The last decade has witnessed tremendous developments in terms of the scope and forms of international resistance to globalization. Indeed, this resistance is not only targeted at the processes of globalization but goes deeper to include the very policies that outline the process of globalization. Despite their different individual meanings, the two concepts of globalization and resistance are quite similar in ideals and application. On one hand, globalization is understood to comprise a variety of trajectories and forces representing both negative and positive dimensions. Similarly, resistance to globalization pertains to different varieties of struggles that are contradictory and highly complex in nature (Mittelman, 2010). In this regard, therefore, resistance to globalization ranges from a radically progressive mode to one that is conservative and reactionary. But it is the evolution of the resistance across different periods that is fascinating. Today, modern resistance to globalization has witnessed a string of transformations and will continue to do so over years to come. Ultimately, the power of resistance to globalization in shaping societal ideals cannot be underestimated.
Resistance to globalization has continually existed in successive years albeit in different and unique forms. That is to say that resistance has outlived the test of time from the ancient to the modern times. According to Marxist tradition, globalization then referred to as capitalism, produced an era of imperialism and exploitation rather than a beneficial wealth of nations. Accordingly, Marxism viewed globalization as another way of oppression and hegemony by the rich minority upon the poor majority. From an early period therefore, the world witnessed a resistance to the form of globalization advanced during Karl Marx’s time. In the same spirit of resistance, counter hegemonic liberation movements began to develop out of the need to develop a third way against communism and capitalism. The result of these attempts was the continuation of resistance until the collapse of communism in the 1990s. This form of resistance, albeit traditional, was effective in shaping societal ideals and abolishing hegemony at a time when the latter was most favored.
Towards the end of the 20th century, a new form of resistance to globalization was developed. This type of resistance was popularly referred to as the anti-globalization movement and attempted to formulate a global civil society. This push for a global civil society was driven by the need to uphold the values of equality, social justice and autonomy while producing new public angles of cosmopolitan culture as well as political debate. As the 20th century was coming to a halt, activists in their large numbers started their opposition to specific forms and aspects of globalization. In so doing, the resistance provided an opportunity to develop positive forms of globalization that were more positive in scope. As the resistance advanced, the world began to witness the proliferation of such terms as social justice movement as well as anti-corporate globalization movement. Accordingly, most activists painted globalization in negative light because of its perceived top-down capitalist programs (Head & Mayer, 2013). In addition, the activists opposed the concepts of imperialism and war as well as the monopoly of transnational corporations with a goal of exploiting profits from the poor.
The resistance to globalization has advanced over time to incorporate new aspects including the use of internet. Perhaps, this development stems from the increasingly significant involvement of youths in the movements. The use of internet and other types of media has helped in the coordination of protests as well as the manifestation of oppositional techno politics. In this fashion, the anti-globalization movement and its relationship with modern technology is a complex and contested association that is quite contradictory in nature. The recognition of anti-corporate globalization movements is dependent on large international protests against global developments in these areas. The use of conferences and summits to stage such protests is not coincidental but is part of a well laid down process of attaining the most coverage ion the international media. The activists view the economic policy makers and conferences as attempts to advance future unjust globalization.
The different forms of resistance to globalization are played out in different protests across the world and may range from mild to harsh methods. In some cases, leaders have set themselves on fire to stage revolutions and others have led to the death of many people in advancing and sending the message of anti-globalization. The effectiveness of these methods is however dependent on the applicability of the same and the nature of their applications. Since the 9/11 bombings in the US, anti-globalization movements have increasingly targeted the militarist policies of governments across the world. Most notable are the militarist policies of Bush and Blair administrations which have been targeted in a bid to showcase the growing anti-war grassroots movement. The effectiveness of such methods of resistance is improved by the high level of coordination across the different countries participating in the protests (Chin & Mittelman, 2015). For instance, an anti-war protest was convened in 2003 bringing together more than 15 million people across 60 different countries in the world. Such was the magnitude of the protest that some international media outlets referred to the protest as the other superpower.
The success of the anti-globalization movement is largely dependent on its ability to remain mobile regardless of the situation. In fact, the movement has managed to change its constituencies, styles and messages depending on the situation thus attaining an aspect of adaptability. In addition, the resistance to globalization incorporates different sections of society including the youth and the aged. Indeed, the anti globalization movement houses different political and cultural organizations including traditional unions and parties as well as not for profit organizations. Further, different citizen groups and individuals are also incorporated to represent the different societal needs and interests. Ultimately, the anti-globalization movement is seen as an evolution of the modern struggles for political rights where different political issues are interlinked. The result is a continuation of the success of such movements in curtailing the advancement of imperialism and hegemony in the world. Moreover, the anti-globalization movement has improved the existence of a sustainable planetary ecology as well as universal human rights.
While it may be argued that globalization has a hand in the continuation of a form of modernization in the less developed countries, resistance to globalization has played a similar role. Conversely, western countries have claimed credit for their role in the modernization of developing countries following the Second World War. However, there are enough reasons to link the new social resistance movements to several historical precedents (Falk, 2007). The rise of African nationalism in the 1950s as well as Latin American popular education programs forms part of the examples of resistance to growing globalization. In addition, China’s Tiananmen Square democracy movement in the 1980s and Chico Mende’s fight against the destruction of the Amazon rain forest are other forms of resistance. Other examples of the role of resistance to globalization in advancing modernization are reflected in the election of a government of national unity in South Africa. In Nigeria, 1991 saw the formation of a movement to fight Shell Oil from exploiting the people of Ogoni. Overall, most of these movements were regionalized to advance a common goal of contesting the negative influence of capitalist development. However, others have similarities with modern resistance models which mix both violent and non-violent protests. Still, attempts to form solidarity with other groups in different parts of the world were witnessed in prior movements.
Today, the advent of anti-globalization resistance is quite different from that of yester years due to the changes in its application. Indeed, the resistance today is only unique in its application of newer technologies that are associated with the use of internet. In addition, there is a general consensus that the term anti-globalization is not ideal for such movements because they are not against globalization per se. In reality, the movements, although in resistance of globalization, push for a globalization that is focused on positive cultural values (Gills, 2010). In this respect, therefore, the resistance is not an opposition to globalization but a preference for a more inclusive from of globalization other than the one advanced. Other terms have therefore been fronted to represent the resistance including such terms as globalization from above or globalization from below.
Regardless of the term in use, the effectiveness of this form of resistance in advancing the modernization of the world has been nothing short of tremendous. The World Social Forum is one such movement that has been held annually since 2001 in opposition to the World Economic Forum. With a representation of over 100 countries and participants in their tens of thousands, the conference is a manifestation of the possibility of globalization from a different angle. The ability of the resistance to incorporate a diverse representation from different progressive groups and causes has characterized it as an alternative to capitalist globalization. In the end, the prominence of such resistance movements is a pointer to the need for inclusivity in fighting societal ills. The concept has been used in expressing political ideologies of a global audience sourced from different world locations and with a common purpose. It is this inclusivity and solidarity that has rendered such movements successful in shaping the path of the world in terms of political and social cultural values.
In light of the development and evolution of the resistance against globalization, modern movements have focused on new issues such as environmental destruction and global justice. Today, the issues that shape the political agenda are way different compared to those of past decades. In addition, there is more media coverage on issues that affect the society and which resistance movements advocate. This development is in contrast with the past where mainstream media failed in the reporting and debate of globalization. It is only after the advent of the anti-globalization movement that the mainstream media started to influence the happenings of the world in relation to globalization. Even when the media was involved, it failed in critically assessing the activities of important international organizations (Waterman, 2010). Today, these organizations including the IMF, World Bank and the WTO are faced with widespread controversy regarding their roles and performance. In view of this development, the institutions are facing increasing pressure from activists to change tact and conduct their business in a transparent manner.
The insistence of resistance groups that the world international bodies change their policies regarding important political issues is finally paying off. Today, representatives of such bodies as the World Bank have pledged to initiate reforms at the backdrop of increased criticism of their mandate. Indeed, international pressure is mounting regarding the proper and improper roles of different world institutions. The World Bank in particular faces increased pressure over the need to reform in the areas of debt relief for impoverished countries facing social and fiscal challenges. This development in globalization resistance point to a fact that has for a very long time been overlooked: that resistance plays the role of countering and reforming globalization. On one hand, social movements insist on direct and encompassing democracies that have autonomous communities. On the other hand, however, other movements seek political structures that are democratically accountable while still maintaining a truly representative nature. Regardless of the styles of action in use, the role of resistance in reforming and countering negative globalization is successfully achieved.
Still, resistance to globalization continues to evolve through newer and different manifestations. In recent times, groups that seek to defend the local ideas of certain communities have sprung up in the form of extreme right political movements. These groups have developed out of the need to protect their ideals such as fundamentalist culture and national isolationism from the growing imposition of global governance (Falk, 2007). Moreover, some of these groups have developed from a need to protect religious values from the negative influence of globalization and the interplay of secular culture. In light of this development, the world has witnessed the formation of jihadist groups fighting the ideals of a globalized society. In fact, most Islamic countries now have a group that strictly enforces Sharia law within its border of control. Such has been the reasons for the burst in such groups as the Al Qaeda, ISIL and Al Shabaab in their respective locations in the world. The frustration within such groups has led to large scale destruction on civilian and public property as was witnessed in the 9/11 bombing in the US.
Over the three decades, the world has witnessed a proliferation of fascist groups perhaps out of a growing concern against the ideals of globalization. In Europe, there is an increase in xenophobic and ultra-nationalist politics where issues raised by traditionally marginalized groups are highly regarded and considered. Indeed, European countries as well as the US have seen politicians in support of these ideologies capturing over 20% of the popular vote. In the US, there was particular increase in xenophobia as evidenced by the increasing control of the Minutemen group. This is an armed vigilante group that operates along the Mexican border to repulse illegal immigrants while monitoring the government for violations in tax collection and employment laws. The existence of such groups is driven by the very nature of globalization where every other person wants to be part of the developed society (Mittelman, 2010). In view of this development, fascist groups arise in opposition of this ideal and to protect their space against some form of invasion.
Across the globe, groups that are against globalization continually develop out of different needs. In the US, the population can be termed as far right as evidenced by the push for individualist liberties including the right to possess arms. Moreover, there is increased resistance against the globalization of Western political norms and culture. Globalization has wrongly portrayed ideals of the western countries as the only way to political, social and economic success across the world. However, this cannot be further from the truth as other models of social political and economic development have proved otherwise. The western countries have for instance pushed for democratic ideals in the world leading to the death of many leaders in opposition of the same as well as the destabilization of their respective countries. In similar fashion, this push has led to the eruption of highly conservative and reactionary groups advancing different religious fundamentalism. Islamic fundamentalism, has gained the most prominence as a resistance to globalization (Head & Mayer, 2013). Such groups as the Taliban have developed to signify a more violent and extreme aspect of resistance to globalization. The development of such groups is entirely to blame for the advancement of modern democratic politics and secular cultures through globalization. The uniqueness of this form of resistance is in the use of modern technology in promoting the ideals of a global jihad movement. In so doing, resistance again manifests itself as a highly complex and contradictory discipline just as globalization.
The modern form of resistance is however dependent on the use of technology in advancing the various ideals of the resistance groups. International organizations against globalization have influence global policy through the informative power derived from their websites. The beauty of employing technology in resisting globalization is depicted in the fact that information can be communicated to large numbers of people in one instant. It is not only governments that have faced the wrath of resistance groups in contemporary society. There have been increased campaigns against the exploitation of global corporations such as McDonalds and Nike. In 2000, hackers attacked the Nike website and substituted the company’s hype with a message that advocated for global justice (Waterman, 2010). In addition, there has been a proliferation in the number anti-Nike websites in opposition to the company’s labor practices. The success of these groups can only be measure through the resultant reforms in the labor practices of the company today.
The success of resistance groups is largely dependent on the effective application of technology in advancing the different ideals of such groups. This success is evidenced through the case study of McDonalds where a British group created an anti-McDonald website. The information was then distributed through print and digital media reaching millions of viewers instantly and forcing action on the company. The reason for this action stemmed from the company’s unfair advertising practices and low wages. Further, the company faced resistance due to its involvement in patronage of unhealthy diet as well as the mistreatment of animals and deforestation. The scenario created a negative publicity for the company resulting in lower sales and continued pressure to reform its practices. The success of such a campaign would not have been achieved in such a short duration without the use of technology. Other examples of corporations that have been attacked through technology with considerable success portray the importance of fighting societal ills through technology (Chin & Mittelman, 2015).
Just as globalization has evolved and developed over time, so has the concept of resistance to globalization. Over time, resistance groups advancing different causes have used different forms to attain their goals with most of these attaining tremendous successes. Globalization has the responsibility of painting capitalism as an egalitarian and inevitable concept, something that is not true. It conceals the reality by distorting the real nature of the struggle of the victims against the ideals of imperialism. The result of this imposition is the resistance witnessed ever since time immemorial with different movements advocating for different ideals. Specifically, the inequalities between the North and the South countries as well as the disparity between the rich and the poor are to blame for the failure of globalization and the emergence of resistance. Nevertheless, the use of resistance in opposing imperialism has a positive effect in reforming and countering the negative nature of globalization as is advanced today. Overall, the resistance to globalization has yielded significant success in shaping globalization.
Chin, C. B., & Mittelman, J. H. (2015). Conceptualizing resistance to globalization. In Globalization and the Politics of Resistance (pp. 29-45). Palgrave Macmillan UK.
Falk, R. (2007). Resisting ‘globalisation‐from‐above’through ‘globalisation‐from‐below’. New Political Economy, 2(1), 17-24.
Gills, B. K. (2010). Introduction: Globalization and the politics of resistance. In Globalization and the Politics of Resistance (pp. 3-11). Palgrave Macmillan UK.
Head, K., & Mayer, T. (2013). What separates us? Sources of resistance to globalization. Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d’économique, 46(4), 1196-1231.
Mittelman, J. H. (2010). The globalization syndrome: transformation and resistance. Princeton University Press.
Waterman, P. (2010). Social movements, local places and globalized spaces: implications for ‘globalization from below’. In Globalization and the Politics of Resistance (pp. 135-149). Palgrave Macmillan UK.
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