Brian Holmes on 2 Jan 2001 13:58:09 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Prague discussion - Bulgaria

Very interesting text, Alain. You're right, it's the kind of thinking the
"anti-globalization" movement needs - to go beyond the name the media has
given it.

I agree when you say: "What seems to be a bit harder in the midst of this
actionism is the common elaboration of analyses and background
information." During the counter-summit in Prague (sadly under-attended by
the protesters), Catherine Samary suggested forming a study group on
Eastern European economic issues - I don't know if this has been followed

The lack of precise local analysis impoverishes the rhetoric necessary for
any translocal organizing. The demystification of the Bulgarian "Mafia,"
for instance, could be a rhetorical tool. It would allow you to draw a
crude parallel between the newly enriched class - locally perceived as
"threatening and powerful, but at the same time as ridiculous" - and their
Western partners in corporations and international financial institutions,
so they can all be caricatured together as _the real Mafia_. Not exactly
true in the strict senses and connotations of the word "Mafia," but
potentially useful as a way to begin talking in public about the specific
links between these groups of people, and the effects of their cooperation.
It's important to get the conversation going publicly, broadly, outside the
already convinced Marxist or anarchist or ecologist circles, but in a way
that doesn't stop at simplicities. Using rhetoric to go beyond rhetoric.

One question, Alain, concerning history. In most Eastern-bloc countries, if
I understand correctly, debt was incurred to the World Bank in the mid- to
late 70s, to fund  oil imports in particular. The repayment of this debt
was then renegotiated in the 80s, with "guidance" from the IMF. The type of
industrial development and trade orientation that resulted from these
renogotiations greatly influenced the trajectory that each country would
subsequently take. This is true of Hungary, for example, which set up its
foreign-investment and export policies so as to become a manufacturing site
for transnationals. What was the story of the late 70s-early 80s in
Bulgaria? The interesting thing about this for a translocal politics is to
see how broadly IMF economists worked in the early 80s across the globe to
remodel the world economy, with differential results depending on the
resources and strategies and resistances of each place. This is true even
in the Western countries where "austerity programs" ran more complex
parallels to the brutal structural adjustment policies in the Third World.
It's a history that should be recovered.

The real successes in the protests against capitalist globalization will
come when national or regional groups are able to find the links between
the kinds of exploitation, oppression and domination they face, and the
different conditions others face. That means that first a local analysis
needs to be elaborated though processes of public debate, then platforms
for sharing the different analyses have to be created. This seems only to
be beginning in the East, to judge from what I saw in Prague - and that's
not all the fault of the protestors, because the work has to be done
locally as well, and the political conditions for that are very difficult
throughout the East. Attac in France is trying to work both locally and
internationally. Across the Atlantic, the Peoples Summit of the Americas
appears to be an extremely broad international platform for collaborative
critique of the upcoming Americas free trade treaty (see the impressive
document "Alternatives for the Americas" at Any
other functioning process anyone can tell me about is something I'm very
interested in. It will take a lot of effort, on a lot of levels, to
globalize human rights.

Best, Brian Holmes

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