Globalization and Social Movements – João Pedro Stédile of MST

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“Globalization and Social Movements”
A talk by João Pedro Stédile, Main Coordinator for the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) of Brazil
Oct 23, 2003 at the University of Ottawa
– notes by Greg Macdougall


There are three main things we need to do to move forward:

1) sharing experiences and ideas with others
2) listening to others’ experiences and ideas
3) discussion and dialogue: learning from each other, what lessons we’ve learned about how to advance forward

+ + + + +

– intro (above)
– changes in the nature of the movement
– two key challenges
– universalities of social struggle
– bonus

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1) the social classes have now mixed and can’t be defined so rigidly. this creates a need for new forms of social organization. across the world there are an infinite multiplicity of ways of working or organizing.

2) social movements now are operating autonomously, organizing horizontally, not needing to wait for word from a higher committee. it is very important that people learn this ideology, that we need not depend on others

3) new flexibility between members of the movement, when before there was often excessive bureaucratic organization.

4) the process of internationalization is increasingly a part of social movements, we are confronting exploitation on that level.

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1) capital is hegemonic.
we need to generate enough energy to bring us to next period of reemergence and growth of mass movements.

2) the movements are still very spread out.
we need to BUILD A MEETING POINT, some common political project.

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the key is to build autonomy within organizations: “do this and i’ll help you” attitude only exists at the world bank and in NGOs

1) incorporate grassroots work. having small local meetings – in schools, work places, community centres – where people discuss, make decisions, and believe in those decisions. strength comes from grassroots and regularity

2) train organizers. people need to know philosophy and idealogy. they are the skeleton that keeps the bones together, they need to understand the key things.

3) raise political awareness of the masses. this can be done through various means: media, conferences, public debates on issues of concern, etc.

4) struggle. no movement can grow if it doesn’t struggle. the struggle is where people learn.

+ + + + +


we are building a different kind of integration among people of different cultures. based on the accumulation and growth in strength of mass movements. instead of choosing from among the present choices, the point is to work on accumulating popular movement power and strength, creating new options from which to choose.

change will happen with the participation of all forms of social organizations, groups, churches, left political parties, all together creating the energy required to transform society

in all political situations there exists a situation of hegemony of the dominant class

1 thought on “Globalization and Social Movements – João Pedro Stédile of MST

  1. to follow up on the point about how movements are spread out, and needing to build a meeting point, a common political project, here is Stedile interviewed in 2013:
    “And finally, we need to make use of and approve a project for a national conference on media and communication, one that is broadly representative, to discuss democratising the media. To put an end to Globo’s monopoly, and ensure that the people and its popular organisations can have wide access to means for communication, to create their own media with public resources. I have heard from a diversity of youth movements that are organising the marches that perhaps this could be the one issue that unites them all: down with Globo’s monopoly!”

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