Download as PDF



Aaron Vogel
Globalization Protestor

Remember that old saying, "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones?"  Well, global capitalism is throwing stones at people world wide, making life hell for billions of them, and here in Honolulu the bankers of the Asian Development Bank -- the ADB --are meeting in a glass house, this Honolulu Convention Center.  Ironic, isn't it.   Imagine all of the poor this place could house, but it sits empty most of the time.

Although Americans have the right of free speech, we had to sue to the City and County of Honolulu to get the right to protest publicly at this ADB meeting.  It's a typical picture showing just how far even local governments sometimes go to protect transnational corporations and their banks. Waikiki is a famous all over the world, so its visitor industry --  part of the worldwide visitor industry --  is just one piece in the pattern of  globalization -- and it shows us the terrible gap in the distribution of wealth around the world.

Here you see people wealthy enough to come to the islands to enjoy vacations, but meanwhile these ADB bankers are loaning money to transnational firms that pay workers as little 20 to 40 cents an hour, and displace many of them with huge dams  and public works..

Globalization protests are about social justice, about protecting the environment, and stopping transnational corporations from taking control of governments.

But the banks and transnationals influence even local governments. Honolulu closed nearby parks to keep us from organizing, and we had to sue to get a simple parade in Waikiki.

I've been at the protests in Seattle, Washington D.C., and Quebec, but I couldn't get to the demonstrations in Genoa, Italy.  I can tell you that the anti-globalization demonstrators are much more than just a bunch of idealists throwing rocks at capitalists.  And the globalization protest movement is not really harboring terrorists, as the Italian police have claimed. The movement to stop globalization has real substance and purpose, with organizations in countries all over the world. Transnational corporations and these international lending agencies continue to ignore the hardship and disasters they create. They're the ones  creating the opposition to globalization that's picking up momentum around the world.

By the time we got to Quebec in April of 2001, there were  more than 350 international citizens organizations protesting -

The same is pretty much true here in Honolulu. There is a whole political spectrum of protestors non-violent to violent.

For the first time in history global capitalism has found itself in a fight wherever it goes, and those of us who oppose globalization are educated, well funded, and relentless.

Why? Because we need to stop the exploitation of people and environments around the world.

Why? Because we have many millions more living in abject poverty than we did in 1990.

Why? Because global warming is raising the oceans and 50% of the  earth's species are threatened with extinction in the next 50 years. Worse,  the rate at which they are dying out is accelerating.

Just look at the numbers:

Transnational corporations just claim its phony science, and go on searching the world for the cheapest labor and the least effective environmental regulations. They create a race to the bottom for both people and nature.

Who has what human rights and what control over national laws and their enforcement has subtlety shifted. The World Trade Organization has silently become an un-elected world government controlling how national governments will protect their environments or trade. Elected government officials in democracies have silently given up their power to make and enforce national laws, and have been replaced by appointees in international organizations such as the World Trade Organization.(WTO), and the Asian Development Bank. We believe that the ADB is heavily influenced by transnational corporations, and that it has no accountability to countries or voters.

By supporting investors at the expense of governments and poor people, international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and ADB create crises instead of solving them. The Asian Development Bank is essentially a regional branch of the World Bank, one of the institutions that has to change its practices.

In Asia in 1997-8 international banking organizations nearly set off a worldwide currency crisis that could have led to a worldwide depression. They set off crises that destroyed the middle classes in Thailand, Indonesia, and elsewhere in Asia.  Read Robin Hahnel's short book on it, Panic Rules

The anti-globalization movement is people like you and me who want to force businesses to serve, not exploit the people who work for them and buy from them; force them to save the earth's environments, the plants, animals and natural processes that support all human life.

If we don't succeed, our children and grandchildren won't have much of a world to live in.



  1. Don't take my word for it. If you think I'm wrong, explain to me just where and how globalization is helping anyone?
  2. Of the problems globalization is causing -- human rights violations, the exploitation of labor, environmental destruction, or subversion of democratic governments, increasing poverty --  which do you see as most in need of  a solution?
  3. Some of the business practices we are protesting are actually violations of the law, crimes. Find where a business or government is violating the law.
  4. What have businesses already done to respond to and take care of the problems we are our protesting?
  5. Are all the problems Aaron mentions caused by globalization and those advocating it?
  6. What might someone say about these protests from another perspective? A sweatshop worker in Thailand? A local government official in Honolulu? The head of the Asian Development Bank?  Someone working for less than the US minimum wage in an auto factory in China?

Globalization Research Center Curriculum - University of Hawaii at Manoa - © 2002 - email: Globalization My Workspace GRC Websites Thinkers Toolkit Home Help