Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World is Possible

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by John Cavanagh and Jerry Mander (eds)

Type: Book [title]
Published 2002
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In the last few years, the IFG became the first major organization to initiate work on alternative policies and visions to the current global economic model enforced through institutions such as the World Bank, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as well as international investment agencies and other such bureaucracies. Our work is closely linked to social and environmental movements, providing them with critical thinking and frameworks that inform campaigns and activities "on the ground."

We have finished a new expanded, updated Alternatives to Economic Globalization released in October 2004. Since mid-2002 when the first edition of the book was completed, the world has gone through dramatic changes. The military responses to the terrorist attacks of 9-11 have polarized world opinion and the body politic, driving great wedges into what had formerly seemed firm alliances and bringing entirely new and unexpected power shifts among nations. This is reflected not only in military terms, but in others as well, including shifting economic alliances and power centers, creating a new context for discussions about globalization.

The revised edition includes new sections on U.S. empire and militarization, ecological economics, climate change, the role of the media, elaboration of the proposals on the commons, and more. There is also a new section that chronicles living alternatives models and actions for change that citizens can do today.

The book tries to incorporate hundreds of the living examples of alternatives on the ground as well as some of the better proposals for alternatives at local, national, and global levels. After years of close collaboration with social movements—especially worker, farmer, and environmental organizations—we have used many of their calls for change as the basis for developing alternative proposals in the book. Here is what we've included:

A) A new introduction that tries to make sense of the emergence of countervailing power to the U.S. since Cancun, Miami, and the Iraq invasion.

B) A more detailed "ten principles for sustainable societies." This is based on our own culling of hundreds of civil society and popular movement documents over the past five years.

C) A more detailed presentation of "Reclaiming the Commons." This attempts to pull in all the most innovative proposals from campaigns on water, air, social services, and other commons.

D) New detailed sections on "alternatives in action" in energy, transport, manufacturing, agriculture, and the media. This is an area we anticipate will expand in each edition; we’d really welcome your input/writings on these subjects.

E) Our best case on how to change corporate structures and strategies needed to implement such changes.

F) An expanded attempt at new institutions of "global governance" to replace the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO). This includes expanded power for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and for Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs). It also tries to lay out new principles that these institutions should fulfill.

G) An additional chapter on "Global to Local: What You Can Do" that attempts to lay out what the individual can do as a consumer, worker, investor, depositor, local citizen, national citizen, and global citizen.

Alternatives to Economic Globalization remains the only comprehensive set of alternative proposals to economic globalization that answer the question "if you are not for globalization, then what are you for?"

In 2002, the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) released Alternatives to Economic Globalization [A Better World is Possible], detailing alternatives to the current rules and institutions of economic globalization. Written over three years by 19 leading researchers and activists from around the world, the report is a bold answer to critics who assert that the anti-corporate globalization movement does not have alternative proposals.

Written, not as separate essays, but by group consensus, by Jerry Mander, John Cavanagh, Sarah Anderson, Debi Barker, Maude Barlow, Walden Bello, Robin Broad, Tony Clarke, Teddy Goldsmith, Randy Hayes, Colin Hines, Antonia Juhasz, Andy Kimbrell, David Korten, Sarah Larrain, Victor Menotti, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Simon Retallack, Vandana Shiva, Vicky Tauli-Corpuz and Lori Wallach, the report offers detailed proposals, including:

* the emerging principles that groups around the world assert should underpin new rules, policies and institutions;
* an outline of the rules and institutions that could replace the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization, and that would promote democracy and sustainable societies;
* new proposals for responsibly managing the world's water and other natural resources;
* a compendium of actual alternative systems in agriculture, energy, transportation, and manufacturing around the world; and
* a spectrum of proposals to end corporate dominance.

Alternatives to Economic Globalization proposes concrete steps that people can take today to bring about the better world that we all know is possible.

From the introduction: "The issue is governance. Will ordinary people have a democratic voice in deciding what rules are in the best interest of society? Or will a small ruling elite, meeting in secret and far from public view, be allowed to set the rules that shape the human future? If the concern of the decision makers is only for next quarter's profits, who will care for the health and well-being of people and the planet?"