PGA Bulletin 1 March 97 / 2. Peoples’ Global Action Manifesto (2/2)


Richard Moore

PGA Bulletin
Number 1, March 1997


          Table of contents:

               1. Letter from the Geneva Welcoming Committee
               2. Peoples' Global Action Manifesto
               3. Plans of action


[2]. Peoples' Global Action Manifesto (2/2)

Oppressed ethnic groups

     The black communities of African origin in the Americas suffered
     for centuries a violent and inhuman exploitation, as well as
     physical annihilation. Their labour force was used as a
     fundamental tool for accumulation of capital, both in America and
     Europe. Faced with this oppression, the Afro-Americans have
     created community-based processes of organisation and cultural
     resistance. Currently the black communities are suffering the
     effects of "development" megaprojects in their territories and the
     invasion of their lands by big landowners, which lead to massive
     displacement, misery and cultural alienation, and many times to
     repression and death.

     A similar situation is being suffered by other peoples, like
     Gypsies, Kurds, Saharouis, etc. All these peoples are forced to
     struggle for their right to live in dignity by nation-states that
     repress their identity and autonomy, and impose on them a forced
     incorporation into a homogeneous society. Many of these groups are
     viewed as a threat by the dominant powers, since they are
     reclaiming and practising their right to cultural diversity and


Onslaught on nature and agriculture

     Land, water, forest, wildlife, aquatic life and mineral resources
     are not commodities, but our life support. For decades the powers
     that have emerged from money and market have swelled their profits
     and tightened their control of politics and economics by usurping
     these resources, at the cost of the lives and livelihoods of vast
     majorities around the world. For decades the World Bank and the
     IMF, and now the WTO, in alliance with national governments and
     corporate powers, have facilitated manoeuvrings to appropriate the
     environment. The result is environmental devastation, tragic and
     unmanageable social displacement, and the wiping out of cultural
     and biological diversity, much of it irretrievably lost without
     compensation to those reliant on it.

     The disparities provoked within and between countries by national
     and global capital have widened and deepened as the rich spirit
     away the natural resources from communities and farmers, farm
     labourers, fishworkers, tribal and indigenous populations, women,
     the socially disadvantaged - beating down into the earth the
     already downtrodden. The centralised management of natural
     resources imposed by trade and investment agreements does not
     leave space for intergenerational and intragenerational
     sustainability. It only serves the agenda of the powers that have
     designed and ratified those agreements: to accumulate wealth and

     Unsustainable and capital-intensive technologies have played a
     major role in corporations' onslaught on nature and agriculture.
     Green revolution technologies have caused social and environmental
     havoc wherever they have been applied, creating destitution and
     hunger instead of eliminating them. Today, modern biotechnology is
     emerging, together with patents on life, as one of the most
     powerful and dangerous weapons of corporations to take over the
     control of the food systems all over the world. Genetic
     engineering and patents on life must be resisted, since their
     potential social and environmental impact is the greatest in the
     history of humanity.

     Waging struggles against the global capitalist paradigm, the
     underprivileged work towards the regeneration of their natural
     heritage and the rebuilding of integrated, egalitarian
     communities. Our vision is of a decentralised economy and polity
     based on communities' rights to natural resources and to plan
     their own development, with equality and self-reliance as the
     basic values. In place of the distorted priorities imposed through
     global designs in sectors such as transport, infrastructure and
     energy, and energy-intensive technology, they assert their right
     to life in the fulfilment of the basic needs of everyone,
     excluding the greed of the consumerist minority. Respecting
     traditional knowledge and cultures consonant with the values of
     equality, justice, and sustainability, we are committed to
     evolving creative ways to use and fairly distribute our natural



     Another important aspect of globalisation, as orchestrated by WTO
     and other international agencies, is the commercialisation and
     commodification of culture, the appropriation of diversity in
     order to co-opt it and integrate it into the process of capitalist
     accumulation. This process of homogenisation by the media not only
     contributes to the breakdown of the cultural and social networks
     in local communities, but also destroys the essence and meaning of

     Cultural diversity not only has an immeasurable value of its own,
     as reflections of human creativity and potential; it also
     constitutes a fundamental tool for resistance and self-reliance.
     Hence, cultural homogenisation has been one of the most important
     tools for central control since colonialism. In the past the
     elimination of cultural diversity was mainly accomplished by the
     Church and by the imposition of colonial languages. Today mass
     media and corporate consumerist culture are the main agents of
     commodification and homogenisation of cultural diversity. The
     result of this process is not only a major loss of humanity's
     heritage: it also creates an alarming dependence on the capitalist
     culture of mass consumption, a dependence that is much deeper in
     nature and much harder to eliminate than economic or political

     Control over culture must be taken out of corporate hands and
     reclaimed by communities. Self-reliance and freedom are only
     possible on the basis of a lively cultural diversity that enables
     peoples to independently determine each and every aspect of their
     lives. We are deeply committed to cultural liberation in all areas
     of life, from food to films, from music to media. We will
     contribute with our direct action to the dismantlement of
     corporate culture and the creation of spaces for genuine

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Knowledge and technology

     Knowledge and technology are not neutral or value-free. The
     domination of capital is partly based on its control over both.
     Western science and technology have made very important
     contributions to humankind, but their domination has swept away
     very diverse and valuable knowledge systems and technologies based
     on centuries-long experience.

     Western science is characterised by the production of simplified
     models of reality for experimental purposes; hence, the
     reductionist scientific method has an extremely limited capacity
     to produce useful knowledge about complex and chaotic systems like
     agriculture. Traditional knowledge systems and
     knowledge-production methods are far more effective, since they
     are based on generations of direct observation of and interaction
     with unsimplified complex systems. Therefore, capital-intensive,
     science-based technologies invariably fail to achieve their goals
     in complex systems, and many times provoke the disarray of these
     systems, as green revolution technologies, modern dam technology
     and many other examples demonstrate.

     Despite their many failures, capital-intensive technologies are
     systematically treated as superior to traditional,
     labour-intensive technologies. This ideological discrimination
     results in unemployment, indebtedness and, most important, in the
     loss of an invaluable body of knowledges and technologies
     accumulated during centuries. Traditional knowledge, often
     controlled by women, has till recently been rejected as
     "superstition" and "witchcraft" by western, mostly male,
     scientists and academics. Their "rationalism" and "modernisation"
     has for centuries aimed at destroying it irretrievably. However,
     pharmaceutical corporations and agribusiness have recently
     discovered the value and potential of traditional knowledge, and
     are stealing, patenting and commodifying it for their own gain and
     Capital-intensive technology is designed, promoted, commercialised
     and imposed to serve the process of capitalist globalisation.
     Since the use of technologies has a very important influence on
     social and individual life, peoples should have a free choice of,
     access to and control over technologies. Only those technologies
     which can be managed, operated and controlled by local peoples
     should be considered valid. Also, control of the way technology is
     designed and produced, its scopes and finalities, should be
     inspired by human principles of solidarity, mutual co-operation
     and common sense. Today, the principles underlying production of
     technology are exactly the opposite: profit, competition, and the
     deliberate production of obsolescence. Empowerment passes through
     people's control over the use and production of technology.


Education and youth

     The content of the present education system is more and more
     conditioned by the demands of production as dictated by
     corporations. The interests and requirements of economic
     globalisation are leading to a growing commodification of
     education. The diminishing public budgets in education are
     encouraging the development of private schools and universities,
     while the labour conditions of people working in the public
     education sector are being eroded by austerity and Structural
     Adjustment Programs. Increasingly, learning is becoming a process
     that intensifies inequalities in societies. Even the public
     education system, and most of all the university, is becoming
     inaccessible for wide sectors of societies. The learning of
     humanities (history, philosophy, etc.) and the development of
     critical thinking is being discouraged in favour of an education
     subservient to the interests of the globalisation process, where
     competitive values are predominant. Students increasingly spend
     more time in learning how to compete with each other, rather than
     enhancing personal growth and building critical skills and the
     potential to transform society.

     Education as a tool for social change requires confrontational
     academics and critical educators for all educational systems.
     Community-based education can provoke learning processes within
     social movements. The right to information is essential for the
     work of social movements. Limited and unequal access to language
     skills, especially for women, hinders participation in political
     activity with other peoples. Building these tools is a way to
     reinforce and rebuild human values. Yet formal education is
     increasingly being commercialised as a vehicle for the market
     place. This is done by corporate investment in research and by the
     promotion of knowledge geared toward skills needed for the market.
     The domination of mass media should be dissolved and the right to
     reproduce our own knowledges and cultures must be supported.

     However, for many children throughout the world, the
     commodification of education is not an issue, since they are
     themselves being commodified as sexual objects and exploited
     labour, and suffering inhuman levels of violence. Economic
     globalisation is at the root of the daily nightmare of increasing
     numbers of exploited children. Their fate is the most horrible
     consequence of the misery generated by the global market.



     Globalisation is aggravating complex and growing crises that give
     rise to widespread tensions and conflicts. The need to deal with
     this increasing disorder is intensifying militarisation and
     repression (more police, arrests, jails, prisoners) in our
     societies. Military institutions, such as U.S.-dominated NATO,
     organising the other powers of the North, are among the main
     instruments upholding this unequal world order. Mandatory
     conscription in many countries indoctrinates young people in order
     to legitimate militarism. Similarly, the mass media and corporate
     culture glorify the military and exalt the use of violence. There
     is also, behind facades of democratic structures, an increasing
     militarisation of the nation-state, which in many countries makes
     use of faceless paramilitary groups to enforce the interests of

     At the same time, the military-industrial complex, one of the main
     pillars of the global economic system, is increasingly controlled
     by huge private corporations. The WTO formally leaves defence
     matters to states, but the military sector is also affected by the
     drive for private profit.

     We call for the dismantling of nuclear and all other weapons of
     mass destruction. The World Court of The Hague has recently
     declared that nuclear weapons violate international law and has
     called all the nuclear-weapons countries to agree to dismantle
     them. This means that the strategy of NATO, based on the possible
     use of nuclear weapons, amounts to a crime against humanity.


Migration and discrimination

     The neo-liberal regime provides freedom for the movement of
     capital, while denying freedom of movement to human beings. Legal
     barriers to migration are being constantly reinforced at the same
     time that massive destruction of livelihoods and concentration of
     wealth in privileged countries uproot millions of people, forcing
     them to seek work far from their homes. Migrants are thus in more
     and more precarious and often illegal situations, even easier
     targets for their exploiters. They are then made scapegoats,
     against whom right wing politicians encourage the local population
     to vent their frustrations. Solidarity with migrants is more
     important than ever. There are no illegal humans, only inhuman

     Racism, xenophobia, the caste system and religious bigotry are
     used to divide us and must be resisted on all fronts. We celebrate
     our diversity of cultures and communities, and place none above
     the other.

                                    * * *

     The WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, and other institutions that
     promote globalisation and liberalisation want us to believe in the
     beneficial effects of global competition. Their agreements and
     policies constitute direct violations of basic human rights
     (including civil, political, economic, social, labour and cultural
     rights) which are codified in international law and many national
     constitutions, and ingrained in people's understandings of human
     dignity. We have had enough of their inhuman policies. We reject
     the principle of competitiveness as solution for peoples'
     problems. It only leads to the destruction of small producers and
     local economies. Neo-liberalism is the real enemy of economic



     Capitalism has slipped the fragile leash won through centuries of
     struggles in national contexts. It is keeping alive the
     nation-state only for the purposes of peoples' control and
     repression, while creating a new transnational regulatory system
     to facilitate its global operation. We cannot confront
     transnational capitalism with the traditional tools used in the
     national context. In this new, globalised world we need to invent
     new forms of struggle and solidarity, new objectives and
     strategies in our political work. We have to join forces to create
     diverse spaces of co-operation, equality, dignity, justice and
     freedom at a human scale, while attacking national and
     transnational capital, and the agreements and institutions that it
     creates to assert its power.

     There are many diverse ways of resistance against capitalist
     globalisation and its consequences. At an individual level, we
     need to transform our daily lives, freeing ourselves from market
     laws and the pursuit of private profit. At the collective level,
     we need to develop a diversity of forms of organisation at
     different levels, acknowledging that there is not a single way of
     solving the problems we are facing. Such organisations have to be
     independent of governmental structures and economic powers, and
     based on direct democracy. These new forms of autonomous
     organisation should emerge from and be rooted in local
     communities, while at the same time practising international
     solidarity, building bridges to connect different social sectors,
     peoples and organisations that are already fighting globalisation
     across the world.

     These tools for co-ordination and empowerment provide spaces for
     putting into practice a diversity of local, small-scale strategies
     developed by peoples all over the world in the last decades, with
     the aim of delinking their communities, neighbourhoods or small
     collectives from the global market. Direct links between producers
     and consumers in both rural and urban areas, local currencies,
     interest-free credit schemes and similar instruments are the
     building blocks for the creation of local, sustainable, and
     self-reliant economies based on co-operation and solidarity rather
     than competition and profit. While the global financial casino
     heads at increasing speed towards social and environmental
     disintegration and economic breakdown, we the peoples will
     reconstruct sustainable livelihoods. Our means and inspiration
     will emanate from peoples' knowledge and technology, squatted
     houses and fields, a strong and lively cultural diversity and a
     very clear determination to actively disobey and disrespect all
     the treaties and institutions at the root of misery.

     In the context of governments all over the world acting as the
     creatures and tools of capitalist powers and implementing
     neo-liberal policies without debate among their own peoples or
     their elected representatives, the only alternative left for the
     people is to destroy these trade agreements and restore for
     themselves a life with direct democracy, free from coercion,
     domination and exploitation. Direct democratic action, which
     carries with it the essence of non-violent civil disobedience to
     the unjust system, is hence the only possible way to stop the
     mischief of corporate state power. It also has the essential
     element of immediacy. However we do not pass a judgement on the
     use of other forms of action under certain circumstances.

     The need has become urgent for concerted action to dismantle the
     illegitimate world governing system which combines transnational
     capital, nation-states, international financial institutions and
     trade agreements. Only a global alliance of peoples' movements,
     respecting autonomy and facilitating action-oriented resistance,
     can defeat this emerging globalised monster. If impoverishment of
     populations is the agenda of neo-liberalism, direct empowerment of
     the peoples though constructive direct action and civil
     disobedience will be the programme of the Peoples' Global Action
     against "Free" Trade and the WTO.

     We assert our will to struggle as peoples against all forms of
     oppression. But we do not only fight the wrongs imposed on us. We
     are also committed to building a new world. We are together as
     human beings and communities, our unity deeply rooted in
     diversity. Together we shape a vision of a just world and begin to
     build that true prosperity which comes from human empowerment,
     natural bounty, diversity, dignity and freedom.

Geneva, February-March 1998