With the transnational corporate news media increasingly taking on responsibility of legitimizing ideas and informing citizens of the world, it becomes increasingly important to scrutinize what is left out of the stories being told. The global news media uniformly trumpet the virtue of ‘globalization’ as if it is inevitable and beneficial for the future of humanity. But these media are nothing more than an arm of the same process they claim to report as news, and they have vested interests in convincing humanity that there is no choice but to globalize. Any dissent, if it gets airplay at all, is reduced to emotional images of unruly street protestors and black masked anarchists. If one’s view of globalization is shaped by how it is covered in the corporate media, then one is getting what amounts to mass propaganda and a cover-up of the realities of globalization and its discontents.

Globalization is essentially an economic process that begins in America and eventually involves its tri-lateral partners in Europe and Japan. Taking the ideology of neo-liberalism as its rhetorical fuel, globalization seeks to create a world economy that benefits American corporations, first and foremost, as well as other transnationals that operate by American-defined rules. Globalization seeks to break down all barriers to trade, which include much of what used to be called ‘national sovereignty’ and ‘local culture.’ To the extent that national sovereignty gets in the way of American progress, it must be dismantled; to the extent that local culture teaches other ways to live besides American consumerism, it must be changed. In any case, the global media are not a reliable source of information on this topic.

There is a steadily mounting grassroots movement against globalization, and it is a lot more nuanced, united and sophisticated than the global media would have viewers believe. This is for a reason, since one of the propaganda ploys of the collusion between global capital and its corporate news cheerleaders is to prevent access to any meaningful alternatives, and to discredit immediately any alternatives that manage to somehow poke through the dense curtains of propaganda. Arising steadily since the 1970s, and gaining momentum in the past decade, the anti-globalization citizens movement is presently centered around four well-organized and active international campaigns that work on opposing the World Trade Organization, calling for Third World debt cancellation, reforming international financial organizations (e.g., World Bank and International Monetary Fund), and countering global financial markets by way of new taxes on financial transactions.

The fourfold attack on globalization gained momentum in Madrid in 1995, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Bretton Woods financial institutions, rallying supporters with the now well-known slogan ‘fifty years is enough!’ While the forces of globalization could take solace in their own smug confidence that the propaganda regime would cover up the mounting dissent, the fourfold movement shattered their dreams of a smooth transition to absolute corporate rule. At first ignoring, then denouncing, and now actively repressing dissent, the global financial institutions and their governmental proxies have been revealed in all their desperate brutality, as evidenced by reactions in Seattle, Washington and Prague.

While the four campaigns have their distinct agendas, leaderships and strategies, there is also a great deal of shared operations and agreement on tactics. Organized at the local, regional, national and international levels, the campaigns have become a widespread yet difficult to pinpoint counter-movement on a global scale. But this is not just a counter-movement for its own sake; it seeks to dismantle and to build at the same time, to take advantage of what is beneficial about global sensibilities while also building local alternatives that work on the ground in their diversity.

Trade unions play a major role in the campaigns against financial speculation and in support of debt cancellation. The debt cancellation has a noticeable religious presence, too, so far dominated by Christian churches, but sure to include other religious institutions as it grows. Environmental groups are active in the financial reform movements, and, in the form of the Green Lobby, have played a major role in the campaign against the WTO. Consumers groups, workers guilds and farmers associations have also played important roles in building the anti-WTO campaign. All of the movements have in their front lines the youth of various societies, who are tired of watching TV and their future being sold to transnational corporations.

The international movement has succeeded in drawing attention to the problems of globalization, countering the propaganda of the global media and compliant national governments. More and more people are now asking questions about globalization, what it stands for, how it will effect their lives and what is its vision of the future, causing the global ruling elite to have to publicly explain and justify itself. Once these explanations are made public, they then become subject to debate and countering, so a major victory of the anti-globalization forces has been to drag the global elite, kicking and screaming, out of its board rooms and into the open.

A unifying feature of the peoples movement is the call for accountability from corporations and governments. No longer seduced by vapid slogans of democracy and free markets, people are demanding real accountability in the form of participation in shaping their own destinies with protection from the predatory forces of globalization. Governments are at a cross-roads, having to choose between mounting oppression — the choice being pursued in the US, for example — or joining the call for accountability. The latter is still rather precarious on the international scene, since the US still has a lot of bullying power in convincing governments to repress citizens movements if those movements seem to suggest any sort of alternative to American style corporate globalization, which explains the American support for some of the most repressive regimes in modern history.

But countering is not enough, so the movement is also building alternatives. Independent research institutions, for instance, have begun to challenge the research in support of the status quo presently coming out of most universities, forcing glib academics to defend their positions in an increasingly diverse and often hostile climate to the formerly complacent hegemony they once held on ideology and analysis. Other organizations are forming to monitor and eventually guide international financial institutions by way of taxes and regulations, replacing an absolute free market whose only guiding force is greed with a free market that has accountability to people and the environment as its primary course of action.

Different parts of the movement adopt and build upon each other’s ideas and successes, and the eventual success of all four campaigns is set to benefit everyone locally as well as internationally. The campaign for debt cancellation seeks to eliminate the burden of debt from Third World nations, while also demanding co-responsibility for this debt from financial institutions and positioning all lawful servicing under citizens control. The campaign for taxing financial speculation is seeking to feed its revenues back into public services, while demanding legal redress of tax havens and other unlawful loopholes utilized by global capital. As made evident in Seattle and Davos, the campaign against the WTO is seeking greater citizen participation and more transparency of financial negotiations. As the movement grows, the benefits will accrue to all and further proposals will arise.

All of this organizing and collective action puts the lie to the global media cheerleading for corporate rule. But there is another dimension to the people’s movement against globalization that is even less well known or understood. The various campaigns and their sub-campaigns are replete with instances of individual bravery. This is no rag-tag band of rabble-rowsers; these movements have many people who are risking life and limb for their causes. Protestors in Germany chained themselves across railroad tracks at night to block a train carrying toxic waste, building on a similar tactic employed earlier by activists in the northeast US who chained themselves to heavy equipment to prevent clear-cutting old growth forests. In both cases, they had to be cut free, and in the latter case only after police had sprayed pepper extract in the eyes of the protestors. Meanwhile, a woman has lived on a covered platform high in an ancient tree to prevent forest clear-cutting. This is not to mention the countless people brutalized in the streets by national police forces who are now increasingly being seen to act as arms of corporate rule.

As wide-ranging as this movement is, and despite its absence from the global media, this is only the beginning. The movement has its sights set on several goals over the next couple of years, and every effort should be made to track developments and support, which in any case will have to be done outside the world of the global corporate media. In the near future, for example, the movement is planning participation in the G7 meeting in Genoa in July 2001 and at the European Council meetings that are set to be held in Belgium in December 2001.

Next year, there will be a conference on development funding in June 2002, which many organizers hope will provide a platform to discuss issues arising out of the four campaigns and future prospects. Issues that are sure to be on the agenda will include drawing attention to problems of economic development while carrying massive international debt, the increasing necessity for transparency in financial institutions, further calls for taxes on speculation, an end to corporate welfare and other forms of public support for private investment, taxes based on ecological concerns, and further debates on the role of sovereignty in an age of globalization.

These issues will no doubt be brought up in September of 2002 at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development, which will also provide a forum for presenting locally based alternatives to globalized markets and their dependency on American style corporate capitalism for economic well being, as well as continuing debates on national policy and its relationship to the global regime being demanded by the WTO and other transnational entities. With the internet and various forms of guerilla media promoting these and other events, the global corporate media will be faced with a dilemma of what to do about increasing visibility of a movement that it is not in their best interests to report, and the global media will also be held more accountable for broadcasting corporate propaganda disguised as news when more people come to know the alternatives.