Another World is Possible: Freedom from Corporate Globalization

These anti-globalization activists are reaching for change.

| November-December 2001

Global cooperation instead of corporate globalization. That’s the message of a growing worldwide movement. We highlight eight of this movement’s leading thinkers (with some profiles drawn from Utne Reader’s new book Visionaries) and offer a field guide to key activist groups.

The world is filled with fear. Thoughts of further terrorism and ever-widening warfare unsettle our nights and days. We worry about the fate of humanity at a time when hatred and mistrust burn so fiercely across the planet. We worry about financial security in an era when whole industries are turned upside down on a moment’s notice. We worry about health in a world that increasingly resembles a massive test lab measuring the dangers of countless new chemicals turned loose in the environment every year. We worry about the future of society in an age when giant corporations are gaining control over nearly every aspect of modern life, from the lessons taught in our schools to the candidates listed on our election ballots.

All this uneasiness has given rise to the anti-globalization movement, which gained the world’s attention at protests in Seattle, Prague, Quebec City, and Genoa. Although television cameras focus on black-clad anarchists roaring through the streets, the movement encompasses millions of citizens on six continents—union members, students, peasants, environmentalists, tribal peoples, community activists, and veterans of peace marches and liberation struggles. The protests occurring in Europe and North America pale in comparison to those in India, Thailand, the Philippines, and Japan, where hundreds of thousands of people have filled the streets to show opposition to political and economic policies that undercut the livelihoods of poor people.

All the diverse constituents of this movement have come together in the belief that the growing poverty, increasing environmental destruction, mounting social breakdown, and continuing bloodshed seen around the planet today are not inevitable side effects of modern progress; they are the direct result of an international system that places most of the world’s wealth and power in the hands of just a few corporations. To these activists, a new era of global peace and justice can be achieved by reinvigorating local communities and creating a new international system that promotes cooperation over competition.

Globalization, according to the movement, is a political ideology zealously promoted by transnational corporations and their followers in governments, the media, and universities, who have elevated self-serving theories about market economics, free trade, economic “efficiency,” and consumerism to the level of a religion.

Anti-globalization activists—who might more accurately be called pro-democracy, pro-peace, pro-environment, and pro-local community advocates—are firm in their belief that there is another way for human society to proceed. This vision was loudly proclaimed in the slogan of a summit meeting of 10,000 anti-globalization activists earlier this year in Porto Alegre, Brazil: “Another World Is Possible.”

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