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Asia

Walden Bello - Philippine activist and academic

The Right-Livelihood Award is given to persons annually, who try to find solutions to the most urgent issues of our time. One of the most prominent so-called alternative Nobel Price laureate has been Walden Bello.

Walden Bello - protesting against the global economic order in Hong Kong

Walden Bello - protesting against the global economic order in Hong Kong

Somehow you can see all the exciting and stressful years as an anti-globalization activist in Walden Bello’s face. His hair has greyed, his skin wrinkled and tanned by the sun. The US Princeton University educated social scientist turns 65 years of age this year. He seems to be thoughtful.

South Korean anti-WTO protesters wears a mask

South Korean anti-WTO protesters wears a mask

"I am somebody who engages in analysis and writing - I would be an intellectual. But an intellectual who is geared towards action", says Bello about himself.

Civil disobedience

Since 2007 he has been an elected member of the Philippine Parliament. In former days he used to travel frequently: to world economic summits to protest against the global economic order. Now, he is taken by his work as parliamentarian. He still remembers when he went on the street and became political active for the very first time.

He became initially involved in the protests against the Vietnam War, when he was studying in the United States. "The protests then involved civil disobedience. Once you have done your first act of civil disobedience than it is not so difficult to engage in more acts of civil disobedience", he says, "if you need to in order to be able to push through demands for greater respect for human rights and democracy."

"Economic democracy"

Walden Bello received the alternative Nobel Prize in 2003

Walden Bello received the alternative Nobel Prize in 2003

Bello especially became famous as an anti-globalization activist. In his opinion the globalization has created more problems than it has solved: more poverty, social injustice and disparity. He has put himself in the line to protest against an increasing corporate globalization and the World Trade Organisation WTO.

The WTO summit in Seattle 1999, the G8 summit in Geneva 2001 or in Germany’s Heiligendamm in 2007: Bello was there! He has been arrested on these and other demonstrations.

Not a communist

Though he regards himself neither as a leftist nor as a socialist or even a communist. He believes in economic democracy. "Democracy in the economy means that there are no things as leaving things up just to the market in terms of key decisions, but this should be subjected to the democratic choice", he explains, "for instance whether to develop an auto industry opposed to another industry. This should be something that is undertaken through democratic choice."

Violent protests during the WTO summit in 1999 in Seattle

Violent protests during the WTO summit in 1999 in Seattle

Bello has written several works on his views of the failed politics of globalization. The global financial and economic crisis proved him right about his point of view, he says. Bello has his own strategy for de-globalization.

"No positive form of globalization"

Bello believes, that the market must be disciplined because of different kinds of market failures. "And I think that the market must be disciplined by both: the state and civil society", he says. He has never believed in a globalized market. He does not think that there is a positive form of globalization. Maybe a positive international economy of healthy national economy relating one to another - but not a globalized market or globalized economy.

Bello’s latest book is called "Food Wars". He describes the global food crisis, for which he makes the World Bank and the WTO responsible. Bello now prefers to express his opposition to globalisation through writing books. His activism, he says, now takes place behind his desk!

Author: Chi Viet Giang
Editor: Grahame Lucas

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