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Anti-Globalization, Then & Now

Black Bloc anarchists at the 1999 protest against the World Trade Organization in Seattle

1,596 words

Czech version here

Anti-globalization in the 1990s and early 2000s was overwhelmingly a phenomenon of the Left. But now that the mantle of anti-globalization has been taken up by the Right, it will be interesting to see how many on the Left do an about-face, and also to see if the Right can succeed where the Left has consistently failed.

When the North American Free Trade Agreement was implemented in 1994, the first major movement against it was the Zapatista rebellion in southern Mexico, which called NAFTA a “death sentence” for Mexican (mostly indigenous) farmers. They chose January 1, 1994 to announce themselves to the world precisely because it was the day that NAFTA went into effect. The Zapatistas quickly became a cause célèbre for the American and European Left, chiefly because of their articulate and charismatic leader, Subcomandante Marcos. (Marcos is interesting from a racialist perspective because, while the Zapatistas positioned themselves as a movement of indigenismo, their spokesman and strategist – and the only one who has ever interested anyone – was a light-skinned Mexican who was probably much more Spanish than Indian.)

The first major anti-globalization protest was against the World Trade Organization in Seattle in 1999. This was the now-famous “Battle in Seattle,” endlessly celebrated as a victory by the Left because the protesters actually succeeded in shutting down the WTO meetings for a whole day, even though in the long run this accomplished absolutely nothing. It is also celebrated for its brief (very brief, as in a couple of days) alliance between union groups, which represented American manufacturing, and environmental groups like Earth First! “Teamsters and Turtles, Together At Last” read one protest sign, as union men marched side by side with Leftist “street theater” kids, looking not a little uncomfortable about the juxtaposition.

At the time, President Clinton surprised everyone by making a statement in favor of the protesters, saying that the WTO attendees should “listen” to them. (Listening was then a popular theme among liberal politicians; Jonathan Bowden mocked Tony Blair for this.) It was typical Clinton doublespeak, since he has probably done more to promote globalization and destroy America’s manufacturing base than any other American leader, first by signing NAFTA into law, and then paving the way for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization by removing consideration of their human rights record from the renewal of its Most Favored Nation status. It was subsequently revealed that Chinese billionaires were making large, illegal donations to Clinton’s campaign. Anyone who lived through those times will remember that the Clinton and Bush years were the time when the flood of cheap Chinese products into America began.

The next big anti-globalization protest was less than a year after Seattle, this time in Washington D.C. against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. It should be noted that, both in Seattle and D.C., the vast majority of Leftist protesters were incapable of explaining what, precisely, was the problem with the WTO and the World Bank/IMF. Most were simply and vaguely “against the system,” which they identified variously as capitalistic, imperialistic, patriarchal, racist, or some combination of all of these. Many of the protesters, especially the younger ones, self-identified as Communists or anarchists, which for most of them was little more than a temporary identity flirtation, akin to deciding that one is a punk rocker and getting a leather jacket and some hair dye from the mall. Most would go on to become rather standard and dull liberals, and I strongly suspect that an overwhelming majority of them voted for Hillary Clinton (if they voted at all) with little to no memory of having vigorously opposed the Clintons back in the ’90s.

The most radical presence at the anti-globalization protests was the Black Bloc. The Black Bloc first emerged in Seattle, as a small band of anarcho-primitivists who took to vandalizing and destroying the property of companies that they felt were anti-environment and/or anti-worker. They famously targeted Starbucks in their hometown of Seattle, because they didn’t carry “fair trade” coffee. (I saw a photo of a smashed Starbucks from the recent anti-Trump protests – I suspect that the next generation of Black Bloc kids is just imitating what came before them, with little to no other reason why.)

Whereas most of the protesters were non-violent, being the usual bunch of hippies, Communists, New Age peaceniks, and the like, the Black Bloc not only destroyed property but sometimes fought with police. For this reason, there was active debate among the Left as to whether they should support or disavow them. The general consensus was that, although many protesters did not support the tactics of the Black Bloc, those tactics helped to normalize the positions of the movement, by pushing the Overton window and making the non-violent protesters look tame in comparison.

Furthermore, a number of non-violent protesters said that they actually felt safer knowing that the Black Bloc was there, because they were like a protection squad. At the very least, the police were likely to be distracted by them, and therefore not have as much time to tear gas and pepper spray the others. It will be interesting to see if a far-Right equivalent to the Black Bloc emerges. The recent attack on Richard Spencer by a Black Bloc member makes it clear that Right-wing activists need to defend themselves against violence from the Left.

The major turning point in the anti-globalization movement was 9/11. Some on the far Left cheered the destruction of the World Trade Center towers – twin symbols of global capital – as was said at the time by rapper KRS-One. But that was hardly a position to win over the public in a time of national shock and mourning. For most Americans, globalization and its economic consequences in America (the Left never cared about the cultural consequences) suddenly paled in comparison to an existential threat from the Islamic world.

The War on Terror triggered the Left’s knee-jerk defense of any non-whites against whites. The response of the Bush administration to 9/11 – which was, let’s face it, monumentally stupid in so many ways – was opposed by the Left as a racist, Islamophobic crusade of white supremacist Christian capitalist sexist oppressors who hate brown people and children and puppies. The identity-based issues that already co-existed beside economic issues in the confused Leftist platform came to dominate. What is remarkable is how completely the Left has abandoned the white working class in the last twenty years, despite the fact that the proletariat is supposed to be the Leftist demographic. Couple this with conservatism’s open disdain for the white working class, and you have no small part of the reason for the rise of Trump.

The historical Left dreamed of an alliance of the “workers of the world.” Perhaps realizing the futility of that dream – or perhaps not, since realization and acceptance of truth is not really the Left’s forte – they have largely moved on to the new dream of an alliance between the many and disparate groups which they claim to represent the interests of, such as blacks, Latinos, Muslims, gays, transgenders, the disabled, and women. What is supposed to unite this rainbow coalition of the oppressed is, at base, hatred and resentment of successful straight white men, which the Left hopes can win out over the coalition members’ various incompatibilities with, and hatreds of, each other.

The Left has accepted the idea that “globalization is inevitable,” which is not surprising since their ideology has always been international/anti-national and universalist in its essence. For nearly twenty years now, the only people making any serious criticisms of globalization have been the European New Right and American paleoconservatives.

But then came Trump. Reworking much of Pat Buchanan’s rhetoric and platform from previous decades, and combining it with the grandiosity of his personal style, Trump is the first major American politician to criticize the global trade agreements that have decimated American manufacturing and facilitated the particular form of globalization that has been happening since the the mid-twentieth century. I don’t recall a presidential candidate making any serious criticism of NAFTA since Ross Perot in 1992, before it even passed. And now, Trump is no longer a candidate, he is the President.

He has a lot on his plate. The trade deficit with Mexico is $60 billion. It is probably even higher than that if one factors in the number of illegals working in the U.S., repatriating some or all of their earnings. The trade deficit with China is a staggering $367 billion, which is also probably higher when Chinese theft of American intellectual property is factored into the equation.

But then, is it really “American” IP if the corporation that owns it has no loyalty to the United States, employing mostly foreign labor and having its headquarters in an offshore tax haven? President Trump is forcing a re-evaluation of not only the meaning of American citizenship, and its attendant responsibilities, at the individual level, but also at the corporate level. As the Leftist self-caricature Michael Moore noted before the election, no one has ever stood up to “American” corporations for shipping jobs to other countries the way that Trump has.

If the Left no longer cares about the white working class enough to appreciate this, the Right – the real Right – does. It’s too soon to praise Trump for deals and renegotiations not yet made, but all indications thus far are that he fully intends to make good on his promises to American workers.

Godspeed, God-Emperor.

This was originally posted on the blog of Martin Aurelio.

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  1. demize!
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Among other issues, this is precisely the reason I wholly abandoned the hollow ediface of leftist politics. This very contradiction became far too apparent. Third positionism is more coherent to me. The left as it stands is currently an obnoxious conglomeration of hypocrisy and anti white identity activism. It is anti worker, who can one be pro unfettered immigration and nominally pro working class? Their Palestinian activism is Jew controlled and muddled. Any serious person with serious political insight can only be disgusted by it.

    • William Barnwell
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      When I look at the massive protest taking place in regards to Trump’s immigration policies, I can’t help but thing whites are too far gone, the brainwashing too complete, and there must be a total collapse of Western Civilization before a return to sanity.

      • WN
        Posted January 31, 2017 at 1:02 am | Permalink

        “When I look at the massive protests taking place in regards to Trump’s immigration policies…”

        You left out the word “President.” Cheer up! Now is not the time to become disillusioned. We have many major battles ahead but we are doing better than any of us would have thought a mere two years ago.

  2. ReinDeDio
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    So the article suggests that the trade deficit between the USA and Mexico-china combined is 427 billion… but that is what the government economists say, while anyone, armed with basic bargaining skills, who has ever gone to a street market in China and/or Mexico has seen the existing currency manipulation, the purchasing power of the dollar is easily three times better than what it is being exchanged at worldwide, therefore the real trade deficit between China-mexico is over a trillion… of course most of the discrepancy finds its way back into wall street or else it wouldn’t be there, it’s not like the Mexicans and Chinese are investing in their people.

  3. R_Moreland
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Back in the 1990s I had an acquaintance who was a member of an international socialist organization. He was involved in organizing protests against globalization on the West Coast, taking it to the streets and keeping it real. In the aftermath of 11 September 2001, he, his organization and the “movement” dropped the anti-globalism and went over to an anti-war line (to protest what everyone knew was going to be a Bush administration war in the Middle East). As he was organizing a peace march I asked him what had happened to the anti-globalism.

    His response (I quote): “That was just a tactic.”

    This is a critical thing to understand about the Left. What counts is not the stated issues like workers’ revolution or anti-globalism. The issues are means to an end, agitprop to mobilize large numbers of people, rationales for violence in the streets. What counts is the ultimate objective.

    The objective? Power. Political power.

    If you can put 10,000 people into the streets with an anti-globalization line, but get 10,001 by supporting internationalization of the economy, you go with the latter. Get 1,000,000 into the streets and you got yourself The Revolution, which means now you and your comrades are chief commissars, running the both the means of production and the gulags.

    Anti-globalism itself never really went anywhere. True, during the Battle in Seattle, the protesters had the element of surprise, and initially the support of (White) unions. But once they had lost those, it was back to square one. The anti-war tactic seemed to have more potential in 2001, in part because there was the example of the Vietnam era peace movement. But for whatever reasons, anti-war fizzled post 9/11 (no draft to alienate the middle class; the shock effect of early US military victories; the fact that Islamist insurgents really are reactionary, unlike communist guerrillas under the doctrine of pas d’ennemis a gauche).

    Today, the Left is chasing the chimera of creating a new proletariat composed of refugees, third world invaders and utterly marginalized groups with whom they would not have shared a platform 20 years ago. They’re desperate. And there is no guarantee that ten years down the line these proletarians will not also turn reactionary. We can already see this with the growth of anti-semitism in Europe coming in large part from North African immigrants, and the ideological convolutions through which the Left must go to rationalize away the havoc in Rotherham, Cologne and Malmo.

    Then again, the Left just may be in the process of being played. The Left has been losing for so long (really since 1933, but the Fall of the Berlin Wall was the last straw) that it jumps on whatever bandwagon which might move the movement forward another inch.

    There’s a case to be made that trans-national financiers (Soros, Gates), the various corporate money-dispensing foundations, and prestige universities have essentially bought off the Left with grants, jobs and campus sanctuaries. While 20 years ago Radio Pacifica and Black Blocs railed against the corporate-controlled-media(tm), today that same media is lockstep with the globalist, anti-working class, third worldist party line.

    As is what is laughably called the Left.

    • demize!
      Posted January 30, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Pacifica has always been foundation funded. If you look into the entities that bestow grants to shitshows like Democracy Now! You will get an idea of why the cover what they cover and eliminate what is inconvenient. I did after they started taking an anti Assad line and found this to be disingenuous.

      • R_Moreland
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        Pacifica has always been foundation funded.

        Back when I was involved in college conservative politics (yes, YAF), it was generally known that many leftist groups were being funded by corporate foundations. But few people other than the Gary “None Dare Call It Conspiracy” Allen wing raised any questions. Today, the funding for the left has been dialed up to eleven and beyond by Soros et alia. With the money comes offices, fulltime staff, professional media production, lawyers, and paid activists in the streets. Activism is not just a hobby, it’s big business.

        Here’s the real question: how does the Alt Right get these levels of funding? And ancillary to that: how does the Alt Right get the big bucks and not be bought out?

        The sign-makers and organizers are all older, while the masses of protesters are mostly just confused, idealistic young people. The organizers herd the kids like cattle.

        One tactic I’ve seen communist groups use is to bring in young people and put them in visible leadership positions (while older cadre give the marching orders). This gives the appearance of an up-and-coming movement and recruits even more youth. It also allows for a sort of career progression as the front-persons become enmeshed with the organization. On the other hand, some of the fronts get fed up and walk out.

        There is an organizing principle here: let the young lead.

    • Posted January 30, 2017 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      At most of these protests, there are various socialist and communist groups that come prepared with pre-printed signs with various slogans on them, often only tangentially related or not related at all to the issue at hand, which these groups will literally thrust into the hands of other people there. They know what they’re doing. The sign-makers and organizers are all older, while the masses of protesters are mostly just confused, idealistic young people. The organizers herd the kids like cattle.

      Jonathan Bowden, in his speech on Marxism, said that the left is comprised of two main elements – the naive idealists who want peace and love, and the nihilistic, ruthless cretins who want power.

  4. Erik
    Posted January 30, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    One issue with this otherwise reasonable historical review, the contemporary “Left” are not the same kinds of people (& percent of races) as the former Left. The contemporary Left is more representative of non-White Americans. And, in contrast to contemporary Liberal White Americans Stupids, the diverse Others, are Left by merely advocating for their own interests. This is hardly Liberal, actually, except that they are non-White America.

    The Left, as indicated above, is certainly not a static category, although some values and themes seem to connect present and past. Most notably for now, however, is how racially and immigrant the Left has become itself. And since there are evermore non-Whites, and their interests at stake in obtaining more expansive claims and control of limited resources, hence we see the potency of racial-ethnic-group-struggle come though as “Progressive” if the groups are anything but Whites.

    We live in the New America, Obama didn’t create it, although he was able to nearly or already accomplish an immigrant-driven, demographic coup. The New America was created by the recently retired generation (+/-) who allowed for the over-reaction and over-accommodation to Jim Crow Black Protests. With the passage of the 1965 Civil Rights Act, and evermore extensions thereof, the New America was born; a “country”, of one at all, where one cannot discriminate by nearly all essential factors of being Human, and of being, in fact, a country. What kind of country, is a country that cannot discriminate by Race, Religion, Color, Sex, Gender, National Origin, (Language), (Birth), etc. A foreign observer, at least a non-European one, may hardly consider this “America”, a country at all. … Rather, it may be more characteristic as a battlefield for less liberal, less delusional, less Weak, global powers. This America, is a land up for conquest, but with rules governing the tactics and warfare permitted until those rules can change as well.

    Trump, et al, is unlikely to change this, as the nation is already so divided and different, and thus the crux of the problem – the dehumanizing & Nation-thrawting Civil Rights Laws – still remain in effect over the American-born.

    Flux-America, what we are living in now, will give way to a real country, but it is up for grabs to determine who comes next to refashion the rules. But one thing seems certain thus far in extrapolation, it will not be Occidentals Whites annulling the Civil Rights Laws & culture, one day. … It may be Aztecs, or Chinese, or a New (Africa), but so long as Whites are Weak, all reasonable & logical people can expect the outcome.

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