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FW: Anti-Globalists - Legitimacy
by Sabri Oncu
09 February 2002 01:21 UTC
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I pay for lots of junk I receive from Stratfor but every now and
then one comes across a few interesting ones. I thought this one
may be of interest to my sociologist friends. Moreover, it is
legally forwardable.

As far as I know, or was told, these people are some
former/retired American intelligent agents. Below is what they
think  about the so-called anti-globalization movement, or so
they pretend.



Anti-Globalists Make a Play for Legitimacy


The latest World Social Forum indicates that the anti-
globalization movement is attempting to address two fundamental
weaknesses -- a lack of legitimacy and a lack of organization.
Though the disparate groups are unlikely to ever forge a unified
coalition that can challenge the global power brokers, pushing
their agenda through established, mainstream organizations like
the United Nations could allow them to affect policy on local and
national levels.


An anti-globalization group known as the International Forum on
Globalization (IFG) released several recommendations for
restructuring the global economy Feb. 2 at the World Social Forum
(WSF) in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The recommendations range from
limiting corporate power to folding a wide range of new
responsibilities and regulatory powers into the United Nations.

The substance of this and other proposals coming out of Porto
Alegre is less significant than the fact that the anti-
globalization movement is clearly seeking to move beyond its
radical, protest-driven roots to develop a concrete agenda. WSF
organizers and many of its participants are focused on bringing
the anti-globalization agenda into the mainstream. Part of this
strategy will include using more mainstream groups and
organizations, like the U.N., as a platform for their agenda.

The WSF -- which brings together a number of activist groups,
including the IFG -- will never operate from a position of global
power and therefore will not bring about major changes in global
policies and organizations. However, by working its agenda
through established organizations, the diverse members of the
anti-globalization movement may be able to gain more leverage at
the local and national level. At the same time, groups could find
themselves in unusual partnerships against a common enemy: the
United States.

The history of the anti-globalization movement -- which comprises
non-governmental organizations, leftist politicians, advocates
and protesters -- has actually worked against it. The movement is
still saddled with images of anarchists trashing Starbucks at the
1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle and agro-
protestors burning genetically modified corn in a Brazilian field
owned by Mansanto last year at the first WSF summit. The
prevailing view in many circles is that WSF participants are
largely angry contrarians and malcontents who lack serious
alternatives to the status quo, so they are disregarded.

WSF organizers and participants are now attempting to address two
fundamental weaknesses: a lack of legitimacy -- which is closely
tied to its public image problems -- and a lack of organization.

While media coverage of the 1999 WTO meeting and last year's WSF
summit focused primarily on the protests, most reports from Porto
Alegre this year point to a more substantive agenda, one full of
serious debate on issues and viable alternatives to the status

Headlines like "More Focus on Policy than Protest" from the
Associated Press and "Serious Ideas Behind the Theatrics" in the
Financial Times represent serious victories for the WSF. The
message now being delivered is that anti-globalists are not all
completely against "globalization" per se, but rather against
what they term "unfettered globalization" or "unrestrained
corporate power." Rather than dwelling on the unadulterated evils
of globalization, they talk of "progressive social reform."

"We say 'yes' to globalization, but with some limits," WSF
delegate Louise Beaudouin, the foreign minister of Quebec
province, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

Some of those limits were outlined in the IFG report as well as
in a closing document adopted by the summit. Broadly, proposed
reforms centered around increasing aid to the developing world,
improving global governance, reining in corporate power and the
movement of capital and placing more protections on labor and the
environment. The United States and large multi-national
corporations remain the main antagonists.

In another bow to legitimacy, WSF organizers sought to diminish
the presence and influence of more radical elements. They shunned
anarchist groups and kept other figures at a distance -- such as
radical French farmer Jose Bove, who made his name by burning
down a McDonald's in France and led the burning of the Mansanto
field last year.

Certain attendees also added to the legitimacy of the WSF.
Several World Bank and U.N. officials attended, including U.N.
Human Rights High Commissioner Mary Robinson. The speaking
schedule was replete with Nobel Prize winners. Liberal
politicians were also out in force, including six junior
ministers and three presidential candidates from France and Luis
Inacio "Lula" da Silva, the leading leftist candidate in Brazil's
presidential race. Da Silva made several strong statements
condemning U.S. dominance in the Americas and opposing plans for
a Free Trade Agreement of the Americas.

Heavy-hitting attendees not only add credence to the forum but
also point toward future alliances that anti-globalists will use
to forward their agenda. Organizing the hundreds of disparate
groups into one umbrella organization is a nearly impossible
task. An alternative strategy -- which simultaneously addresses
issues of legitimacy and organization -- is to dovetail with
larger and more established organizations that share similar
views on specific issues.

The IFG report puts a good deal of emphasis on the United
Nations. Anti-globalists may look to the U.N., especially its
bureaucratic arm, as a platform to push issues ranging from
capital controls to environmental and labor protection. The U.N.
will probably never have greater authority than it currently
possesses over such issues, since that would require Security
Council approval and charter reform. But existing U.N.
commissions could press for greater recognition of the anti-
globalist agenda.

Working through the U.N. has another advantage. The anti-
globalist agenda is broadly opposed to excessive U.S. power.
Countries looking to irritate the United States or curtail its
influence can use WSF issues within the structure of the U.N. to
indirectly challenge Washington.

Other organizations that the WSF participants could look to are
the International Labor Organization and the World Health
Organization. There also is an overlap between many WSF
participants and a relatively new Commission on Globalization.
Several NGO leaders including Lori Wallach, director of Public
Citizen's Global Trade Watch and a leading movement figure, are
co-chairs in the commission along with such mainstream figures as
Mary Robinson, George Soros, Mikhail Gorbachev, former World Bank
Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz and International Labor
Organization Director-General Juan Somavia.

The more closely WSF participants can associate themselves and
their causes with organizations like the Commission for
Globalization -- and with politicians who share their views on
specific issues -- the more legitimacy they gain and the more
buzz their issues receive.

And in the end, this is all about buzz. Anti-globalists are
unlikely to effect change on a global level. Rather, the groups
attending gatherings like the WSF seek to co-opt power and create
leverage they can use on local, regional and, at most, national
levels. The more their issues are talked about globally, the more
pressure they can put on the local centers of power and the more
effective they will be at altering the status quo in small and
incremental ways.

The most effective anti-globalists will recognize both the
strengths and limitations of this strategy.


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