Global Issues - Intro Notes - Back to Index

The World Trade Organisation


Created in 1995, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) languished in relative obscurity until almost the end of the last millennium when activists succeeded in seriously disrupting a meeting in Seattle. The dramatic events of N30 (said to have been the biggest demonstration of grassroots opposition in the US since the end of the Vietnam war) made International news headlines and gave an enormous boost to the growing movement opposing Globalisation. I had already taken part in the J18 protests that summer in London, so although I didn't make it out to Seattle I was fairly clued up about what was going on. In the summer of 2000 I put up the original version of this page, ending with a letter by Peter Rowland that had appeared in the Guardian:

I cannot share Douglas Rushkoff's facile optimism (Neither sorcerer or apprentice, April 23). Saint Augustine isn't going to exorcise the genie that now enslaves us. Nor a waft of garlic. The fact is that we have generated a Behemoth computer of which we ourselves are part. It's called the Global Economy and is basically a sophistication of the racecourse totalisator. It operates to just one parameter - the bottom line. A market trader can be regarded as a kind of protein transistor with no other than a limited range of pre-set modes of operation. The Market Monster has no in-built morality but decides where, for example there shall be jobs and who shall fill them, who shall prosper and who shall starve, what natural resources shall be pillaged and by whom. One can hardly think of a machine more ingeniously devised to suck the planet and it's inhabitants dry. Ian Gregory 2010