Reclaiming the Commons

Category: Activism, Globalization
Last Updated: 12 Oct 2022
Essay type: Common App
Pages: 6 Views: 371
My paper is based on the article entitled “Reclaiming the Commons”, by Naomi Klein. In this article the author defines what anti-globalization movement means in her own words. The meaning and origins of the term anti-globalization movement is disputed amongst various socialists and economists, but Klein says that anti-globalization movement can mean different things to different people based on their interests in a particular issue. It is therefor the movement of many movements. Before going in depth about the article, it is important to know from where the idea of anti-globalization comes from and how the movement came into being.Some argue that is all started from Seattle, but a lot of them are unaware of the fact that AGM has gone through three waves. The first wave was back in 1970, when oil prices skyrocketed due to economic downturn, which lead to strikes, protests and demonstrations. The second wave erupted with the end of the cold war, during the early 1990’s and the third wave democracy spread like wild fire. The third and most important wave was during the 50th anniversary of Bretton Woods when the WTO emerged from the GATT.

The third wave lead to many activist groups to rise and this lead to overlapping emphasis on various issues like; anti-capitalist groups, women’s rights groups, global inequality groups, and many others. Klein mentions that people join the AGM because of similar interests and ideologies, which might be different from the regular mass. I personally think that people who do not agree with the common norms of society join these groups in an attempt to show their rebellious attitude towards the big corporations and political powers.

It is a known fact that one individual cannot tackle an entire organization and therefore, they form these individuals come together and make an organization of their own. They work together against the elites who turn almost everything into commodities; from education, to health care, to natural resources, even we are commodities since we “sell” our labor, it is considered a commodity. The basic things we need to survive are being privatized by these multinational corporations, because of their greed for power and profit.

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In our hegemonic society, most of the people are almost brainwashed by powerful individuals who build leadership and consensus in the face of great inequality. They frame and spin the truth in such a way, that it seems to be in the best interest of the citizens. People who realize this resist to the changes that are implicated on them and the society. These people with similar interests also form a group to protest against these big corporations and their immoralities.

So we can see how different groups emerge because of different issues that they face. As Klein mentions in the article, activists who want change are not waiting for a revolution to happen, they are acting right now because what can be done today should not be left for tomorrow. Another reason is that the global economy and infrastructure keeps changing so rapidly, that it is sometimes hard to catch up to it and if they do want to make a difference, then they need to act quickly.

As a result, these activists create their own anti-privatization campaigns and most of the times these campaigns get under way on their own. Sometimes, other activist groups join in together and even though it seems that these organized groups work together, each participate because of their own benefits as I have mentioned above. For example, there can be an alliance between the women’s right group and the movements of small farmers. Each have their own motifs but if they work together they can get more attention and make their voices heard in a larger scale.

These are more local campaigns that occur every now and then but there are also larger global scale campaigns that take place and these protests are usually directed towards international and supranational organizations like the G-8, the WTO, the World Bank, and the IMF. These movements initially used to aim at local and national issues, but now because of globalization, they are aimed at the new global order that has no democratic institutions. During these campaigns, protestors take to the streets because that is the main form of expression that is available to them.

In the article, there is an example of Maude Barlow, a Canadian activist, who said that when she was leading the campaign against NAFTA, she was doing that to fight for her nation, but now the cause has gone beyond nationality and state borders. Now things are more global and it is no longer a fight for nationalism but for democracy. When these small activist groups started to get more involved with the global society, they realized it was a much bigger problem then they anticipated. Thanks to the big corporations, they now see the root cause of these problems.

It was clear right from the beginning that these corporations played a big part in creating these issues but now, the activists realize that these money hungry corporations are not only involved, but they are the ones who have created these issues and inequalities in the first place. The rich gets richer, and the poor get poorer, hence the gap keeps on getting bigger and they use the working class citizens to feed them and their selfish needs. As consumers, we always look at the front end of production and ignore the back end because we have never thought of looking at it in any other way.

But for me, the back end is more of a terrifying horror story. Underpaid workers, child labor, and sweatshops are just parts of it, and there are only a few who have stood up against this harsh reality because most people are just afraid to stand up against these large corporations. For example, Nike, one of the biggest corporations in the world use child labor and sweatshop and they are the ones who helped pioneer the new brand of activist synergy which basically means the coalition of multiple activist groups to fight against these corporations to create a larger global effect then they would have individually.

The basic cause of these activist groups is to stop the WTF, IMF and FTAA from creating any legislation that will directly affect the economy and the working class individuals. Their fear is privatization and the loss of the people. But sometimes, these activists’ movements turn into violent protests when outsiders who have little knowledge about the reality of the situation try and barge in. This creates chaos and thus the real point remains undelivered.

This happens due to the non-hierarchical structure of the movement and the unorganized press conferences. Usually the protests are not thought out or planned before hand, which leads to dramatic circumstances. These are the reasons why companies like Nike are still in business and no matter how much or how big the protest, nothing is being done. The protests might have reduced the issue, as some would like to believe, but did not completely eliminate it. Some people ask, if they know the corporations are so powerful, why stand up against them?

The reason Klein mentions is that activists usually protest because they know that the change they anticipate for, will not come through electoral politics or any other form of industrial power and thus, they challenge the constitutions and structures themselves. There is an obvious injustice and inequality that goes on which are always being undermined, and the reason why these problems occur in the first place is because of the poor decision making of these powers. Instead of the people making the decisions themselves, they are forced to follow the legislation created by these political and industrial powers.

Klein also argues that most complaints against the WTO is about governments embracing an economic model that involves much more then opening borders to goods and services and therefore the term anti-globalization is not appropriate. But most people do not understand the term globalization and therefore this movement gets criticized over and over again. If we talk about just anti-globalization, it more or less means being against trade and globalization but in reality, the movement is not against trade but it is against the tag along that come with free trade that are imposed by the government and law makers.

In this hegemonic society, it is almost impossible for an individual to stand up and fight against the system alone and that is where the anti-globalization movement comes in. So through this analysis, we can see that there are two types of analysts. There are those activists who fight for global and broader issues, and there are those who fight for day-to-day survivals and are the most neglected. The only ways their voices can be heard is by merging the two together and form a concrete alliance that is strong enough to fight these elites.

This will create a political framework that can take corporate power and control, and also empower local organizing and self-determination. Therefore, Klein says that the real motif behind the movement is not weather it is for or against trade, but if individuals have the right to negotiate the terms and conditions that come with these foreign capitals and investments. In other words, even though the term is a little misleading, their real goal is not to demolish globalization but to make it more fare and equal.

Cite this Page

Reclaiming the Commons. (2017, Mar 28). Retrieved from

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