Magazine article Tikkun

Cheerleading for Anticapitalism

Magazine article Tikkun

Cheerleading for Anticapitalism

Article excerpt

If THE RADICAL CHEERLEADERS have anything to do with it, it'll be a cold day in hell when Perrier gets to build a bottling plant at Lake Michigan.

"Ready?" hollers the head cheerleader at the ragtag assembly, arms akimbo.

"Let's go!"

"We don't want to privatize, corporations don't rule our lives !

We won't sacrifice our health, just to add to corporate wealth!"

Reliable entertainment at any anticorporate event, the radical cheerleaders-men and women alike- don fishnets, short skirts, wigs and pigtails to make their statement. "Privatize this!" they yell, slapping their asses and leaping about in general hilarity. The crowd laughs, applauds, wolf-whistles. No movement survives long without a sense of humor.

In transcending national governments, transnational corporations have effectively surmounted any real limits upon their power. As barriers between national economies have been dismantled, and as transnational corporations currently have an unprecedented amount of global power and reach, there is no countervailing global force to regulate them. Global economic institutions like the World Bank, World Trade Organization, and International Monetary Fund, created expressly for the purpose of regulating the world's economy, have become champions of a global free market that ultimately benefits only global capital and the wealthy, while fleecing everyone else and damaging the environment. International civil society, through its endlessly resourceful construction of alternatives, and its creative antiglobalization protests, has been the most effective institution in raising awareness around corporate hegemony.

The rising tide of resistance against the policies of the WTO, IMF, and World Bank is slowly but inexorably converging around shared goals, strategies, and visions. In November of 2003, migrant workers, direct action antiglobalization activists, NGOs, and American labor organized a series of vibrant protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement, which proposed to extend NAFTA. The day before labor's massive march, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney came to the convergence center on page

of the global justice direct action organizers. "We're delighted to be marching together tomorrow," he told us, as wild cheers arose from his exhausted listeners. "I stand with you here in solidarity."

Recovering the little "d" in democracy

IN A REAL SENSE, the global justice movement is recovering the power of democracy-not the George Bush flag-waving America-knows-best democracy we hear all too much about, but the old-fashioned rule of the people, by the people, for the people democracy that motivated America's most radical founders.

Protest movements around the world demonstrate that the power of a people united around a cause can prevail. In September of 1999, in response to the World Bank's aggressive campaign for the privatization of state-run enterprises, Bolivia leased the water management of its third largest city, Cochabamba, to Aguas del Tunari, an affiliate of San Francisco-based construction transnational Bechtel. This came out of a closed-door process, where Bechtel was the sole bidder. Aguas del Tunari negotatiated a 16 percent rate of return on the contract. Coupled with the $30 million debt inherited from the previous enterprise-a debt, incidentally, that approximately amounts to the revenues Bechtel earns in half a day- this meant the doubling of water rates for Cochabambinos (a conservative estimate: there are instances where prices jumped by as much as 200 percent, and this among one of the poorest populations in the world).

Before the rate hikes took effect, a citizens' movement known as La Coordinadora began coalescing. As Jim Shultz writes in "The Water Is Ours, Dammit!" from We are Everywhere, an anthology of essays written by activists, La Coordinadora consisted of factory workers, irrigators, farmers, environmental groups, economists, progressive members of Congress, and a broad grassroots base. …

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