It’s been over five years now since the wave of protests around the WTO ministerial in Seattle brought corporate globalisation and its critics into the forefront of popular debate. They’ve been five years of rapid change, that saw a massive increase in protest around major summits, an associated increase in violence and police repression, and then a change of tactics as much protest work was directed into the anti-war movement and work on globalisation took on other forms.
Inside the summits too it’s been five years of change. The actions on the streets of Seattle coincided with a historic decision by many of the world’s poorer countries to speak up and object to some of the deals placed on the table, a theme that has been repeated several times since, and which has led to the forming of new power blocs such as the G77. While many disparaged the protestors, or latterly suggested we had lost a futile battle, the emergence of spokespeople and power blocs from the global south is a sign of some (limited) success.
Perhaps my favourite group to emerge from all this has been The Yes Men, a group who have sprung back into the media lately with their latest attempt to shame a major organisation through “identity correction”. In this case that organisation is the Dow Chemical Corporation, and there’s a great summary of the story so far over at Design Observer.