Anti-Globalization Movements’ Political Victories and Challenges


Results of municipal elections in Spain signify the growing mood of working people in Europe. The elected mayors of Barcelona and Madrid are the longtime activists of the powerful anti-corporate, anti-globalization movement, called the indignados or 15-M Movement, which is Spain’s version of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

The strategy of grassroots mobilization against neoliberal [free-market capitalist] attacks of US corporate and political elites helped the Latin American movements in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and other countries where the Left emerged as the big political force.

Across the world, the economic crisis inducted by neoliberal policies, which has persisting globally for the past seven years, has been affecting all sections, particularly, the lower and middle strata of the society. In European countries like Spain, Greece etc., it resulted in losses of billions of Euros and caused serious crisis in employment front including the severe social cutbacks, essentially in health care and education sectors. The consequent loss of basic livelihoods of thousands of working families created a situation where more and more people are getting poorer, and, at the same time, elites in the upper layers of the society become richer. So widening inequality was an unstoppable curse, which all nations are now experiencing.

Reserve Bank of India governor Raguram Rajan, who is considered as expert in predicting economic phenomena, recently warned of another Great Depression in the world economy. Later, his exact quote was released officially by the RBI: “What governor Rajan did say, in his remarks, was that the policies followed by major central banks around the world were in danger of slipping into the kind of beggar-thy-neighbor strategies that were followed in the 1930s.”

What he meant is that, thanks to the continued monetary easing practices, the shrinkage in world trade is seriously affecting the domestic economies of the poor countries, causing severe strains on the living conditions of the middle and lower income groups. Naturally these conditions are laying the basis for sustenance of anti-globalization movements all over the world. Only through a powerful resistance movement could humankind avoid the risk of depression-like disasters.

India, which is a fund-starved country, is focusing on foreign direct investment (FDI). However, allowing FDI in the retail trade sector, which provides millions of jobs for petty traders across India, is causing widespread resistance.

In Asian countries, including India, peasant movements are developing against the implementation of neoliberal free-market policies on agriculture. Neoliberalism in agriculture deprives the peasantry of employment and land resources. Instead of developing agricultural production to feed the people, the governments are trying to grab the lands and transfer them to the corporations.

The government of India is trying hard to push a bill on land acquisition to be passed in parliament. Not only stiff opposition from the political parties to the bill and but also the continued agitations of the Indian peasants against the bill have stalled its passage in parliament.

Environmentalists, labor unions, student unions are also protesting privatization policies of the governments. These movements are the core of the anti-globalization movements spreading across Asia.

A propaganda slogan, “There is no alternative” (TNA),was prevalent in 1980s, when the Reagan-Thatcher era began with the advent of intense neoliberal globalization. But during 1990s and in the later period there were huge protests, targeting corporations, neoliberal ruling elites and the international institutions like IMF that served the interests of the large corporations. In spite of many ups and downs, the anti-globalization movement has the potential of advancing in a much bigger scale.

Where does the difference lie between the movements in Asia and Europe on the one hand and the Latin America on the other? The Latin American anti-globalization movements have entered into the stage of forming Left governments in many countries. The political transition is going on in Latin America. The movements in all other countries including the Asian countries have to go a long way to attain the position of wielding power and stopping the neoliberal drive.

The new political, economic social order that represents the interests of global working people and the poor must be the vision of anti-globalization movements irrespective of the country wise specific demands and programs.

The creation of a World Social Forum (WSF) in 2001 had been the big boost for Asia’s anti-globalization movement. The holding of the fourth WSF conference in Mumbai in 2004 was the important event in the developments of the movement. But currently in India, the rightwing mobilizations in the political, social spheres have been the biggest challenge to the Left and the anti-globalization movements in India.

Combining the global movement with the local, grass-root mobilization against the specific manifestation of neoliberal policies is the strategy which the Indian Left and the Asia’s people movements are trying to perfect themselves.

In an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now (, the newly elected mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, also the first female mayor of the city, explained about the importance of using city councils as the key to confronting neoliberal policies. She confidently said that “we can prove there is another way to govern, more inclusive, working together with the people, more than just asking them to vote every four years.” At the same time, she insisted on strengthening the global movement since “the big capital and the markets move freely around the world, unlike people.”

Gaining lessons from these experiences and moving forward in its struggle against neoliberalism are the important tasks of the anti-globalization movements and the Left forces in Asia.

N. Gunasekaran is a political activist and writer based in Chennai, India.

From The Progressive Populist, August 1, 2015

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