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CC FEATURE How to Tell You’re in a Movement BY NATE BLAKESLEE Lf et me just put before you briefly some of the major problems facing the world.” Ralph Nader’s Opening remark at the International Forum on Globalization’s daylong teach-in brought a ew titters from the standing-room-only audience. But it was respectful laughter; few can outline the big picture better than Nader. And as quixotic as it may seem, the state of the world was the reason thousands had converged on Washington in mid-April, in the widely anticipated sequel to last November’s watershed protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle. Taking the podium well after 11:00 p.m., Nader delivered the final lecture in a twelve-hour crash course on globalization. The teach-in was held at Foundry United Methodist Church \(the house of worship attended by one of globalization’s greatest stalwarts, Bill Clinthe World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in downtown D.C. Even though it was late, the large chapel and balcony were as packed as they had been all day, primarily with young people. Hundreds more sat or stretched out on the floor in two large overflow rooms, where video screens relayed the action. Many took notes. Long before Nader took the stage, the notetakers had the outlines of a thorough critique of the major institutions of global capitalism, delivered by some of the world’s leading dissident voices. Most Americans have probably never heard of the men and women on the panel of speakers, including such stars of the international left as Walden Bello of Thailand, Vandana Shiva of India, Oronto Douglas of Nigeria, and Bertha Lujan of Mexico. Few, in fact, are familiar with the International Forum on Globalization, which represents sixty organizations from twenty-five countries. For the most part, domestic and foreign critics of the “Washington Consensus” as the bi-partisan embrace of globalization is referred to outside of the U.S. have been invisible in this country. On a tour through Austin to promote the upcoming teach-in, I.F.G. member and author David Korten complained about the mainstream media’s ignorance of these individuals, who are so famous in international circles. Following the Seattle protests in November, a reporter from Time had asked Korten who were the major thinkers behind the anti-W.T.O. protest. Korten listed philosophers, economists, and heads of large non-governmental organizations, including several who had appeared at the I.F.G.’s Seattle teach-in. “She, said she had never heard of any of them,” Korten recalled. Instead, her article included a sidebar on the influence of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. Nevertheless, Korten \(author of When Corporations Rule the and his fellow speakers are quickly becoming the unlikely heroes of what appears to be a movement at the moment of coalescence in this country. Take Walden Bello, for example. Chances are good that many Americans have caught a glimpse of him only once, when the diminutive Philippine-born sociologist with the stately accent and the horn-rimmed glasses appeared on the evening news, being dragged away, kicking and fighting, by Seattle police. Time could hardly be blamed for not recognizing him: he A Okay kids Nate Blakeslee was wearing a Kermit the Frog suit. Exiled to the U.S. by the Marcos government for his outspoken criticism of the regime, Bello wrote the first generally recognized critique of the World Bank. \(Many of his criticisms anticipated the scathing critique of the I.M.F. recently released by a Congressional commission, known as devastating Asian financial crisis of 1996-97. In Washington, the crowd of college-age kids at the teach-in hung on his every word. “Many of us have come from Asia to be with you today,” Bello began. “We did not come to dialogue with the World Bank and I.M.F. We did not come to negotiate. We actually came to shut down these institutions,” he shouted. The roar was deafening. Despite its relatively low profile, the International Forum on Globalization has quietly emerged as the leading counterpoint in this country to the Clinton Administration’s embrace of globalization, providing not just criticism, but an alternative model for development and trade. Since Seattle, it has focused much of its attention on the International Monetary Fund, and its cousin the 8 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MAY 12, 2000 -.-4/1111111111101if