A striking change

A striking change

Date: 23 June 2011

SharonJordan, Campaigns Assistant

When the World Development Movement (WDM) released its ‘States of Unrest’ reports in early 2000, it revealed a previously undocumented pattern of resistance and civil unrest in poor countries. It was directed against policies pushed by financial institutions in Europe and the USA. Protests and strikes were a backlash against policies forcing many further into poverty. 

The reports spoke of the emergence of an anti-globalisation movement, a global movement for social justice. Campaigners in the rich west often demonstrated in solidarity with the struggle of poor communities in Asia, Latin America and sub-saharan, central and southern Africa as neo-liberal policies increased the gap between rich and poor. 

Later reports from WDM showed how resistance led to change. ‘Going Public’ for example, showed how local communities refused to give in to the neoliberal agenda pushing to privatise their public services. Instead they took over their own water supply, greatly improving the supply of clean water to poor communities.

Today campaigners in the west still protest in solidarity with people in the global south but now there is an even bigger group of people joining the call for an end to an economic system that benefits the few at the expense of the many. Citizens in Europe and the US are now feeling the brunt of policies that are being driven by the same ideology that impoverished poor communities in the global south.

And like their counterparts in Africa, Asia and Latin America they are rising up to say no to these policies.  In the UK hundreds of thousands have voted to strike on 30 June in opposition to cuts to public services and many more are expected to join them in support for their cause; they are refusing to pay for the crisis that was caused by bankers and an unjust economic system.

The fight at home and abroad has become one; the local and global agenda have never been more similar. The many different forms of protests we are witnessing around the world have led and will lead to change.

The kind of change we want and will get is up to us.