Aug. 13, 2003: Mídia Sem Máscara

The New Face of the Antiglobalization Movements

Carlos I.S. Azambuja

Since the first World Social Forum, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2001, various texts have been making their way around the Internet which show a clear link between the thousands of communist and antiglobalization movements worldwide.

These movements are not linked in a hierarchical fashion, around a political party or a mass movement, as has been seen since the end of the nineteenth century with the various parties and organizations of the left.

Today, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, followed by the end of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union and the disintegration of international communism, along with the disappearance of the secretaries general and apparatchiks, how could this disorganized militancy, that believes that all problems to be confronted are the consequence of global deregulation, a process which--as is true--concentrates power and wealth in ever fewer hands, come together to respond to the efforts of those who want to organize it?

There is a new model being established for this, referred to as "networks". Without this system of networks, which works basically through the Internet, it would not have been possible to bring together the movements with a minimum of bureaucracy and hierarchy, once the age of manifestos, debated in endless meetings, is surpassed by the culture of frenetic and compulsive exchange of information. The groups remain autonomous, but their international coordination is adroit and its effect frequently devastating, making its capacity to act similar to a cloud of mosquitoes.

The "networks" use the Internet for everything: from cataloguing the latest meetings of the G-8 and other international organizations, to bombarding Shell or Esso with faxes and e-mails, passing out pamphlets against the exploitation of child labor by Nike, defending turtles of the Amazon or demanding the liberty of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a black prisoner in the U.S.A.

They make up a sort of (dis)organization that has no hierarchical structure or operational center, consisting of just "us", in whose interventions thousands of organizations come together horizontally to protest, in one way or another, the current world order. They can grow infinitely without anyone having to give up his individuality to any hierarchical structure.

This has become a way of adding a modicum of cohesion to the so-called antiglobalization movements and putting a little order into the chaos in the streets, as much as in the farrago of causes and demands of the immediate demonstrations, as at the summits of heads of state of the European Union and of international organizations, like the IMF, Bird, IDB, WTO, G-8; for instance those that took place in Seattle, Davos, Washington, Napoli, Prague, Santiago, Cancun, Porto Alegre, Barcelona, Genoa, Brussels, and most recently in Evain, at the G-8 Summit.

One of these organizations, for example, from Italy, has among its objectives "to recover critically the historical and political experience of the New Left and that of the workers' and communist movement in general," as well as to participate in the efforts that are being developed in the direction of the "theoretical refounding of Marxism."

The "World Alternative Forum", another of these "networks", is another international articulation of the radical left which holds control within the International Committee of the World Social Forum, which had Porto Alegre, Brazil as its meeting place three times.

Organizing in "networks", horizontally instead of hierarchically, can be considered strategic. One example that can be cited is is the so-called "Lilliput network", whose moral leader is the Catholic priest Alex Zanotelli, one of the most active figures in Liberation Theology and of the Italian Catholic left. He could be considered a sort of Italian Frei Beto. The name and manner of acting of the "Lilliput network" is a reference to the work of the Irish writer Jonathan Swift, in which a multitude of dwarves managed to subdue the giant Gulliver.

The "Lilliputian" strategy consists of weaving a worldwide web as encompassing as possible, always gaining space and influence in public opinion, endeavoring to obtain the isolation, disgrace, and an ever tighter circle around the current Gulliver, represented by neoliberalism and the United States.

The technique lies in the invisibility of actions, inspired by the Zapatista movement of Chiapas, México, attempting to disquise, to the adversary, the identities of those who are opposing them.

In the short and intermediate term, the prinicipal objective of the "networks" is to put hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of the major cities of Europe and the U.S.A., in demonstrations against the American government and the G-8 nations, during meetings of the IMF, WTO, IDB, International Labor Organization, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, of the G-8 intself and other international institutions, as well as stimulating a Europe outside of NATO, allied with Russia; stimulating a closer relationship between Russia and China; and establishing contacts with a view towards supporting in any way possible protest movements within the U.S., attempting to create a counterweight in American public opinion to the conservative government and seeking to encourage the participation of believers, principally Catholics, in these movements.

In this way, it doesn't seem to make any sense that India--a country where, in recent years, social insurgencies have been multiplying--has been chosen as the venue for the fourth World Social Forum, in 2004. In this choice lies the strategic interest of encouraging revolution on the Asian continent, giving "social backing" to these insurgencies.

The system of "networks", besides its obvious strategic advantages, has been presented as a form of "alternative globalization", of a social relationship that would salvage the anti-hierarchical and egalitarian objectives of Marxist and Gramscian socialism. This was affirmed by professor Alexander Vladimir Buzgalin, of the University of Moscow, of the Marxist magazine Alternatives, in his study "Alternative globalization and new social movements: theory and practice" (2003), distributed and discussed during the third World Social Forum.

The "networks", with their strategies, power and goals, are no doubt impressive and it would be a grave error to underestimate them. However, they are not invincible, as just exposing their revolutionary goals and showing that behind the apparent spontaneity of these protest movements there is a whole theory of revolutionary action takes away a great part of their impact; this appears to be their Achilles' heel.

Bibliography: CubDest