by James Harding
October 15, 2001
Globalisation's children strike back
James Harding uncovers the workings of the anti-globalisation movement.
Published: September 10 2001 18:42GMT | Last Updated: October 15 2001 18:56GMT
Part One: the
mosquitoes begin to swarm.
On the ground floor, a neighbourhood lawyer offers "divorce specials", personal injury suits and "walk-in deals for car wrecks". Up the flimsy wooden staircase to the side of the building, Soren Ambrose is trying to dismantle the world's financial architecture.
Ambrose, a chubby 38-year-old with sandy hair and a scruffy blond beard, does not look like much of a threat to the world order. He wears creased olive-green khakis with a red, black and turquoise shirt of African cloth, which in another part of Washington might be used as ethnic cushion covers. The second-hand computer on his desk is surrounded by newspaper clippings, a pile of old campaign leaflets and a scattering of print-outs off the internet.
The only son of a suburban Chicago couple -- his father is a management consultant and his mother is a retired librarian -- Ambrose came late to activism. He flirted with protest at junior high school in the late 1970s, but in 1981 swapped politics for partying: "I went to college and took drugs and drank," he laughs.
When Ambrose was working on a doctorate in African literature, he went for a fortnight to Nigeria: "I met writers at the university there who did not have enough money to buy their own books. They were not so interested in language. They were interested in economics."
Ken Saro-Wiwa, the playright leading what was to become a global fight against Shell's oil operations in his native Ogoniland, was his host. Ambrose abandoned his dissertation half-written.
He returned to the US and took up full-time campaigning. Initially with the Nicaragua Network, he was soon involved with 50 Years is Enough, a coalition put together by a handful of development economists, ex-aid workers, former missionaries and environmentalists seeking to combat the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
The sequel to Seattle
From half a dozen groups five years ago, it now draws support from more than 200 member organisations.
Next week, from the converted bedrooms which serve as offices, Ambrose and the 50 Years director who also happens to be his wife, Njoki Njoroge Njehu, will put together the final plans for what is shaping up to be the sequel to Seattle: a protest by tens of thousands of people against the World Bank and the IMF in Washington on the weekend of September 29-30.
"I was only in Nigeria for two weeks," says Ambrose, with an infectious chuckle, "but it turned into this big thing."
Soren Ambrose is what most people would call an anti-globalisation activist. To some world leaders, people like him are part of a movement that can no longer be ignored. Lionel Jospin, the French prime minister manoeuvring to become president, reached out to anti-globalisation activists by offering support for the so-called Tobin tax. Gerhard Schroder, the German chancellor, has since said he too is interested in the nearly 30-year-old idea of putting a levy on foreign exchange transactions to pass on to the world's poor. For the bosses of giant companies who have had to come to terms with life under constant attack, such as Phil Knight of Nike and Lord Browne of BP, the campaigners are forcing fundamental changes to corporate life.
To others, Ambrose is the new enemy. He is put in the bracket of what Peter Sutherland, the former European Commissioner, calls "foolish protesters". He is one of those campaigners against further free trade who President George W. Bush says threatens to wreck global prosperity. He participates in the kinds of demonstrations overrun by riotous thugs that British prime minister Tony Blair says are an attack on democracy.
Either way, people in business and politics are right to take the likes of Ambrose seriously. He is one of tens of thousands of committed activists at the nexus of a global political movement embracing tens of millions of people.
Just over a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the "End of History" promised by Francis Fukuyama, who argued free market liberalism had triumphed forever, there is a growing sense that global capitalism is once again fighting to win the argument.
In the last 18 months, a million people have taken to the streets in what has become a rolling mobilisation. In 1999, just 25 turned up to protest at the World Bank/IMF annual meetings in Washington. Last year, it was 30,000. At the end of this month, activists are predicting more than 50,000.
Taken together, the string of protests since Seattle in 1999, which have torn through Washington, Melbourne, Prague, Seoul, Nice, Barcelona, Washington DC, Quebec City, Gothenburg and Genoa, have cost more than $250m in security precautions, damage and lost business. Hundreds have been injured, several shot and one young man has been killed.
Largest petition in history
Campaigners for debt relief for the world's poorest countries last year put together the largest petition in history, gathering 24m names -- more than the number of people who signed the condolence books for Princess Diana worldwide.
Voter turnout may be plummeting in Europe and the US, but political activism is enjoying a resurgence not seen since the Vietnam War. At Attac, the Tobin tax advocates who have 30,000 paid-up followers across Europe, the intellectual campaigners say "the demonstrations make one think very much of the days of May 1968 in Paris".
Tom Hayden, the ideologue of the American left who was one of the Chicago Seven accused of conspiring to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, says: "There is a spirit which I have not seen since 1960. People are emerging from invisibility after many years."
Protests now threaten to halt the global momentum of open markets and free capital, stopping the World Trade Organisation's effort to launch a new trade round for the second time in Doha, Qatar, in November. The world's most powerful politicians are in retreat, withdrawing to remote spots such as Kananaskis in the Canadian Rockies for the next Group of Eight summit.
The irony, of course, is that anti-globalisation activism is gathering momentum just as global capitalism looks prone to a bout of cyclical weakness. Anti-globalisation has been a backlash against a surging world economy. A recession could change the nature of activism, fuelling counter-capitalist feeling among some while making others more defensive about the companies which put food on the family table.
"The big risk," according to Anne Krueger, deputy managing director of the IMF, is that "a slackening or slowdown in the rate of economic growth could lead to a sufficient downturn in economic activity to trigger a backlash among those who are now silent, but not necessarily supportive, of globalisation. Protectionism, in the guise of anti-globalisation, could return and reverse liberalisation and "the long period of successful economic growth that the world has enjoyed".
Over the past two months, the FT has been compiling a report on the anti-globalisation movement, drawing on interviews from inside campaign groups across Europe and the US. By spending time with protest organisers, counter-capitalist intellectuals, tree-sitters and labour leaders from across the movement, the FT set out to answer the questions: Who are they? What do they want? How are they funded? Where is it all going?
It turns out to be a formidable movement. Or, to be precise, a movement of movements. Anti-globalisation activism is diverse and inchoate, without a unified agenda or a traditional leadership.
It is, however, well coordinated. It is well-informed. It is increasingly well-funded. And, perhaps most alarming for elected politicians and corporate leaders, a growing number of people think it has mainstream values and a mass appeal.
It is not, as Mr. Blair has described the protesters, a "travelling circus of anarchists", although, to be sure, there are clowns, arsonists and Molotov-cocktail throwing thugs within the movement. Nor is it just society's green fringe of unwashed hippies and Luddite reactionaries, although there are plenty of vegan spiritualists, unreconstructed communists, regressive utopians and smoked-out dreamers. And, while there is plenty of fuzzy thinking and fast-and-loose abuse of economic statistics, there is also a critique backed by respected economists, businesspeople and politicians.
Nor is it strictly speaking "anti-globalisation". The vast majority of activists are pro-globalisation, indeed products of it. The movement was welded together by the Internet. Mass mobilisations, in Europe in particular, have been made possible by mobile phones. The unprecedented pitch of public feeling in the North for people in the South has coincided with cheap air fares between the two.
Instead, this is counter-capitalism. The new wave of political activism has coalesced around the simple idea that capitalism has gone too far. It is as much a mood as a movement, something counter-cultural. It is driven by the suspicion that companies, forced by the stock markets to strive for ever greater profits, are pillaging the environment, destroying lives and failing to enrich the poor as they promised. And it is fuelled by the fear that democracy has become powerless to stop them, as politicians are thought to be in the pockets of companies and international political institutions are slaves to a corporate agenda.
A survey this summer in Le Monde, the French newspaper, showed 56 per cent of people in France thought multinational corporations had been the beneficiaries of globalisation. Just 1 per cent thought consumers and citizens had benefited.
Such surveys have given the movement the sense that it is astride a mass mood. Elsewhere, there has been evidence that it has sympathisers within the corridors of power.
It goes further than just the politicians who back the Tobin tax. Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist of the IMF, published a comprehensive critique of the Bretton Woods institutions, and Jeffrey Sachs, the Harvard professor who has also been a fierce critic of the Fund, have reinforced the activists' sense of their own credibility.
As one Bank official puts it: "There is a feeling that the shouts on the streets are echoed by murmurs inside the institutions."
Activism has been drawing people from the ranks of business, too. Craig Cohon, who today counts himself as part of the movement alongside No Logo author Naomi Klein, was one of the top marketing executives for Coca-Cola in Europe until last year. He went to Davos, the annual gathering of CEOs in Switzerland, and decided to quit his job. He has started working on Global Legacy, an effort to raise $100m to fight urban poverty around the world.
Some in the developing countries of the South say that what is happening in the industrial North is misguided. Anti-globalisation activists claim to speak for the poor in developing countries, but do not understand the issues. Worse still, a few even suggest anti-globalisation activism is the means by which the First World can pursue a protectionist agenda, denying the Third World the benefits of economic growth.
Jerry Mander, an advertising executive-turned-anti-globalisation activist, however, argues that thanks to the "struggles in the South" the shortcomings of corporate-led globalisation are now evident to everyone.
He reads out a quote: "'The rising tide of the global economy will create many economic winners, but it will not lift all boats. [It will] span conflicts at home and abroad...[Its] evolution will be rocky, marked by chronic financial volatility and a widening economic divide. [Those] left behind will face deepening economic stagnation, political instability and cultural alienation. They will foster political, ethnic, ideological and religious extremism, along with the violence that often accompanies it.' And," he says, "that's not me talking, that is the CIA."
This queasiness about capitalism, activists say, has been fed from many directions. There is a sense of growing inequality, stoked by mass redundancies, widespread job insecurity, and the disgust at soaring executive pay. There is discomfort over the commercialisation of public space, reinforced by the idea that Starbucks, McDonald's and The Gap have overrun every high street in the industrialised world.
It is, perhaps, no surprise that the gradual but seismic upheaval in the world economy of the last 20 years has generated mass anxiety. Foreign direct investment flows averaged $115.4bn a year between in the late 1980s. By 1999 they had reached $865.5bn. The European single market, the North American Free Trade Association, and the Uruguay Round have created supranational authorities that override national and local governments.
To some extent, the response is emotional, even spiritual. Bruce Rich, a senior attorney at Environmental Defense in the US, suggests there is an ennui of affluence: "The kids who grow up with everything say 'There must be more to life than this.' In the 50s, you had the silent generation and then in the 60s you had great activism. In the 80s you had the me generation and then in the 90s the start of this movement."
The campaigners have what they call many "asks". Most of them are negative. A cutback in carbon dioxide emissions. The abolition of Third World debt. The end of World Bank support to fossil fuel and mining projects. The withdrawal of Unocal from Burma. No more exploitation of Florida tomato farmers by fast-food chain Taco Bell. A stop to Occidental's oil projects in the U'wa region of Colombia. The list goes on.
So far, the efforts to put together a positive programme for change have been fraught and unconvincing. In their efforts to come up with a bumper-sticker ideology, the activists have rallied around the slogan: "Another world is possible". As yet, though, they have struggled to come up with a vision of what that other world would look like.
Instead, they have been brought together most singularly by the WTO. To many, the WTO has promoted trade, spread prosperity, extended consumer choice. As a result, trade liberalisation has been a stalking horse for democracy in countries where closed markets were the counterparts to closed governments.
But the activists see the WTO as the corporate world's tool to turn more high streets into homogenous shopping malls, to engineer the privatisation of more public services, to annul environmental protection laws in the name of free trade and to open more countries to the whimsical forces of Wall Street.
"With the WTO, they have handed us a huge target. They were seen to be meddling everywhere. They were trying to create a world for corporations. It has helped us unify. We were individual mosquitoes, which have become a swarm," says Kevin Danaher, a slimmer version of Jesse "The Body" Ventura, who runs Global Exchange.
Outside Danaher's office on the corner of 16th Street and Mission, where San Francisco's crack addicts and homeless folks mill around, a truck delivers beer to the local grocery store. A panhandler begs for change outside McDonald's. The world does not look as though it is quite ready to rise up in revolution.
Like the coursing rivers the movement itself so loves, the counter-capitalist current cannot easily be pinned down. It does not have one voice, or one message. It keeps changing, morphing from one campaign to the next. It is wide in its tactics and ambitions, violent and revolutionary on the edges, peaceful and reformist in the main. It rushes in often contradictory directions, anti-corporate and entrepreneurial, anarchist and nostalgic, technophobic and futuristic, revolutionary and conservative all at the same time.
And it does not have one source. Many tributaries have swollen counter-capitalism: the anti-apartheid movement, the campaigns against US intervention in central America, environmentalism, the emergence of protest movements in the Third World, famine relief in Africa, the Asian financial crisis, human rights protection, Acid House raves in Europe, road rallies organised by Reclaim the Streets and hip-hop music in the US.
For Soren Ambrose, his journey began in the Niger Delta with Ken Saro-Wiwa. In the early 1990s, Saro-Wiwa said the operations of Shell in Ogoniland had left people dead and huge stretches of land destroyed. His concerns were to define a new kind of activism in Europe and the US: a protest which is about "them, not us", which is focused on corporations and economic principles, not war and civil rights. And he touched lives which have since carried his concerns into campaigns against companies and institutions that were unscathed by protest five years ago.
It was a meeting with Saro-Wiwa in the early 1990s that inspired Steve Kretzman to set up Project Underground, the Berkeley-based group which has become a permanent irritant to mining companies. John Sellers' meeting with Saro-Wiwa when he visited Greenpeace at the same time has helped impassion his leadership of the Ruckus Society, the group which next week hosts a training camp at Middleburg, Virginia, to prepare for mass civil disobedience in Washington this month.
The message of Saro-Wiwa remains the inspiration behind Platform, which works from a tiny office on the Thames and seeks to turn public attitudes against BP and Shell. And it was Saro-Wiwa who prompted Soren Ambrose to quit a life of academia for activism. When the Nigerian authorities hanged Saro-Wiwa in Port Harcourt on November 10, 1995, they created the first martyr of the counter-capitalist movement.
Part two: Bankrolling the movement
Feeding the Hands That Bite
By James Harding
Published: October 15 2001 18:31GMT | Last Updated: October 15 2001, 19:35GMT
John Sellers is wearing a woolly lime-green sweater. He has a big shaved head, neat little ears and electric blue-painted toenails popping out of his sandals. On a late summer's day in Berkeley, California, he bears more than a passing resemblance to Shrek.
Like the cartoon ogre, the thick-set director of The Ruckus Society, the civil disobedience group which trains activists for tree-sits, banner-hangs and barricades, also has a giant laugh.
Particularly, when he mentions the origins of $100,000 worth of Ruckus funding this year: "It is great that it is Unilever money. There is no better way to launder corporate multinational largesse than giving it to the movement that is confronting it."
The Ruckus Society trained activists who helped shut down the World Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle in November 1999. It is also one of a handful of radical activist groups which this year have enjoyed a big lift thanks to Unilever, the consumer goods multinational.
The company, which sells a range of goods from Lipton tea to Dove soap in 150 countries around the world, has made $5m available to anti-globalisation initiatives via Ben & Jerry's, the ice-cream company with a social conscience.
When Unilever was courting Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield last year, the company was pressed to offer a little more to the inventors of the Cherry Garcia and Phish Food ice cream brands.
In order to get Ben & Jerry's agreement to sell their ice cream business to Unilever for $326m, the Anglo-Dutch group offered a further inducement: a $5m contribution to Ben & Jerry's Foundation, another $5m for a venture capital fund for ethical start-ups called 'Hot Fudge' to be run by Ben Cohen and a minimum $1.1m a year commitment to annual grants for social change groups.
The Unilever money has been a boon to several activist groups.
Ben and Jerry's foundation, through a special fund overseen by three senior company staff including Jerry Greenfield, gave $1m over three years to Global Exchange, the San Francisco-based group which campaigns to abolish the World Bank and the WTO as well as name and shame irresponsible big companies. Unilever has been a leading corporate advocate of trade liberalisation.
United for a Fair Economy, which campaigns among other things against what it sees as excessive chief executive pay, also got a grant. Niall FitzGerald, the Unilever co-chairman, had total compensation last year of £1.3m.
When Unilever bought Ben & Jerry's, the management of both companies had a discussion about their differing views of the world. "We explained to Unilever that the values of Ben & Jerry's would be anti-globalisation and they said they were very much supporters of globalisation," says Cohen.
Today, he does not oversee the disbursement of the $5m, which is being distributed to groups "like Ruckus, which support progressive social change as it relates to the global economy," according to another person at the company. Instead, Greenfield is one of three people who decides where the money goes.
Unilever, Ben & Jerry's executives say, is well aware of where the money is going. Allowing Ben & Jerry's to support anti-globalisation, they suggest, was a price worth paying to own the Ben & Jerry's brand.
As counter-capitalism has grown, it has begun to bump up against corporations, the complex business of financial planning and the rough world of stock market investments.
Organisation has helped campaigners channel popular disaffection with global capitalism into protest. A new network of fundraisers and office managers for activist groups have sought to make the new protest movement a permanent feature of life by rooting it in sound finances.
September 11 threatens to provide an ugly illustration of how tightly the movement has become tied to the mainstream economy. For just as the Unilever-backed donations to the likes of The Ruckus Society were a mark of how activism prospered on the back of America's boom, the movement now promises to suffer financially as the West teeters towards recession.
For anti-globalisation activism faces a financial squeeze after the attacks on America. Charitable foundations fear the value of their endowments will shrink further with the stock markets and the boards of philanthropic organisations look set to shy away from the critics of capitalism.
The funding stream to anti-globalisation groups was anyway just a trickle. Some sympathetic foundations have their wealth tied into the stock market and, in particular, into technology stocks. Even before September 11, therefore, foundations were cutting back on donations to some environmental and human rights groups. Several San Francisco-based activist networks have had to cut their full-time staff, because the squeeze on resources has made it impossible to pay their salaries.
Now, those endowments could shrivel further as economists forecast a gloomy spell for the Europe and the US. More importantly for the protest movement, the boards of charitable foundations which have been some of the big givers to critics of international financial institutions, for example, are now wary of being aligned with the critics of capitalism.
The result is that you will find anti-globalisation activists in San Francisco sounding rather like depressed dotcommers. They talk about the need to be "entrepreneurial". Rather than depending on charitable giving, they look to running fair trade shops or "reality tours" for holidaymakers with a global conscience. They do not have the managerial talent, they say, to match the group's ambitions with its resources. Charitable foundations will often fund projects, but not infrastructure or back office operations. They fret about the strings attached to donations, particularly when they come from suspect corporations.
The movement, critical though it was of burgeoning global companies, was buoyed by the wealth which filtered through from an expanding international economy. In fact, a large number of businesspeople have -- wittingly or unwittingly -- become big donors to counter-capitalism.
FitzGerald from Unilever and Cohen and Greenfield from Ben & Jerry's are just one case.
George Soros, the hedge fund operator, Anita Roddick, the founder of the Bodyshop chain of stores, and Doug Tompkins, the founder of the Esprit and North Face clothing lines, are among a new breed of philanthropist born of the corporate world who are giving to protesters against corporate-led globalisation.
Governments, too, have been significant financiers of protest groups. The European Commission, for example, funded two groups who mobilised large numbers of people to protest at EU summits at Gothenburg and Nice. Britain's national lottery, which is overseen by the government, helped fund a group at the heart of the British contingent at both protests.
Counter-capitalist budgets are still tiny. While the latest figures show Nike spending $545m on a year's advertising in the US, United Students against Sweatshops, which campaigns against the company, has an annual budget of roughly $250,000.
While 50 Years is Enough is trying to marshall forces against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund with a $233,000 annual budget, the World Bank's public relations budget is $21m.
Even before September 11, some campaigners were fretting that in the wake of chaos in Seattle and Genoa, conservative donors and corporate-backed foundations are pulling back donations to political activism. Ted Turner, the ebullient founder of CNN and voluble philanthropist, was an early giver to radical environmental groups. But in the last year, he has pulled back from funding groups like The Ruckus Society and mining campaigners Project Underground. For the last four years, Mark Rand was part of the hand-to-mouth movement of activists.
Running one of America's more radical youth groups at the same time as having caring for a young baby, he slept with a radio beneath his pillow. When his daughter woke him up in the middle of the night, he would switch it on and let the ramblings of US talk radio guide him back to sleep. The alternative, he had discovered, was to lie awake for the rest of the night fretting over whether he would make payroll for the nine members of staff at Just ACT, the politically active youth group run out of San Francisco.
This year, Rand took to a different remedy for his insomnia. He has taken the reins of a quiet new effort to build a sympathetic web to finance the movement: the Funder's Network on Trade and Globalisation.
Counter-capitalism has begun to organise its finances. The Funder's Network is not the first to try to co-ordinate "progressive donors". One group in the US, known informally as The Doughnuts -- as in, plenty of "dough" -- has been gathering in wealthy heirs and heiresses to work on putting money into social justice groups. Pulling together funders, Rand hopes, will mean not quite so many groups are "operating on a shoestring".
Since Cohen and Greenfield sold Ben & Jerry's, the movement hopes others selling up will fund the movement.
Anita Roddick's Body Shop is currently being pursued by potential buyers. If the sale goes through, Roddick, who is on the board of the Ruckus Society, is looking forward to increasing support for anti-sweatshop activists, independent media organisations, dissent groups, local environmental start-ups, socially responsible ventures, and a range of others.
"I will not be funding large organisations, but poverty, human rights abuses, civil rights, economic rights is where my heart lies," she says.
Depending on the terms of the sale, Roddick would have the kind of funds at her disposal to be talked about as a radical funding figure in the same league as one of the leading businessman-turned-philanthropists: Doug Tompkins.
Tompkins gave the money to set up the Foundation for Deep Ecology, which is based in California. Today, it has a roughly $90m endowment, according to a Deep Ecology director. The money comes thanks to Tompkins' business acumen. He started and built Esprit, the retail chain, and North Face, the mountainwear business. Since he sold it, he has been using the money to buy land for environmental conservation and funding anti-globalisation projects. To activists, Tompkins, who now lives out of telephone contact on a vast environmental retreat in Chile bigger than Massachusetts, is the model of the new philanthropy.
There are others. George Soros has diverted some of his fortune into the Open Society Institute. In turn, it has been an important donor for the Ella Baker Center, which campaigns against what it calls the "prison industrial complex" and the creeping privatisation of public services which it sees as a function of corporate-led globalisation.
Bob Young and Marc Ewing, co-founders of Red Hat, the designers of the Linux software and Open Source systems, have established the Center for the Public Domain, a group which has already made over $5m of contributions to civic society initiatives. In the UK, some of the fortune left by Sir Jimmy Goldsmith has gone into the JMG Foundation, which is overseen by Jon Cracknell, one of the founder members of the Funders Network on Trade and Globalisation. Mr Cracknell did not return phone calls. (Sir Jimmy's brother, Teddy, is editor of The Ecologist and a leading light in the movement.) Much of the money which funnels into the movement is given by anonymous donors. 50 Years is Enough, the campaign group at the heart of the protests planned against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund later this month, has been sustained primarily by one woman who has given the activists roughly $250,000 over the last few years. She did not want to be identified.
Almost all the money which comes into the movement, whether from foundations or individuals, has some link to a corporate past.
The CS Mott Foundation, one of the bigger givers to groups campaigning against the World Bank and the IMF, owes its wealth to General Motors. The Ford Foundation, which has given widely to environmental groups, got its money from the Ford Motor fortune. Richard Goldman, an insurance executive and the descendant of Levi Strauss, has long had a fund established with his wife, Rhoda, which, thanks to the jeans fortune, has been a big donor to environmental and social groups. Likewise, the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation and the Samuel Rubin Foundation have turned old business fortunes into funding for a new breed of activists who are suspicious, if not hostile, towards business.
The bulk of US foundation money is tied up in the stock markets. Ironically, this means that the collapse in stock prices on Wall Street is pinching activists working across the US. Foundations have seen the value of their portfolios shrink. Donations are being reined in.
As a bunch of people danced in a circle to the beat of a Native American drum at a party on a Berkeley roof-top this summer, a few environmentalists and human rights activists sounded like they were having the kind of conversation you might expect in Silicon Valley, on the other side of San Francisco. They faced a cashflow crisis, said one. "We'll be all right later in the year, but there is a cash problem right now."
On the other side of the Atlantic, where smoke from stubby French cigars wafts through the offices of Attac and Le Monde Diplomatique, the intellectuals who run Europe's largest counter-capitalist group do not need to worry about the vagaries of the stock market. The finances of Attac -- the Association pour la taxation des transactions financieres pour l'aide aux citoyens -- are provided mainly by its 30,000 members across the continent and the organs of the European state.
Bernard Cassen, director of Attac and one of the top editors of Le Monde Diplomatique, the French journal which has been an ardent critic of corporate-led globalisation for nearly two decades, says donations of FFr50 to FFr200 ($7-$28) per year from its members make up the bulk of the E6m ($5.5m) annual budget.
Across counter-capitalist movements, much of the giving comes from the membership, whether through labour union dues or student group levies or membership fees for environmental groups.
The Jubilee campaigners for the cancellation of Third World debt relied most heavily on donations from church members in the late 1990s. A mailshot to church supporters in the late 1990s could deliver as much as a 40 per cent response, according to Jamie Drummond, who works with Bono and Bob Geldof on debt relief. In a commercial setting, a mailshot which yields replies from 1-3 per cent of addressees is a success.
But the biggest single donor to Attac, which estimates it sent nearly 5,000 people to protest in Genoa, was the European Commission. The EU gave FFr800,000 over two years. "In the European Commission, we have very few friends," says Mr. Cassen, who has used his columns in Le Monde Diplomatique as a platform for persistent criticism of what he sees as the EU's failure as a democratic institution. "It was very difficult to obtain [the money], but we obtained it." The Commission's directorate general for development gave most of the money, while more is expected to come from a new unit for engaging with civil society, according to Attac.
The EU, through its commitment to community groups, education forums, new media platforms and academic research, has provided, activists estimate, millions of euros across the continent to groups whose work has fed into the new movement. Still, the EU has become a target.
"We regard the European Commission as the spearhead of neo-liberalism in Europe," says Mr. Cassen, noting that Brussels is now beginning to feel the heat. "Nice and Gothenburg were a new thing. The European institutions used to be able to escape the opprobrium, but now they are in the front line."
Britain's World Development Movement, which over the years has taken on the UK government in court over the Pergau dam, campaigned against Rio Tinto and the governments of Europe and the US over Third World debt, is described by its director, Barry Coates, as the "shock troops" of the movement. It has also been a beneficiary of EU funding. In the last two years, it has received nearly £100,000 from the European Union, the WDM's biggest single donor.
The British National Lottery, which has provided just over £55,000 over the last two years, is the third largest financial contributor to the WDM, just behind the United Reformed Church.
There is also the beginnings of a funding network in Europe, which is based on the model of progressive foundations in the US. But the organisations are few and small.
The Network for Social Change is said to have enlisted about 60 wealthy individuals. To be a member, you have to have assets of over £250,000, either earned or inherited (excluding your main residence) and you must be willing to put £2,000 a year into socially or environmentally beneficial causes. Among others, the Network has helped finance Corporate Watch in the UK, the Oxford-based group. The Network for Social Change did not respond to requests for an interview.
Perhaps the best measure of how counter-capitalists are beginning to find their way to resources are the emerging signs that business is trying to squeeze the funding veins into the movement.
In recent months, companies and conservative foundations have been clubbing together behind the fronts of industry-wide lobby groups to try to staunch the flow of funds to counter-capitalist groups.
Frontiers of Freedom, which is backed by oil companies, defence groups and pharmaceuticals businesses, has been lobbying in Washington to see the Rainforest Action Network stripped of its tax exempt status.
RAN, which campaigns to protect old growth forests, has targeted companies such as Home Depot, the hardware chain, Staples, the stationery stores, Boise Cascade, the logging company, and Citigroup, the bank. Frontiers of Freedom has started research looking to target the Ruckus Society.
At the same time, the Guest Choice Network, which says it is backed by 30,000 restaurateurs and tavern owners defending the freedom of Americans to eat and drink what they like without interference from meddling regulators, has been seeking to put together a full list of foundations, including their corporate board members, who are backing groups which they describe as being part of the "Nanny culture". In the food industry alone, including the genetically modified foods area, activists have access to $180m in funds, the Guest Choice Network says.
More worrying to some than the efforts to cut off funds is the corporate willingness to suffocate moderate critics with money. Coates at the World Development Movement, which like others at the pure end of the grassroots movement will not take any corporate money, says his biggest concern is co-option: "I am not so worried about infiltration [of groups by intelligence officers for companies and the state], although that is an issue. The bigger worry is advances to NGOs to take a more conciliatory line. Many NGOs take money from corporations -- from Rio Tinto, British American Tobacco and Monsanto. They are seen as being able to be bought." After Seattle, Gardner Peckham, a former aide to the Republican and former US Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, sought to put together a corporate coalition to take on the activists. By then a lobbyist with a political arm of Burson Marsteller, the public relations group, he wrote to dozens of companies suggesting a riposte. His idea was "The New Corporate Partnership", which would act as "both shield and sword".
"Corporations would like to respond, but don't want to draw individual attention to themselves," said the letter from Black, Kelly, Scruggs & Healey, the lobbyist firm on K Street, Washington's lobbyist row. "Our goal is to present a positive image of corporate responsibility, to reveal the true nature of the activists and consequently to reduce their impact."
A year on, Peckham is disillusioned. In his office on K Street, which is to lobbyists what Madison Avenue is to advertisers, Peckham said no one had yet committed to The New Corporate Partnership: "Corporations do not want to take these people on. They would rather pay them off."
Part Three: The
by-product of globalisation
After Bob Naiman and a bunch of fellow activists drew straws last year to throw a pie in the face of the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, they hit a snag.
Michel Camdessus, then the head of the IMF, had come to give a speech in Thailand. The local stores, however, did not stock the kinds of custard tarts or cream pies his critics were looking for. In the end, they had to make do with a sponge cake from a Bangkok outlet of Seven-11.
"I always worried that people would find out we bought the offending pie from a Seven-11," recalls Naiman in a shirt and tie at a Washington think-tank, styling himself these days as a campaigning economist. "Just think, anti-globalisation campaigners stocking up at a Seven-11."
Anti-globalisation has piggy-backed on globalisation. The resources, infrastructure and technology of a globalising world have enabled -- or, in Mr. Naiman's case, armed -- the anti-globalisation movement.
On the streets of Gothenburg in June, the demonstrators orchestrated their protests by sending text messages over their mobile phones. When the organisers of the World Social Forum decided to host a summit to counter the annual Davos get-together of industry leaders, they met in Porto Allegre, Brazil. Cheap international airfares made it possible for activists to get there.
But the biggest single resource for the counter-capitalist movement has been the Internet.
"Some of these issues and movements have been around for years. So what is new now? It is the technology." says Moises Naim, the editor of Foreign Policy, who says he has turned the magazine into what is effectively the journal of globalisation studies. "Just imagine how much the Christians could have achieved by the third century armed with the Internet ... If each activist has at least two feelings in common, it is probably these: We know more. And we can do something about it. The Internet has been largely responsible for both."
It enables the Mobilisation for Global Justice to reach not just hundreds of thousands of people, not only to mobilise protesters, but also find housing and arrange transport for those coming to demonstrate in Washington at the end of the month.
Not all the people aligned to activist groups are online. Not everybody who gets sent a campaigning e-mail reads it. But the pace of growth of counter-capitalism would not have been possible without the Internet.
The web is also the source of the facts and figures and opinions which informs activist thinking. In a converted garage behind a row of terraced houses which serves as the headquarters for Corporate Watch UK, Rebecca is part of the online information movement. The Corporate Watch mission, she says, is 'to expose corporate power.' How does she do that? "Well, all you need is the Internet and the Google search engine," she says. And, for other activists, news and analysis from the likes of Indymedia.org and Znet.
A couple of years ago, a steelworker was surfing the Internet to see what he could find out about the Maxxam Corporation. He and his co-workers were campaigning against Kaiser Aluminum in Spokane, Washington. On the web, he found a bunch of environmentalists were fighting Pacific Lumber in northern California. Both businesses were owned by Maxxam Corporation, a company run by Charles Hurwitz. So, he suggested a get-together of the two groups -- the workers in their overalls and boots and the environmentalists in their dungarees and Birkenstocks. The idle surfing gave birth to the Turtles and Teamsters combination, the blue-green coalition which was such a feature of the Seattle protests. More enduringly, it spawned the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment, which today has 53 member organisations and lobbies members of US Congress not to give the US president unilateral authority to negotiate trade agreements and rewrite the rules on global trade.
To those very few activists who have both a sense of humour and a grip on technology, the Internet has also been a means of subversion.
The Yes Men are arguably to online pranksterism what the Oz editors were to inky newsletter activism a generation ago. They are not a formal group, but a gang who make mischief impersonating people. Having commandeered the gatt.org web address and established a hoax site, last year, The Yes Men fielded a request for Mike Moore, head of the World Trade Organisation, to come and speak at a Salzburg gathering of lawyers. In an e-mail exchange, 'Mike Moore' declined but sent an invented deputy, Andreas Birchlbauer. Dr Birchlbauer attended the conference and made a bewildering speech, noting that the Italians have less of a work ethic than the Dutch, the Americans would be better off selling their votes to the highest bidder and that the WTO's main aim was to create a one-world culture. The Internet had got Dr. Birchlbauer through the door. (Appropriately enough, a member of the Yes Men could not be met in person, but a friend confirmed the story.)
In the closing years of the 1990s, dotcom entrepreneurs and online investors trumpeted the fortunes they were set to make on the Internet. The online world would revolutionise communication. It would build new communities. It would tear down the walls which restricted distribution and create an information free-for-all. And it has done all those things, except make those fortunes. Instead, some of the the biggest winners of the Internet revolution have not been people fighting for profit, but against it.
Inside the Black Bloc
After a weekend which had seen one young man killed, cars and offices blackened by arson, and a police crackdown which left blood and shattered teeth on the floor of a primary school, the airport lounge on the return home from the Genoa protests was full of the movement's hard core.
Not teenagers in black jeans and black balaclavas, these were a mid-50s crowd of middle Englanders, wearing sensible shoes, sporting their Christian Aid T-Shirts, rainbow scarves and jaunty Viva Jubilee banners.
In Genoa, site of the most bloody protests in the history of the counter-capitalist movement, the vast majority of the protesters were very nice.
While many of the debt relief campaigners could have stepped out of a church fete, the Globalise Resistance coach down from London to Genoa felt like a university debating team on tour, an earnest bunch of young people from the Brighton Collective were talking over the issues on a 28-hour bus ride.
So, which one is it: a movement of violent hooligans or compassionate worthies?
By any measure of the numbers, the rock-throwers are a tiny sideshow. The main constituencies of the movement are environmentalists, human rights activists, Third World policy wonks, peace-loving hippies and, in huge numbers, caring Christians. (Other religious groups play a role, but not in such large numbers.)
But, until September 11 at least, the rioters had cast long shadows. The events of that day promise to stigmatise violent demonstrators in a way the protestations of pacificists and earth-loving greens never have.
The attacks on America have been chastening for everyone, even the critics of globalisation. They now say that violence will not be tolerated. This is a change. Until the gruesome events of September 11, activists were fearful of being divided over the issue of tactics. The critics of the new protest movement, they believed, were seeking to split the fluffies -- the peaceful protesters -- from the spikies -- those who saw a merit in violent protest, particularly property damage.
Now, though, they say they will be happy to condemn violence in any form. But, to judge from the contentious role of sabotage and violent protest within the movement in the last couple of years, it may not prove so simple.
In Genoa, even before the non-violent direct action was supposed to begin, towers of black smoke had appeared dotted across the city, where Black Bloc activists had set cars on fire. During the day, the windows of banks were smashed in, ATM machines were doused with buckets of paint, and the walls of buildings covered with graffiti: "Class War" and "Fuoco Alle Banche", it said. Genoa city officials estimate the property damage cost $45m.
The peaceful majority likes to say it is the media's fault that the movement is seen as synonymous with street-fighting. Hooligans make for better television. The hooded men hurling rocks down the Corso di Torino get more airtime than the scenes a couple of blocks away in Genoa this summer, where couples in fairy costumes performed shadow dances, an arts troupe put on a street ballet, and hundreds sat in silent vigil.
The people who sing songs and clap hands and parade with giant puppets like to say the violence is counter productive. Their argument is that the rioting has become the story, instead of the issues. The streets are no longer safe for peaceful protest. Campaigners are losing their credibility. World leaders can duck the problems, casting the protesters as a bunch of smelly, dreadlocked thugs out for a ruck.
However, the comforting rationale that violence benefits no one is not shared by people on the front lines, a small fringe who remain determined to destroy property and fight the cops head-on. A larger swathe are determined practitioners of civil disobedience and non-violent direct action. In private, even peace-loving activists are loathe to condemn the violence. They do not want to be seen to split the movement. And, as much as they find it distasteful to admit it, the violence has given the movement extra momentum.
The death of Carlo Giuliani, the young man shot in the head in a Genoa backstreet in July, has given campaigners a new martyr. "I have wanted to say that Giuliani was a pointless death," says one woman who identified herself as a pacifist green, "but look at the impact."
While critics both inside and outside like to dismiss the "mindless violence" of anti-globalisation protests, there is nothing mindless about it. Those who count themselves in the Black Bloc, which, strictly speaking, is a tactic rather than an organised group, argue that direct confrontation is necessary to fight a deaf system.
In interviews with people who count themselves as part of the Black Bloc, the rock-throwing, car-burning and window-smashing protesters who were such a feature of the Genoa protests say that the violence acts as a megaphone for their message.
One Italian protester, who only gave his first name, Simone, came to the protests in Genoa with a motorcycle helmet, goggles to shield his eyes from teargas, and a bandana to mask his face from the cameras. He identified himself as aligned to the Black Bloc.
For him, the non-violent approach of the Tute Bianche, the white overalls group which created a human wall to try and break through the police lines, was too timid. "This is a war. The politicians and corporations do not respect peaceful protest, they respect power," Simone said. "We will break through the fences. We will show them power."
But, coming from a poorer suburb of Genoa, he was also out to stick it to the rich who lived in the picturesque quarters of the mediterranean port city. He had been to an anti-globalisation seminar earlier in the week, but left: "Too much talking." On the busride into town, he said he was looking forward to a fight.
He and two others later smashed in the windows of a downtown estate agent.
The Black Bloc in the North America has been a much more civil bunch than in Europe. In general, it has styled itself as a menacing presence, dressed in black and adopting the Black Power salute.
In Quebec in April, the mass protests against the extension of the North American Free Trade Area escalated into a violent confrontation. One Black Bloc activist in Canada, contacted for this article, said she hoped this signalled that direct engagement was gathering supporters. "We are the megaphone of the movement," she said, "We have to get things louder."
James, a British protester who says he has sympathy with the Black Bloc, says: "Nobody should expect radical change to be a comfortable or easy process; effective, not symbolic, confrontation is what shows we are serious, and attracts more people to the movement."
Most activists, even radical and confrontational ones, would disagree. Their approach is to send a message using non-violent means, disruptive but not destructive.
Sophisticated organisation and the numbers of protesters was what surprised the police in Gothenburg in June.
While the Swedish security officers were facing their first mass protest, many of the activists were veterans of Nice, Prague, and even Seattle. The police arrived on horseback, but the protesters had come with bags of marbles, which they scattered across the streets to make the roads dangerous for the police cavalry. Intelligence officials were frustrated because experienced protest organisers stopped talking on their mobile phones and, instead, sent each other text messages, which are not so easy for the police to intercept.
At Genoa, too, the police officers on hand were largely locals who had never seen anything like the numbers of protesters as they faced in July. Long before the first clash, it was clear the demonstrators had come prepared.
Hundreds had brought swimming goggles to protect their eyes from the teargas. Many carried with them lemons and limes, which they squeezed on their skin and sucked in their mouths to stop the stinging and wretching caused by teargas.
Some wore scarves and balaclavas across their faces to prevent identification by police cameras. Others had on motorbike helmets and strips of cardboard wrapped around their arms, legs and torsos to act as a shield against police batons.
The effect was that the police's crowd control weaponry was ineffectual. While teargas canisters exploded at their feet, protesters kept hurling rocks at police lines. As many officers had no other means of response, the scenes in many areas descended into farce: the police bent down and picked up the rocks and started throwing them back.
Madame Cholet, as one woman calls herself who is part of the Wombles, the White Overalls Movement Building Libertarian Effective Struggle, was one of the people who took part in the most ambitious action at Genoa. She was alongside the other White Overalls, the group known in Italy as the Tute Bianche, which built a wall of perspex and steel bars with which it walked headlong into the police lines. The Tute Bianche approach is to break through the police cordon by absorbing their baton charges. She says: "It was like being part of a Roman army. We moved in Roman army formation."
At so many of the demonstrations, the protesters have not only been prepared, but mocking. At Quebec, a group of activists catapulted teddy-bears at the police lines. In Genoa, another bunch tied their underpants to the high fences surrounding the centre of the city.
Since the teargas at Genoa has cleared, there have been reports of police brutality on the streets and intimidation bordering on torture inside Genoa's prison. Some Carabiniere officials have come forward to say they knew of infiltration of the Black Bloc, that fellow officers acted as agent provocateurs. Legal proceedings have begun against the Italian state on behalf of those whose ribs were broken and skulls cracked when they were arrested by police swooping at midnight on the Genoa primary school which acted as the activists headquarters.
The officer who shot Giuliani, it has emerged, was just 20 years old. By contrast with many of the demonstrators, he had never seen a protest like it.
In the airport lounge on the way back from Genoa, the church-goers who came to campaign for full debt relief for impoverished countries, made much less noise. Perhaps this explains why their role in the movement has been so widely forgotten.
Both the movement -- and its critics -- like to think that anti-globalisation found its voice at the Battle for Seattle. From out of the teargas and the spray of water canons, a passionate movement for global justice came of age -- or so the romantic history of the movement goes.
But back in 1998, the leaders of the worlds most powerful countries emerged from their G7 summit to find to their astonishment that the buildings had been surrounded by roughly 60,000 people holding hands and calling for debt relief to the world's poorest countries. The masses had poured out of English churches, inspired by the line in Leviticus which commands that every fifty years, in a Jubilee year, all debts should be forgiven.
The first mass demonstration on an issue of global economic justice did not occur in Seattle, but in Birmingham. The violence of the last 18 months has arguably obscured the real 'headbangers' at the root of this movement. Global economic activism was not hatched on the barricades in the Pacific Northwest, but first mobilised from the pews of England's churches.
What enabled protesters in California make the connection with church activists in England, however, was not the pulpit. The line which connects Birmingham to Seattle to Washington and beyond has been the Internet.
Burn, burn, burn: Eco-terrorism
Craig Rosebraugh is the liaison for a more vicious brand of violence, the terrorism of the Earth Liberation Front.
Rosebraugh, a vegan baker from Portland, Oregon, fields information about arson attacks across the US done in the name of saving the planet. Although he says he has no idea who the eco-terrorists are and how they operate, he leaves his fax line open to receive anonymous communiques. The growing list of ELF vandalism, now estimated to have caused in excess of $30m in damage, is then logged on the Earth Liberation Front website, which also instructs activists to 'ignite the revolution' with a self-help guide to timer-set devices to start fires.
The ELF, styled on the Animal Liberation Front and claiming to be its sister organisation, is a breed apart even from the vandalism which has accompanied some protests. Even within radical green ranks who sympathise with the odd bit of "monkey-wrenching", the ad hoc attacks on bulldozers and construction sites in places of natural beauty, it is considered to be a step too far. (And, to be clear, the "monkeywrenchers" are a tiny minority of the hard-core environmentalists who subscribe to the thinking of groups like Earth First!)
Eco-terrorists are generating a serious concern -- and substantial spending -- in official circles. Before September 11, the FBI had said that the ELF, which has attacked new homes being built in Long Island, logging depots in the Pacific Northwest, and genetic research operations in Seattle, is the most dangerous domestic terrorist groups operating in the US today. A death as a result of an ELF attack is only a matter of time, Special Agent Steve Berry said.
Peter Chalk, a specialist in terrorism at the Rand Corporation, the think-tank which is an outgrowth of the Pentagon, was sceptical prior to the attacks on America about both about the FBI scare-mongering statements and the ELF's self-aggrandizing website. The anti-abortionist campaigners, such as God's Liberation Army, are more violent, having murdered individuals in an attempt to frighten off other doctors. In his Rand Corporation office, where he gave an interview in August, he had a picture of Osama bin Laden. This, even then, was America's most wanted man, he said.
"The one thing the law enforcement community, the government community, and the intelligence community in this country does not want to hear is that terrorism is not a threat," said Chalk, noting that $10bn in federal funds are set aside each year for anti-terrorism work, of which at least $1.2bn is deployed to develop domestic defences against terrorism.
Eco-terrorism, however, fitted into the establishment's view of its vulnerabilities. In particular, eco-terrorists were seen as the type of extremists who might employ biological or chemical weapons.
According to Pentagon folklore, President Clinton read Cobra Event, a novel by Richard Preston, about a group which terrorises the US by using biological weapons. Coming on the heels of the Timothy McVeigh bombing in Oklahoma and the Sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo underground, the White House worried this could be more than just fiction.
The president ordered funds to be set aside to increase the preparedness of US cities against biological, chemical or radiological attack. The Homeland Defense Initiative, as it came to be known, poured fresh funds into a host of government agencies: FBI, Defense, Health and Human Services, and the Department of Justice.
Chalk acknowledged that there were looming dangers within the violent environmental movement. The ELF is the sister organisation of the Animal Liberation Front, which has directly attacked individuals involved in animal testing.
"The environmental movement, the extremists are dangerous only in so far as they are a very unstructured movement. Some loner can tie his actions to the ideology and justify anything. There are no organizational constraints," says Chalk, suggesting another Timothy McVeigh could lurk within their ranks. "There is a real concern about biological terrorism, and the environmental terrorists are seen as a real threat [on that front], because, to put it bluntly, they hate humans."
Eco-terrorism does not have broad backing, as the vast constituency of environmentalists are non-violent. (Even the few who can stomach destruction of property shudder at the thought of any attack on life, human or animal.) It does not have organization or access to funds. It could provide the banner under which a solitary bomb thrower could mount a crazed crusade. Until September 11, the ELF was just a fringe freakshow. It was the extreme embodiment of the role of violence within the new protest movement: Contentious, overblown but unignorable.
Now the world and, in particular, America is more frightened. The ELF and their kind are no longer just violent cranks. They will be branded as terrorists.
Even within the movement, the battle lines have been drawn. Either you are with the peaceful protesters or against them.
Clamour against capitalism stilled
Four weeks ago, Kevin Danaher was one of a group of activists preparing for a march on Wall Street.
Danaher and other anti-globalisation protesters across the US were emailing each other that Monday morning with ideas for a mass demonstration in New York's financial centre.
Using the now well-honed tactics of human blockades, banner hangs, and street theatre, while also turning a blind eye to a spot of strategically placed vandalism, they were preparing for a global day of action aimed at the bastions of capitalism to coincide with the World Trade Organisation meeting in Doha, Qatar, on November 9.
The protests, they hoped, would be larger, more ambitious, and more widespread than anything anti-globalisation activists had tried before. They would involve people across the world in what Danaher liked to call "a dress rehearsal for the world's first general strike". On the US east coast, the target was to be the New York stock exchange.
Less than a month later, such plans seem to hail from another, more innocent, age. After the deadly events of Tuesday September 11, the new protest movement has gone quiet. It has dropped the language of confrontation, replacing it with condemnation and condolence. Grand plans, such as the Wall Street march, have been abandoned.
Danaher, one of the founders of Global Exchange and a rapid-fire, deep baritone voice of American anti-globalisation, says: "The movement is shifting into educational mode. The activists in New York are going to change their entire tactical approach. There are not going to be militant street protests. There are going to be teach-ins and candlelit vigils."
On the morning the hijackers launched their attack on New York, anti-globalisation activism was riding high.
The demonstrations planned for the last weekend in September were set to attract well over 50,000 people and disrupt, if not derail, the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Organisers were expecting so many people flocking to Washington they confidently predicted that they would encircle the White House, besieging the Bush administration with a ring of human protest.
Immediately after the attacks, such activism was silenced. The World Bank/IMF demonstrations planned for Washington were abandoned. True, a smaller, but still sizeable, number gathered for a global peace march. But Robert Weissman, a tall, gaunt disciple of Ralph Nader, was one of the team at the Mobilisation for Global Justice who had been co-ordinating the protests over the summer and then saw things come to a sudden halt. The frenzy of press briefings and logistics meetings in Washington church basements and suburban Virginia homes gave way to a quiet bewilderment. He explains: "We are all a footnote right now."
The movement has come to a stop. In public, activists say this is just a respectful pause. In private, however, some campaigners are asking whether the anti-globalisation movement itself will prove to be a victim of the attacks on America.
On the morning of the hijackings, the FT had just begun a four-part series, titled The Children of Globalisation Strike Back. The following three installments were held over. Originally, the FT had concluded that the movement was a Fifth Estate. It was a movement of movements, an unruly, unregulated, and unaccountable check on corporations, politicians and the institutions of democracy. It was powerful but, in its existing form, would never be in power.
The movement's momentum disguised a diversity of interests. It covered over cracks in the coalition. And it allowed for the absence of both leadership and a cogent philosophy to inspire followship. Hypothetically, the original series had suggested in a throwaway line that the movement could be derailed by a global recession or a war. But the one certainty, it said, was that anti-globalisation protest was not going away.
Today, nothing is quite so certain. Resuming contact with counter-capitalist protesters in the wake of the hijackings, the FT has sought to answer the simple question: What now for anti-globalisation? Already, parts of the counter-capitalist network are gathering around an anti-war message. Dissent in America and Europe has shown itself, even in these extraordinary times, to be remarkably robust. Counter-capitalism was anyway an international business. America's pain will not silence the critics of global capitalism in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. Activism will survive.
And yet, the movement, like so much else, will never be the same again. From his small terraced home in Oxford, England, George Monbiot has emerged over the past few years as one of the celebrities of the counter-capitalist circuit in Europe.
Having started out writing about the indigenous peoples of Papua New Guinea, and the environmental degradation of the Amazon, he has developed a wish-list of global change. He would like to see, among other things, the government regain the right to shut down anti-social companies, the creation of a directly elected world parliament, and a maximum size limit for corporations.
But in the last few weeks, Monbiot knows he cannot do very much about it. "Toes are very sensitive right now. We should not be going about treading on them," he says.
"We were massively gaining in influence, and now we are having to go into abeyance."
Activists, who used to relish the rhetoric of revolution and confrontation, are now holding their tongues. After the destruction of the Twin Towers, icons of American capitalism, something anti-capitalist can so easily smack of something anti-American. Talk of "mass mobilisations," "besieging the White House," and an "assault on Wall Street," is sooner forgotten now that a real battle has begun.
Campaigners have known over the last month that their critique of corporate-led globalisation -- a world in which companies fuelled by the demands of hungry shareholders exploit people, pillage resources, and capture democratic institutions -- will find little sympathy at a time when reopening the New York Stock Exchange has been seen as an act of national defiance and buying shares an act of patriotism.
Danaher at Global Exchange, who describes himself as a man with "enough anger for 10 men", is one of the few sticking with the kind of analysis that was commonplace at the beginning of last month.
"Money values got us into this mess," he says. "It is the oil profits in the Middle East which meant the US and Russia were prepared to fund these people and train these people."
Many others interviewed in the weeks since the attacks on America, though, were uncharacteristically mealy-mouthed. Linking globalisation with fanatical Islamic terrorism could both cause offence and blur the issues. Anti-globalisation has essentially been a movement of self-doubt in the globalising, capitalist west. With America on the offensive, the counter-capitalist movement is in retreat.
But the movement, by its nature, cannot tread water for long. It has neither the discipline nor the resources to do nothing and hold itself together.
Unlike a political party or a trade union, the anti-globalisation movement has no membership to fall back on. It does not have monthly meetings or constituency offices to keep its followers on board. It does not have a clear leadership to agree or impose a strategy. Nor does it have a political programme or politicians to follow.
The anti-globalisation network has been sustained by activism itself. Since Seattle in 1999, it has been defined by mass street protests. With each mobilisation, activists have had a greater sense of their own power. The lists of e-mail addresses of sympathisers have lengthened. The web of campaign organisers has spread, gaining more experience and support. The ambitions of the movement have increased. And the appetite within the media, policy-making circles, and the public for their message, has grown. The critics of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund had secured the right to debate with the leaders of the Bretton Woods institutions over the future of the world's financial architecture.
European leaders were saying it was time to give a fair hearing to the Tobin tax, a proposed levy on foreign exchange transactions to help the poor. Trade negotiators were fretting about the possibility that they would fail to launch a new round of liberalisation, as the World Trade Organisation was increasingly demonised by unions, environmentalists, and human rights campaigners. Anti-globalisation activists felt they were winning -- or, at least, beginning to win.
Those "wins", which were taken for granted at the beginning of last month, will have to be fought for all over again. With America and Europe looking set for engagement in what could be a lengthy conflict, the mainstream appetite and the state's tolerance for street protest is likely to shrink. Steve Kretzman, one of the so-called scholar activists of the Washington protest scene, says, "The attacks will alter the landscape of organising in the foreseeable future."
And without mobilisations, counter-capitalists will struggle to keep their critique of companies, politicians, and political institutions at the top of the public agenda.
These days, corporate-led globalisation is not even at the top of the activists' agenda. Anti-war is the priority.
The Mobilization for Global Justice, which had been planning the World Bank demos, morphed quietly into the Mobilization for Global Peace last month. Along the west coast of the US, the well-worn electronic network of anti-globalisation activists centred in Berkeley, Portland, and Seattle is being revived for peace and justice rallies. Over the past few weeks, peace rallies in Portland, San Francisco, and San Diego alone have drawn thousands of people.
In the UK, counter-capitalists such as Monbiot are in the frontline of a peace movement that is struggling, so far, to gain mass appeal. Globalise Resistance, the group backed by the Socialist Workers party that organised transport for hundreds of protesters travelling to Genoa in the summer, gathered about 1,500 people just over a fortnight ago to the first anti-war rally at Friends Meeting House in London. Since then, plans for peace demonstrations each Tuesday outside the UK prime minister's Downing Street residence in London have attracted small numbers.
Some who count themselves as Wombles -- the White Overalls Movement Building Libertarian Effective Struggle -- are planning a protest at Menwith Hill, the UK base for US surveillance equipment.
In many parts of the US and Europe, the anti-globalisation movement looks as though it is changing into an anti-war movement.
This is, perhaps, inevitable. Activists need to be active. Critics of the system do not like to be silent. And, for many, it is a matter of conscience: war is against their pacifist principles or their most pragmatic assessment of the situation -- a wave of violence in response to the attacks on America can only create a new generation of martyrs, and swell the ranks of willing suicide bombers, they say. Being anti-war, they tell you, is not an alternative to anti-globalisation, but a complement to it. It is born of the same compassion that prompted them to care about poverty, degradation, and exploitation in the developing world in the first place.
But, as a strategy, anti-war activism is risky. It further distracts public attention from complicated counter-capitalist issues. And it threatens to expose as a weakness the diversity that until now has been the movement's greatest strength.
The rapidly gathering momentum of counter-capitalist protest over the last two years obscured the faultlines within the movement. The coalition of steelworkers and environmentalists, captured by the Teamsters and Turtles in Seattle, always looked odd. The World Bank and the IMF may not seem an obvious target for the AFL-CIO. But organised labour in America was determined to be astride the biggest wave of political activism in a generation, and sponsored the planned demonstrations in Washington.
American labour, though, is not likely to sign up for an anti-war movement. As one Green activist puts it: "There will be some of the same people who were into anti-globalisation and are now involved in anti-war. But labour will be nowhere to be seen. Labour will be rallying around the flag." The proponents of trade liberalisation, free markets, and western liberalism have rallied in response to the assault on America. For them, capitalism no longer needs to be explained, it needs to be defended.
Robert Zoellick, the US trade negotiator, has argued that America should combat terror with trade. Those who feared anti-globalisation activism could act as a brake on the WTO's efforts to launch a new trade round now feel the activists can be ignored.
The coalition of counter-capitalists now faces a more energised and determined capitalist establishment than before. Keeping the coalition together while pursuing an anti-war agenda promises to be more difficult. This is not only true between Greens and Blues, environmentalists and labour. In the past couple of years, some say much like 1968, activists in Europe and America have had a sense that they have been marching side by side. The sense now is that this moment has passed.
Across activist groups in Europe and the US, the message is the same: We are not sure exactly how things will go from here. But we are not going away. Over the months ahead, the calendar is full: the European Union summit in Belgium at the end of the year; the World Social Forum in Porto Allegre in January; the Rio-plus-10 environmental summit in Johannesburg in the middle of next year.
"The spirit is not flagging," says Susan George, intellectual grandmother of the movement in Europe. "It may be harder, but our message is even more necessary now. It is one of greater equality and solidarity between north and south."
Just as Ms George keeps burrowing away at the system, counter-capitalism remains doggedly what it was. It is still the Fifth Estate, a check on the excesses and inadequacies of global capitalism. Much like the media -- the Fourth Estate -- it is not always a force for good. It is riddled with egotism and petty politics. Its actions are sometimes misinformed, sometimes misjudged. It has an inflated sense of its own importance. Its targets keep changing and growing.
And it has been robbed of its momentum. Counter-capitalism was not just a movement, it was a mood. Its main platform -- the street -- is not as open as it was. Its message, always complicated, is now much more loaded. Its audience -- politicians, the press and the public -- are seriously distracted. And its funding base, already tiny, threatens to shrivel as charitable foundations and philanthropists see their fortunes shrink with the stock market.
As it has done before, it is going to have to reinvent itself. "The globalisation movement has been struck a blow, but not a mortal blow," says Danaher, the defiant activist who is still planning for a global day of action to protest against the WTO, even if it is not a march on Wall Street. "We were damaged, but not irreparably. The movement is getting back on its feet. For a while, we were drowned out, but we are finding our voice."
Contact James Harding at firstname.lastname@example.org