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In the Shadow of the Iron Curtain

Central and Eastern European Alterglobalists

Grzegorz Piotrowski

This book examines the alterglobalist activists in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Based on lengthy ethnographic fieldwork and numerous in-depth interviews with key figures of the movement, it covers mobilizations and actions between 1998 and 2011 and analyzes the process of adapting the alterglobalist way of thinking, claims and organizational modes in post-socialist countries. By pointing out the main challenges the movement faced, the author discusses the ways it tried to overcome these. The main argument is that the post-communist legacy (expressed in low levels of mobilization, in rejection of leftist ideals and discourse and in deep mistrust towards political life) had a tremendous impact on the formation and the shape of the alterglobalist movement in the region.

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Chapter 2: Alterglobalism


This chapter aims at conceptualizing the case of the alterglobalist movement and lays some fundamental definitions. However, the emergence and processes of development of the alterglobalist movement as such will not be discussed here in details, as there is a vast literature on the topic available. Alterglobalism has different names in differing countries and political environments, from the alterglobalist movement, through altermondialisme and the Global Justice Movement, to antiauthoritarian or anti-capitalist. The term alterglobalism replaced the previous term anti-globalism after the first World Social Forum, held in Porto Alegre (Brazil) in 2001, where the leading slogan ‘Another world is possible’ found general acceptance. The – formerly used – term antiglobalism was perceived as judgmental and discriminatory by many activists for framing the movement’s claims as a rejection of globalization as such (including the rejection of Internet, cultural diffusion etcetera), so the label ‘alterglobalist’ was an attempt to make the movement more sympathetic in the public opinion. It objects the rejection of globalization, which most people claim it is inevitable today, and instead tries to influence the way it happens by not being against the Internet or global flow of goods, but rather identifying the weaknesses of the neoliberal model of global economical changes.

The connection of Central and Eastern Europe with the globalized world took place long before the events of 1989. On the level of state policies, as – for example – the first agreements of the region with the International Monetary Fund were signed in 1986; and on...

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