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Editorial: GEO 52

Corporate Globalization, Peace, Sweatshops: Connecting the Struggles

There are many common threads that connect—or should connect—the anti-corporate globalization, anti-sweatshop, peace, and workplace democracy movements. All are based on human rights, democratic control, economic justice, and inter-cooperation. Workplace democracy and cooperative forms of ownership are forms of local and democratic control that are the antithesis of corporate globalization and the rampant spread of global capital, fortified by military violence, which pits impoverished workers everywhere in competition for the lowest wages and least benefits.

Cooperatives and democratically controlled workplaces thus provide one very natural connection between all of these movements—but often, they seem not to recognize this connection. Are the small scale, democratic economic alternative organizations too busy staying viable to comment on and get involved in global issues? Are the large scale agricultural cooperatives too busy trying to stay competitive to remember their more humble roots and their commitment to mutualism? On the other hand, protestors of corporate globalization rarely are linked to the peace movement, and neither appear to view cooperatives or workplace democracy as models or allies.

This issue explores interconnections between the political and the economic: peace activism, anti-corporate globalization and workplace democracy and worker-ownership. (We have held the advertised topic for this issue on education for economic democracy until Issue #53). GEO’s Len Krimerman provides a reflective and deliberately controversial essay about worker cooperatives, cooperative development, globalization and peace—the effectiveness of incremental change and democracy from the bottom up in a time of war and a context of global hostilities. We begin to publish some responses and comments on his piece and encourage our readers to send their own responses that we can publish in future issues of GEO. Ken Estey, another of our editors, then asks us if our work of peace activism and in cooperatives ever overlap in concrete ways: he suggests many ways in which the two can and should overlap. Contributor John Lawrence provides an example of ways the anti-corporate globalization and anti-sweatshop movements coalesce in an exciting workplace democracy project with TeamX—a “worker-owned and unionized garment factory” in the U.S. We also report on the creation of the Global Non-violent Peace Force. We hope these reflections and reports give readers much to think about and much to respond to. We look forward to continued dialogue on how to strengthen each of these separate campaigns and movements by developing the connections and common ground they share. —The Editors

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