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coco fusco on Thu, 25 Dec 2003 07:47:18 +0100 (CET)

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My curiousity about this extends beyond the specifics
of the conflicts outlined in the article, which
appears on the surface to be about a group in India
that disagrees with the premises of the World Social
Forum in Mumbai.

It seems to me as an outside observer that much more
is going on, and that this essay is a symptom of one
of those classic "wars of position" between two
generations. It seems that a younger generation of
intellectuals/artists arguing against those they
identify as the old left may embrace
anti-globalization movements, but in many ways they
espouse pro-globalization positions that suit their
interests, and this aspect of their politics is rarely
interrogated. This is definitely not the first time I
have come across statements of this ilk from
associates of Sarai. They seem united in their
insistent conflation of  critiques of the Eurocentrism
with Hindu fantatcism, outdated nationalism, and
schlerotic forms of Marxism. Similarly, ANY concern
about race and racism in the anti-globalization and
alt.net media communities is equated with ethnic
fundamentalism. And any desire to protect some aspect
of nationalism in developing countries is met with
disdain, without a closer look at the issues and the
histories involved in each case.

It may very well be that there are serious problems
with the politics of those who dissent regarding the
WSF. I would not deny that Hindu Fundamentalism exists
or that there are real problems with nationalisms in
many countries, ranging from alliances with xenophobic
tendencies in Europe, the US, and Australia, to the
cumbersome and inefficient bureaucracies in many

That said, the alternative of having no national
governmental system spells disaster for many countries
around the world. Regardless of the no-border
fantasies of the European anti-globalization movement
and their friends in other countries, there are still
many good reasons to want to protect nation states and
to maintain a public sector in many countries,
particularly in developing nations. Privatization is
hardly a panacea - on the contrary for many Latin
American countries, a region I am more familiar with.
Multinational aggregates such as the EU don't solve
everything. Many "new social movements" in Latin
America don't draw a distinction between globalization
and imperialism. The indians who ousted the president
of Bolivia recently because he wanted to sell the
country's natural gas to the US and the scores of
protestors in Mexico just last week who refused to
allow President Fox to privatize the petroleum
industry are protecting the public ownership of
natural resources, a fundamental aspect of Latin
American nationalism, one that I must say makes a lot
of sense.

Furthermore, it seems that the position of those
associated with Sarai needs a closer look in terms of
how intergenerational struggles for power are implicit
in their slinging of epithets. Blanketly labelling an
older generation of leftists as uniformly retrograde
and even as being "soft on fundamentalism" makes the
younger crowd look very attractive to the European and
American left - it's the equivalent to bashing
multiculturalists in the US and Europe as politically
correct, or as outdated cultural nationalists who
aren't hip to new realities. Between the lines of
these "critiques" are implicit efforts to articulate a
kind of global chic that effectively re-casts the
interests of the much maligned old left (the
relationship between modernity, modernization,
colonialism and the third world) as the "new" vision
of the post-postcolonial who all the post-identitarian
posing, is actually deeply invested in representing
the new face of India for Europe and America (and of
being well financed by Europe to do so). Bashing the
old left thus can be read as a way of ensuring that
there will be no competition for time and space in
global cultural circuits.

Coco Fusco

--- Aditya Nigam <aditya {AT} sarai.net> wrote:
> Dear Administrator,
> I am pasting an article along with this mail for
> your consideration - for
> circulation in your list. The article addresses a
> controversy over the
> forthcoming WSF 2004 to be held in Mumbai in
> January. This piece is
> basically a response to a sectarian, self-styled
> Maoist group which has
> issued a document critiquing the WSF process and
> calling upon people to
> join their alternative event. I hope the
> participants of the counter
> globalization movement will find it of some
> interest.
> sincerely
> Aditya Nigam

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