Alterglobalization Movement

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See, for a detailed treatment of the networked, 'p2p', aspects of the movement:

  1. Alterglobalization Movement - Networked Aspects‎
  2. Alterglobalization Movement - Meshwork Aspects
  3. Alterglobalization Movement - Epistemological Aspects


Geoffrey Pleyers:

""alter-globalisation" activists divide into three distinct currents about the way forward.

The local approach

The first current of the alter-globalisation movement) considers that instead of getting involved in a global movement and international forums, the path to social change lies through giving life to horizontal, participatory, convivial and sustainable values in daily practices, personal life and local spaces.

Many urban activists cite the way that, for example, the Zapatistas in Mexico and other Latin American indigenous movements now focus on developing communities' local autonomy via participatory self-government, autonomous education systems and improving the quality of life. They appreciate too the convivial aspect of local initiatives and their promise of small but real alternatives to corporate globalisation and mass consumption.

This approach is exemplified also in initiatives such as the "collective purchase groups" that have multiplied in western Europe and north America. These typically gather small groups of people who buy from local (and often organic) food-producers in the effort to make quality food affordable, create alternatives to the "anonymous supermarket" and promote local social relations. In many Italian social centres, critical-consumption movements have taken the space previously occupied by the alter-globalisation mobilisations. The "convivial de-growth" and "convivial urban" movements belong to a similar, sustainable and environmentally friendly, tendency.

The advocacy approach

The second current of the movement believes that the way forward lies through efficient single-issue networks able to develop coherent arguments in areas such as food sovereignty and developing-world debt; in turn this work can become a route to raising broader questions.

The protection of water-supplies from privatisation, for example, can be used to explore the issues of global public goods, the role of global corporations and "the long-term efficiency of the public sector". After several years of intense exchanges among citizens and experts focusing on the same issue, the quality of arguments has considerably increased to the extent that this form of activity has become the core of the social-forums' dynamic.

There are several examples of the effectiveness of such networks - often without media attention. The European Public Water Network's influence on the city of Paris's decision in November 2008 to restore municipal control over water distribution is just one.

The state approach

The third current of the movement holds that progressive public policies implemented by state leaders and institutions are the key to achieving broad social change.

In the past, "alter-globalisation" activists have struggled to strengthen state agency in social, environmental and economic fields; but now that state intervention has regained legitimacy in the wake of systemic crisis, this more "political" component of the movement believes that the future lies in solidarity with the projects of radical leaders such as Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Bolivia's Evo Morales.

The national policies of these leaders (social programmes favouring the poor, or taking control of key economic sectors) and their regional alliances and new institutions (the Alternativa Bolivariana por Nuestra América [Alba] coalition, the Banco del Sur) represent a strong pole of attraction for many activists. But if Latin America is the main focus for such identification, similar processes have been at work in western countries too; for example, much of the impetus of the first United States Social Forum in 2007 was redirected towards Barack Obama's presidential campaign." (


Is the alterglobalization movement an anarchist movement?

From an in-depth review of contemporary forms of `postmodern anarchism'

"the one hand, the anti-globalization movement unites different identities around a common struggle; and yet this common ground is not determined in advance, or based on the priority of particular class interests, but rather is articulated in a contingent way during the struggle itself. What makes this movement radical is its unpredictability and indeterminacy--the way that unexpected links and alliances are formed between different identities and groups that would otherwise have little in common. So while this movement is universal, in the sense that it invokes a common emancipative horizon which constitutes the identities of participants, it rejects the false universality of Marxist struggles, which deny difference, and subordinate other struggles to the central role of the proletariat--or, to be more precise, to the vanguard role of the Party. It is this refusal of centralist and hierarchical politics, this openness to a plurality of different identities and struggles, that makes the anti-globalization movement an anarchist movement. It is not anarchistic just because anarchist groups are prominent in it. What is more important is that the anti-globalization movement, without being consciously anarchist, embodies an anarchistic form of politics in its structure and organization--which are decentralized, pluralistic and democratic--as well as in its inclusiveness."

The author of the above then goes on to define the need for a postmodern anarchism or postanarchism:

"Postanarchism may therefore be seen as the attempt to revise anarchist theory along non-essentialist and non-dialectical lines, through the application and development of insights from poststructuralism/discourse analysis. This is in order to tease out what I see as innovative and seminal in anarchism--which is precisely the theorization of the autonomy and specificity of the political domain, and the deconstructive critique of political authority. It is these crucial aspects of anarchist theory that must be brought to light, and whose implications must be explored. They must be freed from the epistemological conditions that, although they originally gave rise to them, now restrict them. Postanarchism thus performs a salvage operation on classical anarchism, attempting to extract its central insight about the autonomy of the political, and explore its implications for contemporary radical politics." (

More information: Book: Saul Newman. From Bakunin to Lacan: Anti-authoritarianism and the Dislocation of Power (Lexington Books 2001)