2013-14 Catalog

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Offering Description

Alternatives to Capitalist Globalization


Fall 2013 and Winter 2014 quarters

Steven Niva political science, Middle East studies , Peter Bohmer economics, political economy
Fields of Study
international studies, political economy and political science
Preparatory for studies or careers in
education, labor, community and global justice, social services, history, law, nonprofit work, political economy and informed civic participation.

It is easier to criticize contemporary capitalism for its failures than to develop feasible alternatives and a strategy to get there. We will explore and critically analyze diverse social movements and visions that seek to create more just global and national societies. International institutions such as the WTO, IMF and World Bank promote “free market” and “free trade” capitalist globalization which open up countries to multinational corporations and impose Western development models. In the past few decades, many alternative visions have developed within the global justice movement and have been renewed through more recent “occupy” and anti-austerity movements in Europe (Greece and Spain), the United States and the Global South. They draw upon historical precedents and alternatives to capitalism, from anti-colonial and socialist movements to the new left, situationist and anarchist movements after 1968.

We will analyze existing capitalist globalization and current U.S. capitalism and then look at how diverse social movements and thinkers have formulated alternative visions for creating just, liberatory, democratic and sustainable societies. We will explore different and sometimes clashing alternatives to national and global capitalism that have developed around the world. These will include those influenced by socialist, Marxist, anarchist, anti-authoritarian, ecological, feminist and perspectives emanating from the Global South. We will research and evaluate case studies of existing and possible alternatives from Cuba, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, and those derived from cooperatives, intentional communities, participatory socialism and eco-feminist alternatives in the U.S. and elsewhere. We will analyze alternatives to NAFTA and other “free trade” agreements such as ALBA, and global visions of equity and justice, including climate justice. We will also look at strategies, ideologies and visions of alternative societies in the “occupy” and other current movements.

The program will include a focus on theoretical debates over strategies and goals of movements, including debates about the role of states, the limitations of reforms, insurrectionist visions and the role of pre-figurative strategies and of creating alternative communities that bypass political institutions. We will pay special attention to the conditions facing women in their changing roles in the global system of production and consumption, ecological concerns and the struggles of indigenous peoples for survival and self-determination.

Students will engage these topics and case studies through lectures, seminar discussion, group projects, films and guest speakers. Our activities will include theoretical reading, analytic and critical thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches, and imagining and formulating fresh views of the facts and possible futures of capitalist globalization.

Online Learning
No Required Online Learning
Greener Store
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
December 30th, 2013 This program will accept new enrollment with faculty approval.