Globalization and Its Discontents


The third millennium began in Seattle on the 4th of December 1999. Many awaited it at Greenwich, under the huge tent that Richard Rogers built on the Meridian, in uneven competition with the Pacific atolls where the time zones situate the change of date, and in disdainful indifference to the computer chaos augured by the somber omens of the millennium bug. Nevertheless Y2K overtook the calendar, and first laid bare its political countenance and fractured social landscape in the incubator of the approaching future: the city that is home to Boeing, Microsoft and Amazon, where a coalition of poor countries, trade unionists and NGOs questioned before the world the inexorable trend toward globalization. In the cradle of grunge, Starbucks and Frazier, a popular revolt of a kind unheard of since the sixties brought on the failure of the World Trade Organization’s Millennium Round, cracking the armor plating of single market, single society and single thought. Convoked by the Internet and coordinated by mobile phones, Seattle demonstrators confronted Robocop policemen in an at once archaic and futuristic conflict that portends the coming century’s political debate between globalization and its discontents...[+]

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