In the 1990s and 2000s, globalization created a division within socialism. While some of the social democratic currents adhere to it, seeing in globalization the opportunity for a more regulated world thanks to international agreements and organizations, the emergence of a middle class in developing countries, and even the democratization of these countries with the help of soft powers such as culture, development, education, sport and technology, globalization is also seen as the upper stage of capitalism. Globalized companies are freeing themselves from states and imposing their neo-liberal ideology on them; an ideology that legitimizes private interests at the expense of the common good and the exploitation of developing countries, thus creating a globalized proletariat.
The anti-globalization movement is very heterogeneous and weakly organized. However, the Porto Alegre Manifesto produced at the 2005 World Social Forum lays out its main orientations, including the establishment of an international tax on financial transactions, the cancellation of public debts of developing countries, the guarantee of food security through the promotion of self-sufficiency and fair trade, the fight against racism in all its forms and the restoration of indigenous rights. The proposals of the anti-globalization movement – mixed with populism – find a certain echo in South American socialism, particularly in the Bolivarianism of Hugo Chavez, which is based on food and industrial self-sufficiency, a critique of the imperialism of developed countries and the recognition of indigenous rights.
The social democracy that adheres to globalization will develop the thesis of the “third way“. Theorized by Anthony Giddens and Tony Blair (1998), it considers that there is a place between the “old” statist and redistributive social democracy and deregulatory and unequal neoliberalism. Because globalization imposes economic, political and societal changes, this third way aims to accompany with them equal opportunities rather than egalitarianism and the delegation of public services to private companies in order to increase the state’s performance, but also a strong societal progressivism with the recognition of ethnic, national and sexual minorities. The third way corresponds ideologically speaking to social liberalism. It is being emulated almost everywhere in the West: German Chancellor Gerard Schröder was inspired by it from 1998 to 2005, as was US President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 2001 and French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin from 1997 to 2001.