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4. Why are so many people opposed to globalization?

Once popular among business and corporate leaders, the term has been appropriated more recently by many groups on the political left. They are opposed to globalization for several reasons:

  • it is used as an ideology by the powerful to deceive the people about illusory benefits of a dehumanizing system; in other words, globalization is really a myth that needs to be exposed, a form of false consciousness that prevents people from seeing their true interests.
  • insofar as it stands for a real process, it perpetuates the inequity and exploitation inherent in capitalism; globalization polarizes the globe and therefore creates an even more unjust world.
  • it is not subject to democratic control and therefore cannot serve the interests of the people at large; new forms of democratic governance and economic regulation will be needed to overcome this problem.
  • due to the scale of change, it intensifies long-standing problems, such as the deterioration of the environment.

Globalization has thus become a tool in the symbolic politics of oppositional movements, a rallying cry in their assault on diverse global ills. In part, this represents the revival of an old-left agenda after the end of the Cold War and the demise of communism as a viable ideological option. In part, it demonstrates the opportunities for mobilizing around new issues (e.g., human rights) presented by the concepts and networks created in globalization. Among "progressive" forces, it is fair to say, an anti-globalization consensus has been crystallizing that is also reflected in ties among activist organizations.

Apart from this progressive opposition, there is also a more conservative kind. Various religious groups, notably Islamic activists, oppose globalization because to them it represents a civilizational threat: the imposition of alien values, homogenization of the globe on secular terms. Their opposition, supported by some nonreligious groups, often takes the form of a particularist defense of communal tradition. Both "right" and "left" opponents of globalization tend to regard the United States as a hegemonic power that influences globalization to its own advantage, harming the economic, cultural, and environmental interests of the rest of the world.


This Oxfam (UK) policy paper argues that rather than creating rapid, universal human development, globalization has widened the gap between rich and poor; to close it, new global institutions will be needed.

Globalization Backlash

Transcript of a roundtable discussion among Emory faculty focusing on aspects of and reasons behind the backlash.

The Dark Side of Globalization

In this brief article from The Nation, Jerry Mander argues that globalization on the basis of old ideological principles now being applied globally has many negative consequences the media often ignore.

The Year 2000; A New Dawn

Editorials in Le Monde Diplomatique argue that a second capitalist revolution is underway, but that many are determined to oppose it, as demonstrated by the 1999 protests against the WTO in Seattle that herald a new dawn of opposition and fundamental reform.

Turning Point Project

Content of full-page advertisements in the New York Times critical of globalization (funded by a coalition of organizations opposed to globalization).


This "citizen's guide" criticizes one of the prime targets of anti-globalization activism, the World Trade Organization, as a dangerous, neoliberal institution that serves corporate interests but threatens democracy and the environment.

(back to the top)


  1. What is globalization?
  2. How does globalization affect women?
  3. Does globalization cause poverty?
  4. Why are so many people opposed to globalization?
  5. Does globalization diminish cultural diversity?
  6. Can globalization be controlled?



Copyright 2000-2001 - Frank Lechner