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The political economy of dissent: global publics after Cancun

By Daniel Drache


This paper examines the realignment of forces that derailed the Cancun meeting to broaden and deepen the WTO’s world trade agenda held in September 2003, which according to conventional wisdom was supposed to be a done deal. The growing disjuncture between global cultural flows of people and ideas, and the rules and practices of globalization has created a highly unstable environment with many opportunities but at the same time significant political costs. Regardless of what EU and US may admit in public, at Cancun global dissent and its publics acquired visible agenda-setting power. The growth in influence of the ‘nixers’ and ‘fixers’ has contributed to a tectonic shift in the international economy that has immediate and far-reaching consequences for destabilizing globalization and its narrow economic agenda.\ud The second argument is that global cultural flows of ideas, texts and wealth have deepened the global environment of dissent at the WTO. Many of these flows are the consequence of free trade itself. They have accelerated as economic barriers have fallen facilitating the movement of ideas, people and texts driven by new technologies and the appetite for mass culture. Increased trade has increased cultural interaction globally. These concentrated movements of peoples and ideas beget other flows triggering a cyclical movement of dissent and are highly disjunctive for the goals of economic globalization. When these global cultural flows function as catalysts for change, they become both a conduit and channel for the global movement of social forces. They set new agendas and, it is this agenda-setting capacity that challenges state authority globally no less locally. So far there is no single over-riding vision that addresses the collective problem of diversity at the global level. Nonetheless, the global dissent movement intends to have a prominent role in defining public culture and in shaping it in inherently democratic ways

Topics: HC, JZ
Publisher: University of Warwick. Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation
Year: 2004
OAI identifier:

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