The Future of Corporate Globalization: From the Extended Order to the Global Village

By Jeremiah J. Sullivan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7

THE CHALLENGE OF SOVEREIGNTY AND IDENTITY: “WE WANT WHAT’S OURS”

In late February 1997, over 300 delegates to People’s Global Action (PGA) met in Geneva to discuss joint actions against the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the Maastricht Treaty, which established the European Union. Their goal was to develop a manifesto bearing witness to “the devastating social and environmental effects of globalization” brought about by “corporate control” of transnational corporations supported by the named international bodies. 1 What they yearned for was “solidarity” among “men and women of grassroots movements,” including foes of privatization, women, small farmers, indigenous peoples “fighting for their cultural rights,” students, anti-trade militants, environmentalists, fisher folk, animal rights activists, and “peace mobilizers.” What these disparate groups had in common was a hatred of the “corporate empire” and admiration for those who had “destroyed the seat of Cargill in India or Novartis’s transgenic maize in France.”

In the midst of PGA’s overblown rhetoric, all-encompassing zealotry, and a faith in the unifying force of shared sentiments, a “Peoples’ Global Action Manifesto” did emerge, and one of the themes running through it is a faith in national sovereignty as an antidote to the WTO’s and the multinationals’ efforts “to strengthen their global control over political, economic, and cultural life.” 2 Allegedly, “capitalist accumulation has always fed on the blood and tears of the peoples of the world,” and a stop to this can be brought about by returning autonomy to these peoples, which to some extent refers to nation-states. This rage for national sovereignty, as we will see, generates passion not only among indigenous folk in developing countries and their well-fed supporters in suburban American colleges, but also

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