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Social movements are full of contradictions, and an inherent tension often emerges between reformist and radical flanks. This becomes especially true as activists attempt to draw connections between varied aims such as opposition to globalization and support for immigrants. During the 1999 Battle of Seattle, the movement focused on opposing neoliberalism (Graeber 2002) and advocating for alternative visions of globalization (Reitan 2012). Some activists also noted the hypocrisy of opening borders to capital while militarizing the borders for migrants. Yet, in the end, immigrant rights movements and their central issues did not feature prominently in Seattle or later anti-globalization efforts. Simultaneously, however, most immigrant rights advocates have not prioritized opposition to the destructive power of global capitalism. In this paper, we consider the implication of this critical omission.


This work was originally published in Socialism and Democracy, available at



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