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A.6. Global Justice Movement

Volume Two -> A. Campaigns for Social and Economic Justice -> A.6. Global Justice Movement

The demonstrations at the December 1999 WTO summit at Seattle launched the ‘Anti-Globalization’, ‘Anti-Capitalist’ or ‘Global Justice’ Movement into the western media (resistance had been taking place much earlier in the Global South). Although this movement was publicized in particular through its demonstrations at summit meeting of key international financial and economic institutions (see Introduction to A), it was also directed against the neoliberal international policies imposed by these institutions, in particular privatization of national resources and services. As noted under A.4., resistance to specific projects by multinational corporations was also seen as part of the broad movement, and internationally endorsed neoliberal policies strongly favoured these companies and weakened the power of national governments to restrict their activities.

After December 1999 there was an explosion of publications both by participants in the movement and by mainstream publishers. A lively theoretical debate also ensued between critics and proponents of neoliberalism, which is not covered here. Well known critics include Benjamin Barber, Walden Bello, Alex Callinicos, Susan George, Naomi Klein and George Monbiot. An important contributor to the general debate was former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz , who became very critical of aspects of neoliberal policies, and who published Stiglitz, Joseph , Globalization and its Discontents London, Penguin, , 2002, pp. 320 and Stiglitz, Joseph , Making Globalization Work London, Penguin, , 2006, pp. 384 .

The Global Justice Movement brought together many from other social movements, who saw their own goals threatened by neoliberal policies. It also embraced the struggles of many indigenous peoples and exploited workers and poor communities round the world. Although the focus is social justice, the World Social Forum, and its European branch the European Social Forum, which provide a platform for participating groups, also played a role in coordinating protests against the 2003 Iraq War. But diversity of groups and campaigns has also meant diversity of ideologies and attitudes to nonviolence. For counter-summit protests there has been an agreement on tactical diversity, which meant respecting nonviolent actions but not imposing an overall nonviolent discipline.

Kauffman, L.A., Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism, London, Verso , 2017, pp. 256

Examination of major protests and movements in the USA from  the anti-Vietnam War mass obstruction of Washington DC in May 1971 to the Occupy movement of 2011.  The author discusses the role of feminists and gay activists in launching significant resistance on key public issues: notably the 'Women's Pentagon Action' in 1980 and ACT-UP battling discrimination against AIDS sufferers in the 1980s. The book also examines why some major protests were not well supported by Black activists and how they brought a different focus to others.

Kauffman, L.A., How to Read a Protest: The Art of Organising and Resistance, Berkeley, CA, University of California Press, 2018, pp. 152

The author, who has experience of organizing mass demonstrations (for example against the Iraq War in 2003) compares two major protests: the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (when Martin Luther King gave his 'I have a dream' speech); and the Women's Marches in Washington and across the USA in January 2017. She focuses on the different styles of protest -the first highly organized and centrally controlled by Civil Rights leaders (who strictly monitored the slogans on banners and signs), the second decentralized and spontaneous in origin with a multiplicity of demands and slogans. There was also a major contrast in the public role played by women (not allowed to speak at the 1963 rally and prominent in 2017).   Kauffman argues that the mass protests also had contrasting aftermaths - with the 2017 protests leading directly to continuing grass roots mobilization, whereas the 1963 march did not.