One No, Many Yeses: A Journey to the Heart of the Global Resistance Movement
by Paul Kingsnorth
AVAILABILITY: Usually ships within 2-5 days
Publication Date: 2004
Publisher: Free Press
Topics: California, Corporate Rule, Democracy: Theory & Practice, Economics, Indigenous Peoples, Mexico, Social Movements, Third World Peoples, Visioning the Future
Description: A manifesto, an investigation, a travel book: an introduction to the new politics of resistance which shows there's much more to the anti-globalization movement than trashing Starbucks.
(This imported book from the UK is not easily available yet in North America, so we special ordered a case of them so YOU didn't have to wait another year to read this extraordinary story.)
It could turn out to be the biggest political movement of the twenty-first century: a global coalition of millions, united in resisting an out-of-control global economy, and already building alternatives to it. It emerged in Mexico in 1994, when the Zapatista rebels rose up in defiance of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The West first noticed it in Seattle in 1999, when the World Trade Organisation was stopped in its tracks by 50,000 protesters. Since then, it has flowered all over the world, every month of every year. The 'anti-capitalist' street protests we see in the media are only the tip of its iceberg. It aims to shake the foundations of the global economy, and change the course of history.
But what exactly is it? Who is involved, what do they want, and how do they aim to get it? To find out, Paul Kingsnorth travelled across five continents to visit some of the epicenters of the movement. In the process, he was tear-gassed on the streets of Genoa, painted anti-WTO puppets in Johannesburg, met a tribal guerrilla with supernatural powers, took a hot bath in Arizona with a pie-throwing anarchist and infiltrated the world's biggest gold mine in New Guinea.
Along the way, he found a new political movement and a new political idea. Not socialism, not capitalism, not any 'ism' at all, it is united in what it opposes, and deliberately diverse in what it wants instead - a politics of 'one no, many yeses'. This movement may yet change the world. This book tells its story.
Review(s): "Gripping, engaging and inspiring - it will become a classic." - George Monbiot
"Kingsnorth's reportage dispels once and for all the myth that only the white middle classes are upset at the WTO.....Recommended." - London Guardian
This lengthy review was written by Peter Etherden, and published in the Fourth World Review (Nos. 121 & 122) of 2003:
"If you ask ten people what the global resistance movement is about you will get ten different answers. Some call it anti-globalisation. Some call it anti-capitalist. Some call it pro-democracy, others a social justice movement. The British Prime Minister famously called it "an anarchists' travelling circus", The New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman said it was "a Noah's ark of flat-earth advocates, protectionist trade unions and yuppies looking for their 1960s fix". What Clare Short in the UK Labour Government dismisses as "misguided, white middle-class activists", Noam Chomsky calls "the first real promise of a genuine International".
"But while analysts and pundits dissect or dismiss it, the global resistance movement has been growing rapidly and is now the biggest political and social movement for generations and one which regularly outfoxes the corporate establishment. To think that this resistance movement will be brought to heel by the draconian measures governments are foisting upon a frightened public in the wake of September 11th or by the obscenities of permanent pre-emptive aggression waged by tax-funded mercenaries and military contractors is to live in cloud cuckoo land.
"In 1995 after reading history at Oxford University, Paul Kingsnorth joined The Ecologist as Deputy Editor. In August 2001 he resigned to travel the world. But it was no ordinary world tour. His journey began in the southern Mexican province of Chiapas and ended eight months later on Blackheath a few miles south of London where in 1381, John Bull and Wat Tyler confronted King Richard II and demanded an end to serfdom and a sweeping shift in social relations and economic organisation.
"'One No, Many Yeses' is the skilfully crafted record of Kingsnorth's travels across five continents. During the course of his travels he met and broke bread with many of our world's future Castros and Mandelas as they struggle to bring political and economic freedom to their people. This is no ordinary package-deal tourist. Kingsnorth quotes Gustavo Esteva from Oaxaca in Chiapas: "People have been disillusioned with the ballot box for a long time. And yet they are disillusioned too with rebels who come with guns and say, "give us the state we will do better". Kingsnorth reckons the freedom fighters he meets are onto something.
"After the water wars of Cochabamba in Bolivia, Kingsnorth takes us to Soweto where we learn about the privatisations of utilities and the punitive electricity rates that have given rise to Operation Khanyisa with its illegal reconnecting of households to the state electricity supply. By this stage in his travels, Kingsnorth is quite clear that "those who believe the answer is a coalition of polite negotiators working to make globalisation work better or persuade corporations to behave better are wide of the mark".
"He sees clearly that power is what is at the heart of every battle, even "though they might seem to be about trade, treaties, agriculture, consumerism or corporations’" and this, he writes, "is a timeless, international battle to decide who runs the show; who wields that power and how, and by what authority do they do so". Plus - change, plus c'est la même chose.
"After the new South Africa of the African National Congress it is back north to New York where Kingsnorth investigates the tactics being used in Manhattan to lay siege to the cult of shopping. After a lightning tour through the States we head off to Papua New Guinea where the local peasantry is confronting giant corporations like Shell and Rio Tinto. This is not some traveller's quest for the perfect beach but investigative journalism of the highest order - the Fourth Estate at its best.
"Kingsnorth never ceases asking what the resistance movements stand for and how a new world might be built on its principles. And everywhere he goes he discovers that it is all about power. Of course those who claim that the anti-globalisers have no positive constructive alternative are correct, he says, "but they have missed the point". The "Ya basta!’ Enough is enough!" of the Zapatistas of Chiapas - now a slogan of the global resistance movement - is a "positive no", a Que se vayan todos! (Away with them all!), away with any one system.
"From Indonesia, Kingsnorth travels to the Atlantic city of Porto Alegre for the second World Social Forum and from there to the Landless Rural Workers Movement and the reintroduction of organic farming in Brazil, just one of the many 'yeses' Kingsnorth discovers in South America.
"Finally back in the United States, Kingsnorth reports on the tremendous diversity of activity taking place: legal challenges to the corporate personhood doctrine in California, the Community Vitality Act in Colorado, Sprawl-Busters in Massachusetts, and much more besides. Like the young French nobleman Alexis de Tocqueville two hundred years before him, Paul Kingsnorth sees America as it is and not as others report it. And he likes much of what he sees. He finds grassroots America renewing itself and appealing to a new patriotism, one that is rooted in the original ideas of the 1776 revolution - to freedom, self-government, liberty and democracy. This appeal, Kingsnorth believes, is capable of uniting left and right and young and old in a new kind of American spirit, the spirit of 1776.
"Governance the world over is in disarray. Only states and corporations are legitimate. Radical monopolies have been created over death and taxes through control of the production and distribution of weaponry and debt. Abraham Lincoln saw it coming in 1864 when he wrote six days before his assassination that "this cruel war has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood, but I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavour to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed". Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
"Half of the biggest hundred economies in the world are states and half are corporations. General Motors and Thailand, Mitsubishi and South Africa, Wal-Mart and Venezuela. All are Soviet-style command economies. Their functionaries increasingly resemble each other as a gulf opens up between them and their fellow countrymen. It is increasingly difficult to find any real differences between ruling and opposition parties. Radical opposition is eliminated by what Thomas Robertson referred to in his 1947 classic 'Human Ecology' as "the financial filter". Any party leader hazarding land reform or wealth distribution is instantly removed. To govern is to ensure that the world is safe for General Motors to make profits and for party politicians to live in luxury.
"What Kingsnorth has discovered on his travels is that virtually everything, everywhere comes down to two "thrillingly simple questions: Who's in charge, and why. The global resistance movement," he insists, "is designed and built to contest power - to question, and to claim legitimacy. And that is exactly what it is doing."
"It may not know it, but the global resistance movement is not only making mockery of those who would claim that the young are no longer interested in politics but is applying every tenet of Fourth World theory in doing so. Were the Fourth World a political party then the activities described in 'One No, Many Yeses' would be the work and policies of its youth movement. The next step is for ordinary people to support them.
"What the youngsters in the global resistance movement are doing on the global front, their parents and their grandparents must start doing on the local front, using every trick in the book, ranging from a stubborn refusal to obey rules that are wrong to the enthusiastic endorsement of everything that affirms the good life. Only the local is real. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose."