Our Assistant Editor, Vicki Larson, was in Seattle for the demonstrations against the WTO. We are pleased, indeed proud, to present Vicki’s account of these very important events
Volume 51, Issue 08 (January)
On November 30,1999, when the World Trade Organization (WTO) opened its third round of ministerial meetings, the three thousand official delegates, two thousand journalists, and other registered observers were greatly outnumbered by the tens of thousands of protesters who came from all over the world to denounce the organization. Estimates of protester numbers ranged to forty thousand, according to the Seattle Times, which told its readers that the demonstrations were larger than those of 1970, when twenty to thirty thousand people (ten thousand according to the Seattle Times) shut down Interstate 5 to protest the Vietnam War. The parallel is appropriate. The still-growing movement in opposition to efforts of institutions such as the WTO to take over the management of the international economy may well be larger than any popular protest movement of the last twenty years or more.
When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, it was not simply the Soviet Union or the “communist idea” or the efficacy of Marxist solutions that collapsed. Western European social democracy, too, was severely dented. In the face of a triumphalist capitalist storm that swept the world it, too, had to trim its sails. The fact that, barring Spain, social democratic parties or coalitions govern most of Western Europe today is of inter- est largely because of the collective experience it provides: these parties can no longer deliver effective policies that improve the conditions of the majority of electors whose votes have placed them in power. Capitalism, unchallenged from any quarter, no longer feels the need to protect its left flank by conceding reforms
From the modern vision, the great revolutions, the anti-Nazi war, to the collapse of socialism in East Europe and to the sovereignty of the market, what do you think about the twentieth century—the “century of extremes” as Hobsbawm calls it?
Consider the following items culled from some of the journals, newspapers, and email discussion groups to which I subscribe: