Global Justice School 2005

Alternative politics, I: "Delinking", or a different globalization?

Resistance and alternatives

Stéphanie Treillet, 12 June 2005


Introduction: 3 ideas that underlie my argument:

·         The dynamics of global justice struggles poses (in embryonic form) some elements of the society to be constructed.

·         A double break is always necessary: an external break (with imperialist domination) and an internal break inside each society (with class relations and all forms of oppression).

·         Global justice struggles are beginning to lay the foundation for a concrete anti-capitalism and internationalism.


I                    From anti-neoliberalism to anti-capitalism

A .   Anti-neoliberal and global justice struggles have an anti-capitalist dynamic

1)      Common developments in new struggles and new social movements in different regions of the world, in the global justice movement or outside it.

a)       Dynamics of a global challenge to the system based on specific issues.

b)       In certain struggles, networks of groups of people with different but converging interests (e.g. trade unions, consumer groups, neighbourhood groups, environmental associations, feminists  etc. against multinationals).

c)       Links between old structures of struggle (trade unions etc.) and new ones

d)       New methods of struggle (civil disobedience).

e)       New democratic demands, and demands for democratic control of struggles, put forward in these movements

f)        Pose in embryonic form the question of new relations between "social" and "political" dimensions.


2)      The global justice movement itself is at the heart of building this new anti-capitalism, for several reasons

a)       It tends to federate and link other movements (i.e. World Social Forum, continental Forums)

b)       It is taking on more and more issues, which form a system.

c)       The current stage of capitalism leaves no space for "reforms" or "regulations": all the anti-neoliberal demands take on a de facto anti-capitalist dynamic (e.g. control of capital movements).

d)       The global justice movement attacks the essence of the current stage of capitalism:

·         the general trend of setting all workers and peoples in competition against each other on a planetary scale

·         total freedom for capital and multinationals

·         general and absolute commodification of all resources and human activities

·         the absolute character of capitalist property


B .   Responses to strategic questions show in practice that regulation of globalized, neoliberal capital is not possible.

1)      The struggle against international organizations (WTO, IMF, World Bank, MAI, GATS)

a)       Should we seek to transform or dismantle them?

·         Each demand for reform (e.g. public discussion) is a challenge to the very logic of their functioning.

b)       Include or exclude social and environmental dimensions? i.e. Lee Chang-geun text)

·         Exclude as many areas as possible from the WTO's grasp

2)      Resisting attempts to pit workers or peasants against each other

a)       The social clause trap: don't be fooled

·         first, a challenge to the export model.

·         sanctions against multinationals first

·         attack WTO to defend social rights (see point 1b above)

b)       Seek out new ways of linking up struggles internationally

·         resist idea of North- South opposition among peoples

·         the idea that all forms of resistance take part in building a single balance of power (e.g. NAFTA - struggles by US workers in solidarity with Mexican workers in the same firm).

c)       The struggle against capitalist globalisation also takes place on the spot, against national ruling classes in South and North alike.


Two consequences:

·         Don't see Europe as a rampart against US imperialism or overlook European capitalism.

·        In the South, don't look for alliances with local capital against multinationals (see debate between Walden Bello and Patrick Bond).

3)      Need for class and struggle perspective against all oppressions (notably gender): against all alliances with reactionary religious or nationalist forces in the name of "anti-neoliberalism or "anti-imperialism".


C .   Can we limit ourselves to an approach based on monitoring and counter-power?

1)      A movement that for the moment does not foresee any central political break.

2)      A risk not so much of "reformism" as of valuing and systematizing strategies of pockets of survival with an adaptation either to the market or to traditional oppressive relations ("an economy of solidarity").


II                 "Another world is possible":  What kind of world?

A .   Deglobalization or a different kind of globalization? (See the debate between Walden Bello and Patrick Bond)

1)      Reorienting economies towards the domestic market: on what basis?

a)       How to define sector-based priorities

·         According to what democratic procedure? (e.g. the participatory budget: possible on a large scale?)

·         Based on the interests of what classes?

·         Based on what rhythms of accumulation (investment or consumer goods)?

b)       What kind of land reform?

c)       Lessons of past struggles (Nicaragua etc.)


2)      What new architecture do we want for the world economy?

a)       New institutions based on different principles? (co-operation, non-competition, etc.)

b)       A new regionalization?

c)       The possibility for Third World economies of a "sieve" and controlling trade


3)      Rejecting a different globalization: a political danger

a)       The call for "sovereignty" and chauvinist currents in industrialized countries

b)       "Cultural" inward turns everywhere, reinforcing traditional repressions

c)       On the contrary: the contradictory character of globalization strengthens the potential for common struggles


B .   A different society takes shape in the course of struggles

1)      The space for free goods and services

a)       "Technological" possibilities: against patents (on medicines, computer programmes, etc.)

b)      Public services and social protection: a space to be fought over, against commodification

2)      An orientation towards meeting the needs of the majority

a)       Capitalism is incapable of satisfying these needs: essential consumer goods or services

b)       The demand that these needs be met implies a challenge to the rights of capitalist private property

c)       It also requires a minimum rate of growth, whose (social and ecological) content must still be determined: crèches, hospitals and schools instead of automobiles à rejecting the dangerous illusions of "slow growth" and "rejecting development"


III              Conclusion:

·         An anti-imperialist perspective is essential but insufficient for laying the foundations of a global alternative to capitalism

·         We must link up struggles against all the dimensions of oppression and domination without establishing a hierarchy among them.