| Introduction: Ten years after Seattle – Challenges for Global Social Movements Today

Januar 2010  Druckansicht
Foto: Dang Ngo

Foto: Dang Ngo

Close to the anniverary of the spectacular 30 November 1999 protest against the World Trade Organization in Seattle we received the manifesto by Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Italian activist and intellectual, “Ten years after Seattle. One strategy, better two, for the movement against war and capitalism“. Seattle was a welcome surprise for its militant, broad based protests and rebellion. Another treaty privileging the North failed; the movements suceeded in scandalizing the economic and social consequences of neoliberal globalization. Since then ‚Seattle’ stands in as a symbol of the powerful re-vitalization of global struggles against capitalist globalization.

Today – ten years later – Beradi positions himself radically against this narrative of success. Sure, he also regards ‚Seattle’ as a successful rebellion against the promises of neoliberalism. However, according to Berardi, social movements in general have not changed much about global capitalism, to the contrary, global wars and and militant fundamentalisms have proliferated.

Berardi’s assessment of the powerless state of the global justice movement coupled with the consequences he draws from his analysis started a fervent controversy among the editorial board: Do we want to publish such a grim text about the situation we are in? Moreover, do we really want to give voice to his conclusions which – pointedly – suggest a retraction to monasteries “where frugal well being is experimented with” und new strategies can be thought out? We didn’t. However, to neglect it would not solve the problem. Instead Berardi’s assessment calls for a thorough analysis and reflexion. Furthermore, our own controversy makes the necessity to debate the situation of global social movements today all the more apparent: their failures, impasses and lost hopes as well as the new dynamics, developments and alliances. Are there no, small or big steps towards progress in the midst of catastrophic times or is this just illsuion?

Thus, we asked intellectuals and activists from different movements and various world regions to share their analyses of and perspectives for the struggles for global social justice today. The answers draw attention to a heterogeneous picture of struggles and constellation of forces, of different possibilities for alliances, alliance building and strategic tasks for the left. This compilation of texts demonstrates now the urgency of analysing the specific configuration of forces while at the same time contextualizing them within the general challenge we face – e.g. in regards to the climate catastrophe. This is to our understanding a precondition for any productive debate with which we try to understand the state of the world ten years after Seattle and though which we can figure out promising areas for interventing in the current relations of ruling.

With this debate we hope for a productive debate and invite all readers to participate in it.

Controversy 10 Years after Seattle (ENG)