• The MRAP and alter-globalization - ATTAC Citizens’ University – Toulouse, August 2008

    The MRAP and alter-globalization

    ATTAC Citizens' University – Toulouse, August 2008

    Translated from French by Lorraine Buckley for Coorditrad.


    Plenary on alter-globalism


    Speech by Christian DELARUE [1],

    on behalf of the MRAP [2], founder member of Attac


    At this stage of the debate, I would like to go back to the ‘subway metaphor' which distinguishes the big travellers from the small ones, so as to situate the MRAP – the Movement against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples – within the movement. In other words, is it a ‘second fiddle' in the global movement or a fundamental actor? But first of all, I need to recall the distinction between alter-globalism and alter-globalization.


    I - What are the connections between the dynamics on the ground and the alternative vision?

    - The ‘summa divisio'

    Alter-globalism is the discourse about ‘another possible world' as evoked by the Porto Alegre Charter. This discourse combines two characteristics: it is plural and it does not come from above. It is worth clarifying that this specificity – being plural and horizontal – does not exclude globalizing theories, which aim to assemble a coherent corpus of alternatives to neo-liberalism. Just that these theorizations simply illuminate the debate while respecting other discourses or theories on the ‘other world'.

    Alter-globalization is first of all the movement itself. Alter-globalization is linked to the heterogeneous building processes (of another globalization). Alter-globalization, whether one defines it as a tendency or as a movement of movements, is in any case a large, heterogeneous and lasting movement, comprising a multitude of actors, some of whom are clearly alter-globalists, but there are also other actors whose objectives are more limited. So that is the first sense – broad and inclusive – of the term alter-globalization.

    - The secondary division


    But we can't leave it at this one main distinction (the theory of alter-globalism and real, historic alter-globalization). We have to go deeper to grasp the complexity of the movement, by specifying the internal subdivisions within the global movement. In fact, on the alter-globalization train (in the broader sense), we can see on one hand the alter-globalist movement(s)[3], those such as ATTAC who bring into the real world several alternatives which are relatively well developed and could be effective as far as our aims are concerned: ‘another world'; and on the other the actors whose aims are more limited; one could say they belong to alter-globalization, but here in the narrow sense of different movements which are only struggling against one specific form of oppression or domination, of different actual social practices debated in the social forums.

    At this point I would like to go back to the subway metaphor and make MRAP's position explicit.


    II - The MRAP as an alter-globalist movement by extension


    Is the MRAP a long-term actor in alter-globalization in its sense of tendency or movement of movements? And if so, is it alter-globalist ?


    - Realizing MRAP's statutory goals presupposes its belonging to a broader movement

    There is no problem with anti-racism being the main objective of a committed organization such as the MRAP, but it also seems a given to me that our struggles should be linked to or supported by others concerning extension of social rights, decent housing for all, public goods, public services in underprivileged areas. Hence MRAP's commitment to ATTAC, and to alter-globalization in general, is certain, and for the long haul.

    - Apart from that, what can the MRAP call itself alter-globalist in ?

    Within these global and plural dynamics, is the MRAP alter-globalist or simply a movement with limited objectives (alter-globalization in the narrow sense)? I think it is both, and specifically an alter-globalist movement. Over the years, thanks to MRAP's belonging to ATTAC and taking part in the various social forums, the MRAP has really become an alter-globalization movement in the sense of a movement deliberately striving for ‘another world'. Here, it all depends on what one means by another world.

    - Another world?

    Of course, it's about more than just wanting a better world, which doesn't mean choosing between reforms and revolution (another problem which I am not going to tackle and which is outside MRAP's statute). Despite that, the MRAP subscribes neither to the old antidemocratic socialist view, nor to 21st century neo-socialism bringing alter-democracy and ecology, while pointing out that the neo-socialism aspired to here and there will certainly not be identical in Latin America, in Asia and in Europe, in particular as far as treating religion and secular status are concerned.

    Naturally, no MRAP meeting has ever discussed what the ‘other world' should comprise. Nevertheless, the MRAP wants a world without racism and without colonialism or imperialism, just as our other actor friends want a world without sexism, without war (which doesn't mean a totally pacified world on the inter-relations front), a world where the market is regulated and even circumscribed, a world where other social relations of domination, exploitation and oppression are eliminated. If capitalism comprises these diverse forms of domination, some of which are not generated by capitalism itself (such as sexism and racism), then the global alternative to capitalism must also include diverse freedoms from dominations.

    A small aside: these are the reasons why in another debate I proposed adding to the Porto Alegre Charter, which rightly but too narrowly, criticizes capitalism and imperialism, a reference to four demands: alter-democracy, ecology, non-sexism and non-racism.

    If this understanding of the real situation and aims on the ground are accepted, the MRAP's specific struggle is situated both within the dynamics of alter-globalization and within the alter-globalist perspective. So then it is certainly an alter-globalist movement.

    Christian DELARUE is a member of the executive office and Board of Directors of MRAP

    MRAP: Mouvement contre le Racisme et l'Amitié entre les Peuples: Movement against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples

    Alterglobalism, a long-term process leading to alternatives, by Susan George, Jean-Marie Harribey, Gustave Massiah, Chico Whitaker

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