Global Resistance
By Chris Borte

Resistance to the WTO is growing daily. People are organizing from the ground up and forming alliances worldwide among grassroots labor, environmental and social justice groups to oppose this neoliberal institution: Teachers hungerstriking against privatization in Argentina working side by side with women organizing against quasi-slavery in the "Maquila" factories of Mexico, Bangladesh, Salvador, and Nicaragua; farmers struggling against globalization in India, Philippines, Brazil, Estonia, Norway, Honduras, France, Spain, Switzerland, Bangladesh, Senegal, Mozambique, Togo, Peru, Bolivia, Columbia and many other countries; Ogoni, Maori, Maya, Aymara, U'wa and other indigenous peoples fighting for their cultural rights and physical survival; students struggling against nuclear power or the repression of striking workers in Ukraine and South Korea; rank and file labor like postal workers from Canada resisting privatization, women's rights activists, environmentalists, unemployed, fisherfolk, anti-racists, peace mobilizers, and animal rights activists...the list could easily fill these pages. Coalitions that formed to oppose NAFTA, GATT, APEC, and the MAI have grown more experienced and successful at working together to fight corporate globalization. Forging those necessary links between our movements becomes far easier when we realize the assholes who are clearcutting the last of our ancient forests are the same assholes who are trying to smash our unions and destroy the limited forms of democratic control we still have. The old 1960s slogan 'think globally, act locally' is no longer sufficient. We must create ways of thinking and acting both locally and globally at the same time.

One of the most exciting movements fighting corporate globalization formed in February of 1998, when peoples' movements from all continents met in Geneva and launched a worldwide coordination of resistance called Peoples' Global Action Against "Free" Trade and the World Trade Organization (PGA). In their literature they emphasize four major points: 

(1) A very clear rejection of the WTO and other neoliberal trade agreements as active promoters of a socially and environmentally destructive globalization; (2) A confrontational attitude, since we do not think that lobbying can have a major impact in such biased and undemocratic organizations, in which transnational capital is the only real policy-maker; (3) A call to non-violent civil disobedience and the construction of local alternatives by local people as answers to the action of governments and corporations; (4) An organizational philosophy based on decentralization and autonomy.

PGA intends to serve as a global instrument for communication and co-ordination for all those fighting against the destruction of humanity and the planet by the global market, as well as building up local alternatives and peoples' power. Their first call to action was the June 18th protests against the G8 summit in Germany. Movements ranging from the Chikoko Movement in Nigeria to the Pakistani trade unions, from the Argentinian churches to a broad coalition of social movements in London, occupied the financial centers of their cities to reject the rule of the G8. Such coordinated resistance in a total of 41 countries showed that the process of converging our movements is gaining strength and speed. Even as this article goes to press, PGA is organizing at their second conference in Bangalore, India for the WTO meeting in Seattle and beyond.

"Not Pespi/Coke, we want water!"


cries the National Alliance of People's Movements in India. They are calling for India to quit the WTO and campaign for an alternative institution to regulate world-trade in a democratic, pro-people and environmentally sustainable way. They believe all transnational corporations should be forced out of India and have called for a boycott on all TNCs goods. 

This is in stark contrast with those who hold hope of achieving justice through reforming the WTO. Reforms lead nowhere when corporations and their governmental counterparts are in charge. We need to globalize solidarity and liberation not capitalism, and fight for a participatory and sustainable global village. The WTO must be shut down. 

Over the past two decades, people's movements have waged successful campaigns against the operations of transnational corporations on numerous fronts ranging from worldwide boycotts against Nestle on infant formula, bank loans to South Africa, the battles against Union Carbide over the Bhopal disaster in India, the repression of Coca-Cola workers in Guatemala, the promotion of bio-tech milk products by chemical companies like Monsanto, and the clear-cut logging and deforestation by Mitsubishi and MacMillan Bloedel to name but a few. It is important to remember that these corporations do not have infinite power, they are not inevitable. We live in a concrete world, within time and space, with ongoing processes that we can affect. We can shut down these bastards. 

Just a few years ago it may have seemed impossible to stop the Multilateral Agreeement on Investment, a trade agreement that would have given corporations the authority to sue countries for policies that placed people or the environment over profits. And yet due to movements like those mentioned in this article the MAI was shut down. WTO, you're next!