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What's Next After Seattle WTO Protests

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WTO Seattle Protest Crowd, photo by Alan Graves

Photo by Alan Graves.

Well, I must admit that when, in the fall issue of YES! Magazine I urged you all to come to Seattle for the World Trade Organization protests, I hadn't dared to dream the event would turn out to be such an historic turning point. While the police violence captured the attention of the nightly news, for those in the streets, the real news was the power of the people to undo the best laid plans of the power elites and to openly celebrate their hopes for a world that honors all of life.

Now, in the post-Seattle WTO protest era, I see people everywhere eager to dig further into the issues and keep up the momentum for change. If you want to stay engaged and get your friends involved, let me recommend some upcoming events as well as materials that are great for discussion groups. My recommendations hardly begin to cover the possibilities, but I hope they provide some useful leads.

Discussion Groups

A great way to kick off a lively group discussion is to play the audio tapes of the globalization debate that pitted Ralph Nader, Vandana Shiva, and John Cavanagh against Jagdish Bagwati, Scott Miller, and David Aarons. You'll hear clear articulations of arguments on both sides of the “free” trade issue. Get the tapes from Alternative Radio, 800/444-1977. If you want to view the police assaults and hear from people in the streets of Seattle, the video “Showdown in Seattle” from the Independent Media Center is a vivid, rough-cut piece. Call 206/262-0721, e-mail video@indymedia.org, or visit www.indymedia.org.

If you are just getting into these issues, here are three books that provide powerful critiques of the global economy: Dave Korten's When Corporations Rule the World; Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith's The Case Against the Global Economy; and William Greider's One World Ready or Not. For a starkly contrasting, pro-globalist view, try Thomas Friedman's The Lexus and the Olive Tree.

For those ready to dig into the structure and rulings of the WTO, two excellent primers provide the basics: Invisible Government, from the International Forum on Globalization, call 415/771-3394; and The WTO: Five Years of Reasons to Resist Corporate Globalization, available from Seven Stories Press in New York, e-mail greg@sevenstories.com , or call 212/226-8760. On the Web, www.tradeobservatory.org/ has plenty of other website references, and you can find video and audio coverage of the WTO week, including the powerful speeches from opening night of the IFG Teach-In.

To explore how we shift to a just and sustainable economy, turn to the Spring 1999 issue of YES! Magazine. Dave Korten's article, “The Post-Corporate World,” sets out principles for a life-affirming economy, and the issue features many stories on how those principles are being applied right now or order the issue by calling us at 206/842-0216.

Two other recent sources are a short paper from the IFG, “Beyond the WTO: Alternatives to Economic Globalization,” and Jeremy Brecher's new video of his book on constructive action in the face of globalization, “Global Village or Global Pillage?” available from the Independent Media Center, 206/262-0721.

I hope you find these suggestions useful. These are exciting times indeed. A great time to be alive and a fabulous time to be involved!


Fran Korten is Executive Director of the Positive Futures Network.

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