By Pablo Solón
Deglobalisation does not promote isolation or autarchy, but rather a different kind of global integration that is not dominated by capital. Deglobalisation is about thinking and building alternative integration models with people and nature at the centre.
Globalisation is not a process in which growing interdepen-dence and integration have been made possible thanks to advances in communications and the internet. In this sense, globalisation is not a simple synonym of world integration. Globalisation here is defined as the accelerated process of integrating capital, production and markets and extending them to all areas of life with the goal of increasing the profit rates.
According to Walden Bello and Focus on the Global South, who coined the term “deglobalisation”, the objective is not to withdraw from the global economy, but rather to trigger a process of restructuring the world economic and political system so as to strengthen local and national economies instead of weakening them (Bello, 2005). Deglobalisation questions the integration process dominated by the logic of capital and the supposed rationality of the economy that erodes the decision-making capacity of the people and States. Deglobalising means starting to think and build an integration process based on the needs of peoples, nations, communities and ecosystems.
Just as degrowth invites us to imagine a society of prosperity without growth that degrades nature, deglobalisation calls on us to think of a kind of globalisation that is for the people, and not for banks and transnational corporations.
The deglobalisation proposal includes three intimately linked processes. The first is to understand the future of globalisation and its different phases; the second is to deconstruct, confront, resist, slow and obstruct the expansion of globalisation; and the third, to build alternatives to the process of capital capture in the world (Bello, 2005).
Understanding the globalisation process
In Walden Bello’s view, there have been two major phases of globalisation. The first went from the early 19th century to the outbreak of World War I in 1914, and the second phase began in the 1980s and continues to this day. The period between these two phases (1914-1980) was marked by the dominance of national capitalist economies with a significant degree of State intervention and an international economy with strong constraints on trade and capital flows (Bello, 2013).
The current phase of globalisation began in the late 1970s-early 1980s with the rise of neoliberalism and the “Washington Consensus”. Neoliberal ideology affirms that the key lies in the market and competition that reward efficient and profitable ventures while punishing obsolete companies and businesses. In order for the market and competition to fulfil their role, it is necessary, on one hand, to remove the barriers and obstacles that prevent goods, services and capital from flowing freely and, on the other, to limit the State’s role in society, production, trade, finance and the environment. For neoliberalism, anything that inhibits competition is contrary to the individuals’ freedom to consume, innovate and invest in what gives them the most benefits and satisfaction. The inequality that results from competition and the market rewards those who are the most efficient and in the long run, generates growth, which benefits society as a whole. The benefits, however, are always distributed unevenly.
For neoliberalism, there are no citizens, but rather consumers who feel fulfilled when they expand their capacity to consume. Progress and modernity are associated to consumption and increases in productivity, and not to caring for humans or nature. This ideology of modernity based on unlimited consumption and productivism is so strong that it is able to penetrate even indigenous communities who were guided by the goal of living in balance amongst themselves and with nature.
Neoliberal policies include measures that aim to:
- a) Downsize the State, privatise public enterprises, reduce public spending, lower taxes on profits, cut social benefits – in sum, dismantle the State so that markets can show their full potential.
- b) Reduce regulations on capital flows and financial activities.
- c) Promote supranational mechanisms and agreements that put foreign investments before State sovereignty.
- d) Promote free trade agreements that cover goods, services, investments, government procurement, competition policies, intellectual property rights, as well as a set of clauses that put the rights of capital before labour and environmental rights.
- e) Cut and weaken labour and social protections to increase capital’s profit margins.
- f) Promote the financialisation of nature and life by creating new speculative markets for capital expansion.
Since neoliberalism first appeared, no two countries have ever applied it the same way. The implementation of neoliberalism in the United Kingdom, the United States or Chile was marked by national particularities and specificities, as can be seen, for example, in the enormous US defence budget and the maintenance of a military presence in the copper industry in Chile. In fact, ‘pure’ neoliberalism adopted the same way by all countries does not exist. Each country has its own powerful national sectors or social resistance struggles that have influenced the way neoliberalism was implemented in their country. Neoliberalism has always been quite flexible and has been able to transform into very agile forms of adaptation that allowed it to survive and expand even during processes of nationalising companies or renegotiating trade agreements.
Neoliberalism is not entirely consistent with its own tenets. For instance, with regard to intellectual property rights, it promotes a protectionist regime for patents, the majority of which are controlled by large corporations. In relation to investments, it establishes a protection regime that favours foreign investors over national ones. It also establishes measures to guarantee the free circulation of only goods and capital, leaving the people and the workforce, who are constrained by a series of migratory regulations, to their own fate. The fact that the free movement of individuals has been left out is the strongest evidence of the fact that neoliberal globalisation does not pursue integration for the benefit of human beings.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the advance of neoliberalism appeared to be unstoppable. Some even predicted the establishment of a new world order run by international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and transnational corporations. However, at the end of the century, the devastating effects of neoliberalism began to surface and triggered a process of growing resistance to globalisation. The world went from an initial phase of neoliberal optimism to the Mexican crisis in 1994, the Asian financial crisis of 1997, the deep recession in Argentina from 1998 to 2002 and then, the 2007 crisis in the United States. Yet to be resolved, the latter has spread to Europe and the emerging economies and is currently gnawing away at China’s economy.
Neoliberal globalisation replaced the cyclical crises of capitalism with a chronic crisis that has lasted for over a decade. Far from causing capitalism to implode, this chronic crisis has led to an even greater concentration of wealth. Neoliberal capitalism causes and feeds off the crisis. The chronic crisis has become an opportunity for capital – especially the financial sector and capital linked to speculation – to multiply its earnings.
Trade liberalisation helped capital migrate to places where labour and environmental standards were the weakest, thus resulting in the loss of millions of jobs in the countries left behind by capital. The structural adjustments promoted by the IMF and the WB intensified the destructive one size fit all export-oriented policies in many countries and generated unsustainable levels of foreign debt. The loss of jobs, homes and social gains impacted broad sectors of the population.
The relentless application of neoliberalism generates resistance. Major strikes and mobilisations were held to try to stop it from advancing. Many were defeated. Others won partial victories, such as the mobilisation against the WTO in Seattle in 1999 and the campaign against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which succeeded in defeating this treaty in 2005.
The discontent was so great that in many Latin American countries, progressive governments with anti-neoliberal discourses or that affirmed a certain level of sovereignty vis-à-vis transnational capital came to office. In their first few years in power, some of these governments adopted measures to regulate financial capital, renegotiated or put certain free trade agreements (FTAs) on hold, denounced bilateral investment treaties (BITs), nationalised certain companies and developed several social and welfare programmes that improved the socio-economic conditions of millions of people. These progressive governments even promoted integration processes such as UNASUR, CELAC and ALBA, which afforded them a certain amount of political autonomy, mainly from the United States.
However, the strategy used to support these measures was to strengthen extractivist sectors that were benefitting from the high prices of raw materials and commodities on the international markets. When the chronic crisis of the world economy spread to the emerging economies and the price boom was over, the economies of these countries ran into serious problems and popular discontent started to be channeled into the rebirth of neoliberal forces.
Resistance processes arose in other parts of the world, such as Occupy Wall Street in the United States, the Arab Spring, Syriza in Greece, the “Indignados” and “Podemos” in Spain and many other movements. This resistance to neoliberal globalisation continues and takes on different forms, such as Bernie Sanders’ candidacy or the dozens and even hundreds of thousands of people who are taking to the street to protest Donald Trump’s measures against migrants, Muslims, women, the environment, the freedom of information, health and the rule of law in this northern country.
Although these social and political mobilisation processes succeeded in establishing governments with strong popular support, they were not capable of building structural alternatives to neoliberalism. The most progressive measures implemented by these governments in Latin America did not break with the image of progress and modernity of neoliberal consumerism. Moreover, they strengthened extractivism that – even under State control in many cases – contributes to the advance of transnational globalisation. Social movement leaders in governments became caught up in the logic of power and opted for a more pragmatic approach, which meant leaving radical proposals such as “Vivir Bien” or the rights of Mother Earth on paper while they pursued alliances with powerful sectors of the society in order remain in government. Over the years of parasitizing from the State, new sectors of power emerged trough corruption, aggravating the crises in the governments even more.
After over a decade of progressive governments in several Latin American countries, we are now witnessing the return of neoliberal governments managed directly by the haute bourgeoisie. The “progressive” governments that have survived are doing so by intensifying extractivism, imposing mega-projects and adopting restrictive and, in many cases, authoritarian measures that maintain the status quo, which only increase popular discontent.
A new phase of the globalisation process?
The neoliberal globalisation process has probably entered a new phase that is characterised by the following elements:
The crisis of capitalism has become chronic. We have entered a period of continuing crisis that affects both the countries of the North and the South and that is starting to slowly erode the division that used to exist between “developed” and “developing” countries. Now, the new ‘normal’ is a permanent crisis that generates large pockets of poverty alongside bubbles of highly concentrated wealth in all countries. Capitalism lives and feeds off this unending crisis that allows certain sectors of capital to make tremendous amounts of profit. We have before us the beginning of a capitalism of chaos that not only takes advantage of environmental, social and economic crises and war, but also constantly causes them in order to set off processes of even greater capital accumulation.
Capitalism is altering the Earth system. The environment is no longer affected only at the local or national level; instead, the impacts are affecting how the planet functions, as the series of equilibriums that made the development of agriculture possible for over 11,000 years are being disrupted. Capitalism does not regulate itself. The logic of capital does not recognise any limits. Capitalism is undergoing an unprecedented process of reconfiguration on a finite planet that is beginning to enter a State of ecological imbalance.
A new technological revolution with great dangers and opportunities. Some call it the fourth industrial revolution and distinguish it from the previous ones (steam, electricity and electronic-information), since it is marked by biotechnology and the expansion of automation. This technological disruption will allow electricity to be stored and will drive the generation of solar and wind energy and the production of electric vehicles as never seen before. However, at the same time, it will exacerbate social and economic inequalities, increase unemployment due to automation and will benefit mainly sectors and countries that have the capacity to innovate and adapt to new technologies. One of the most serious dangers is the attempt to use these technologies, namely geoengineering, to try to control climate change or to promote synthetic biology to create new life forms that can be patented to generate new profits.
The deepening of trade and economic disputes and conflicts. The emergence of right-wing nationalist governments in countries such as the United States, Russia, India, the Philippines, Turkey and others will not slow down the process of neoliberal globalisation, but rather intensify its contradictions and conflicts. Trump will not break with the essence of neoliberalism. While he criticises US corporations that migrate to other countries, he himself does business outside the United States and takes advantage of trade liberalisation to increase his profits. What Trump is seeking to do is to readjust and renegotiate some trade liberalisation policies to reposition the US economy, namely in relation to the Chinese economy, and to lower the large trade deficit with Mexico. The adoption of protectionist trade barriers will set off unprecedented trade wars and tensions in what has become a multipolar world. Simply classifying Trump and other reactionary governments as right-wing populist nationalism hides their true essence and their neoliberal project. What we have before us now are different kinds of nationalist neoliberal governments. They combine two conflicting trends (nationalism and neoliberalism) that will only make this new phase of globalisation all the more explosive. Neoliberalism will continue to advance by blending in outlandish nationalist proposals such as that of building walls between countries.
The increase in interventionism and armed conflict. The United States is no longer the dominant economic power, but it continues to be the top military power on the planet. Its role is decisive in this respect and will be marked by alliances, disputes and interventions designed to undermine governments that are not fully under its sphere of influence, while it tests alliances that until recently has appeared unlikely. The geopolitical map of recent decades is likely to change and we will face unexpected situations brought on by the juxtaposition of economic and geopolitical disputes.
The undermining of democracy and the expansion of authoritarianism, xenophobia, misogyny and racism. Neoliberal nationalisms tend to divert popular discontent generated by the impacts of neoliberalism towards migrants, women, LGBT communities, people of colour, indigenous peoples, people living with drug addictions and all those that can been labelled as a threat. Attacks on civil, political, human, economic, social and cultural rights are underway in different parts of the planet. Liberal democracy is being undermined to impose a kind of authoritarianism that comes from the vote, but does not respect the established legal order.
The rise of broad and diverse forms of social resistance. The expansion of neoliberal authoritarianism is bringing on important, highly intense and widespread processes of spontaneous resis-tance. The convergence of various movements and individuals that are taking to the streets by the thousands is generating new processes of articulation and solidarity that transcend borders. Trump’s offensive on multiple fronts is provoking reactions never seen before, as well as processes to build new movements, networks, alliances, organisations and political instruments. The future of this new phase of the globalisation process depends primarily on the configuration that these social resistance processes assume, the victories they obtain, the development of real political and economic alternatives to neoliberalism and how a real democracy can be developed – one that does not peter out when the street mobilisations subside.
Many of the elements mentioned above have been present at other moments in the evolution of capitalism. However, their level of intensity and explosive convergence with other more recent elements open up a new, highly complex and belligerent phase of globalisation marked by the emergence of grave dangers and big opportunities for social change.
According to Walden Bello, globalisation must be deconstructed so we can reconstruct integration so that it is at the service of humanity and life as we know it, in general. To achieve effective social change, we must weaken the dominance of the old systems, undermine their hegemony and rollback several of their rules and institutions.
In order for alternatives to flourish, we must delegitimise, stop, exploit the contradictions and deconstruct both the ideology and the institutions of globalisation embodied by the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO and free trade and investment agreements.
This deconstruction process won important victories against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and the WTO, as mobilisations succeeded in stalling free trade negotiations in this institution until the Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia in 2013. However, the lesson learned from all these years is that these organisations are highly capable of adapting and reinventing themselves by capturing elements of criticism and using them to relaunch their offensive.
This is the case of the World Bank. After several defeats in the processes of privatising public water utilities, it repackaged the old as a more clever and dangerous proposal called “public-private partnerships”. Another example is its attempt to take advantage of the climate and environmental crisis to launch a new offensive to financialise nature using the concept of the “green economy”.
The same is true of trade liberalisation. After the defeat of the FTAA and the stalemate of negotiations at the WTO, trade liberalisation continued to advance through a series of bilateral and subregional free trade and investment agreements. Resistance to trade liberalisation has become more complex due to the emergence of nationalist neoliberal governments such as the Trump administration, which is withdrawing from free trade agreements such as the TPP (the Trans-Pacific Partnership signed by 12 governments after a decade of negotiations) and proposing that United States, Mexico and Canada renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has been in effect since 1994.
The crisis and reconfiguration of capitalism processes are affecting the forms of resistance of social movements all around the world. The strategies to deconstruct globalisation that were effective in the past no longer have the same impact. Spaces such as the World Social Forum and several anti-globalisation networks have lost their leadership role. However, a broad range of initiatives, actions, struggles, debates and local, community and regional alternatives continue to emerge. This shows that the seeds of the other world we are fighting for are starting to germinate.
Over the past decade, we have gone from a moment where the international struggles against the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO shared centre stage, to a phase in which national and local struggles are more predominant. Social movements with new characteristics have appeared in different countries. Some have formed parties and political instruments that have even managed to win elections. Understanding the future of these experiences in recent years raises the need for a broader reflection on power and social movements, on neoliberalism and extractivism and on other lessons that need to be extracted in order to confront neoliberal globalisation in a more effective way.
The rise of progressive governments in Latin America helped promote various initiatives to deconstruct globalisation. However, the fact that the social organisations that gave birth to them lost their autonomy vis-à-vis these governments ended up weakening the movements.
Furthermore, the appearance of new movements such as Occupy, Indignados and the Arab Spring was very important, but their outcomes varied: in some cases, the results were temporary; in others, such as Spain and Greece, they gave rise to political instruments, while others, such as Egypt, they produced highly contradictory results.
Furthermore, strategies of giving general support to “developing” countries or the South versus “developed” countries or the North must be revisited. Behind the actions of the countries of the South, one essentially finds new elite and corporations that are benefitting and profiting from these countries’ “right to development”. Likewise, many State enterprises from countries of the South behave like private corporations in relation to natural resources and labour rights.
The fight against the WTO and free trade agreements has al-ways been marked by the strategy of exploiting the contradictions among capitalist countries and among different sectors of the bourgeoisie to stall negotiations. The appearance of nationalist neoliberal governments that put their own country before the rest of the world will give rise to new contradictions that can and must be exploited. However, it is fundamental that we never lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with disputes between different sectors of capital that want to reshape globalisation to suit their own particular interests.
The current process of deconstructing neoliberal globalisation has become more complex and must be taken as a whole, and not only its trade-related elements. While a trade agreement can be stopped, the pillaging of natural resources, the elimination of social gains and the degradation of fundamental rights are intensifying. Reducing the struggle against globalisation to only one of the components of neoliberalism would be a serious mistake. On the contrary, the most important thing is to promote new processes of convergence that go beyond isolated or fragmented campaigns focused on specific issues and that confront the set of constitutive elements of this new phase of globalisation as a whole, while articulating the global, regional, national, local and individual dimensions much more effectively.
Alternatives to globalisation
At the heart of the deglobalisation approach is the promotion of new forms of international and regional integration that preserve and allow the multiple dimensions of life to flourish. Deglobalisation alternatives have evolved and have been enriched over the years. At first, the proposals centred more on what national states should do to preserve their sovereignty and decision-making capacity in light of globalisation. Today, it is clear that deglobalisation cannot be limited to the actions of states, which have generally helped further capital’s globalisation process.
In this new phase of globalisation, one of the most important deglobalisation proposals is the elimination of borders to allow for the free circulation of individuals regardless of their nationality, religious beliefs, culture, economic status, gender or race. One of deglobalisation’s main demands is an end to the walls and restrictions on the free movement of people. A deglobalised world is one where solidarity exists amongst all, from victims of violence, to unemployment, to displacement of homes and sources of livelihood to frontliners of the impacts of natural disasters. If fraternity among various human beings does not exist, world integration cannot be built. The promotion of tolerance, acceptance and unity in diversity at all levels is essential to the deglobalisation process.
Therefore, deglobalisation requires introducing profound changes to our relationship with the system of planet Earth. Deglobalisation involves recognising and respecting the limits and vital cycles of nature. It means assuming that the Earth is our home and that no economic, geopolitical or technological activity must be allowed to aggravate the ecological imbalance we are already suffering from further. To deglobalise, one must assume that the Earth system is above states and national interests. Thus, deglobalisation is only possible if we decarbonise the economy, stop deforestation and the destruction of biodiversity, take care of the water and preserve the different ecosystems.
Contrary to capitalism that promotes neoliberal globalisation to better exploit natural and human resources, deglobalisation gives priority to both humans and nature in all integration processes.
Deglobalisation does not oppose trade nor the exchange of products or services, but proposes that trade is not done at the expense of the communities, the local and national economies and the diversity of its products whether agricultural or industrial. The one size fit all policy of structural adjustment programs pushing countries to only remain producers of particular cash crops or goods, destroys that country’s ability to satisfy people’s needs, diversify and more importantly, be self-reliant in its ability to feed its people. Deglobalisation embraces the principle of subsidiarity that affirms that all political or economic decisions must be adopted by the level of government that is closest to the problem. The ones who know the most about the local situation and will be the first to suffer the consequences of a decision must be the first to give their opinion and state their position. A political or economic decision that affects a local area must fundamentally be made at this level and only when it is truly necessary should this decision-making power be transferred to the national, regional or global level. Deglobalisation is also not possible without real democracy. Strategic political, economic and environmental decisions must be made with the broadest and most democratic participation possible and must not be left up to the market and State technocrats and bureaucrats to make.
A community, region or country’s production must be fundamentally geared towards meeting the needs of its population, and not for exports. The economy cannot be based on extractivism that causes the Earth’s ecosystem to deteriorate further.
Currently, trade rules cannot be the same for all countries. One cannot ask sardines to compete against sharks. In this context, trade and investment rules must be asymmetrical so as to favour the smallest economies and countries whose economies and agricultural sector were weakened by transnational capital, colonialism and the interventionism of the superpowers. Trade policies – such as quotas, tariffs and subsidies – must be used to protect local economies from imported goods subsidised by large corporations that set prices at artificially low rates.
Food production, which is essential for human life, must not be subjected to market rules. The alternatives of deglobalisation are in line with the principles of food sovereignty that is defended by La Vía Campesina, which unites 200 million members around the world. According to the Declaration of Nyéléni, approved in the First International Forum for Food Sovereignty held in Mali in 2007:
“Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations. It defends the interests and inclusion of the next generation. It offers a strategy to resist and dismantle the current corporate trade and food regime, and directions for food, farming, pastoral and fisheries systems determined by local producers and users. Food sovereignty prioritises local and national economies and markets and empowers peasant and family farmer-driven agriculture, artisanal – fishing, pastoralist-led grazing, and food production, distribution and consumption based on environmental, social and economic sustainability. Food sovereignty promotes transparent trade that guarantees just incomes to all peoples as well as the rights of consumers to control their food and nutrition. It ensures that the rights to use and manage lands, territories, waters, seeds, livestock and biodiversity are in the hands of those of us who produce food. Food sovereignty implies new social relations free of oppression and inequality between men and women, peoples, racial groups, social and economic classes and generations” (Declaration of Nyéléni, 2007).
Deglobalisation is based on experiences being developed in agriculture, production, communications, information around the world and other areas that are emerging from different types of communities. For deglobalisation, the alternatives to globalisation are not something yet to come, but rather initiatives that are already present to different extents in society. However, as Walden Bello says, “many of these alternatives have faced great difficulties either in sustaining themselves or in living up to their original objectives because the market system is dominated by large transnational corporations” (Bello, 2013).
Therefore, in addition to the defence and generalisation of these local experiences, deglobalisation requires that new mechanisms and forms of organisation and collaboration that enable us to take on the forces of capital be developed.
At the State level, certain initiatives inspired in the tenets of deglobalisation have emerged, such as:
The withdrawal of Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador from the World Bank’s ICSID (International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes).
The provisions of the new Constitution of the Plurinational State of Bolivia that establish the basis for denouncing all of Bolivia’s bilateral investment treaties.
The processes of revising, denouncing or not renovating bilateral investment treaties and the questioning and rejection of state-investor dispute settlement clauses in trade agreements.
The renegotiation and replacement of the FTA between Bolivia and Mexico in 2009 by a trade agreement only on goods and services in which the chapters on intellectual property, investments, government procurement and others were eliminated.
However, the experience of the past three decades show that these partial or specific alternatives cannot coexist with globalisation in the long run. They often end up being isolated, cornered, distorted or co-opted by globalisation if they are not expanded or complemented by other deeper, broader and diverse alternatives that break with the logic of capital.
Therefore, deglobalisation is essentially anti-capitalist because integration that respects all life is not possible in the framework of capitalism. Deglobalisation pursues a broad process for the just redistribution of the sources of life, which are highly concentrated in the hands of a few. The redistribution process involves adopting tax measures and capital controls, expropriations, nationalisations, sweeping land and urban reforms, eliminating financial derivatives and tax havens, and processes to increase control over and socialise capital.
Society must possess and democratically control the financial system and implement an international monetary system based on a new system of reserves, including the creation of regional reserve currencies, in order to end the current supremacy of the dollar. It must also cancel the debt of countries that oppress the peoples and that was imposed to favour private and corporate interests. Just, sovereign and transparent credit systems must also be established (Economy for Life, 2013).
Deglobalisation cannot flourish if social forces do not seize and transform State power. The transition process combines reforms and revolutions at different levels. The main indicator of progress is the empowerment and effective participation of the people in their present and future. Democratising the management of the State property of public enterprises, strengthening the communes that exist and developing others to turn consumers into producers, reinforcing self-organisation and self-management of society, and punishing corruption and nepotism are essential to ensure that the transition process does not come to a halt or regress.
Local and national changes converge towards new and broader integration processes that are sovereign in nature and based on complementarity and not on the free market. The only way a country can advance in the construction of an alternative model is by allying with other countries that are on the same path.
In an increasingly multipolar world, several processes of integration or alliances that accentuate the contradictions of the globalisation process, but that do not question the essence of neoliberal globalisation exist. They are integration processes promoted by national bourgeoisies that are fighting over a fraction of the market and the planet’s resources. This is the case, for example, of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which do not constitute a real alternative to the process of neoliberal globalisation, even if some of their measures can momentarily be considered progressive, as they challenge the hegemony of the United States or Europe. However, in the current phase of globalisation, we cannot fall into the trap of thinking that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. There is no single dominant economic power in the world today. In an open dispute with capital from the United States and Europe, one can find China, Russia, India and other regional sub-imperial powers such as Brazil and South Africa.
The ALBA project of integration between Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua was an attempt to build a distinct process based on complementarity and not market competition. However, it did not succeed as desired because for one, it was based on extractivism and secondly, it fostered a rent-seeking rationale that undermined social movements’ capacity for self-determination. Building alternative integration processes requires implementing national projects that strengthen, above all, various social sectors’ experiences in self-organisation and self-management so they can fulfil their fundamental needs and overcome consumerist tendencies and the image of modernity that are the most powerful and invisible forces of neoliberalism.
An integration model that serves as an alternative to neoliberal globalisation cannot succeed within a capitalist system. It is impossible to imagine mixed economies that exclude transnational corporations (TNCs). TNCs and financial capital are the frontline of capitalism. Mixed or plural economies can only prosper in a global economy that is not dominated by the logic of capital. Thus, while the deglobalisation alternatives may seem reformist at first, they must gradually take on a more anti-capitalist nature in order to consolidate and go further.
The international institutions that dominate globalisation today cannot be reformed. They must be dismantled and replaced by new ones created according to a different rationale – one that serves the interests of all of humanity and guarantees balanced ecosystems. The ability to replace the old institutional framework centred on the IMF, the WB and the WTO will depend significantly on the development of alternative mechanisms at the regional and international level. These new international mechanisms must expand the exercise of true democracy not only at the level of states, but of global society as a whole. Without this shift of decision-making powers into the hands of the people, it is difficult to imagine a thriving alternative kind of integration to globalisation.
The alternatives to globalisation cannot be envisioned only at the economic level, much less in relation to trade alone. Deglobalisation has multiple political, socio-cultural, gender and environmental dimensions. In this framework, one of the biggest challenges of deglobalisation is to forge truly binding international agreements and mechanisms that allow climate change to be addressed based on scientific criteria.
Deglobalisation does not seek to replace the homogenising model of globalisation with another model that can be universally applied to all countries and communities. Deglobalising means embracing diversity. It promotes a form of integration that respects and promotes multiple visions and forms of self-determination.
Deglobalisation is far from being a proposal that has been finalised and that has all the answers. On the contrary, inputs from different perspectives are required in order to foster integration of the people and nature.
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