Alternatives to capitalist globalization

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The Evergreen State College Fall 2005 Peter Bohmer, Lin Nelson, Steve Niva

Faculty: Office Mailbox Phone Email Office Hours

Peter Bohmer Lab 2, 2271 Lab 2 X6431 bohmerp Tu, 4-5:30

Lin Nelson Sem2, 3102 Sem2, X6056 nelsonl Tu, F 4-5

Steve Niva Lab1, 1005 Lab1 X5612 nivas Tu 4-5

Weekly Schedule: all classes in Seminar 2 Bldg.

Tuesday 10-12:30 Lecture/Presentation E1107

1:30- 4 Seminar D2107(Peter), D2109(Steve), D3107(Lin)

Wednesday 10-1 Workshop E1107

Friday 10-12:30 Lecture/Presentation E1107

1:30-4 Seminar D2107(P), D2109(S), D3107(L)

Description: At the beginning of the 21st century, global and national elites and international financial institutions such as the WTO, IMF and World Bank claim that there are no alternatives to capitalist globalization. They claim that the world must be restructured according to the “free market” and “free trade” principles that open up countries to the products, services and investment of multinational corporations, reduce social relations to commercial transactions and impose Western development models on diverse cultures.

In this program, we will study diverse social movements and thinkers who are offering alternative ideas for organizing global society and meeting human needs. Many alternative visions have developed within the emerging global justice movement, yet they also draw on historical precedents and various traditions of resistance. We’ll examine alternatives to the dominant forms and institutions of globalization and strategies to achieve them. We’ll explore different theories and strategies that have developed around the world, including those influenced by socialist, anarchist, ecological, feminist and perspectives of the Global South. We’ll devote considerable time to case studies of existing or possible alternatives, for example Cuba, Venezuela and movements in Bolivia. The program will critically analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each tradition and proposed alternatives, with students formulating their own views and analytic approaches.

A central feature of the debate about globalization is how “free trade” principles and practices impact environment, public health and community life. We’ll learn how women’s rights advocates, workers, farmers, environmental activists, health advocates and consumers provide vantage points on how things are changing, as well as models for resistance, solidarity and sustainability.
Required Books: (in order of use)

(available at Evergreen Bookstore)

Ursula LeGuin The Dispossessed Harper Paperback

Oscar Olivera Cochabamba South End Press

Michael Yates Naming the System Monthly Review Press

Notes from Nowhere We Are Everywhere Verso

Robin Hahnel Economic Justice and Democracy Routledge

Paul Farmer Pathologies of Power University of California

Aviva Chomsky The Cuba Reader Duke University Press

Jeffrey Sachs The End of Poverty Gardners Books

Joel Kovel The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or

The End of the World? Zed Books

(If bookstore doesn’t have Kovel, check out

Additional Readings: Intermittently there will be augmenting readings…articles or book chapters. These will be sent out on the listserve or handed out.
ASSIGNMENTS & DUE DATES: (Assignments must be typed, double-spaced.)
Opening Short Essay: Framing Your Question (Due Friday, 9/30)

In a short essay (1 pg), develop a key question that you bring to this class. Why is this question important to you? Do you have any preliminary answers?

Comparing, Connecting Readings (Due Tuesday, 10/11)

Do you see any relationship between themes in Dispossessed and Cochabamba? For example, compare and contrast the implicit alternatives in Bolivia’s social movements with the alternative society of Anarres. What’s your judgement of these alternatives? Write a 3-pg thesis-driven essay.

Experimental Writing (Assigment available 10/19; Due Friday, 10/21)

In the spirit of experimental forms of protest, we’ll try several short experimental forms of writing to open up some novel thinking space. (A more detailed handout on the assignment available 10/19; assignment @ 4 pgs.)

Take-Home Exam (Available Wed, 10/26; Due Wed, 11/2)

You will have one-week to work on this exam, which will involve a set of keyword identifications/elaborations and a choice of conceptual essay questions. This will be about 8-10 pgs.

Synthesis Paper (Due Friday, 12/2)

Critically evaluate how alternative prescriptions offered by Farmer, Chomsky, Sachs and Kovel provide solutions to health/environmental problems of global concern.

(There will be a more detailed handout on 11/18 for this 8-9 pg. paper.)
Group Projects: Exploring Projects, Perspectives and Places

There will be a detailed handout later. The essential features and dates:

  • Week Four 10/19 Workshop forming Project Groups @ themes, issues.

  • Week Seven: Work-in-Progress Consultations, Brief Written Report.

  • Week Ten: Wed and Friday “Exploring Alternatives”

Group presentations, interactive workshops, poster sessions, etc.

Individual report (2 pg) analyzing project question/theme.

Credit: Full Credit will be earned by doing all of the following:

  • Reading assigned texts in advance of class.

  • Participating in class activities (participation is active listening, speaking and thinking.)

  • Attending class (as attendance is a precondition of participation, absences will diminish your ability to earn full credit.)

  • Completing all assignments by the date due.

  • Writing a narrative self-evaluation for your transcript and an evaluation of your faculty seminar leader.

  • Attending an evaluation conference at the end of the quarter.

If you do all of the above at the passing level, you will earn 16 credits. The quality of the work you accomplish will be described in a narrative evaluation.

  • Follow and discuss current events that relate to program themes by reading daily newspaper and/or listening to radio news programs.

  • Continually work to improve your reading, writing and critical thinking skills.

  • Be able to critically analyze the strengths and weaknesses of different alternatives to capitalist globalization.

  • Develop awareness of your own worldview and be able to develop you own vision of alternatives to capitalist globalization.

  • Learn more about efforts around the world to resist and propose alternatives to capitalist globalization.

Reading Response Format:

You will NOT be required to write a weekly reading response paper. Sometimes we will hand out reading guides and ask you to answer specific questions in order to assist your preparation. But in general, we ask you to read each text, with the exception of The Cuba Reader, as making an argument about “alternatives to capitalist globalization” from a particular perspective. For preparation, we ask you to identify the following features of each text:

theoretical/political tradition or framework (e.g., marxist, anarchist, eco-feminist)

formulation of primary problem with capitalist globalization

(e.g., capitalism, corporate domination, industrialization)

formulation of an alternative to capitalist globalization

(e.g. socialism, globalization from below, de-industrialization)

suggestions for a strategy to implement proposed alternative

(e.g. revolution, grassroots institution building, direct action)

Weekly Schedule:
Week One:

September 27-30

Reading LeGuin, The Dispossessed; article “Activist-ism”
9/27 Tuesday Lecture Introduction to Program & Faculty, Opening Discussions

9/27 Tuesday Seminar Introductions, Discussion of Seminar Process

9/28 Wed Workshop Examining Utopias

Framing Questions – Dispossessed (thru Ch. 4)

9/30 DUE: short essay – Framing Your Question

9/30 Friday Lecture Exploring Alternatives, the Historical Context

9/30 Friday Seminar Le Guin – finish

Week Two:

October 4-7

Reading Olivera, Cochabamba; handout on Bolivia
10/4 Tuesday Lecture Bolivia: Political Economy & Social Movements

in Latin America

10/4 Tuesday Seminar Olivera, up to pg. 104

10/5 Wed Workshop film “Thirst”;

Environment, Health, & Privatization/Commodification

10/7 Friday Workshop Strategies and Alternatives in Bolivia – and Beyond

10/7 0-6 Friday Seminar Olivera, uilding, direct action)ntify its..reparation for papers and examobalization. progFriday Seminar Olivera, finish book

Week Three:

October 11-14

Reading Yates, Naming the System
10/11 DUE: Short essay on Dispossessed and Cochabamba

10/11 Tuesday Lecture Marxism and a Critique of Capitalism

10/11 Tuesday Seminar Yates, thru Ch. 5

10/12 Wed Workshop Left and Right Critiques of Marxism (lecture/workshop)

10/13 Friday Lecture Nature of Capitalist Globalization Today;

Mapping Workshop

10/13 Friday Seminar Yates, finish book

Week Four:

October 18-21

Reading Notes from Nowhere, We Are Everywhere

Article “Critical Arts Ensemble” (read for Wed)

10/18 Tuesday Lecture Seizing or Instantiating Power?

10/18 Tuesday Seminar Notes, read up through p.301

10/19 Wed Workshop “Yes Men” film; Aesthetic Politics

Group Project Development

10/21 DUE: Experimental Writing Exercise

10/21 Friday Lecture Panel: Mobilizing/Enacting Global Justice

10/21 Friday Seminar Finish Notes… pg. 301-511
Week Five:

October 25-28

Reading Hahnel, Economic Justice and Democracy

10/25 Tuesday Lecture Social Democracy & Participatory Democracy

10/25 Tuesday Seminar Hahnel, parts 1-3 (up to p.250)

10/26 Wed Workshop Film “The Take” and Argentina Case Study


10/28 Friday Lecture Panel: Cooperative Economics

(Grace Cox, Peter Kardas, Andrew McLeod)

10/28 Friday Seminar Finish Hahnel

Week Six:

November 1-4

Reading Farmer, Pathologies of Power

11/1 Tuesday Lecture Public Health Infrastructure and Structural Violence

11/1 Tuesday Seminar Farmer, Part 1

11/2 DUE: Take-Home Exam

11/2 Wed Workshop The Human Rights Paradigm: Exploring Strategies

Planning Discussion – Winter Qtr

11/4 Friday Workshop Stephen Bezruchka, “Health & Economic Justice”

11/4 Friday Seminar Farmer, Part 2

Week Seven:

November 8-11 Reading: Chomsky, The Cuba Reader; Bohmer article

11/8 Tuesday Lecture Strengths & Weaknesses of the Cuban Revolution

11/8 Tuesday Seminar Chomsky, Introduction (& Intro for each section),

Section 1, Sect.3, Sect. 4 (pgs.274-332),

Sect.5 (up thru pg.398)

11/9 Wed Workshop Agriculture, Food & Health (Martha Rosemeyer,TBA)

11/11 Friday Lecture Strengths & Weaknesses, continued

Student Panel: Learning from and about Cuba

11/11 Friday Seminar Chomsky, Sect.5 (399-447), Sect.7 (pg.515-529,

588-594), Sect.8; Bohmer article

Week Eight:

November 15-18

Reading Sachs, The End of Poverty
11/15 Tuesday Lecture Ending Poverty Under Capitalism

11/15 Tuesday Seminar Sachs, ch. 1-10 (1-188)

11/16 Wed Workshop Movements for Fair Trade & Debt Cancellation

(Dick Meyer & Hannah Petros)

11/18 Friday Workshop Popular Culture and Building Resistance

11/18 Friday Seminar Sachs, ch.11-18 (189-368)

Thanksgiving Break:

November 21-25

Week Nine:

November 29- December 2

Reading Kovel, The Enemy of Nature
11/29 Tuesday Lecture Models and Movements in Environment, Justice

and Globalization

11/29 Tuesday Seminar Kovel, pg. 1-146

11/30 Wed Workshop Panel on Environmental Justice

(Yalonda Sinde, Geov Parrish)

12/2 DUE: Synthesis Paper

12/2 Friday Lecture Philosophy of Humanism & Ecology;

Is Small Beautiful?

12/2 Friday Seminar Kovel, 147 to end
Week Ten:

December 6-9

“Exploring Alternatives”
12/6 Tuesday morning Group project work session

12/6 Tuesday seminar End-of-quarter discussion

12/7 Wednesday “Exploring Alternatives” session – part of the class

12/9 Friday , SEM II, A1107 “Exploring Alternatives” session – rest of the class

DUE: final individual paper on group project – due at time of your presentation
Evaluation Week:

December 12-16

Don’t make travel plans until you’ve spoken with your seminar leader about scheduling an evaluation meeting.

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