Net resistance, net benefits: opposing MAI
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Multinational corporations (MNCs) enjoy enormous structural and resource advantages over employees and citizens. Yet when the MNCs and major governments tried to expand those advantages through the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), they were stymied by a global alliance of activists. MAI opponents made heavy use of electronic mail and the World Wide Web in raising the alert, sharing information and coordinating actions. They worked collaboratively, flexibly and imaginatively towards their goals while MNCs and governments were working secretively and within more traditional hierarchical models.
This article appraises the role of the Internet in the campaign and discusses why it can give activists an edge over hugely better resourced MNCs. It warns against activist groups setting up bureaucracies and provides a number of insights for the ongoing struggle. While the MAI has been defeated in name, there is no doubt that MNCs will try other methods and arenas for achieving its content.