The crisis of the neoliberal economic order that began late in 2007 has not been overcome in the years since. It has taken on the form of a shifting catastrophe migrating from one part of the world to another. Controlling the movement of capital, and imposing an economic quarantine in the form of protectionist policies, are the minimal steps needed to struggle against this epidemic. But putting these measures into practice is blocked by the neoliberal ideology, hegemonic on a global level, and by the demands of international institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the G-20.
During the years of crisis the relationship of forces within the world economy has gradually changed, and new foci of resistance have appeared. Asian markets have become more attractive than European ones, and the BRICS countries have come to be seen as a potential locomotive of world growth. The imperial hegemony of the US is increasingly in doubt, as is the ability of the leading Western powers to effectively control the processes occurring in the world. In the old industrial countries, falling wages and reduced social welfare provisions have sharpened class antagonisms. The Arab Spring has shown that the old mechanisms of rule no longer work. Whole regions of the globe are searching for a new model of development, and people are rising in struggle, defending their dignity and their right to independent development.
Paradoxically, the crisis of the system has also revealed the weaknesses of its critics, who during the years since have shown themselves again and again to be unprepared to formulate radical but concrete and practical alternatives, or to set forward a clear and realizable strategy, a plan of action to transform the situation. The crisis requires that we develop specific strategies for escaping from the dead-end of neoliberalism.
Many societies do not simply need changes aimed at improving the lives of the majority of the population, but are also having to deal with the consequences of long-term regression. Before them is the task not just of constructing new relationships and institutions, but also of rebuilding themselves on the ruins of what was destroyed. The results of the globalization of the years since 1990 cannot and should not be annulled, but the contradictions to which this period gave rise can only be done away with through a fundamental change in the social, economic and ecological order. These changes must be on a global scale, but they will be implemented on a national level. The reason for the present lack of radical breakthroughs is not that it is impossible to achieve anything in a specific country on its own. Every process needs someone to initiate it, and the problem is not in the limited nature of the possibilities. It lies in the lack of clear strategies, in the capitulation of the moderate left before neoliberalism and the free market, and also in the unpreparedness of radical movements to think and act in a practical fashion, responding to the specific needs articulated by society.
The issue here is above all that of formulating the principles of a new welfare state, oriented not toward increasing consumption but toward aiding social reproduction, and implementing practical solidarity on the institutional level. We need to pose afresh the question of public property, of the possibilities of expanding it, of the areas where this might be done and of the limits that might apply. We need to explore effective, modern forms of nationalization. Once again we need to consider the rights of workers and trade unions in relation to production, the rights of peasants/farmers in relation of land and agriculture, to ask how we can unleash a new industrialization in the developed countries while taking account of the environmental, social and cultural needs of society, including overcoming gender inequality, racism and oppression of migrant workers. We need to discuss questions of energy policy, reforms to the financial system, controls on the movement of capital and methods for combating offshore operations. We need not just to criticize the WTO or the IMF, but also to suggest an alternative strategy for economic integration and inter-state cooperation, including on a regional level.
As in the past, critical discussion of global questions remains tied to the calendar of events of the world elites, and we are unlikely to succeed in changing this in the near future. Since 2008 leaders of 20 economically most powerful countries regularly meet in different places around the world to discuss overcoming global economic crisis. There have been summits organized in London, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Seoul, Cannes, and Los Cabos, Mexico. And each time these meetings are accompanied by alternative or counter-summits, organized by social movements and civil society groups. The counter-summit in St. Petersburg will be the 7th and we hope that this will be an opportunity to move forward, develop and concretize the agenda of social change.
It is specifically important to stress the importance of democratic self-organization of the counter-summit process and for that reason reject the attempts to manipulate and control its preparation in a top-down way represented by the formation of Civil 20, a group openly declaring its affiliation with the organization of official Summit and promoting Big Business agenda.
We hope to use both the meeting of the G-20 in St Petersburg in September 2013, and also the BRICS process, to develop and put forward our own solutions to the questions which the neoliberal system is unable to resolve. The meetings and actions organized in this context must be combined into a single process which we term the Post-Globalization Initiative. We hope that the 2013 St Petersburg Counter-Summit will figure not simply as the latest forum for criticism of the system, but also a setting for the development of specific programs and strategies aimed at finding a way out of the crisis.
Over the past few years the neoliberal elites have shown their incapacity to come up with a viable anti-crisis strategy. The time has come for other forces supporters of the welfare state, grass-roots and left organizations to present their alternative. If this alternative is concrete and realistic, it will succeed in mobilizing society. The slogan power to the millions, not the millionaires will then be embodied in practical change.
List of initial signatories:
Regional / International Networks: Focus on the Global South (Asia: Thailand, Philippines, India) / Food & Water Europe / Hemispheric Social Alliance / Alianza Social Continental (Americas) / Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo, PIDHDD (Latin America) / Red de educación popular entre mujeres de América latina y el Caribe (REPEM LAC (South America and Caribe)
National organizations, networks and movements: Attac France (France), Brazilian Network for Peoples Integration (Brazil) / Center for Civil Society (South Africa) / FOCO (Argentina) / Global Exchange (USA) / Navdanya Research Foundation for Science Technology and Ecology (India) / Transnational Institute (Netherlands) / Unión Popular Valle Gómez, A.C. (Mexico) / Worldview The Gambia, WTG (Gambia)
* Link G20 work in counterweighting B20s global power with the global campaign Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity”
* Link G20 work in counterweighting G20s trade and investment policies with the global campaigns for an alternative investment regime
* Link G20 work in counterweighting G20s green growth policies with the Global Campaign for Climate Justice
* Link G20 work in counterweighting G20s financial policies with the global campaigns for an alternative international financial architecture: IFIs reform and debt cancellation