20, either by casting a ballot or boycotting but demanding deeper democratic reforms, since no concrete platform or political structure emerged from those early, heady discussions. They thus left the legitimacy of the elections dangerously uncontested, and the dream of a new kind of democracy utterly unrepresented.”[36]

3.6 The Tyranny of Structurelessness
Many critics of autonomism point to what radical feminist Jo Freeman called the ‘tyranny of structurelessness’- the domination of supposed horizontal non-leadership groups by informal cliques and charismatic, movement ‘stars’.

Autonomism claims that all political parties are undemocratic and elitist. However, the alternative loose and spontaneous structures the autonomists propose do not have internal elected leaderships or democratic procedures that vote on agreed positions. Often, decision-making is not made by a collective majority vote, but on a consensual basis. Although this is supposed to guarantee the rights of minority positions, it also gives them great power to water down controversial demands or obfuscate around important political choices indefinitely. Responsibility to implement these ‘consensual’ decisions is then often blurred in the absence of accountable, elected positions (which is essentially what is meant by leadership by most political parties).

Instead, the autonomous groups are dominated by informal cliques of friends or
in-groups, where those who speak best (or loudest) carry the arguments. Oftentimes those who most loudly denounce the role of political parties can support a sectarian and domineering anti-political culture, which can inhibit rather than develop the wider movement.

Freeman observed these processes at work in the radical feminist milieu in the late 60s and early 70s.

“To strive for a 'structureless' group is as useful and as deceptive, as to aim at an 'objective' news story, 'value-free' social science or a 'free' economy. A 'laissez-faire' group is about as realistic as a 'laissez-faire' society; the idea becomes a smokescreen for the strong or the lucky to establish unquestioned hegemony over others. This hegemony can easily be established because the idea of 'structurelessness' does not prevent the formation of informal structures, but only formal ones… An unstructured group always has an informal, or covert, structure. It is this informal structure, particularly in unstructured groups, which forms the basis for elites.”

Freeman deduces that this tyranny of structureless does not negate power and leadership within autonomist groups but cloaks it. She draws an interesting parallel with some of the workings of early liberal economic theory-

Similarly, 'laissez-faire' philosophy did not prevent the economically powerful from establishing control over wages, prices and distribution of goods; it only prevented the government from doing so. Thus 'structurelessness' becomes a way of masking power, and within the [women's] movement it is usually most strongly advocated by those who are the most powerful (whether they are conscious of their power or not). The rules of how decisions are made are known only to a few and awareness of power is curtailed by those who know the rules, as long as the structure of the group is informal. [37]

3.7 Social Movements and Leadership
In the introduction to Leadership and Social Movements, a compilation of essays that examine the tensions between political organisations and movements, Colin Barker observes that

Into libertarianism were woven two parallel strands: a suspicion of ‘leadership’ and a celebration of ‘spontaneity’… Leadership has been identified, for example, with monopolisation of decision making in groups, or with domination over a group (Weber’s Herrschaft). In response, some activists reject the very notion of leadership entirely. Yet they leave unresolved paradoxes- to say we don’t need leaders is itself to offer a lead. [38]

Many autonomist ‘thought leaders’ present the idea of political leadership within the movement as structurally bureaucratic, an authoritarian Leninist or reformist vanguard in waiting. Instead, supposed non-hierarchical, ‘spontaneous’ grassroots structures are the organisational principle, although as Barker points out, this

… ignores Gramsci’s observation (1971: 196) that pure spontaneity never exists, for there are always leaders and initiators, even if many remain nameless figures who leave few traces in historical records.

Barker defends the Italian revolutionary Antonio Gramsci’s conception of activists as ‘organic intellectuals’ within movements, who learn to give a lead by trial and error. He sees them as ‘technicians or artists of protest’, who have the crucial function of proposing appropriate action at key moments of decision. Organising is comparable to a craft, with a host of practical skills that are ‘transmissible by apprenticeship’, such as writing, public speaking, mobilising networks, designing posters, leaflets and websites. Organisers must judge how to allocate scarce resources, how to form alliances with other groups, how to maintain morale and commitment within a group in times of difficulty. Tactically, they must learn to recognise their opponent’s weak points and succeed in winning tangible victories or demands. It is a combination of these skills that make up what Barker refers to as leadership within a movement, that answers the eternal question famously posed by Lenin- ‘What is to be done?”. He concludes-

For collective images and ideas, projects, forms of action and organisation to emerge, someone must propose them. It is here that the issue of leadership arises. Leadership in movements consists in proposing to these differentiated entities how they should and can identify themselves and act together. Without such proposals, and any assent they receive, movements do not exist, collective identity is not formed, collective action does not occur. The terms ‘leadership’ and ‘social movement’ are inseparably interconnected. [39]

3.8 Dual Power- The Paradox of Autonomism
The strategic problems of modern Autonomism in Argentina and Chiapas find historical parallels in the events of the Spanish Civil War. In 1936, in response to Franco’s attempt to overthrow the Republic with a fascist army, workers set up their own collectives, militias and councils- the city of Barcelona and the surrounding province were largely under workers control, portrayed memorably in George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia. The main force in this region was the syndicalist union, the CNT, which was the biggest anarchist movement in the world.

Some modern autonomists blame the CNT leadership for apolitical syndicalism- a belief that fighting through the trade unions whilst ignoring the need for political organisation is enough to change society. Here is an unspoken paradox that raises the tyranny of structurelessness- how did an anarchist organisation have leaders, and why were they unaccountable to their membership and unrecallable?

In the rest of Spain, there were many parties who were against Franco but in favour of keeping a capitalist system. They argued that to attempt a revolutionary transformation of society would divide anti fascist forces. The CNT refused to ‘lead’ a revolution from below, eventually joining with reformist and Stalinist parties in a Popular Front unity government. This government then began to smash the militias and the collectivised factories, murdering thousands of anarchist and socialist revolutionaries who wanted a total break from capitalism.

Marxists argue that the crises of the system have historically produced the possibilities for revolution such as Russia in 1917, Spain in 1936, and to a lesser extent, Argentina’s IMF crisis. For a brief time, there is a situation of dual power, where new popular forms of democracy such as workers councils challenge the hegemony of the state and of the capitalist economy. History has proven that nation states will not tolerate the autonomous independence of these organs of dual power for long, and will crush them region by region. It is here that Marxists claim that a centralised co-ordinating national network- a revolutionary party- is needed to challenge the capitalist state and replace it with a new democracy, a ‘socialism from below’ based on the popular assemblies and councils in the community and workplace. Socialist strategy within the movement asks important questions about the agency of change (class or multitude), the need for alternative parties to the Social Liberalism of the reformists, and has a vision of a democratically, planned economy in opposition to capitalism. These concepts are explored in the final chapter.


4.1 Inequality and the Boom- A Case Study of Ireland
In Ireland, the gulf between rich and poor in Ireland has actually increased during the Celtic Tiger boom. The period of Social partnership in Ireland between 1987 and 2004 has seen a huge shift in wealth from the poor and workers to the wealthy. In 1987, when partnership began, the tax rate on company profits was 50%. This had declined to 32% a decade later, and now Ireland one of the lowest corporate tax rates in Europe at 12.5%. Capital gains tax- a tax on windfall profits was cut from 40% to 20%. Kieran Allen notes in his essay “Neither Boston Nor Berlin” in the End of Irish History that “The foundation for social partnership has been restraint on wages. Virtually every other area of the economy has been deregulated…by 1996, the ratio of social security spending to GDP fell until it converged with that of the United States, seven percentage points below the European average”.[40] Allen observes that “Today, Ireland has become an Atlantic tax haven for the rich. Not only do PAYE workers have to bear the main tax load, they also feel the effects of public spending programmes that are starved of funds to facilitate tax cuts for the wealthy.”

The Justice Commission of the Congress of Religious in Ireland (CORI) estimated in their report Poverty, Low Pay and Social Welfare that the government through social partnership programmes had actually “widened the gap between the incomes of long term unemployed couples and those of higher earners by 159 euro a week between 1996 and 2000.”[41]

Any movement against neo-liberalism in Europe or Ireland would need to challenge both the failed politics of social partnership with the employers and Thatcherite governments at home, and the agenda of transforming the EU into a neo-liberal, militaristic superpower internationally. Pierre Bourdieu, in his essay “For A European Social Movement”, argues for the construction of a unified European trade union confederation, which must ‘break with an attitude of conciliation, which tends to discredit critical thought and action to valorise social consensus to the point of encouraging trade unions to share a responsibility for a policy making the dominated accept their subordination”[42]
Instead, the Irish Labour Party has long championed social partnership, and has called for a ‘Yes’ vote in controversial EU referenda such as the Nice Treaty and the European Constitution. In his paper “The Fair Economy”[43], Irish Labour Leader Pat Rabbitte goes further, arguing that “the left should embrace the idea that competition, in most circumstances, is in the interests of consumers” (p12). Marking a shift from appealing to its supporters not as workers but as ‘citizen-consumers’, he signals that Labour no longer prioritise public ownership over competition delivering services-
“Traditionally…the left has aligned itself with producers, and the workers involved in producing services… Those who use public services are entitled to the highest standards of service. They are entitled to be treated with respect and to have services designed around their needs, rather than the needs of the service providers. Public services in Ireland need to have a better consumer focus, and social democrats need to
build such a focus into its policies, where in the past there was too great an emphasis on producer interests.” (p17). In a climate where the Irish government is seeking to privatise public transport, the airports, the electricity, water, refuse collection and education ‘markets’, Rabbitte signals that Labour will not support public sector workers if they prevent competition delivering services to ‘consumer citizens’.

4.2 Hard Labour- Social Democracy moves to Social Liberalism
In the developed world, the workers movement and its trade unions have traditionally looked to Labour parties to represent them, using parliament to implement social change. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, many Labour and Social Democratic parties have ‘moved to the centre’ and jettisoned historical commitments to socialism and public ownership, accepting the need for neo liberal ‘reforms’ of the Welfare State.

Across the world, national governments and regional economic blocs are trying to introduce policies step by step that they failed to do in total at the failed WTO negotiations. In Europe, the new EU Constitution decides what economic and social guiding principles should be followed in the Member States. It fundamentally departs from the ‘Welfare State’ paradigm of the EU – in which state provision of high quality public services, protection against unemployment, citizens and workers rights and environmental protection were the main concern. Many Global Justice activists see it as globalisation by the back door- as it allows the European Commission to negotiate trade agreements involving the commercialisation of public services at the WTO through the mechanism of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

The Article 133 research committee on Irish Indymedia notes that-
“The exclusive right given to the European Commission to make trade deals in all Services, combined with the commitment in the common commercial policy to liberalise trade in all Services, means that the new Constitution would prepare the way for commercialising Education, Health and Cultural Services. It would put a framework for commercialising these Services into basic EU law – a framework that democratically elected governments would be powerless to change in the future.”[44]

These changes started before the EU Constitution was passed. Tony Blair’s Third Way is now being implemented in Germany under Gerhard Schroder’s Agenda 2010, a drastic programme of major welfare cutbacks. German workers who were made redundant were entitled to unemployment benefit worth 67% of their last pay for a year, falling to 60% after that. Agenda 2010 replaces this with a means tested flat rate of 331 euro per month for workers in the east and 341 euro in the west. Its provisions permit denial of benefit to jobseekers that refuse to move from home to find a job. Most controversially, Agenda 2010 introduces means testing of child benefits paid to unemployed workers- children will lose 207 euro a month if their parents have more than 750 euro in savings.[45] With unemployment in Germany at 10.5% of labour force (July 2004), Agenda 2010 has provoked a huge crisis within the SPD, with thousands of its rank and file members marching on the streets, and the real possibility of a new left party splitting from its ranks.

Recently, Blair and Schroder have been joined by the Brasilian President Luis Inacio da Silva (Lula), who in December 2003 sacked 4 prominent left wing senators opposed to pension reforms and IMF backed austerity cuts. The Participatory Budget experiments of Porto Alegre and the political pluralism within Lula’s Workers’ Party now come second to the need for fiscal rectitude, and there have been mass strikes by the unions and land occupations by the MST landless movement against ‘their’ government. Many trade unionists and members of the urban and landless movements now feel they are living under "tropical Blairism”, and a significant group has now broken from the PT, to form an explicitly ‘anti capitalist and anti imperialist party’, the Party of Socialism and Liberty (P-SOL).[46]

4.3 Vote Coke or Pepsi? The Golden Straitjacket
To many activists, it appears that the differences between left and right wing mainstream parties are largely rhetorical. Social democracy has become a social liberalism that seeks to cut pensions, privatise state industries and implement economic policies that support corporations and big business. Pro capitalist journalist Thomas Friedman compares the effects of corporate globalisation to a Golden Straitjacket-
As your country puts on the Golden Straitjacket, two things tend to happen; your economy grows and your politics shrinks…The Golden Straitjacket narrows the political and economic policy choices of those in power to relatively tight parameters. That is why it is increasingly difficult these days to find any real differences between
ruling and opposition parties in those countries that have put on the Golden Straitjacket, its political choices get reduced to Pepsi or Coke, to slight nuances of taste, slight nuances of policy”[47]

In the chapter ‘Strategic Issues for the Equality Movement’, the authors of Equality- from Theory to Action look at various political opportunities and choices facing mainstream left wing parties and egalitarians. They note that in the absence of more radical alternatives, the reformist and autonomist currents can actually re-enforce each other- “It is easy to see how the ‘Benn’ and ‘Chomsky’ strategies can be complementary: the forcefulness of radical criticism from outside the party can help to strengthen the case of radicals within it, while the existence of a radical wing within a party can do something to translate external criticism into political policy.’[48]

This ‘Benn strategy’ can be seen in Britain today, where many trade union leaders, the so called ‘Awkward Squad’, believe it is possible to ‘Reclaim Labour’ from its neo liberal policies. They feel their hand has been strengthened by the mass anti war movement that broke Blair’s stranglehold on left wing politics. Nevertheless, this process is not without more radical breaks to the left. Recent attacks by the Blair government on workers organised by the Fire Brigades Union and the Rail, Maritime and Transport unions have led these organisations to split from the Labour Party (The RMT was historically a founding member of Labour).

The authors of Equality note that there is “more of a tension between these two strategies and the ‘Nader’ approach, since a radical egalitarian party could use all the help it could get and so would clearly benefit from other egalitarians forswearing their previous perspectives and joining this party”. They question the appeal of radical, anti capitalist parties, claiming that “In multi party systems, the acid test is the point of government formation, where a minority radical party has to choose between remaining in opposition and supporting a government programme that contradicts some of its most strongly held aims”.
They argue that “A policy of perpetual opposition runs contrary to the arguments for taking parties seriously in the first place in view of their influence on policy outcomes”.[49] The choice for radical parties is either one of compromise and coalition with mainstream forces, or political irrelevance on the margins of society. This strategy prioritises change as essentially coming from parliament, and not necessarily as a result of mass pressure from below. [50]
In Leadership and Social Movements, Colin Barker addresses this in the essay
‘Robert Michels and the ‘cruel game’-
Social democracy adheres to a ‘ballot box’ notion of socialist transformation. Workers are expected to be politically active but in a limited fashion. They must first win the right to suffrage, and then exercise that right by voting for the… party. Beyond the act of occasional voting, party supporters are not required to be self active and self organising. Party leaders do the thinking and decision making, while the members get out the vote for them. The party is, fundamentally a vote-chasing entity, whose aim is solely to transform the staffing of the state, not to enable people to transform and emancipate themselves”[51].

The American socialist Hal Draper calls this ‘socialism from above’, where social change is achieved on behalf of and not by workers and the oppressed by a reformist, parliamentary party. As the anti capitalist movement has developed, a different vision has asserted itself, one that looks to mass movements, community struggles, participative economics, grassroots democracy and workers self activity as an alternative “socialism from below”. In many countries, this current is beginning to create new, alternative anti capitalist parties and formations.

4.4 Time to Party- the Movement and Political Organisation
Bitterness, dogmatism and sectarianism towards other strands fester at the margins of the movement. On one hand, some smaller Orthodox Trotskyist and Communist groups dismiss people radicalised by the Global Justice movement as Utopian reformists or nationalistic protectionists, preferring to hold onto abstract programmes handed down from the 1940s than immerse themselves in a new dynamic movement they cannot control. On the other hand, Autonomists reject all co-operation with hierarchical groups such as trade unions and left reformists who reject neo-liberalism.
They also oppose standing in elections, leaving political ideas in this national arena uncontested, as in Argentina. [52] Both approaches isolate these groups from wider forces who are moving to the left within society.

In recent years, the ‘European Anti Capitalist Left’, a loose network of socialist parties from different ideological backgrounds, has had some notable successes by working within the Global Justice and anti war movements, contesting the dominance of the left by traditional social democratic forces.[53] This radical socialist left works with other forces, often to its right, to build these movements against war and neo-liberalism. They involve parties, regroupments and coalitions such as the Left Bloc in Portugal, the Red Green Alliance in Denmark, the Scottish Socialist Party, RESPECT- the Unity Coalition (England, Wales) the SWPs of Britain, Ireland and Greece, the Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire of France, and the Alternative Lefts of Catalonia and Spain.

Emerging from a post-Stalinist background, Rifondazione Comunista played a major role in building the 300,000 strong Genoa protests, which revitalised the opposition to Berlusconi’s government. Italy has since seen massive general strikes of trade unionists and mass demonstrations of over three million people in Rome against the invasion of Iraq. Revolutionary socialists from Trotskyist parties who were active in May 68 scored over three million votes in the French Presidential elections of 2002- a sizable 10% of the national vote. Six Scottish Socialist Party MSPs were elected in the Holyrood elections of 2003- all of them backing the anti capitalist and anti war movements. Britain has seen a gigantic anti war movement- two million marched in London on Feb 15th 2003. In July 2004, Respect (the Unity Coalition of anti war activists, ex Old Labour trade unionists, revolutionary socialists and people of colour- many of whom were progressive Muslims) came a respectable fourth in the British by elections of Birmingham and Leicester, and won a seat in Tower Hamlets council, beating New Labour to third place.

Here in Ireland, activists from small revolutionary left wing groups such as the SWP and Joe Higgin’s Socialist Party have been at the centre of prominent national campaigns, bringing the spirit of the anti capitalist movement to the Stop the Bin Tax campaign, Their approach is to build broad anti capitalist coalitions, such as Globalise Resistance and Another Europe is Possible- coalitions involving community groups and trade union members in the fight against privatisation of public services, racism and Fortress Europe and Ireland’s complicity in war. They were also at the core of the Irish Anti War Movement, founded shortly after 2001, which helped organise the massive 100,000 march in Dublin on February 15th 2003 against the invasion of Iraq.

Unlike autonomist networks that reject those who still look to reformist ideas, these United Fronts around specific issues provide a bridge between revolutionaries, independents and left reformists breaking from social-liberal leaderships. Activists who agree with 80% of what needs to be done (e.g. the anti war movement or fights against privatisation) can co operate with each other, but also debate politically about alternatives. For example, within radical left formations such as the Scottish Socialist Party, Marxists argue that the state is not neutral, and that real change comes from mass movements and not from parliament. They would point out that if an elected left wing government attempted to fundamentally change the system, such as in Chile in 1973, capitalism would attempt to remove it by force. Although challenging social democracy electorally, socialists argue that the goal is not a left wing parliamentary majority, but to encourage a wider fightback and to popularise socialist ideas about workers taking power from below through their own organisations.

4.5 Working Class or Multitude as agent of change?
In Marcos’s rallying call of “We are you”, the worker is not referred to as a striker or exploited, but as unemployed. Motivated by the Zapatistas, many of those attracted by the new autonomism within the Global Justice question the power of workers to fundamentally change society. Most dismiss trade unions as reformist, hierarchical organisations, equating their leadership who believe in Social Partnership between unions, employers and government with an increasingly exploited and dissatisfied rank and file membership. Many activists see socialist preoccupations with the ‘working class’ as Victorian and outdated.

In Italy, the ‘hot summer’ of 1969 deeply radicalised Italian society- by the 1970s it had several sizable revolutionary organisations to the left of the Stalinist CPI. These groups largely imploded when confronted by economic downturn and an inability to relate to the rise of the new movements against sexism, race and homophobia. As unemployment increased and many leading militants were sacked from their jobs,
the autonomia grew out of this milieu, finding a spokesperson in the young Antonio Negri. [54]

Negri, who once only saw the struggle in narrow ‘workerist’ terms (i.e. its only legitimate site was inside the factories) now flipped completely, and rejected western workers as a privileged labour aristocracy, one which benefited from imperialism. Instead, he celebrated the Multitude- all those who were oppressed outside the economic sphere. The unemployed, black people, women, the peasants of the Third world and the gay community were to be the new revolutionary force. The Italian autonomia were later to coalesce around Zapatista solidarity groups such as Ya Basta!, and the squatted ‘Social Centres’ found within many major cities.

This debate is now a central one within the Global Justice movement between most autonomists and socialists. Some of these concerns are raised by the authors of the recently published book Equality- from Theory to Practice, in the section ‘Class Politics and egalitarian change’.

The authors argue that “the social movement model of egalitarian change challenges the Marxist idea that progressive politics should be centred solely on class. But since this idea continues to have a strong influence on egalitarians, it is important to review the main factors that weaken social class as the primary force for political mobilisation.”[55] Briefly summarised, these are that-

(a) The working class itself has changed dramatically,
(b) Large groups of people have little connection to paid work,
(c) There are important divisions within classes,
(d) Many people have ceased to identify themselves as working class,
(e) Being working class is culturally depreciated,

It is true that globally, the working class has changed dramatically- it has gotten a lot bigger. When Marx was writing, the global working class was equivalent in numbers to the workforce of modern South Korea. Today, the vast majority of the world’s population (and poor) are urban workers, be they in London or Berlin, or in the sprawling conurbations of Sao Paola, Jakarta or Lagos. Although there are many millions of people unemployed, underemployed and homeless within these cities, the vast majority of them are exploited in badly paid jobs. In the Global South, activists such as Dita Sari in Indonesia have organised tens of thousands of people into unions, who fight against sweatshop conditions- she was imprisoned for many years by the Suharto regime that she eventually helped to topple by mass strike action.

Within the Global Justice movement, socialists are attempting to create an alliance with oppressed groups and the economic power of the unionised working class. Many of the working class are victims of oppression themselves- they are black, gay, from ethnic or religious minorities that are persecuted by the state. Often accused by some within academia of being solely concerned with class and thus being crude economic reductionists, socialists are active in struggles against homophobia, racism, sexism and bigotry, because they believe these forces are used by neo-liberal governments and capitalism in general to divide the movement. The Russian revolutionary Lenin famously argued that socialists should be ‘tribunes of the oppressed’, that gentile workers had a political imperative to fight against anti-Semitism in order to unite the workers movement.

Unionised workers in the Global South have often been the driving force in toppling dictatorships and neo liberal regimes through mass strikes. COSATU in South Africa organised gigantic “stayaways” against apartheid in the 80s and the neo- liberal polices of the New ANC government in recent times. Korean workers in the KCTU bravely organised massive actions throughout the 80s and early 90s under a military junta that was forced to introduce democratic reforms. In Brasil, workers in the trade union federation similarly led a movement against a military regime- the steelworker who helped unionise them is Lula, now the President of the country.

Although other groups within these societies were oppressed, it was the power of workers to shut down the economy of these regimes that forced them to concede or collapse. Other oppressed groups in these societies, such as the landless peasantry, the unemployed, the ‘precarious’ (those with unstable, part time flexi jobs), the student movement and the indigenous, realised that the economic power of workers to strike was a key weapon against the system that subjugated them. In many countries, they thus formed alliances with workers organisations- for example; the PT (Workers’ Party) in Brasil was historically the ‘party of the movements’.

In the developed world, there is a popular view that class has something to do with lifestyles, income or status. Working class, ‘middle class’ and ruling class people are supposed to have certain accents, different kinds of jobs and housing in separate geographical areas that define their class. Class is often thought of as a culture or an identity, and not a social construct. Nevertheless, subjective approaches that attempt to define class by what people consume, where they live or how they speak focus on how people behave, but not on what created class society in the first place. Judging people by these behavior patterns only focuses on surface appearances and does not explain the underlying social relationships that exist within capitalist society.
Many theorists have attempted to explain the phenomena of class, but Marx’s contribution to social theory was an examination of how modern class society was created, based on the economic processes of exploitation.

In modern times, there has been a debate around who constitutes the working class- traditionally; they have been thought to consist of workers in highly unionised manual industries such as mining, shipbuilding, construction etc. However, the expansion of the service industries in recent years has seen nurses, bank officials and teachers not only unionise but also take strike action to defend conditions in modern Ireland. These workers although “white collar”, still sell their labour for a wage and are considered by modern Marxists to be members of the working class. [56]

Marx defines the working class in his masterwork, Das Kapital, noting that
“This specific form in which unpaid surplus-labour is pumped out of the direct producers determines the relationship of domination and servitude, as this grows directly out of production itself… On this is based the entire configuration of the economic community arising from the actual relations of production and hence also its specific political form.” [57]

Marxists in the movement today argue that the central dynamic of capitalism is based around the exploitation of the majority of people in society, who are compelled by economic necessity to work, by a small ultra-wealthy minority of corporations and capitalists. Wage labour and its resultant surplus value (the unpaid wealth created that the employer keeps as profit) is the base of this system. Those who work to earn a wage from this exploitative minority form the working class. Socialists argue that this gives workers the power to shut down the system through mass, general strikes, which can point the way to a democracy based on grassroots workers councils and a society built on human need.

4.6 Life after Capitalism- Participatory Economics and Democracy
Within the Marxist tradition, there is much written about the need for a revolutionary transformation of society, but little vision of how an alternative, socialist society would function. Marx himself shied away from subscribing to any future blueprints for an ideal society- this would be for the people themselves to decide. Recently, this has been the central thread of the ‘Life after Capitalism’ debate within the movement,
which looks at how both economics and democracy can be participative in a future socialist society.
Capitalist economics is based around a ruthless competition between firms and corporations, who seek to cut costs, maximise profits and exploit workers to dominate the market place. The ‘free market’ is supposedly the best way to distribute goods- according to Pat Rabbitte; it is “one of the most powerful and successful means open to human society to organise its affairs”[58]. However, anger at the injustice of neo-liberal reforms has led a minority to seek out alternatives to the market itself- ‘Supply and Demand’ simplicities cannot justify a system that does not feed the starving if they have not enough money to buy food. Inspired by Marx’s principle “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need”, these anti capitalists look instead to an alternative economics based not on ‘the market’, corporations and exploitation, but grassroots democratic control.
“There are various models of a democratically planned economy. Here resources are allocated on the basis of a democratic process that involves horizontal relations among networks of producers and consumers – a radically different form of economic co-ordination from either capitalism (where allocation is the outcome of competition) or a Stalinist command economy (where resources are allocated dictatorially)”. [59]
Michael Albert calls this participative economics or Parecon for short. Albert identifies how in a participative economy, workers and consumers councils would democratically decide how resources were allocated-
“Workers and consumers need a place to express and pursue their preferences. Historically these have been organisations where workers congregate. In workplaces we call them workers councils. Regarding consumption, we call them consumers’ councils. Councils form whenever people rise up to try to take control of their economic lives…it has occurred virtually every time in history, most recently in Argentina. Councils are organs of direct organisation by those working and consuming...” [60]
Albert sees these workers councils as a way of breaking down the artificial divide between formal political rights and liberties and how decisions are made in economic life, and the basis of a new democracy. Workers councils have formed under different names in many revolutionary situations in history- the Soviets in Russia in 1905 and 1917, the Cordones in Chile in 1972 and the Shoras of Iran in 1979. Growing out of strike committees and workplace democracy, they were seen all over Europe after World War One, from Munich to Ireland’s own Limerick Soviet of 1919.
“Councils become the seat of decision-making power and exist at many levels, including individual workers and consumers, subunits such as work groups and work teams, and supra units such as divisions and workplaces and whole industries, as well as neighbourhoods, counties, and whole states… People in councils are the economy’s decision-makers… They are taken at different levels, with fewer or more participants, and different procedures… decision-making input should be in proportion as one is affected by decisions.”
Albert argues that in a Parecon, remuneration will be on the basis of the amount of work done. Allocation of resources and wealth will not be on the basis of private property or power.
“We work. This entitles us to a share of the product of work. But this new vision says that we ought to receive for our labours an amount in tune with how hard we have worked, with how long we have worked, and with what sacrifices we have endured at our work. We shouldn’t get more income by virtue of being more productive due to having better tools, more skills, or greater inborn talent, much less by virtue of having more power or owning more property.”
Parecon is important within the movement because it articulates a complete alternative to the current economic system, but the debate as to how it is to be achieved again touches on the paradox of dual power. Albert argues both against the market and central planning as distributive methods in an egalitarian society. Here he represents the anarchist critique that any centrally planned economic alternative to capitalism will replicate the failed bureaucracies of the Soviet Union or Eastern Europe. He fears the rise of a ‘Co-ordinator class’ of the more educated or those with the more valued jobs, and proposes to prevent its emergence through the use of ‘balanced job complexes’, where everyone is allocated both mundane and creative work equally. [61]
In contrast, socialist writers such as Alex Callinicos defend the idea that we can plan how to use our resources, not just locally, but nationally and globally. In order for workers councils to be able to plan the economy democratically, they must first confront the capitalist system decisively. This will require both national and international co-ordination, a revolution, which will require local units to have a central plan. After such a change, certain problems will require nationwide co-ordination, such as railway lines, and the creation of an ecological, sustainable economy will be an international priority. Local community and workers councils can co-ordinate without a ‘Stalinist’ dictatorship forming, if they are based on the tenets of the Paris Commune of 1871, with every delegate elected by the grassroots, immediately recallable, and gaining no privileges but on the average industrial wage.
4.7 An Anti Capitalist Manifesto
In his book ‘An Anti Capitalist Manifesto”, Alex Callinicos briefly outlines a programme which takes the best from the reformist anti-capitalist camp of Bello, George et al and marries it with the demands of the grassroots movement in the West.
In what he calls “a transitional programme” (p132-133), he puts forward the following demands around which the movement can unite. Briefly, summarised, these are-
(a) The immediate cancellation of Third World Debt
(b) The introduction of the Tobin Tax
(c) The Introduction of a Universal Basic Income for all citizens
(d) Reduction of the working week to 30 hours without loss of pay to fight unemployment and ‘flexploitation’.
(e) The defence of public services and renationalisation of privatised industries
(f) Progressive taxation to finance public services and redistribute wealth and income
(g) Abolition of immigration controls and extension of citizenship rights
(h) The defence of civil liberties and the abolition of laws such as the Public Order Act in Ireland and the Patriot Act in the US
(i) The dissolution of the military industrial complex of ‘armed globalisation’.
He also identifies four major principles or values of the modern anti capitalist movement, principles useful to liberal, reformist, autonomist and radical egalitarians alike. They are efficiency, sustainability, democracy and justice. The overproduction of capitalism results in huge crisis whilst millions starve. GNP is conventionally the measure of a nation’s economic well being, yet it cannot measure justice, democracy, sustainability or efficiency.
Callinicos argues that a democratically planned economy would be more efficient than the market because it would produce what people actually wanted- e.g. houses for the homeless. The word must be reclaimed by egalitarians so that a system that squanders billions producing weapons instead of hospitals or has food rot whilst people starve is defined as ‘inefficient’
Similarly, capitalism is not using natural resources in a sustainable way- unless we rapidly change our relationship with the environment, we will deplete many finite resources, and pollute the rest. The prioritisation of economic growth often ignores costs to society’s environmental and social make up. Increased industrialisation and urbanisation may lead to the ill-planned “Urban Sprawl” effect that we have seen in Ireland, with high house prices finding their reflection in increasing homelessness. Rural depopulation may leave whole villages empty of their youth, and workers may have to spend more time commuting to work every day. People in Modern Ireland now complain of increased stress levels and “time poverty”. Growth can lead to intolerable traffic congestion and urban pollution if there is not proper planning in transport infrastructure, as can be witnessed daily on the streets of Dublin. GNP does not factor in depreciation to “environmental capital”- the “defensive expenditures” spent on cleaning up an oil spill is still recorded as growth. Those pioneering the economics of Sustainability point to the fact that growth always assumes that more output and consumption is better, creating what could be called “Really Gross National Product”.
The GNPs of Nazi Germany and the Stalinist USSR grew phenomenally each year in the 1930s, yet few modern economists would call for a return to such totalitarian tyrannies. Similarly, when examining the effects of modern neo liberal globalisation, we must also examine its record in the fields of justice, human rights and democracy. In many emerging East Asian economies, the widespread use of child labour by Western Multinationals has been exposed and questioned. Many of these economies, such as China, forbid workers to form or join independent trade unions, and there are few formal political rights for citizens. A “nation’s” economic growth without freedom for its labour force to organise or collectively bargain over wages masks the political exploitation of its population by its ruling elites: it also ignores justice and the development of people’s human rights- the position of women and racial minorities, the freedom to express one’s culture, the absence of war, torture or oppression.
This Chinese wall between economics and democracy must be broken by the global justice movement. Debates around ideas such as Parecon extend the idea of democracy outside of archaic 19th century formations such as national parliamentary chambers, posing the demand for participative democracy where we spend most of our lives, in the community and the workplace.


The early years saw the movement characterised as an ‘anarchist travelling circus’ by Tony Blair- it was supposed to be a mostly white, middle class movement of guilt ridden students and ‘summit hoppers’ who, according to Claire Short, all hypocritically enjoyed and used the fruits of late capitalism such as PCs and mobile phones. The World Social Forum in Mumbai, India 2004 has shown that it now has huge support in the Global South, in countries such as Indonesia, Argentina, Brasil and South Africa. Dita Sari organises thousands to strike against sweatshop conditions in Indonesia, the landless militants of the Movementa Sans Terra (MST) of Brasil occupy farmland regardless of Lula’s government, the Anti Privatisation Forum in Johannesburg fights the new ‘economic apartheid’ of the ANC’s Neo-liberal policies in Soweto, organising electricity reconnections and rent boycotts.

The movement has moved on from the early, international days of action and ‘summit hopping’ blockades. Susan George notes that “Furthermore, not everyone can afford to travel far away, or be away from jobs and family in order to attend protests. It’s impossible to build a genuine social movement purely on the basis of a left wing jet set or a youth culture… Sometimes, infrequently, we should be out in force and fill the streets but not at every one of the opponent’s gatherings. You can be in opposition while staying where you are…”[62]
The movement is now searching for a domestic base in Western States, and this remains a huge political challenge. Autonomism re-enforces reformism by its refusal to challenge the social liberal parties, either electorally or in the trade union movement. From Ireland to France, social democrats in opposition seek to co opt the movement with promises of reforms here and there, such as encouragement for the Tobin Tax or support for free education. Social democrats in power have shown the true colours of social liberalism- marketisation of education, assaults on pensions, welfare and the idea of public ownership from Britain and Germany to Brasil. If there is a palpable anger against Neoliberalism in these countries, it is also directed at the sell-outs of the former left wing parties of the Labour type.

There are ebbs and flows in the movement- high points of activity around international days of action or specific summit events, but monthly predictions of its demise are constantly repudiated by events. Five years on from Seattle, half a million people marched in New York City in September 2004 against the policies of George Bush. A week of activity saw environmentalists, pro-choice campaigners, workers unions and peace activists mount daily protests at the Republican Convention, in demonstrations ten times the size of Seattle.
When the Global Justice movement burst onto the scene at Seattle, it was full of confidence and the creative energy of spontaneity. Since, it has confronted the violence of the supposed neutral state in Genoa, has grappled with the failures to resolve dual power situations in Argentina and has seen the majesty of the mass movement globalised on February 15th 2003. At the time of writing, activists are preparing for the Third European Social Forum in London, October 2004. The movement coalesces around focal points of its own calendar, such as the ESF, WSF, Mayday, the G8 protests, supplemented daily by its vibrant website culture.
If anything, this movement is moving away from its early ad hoc apoliticism into a more distinctly political phase, where questions of how to relate to electoral representation, the organised working class, the state and the resistance against imperialism in Iraq and elsewhere are coming to the fore. The movement’s diversity of ideology and tactics cannot hide the need for answers to these questions. This thesis is a contribution to that debate and to those who want to move forward in a spirit of co operation and unity to build a more equal and just world.

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Acronyms and organisations within the Global Justice Movement

ATTAC: Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens (
Black Bloc: autonomist tactic, committed to physical confrontation and property damage. Gets its name from colour of clothing and masks to create anonymity.
CNT: Spanish anarcho-syndicalist trade union, organised during the Civil War
CPI: Communist Party of Italy, the largest Stalinist party in the West before 1989.
ESF: European Social Forum (
EZLN: Zapatista Army of National Liberation, known as the Zapatistas
FTAA: Free Trade Area of the Americas (
GATS: General Agreement on Trade in Services (
GJM: Global Justice movement
GR: Globalise Resistance, anti capitalist network ( and
IAWM: Irish Anti War Movement (
Indymedia: Independent Media Centre (
ILO: International Labour Organisation (
IMF: International Monetary Fund (
LCR: Ligue Communiste Revolutionaire, a French revolutionary socialist party whose candidate Olivier Besancenot won 1.3 million votes in the Presidential elections of 2002 on an anti capitalist ticket. (
MST: Movimenta Sans Terra, the Brasilian Landless Workers Movement (
NAFTA: North American Free Trade Area
NVDA: Non Violent Direct Action
PGA: People’s Global Action, an international autonomist umbrella group. (
POA: Public Order Act
PPPs: Public Private Partnerships
PT: Partido des Trabalhadores, the Brasilian Workers Party, led by Lula.
P-SOL: Party of Socialism and Liberty: an anti capitalist break from the PT (
Parti de Refondazione Comunista: Italian Party of the Refounded Communists
RESPECT- the Unity Coalition is a new formation opposed to neo liberalism and war emerging from the British anti war movement. Its name spells out its anti capitalist values, which are Respect, Equality, Socialism, Peace, Environment, Community and Trade Unionism (
RTS: Reclaim the Streets, an urban ecological autonomist direct action tactic
SAPs: Structural Adjustment Plans
SPD: German Social Democratic Party: similar to Labour
SSP: Scottish Socialist Party, a radical party uniting revolutionaries and reformists
SWP: Socialist Workers Party ( and
UNCTAD: United Nations trade and development body
UNDP: United Nations Development Programme (
WEF: World Economic Forum (
WSF: World Social Forum
WTO: World Trade Organisation (
Ya Basta!: An Italian autonomist group, also known as the Disobedienti

A Short Chronology of the Global Justice Movement Post-Seattle
At the beginning, the movement in the developed world spread primarily across the North American continent, but inspired an anti capitalist mood already nascent in Europe. The year 2000 sees massive demonstrations against the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C.: the capital of the world’s most powerful state is grid locked by 30,000 protesters attempting to shut the IMF down.
The new movement is reflected in increased participation all round the world on Mayday, historically known as International Workers Day. Mayday becomes a key organising day of action for the movement.
On July 29th, 20,000 protest at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. On August 11th, similar mass protests greet the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, where radical rock group Rage against the Machine play an anti capitalist gig that is attacked by the LAPD. The new movement rejects both parties as anti worker, anti environment and pro war, and Ralph Nader, the third party candidate for the US Green Party gets over 3 million votes. He is dubbed “Seattle Man” by the media, but Democrats condemn him for splitting the Anti-Bush vote. Nader supporters claim that the Democrats should blame themselves for not getting enough votes.
On September 11th, over 20,000 activists blockade the World Economic Forum in Melbourne, Australia (including the author who helped organise an affinity group from New Zealand). The WEF represents the worlds top thousand corporations, amongst them Shell Oil, Microsoft, BP and General Motors. It also acts as an unofficial think tank and policy generator for corporate led globalisation, which each year invites and recruits key political and academic figures to its cause. The WEF is to later inspire its opposite, a World Social Forum uniting the movement. The peaceful direct action blockades and sit downs in Melbourne are attacked by police on horseback as the Seattle spirit spreads to the South Pacific.
On September 26th, the World Bank / IMF meetings see mass demonstrations in Prague, in the Czech Republic. 20,000 protestors take to the streets as the movement sees its first major demonstration in Europe, uniting Italian autonomists Ya Basta! who dress in white overalls, anti debt campaigners such as Jubilee 2000, the French ATTAC group who want to implement a Tobin tax, with black bloc anarchists and red flag socialists. The movement continues in Europe when the EU conference in Nice is shrouded in tear gas, as mass protests take place in December.
2001- Nothing will ever be the same…
On January 20th, George Bush’s presidential inauguration is swamped by over 30,000 protesters, many holding up placards of “Hail to the Thief” in reference to his disputed election ‘victory’. His presidential limousine is hit by eggs as it is forced to speed off, with Secret Security agents concerned they can no longer protect him from the demo. One week later, the World Economic Forum sees 5,000 protest in Davos, Switzerland- the WEF meeting there because of its secluded location. The movement scales the Alps.
On April 20th, a huge 80,000 people protest in Quebec City against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), a new economic bloc developing on from NAFTA which extends the free trade zone from the North Pole to Terra Del Fuego. Canadian Auto Workers and steel worker trade unionists join the black bloc group in their attacks on the huge security fence that surrounds the great and the good.
June sees Africa’s Seattle, as thousands protest at the UN World Conference on Racism. The Durban Social Forum protests “against the South African Government and its conservative economic policy, GEAR, that is making the poor poorer”. The movement also clarifies its solidarity with the Palestinian people, succeeding in having Zionism condemned as a form of apartheid and racism.
June 15th sees police forces use the first live rounds against protesters, as the black bloc riots against security forces protecting the EU summit in Gothenborg, Sweden. One young protestor is shot in the back and wounded as he ran away from police lines. An English protester is sentenced to one year in prison for throwing a stone.
The Battle of Genoa
July 2001 sees the Battle of Genoa, a watershed for the movement in Europe. Three days of protest against the G8, (the world’s seven richest countries joined by the military might of Russia) sees tens of thousands of people join the Italian movement from all over the world. Thousands of activists come from Spain, Greece, Germany, Britain, France, Ireland, Scandinavia, North America, the Global South and the former eastern Bloc to lay siege to the Zona Rossa, the forbidden “Red Zone” at the city’s centre around which a huge metal perimeter fence is welded. The Genoa Social Forum holds many days of debates and discussions between the different tendencies of the movement.
On the day of direct action, the movement splits into different marches using different tactics to protest the G8. The government of Silvio Berlusconi authorises the Caribenieri police force to use the utmost of force against the protesters- even pacifists and Catholic nuns in hunger strike in solidarity with the starving of the Global South are tear gassed and baton charged. Hundreds are beaten, hundreds more arrested and there are widespread accounts of torture and degrading treatment in the prisons. One young Italian protestor, Carlo Guiliani, is shot dead and then run over by a police land rover. Black bloc groups burn cars and banks and fight the police in response. Many other Italian groups claim that agent provocateurs and the police have infiltrated the Black Bloc.
Over 300,000 people join the protest march the next day, but this demonstration, one of the largest seen in Europe since the days of Solidarity in Poland, is again tear gassed and attacked by the police. Later that night, the Independent Media Centre (IMC or Indymedia) is attacked, as is the Diaz school. 66 people sleeping within are batoned in their sleeping bags and hospitalised.
The events and debates around Genoa are widely available on the internet- see ‘Belfast with Sunshine’ for a personal account at Jonathan Neale’s book “You are G8- We are Six Billion” (Vision Paperbacks, 2002) is also a powerful account.
Genoa forces a huge debate about the neutrality of the state within the movement. Many activists are visibly shaken by the police violence designed to smash the protests off the streets, with some such as Susan George of ATTAC questioning the role of mass demonstrations in the face of such attacks. There is also a huge debate about the black bloc tactic. Genoa radicalises the movement profoundly.

Armed Globalisation- The Impact of 9/11
A huge demonstration is expected in the USA for that September’s meeting of the IMF, backed by the AFL/CIO national trade union federation. However, on September 11th, the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon are attacked, leaving over 3,000 dead. The Bush regime uses 9/11 as its pretext to launch its War on Terror, which will see subsequent invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, with a carte blanche given to Israel, Columbia, Russia and other US allies to fight their ‘terrorist’ opponents. Bush claims that “you’re either with us, or with the terrorists-. In the US, the movement is caught off guard and seems to be unsure how to progress under the pressure of patriotism, where anybody demonstrating against the government is seen to support Al Qaeda by the mass media. In most European countries, the global justice movement throws all its energies into constructing broad anti war movements. The war becomes linked to the movement’s other key mobilising factors.
Although moves towards war now occupy the central stage globally, the movement sees 50,000 people march in Barcelona AFTER the World Bank cancels its meeting there. The G8 moves its next meeting to a remote location in the Rocky Mountains near Calgary in Canada, whilst the WTO elects to have its next unsuccessful round in the dictatorship of Qatar in the Arabian Desert. The global rulers appear to be running from their populations.
In December of 2001, the IMF liquidates the Argentinean economy. Tens of thousands of people are thrown out of work- many occupy their factories as the unemployed form direct action pickets- the piquiteros, to occupy and blockade motorways. Huge popular assemblies are held across the urban centres of Argentina, with thousands participating in the Buenos Aires assembly. Three prime ministers resign one after the other- 38 protesters are shot by the riot police.
In January, there are global protests against the invasion of Afghanistan. 50,000 march in Brussels against the EU Laaken Summit in the freezing cold. Despite the War on terror, the movement “passes the test” and stays on the streets.
In February, the World Economic Forum moves from Davos to New York in ‘solidarity’ with those killed in 9/11. Many North American activists see this as a cynical tactic for the WEF to avoid the protests it saw in Melbourne and Davos. Although New York is still in mourning after the terrorist attack, over 20,000 protest at the WEF near Ground Zero, especially singling out the multinational Enron, one (former) WEF member that has just gone bust, leaving thousands of its workers penniless.
This February also sees the first World Social Forum held in the left wing controlled city of Porto Alegre, in Brasil’s southern province of Rio De Sol. The city is famous for practicing “participatory budgets” where its social movements consult with the municipality over how and where its resources should be spent. Over 60,000 international delegates of the movement attend a week of lectures, debates and meetings, as the WSF begins to articulate what the movement should stand for.
The EU summit in Barcelona sees 200,000 trade unionists protest at its opening on Thursday March 15th, and half a million turn up to the movement’s demonstration “Against a Europe of War and Capital” that Saturday night. The size of the Barcelona demonstration takes everybody by surprise, both organisers and security forces alike. It shows the growing potential a global movement has in building a domestic base.
Around the world, demonstrations are held on April 20th for an end to the occupation of Palestine, and for no future war with Iraq. By and large, these are organised by the same coalition of forces that have come together for global justice. Large anti war networks begin to form in the US- in particular International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), Not in My Name and United for Peace and Justice. Crucially, an organisation representing the families of those killed in 9/11, Families United for Peaceful Tomorrows backs the emerging American Anti War Movement.
In June, despite the fact that the G8 are meeting in the tiny town of Kananaskis, Alberta- high up in the Rocky Mountains- there are protests there and all over Canada.
The movement is also beginning to inspire trade unionists to rediscover their militancy in countries where links have been made. One of the strongest countries in this regard is Italy, where in September there is a huge General Strike against Berlusconi’s neoliberal policies, with over one million trade unionists marching in Rome.
Italy hosts the first European Social Forum in Florence that brings together over 50,000 delegates from the whole of Europe. There is much debate as to whether the Social Fora are just talking shops, or organising hubs for the movement. In Florence, those who want to organise action win the argument and an Assembly of the Social Movements calls for an international day of action against war with Iraq for February 15th. Delegates from the ESF return to their home countries and begin organising in their anti war movements.
The anti war movements begin to strengthen the domestic global justice coalitions. The February 15th demonstrations, initially planned for all over Europe, are then backed by the American anti war movements. In January over 8,000 people attended the Asian Social Forum in Hyderabad, India, and tens of thousands gathered at the second World Social Forum in Porto Alegre. This proves to critics of the movement such as Tony Blair who claimed that it was nothing more than “an anarchist travelling circus” that it has strong roots in the Global South. Both Fora in India and Brasil back the February 15th demonstrations, as does the first meeting of anti war movements from all over the Arab world who meet in Egypt. The subsequent Cairo Declaration builds unity between the Muslim world and the global anti war movement.
February 15th 2003 confounds the world- it is the largest international co-ordinated protest in human history, with estimates of between 15 and 20 million people participating globally. In Italy, 3 million march on Rome, with gigantic demonstrations in all other cities. In London, 2 million flood the streets, crystallising a huge anti war feeling in the US’s junior military partner. Millions demonstrate all over the US- half a million in New York, hundreds of thousands in Chicago, San Francisco and elsewhere. In Dublin, over 100,000 come to the demonstration called by the Irish Anti War Movement. 20,000 more march in Belfast. It is the biggest mobilisation seen in Ireland since the tax marches and hunger strike demos of the early 80s.
The rulers ignore the massive marches and go ahead with war on March 20th. Many people now question the workings of parliamentary democracy and a breakdown of trust between governments and governed becomes a dominant issue in the US and UK as the invasion and occupation of Iraq begins. There are days of direct action against the war- in Ireland, 20,000 people take part in Day X protests (the day the war started) with thousands of school students leading walkouts from class. The Ring Around the Dail action sees riot police retreat from thousands of activists who call their bluff of mass arrests, as they blockade the entrance to the Irish parliament. Many more people join the movement during these events.
The anti war movement begins to bring the movement on a larger scale to countries like the UK and Ireland, where previously it was confined to left wing groups and progressive NGOs. However, the speed of the media-declared U.S. ‘victory’ in Iraq leads many to become initially demoralised- it seems to confirm the unbeatable power of the World’s Hyperpower. As the brutal reality of the Occupation sets in, however, the movement recovers its confidence.
The G8 summit again meets high in the mountains, this time in the village of Evian near Lake Geneva. 100,000 cross the border from Switzerland to France in a huge display of anger at George Bush- the movement is accredited with helping to increase divisions between Old Europe and its American ally- the French and German governments still refuse to support Bush’s occupation.
In September the WTO meets again in Cancun, Mexico. The demonstrations outside helped to fuel the bitter divisions inside the conference centre and thereby brought about the collapse of the world trade talks. Thousands of farmers and anti-capitalists marched to the WTO perimeter fence, where Korean farmer Lee Kyoung Hae took his own life in protest at what he called the “life-destroying policies” of the WTO.
A coalition of poor countries from the Global South (the G21- led by Brasil, India and South Africa) challenge the hegemony of the G8- a victory for the poor across the globe as WTO again ends in failure. The second European Social Forum in Paris in November, which attracted over 50,000 people, was a great success, more political and more determined than ever. Large demonstrations greet President Bush wherever he goes- in London, 300,000 take to the streets in the largest weekday demonstration in British history.
In November, police violently attack protests in Miami organised against the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit. Over 300 people are arrested in a huge display of force.
The World Social Forum moves from Brasil to India, meeting in January in the city of Mumbai. Over one hundred thousand delegates attend, where Joseph Stiglitz, ex-chief economist of the World Bank, debates on the same platform as the Indian Marxist economist Prathap Patnaik, who argued that capitalism can't be reformed, the Egyptian critic of imperialism Samir Amin, and two socialist activists, Dita Sari from Indonesia and Trevor Ngwane from the Anti Privatisation Forum of South Africa. The Mumbai WSF shows the movements roots in Latin America, Africa and Asia are growing. In October, tens of thousands make their way to London for the Third European Social Forum, where debates over the political trajectory of the movement become more specific and polemic. The movement pours out onto the streets of America again, as half a million protest the Republican Party Congress in New York in September.
The movement also grows in Ireland, with both media and state prediciting riots and chaos (the ‘Strategy of Tension’) in the lead up to the Mayday EU summit in Dublin and the state visit of George Bush in June. 5,000 protest in several events on Mayday, surrounded by an unprecedented amount of police in riot gear who use water cannon on a largely peaceful protest. The largest mobilisation of security forces in recent Irish history surrounds protests at the Bush EU-US summit in Shannon, as 20,000 take to the streets of Dublin. Despite media hype and government warnings, both demonstrations are peaceful.

[1] The UNDP report is available at

[2] See Klein, 2000, p223.

[3] Stiglitz, 2002, p6.

[4] ibid, p13.
[5] Hardt and Negri, 2000, p31-32.

[6]ibid, p xxi-xiii

[7] See Moody, 1997, p137

[8] Marx and Engels, 1992, p6
[9] See Giddens, The Third Way, (Oxford: Polity Press), 1998.

[10] Klein, 2000, p xix.

[11] Bourdieu, 1998, p6-7.

[12] L Wacquant in Le Monde, 25 January 2002.

[13] The events and issues surrounding the Battle of Seattle are described in greater depth in Globalize This! The Battle Against the World Trade Organisation and Corporate Rule (edited by Kevin Danaher and Roger Burbach, Common Courage Press, 2000). John Charlton’s published interviews with the activists who fought there are available in Talking Seattle, International Socialism Journal (ISJ) 86, Spring 2000. For a short chronology of events and developments after Seattle- please see Appendix A: Chronology of The Movement of Movements, enclosed at the end of this thesis
[14] Colin Barker et al, 2001, p5
[15] Madeley, 2000, p43.

[16] See Bello, 2001, p19. These ideas are discussed in greater depth in his book Deglobalization: Ideas for a New World Economy.
[17] Hines’ arguments are summarised in the essay The New Protectionism - the global economy and relocalisation, The Ecologist Magazine of March 2001, available on the web at

[18] See the paper Stopping The Great Food Swap (March 2001),by UK Green MEP Caroline Lucas on the British Green Party website
[19] See I Was Wrong About Trade- ‘Localisation’ is both destructive and unjust
George Monbiot in the Guardian 24th June 2003

[20] See Seize the Day- Our task is not to overthrow globalisation, but to use it as a vehicle for the first global democratic revolution, the Guardian 17th June 2003

[21] Ibid.

[22] See The rich nations must surrender their power to a world parliament, the Guardian 17th July 2001

[23] S. George, 1992, p.xiii.
[24] See his essay ‘For a European Social Movement’ (Bourdieu, 2000, p53-64).
[25] From Susan George’s speech, ‘A Short History of Neoliberalism’, at the Conference on Economic Sovereignty in a Globalising World, Bangkok March 1999. Available on the web at

[26] George, 1992, p. xx.

[27] For more detail, see “The Zapatistas: the challenge of revolution in a new millennium”, Mike
González: ISJ 89/59: Also see “The Punch Card and the Hourglass”, Interview by García Márquez and Roberto Pombo, New Left Review NLR 9, May-June 2001, p. 69-79. The chapter ‘A Crack in History’ is an excellent introductory history of the Zapatistas in Kingsnorth, 2003.

[28] See “The Unknown Icon”, Naomi Klein, The Guardian, Saturday March 3, 2001
[29] See Katsiaficas, 1997, p219.

[30] Eyewitness report from GR website-

[31] “Gardai hold 12 after protest at hotel” (Irish Times, Thursday, October 11, 2001)

[32] The Irish Council of Civil Liberties critique of the POA is available at

[33] See Chapters 5 and 6, Katsiaficas, 1997.

[34] George, 2001, p7.

[35] Arnove, 2000, p11.

[36] See Naomi Klein, ‘Elections v. Democracy in Argentina’, May 7 2003, at

[37] Quotes taken from Joreen Freeman (1984) , Untying the knot: Feminism, Anarchism and Organisation, London: Dark Star/Rebel Press. Difficult to find in print form, the full text is now available on the web at

[38] Barker et al, 2001, p2

[39] Barker, 2001, p 12
[40] See Allen, 2003, p68. Also see his work Workers and the Celtic Tiger, Bookmarks, 1999, p10- 11.

[41] CORI, 2001, p10.
[42] Bourdieu, 2003, p58.

[43] The Fair Economy by Pat Rabbitte (Labour, July 2004) is available at

[44] The Article 133 Group was a research coalition formed by anti capitalist activists opposed to the Neo liberal reforms contained within the Nice Treaty. They have since researched in some depth the economic implications of the new EU Constitution. See

[45] Figures are taken from the Irish Times editorial Thursday August 12 2004.

[46] For more info, see Larry Rohter, ‘Party Atop Brazil Government Expels 4 Dissident Lawmakers’
New York Times, Dec 15, 2003

[47]Kingsnorth, 2003, p122. For a vigourous defence of Corporate Globalisation and Capitalism, see Thomas Friedman’s The Lexus and the Olive Tree, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000

[48] Baker et al, 2004, p236

[49] Baker et al, 2004, p236.

[50] Oftentimes, the experience of smaller, radical left wing parties diluting their politics and
co-operating with larger social democratic parties in coalition governments has either been their complete absorption (such as Democratic Left by Labour in Ireland) or electoral wipe-out as revenge by their previous supporters (such as the Alliance in New Zealand). The Italian Rifondazione Comunista party currently faces such a dilemma- it grew significantly out of the anti capitalist movement post Genoa, leading huge general strikes and massive anti war protests. Its leadership is now considering supporting a government led by the social-liberal DS party, causing huge tensions with its hundred thousand or so rank and file members.

[51] Barker, 2001, p33.
[52] UK Indymedia goes further with this ghettoisation of the movement, actually banning these ‘hierarchical groups’ such as trade unions or left anti capitalist parties from posting on a supposed open publishing website.

[53] The agreed European Union election manifesto of the European Anti Capitalist Left is available at

[54] Negri was later jailed by the Italian government in Rebibbia Prison, Rome – the government claiming that he was the 'intellectual inspiration' for the Red Brigades in the late 1970s.

[55] Baker et al, 2004, p201
[56] This Marxist analysis of a ‘middle class’ is discussed in greater depth by Lindsey German in
‘Caught in the Middle?’, A Question of Class, 1996 p66-76. Erik Olin Wright has also explored this argument in some depth.

[57] Marx, 1959, p927
[58] Rabbitte, 2004, p11
[59] Callinicos, 2003, p147
[60] The Parecon Manifesto is available on the website, and has triggered much debate between other strands in the movement at the anti capitalist website The quotes from Albert in this section are taken from the Life After Capitalism debate available on both these websites.

[61] Marxists instead argue that these divisions be eroded completely, with life long free education encouraging everyone’s intellectual capabilities, and ‘mundane’ work either being automised where replaceable or remunerated where irreplaceable, such as certain aspects of care work.

[62]George, 2001, p7.