Anti-globalization: The Global Fight for Local Autonomy

By Amory Starr and Jason Adams

This paper examines one of the less-discussed modes of anti-globalization, relocalization, or local autonomy. It describes a range of autonomous movements, summarizes their political-economic ideas, and discusses some common social critiques raised in regard to local autonomy. Apologists for the costly side effects of the globalization process argue that integration into the global economy brings certain hardships but ultimately will alleviate poverty and bring jobs, choice, and democratization to every corner of the world. Opponents of globalization often fail to disagree sufficiently. Many sympathetic commentators and sometimes spokespeople of the anti-globalization movement insist that the movement “isn’t really anti-globalization, we just want a different globalization.” This claim ignores the well-known movements whose prominent participation takes the form of a resonant “no” to the forces of modernization, development, and “free trade.” The most resolute of these are the now-famous indigenous movements, such as the U’wa and the Ogoni, who expel “development” from their lands. Defending the “anti” in “anti-globalization” defends the right of such communities to say “no.” This paper introduces those movements within the movement which, although they often have more or less internationalist sentiments, see the solutions to their problems in the local economy, politics, and culture rather than in new global formations.

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