The World Trade Organization Demonstrations

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The World Trade Organization Demonstrations


The emerging trend of liberalizing international trade regulations, also known as globalization, has lead to vast changes in distribution of wealth and power throughout the world. As a result, many groups and population segments feel pressured or disadvantaged by the evolving structure of world markets and their effects on labor standards, job availability, environmental standards, etc.

Many of these groups, both in the United States and abroad, are leftist-centered groups seeking to peacefully influence or altogether stop the rush to trade liberalization and privatization that is occurring worldwide. Naomi Klein writes:

In fact, remarkably few of globalization's fenced-out people turn to violence. Most simply move: from countryside to city, from country to country. And that's when they come face to face with distinctly unvirtual fences, ones made of chain link and razor wire, reinforced with concrete and guarded with machine guns (xxi-xxii).

In the United States, such confrontations are usually between a wide variety of anti-globalization activists and agents of social control on the streets of major cities.

Perhaps the largest and most important of such clashes occurred between protestors and riot police in downtown Seattle between November 30 and December 3, 1999. At the time, the city was playing host to a major summit of the World Trade Organization (WTO), a corporate-controlled intergovernmental organization "formed in 1995 as a means of developing a worldwide free-market economy" (Verhovek and Kahn 1).

In an effort to prevent what they saw as destructive and potentially dangerous developments from taking place, thousands of activists in Seattle succ...

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... We Really Shut Down the WTO?" Voices from the WTO. Olympia, WA: E

Freidberg, Jill, and Rick Rowley. This is What Democracy Looks Like. Ed. Independent Media Center. Video vols. Seattle, WA: Big Noise Films, 2000.

Klein, Naomi. Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate. New York: Picador USA, 2002.

Nichols, John. "Raising a Ruckus." The Nation. Vol. 269, no. 19 (6 Dec. 1999): 18-19.

Sunde, Scott. "Second Straight Night of Confrontations Rocks Capitol Hill." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 2 Dec. 1999, sec A:1.

Thomas, Janet. The Battle in Seattle. Golden, Colorado: Fulcrum Publishing, 2000.

Verhovek, Sam Howe and Joseph Kahn. "The Battle in Seattle." New York Times Upfront. Vol. 132 no. 9 (3 Jan. 2000): 7.

Weissman, Robert. "Democracy is in the Streets." Multinational Monitor Vol. 20, Issue 12 (Dec. 1999): 24-30.
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