Marxist critique of
the anti-globalization movement
Picture nicked from Socialist Standard May 2000
Marxists have a very different position on the development of
capitalism to that expressed by the opponents of 'corporate
globalization'. Our position is premised on the view that the
changes that capitalism has unleashed and continues to unleash
are an improvement over all earlier arrangements and provide the
conditions for an even more advanced society, socialism.
The stark difference can be brought out best by listing our
views on some major questions:
- Protecting the natural environment does not require the
halting or slowing down of capitalist economic
development, and scientific and technological progress
provides the basis for sustainable growth.
- Workers in developed countries do not engage in
'excessive consumption'. In fact, their consumption
should be higher.
- The economic and social backwardness in developing
countries is fundamentally due to internal conditions
within those countries and reflects the lack of
capitalism rather than its excessive presence. The role
of external influences such as international capital, the
World Bank and the IMF is of secondary importance and
just as likely to have a salutary as a negative effect on
- There is no 'third way' forward for developing countries.
There is only one way and that is through capitalism.
Socialism will become a 'second way' in these countries
but only after capitalist development has prepared the
- In the developed countries of North America, Europe, East
Asia and Australasia, there can only be one item on the
political agenda - socialist revolution. Such a
revolution would collectivise the means of production,
eliminate economic insecurity and transform labor into an
activity fit for humans.
- The slogan 'oppose corporate power' seems beyond
redemption and unable to convey anything radical. It can
mean nothing else than more power to nation states,
smaller local capitalists and the petty bourgeoisie. On
this issue we are either indifferent or actually support
increased corporate power. Big global business bring
faster economic development and technological change.
And, a small group of large capitalists are easier to
expropriate than a large group of smaller ones.
- Even 'anti-capitalist' loses much of its radical content
given that it is as often as not used by elements best
described as anti-modern, neo-feudal or primitivist.
Their opposition to capitalism is reactionary rather than
revolutionary. They want something worse than capitalism
rather than something better.
While taking on so many sacred cows would seem to be a recipe
for isolating oneself, it should be possible to unite (or at
least engage) with others on a common opposition to capitalist
exploitation and the society it creates and a common desire for
something fundamentally better. If the differences are dealt with
in the process of thrashing out views on the nature of the
radical change we seek, Marxists should be able to place
themselves at the centre of political discussion and debate and
not simply be left snearing from the sidelines.
||Dispelling 'Frankenfear' The neo-feudalists have benefited considerably
from whipping up 'Frankenfear'. However, in the long run
it could become a liability if genetic engineering starts
proving to be a major success. This article argues that
GE has an important role to play in improving food
security and protecting the environment and that public
funding of it should be greatly increased.
Some of the other subjects we aim to cover in the near future
- A critique of anarchism and defence of socialism;
- The global bogeymen: WTO, World Bank and IMF;
- Critiquing 'left' theories on why Third World countries
are backward; and
- Defending industrial society and affluence from
Links critical of
For an introduction to
The writings of Marx and
What you can do to help
- Call for the removal of trade restrictions on developing
- Start a campaign to encourage people to buy developing
country products in preference to those made locally or
from other developed countries;
- Support a new WTO round of negotiations aimed at reducing
trade barriers on agricultural products from developing
- Call for increased assistance for their agricultural
research and development efforts, including genetic
- Call for greater funding of research into the treatment
of serious, but commercially unrewarding, illnesses such
as malaria that are prevalent in developing countries.
Having a few good slogans for posters etc can make a
difference. Here are some tentative suggestions.
- High-tech socialism not low-tech barbarism
- No trade barriers on Third World products
- Help the Third World - buy their products
- "Organic" farming won't feed 10 billion people.
GMO way to go.
- No "debt relief " for war-lords
- Capitalism sucks - big or small, global or local
- Yes to globalization. No to nationalism
- No god, no country, no master
Established 20 May 2000. Last
modified 17 July 2000.