Democratizing the Global Economy

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Kevin Danaher, co-founder of San Francisco's Global Exchange, has assembled a dramatic and rather down-to-earth collection of articles in this study of the Washington, D.C. protests of April of 2000.

Kevin Danaher, ed.

Reviewed by Bill Mithoefer

Saturday, August 18 2001, 4:51 PM


The cover of Democratizing The Global Economy depicts a bald eagle carrying protestors with a large sign reading "Economic Justice" swooping down on suit-clad, cigar-smoking skeletons fleeing from the scene with bags of money, accompanied by their friends, the pigs. In the background lies a Romanesque building entitled "World Bank," and a typical D.C. federal-style office bearing the name "International Monetary Fund," both overrun by snakes. Get the idea? After I read the first few articles, a young Berkeley law student sitting next to me commented as I gazed at the cover, "That looks interesting and deeply critical."

Kevin Danaher, co-founder of San Francisco's Global Exchange, has assembled a dramatic and rather down-to-earth collection of articles in this study of the Washington, D.C. protests of April of 2000. He neatly divides the book into three sections, "The Art and Science of Protesting Transnational Elites," "Why the World Bank and the IMF Suck," and "Where Does the Movement Go From Here?" The articles within each section contain neat sidebars, including an excerpt from Business Week critiquing global capitalism, a definition of de-globalization by Walden Bello, a quote from Steve Biko and other interesting tidbits. Amusing political cartoons also pepper the book. The editor has left very little wasted space.

"The Art and Science of Protesting Transnational Elites" contains some of the most inspiring material in the book. A 69-year old Berkeley grandmother, who went to Washington to protest the lack of universal health care in America, writes about her politicization and activism getting arrested in D.C. Her article is extremely matter-of-fact written in a rather amusing tone with little sentimentality about her experiences going to jail. She describes the logistics of using a false name and maintaining solidarity with her fellow protestors. She also recounts her amazement at how many young blacks are incarcerated, concluding that "[T]he international and national media mergers, corporate farming, mining and forestry, housing development, gun control and arms sales, and even our universities and schools are all parts of the total picture."

Terry Allen shows the ways in which the D.C. police broke the law to keep order. Njoke Njoroge Njehu and Soren Ambrose describe the logistics of how the A16 protests were organized. Starhawk, Michael Albert and Alli Star all provide excellent assessments of A16 and how lessons learned in Seattle and D.C. can make future protests more effective. Several authors also deal with the corporate media's distortion of the protest's significance and police brutality during the events.

The silly title of the second section, "Why the World Bank and the IMF Suck" belies the fact that this is the crux of the book. The essays in this section run the gamut from Fidel Castro's impassioned speech to the G77 group of the United Nations, to Naomi Klein's inspiring essay "The Vision Thing," which talks about the huge range of ideologies behind the protest movement from a fairly middle-of-the-road liberal point of view.

Democratizing the Global Economy is available from Common Courage Press  

Copyright © 2001 by Bill Mithoefer. All rights reserved.
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