toshimaru ogura on Sat, 31 Aug 2002 15:26:15 +0200 (CEST)

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Dear all,
On August 10 to 12, Asia Social Movements meeting was held and issued
following statement.

best regards,

toshimaru ogura


                       AUGUST 10-12, 2002

The first meeting of Asian Social Movements takes place against a
background of what is shaping up as the worst crisis of global
capitalism since the Great Depression, seventy years ago.  Charting
our direction for the future is greatly dependent on accurately
understanding the nature and dynamics of this crisis.

Global Capitalism in Crisis

Global capitalism is in a crisis of legitimacy, which has been brought
about by an intersection of four structural crises.
The crisis of legitimacy refers to the increasing inability of the
neoliberal ideology that underpins today's global economy to persuade
people of its necessity and viability as a system of production,
exchange and distribution.  The disaster wrought by structural
adjustment in Africa and Latin America; the chain reaction of
financial crises in Mexico, Asia, Brazil, and Russia; the descent into
chaos of free-market Argentina; and the combination of massive fraud
and spectacular wiping out of $7 trillion of investors' wealth--a sum
that nearly equals the annual GDP of the United States (US)--have all
eaten away at the credibility of capitalism.  The institutions that
serve as global capitalism's system of global economic governance--the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the World Trade
Organization (WTO)--have been the most negatively affected by this
crisis of legitimacy and thus stand exposed as the weak links in the
Intersecting with the crisis of legitimacy is a crisis of
overproduction and overcapacity that could portend more than an
ordinary recession.  Profits stopped growing in the US industrial
sector after 1997, a condition caused by the massive overcapacity that
had built up throughout the international economic system during the
years of the US boom in the 1990's.  The depth of the problem is
revealed by the fact that only 2.5 per cent of the global
infrastructure in telecommunications is currently utilized.
Overcapacity has resulted in investment moving from the real economy
to the speculative economy, to the financial sector; a development
that was one of the factors behind the stock market bubble, especially
in the technology sector.  Enormous surplus capacity continues as a
global condition and thus the continuing absence of profitability. As
a result, the global recession is deepening.  But because severe
imbalances have built up for so long in the global economy, this
recession is likely to be prolonged, it is likely to be synchronized
among the major centers of global capitalism, and there is a great
chance that it could turn into something worse, such as a global
Running alongside and intersecting with these two crises is a crisis
of liberal democracy, which is the typical mode of governance of
capitalist economic regimes.  In places like the Philippines and
Pakistan, popular disillusionment with elite democracies fuelled by
money politics is rife among the lower classes and even the middle
class, and in the case of Pakistan, was one of the factors that
allowed General Musharraf to seize political power.  But the crisis is
not limited to the South.  In the United States, there is widespread
popular perception that President George W. Bush stole the elections
and, thanks to current revelations about his questionable ethics as a
businessman, he serves mainly as the president of Wall Street rather
than of the country.  In Europe as well, there is much concern over
corporate control of political party finances, but even more
threatening is the widespread sense that power has been hijacked from
elected national parliaments to non-elected, unaccountable Euro-bodies
such as the European Commission.  Electoral revolts like the Le Pen
phenomenon in France and the Pim Fortuyn revolution in the Netherlands
are manifestations of deep societal alienation with technocratic
The fourth crisis might not be immediately discernible, but is equally
operative.  The recent expansion of US military influence into
Afghanistan, the Philippines, Central Asia, and South Asia may
communicate strength.  Yet, despite all this movement, the United
States has not been able to consolidate victory anywhere; certainly
not in Afghanistan, where anarchy and an unstable, pro-US regime
reign.  It is arguable that because of the massive disaffection they
have created throughout the Muslim world, the US's politico-military
moves, including its pro-Israel policies, have worsened rather than
improved the US strategic situation in the Middle East, South Asia,
and Southeast Asia.  Meanwhile, even as Washington is obsessed with
terrorism in the Middle East, political rebellions against
neoliberalism are shaking its Latin American neighborhood.
These intersecting crises are unfolding even as the movement against
anti-corporate globalization is gaining strength.  During the 1990's
resistance to neoliberalism was widespread throughout the South and
the North.  In few places, however, were they able to become a
critical mass at a national level as to decisively reverse neoliberal
policies.  But although they were not a critical mass nationally, they
could become a critical mass globally when they came together at
certain critical events.  This was what happened in Seattle in
December 1999, when massive mobilizations contributed to bringing down
the Third Ministerial meeting of the WTO.  The other global
confrontations of 2000, from Washington DC to Chiang Mai to Prague,
also shook the confidence of the establishment.  When the World Social
Forum was launched in Porto Alegre in January 2001, with 12,000 people
in attendance, the ideological challenge became a very real threat to
global capitalism.
Today, we may be witnessing a second moment in the trajectory of the
resistance as many anti-neoliberal movements become a critical mass
impacting on politics at the national level.  This appears to be the
case in Latin America, where espousal of neoliberal economic policies
is now a surefire path to electoral disaster and progressive movements
have either won electoral power, or are on the cusp of power in
Venezuela, Brazil, and Bolivia.
The immediate future promises a very fluid situation.  In this regard,
the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of the WTO is shaping up as a
confrontation between the old order and its challengers.  Because of
its decision-making structure, which is based on 。ネconsensus。ノ among
all member-countries, the WTO is proving to be a particularly weak
link in the global capitalist system, much like Stalingrad in the
German lines during the Second World War.  For the establishment, the
aim is to launch another ambitious round of trade liberalization in
Cancun that would rival the Uruguay Round.  For its opponents, the aim
is to reverse globalization by regaining the momentum of Seattle.
In the space of just a decade, global capitalism has passed from
triumphalism at the passing of the socialist states of Eastern Europe
to a fundamental loss of confidence.  It is entering a 。ネtime of
troubles。ノ much like the second and third decades of the 20th century.
Its successful emergence from the developing crisis is by no means

Consolidating the Challenge

We, representatives from over one hundred organisations and networks
in over twenty countries, have gathered together in these three days
to strengthen and coordinate our resistance to neoliberalism and
global capitalism.  While many of us are from Asia, others have come
from countries as diverse as Brazil, the United States and Australia.

After three days of sharing our analyses, campaigns and resistance
strategies, we have resolved to collectively mobilise around the
following priorities.

1. Militarism

Neoliberalism operates alongside militarism, globalised war and
dictatorship.  Today's global capitalism creates and requires
conditions of oppression and violence to ensure its survival.  This
results in: increasing attacks on social movements and peoples' 
struggles for self-determination; State-backed military protection of
infrastructure projects and elite interests in land and natural
resources; increased opportunities for military dictatorships; and
increased threats of civil and cross-border wars.  The U.S., as the
dominant economic and military superpower of the world, plays a
central role in promoting militarism in the Asia region.

*We demand an end to all U.S. military presence and intervention in
Asia, specifically in Afghanistan, Korea, Japan,
Philippines and Uzbekistan. We condemn US and British threats to
invade Iraq.  
*We oppose the increased moves to war by Asian nations
and condemn human rights abuses, especially in Aceh, Mindanao and
*We oppose and call for an end to international aid and
assistance that lends recognition and strengthens the military
dictatorship in Burma

2.International Financial Institutions

The International Financial Institutions (IFIs), particularly the
World Bank, the International Monetary fund (IMF) and the Asian
Development Bank (ADB), serve as the multilateral policy arms of
global capitalism. Through their Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers
(PRSP) and Poverty Reduction and Growth Framework (PRGF) programmes,
the World Bank and the IMF continue to impose structural adjustment
programmes on vulnerable borrowing countries.  In the name of poverty
reduction, the ADB has intensified privatisation programmes across the
Asia-Pacific, especially in the areas of essential services and
natural resources.  Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) of rich Northern
countries are entrenching new forms of indebtedness in the
Asia-Pacific region by financing their respective corporations to
purchase prime public assets in our countries.

Twenty years of structural adjustment have not produced growth or
reduced poverty, but instead, have enhanced the devastation of
ordinary peoples' lives through increased alienation of the majority
from public services, jobs and food security; deteriorating labour
standards; the dismantling of public protections for the poor and
vulnerable; and the destruction of local agriculture and industries.

The operations of the IFIs undermine national and local planning
processes, and domestic potential for genuine sustainable development.
They are antagonistic to the emergence of local, national and regional
alternatives that would strengthen local economies and capabilities
over externally imposed structures.  Our governments are not blameless
in this; it is with their collusion that the IFIs are able to
transform the peoples and environments of our regions into vast
feeding grounds for the world's multinational corporations.

*We call for a region-wide campaign to get the IMF, the World Bank and
the ADB out of Asia and the Pacific.  
*We demand a complete end to all structural adjustment programmes in any name or form, and an immediate
halt to all privatisation programmes.
*We demand a full and unconditional cancellation of the external public debt of developing
countries, especially those that have been under structural adjustment
*We demand an end to the current debt-financing regime of
conditionalities-for-credits.  All future negotiations with IFIs must
be subjected to local-national parliamentary reviews and open to
public scrutiny.  
*We call for public audits and evaluations of IFI-led finance and
development programmes, and for the IFIs to be subjected to national
laws and judicial actions.  
*We demand a system of progressive taxation and genuine redistribution
of wealth and land for the financing of public services and welfare,
instead of regressive taxation that punishes the poor

3. The World Trade Organisation

The WTO will hold its Fifth Ministerial meeting in the city of Cancun,
Mexico in September 2003. The Ministerial meeting is a crucial one for
the WTO's rich and powerful backers since they plan to launch a
comprehensive new round of trade negotiations at the meeting, which
would serve to consolidate the power of the WTO and its sponsors.

*We resolve to derail the WTO's Fifth Ministerial Meeting in Cancun in
September, 2003.  
*We will enhance and highlight the contradictions within the WTO
system and mobilise the wider society and public against the
injustices and inequalities of the current global trading regime.  
*We will support the development and practice of trade rules that are
in the democratic control of the people, promote equality, and
strengthen rather than strangle national economies.

4. Political and Cultural Identity

Neoliberalism and global capitalism go hand-in-hand with the political
exclusion of certain classes and ethnic and religious groups, and
marginalise the notions of solidarity within the rich diversity of
Asian societies.  There is need to deepen democracy beyond the
restrictive confines of parliamentary processes and the current
conceptualisations of the nation state.

*We resolve to support the rights of minority groups, class struggles,
and the struggles of all peoples towards self-determination.  
*We resolve to explore the diversity, richness and cultural
continuities across our region from East to West and South to North, in order to
build greater unity, understanding, and harmony between the peoples of
Asia and the Pacific.

5. Food Sovereignty, Agriculture and Trade

Neoliberalism denies and threatens food security for the poor, and
increases the control over land, biodiversity, agricultural technology
and agricultural production by private corporations.

Strategies to increase food security must be based on a rights-based
approach and the concept of food sovereignty.  Food sovereignty
includes the rights of peoples and communities to make decisions on
food and agriculture, the right to food and its production for local
consumption, and the rights of communities to land and productive
resources (including the right to their own seeds), with particular
recognition of the rights of women to resources, opportunities,
equality and justice.

*We resolve to support peasant, fisher and indigenous peoples'
movements in their struggles for food sovereignty, and for just
systems of community control over food production and the commons.  
*We undertake to mobilise the wider society and public in support of
the above struggles.  
*We demand that the removal of the WTO and transnational corporations
from food and agriculture.

6. Labour and workers' rights

The combined logic of neoliberalism, global capitalism and the free
market results in increased job insecurity, unemployment and an
overall reduction in labour standards.  This logic is responsible for
the fragmentation of the labour market and instigates the expansion of
an invisible or hidden labour sector without rights and protections.

*We undertake to strengthen trade unions and collective action, and to
build better links between labour, non-governmental organisations and
social movements.  
*We support the human rights of migrants and refugees, and the free
movement of labour.  
*We oppose current government policies, which use the export of labor
to reduce unemployment and assure foreign exchange remittances.

7. Peoples's Rights over Natural Resources

The orientation of all production and social transactions towards the
market, and the increased militarisation of our societies results in
the control of land, mineral and water resources by private
corporations, thus weakening the ability of local peoples to use and
manage local resources that have been under their stewardship for

*We resolve to support the region-wide struggles by local communities
for their rights to resources.  
*We reject the commodification of environmental and ecological wealth
and the destruction of biodiversity through privatisation programmes
and market based economic development approaches.  
*We demand that infrastructure projects are only developed and carried
out under the democratic control of communities.

8. Media and Communication

Neoliberalism increases monopoly control of the organization and
content of media by private corporations. Corporate control
commodifies information and makes quality and responsible journalism
impossible. The media should not be for sale.  Media and information
should be public services for popular empowerment.  Powered by
transnational corporations, the advertising and en tertainment
industry offers an illusory consumer paradise. This must be challenged
and destroyed.

*We resolve to promote information and communication untainted and
un-influenced by exploitation.  
*We reaffirm the right of all peoples to information and communication
as an integral element of participatory democracy. We strive to
increase free communication among the people of Asia.  
*We resolve to build and support alternative media to meet the needs
of local people.  
*We demand the removal of post-September 11 restrictions on media, in
order to increase the free flow of information in this time of militarism.

Towards Hyderabad: Another World Is Possible

The conclusion of the Asian Social Movements Meeting does not signal
the conclusion of our solidarity or collectivity.  Many of us are
already in coalitions and alliances, which have been strengthened by
our meeting over the past three days.  New alliances have also been
formed here towards common priorities and joint actions.  We will
continue to meet in varying formations to fulfill the commitments we
have made in this meeting

An important milestone for us to plan towards is the Asian Social
Forum in Hyderabad in January, 2003.  Our priorities and struggles
will be reflected in the mobilisation for Hyderabad and we will
regroup in larger numbers than ever before to show that another world
is possible!

For more information, please contact: 
Shalmali Guttal ( 
Anoop Sukumaran ( 
Joy Chavez (

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