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Notes on the «anti-globalization» movement*

By Nikos Seretakis, member of the international section
During the last years the named, accurately or not, «movement against globalization» has concentrated a lot of publicity; it has acquired enough and increasing political importance. The intense debates on its character and perspectives, the sharp ideological and political juxtaposition within its ranks reflect different strategic conceptions about the character of the era that we live, the system of contradictions that drives the social evolution, the role and the mutual relations of different classes and strata, the direction of the struggle and, of course, its perspective.

However, this is not just a debate and polemic among comrades about the perspective of a common struggle; it is also a confrontation between opposed political and ideological currents that express profoundly different and colliding class interests. So, we are not «all one family». The class struggle is present here, as it is the task of the communists, of the organized vanguard of the working class, to successfully lead the battle on the field of the ideology. This is a necessary condition not only for organizing the resistance today, but also and even more for the opening up of the perspective. The ambition of this article is to open up only some of the aspects of this contest.

Signs of awakening and dispute

In the literature around this «movement» and the explanations that are being given about its roots, its context and even the mobilizations themselves that are attributed to it, prevails a certain degree of mythology that makes more difficult a comprehensive approach.

One of the elements that characterize the trends of popular awakening during the last years has been the strengthening of the struggles all around the world against imperialism and the institutions through which it imposes and strengthens is domination and exploitation: NATO, EU, IMF, World Bank etc.

The popular struggle and resistance have increased in a series of countries, Greece included. The mobilizations against the imperialist war on Afghanistan had been multiplied, as has the opposition to the plans of attack and intervention in Iraq and other countries that US imperialism includes in the "axis of evil". Demonstrations of solidarity with the just struggle of the Palestinian people have become stronger and have expanded all over the world. The anti-NATO movement grows as well.

In the European Union of the «one-way» of Maastriht and of EMU the slogan «against the Europe of capital and war» emerged as the main motto in all the big mobilizations during EU summits. It is especially important the fact that, the mobilizations that take place during the EU summits acquire stronger anti-EU and anti-capitalist features, surpassing and disputing the slogans and policies that have promoted both center-left and right-right parties and coalitions since the Maastricht Treaty and the NATO Summit of 1999. These are signs that the adversary takes seriously into account: its strengthens the repression, especially after Gothenburg, proceeding even to the suspension of the reactionary Senghen Accord when he feels that even these faint limits of bourgeois legality that it leaves may constitute a danger.

The dispute, the radicalization and the struggles were fed by different sources: by the struggles of the working class and the syndical movement, by the steps forward of the anti-imperialist movements and the outbursts of the movements for national liberation, by the struggle of the peoples that are directly facing the imperialist interventions.

At the same time, the intensification of the consequences of the crisis upon broader social strata, and in conditions that the labor movement had not yet recovered from the setback it suffered after the counterrevolutionary wave in the end of the XX century, has put on the move sections of the middle strata, of intellectuals and of the youth, that induced mobilizations which, even though they were only aiming at fragment aspects and consequences of the crisis, as a whole they reinforced the trends disputing the imperialist organizations.

In any case, these mobilizations demonstrated that the actual world order is not a «one-way» as it was argued by both social-democrats and liberals. On the contrary, it showed that the communists were right to say that history does not ends at the society of exploitation and that the social base of support to neo-liberalism and capitalism itself becomes narrower.

Seattle 1999: The birth

One important detail, which is carefully left into obscurity, is the starting point itself of the mobilizations that were named «movement against globalization». It «is forgotten» that it had derived from the womb of the proceedings and developments that took place inside the labor movement itself. It expressed, in its birth, both the steps forward as well as the limits of these steps that the labor movement had marked at that time. It has thus indicated, by its birth and by its course with all positive and negative aspects that accompany its development, where do the principal problem and the main task lie today: in the development of the class-oriented labor movement.

The starting point was, undoubtedly, the big mobilization in Seattle on December 1999 against WTO. Among others, it was also result and fruit of a series of developments that were taking place at that period inside the AFL-CIO, which even though did not mark any radical turn in its orientations, they nevertheless released important forces that expressed themselves in the streets of Seattle. We refer to the removal of anticommunist clauses from its constitution, the revisal of its stance towards the migrants and the turn related to the building and unification of the unions at the workplaces.

Speaking of these days, perhaps the most important fact had not been Seattle itself, but the big strike of the longshoremen in all ports of the eastern coast of USA. Thus, it is not by accident that the echo of Seattle had been comprehensively expressed by the following slogan that was widely circulated that period: «The movement has come back in the labor movement."

Since this moment, and during the whole development of the next mobilizations, one of the factors that have contributed in the success or not, in the recording of the manifestations as an important event or not, has been the presence of the labor movement, end more specific, as an expression of the processes and developments in the consciousness of the working class. Seattle would have never been possible without this element. This element was expressed also in the Genoa demonstration with the mass participation of the workers in the metal industry and of COBAS, and without the participation of CGIL and in opposition to it, which was following the line of class consent and collaboration.

The struggle for the orientation

As it was expected, even since the first mobilization, a fierce battle erupted –open or cloaked- about the orientation, the goals, and the demands. Already in the second mobilization, in the spring of 2000, various forces tried to move the focus from the IMF and WTO, and the policies they promote to the participation of China in the WTO. On April 8 an article by Scott Marshall, member of the leadership of CP USA, is been published in People’s Weekly World under the title «China's not the problem, it's global capitalism».

What has to be noted? The experiences have showed that, were recorded and have acquired dynamic especially those mobilizations that had more visible goals and orientation. Neither Washington DC, nor Quebec, nor Sidney was recorder with the «weight» of Seattle, of Prague, of Gutenberg, of Genoa. So, the struggle for the orientation does not only concern the question of the perspective, but the dynamic of the resistance as well.

On 2000-2001 this problem appears in a more clear way. In Prague, on September 2000, come into surface two new elements: on one hand a try of a distinguished presence and co-ordination of Communist Parties, upon initiative of the CP of Bohemia and Moravia that organizes a distinct moanifestation; on the other hand for the very first time appears, parallel to the manifestations and demonstrations, a «debate forum» with the participation of representatives of NGOs and of the IMF following an initiative of Havel himself. Some commentators speak of «the establishment of a new International», and others complement «yes, an International of the civil society».

The pressure becomes stronger, so that the movements move from the opposition to the policy that is being implemented and to the organizations through which imperialism imposes its domination, to the submission of «alternatives». «Alternatives» that of course move within the frame of the system. It is very comfortable and easy, for example, one to ask for «another Europe» without clarifying his position towards this EU of the monopoly capital and of war that does exist. Especially since the rapture with it constitutes the minimal precondition for the slightest thought about «another Europe».

However the crisis has its own dynamic. Parallel to these pressures for incorporation, new radical forces will emerge; the opposite trend is being reinforced as well. It is evident that two so different and contradictory tendencies cannot coexist for long.

This contradiction has instructively been expressed both in the First (January 2001) and in the second (January 2002) World Social Forums. On one hand, a series of movements and forces look at it as a point of contact and of co-ordination and on the other hand the European Social-democracy looks at it as a chance to manipulate the movements and intervene in the political systems of Latin America. Perhaps, it is not by chance the fact that the «father» of the idea of the World Social Forum, mr Oded Grajew, belongs to the entrepreneurs’ circles of Porto Alegre. The above-mentioned struggle acquires new features after September 11th.

The sharpening of the capitalist crisis and the imperialist aggressiveness

The period we are undergoing is being characterized by the deepening of the capitalist crisis, the sharpening of the rivalries between the big imperialist powers, and the overt aggressiveness of imperialism, which, on the pretext of confronting terrorism, is being turned against all peoples and their mass movements that resist the new imperialist world order.

Some fundamental elements of the new situation concern: the violation of fundamental rights and liberties, the escalation of military interventions and the threat to use nuclear weapons, the escalation of anti-communism. It is worth noting that only in Europe the use of the name «CP» is still banned in Hungary, Poland, the Baltic States, is under persecution in Turkey, while attempts in the same direction took place recently in Russia and Slovakia. All peoples and their movements are threatened by the imposition of the global domination of monopoly capital, with the USA as the leading force, and by the activation of the Euroarmy and of the Article 5 of NATO. The whole of humanity is facing a dangerous plan by contemporary imperialism, which threatens peace, security and stability in many regions of the planet

This intensity of imperialist aggression does not confine itself to international relations and the military sector, but embraces all spheres of social life. It turns against workers’ rights and gains. It influences the political system, acquiring even more reactionary political and ideological characteristics in culture and in workers’ leisure time.

The ongoing crisis will grow stronger and deeper in due course; all its contradictions will grow sharper. The crisis contains a dynamic that could radicalize broader social strata. However, in order this to be expressed politically it is needed something more than mere organizing struggles around the various problems. It is imperative, at the same time, to develop the political consciousness. This issue constitutes one of the most central issues for the communist movement.

At the same time, the political and ideological juxtaposition in the popular movements, as well as within the «anti-globalization» movement, is becoming more acute. The ruling class and its supporting forces, especially social- democracy, are trying to mislead and to incorporate the dissatisfaction and the struggles, to ease off the struggle into a confused and cheap protest with no content and no goals.

Two distinct lines are becoming all the more visible inside these struggles and processes: One that tends to reinforce the anti-capitalist elements, and that considers that the way out from the capitalist barbarity and exploitation lies in the development of the anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly struggle in the route towards socialism, and another that wants just to rectify the most extreme consequences of the capitalist crisis within the frame of this social system.

The second line is openly promoted by social-democracy and it is more visible in the various «Forums» than in the struggles themselves. It tries to substitute the organized labor and popular movements with the so-called «civil society» or NGOs, some of which are under the influence of various centers of the ruling class and imperialism itself. The way that imperialism set up and used NGOs in order to control and form the political system of the Balkans in the frame of the «stability pact», is instructive, as they also are the references in the NATO documents on the role of the «civil society» in all ex-socialist countries

This effort was also visible in some ideas that were expressed in Porto Alegre, that see in this process the creation of a «new» «social partner» that will dialogue with the institutions of the international monopoly capital. We will focus on some elements of this ideological juxtaposition:

Which can be the alternative

There is a systematic effort to replace references to imperialism and the imperialist system with references to «globalization» and to «neoliberalism» based on a classless understanding, as well as with references to the monopoly and hegemony of the USA in a way that do not recognize the role and responsibility of the other imperialist forces.

Those efforts also include the adoption of a series of positions and demands which in fact try to create a «more human face» for this inhumane exploitive system. They are seeking an «alternative» inside its boundaries.

At best they present the utopia of wealth redistribution without disturbing capitalist ownership of the means of production and the power of the monopolies, which, in the era of imperialism, constitute central questions of the class struggle.

In Europe, a positive contribution by forces that participate in the «anti-globalization movement» is possible on the precondition that these forces will confront or at least dispute the NATO, EU and their policies that constitute the drive of the neoliberal policies in our continent. Views that several forces present and that restrict the adversary exclusively in the IMF, World Bank and WTO, leaving untouched the EU and NATO, are not only harmless for the system, but in practice also constitute a support to the European Imperialist Center in his competition with the US, and actually mean subordination of the popular movements to the specific interests of the European monopolies.

The systematic criticism of the various forms of management that are being proposed as supposedly alternatives for remedying crisis, unemployment, poverty and even war, e.g. views «borrowed» from the period of Keynesian arrangements, is necessary in order to promote the realistic prospect and necessity of socialism in the current conditions.

Social movements, parties and the question of power

The attempts to exclude parties and especially Communist Parties from some meetings and mobilizations, and to impose conditions on communists to water down their fight against capitalism are multiplied and strengthened.

However, there are deeper reasons for the fact that some forces promote the opposing of the «social» to the «political». This idea is not new at all. It also appeared among bourgeois intellectuals during the 73-74 and the 78-79 crises. Aims at obscuring the question of power and its class nature, as well as the question of political struggle. It exonerates the governments and social-democracy from their responsibilities. It disputes the value of the class struggle. It tries to substitute the concept of classes and the historical role of the working class as the subject of the social evolution with the idea of the «civil society». It aims directly against the Marxist-Leninist ideology and reproduces a well-elaborated anti-communism, which some times is open and well projected. It tries to undermine the policy of alliances of the CPs. A special role is played here by ATTAC, which is sponsored by Monde Diplomatique and by sectors of the Socialdemocracy, and which seems to have a particularly elaborated and flexible tactic aiming at the communist movement and the CPs. Let us remind that in the Russian Federation for example, the branch of ATTAC played a leading part in the creation of the obscure, so-called «Party of Labour», and plays a role in the efforts that aim against the CPs in Russia.

Simultaneously, some efforts are developing that aim at completing the incorporation of forces that participate in this «movement» through its homogenization and its transformation into a political-ideological current. Thus, some forces and parties, see in this «movement» the birth of «a new social subject» for the social change, and set off the reactionary idea of «a new political subject» which, according to their view, has to be built based on this «movement». To move so, they try to push the proceedings especially of the World Social Forum towards the creation of vertical structures, and towards its political homogenization, while at the same time they try to exclude, to restrict, to condition and to blackmail radical forces that participate in this process. The steps towards political homogenization and structuring can be noticed in the process of the WSF: The first WSF had been called on the name of opposition-resistance to neoliberalism and to the Davos Forum; the second (2002) on the name of elaborating alternatives, while the third that lies in front of us (2003) will have as its subject, according to some forces, to define the political strategies of «the movement». Especially in Europe a series of forces and parties connect this «new political subject» with the –promoted by the same forces- idea of a «European left party».

The course of development that had followed sections of the ecological movement of the 80s in developed capitalist countries is indicative: through similar processes (eg the famous discussions of that time: the «new movements» –nowadays we meet sometimes the term «new collectiveness»-, «no to the parties», «alternatives» within the boundaries of the system) the famous «Green Parties» came into being, most of which were rapidly transformed into allies of Socialdemocracy and pillars of the system. It is also indicative the impact of this process on the ecological movement itself: it led to its decay and degeneration. It is also to be noted the outcome of the «social movement» in France on 95: it led to the infamous «center-left» government.

It is possible today, on the ground of the growing and complex contradictions that imperialism sets off, to rally even more broad sections of oppressed social strata, movements and people in the fight against imperialism. At the same time the basic contradiction of capitalism between labor and capital becomes all the more acute. The trend of class struggle is directed more and more towards the resolution of this contradiction. Thus, the role of the working class and its movement, of the working class Parties, of the class orientation of the labor movement are factors of increasing importance, even for the expression of the possibility of building viable alliances in a anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly, democratic orientation.

3. The relation between national and international

We place great importance on the internationalization of the struggle and on the mass participation in and support of mobilizations against capitalist internationalization, or globalization as it is usually called, like the mobilizations in Genoa and those against EU Summits, such as that in Barcelona, now in Seville and tomorrow in Copenhagen, and those already being prepared here in Greece, with the forming of the movement «Thessaloniki Action 2003», for the EU Summit to be held in June 2003 in Thessaloniki.

Our Party has actively participated and encouraged the participation of organizations of the popular movement in all major events and demonstrations, and it will continue to do so.

On the other hand we consider as dangerous and profoundly disorientating the view that a struggle on a national level is a dead-end. On the contrary, today's struggle in every country has taken on a broader meaning and content and as also the need of international co-ordination. The fight at the national level is more closely interwoven with the struggle on regional and global level. Changes that take place in one or another country are directly affecting the balance of forces and struggle in other countries. Uneven development of capitalism is being intensified today, especially in the Euro-zone; therefore the struggle also will have an uneven course.

The substance is still the same: The internationalization of the struggle cannot bring results unless a powerful peoples' movement, a workers' movement with class orientation, a powerful CP with a correct policy of alliances that orientates itself towards solving of the question of power and in the detachment of its country from the international imperialist system, exist at a national level.

Which are the perspectives?/

The called «movement against globalization» has already a past, and it is undergoing a difficult present in the developed capitalist countries, in which it had been manifestated.

Its future greatly depends on the outcome of the struggle inside it; on whether and to what extend the democratic, anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly elements inside will be strengthened. It depends on what degree new forces will be freed to stoke the anti-imperialist movement. A critical factor will be the development and strengthening of the class-orientated labor movement.

On the other hand, the systematic enlightenment of the people and the ideological front has to be sharpened so that discontent and the struggles against the international capitalist organizations will be well - aimed and effective.

The distinct presence and intervention, the cooperation and co-ordination of Communist and Workers’ Parties constitute a condition of outstanding importance for the effective rally and orientation of broader anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly, democratic forces.

*Published in the issue of September-October of Communist Review,
theoretical and political organ of the CC of KKE.

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