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Alter-Globalization in the Aftermath of the Global Crisis

Geoffrey Pleyers
Université catholique de Louvain
Geoffrey Pleyers
Université catholique de Louvain
Open Panel

Abstract

The global justice movement has undergone deep changes in the face of the recent crisis of the very capitalism it criticizes. Based on qualitative research (interviews, discourse analysis and participatory observation) conducted at 2nd US Social Forum, the 2011 World Social Forum as well as national and local activists in Paris, Belgium and Mexico City, this article will analyze some transformations of the movement in the aftermath of the global crisis. It will first focus on each of the two main “cultures of activism” that have shaped the movement (Pleyers, 2010, Polity Press). The first one is based on the defense of subjective experience against the hold of transnational corporations and aims at implementing democratic and participatory values in daily life. While such local movements have multiplied after the crisis, case studies in Mexico emphasize their limits in a context of decreasing living standards. Other activists aims at developing scientific arguments to demonstrate the irrationality of neoliberal policies and to propose new regulations. The financial crisis has confirmed most of their analyses but hasn''t lead to significant changes in economic policies and global regulations. The article will then discus the widely shared argument of alter-gloablization decline. On one hand, recent national mobilizations in Europe suggest that the crisis favour the come back of a “pre-alterglobalization repertoire” (unconnected national mobilizations, expert advocacy networks, polarization around political leaders in Latin America...). On the other hand, signs of a renewed interest for global issues should also be considered, including the recent success of manifestos for alternative economics. New spaces of cross-fertilization between the two cultures of activism have also emerged, notably in mobilizations against global warming and through a “grassroots institutionalization process” that results from the integration of the “Seattle Generation” in mainstream civil society organizations and in the education sector.