- The Corporate World Order
The World Trade Order (WTO) is the overarching trading organization that deals with the rules and regulation of global trade. The organization is at the pinnacle of International trade. It is there for trading nations to negotiate, and sign agreements. Its goal is to facilitate the traders of the world, and thus allow for economic growth through exports (Stiglitz 2002). One of the major characteristics of the organization is that member governments run it through representation. It is, therefore, at the centre of world trade. In its operation, the idea was for it to be free world trade (Ellwood 2001).
In November 1999, the WTO met in Seattle, evoking a riotous protest by 45,000 people. Since then, the protests have decreased, if any, and attracted small numbers, albeit approximately 30 000 attended the April 16, 2000 rally in Washington. . One such protest was at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) protests of April 16-17, 2000 (Kumar 2003) in Washington. Activists from the third World as well as in Cuba formed part of the new developing social actions against global capitalism around the world (World Bank-IMF Protest Rally, Part 1, Video 2000). Speakers and people from all over the world spoke out against the continued trends of the World Bank and the IMF. The protests were held by ordinary people who came out to protest against the fact that these organizations have done very little to alleviate poverty. They felt that the organizations are acting only in the interests of corporate companies and have encouraged corruption in developing countries. The aim was to shut down the institutions and not to negotiate with them.
- The Global Power Shift
Throughout history, global power was seen as what Joseph Nye refers to as hard power. This hard power placed the USA in the power seat in military as well as in economics. The 21st century, however, has brought about major global shifts in power. These shifts have come about because of the interconnection of nations as described by Paddy Ashdown.
Paddy Ashdown’s unpacking of global history addresses the issues that are at work in the global power shifts. They address the:
- Democratic governance beyond nation states. This has already taken place by the instituting the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund. However, more was needed to do so as the next point illustrates.
- Democracy movements within emerging national powers such as the G20 states as well as the Kyoto Accord were introduced in order to have some sort of democratic governance (Ashdown, The Global Power Shift, TED Talk). This was in the light of the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund not fulfilling what was required of it.
- Open global communication, mutual support, and action directly between peoples are able to participate in these shifts through the fact that they could support each other through common interest even though their values might be different. This was seen in the protests that have taken place in Seattle and Washington, in 1999 and in 2000.
The power shifts have had impact globally. The protest discussed here, have given the world the realization that everyone is interconnected. What happens in one nation can affect what happens in another nation (Ashdown, The Global Power Shift, TED Talk). Thus, what the USA does with its environment affects the rest of the world. Everyone is entitled to food security, decent pay, economic fairness, democratic rights, and freedom of information and media. Economic fairness is one of the issues that initiated the protests against the WTO, the IMF, and the World Bank. These institutions have failed in delivering to the poor and are only servicing the high-end corporations (of the wealthy).
- The Wealth Gap:
In 2011, Zuccotti Park became a crucial turnaround for way the world would deal with the fiscals of nations. The protest was sparked by the reality of the wealth gap that became clear with the bailouts of banks, but where people were left homeless through foreclosure. It seemed clear that elected official were working for large corporations, leaving the poor to fend for their own survival.
Occupy Wall Street (OWS), continued its campaign in the months after, taking the protests to the streets. They were accused of not having clear demands, but the reality is again the “foot-shifting” that allows only the wealthy to live and the poor to continue suffering. However, those involved had a clear understanding of what they were doing and what they were addressing. By using the Internet, live feeds from the hub of the protest went out to the world. They made use of Social Media as well, since the mainstream media was blocked out to refuse them access.
The main difficulty with the way in which the protest was organized was that they did not anticipate the number of people who turned up. The occupation of Zuccotti Park was also not planned, because they were blocked from using the original space – which was Wall Street. They ended up having to communicate through sign language. Should the group have started with the Internet, they could have reached more people. In doing so, they could have had a reasonable idea of how many people would attend and then divided the spaces around Wall Street. Bringing along public address systems would have assisted the protest a great deal. This they could have used to ensure that everyone was aware of why they were sacrificing salaries and other comforts. The split into several smaller occupations would have made it difficult for authorities to surround them and clear the area as quickly as they did.
The Internet has become a powerful network for global interaction. This was made possible by the fall of computing prices. Most people have access to the Internet and can be mobilized in this way (Joseph Nye: Global power shifts, TED Talk). By using technology, social movements can be mobilized to act against all economic unfairness. The first protest arranged by Occupy Wall Street (OWS), have opened the doors for ordinary people to come out and have their say in what seems to be the best way – protest. Other protests were about American issues, but the Wall Street action touched the lives of nations globally (La Botz 2012). There is no doubt that this is not the end for young people to get involved to address the issues of inequality at a global scale.
Kumar, Amitava. Ed. 2003. World Bank Literature. Retrieved from http://books.google.co.za/books?id=tcLKlkg0rysC&pg=PA52&dq=world+bank+protests&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Fi1eVLnZMOaw7Ab2h4CgDA&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=world%20bank%20protests&f=false
World Bank-IMF Protest Rally, Part 1. 2000. Retrieved from http://www.c-span.org/video/?156519-1/world-bankimf-protest-rally-part-1
Washington IMF/World Bank Protests retrieved from http://rabble.ca/toolkit/on-this-day/washington-imfworld-bank-protests
La Botz, Dan. 2012. From Occupy Wall Street to Occupy the World: The Emergence of a Mass Movement. New Politics Vol. XIII No. 4, Whole Number 52. Retrieved from http://newpol.org/content/occupy-wall-street-occupy-world-emergence-mass-movement