en-es  José Bové vs. McDonald's: The Making of a National Hero in the French Anti-Globalization Movement Hard
José Bové contra McDonald's: la creación de un héroe nacional en el movimiento francés contra la globalización [1].

Wayne Northcutt, Niagara University, Revista de la Western Society for French History, Volumen 31, 2003.

Enlace permanente: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.0642292.0031.020.

el texto completo de este artículo está disponible en HathiTrust.

"Lutter, c'est le plaisir!",
José Bové [2].

"Une seule chose qui bouge en France, c'est José Bové!",
Francis Fukuyama [3].

José Bové, un ganadero de ovejas/activista de Aveyron en la región francesa de Midi-Pyrénées, es un Astérix de los tiempos modernos, un mítico galo que golpeaba a los invasores. En el caso de Bové, el invasor era el McDonald's, la cadena norteamericana de comida rápida (a la que Bové y sus seguidores se refieren satíricamente como "McDo"). El 12 de agosto de 1999, Bové y sus compañeros de la Confédération Paysanne, el segundo sindicato de agricultores más grande de Francia, "desmantelaron" un McDonald's en construcción en Millau, una ciudad de aproximadamente 20 000 habitantes azotada por el viento en la meseta de Larzac Anteriormente en enero de 1988, él y sus compañeros destruyeron maíz modificado genéticamente en un silo de grano en Nérac, en el departamento de Lot-et-Garonne. Si bien recibió una sentencia suspendida de ocho meses por el incidente de Nérac, la acción en Millau llevó a Bové, el portavoz de la Confédération Paysanne, a la cárcel varias semanas pero también publicidad nacional e internacional. En su juicio, aproximadamente 40 000 personas de Francia y de todo el mundo se presentaron para apoyar a Bové y su causa [4].

Lo que provocó el ataque de Bové contra el McDonald de Millau fue un conflicto entre los Estados Unidos y sus defensores de la World Trade Organization (WTO) por un lado y Europa por el otro. Cuando la OMC apoyó el derecho de los EEUU de exportar bovinos criados con hormonas hacia Europa y los europeos resistieron, los EEUU impusieron impuestos elevados sobre algunos productos de lujo como medida de represalia. Uno de los artículos seleccionados por los Estados Unidos fue el queso Roquefort, el mismo queso que Bové producía en su granja de ovejas. Según la periodista y activista canadiense Naomi Klein, las acciones de Bové en Millau representaron un ataque "contra un modelo agrícola que considera a los alimentos simplemente como un producto industrial en lugar de la pieza central de la cultura nacional y la vida familiar" [5]. El contraataque de Bové lo convirtió no solo en un héroe en Francia, sino en una de las "celebridades" en la protesta masiva de Seattle, Washington, en diciembre de 1999, en la que se manifestaron más de 50,000 personas contra la OMC.

El año siguiente al desmantelamiento del McDonal's y la protesta de Seattle, Bové publicó un best seller, Le monde n‘est pas une marchandise [6], que discutía su visión altermundialista. Desde el incidente del McDonal's Bové se ha convertido en un héroe nacional en Francia y en el líder del movimiento antiglobalización francés debido a varios factores: 1) es carismático, elocuente y utiliza tácticas novedosas y creativas; 2) hace de la calidad del suministro de alimentos un tema de interés nacional; 3) desafía una amenaza para la identidad cultural francesa; 4) se manifiesta contra las multinacionales lideradas por los EEUU y las políticas comerciales de la OMC; 5) es una interesante personalidad para los medios de comunicación, no solo en Francia, sino por todo el mundo y especialmente en los países de habla inglesa; 6) emplea símbolos poderosos y 7) el arresto de Bové por medio de comando gubernamental en junio de 2003 solo fortaleció su reputación como importante altermundialista. Un examen de estos factores revelará cómo un David contemporáneo desafió a varios Goliats y se transformo a sí mismo en un portavoz clave del movimiento antiglobalización tanto dentro como fuera de Francia.

Antes de examinar las razones para el meteórico ascenso de Bové, tenemos que considerar primero el término "globalización" y su significado. ¿Qué es la globalización? ¿Hace referencia a una nueva época de fácil acceso a la información, facilitado por el fax, los teléfonos móviles, los ordenadores y el internet, allanando el camino para una revolución en la producción, la comunicación y el comercio? ¿O es la globalización algo más, un extensión de las relaciones capitalistas por todo el mundo hecha posible por la revolución tecnológica que estamos presenciando? En este sentido, ¿representa la globalización la política económica neoliberal y una nueva época de imperialismo? Para Bové, la globalización significa una extensión de las relaciones capitalistas, con aspectos tanto positivos como negativos. Bové es una personalidad importante porque ha formulado significantes cuestiones sobre el proceso de globalización, especialmente la producción de alimentos y la política comercial de la OMC.

El carisma de Bové, su manera elocuente, y las tácticas creativas y nuevas son una parte importante de su popularidad y éxito en el movimiento de antiglobalización. Su carisma viene en parte de su historia interesante y de su aspecto. Aunque Bové nació en Bordeaux en 1953, pasó los primeros años de su vida , 1956-1959, en Berkely, California, donde sus padres fueron investigadores en bioquímica en la universidad de California. Irónicamente, más tarde, sus padres seguiron siendo investigadores en el Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA)., Su padre, originario de Luxemburgo, incluso se convirtió en director regional del INRA y miembro de la Académie des Sciences. José Bové comenzó su educación en California y afirma que aprendió a hablar inglés antes que francés. Cuando la familia Bové regresó a Francia, el joven José asistió a una escuela primaria bilingüe en la Avenida de la Bourdonnais en París. Posteriormente, participó en varias manifestaciones parisinas contra la guerra dirigidas contra la participación estadounidense en Vietnam. De joven parecía imbuido de ideas pacifistas, antimilitaristas y anarquistas. Comenzó sus estudios universitarios en la Universidad de Toulouse esperando enseñar filosofía. Soportó la vida universitaria solo un año, abandonando y participando en el movimiento ecologista y la política de izquierda [7].

A principios de los años 70, después de visitar Larzac por casualidad con su compañera Alice Monier y observando la primera manifestación a gran escala en un lugar que ahora se ha vuelto un símbolo de protesta y resistencia, este activista incipiente supo donde querría vivir. Se mudó al departamiento de Aveyron y empezó su vida como pastor de ovejas, instalándose en una pequeña aldea con solo algunas familias. En este punto, se involucró en la protestas contra el plan del govierno para crear una amplia base militar en Larzac. Más tarde, en 1987, fue cofundador de la Confédération paysanne[8]. El activismo de Bové fue internacional ya antes de 1999, el año que lo catapultó en el foco de atención global. En 1995, por ejemplo, participó en los esfuerzos de Greenpeace para parar las pruebas nucleares de Francia en el Pacífico Sur, pruebas que había vuelto a lanzar el recién elegido presidente gaulista Jacques Chirac.

Este interesante y variado historial explica, hasta cierto punto, su carisma. Pero parte de su carisma es también, su apariencia. Se viste con ropa sencilla, la ropa de un granjero, y se parece a la versión francesa de Lech Walesa, el líder obrero polaco que desafió al gobierno soviético en los años ochenta. Bové tiene el pelo corto y un bigote largo y caído, como el propio Walesa. Además, la siempre presente pipa de Bové sugiere que es una persona tranquila y reflexiva, un ingrediente clave de su carisma.

El nuevo Astérix francés también es conocido por su elocuencia, tanto en francés como en inglés, la cual ha contribuido a su éxito como activista. Una de las palabras que acuñó y que usa con gran frecuencia es "malbouffe" (comida basura). Su libro, Le Monde n'est pas une marchandise y sus afirmaciones públicas también muestran un hombre que se expresa con facilidad y de forma directa [9]. Su forma directa de hablar y su capacidad para contrarrestar los argumentos que apoyan a la OMC, el suministro de alimentos, las modificaciones genéticas y otros problemas, ayudaron para hacer de él un portavoz de muchas personas en Francia, que se preocupan de los efectos de la globalización en su país. Recientemente, debatió con Alain Madelin, ministro de finanzas y economía en 1995 y ahora, jefe del partido de Démocratie libérale, parte de la Union pour la majorité présidentielle ( UMP) de Chirac, en la televisión francesa[10]. La imagen de un granjero ovino elocuente que se enfrenta al problema de la globalización y sus patrocinadores corporativos ha ayudado a impulsar la opinión francesa en apoyo de este activista.

Sus tácticas novedosas y creativas también le han ganado muchos adeptos. El día de su juicio en Millau, por ejemplo, llegó en un carro de bueyes con una gran rueda de queso Roquefort en lo alto. Gritó a la multitud: "Vamos a vencer, salvar a nuestro Roquefort y fuera la comida basura" [11]. Después, cuando salió esposado del juzgado después de su juicio, levantó las manos sobre la cabeza mostrado sus esposas a la multitud e irradiando una amplia, desafiante sonrisa. Esta fue la imagen de Bové que apareció en la portada de su popular libro. Otras tácticas han ayudado también a su causa. Por ejemplo, el 19 de junio de 2002 compareció en la cárcel de Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone cerca de Montpellier de una manera inusual. Él y un grupo de la Confédération paysanne condujeron una comitiva de tractores desde su aldea en Aveyron hasta la cárcel, una travesía de seis horas en tractor. Un letrero en la parte trasera del tractor del líder sindical decía: "Chirac a la cárcel, Bové a casa". El viaje a la cárcel fue un acontecimiento mediático [12] y los periódicos y los medios de comunicación electrónicos mostraron a Bové en su tractor con su letrero, una imagen que capturó los sentimientos de muchos personas críticas a Chirac y a la OMC. Otra estrategia creativa vino después de su liberación de la prisión en agosto de 2003, un encarcelamiento por destruir cosechas GM (genéticamente manipuladas) cerca de Montpellier. Cuando el tribunal se negó, debido a las condiciones relativas a la libertad provisional, a darle permiso para viajar a Cancún a principios de septiembre de ese año para protestar contra la política agrícola de la OMC, Bové anunció que organizaría una manifestación en Francia en un pueblecito con un nombre que sonaba parecido a "Cancún" –Cancon en el Lot-et-Garonne. El Midi LIbre, uno de los diarios importantes leído en las regiones de Midi-Pyrénées y Languedoc, publicó una fotografía de Bové de pie en frente de la entrada de Cancon, al lado del cartel con el nombre del pueblo[13]. La aptitud de Bové de inventar tácticas que interesen a los medios de comunicación que muchas veces incluyen humor o sátira mordaz ayudó considerablemente a su visibilidad en Francia y fuera.

Por lo que respecta a las tácticas, Bové se ve a sí mismo como un Gandhi francés, empleando la desobediencia civil no violenta para llamar la atención sobre las injusticias. Como Gandhi, Bové se dio cuenta de que el tiempo pasado en la cárcel atraería más seguidores hacia él. Por ejemplo, el año de su juicio por desmantelar McDonald's, Bové declaró a la prensa, "si la prisión tiene que ser la consecuencia de una acción, será más difícil para aquellos con poder económico y financiero que para aquellos que tienen que ir a la cárcel" [14]. En su juicio en Millau, él citó a Gandhi directamente, proclamando que "Gandhi desmanteló la ocupación británica en la causa de la resistencia pacífica al dominio británico en la India. Nuestra acción fue la resistencia no violenta de los ciudadanos. . . contra la provocación americana" [15]. Su combinación de desobediencia civil directa no violenta y humor ayudó a que creciera en importancia. Pero a diferencia de Gandhi, Bové tiene una cosa a su disposición que ha usado a su favor: el internet. Su organización, la Confédération paysanne, tiene su propia sofisticada página web que ayuda a mantener informados a los usuarios de internet sobre la organización y las protestas programadas contra la OMC, los alimentos artificiales, la modificación genética y otros asuntos relevantes.

A pesar de sus tácticas al estilo de Gandhi, Bové proclama que es un anarcosindicalista. Bové declaró una vez, ''Soy un anarcosindicalista. Estoy más cerca de Bakunin [el anarquista ruso] que de Marx. Mis referencias son la Federación de Jaurés en la Primera Internacional en el siglo pasado y la CNT español''[16] A pesar de que ha manifestado su voluntad de usar la violencia, especialmente contra empresas o corporaciones, esta violencia no se dirige específicamente contra personas individuales. De acuerdo con su biógrafo francés, Denis Pingaud, Bové está ideológicamente más próximo a Ralph Nader que a Arlette Laguiller, el líder troskista del partido de la Lutte ouvrière [17]. Así, sus tácticas singulares al igual que su carisma y actitud elocuente han contribuido a transformar a un granjero de ovejas en un héroe popular en Francia, el Daniel Cohn-Bendit del nuevo milenio.

Una de las razones principales del éxito de Bové es que se aprovechó a los miedos profundos acerca de la seguridad de la oferta alimentaria en Francia y en el continente. Esos miedos han crecido con el tiempo y culminaron con inquietudes serias en la comunidad europea, después de la dioxina que se descubró en el pollo, de la retirada de miles de cajas de Coca Cola, de la enfermedad de las vacas locas, y de la fiebre aftosa[18]. Atacando el McDonald de Millau, Bové orientó la atención hacia la oferta de alimentos, plateando preocupaciones sobre la ternera tratada con hormonas usada por McDonald, la comida artificial y los cultivos modificados genéticamente como el maíz. Por ejemplo, según Bové: '' El peligro más grande representado por el maíz genéticamente modificado y tambien por otros cultivos MG, se encuentra en la imposibilidad de determinar las consecuencias a largo plazo y de seguir los efectos sobre el medio ambiente, los animales y los humanos''[19]. Llamando la comida de McDonald 'malbouffe', advirtió a los francesos que deben controlar lo que comen y no permitir simplemente a las corporaciones multinacionales dirigidas por los EEUU imponer cómo o qué consume una nación.

Otra razón de su éxito es que identificó y desafió una amenaza a la identidad cultural francesa. Francia es una nación que está orgullosa de su tradición culinaria. Con todo, en Francia hay más de 750 McDonald's, una compañía que ha llevado la carga de la comida rápida a los EEUU, Francia y por todo el mundo. Increíblemente, en París, en un tiempo considerada la capital culinaria del mundo, ¡actualmente uno de cada cuatro restaurantes es un establecimiento de comida rápida! Bové entendió la forma en que McDonal's se introdujo en Francia y sus consecuencias y se dio cuenta de que la "McDomination" continuaría a no ser que surgieran protestas.

Hoy en día, McDonald's tiene aproximadamente 28 000 restaurantes por todo el mundo y abre unos 2000 nuevos restaurantes cada año. El éxito de McDonald se basa en dos pilares : la compañia produce comida barata aunque pueda ser artificial, y produce comida estándarizada en todas partes del mundo, llevando a los consumidores a pensar que conocen lo que encargan independiemente del lugar[20]. La uniformidad en el consumo de alimentos y las comidas baratas que desea la gente con poco tiempo o que no quiere cocinar en casa, preocupa a muchas personas en Francia que están orgullosas de la tradición culinaria de su nación. Además, el aumento de los restaurantes de comida rápida hace difícil, para quienes aspiran a crear un restaurante, abrir un establecimiento y conseguir que tenga éxito. Las hamburguesas y patatas fritas baratas y las zonas de juego en el McDonald's atrae a clientes que en otros tiempos preferían la experiencia de un verdadero restaurante. La alimentación es central para la identidad cultural francesa, sin embargo lo que la gente consume y cómo lo consume está cambiando, debido a los establecimientos de comida rápida como McDonald's, y el "branding" (la venta de marcas más que de productos) que es en gran medida una parte de la estrategia de las compañías internacionales en la cultura del consumo [21].

El éxito de Bové se debe también al hecho de que, como David contra Goliat, se enfrentó a una corporación multinacional dirigida por los EEUU, por no mencionar la OMC. McDonald's es una compañía enorme, como demuestra el número de establecimientos en todo el mundo, señalado anteriormente, y también su pujanza económica en la nación donde se originó, los EEUU. En los Estados Unidos McDonald's contrata a un millón de personas, más que cualquier otra compañía pública o privada. Es el más grande comprador de ternera, cerdo y patatas y el segundo más grande comprador de pollo. Además, la corporación McDonald es, curiosamente, el mayor poseedor de propiedad comercial del mundo, ganando la mayoría de sus beneficios no vendiendo comida sino por la recaudación de alquileres. Gasta más dinero en publicidad y comercialización que ninguna otra marca, sustituyendo a Coca-Cola como la marca más conocida del mundo.

Según Eric Schlosser, autor de Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of All-American Meal, McDonald's y el fenómeno de la comida rápida lanzaron lo que hoy conocemos como globalización, comenzando de manera temprana con el fenómeno que ahora ya nos ha llegado [23]. Schlosser denuncia que "la industria de la comida rápida ha provocado la homogeneidad de nuestra sociedad [estadounidense]. La comida rápida ha acelerado la construcción de centros comerciales en nuestro paisaje, ampliando el abismo entre los ricos y los pobres, impulsando una epidemia de obesidad y propulsando al gigante del imperialismo cultural estadounidense en el extranjero "[24]. Bové expresó muchas de estas ideas al liderar el ataque a McDonald's en Francia. Además, desde la Revolución Francesa, el desafío a la autoridad centralizada, ya sea nacional o internacional, ha sido una parte importante de la tradición política francesa.

Al desafiar a una gran multinacional dominada por los EEUU, Bové Bové aprovechó los temores franceses acerca de las consecuencias de fusiones corportivas, absorciónes y redimensionamiento. Hay un verdadero motivo de preocupación en Francia y otros sitios que el combate del siglo 21 no sea un conflicto entre naciones, ni siquiera el terrorismo internacional, sino el control del poder de las corporaciones. Según un autor, ''La historia del siglo 20 fue marcada por la lucha contra los sistemas totalitarios de poder estatal. El siglo 21 sin duda será dominado por la lucha para restringir el poder corporativo''[25] En Francia a lo largo de las últimas décadas ha habido una avalancha de privatizaciones y absorciones, a pesar del hecho de que los franceses están acostumbrados a un estado que posee amplios sectores de la economía. El anterior gobierno socialista de Lionel Jospin (1997-2002) vendió más activos pertenecientes al estado que los cinco gobiernos anteriores juntos. El poder corporativo preocupa a los franceses, y el ataque de Bové a un símbolo clave del poder corporativo internacional tuvo gran resonancia en Francia porque el paisaje económico está cambiando rápidamente y creando inseguridad económica en los ciudadanos franceses, incluidos los agricultores [26].

Al retar a McDonal's, Bové también retó al poder de la Organización Mundial del Comercio y avivó en Francia los fuegos contra la globalización llevada a cabo por la OMC. Para Bové, la OMC simplemente es una expresión del poder de las corporaciones, una organización destinada a beneficiar a las corporaciones y no necesariamente a los ciudadanos del mundo. Según Bové: La Organización Mundial de Comercio ya no puede funcionar como antes. Esta organización se verá obligada a reconstruir su legitimidad, convirtiéndose en una institución democrática. La democracia entre países es una necesidad. Cuando observamos el tratamiento infligido a los países del hemisferio sur, podemos ver fácilmente que no todos los países reciben el mismo trato. . . . [También es necesaria] la creación de un Tribunal Internacional, una organización permanente para verificar si las reglas de la Organización Mundial del Comercio se ajustan a todos los estatutos, en particular a los de las Naciones Unidas'. . . o aquellos sobre la biodiversidad [27].

Es interesante saber que la organización de Ralph Nader invitó a Bové para asistir a la manifestación contra la OMC en Seatlle. Bové aceptó la invitación y trajo de contrabando un gran trozo de queso Roquefort y lo mostró en un mitin donde habló, en frente de un McDonald, naturalmente. En este mitin, aprovechando su conocimiento de la historia estadounidense ( p.ejemplo el Tea Party de Boston), dijo a la audiencia que la 'malbouffe' ( comida basura ) de McDo tiene que ser ''tirada al mar''. Luego, los manifestantes rompieron las ventanas del McDonald cerca del lugar donde habló[28]. Para Bové, la OMC es un caballo de Troya que trabaja a favor del poder corporativo internacional.

En Francia, McDonald's es un objetivo clave para quienes se oponen a la globalización al estilo de la OMC. Si bien las encuestas muestran que la mayoría de los franceses creen que la globalización impulsa el crecimiento, a muchos les preocupa que también amenace su identidad y que pueda conducir a mayores desigualdades. Hace quince años, la propiedad extranjera de las empresas francesas era del diez por ciento; sin embargo, hoy, más del cuarenta por ciento de las acciones en la Bolsa Francesa son de propiedad extranjera, casi el cuarenta y cuatro por ciento de la CAC 40 es de propiedad extranjera, y el treinta y seis por ciento de los bonos estatales son propiedad de no residentes [29].

Otro ingrediente que explica el ascenso de Bové como héroe nacional es que tiene una personalidad interesante que llamó la atención de los medios de comunicación. Él contribuye a buena televisión y buen fotoperiodismo, especialmente teniendo en cuenta su procedencia y aspecto físico. Un elocuente granjero de ovejas usando tácticas como Gandhi y Martin Luther King para retar al poder de McDonald's, la OMC y la modificación genética evoca una imagen potente para los medios de comunicación. Además, su capacidad de hablar inglés hizo que él y su movimiento fueran accesibles para la prensa de habla inglesa, una prensa a menudo de veinticuatro horas al día buscando constantemente nuevas historias. Durante su juicio en Millau apareció en primera página del Washington Post, y la CNN incluso alquiló un apartamento cerca del juzgado de Millau para cubrir su aparición en el mismo. La cobertura de Bové en otros países sencillamente añadió la calidad de estralla a este acivista experimentado. La imagen de un pastor de ovejas enfrentándose a un poder corporativo internacional liderado por los Estados Unidos, y haciéndolo con mucho dinamismo, seguida por la publicación de su libro con más de 100 000 copias vendidas, aseguraba a Bové el estatuto de héroe popular, especialmente porque que lidera un movimiento con conotaciones antiesatdounienses. El miedo de que una corporación norte americana era dictando los gustos de en comida de los francesas y que la OMC favorecía los EEUU en detrimento de Europa y del resto del mundo, jugaba bien en los medios de comunicación electonicos y printados franceses.

También atrajo la atención de los medios de comunicación porque empleaba símbolos poderosos en sus protestas. Un ejemplo obvio ya mencionado es McDonald's, la marca más reconocida del mundo. El hecho de usar a McDonald's como blanco proporcionó a Bové el acceso a un vasto sistema económico, concretamente, al capitalismo corporativo global. Bové también ha cultivado el símbolo del pequeño granjero de la Francia profunda para promocionar su causa. Para muchos la Francia profunda es todavía un lugar idílico que representa los "buenos tiempos de antes" de una Francia que ahora se enfrenta a numerosos retos tanto en el frente doméstico como en el internacional. Este activista con un enfoque global sabe, tambien, que sesenta por ciento de la populación del mundo trabaja en la agricultura. Así, el símbolo del pequeño granjero enfrentándose a las corporaciones de la agroindustria se volvió un símbolo clave de la resistancia a la globalización. Él utilizó tambien el queso Roquefort producido en su region como símbolo. As previously mentioned, he "cheesed it up," so to speak, at his Millau trial and at the protest in Seattle. Another powerful symbol he has employed is Larzac itself, a longtime symbol of protest that dates back to the early 1970s. Bové's original motivation for moving to Larzac sprang from the budding protest movement he found in southern Aveyron in the early 1970s. He has mastered the art of using symbols to communicate his message.

A last factor that explains Bové's rise in popularity is the Chirac regime itself, especially the commando-like raid of the activist's residence on 22 June 2003 at six o'clock on a Sunday morning when a helicopter swooped down on his hamlet and dozens of police surrounded his home. After the police broke through the door of his house, he was arrested without a struggle and flown by helicopter to the Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone prison near the capitol of Languedoc to serve a ten month prison term for destroying genetically modified corn. The police raid was videotaped by a neighbor and shown numerous times on French television. To many, it looked like an excessive use of force against a labor leader who had not acted violently against any individual[30]. The left, including the socialist (PS) and communist (PCF) parties, quickly condemned the Chirac government for such use of force and the Confédération paysanne called for demonstrations at the prison and throughout France. Bové himself charged in an interview with Le Monde that the government had "a will to criminalize the labor movement." Bové then told the newspaper's readers, "The message is clear, public order rather than justice"[31]. An editorial in Le Monde called Bové's arrest "a stupidity" and insisted that his incarceration would turn the labor leader into a martyr[32]. According to Le Monde, sixty percent of the French favored Bové's release[33]. Furthermore, more than forty researchers at CIRAD (Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement), INRA, and IRD (Institut de recherche pour le développement) wrote an open letter to the president of the Republic, which protested Bové's arrest and which Le Monde published in part. These researchers stressed that the scientific community was divided on the question of GM crops[34]. Although Chirac would later reduce his sentence by four and a half months as part of the 2003 Bastille day clemency program, and the court in Montpellier on 2 August 2003 agreed to release Bové and let him serve out his sentence by working in the gardens of the Larzac Hospital in Millau, the military-style arrest helped to canonize this high profile activist in the eyes of many in France, especially on the left.

One measure of Bové's popularity in France was seen at "Larzac 2003," a protest rally in early August planned by the Confédération Paysanne and other organizations to prepare the French for the Cancun meeting of the WTO. Since Bové was released from jail just days before the rally, he was the main attraction. In the deadly heat of August, nearly 300,000 people showed up to participate, a number that surprised even Bové and his organization[35]. What is more amazing is that this rally was done without the full scale participation of the unions, especially the Confédération générale du travail (CGT), Force ouvrière (FO), or Confédération française démocratique du travail (CFDT). It was also organized outside of the political parties[36]. Of course, Bové benefited from a convergence of forces at Larzac 2003, namely WTO protesters as well as the social protest movements that began building in France in the spring due to the government's plans to harmonize public and private retirement, decentralize the education system, and change the rules for temporary workers in the entertainment industry. Larzac 2003 was a highly successful anti-government rally.

In conclusion, while most would agree that globalization is an irreversible trend, critics like Bové call attention to the problems that must be addressed. For instance, Bové and others claim that globalization reduces standards. Corporations that can operate anywhere in the world often seek places with the lowest environmental standards and weakest labor laws. Thus, governments often compete to entice investors with ever weakening standards. Consequently, globalization may have a negative impact on the environment and may impoverish workers. Globalization, too, strips governments of their sovereign powers. For the critics, all of this means that globalization paves the way for global capitalism[37]. Moreover, Bové insists that the WTO is not a democratic organization since members of this body are not elected but appointed, and the organization conducts its business in secrecy. According to Bové, the WTO favors the rich nations at the expense of the poor ones[38].

Moreover, those supporting free trade often argue that the trickle down effects from deregulation are positive, such as reductions in poverty. The experience of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Association between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, suggests that there is a poor record for the labor and environmental side of the agreement. Poverty, too, has not been reduced in a country like Mexico, where fifty-three million of the one hundred million inhabitants of the nation live in poverty. Since 1994, the beginning of NAFTA, 1.7 million Mexican workers in the agricultural sector have lost their jobs, and there has been an increased concentration of wealth, with the richest ten percent of Mexicans garnering forty-six percent of the total income[39]. It is clear that globalization needs to be monitored and the rights of citizens protected against the greed sometimes associated with global corporate power.

In France, an interesting organization has emerged that is dedicated to combating globalization and liberalization, at least the negative aspects of these trends. The organization is called ATTAC - Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens. ATTAC was inspired by Viviane Forrester's L'Horreur économique, first published in 1996, a book that became a best seller and was translated into numerous languages. ATTAC, which has several thousand members, calls for a tax on the flow of international capital, to be used to help poor countries[40]. Bové supports ATTAC as a way of restoring ethics and democracy to corporations.

While Bové is not completely opposed to globalization, he maintains that it must be policed to prevent corporations and shareholders addicted to profits from reducing life to mere commodities and the "logic" of market exchange. Although Bové began his protest by attacking McDonald's and genetic modification of food, he has inspired many critics to speak out against what he sees as an undemocratic globalization process. To some small degree he contributed to the moral victory of the G 21 (a grouping of poor nations that included Brazil and China) at the September 2003 meeting of the WTO, where poor nations and the rich northern hemisphere failed to agree on such matters as agricultural subsidies paid to farmers in developed nations, which stifle agriculture in the Third World[41]. What Bové undoubtedly hopes for is to give a human face to globalization to protect citizens' rights and national sovereignty. This sheep farmer from Aveyron has inspired an international protest movement that will surely continue to demand protection for human rights, including the right to control the supply and safety of one's food.

Bové and the phenomenon that he represents are products of factors that are internal and external to France. Like a Gandhi or a Martin Luther King, he has the charisma and the skills to lead a protest movement that has taken on international dimensions. Bové and the anti-globalization movement that he represents - perhaps a new "International" according to Le Nouvel Observateur[42] - show us that activism is still very much alive in the western world and that unbridled capitalism is not necessarily the end of ideology. Bové has not only succeeded in uniting le milieu populaire, including farmers and intellectuals; he has also raised significant questions about the functioning of multinationals, the WTO, and the safety of the food supply, especially genetically modified crops. In France, Bové represents a post-soixante-huitard phenomenon and perhaps the rise of a new, new left. Bové's next challenge will be to shift the discussion from the negativism implied by the anti-globalization movement to a specific debate about democracy in France and elsewhere, convincing others that "another world is possible," a theme now used by the Confédération paysanne. While he has helped to create what some are calling "the movement of movements," this is a fragmented group of dissidents who sometimes have different agendas. Nevertheless, his neo-humanism has raised important questions about global economic power that need to be addressed in France and abroad. The contradictions inherent in the current globalization process, such as WTO agricultural policy, will insure more protests and mass movements as concerned citizens around the globe attempt to improve the human condition and control the global economic forces that we now confront.

1-1. I would like to thank the Research Council at Niagara University for awarding me a summer grant which facilitated the completion of this manuscript. Also, I must thank Denise and Maurice Aldon for their assistance with documentation for this project. Renée, my wife, read the manuscript and made valuable suggestions for which I am most grateful.

2-Quoted in Paul Ariès and Christian Terras, José Bové: La révolte d'un paysan (Villeurbanne: Editions Golias, 2000), 90.

3-Le Figaro, 26 Feb. 2001.

4-For a who's who of the leadership of the anti-globalization movement, see Capital, Jan. 2002, 40-46. The June 2000 issue of the American magazine Business Week listed Bové as one of the fifty rising stars in Europe (see Le Nouvel Observateur, 29 June - 5 July 2000, 54).

5-Naomi Klein, Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate (New York: Picador, 2002), 67.

6-José Bové, Le Monde n'est pas une marchandise: Des paysans contre la malbouffe (Paris: Editions La Decouverte & Syros, 2000).

7-See Ariès and Terras, 6-7.

8-Bové announced in the summer of 2003 that he would resign from his post as spokesperson of the Confédération paysanne in the spring of 2004.

9-For example, Divergence FM 93.9 radio interview with Bové, Montpellier, France 16 June 2003.

10-Le Monde, 6 Sept. 2003.

11-The Times (London), 1 July 2000.

12-See Midi Libre, 18-20 June 2002.

13-Ibid., 10 Sept. 2003.

14-See the monthly publication of Confédération paysanne: Campagnes solidaires, no. 150 (March 2001): XVI.

15-The Times (London), 1 July 2000.

16-Ariès and Terras, 33. The CNT, Confederación national del trabajo, was an anarchist organization during the Spanish Civil War.

17-Denis Pingaud, La Longue Marche de José Bové (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 2002), 21.

18-See Noël Mamère and Jean-François Narbonne, Toxiques Affaires: De la dioxine à la vache folle (Paris: Editions Ramsay, 2001); and Dominique Predali, Enquête sur les dessous de l'agroalimentaire (Paris: Editions du Dauphin, 2001.)

19-Ariès and Terras, 48.

20-See Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001), 4-6.

21. See Naomi Klein, No Logo, 2nd ed. (New York: Picador, 2002), 3-4.

22-Schlosser, 4.

23-Ibid., 22.

24-Ibid., see cover.

25-Ibid., 261.

26-According to Confédération paysanne, the number of people working in agriculture in France stood at 1,240,000 in 1980; 939,000 in 1990; and only 663,000 in 2000 (see Campagnes Solidaires, no. 173, (April 2003), III.

27-Ariès and Terras, 86-87.

28-See Pingaud, 165-69; Ariès and Terras, 83-87.

29-See, for example, Serge Cordellier and Sarah Netter, L'état de la France, 2003 (Paris: La Découverte, 2003), 241-42; also Le Monde, sélection hebdomadaire, 9 Aug. 2003.

30-This point was made, for example, by François Roux, Bové's high profile lawyer from Montpellier who has helped to keep the activist's name before the public (see Libération, 23 June 2003).

31-Le Monde, 29-30 June 2003.

32-Ibid., 24 June 2003.

33-Ibid., 29-30 June 2003. Roux told the press that 800,000 people had written to Chirac asking that the labor leader be pardoned: see Le Point, 27 June 2003, 50.

34-Le Monde, 28 June 2003.

35-Le Monde, 11-12 Aug. 2003.

36-See Le Figaro, 10 Aug. 2003.

37-See The Globe and Mail (Toronto), 17 April 2001.

38-See Pingaud, 216-27.

39-Le Monde, 5 July 2003.

40-See Viviane Forrester, L'Horreur économique (Paris: Fayard, 1996); and René Passet, Eloge du mondialisme par un «anti» présumé (Paris: Fayard, 2001).

41-The industrialized nations pay out $300 billion in subsidies to their farmers, which retards the development of agriculture in the Third World, where 70% of the population earn their livelihood from agriculture. See Le Monde, 7 Aug. 2003.

42-Le Nouvel Observateur, 29 June-5 July 2000, 55-57. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/w/wsfh/0642292.0031.020/--jose-bove-vs-mcdonalds-the-making-of-a-national-hero?rgn=main;view=fulltext.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. Please contact mpub-help@umich.edu to use this work in a way not covered by the license.
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Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.0642292.0031.020.
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This article is available full-text in HathiTrust.
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"Lutter, c'est le plaisir!"
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— José Bové[2].
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"Une seule chose qui bouge en France, c'est José Bové!"
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— Francis Fukuyama[3].
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What is globalization?
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His charisma stems in part from his interesting background and his appearance.
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As a young man he seemed imbued with pacifist, anti-militarist, and anarchist ideas.
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Later, in 1987, he co-founded the Confédération paysanne[8].
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This interesting and varied background explains, to some extent, his charisma.
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But part of his charisma, too, is his appearance.
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Bové has short hair and a long drooping moustache, much like Walesa himself.
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His novel and creative tactics also have won him many adherents.
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This was the image of Bové that appeared on the cover of his popular book.
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Other tactics, too, have aided his cause.
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Like Gandhi, Bové realized that time spent in jail would win him more followers.
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Our action was non-violent resistance by citizens .
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.
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.
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against American provocation"[15].
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His combination of direct non-violent civil disobedience and humor aided his rise in stature.
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Despite his Gandhi-like tactics, Bové proclaims that he is an anarcho-syndicalist.
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Bové once declared, "I am an anarcho-syndicalist.
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I am closer to Bakunin [the Russian anarchist] than Marx.
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France is a nation that is proud of its culinary tradition.
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Bové expressed many of these ideas himself in leading the attack on McDonald's in France.
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The twenty-first century will no doubt be dominated by a struggle to curtail corporate power"[25].
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According to Bové: The World Trade Organization can no longer function as before.
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Democracy between countries is a must.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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or ones on bio-diversity[27].
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At this rally, drawing on his knowledge of American history (i.e.
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the Boston Tea Party), he told the crowd that McDo's malbouffe must be "thrown into the sea."
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Subsequently, demonstrators broke the windows of the McDonald's near the site where he spoke[28].
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For Bové, the WTO is a Trojan horse working on behalf of international corporate power.
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In France, McDonald's is a key target for those opposed to WTO-style globalization.
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Coverage of Bové abroad only added to the star-like quality of this experienced activist.
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An obvious example already mentioned is McDonald's, the most recognized brand in the word.
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He has used also the Roquefort cheese produced in his region as a symbol.
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He has mastered the art of using symbols to communicate his message.
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It was also organized outside of the political parties[36].
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Larzac 2003 was a highly successful anti-government rally.
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Globalization, too, strips governments of their sovereign powers.
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1-1.
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3-Le Figaro, 26 Feb. 2001.
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7-See Ariès and Terras, 6-7.
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10-Le Monde, 6 Sept. 2003.
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11-The Times (London), 1 July 2000.
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12-See Midi Libre, 18-20 June 2002.
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13-Ibid., 10 Sept. 2003.
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150 (March 2001): XVI.
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15-The Times (London), 1 July 2000.
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16-Ariès and Terras, 33.
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19-Ariès and Terras, 48.
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21.
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See Naomi Klein, No Logo, 2nd ed.
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(New York: Picador, 2002), 3-4.
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22-Schlosser, 4.
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23-Ibid., 22.
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24-Ibid., see cover.
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25-Ibid., 261.
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173, (April 2003), III.
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27-Ariès and Terras, 86-87.
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28-See Pingaud, 165-69; Ariès and Terras, 83-87.
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31-Le Monde, 29-30 June 2003.
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32-Ibid., 24 June 2003.
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33-Ibid., 29-30 June 2003.
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34-Le Monde, 28 June 2003.
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35-Le Monde, 11-12 Aug. 2003.
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36-See Le Figaro, 10 Aug. 2003.
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37-See The Globe and Mail (Toronto), 17 April 2001.
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38-See Pingaud, 216-27.
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39-Le Monde, 5 July 2003.
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See Le Monde, 7 Aug. 2003.
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José Bové vs. McDonald's: The Making of a National Hero in the French Anti-Globalization Movement[1].

Wayne Northcutt, Niagara University, Journal of the Western Society for French History, Volume 31, 2003.

Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.0642292.0031.020.

This article is available full-text in HathiTrust.

"Lutter, c'est le plaisir!"
— José Bové[2].

"Une seule chose qui bouge en France, c'est José Bové!"
— Francis Fukuyama[3].

José Bové, a sheep farmer/activist in Aveyron in the Midi-Pyrénées region of France, is a modern day Astérix, a mythical Gaul who drubbed foreign intruders centuries ago. In Bové's case, the intruder was McDonald's, the American fast food chain (referred to in a satirical way by Bové and his supporters as "McDo"). On 12 August 1999 Bové and his confrères from the Confédération paysanne, the second largest farmers' union in France, "dismantled" a McDonald's under construction in Millau, a town of approximately 20,000 inhabitants on the wind swept Larzac plateau. Earlier in January 1988 he and his comrades destroyed genetically modified maize in a grain silo in Nérac in the department of Lot-et-Garonne. While he received an eight month suspended sentence for the Nérac incident, the action in Millau brought Bové, the spokesperson for the Confédération paysanne, several weeks in jail but also national and international publicity. At his trial, an estimated 40,000 people from France and around the world showed up to support Bové and his cause[4].

What triggered Bové's attack on McDonald's in Millau was a dispute between the United States and its World Trade Organization (WTO) supporters on one side and Europe on the other. When the WTO backed the right of the U.S. to export hormone induced beef to Europe and the Europeans resisted, the U.S. imposed heavy duties on certain luxury products as a retaliatory measure. One of the items targeted by the U.S. was Roquefort cheese - the same cheese that Bové produced on his sheep farm. According to the Canadian journalist and activist Naomi Klein, Bové's actions in Millau represented an attack "against an agricultural model that sees food purely as an industrial commodity rather than the centerpiece of national culture and family life"[5]. Bové's counter-attack made him not only a hero in France, but one of the "celebrities" at the massive Seattle, Washington, protest in December 1999, which saw more than 50,000 people demonstrating against the WTO.

The year following the dismantling of McDonald's and the Seattle protest, Bové published a best selling book, Le Monde n'est pas une marchandise,[6] that discussed his altermondialiste views. Since the McDonald's incident Bové has become a national hero in France and leader of the French anti-globalization movement due to several factors: 1) he is charismatic, articulate, and utilizes novel and creative tactics; 2) he taps into national concerns about the quality of the food supply in France; 3) he challenges a threat to French cultural identity; 4) he speaks out against U.S.-led multinational and WTO trade policies; 5) he is an interesting personality for the media, not just in France, but around the world and especially in English-speaking countries; 6) he employs powerful symbols; and 7) the government's commando style arrest of Bové in June 2003 only strengthened his reputation as an important altermondialiste. An examination of these factors will reveal how a contemporary David took on several international Goliaths and transformed himself into a key spokesperson for the anti-globalization movement both inside and outside of France.

Before examining the reasons for Bové's meteoric rise, we must first consider the term "globalization" and its meaning. What is globalization? Is it a reference to a new age of easy access to information, facilitated by fax machines, cell phones, computers and the Internet, paving the way for a revolution in production, communication, and trade? Or is globalization something more, an extension of capitalist relations throughout the world made possible by the technological revolution that we are now witnessing? In this regard, does globalization represent neo-liberal economic policies and a new age of imperialism? For Bové, globalization means an extension of capitalist relations, with both positive and negative aspects. Bové is an important personality because he has raised significant questions about the process of globalization, especially the production of food and WTO trade policy.

Bové's charisma, articulate manner, and creative and novel tactics are an important part of his popularity and success in the anti-globalization movement. His charisma stems in part from his interesting background and his appearance. Although Bové was born in Bordeaux in 1953, he spent the early years of his life, 1956-1959, in Berkeley, California, where his parents were researchers in biochemistry at the University of California. Ironically, his parents later went on to become researchers at the Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA). His father, originally from Luxembourg, even became regional director of INRA and a member of the Académie des Sciences. José Bové began his schooling in California and claims he learned to speak English before French. When the Bové family returned to France, the young José attended a bilingual primary school on the Avenue de la Bourdonnais in Paris. Later in life, he participated in several Parisian anti-war demonstrations aimed against American involvement in Vietnam. As a young man he seemed imbued with pacifist, anti-militarist, and anarchist ideas. He began his university studies at the University of Toulouse hoping to teach philosophy. He endured university life for only one year, dropping out and becoming involved in the ecology movement and left-wing politics[7].

In the early 1970s, after visiting Larzac by chance with his companion Alice Monier and witnessing the first large scale demonstration in an area that has now become a symbol of protest and resistance, this budding activist knew where he wanted to live. He moved to the department of Aveyron and began his life as a sheep farmer, settling in a small hamlet with just a few families. At this point he became involved in protesting the government's plan to create a large military base in Larzac. Later, in 1987, he co-founded the Confédération paysanne[8]. Bové's activism was international even before 1999, the year that catapulted him into the global spotlight. In 1995, for example, he participated in Greenpeace efforts to stop French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, testing re-launched by the newly elected Gaullist president Jacques Chirac.

This interesting and varied background explains, to some extent, his charisma. But part of his charisma, too, is his appearance. He dresses in simple clothes, the clothes of a farmer, and looks like the French version of Lech Walesa, the Polish labor leader who challenged the Soviet government in the 1980s. Bové has short hair and a long drooping moustache, much like Walesa himself. Moreover, Bové's ever-present pipe suggests that he is a calm, thoughtful person, a key ingredient of his charisma.

The new French Astérix is known also for his articulate manner, both in French and in English, which has contributed to his success as an activist. One of the words which he coined and uses with great frequency is "malbouffe" (junk food). His book, Le Monde n'est pas une marchandise and his public statements also reveal a man who expresses himself easily and directly[9]. His verbal directness and ability to counter arguments supporting the WTO, the food supply, genetic modification, and other issues helped to make him a spokesperson for many in France who worry about the impact of globalization on their country. Recently, he even debated Alain Madelin, Minister of Finance and the Economy in 1995 and now head of the Démocratie libérale party, part of Chirac's Union pour la majorité présidentielle (UMP), on French television[10]. The image of an articulate sheep farmer confronting the issue of globalization and its corporate sponsors has helped to galvanize French opinion behind this activist.

His novel and creative tactics also have won him many adherents. On the day of his trial in Millau, for instance, he arrived in an oxcart with a large wheel of Roquefort cheese aloft. He shouted to the crowd, "We shall overcome - save our Roquefort and down with junk food"[11]. Then when he emerged from the courthouse following his trial, fully handcuffed, he raised his hands above his head showing the crowd his handcuffs and beaming a large, defiant smile. This was the image of Bové that appeared on the cover of his popular book. Other tactics, too, have aided his cause. For instance, on 19 June 2002 he reported to prison at Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone near Montpellier in an unusual way. He and a group from Confédération paysanne drove a cortege of tractors from his hamlet in Aveyron to the prison, a six hour trek by tractor. A sign on the back of the labor leader's tractor read: "Chirac en prison, Bové a la maison." The drive to prison was a media event[12] and newspapers and the electronic media showed Bové on his tractor with his sign, an image that captured the sentiments of many critical of Chirac and the WTO. Another creative strategy came after his release from prison in August 2003, an incarceration for destroying GM (genetically modified) crops near Montpellier. When the court refused due to parole related conditions to give him permission to travel to Cancun in early September of this year to protest the agricultural policy of the WTO, Bové announced that he would organize a demonstration in France in a small village with a name that sounded very similar to "Cancun" - Cancon in the Lot-et-Garonne. The Midi Libre, one of the key newspapers read in the Midi-Pyrénées and the Languedoc regions, published a photograph of Bové standing before the entrance to Cancon next to the sign with the name of the village[13]. Bové's ability to devise media-catching tactics that often embody humor if not biting satire have greatly aided his visibility in and outside of France.

With respect to tactics, Bové sees himself as a French Gandhi, using non-violent civil disobedience to call attention to injustices. Like Gandhi, Bové realized that time spent in jail would win him more followers. For instance, the year of his trial for dismantling McDonald's, Bové declared to the press, "If prison must be the consequences of action, it will be more difficult for those with economic and financial power than for those who must go to jail"[14]. At his trial in Millau, he quoted Gandhi directly, proclaiming that "Gandhi dismantled a British installation in the cause of peaceful resistance to British rule in India. Our action was non-violent resistance by citizens . . . against American provocation"[15]. His combination of direct non-violent civil disobedience and humor aided his rise in stature. But unlike Gandhi, Bové has something at his disposal that he has used to his advantage - the Internet. His organization, the Confédération paysanne, has its own sophisticated web site that helps to keep Internet users informed about the organization and protests scheduled against the WTO, artificial food, genetic modification, and other relevant issues.

Despite his Gandhi-like tactics, Bové proclaims that he is an anarcho-syndicalist. Bové once declared, "I am an anarcho-syndicalist. I am closer to Bakunin [the Russian anarchist] than Marx. My references are the Federation of Jaurès in the First International in the last century and the Spanish CNT of 1936"[16]. While he has professed a willingness to use violence, especially against companies or corporations, this violence is not aimed specifically against individuals. According to his French biographer, Denis Pingaud, Bové is ideologically closer to Ralph Nader than Arlette Laguiller, the Trotskyite leader of the Lutte ouvrière party[17] .Thus, his unique tactics as well as his charisma and articulate manner have contributed to transforming a sheep farmer into a folk hero in France, the Daniel Cohn-Bendit of the new millennium.

One of the main reasons for Bové's success is that he tapped into deep fears concerning the safety of the food supply in France and on the continent. These fears have grown over the years and culminated with serious concerns in the European Community as a result of dioxin found in chicken, the recall of thousands of cases of Coca-Cola, mad cow disease, and hoof and mouth disease[18]. In attacking McDonald's in Millau, Bové focused attention on the food supply, raising concerns about hormone induced beef used by McDonald's, artificial food, and genetically modified crops like corn. For example, according to Bové: "The greatest danger that genetically modified corn represents as well as other GM crops resides in the impossibility of evaluating the long term consequences and following the effects on the environment, animals, and humans"[19]. Referring to McDonald's food as malbouffe, he warned the French that they must control what they eat and not simply permit a U.S.-led multinational corporation to dictate how or what a nation consumes.

Another reason for his success is that he identified and challenged a threat to French cultural identity. France is a nation that is proud of its culinary tradition. Yet today in France there are more than 750 McDonald's, a company that has led the fast food charge in the U.S., France, and around the world. Shockingly, in Paris, once considered the culinary capital of the world, one out of four restaurants is now a fast food establishment! Bové understood the way that McDonald's penetrated France and its consequences and realized that "McDomination" would continue unless protests emerged.

Today, McDonald's has approximately 28,000 restaurants worldwide and opens about 2,000 new restaurants each year. McDonald's success rests on two pillars - the company produces inexpensive food even though it may be artificial, and it produces standardized food around the world, leading consumers to think that they know what they order regardless of the locale[20]. Uniformity in food consumption and cheap meals often desired by people with little time or inclination to cook at home worry many in France who are proud of their nation's culinary tradition. Moreover, the rise of fast food restaurants makes it difficult for aspiring restaurateurs to open an establishment and make it successful. The cheap burger, fries, and play land at McDonald's attract customers who in earlier times preferred a true restaurant experience. Food is central to French cultural identity, yet what people consume and how they consume it are changing due to fast food establishments like McDonald's and the "branding" (the selling of brands rather than products) that is so much a part of the strategy of multinational companies in the consumer culture[21].

Bové's success, too, is due to the fact that he, like David against Goliath, stood up to a U.S.-led multinational corporation, not to mention the WTO. McDonald's is a huge corporation, as attested to by the worldwide number of establishments noted above and also by its economic clout in the nation where it originated, the U.S. In the United States McDonald's hires one million people, more than any other public or private corporation. It is the largest purchaser of beef, pork, and potatoes and the second largest purchaser of chicken. Furthermore, the McDonald's corporation is, surprisingly, the largest owner of retail property in the world, earning a majority of its profits not from selling food but from collecting rents. It spends more money on advertising and marketing than any other brand, replacing Coca-Cola as the world's most recognized brand[22].

According to Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, McDonald's and the fast food phenomenon launched what we now know as globalization, getting an early start on the phenomenon that is now upon us[23]. Schlosser charges that "the fast food industry has triggered the homogeneity of our [American] society. Fast food has hastened the malling of our landscape, widening the chasm between the rich and the poor, fueled an epidemic of obesity, and propelled the juggernaut of American cultural imperialism abroad"[24]. Bové expressed many of these ideas himself in leading the attack on McDonald's in France. Moreover, since the French Revolution, challenging centralized authority, whether it be national or international, has been an important part of the French political tradition.

In challenging a large U.S.-dominated multinational, Bové tapped into French fears about the consequences of corporate mergers, acquisitions, and downsizing. There is a genuine concern in France and elsewhere that the battle of the twenty-first century may not be conflict among nations, or even international terrorism, but controlling the power of corporations. According to one author, "The history of the twentieth century was dominated by the struggle against totalitarian systems of state power. The twenty-first century will no doubt be dominated by a struggle to curtail corporate power"[25]. In France over the past few decades there has been a spate of privatizations and acquisitions despite the fact that the French are accustomed to a state that owns large sectors of the economy. The former socialist government of Lionel Jospin (1997-2002) sold off more state-owned assets than the five previous governments combined. Corporate power worries the French, and Bové's attack on a key symbol of international corporate power resonated well in France because the economic landscape is quickly changing and creating economic insecurities for French citizens, including farmers[26].

In challenging McDonald's, Bové also challenged the power of the World Trade Organization and fueled the fires in France against globalization carried out under the authority of the WTO. For Bové, the WTO is simply an expression of corporate power, an organization designed to benefit corporations and not necessarily citizens of the world. According to Bové:

The World Trade Organization can no longer function as before. This organization is going to be obliged to reconstruct its legitimacy, becoming a democratic institution. Democracy between countries is a must. When we look at the treatment inflicted on countries in the Southern hemisphere we can easily see that all countries are not treated equally. . . . [Also necessary] is the creation of an International Court, a permanent organization to verify if the rules of the World Trade Organization conform with all of the charters, notably the United Nations'. . . or ones on bio-diversity[27].

Interestingly enough, Ralph Nader's organization invited Bové to attend the protest against the World Trade Organization in Seattle. Bové accepted the invitation and smuggled into the U.S. a large piece of Roquefort cheese and displayed it at a rally where he spoke, in front of a McDonald's of course. At this rally, drawing on his knowledge of American history (i.e. the Boston Tea Party), he told the crowd that McDo's malbouffe must be "thrown into the sea." Subsequently, demonstrators broke the windows of the McDonald's near the site where he spoke[28]. For Bové, the WTO is a Trojan horse working on behalf of international corporate power.

In France, McDonald's is a key target for those opposed to WTO-style globalization. While polls show that a majority of French believe that globalization boosts growth, many worry that it also threatens their identity and may lead to greater inequalities. Fifteen years ago foreign ownership of French firms stood at only ten percent; today, however, more than forty percent of the shares on the French Bourse are foreign owned, nearly forty-four percent of the CAC 40 is foreign owned, and thirty-six percent of state bonds are owned by non-residents[29].

Another ingredient that explains Bové's rise as a national hero is that he is an interesting personality who caught the attention of the media. He makes for good television and good photojournalism, especially given his background and appearance. An articulate sheep farmer using Gandhi and Martin Luther King-like tactics to challenge the power of McDonald's, the WTO, and genetic modification conjured up a powerful image for the media. Moreover, his ability to speak English made him and his movement accessible to the English-language press, often a twenty-four-hour-a-day press constantly seeking news stories. During his trial in Millau he appeared on the cover of the Washington Post, and CNN even rented an apartment near the courthouse in Millau to cover his court appearance. Coverage of Bové abroad only added to the star-like quality of this experienced activist. The image of a sheep farmer taking on an American-led international corporate power and doing it with great pizzazz, followed by the publication of his book which sold more than 100,000 copies, insured Bové folk hero status, especially since he led a movement with anti-American overtones. The fear that an American corporation was dictating French tastes in food and that the World Trade Organization favored the U.S. at the expense of Europe and the rest of the world played well in the French electronic and print media.

He has caught the attention of the media, too, because he has employed powerful symbols in his protests. An obvious example already mentioned is McDonald's, the most recognized brand in the word. Utilizing McDonald's as a target provided Bové with access to a vast economic system, namely global corporate capitalism. Bové also has cultivated the symbol of the small farmer from la France profonde to promote his cause. For many, la France profonde is still an idyllic place that represents the "good old days" of a France now confronting numerous challenges on both the domestic and international fronts. This activist with a global focus knows, too, that sixty percent of the word's population works in agriculture. Thus, the symbol of the small farmer confronting agribusiness corporations became a key symbol of the resistance to globalization. He has used also the Roquefort cheese produced in his region as a symbol. As previously mentioned, he "cheesed it up," so to speak, at his Millau trial and at the protest in Seattle. Another powerful symbol he has employed is Larzac itself, a longtime symbol of protest that dates back to the early 1970s. Bové's original motivation for moving to Larzac sprang from the budding protest movement he found in southern Aveyron in the early 1970s. He has mastered the art of using symbols to communicate his message.

A last factor that explains Bové's rise in popularity is the Chirac regime itself, especially the commando-like raid of the activist's residence on 22 June 2003 at six o'clock on a Sunday morning when a helicopter swooped down on his hamlet and dozens of police surrounded his home. After the police broke through the door of his house, he was arrested without a struggle and flown by helicopter to the Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone prison near the capitol of Languedoc to serve a ten month prison term for destroying genetically modified corn. The police raid was videotaped by a neighbor and shown numerous times on French television. To many, it looked like an excessive use of force against a labor leader who had not acted violently against any individual[30]. The left, including the socialist (PS) and communist (PCF) parties, quickly condemned the Chirac government for such use of force and the Confédération paysanne called for demonstrations at the prison and throughout France. Bové himself charged in an interview with Le Monde that the government had "a will to criminalize the labor movement." Bové then told the newspaper's readers, "The message is clear, public order rather than justice"[31]. An editorial in Le Monde called Bové's arrest "a stupidity" and insisted that his incarceration would turn the labor leader into a martyr[32]. According to Le Monde, sixty percent of the French favored Bové's release[33]. Furthermore, more than forty researchers at CIRAD (Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement), INRA, and IRD (Institut de recherche pour le développement) wrote an open letter to the president of the Republic, which protested Bové's arrest and which Le Monde published in part. These researchers stressed that the scientific community was divided on the question of GM crops[34]. Although Chirac would later reduce his sentence by four and a half months as part of the 2003 Bastille day clemency program, and the court in Montpellier on 2 August 2003 agreed to release Bové and let him serve out his sentence by working in the gardens of the Larzac Hospital in Millau, the military-style arrest helped to canonize this high profile activist in the eyes of many in France, especially on the left.

One measure of Bové's popularity in France was seen at "Larzac 2003," a protest rally in early August planned by the Confédération Paysanne and other organizations to prepare the French for the Cancun meeting of the WTO. Since Bové was released from jail just days before the rally, he was the main attraction. In the deadly heat of August, nearly 300,000 people showed up to participate, a number that surprised even Bové and his organization[35]. What is more amazing is that this rally was done without the full scale participation of the unions, especially the Confédération générale du travail (CGT), Force ouvrière (FO), or Confédération française démocratique du travail (CFDT). It was also organized outside of the political parties[36]. Of course, Bové benefited from a convergence of forces at Larzac 2003, namely WTO protesters as well as the social protest movements that began building in France in the spring due to the government's plans to harmonize public and private retirement, decentralize the education system, and change the rules for temporary workers in the entertainment industry. Larzac 2003 was a highly successful anti-government rally.

In conclusion, while most would agree that globalization is an irreversible trend, critics like Bové call attention to the problems that must be addressed. For instance, Bové and others claim that globalization reduces standards. Corporations that can operate anywhere in the world often seek places with the lowest environmental standards and weakest labor laws. Thus, governments often compete to entice investors with ever weakening standards. Consequently, globalization may have a negative impact on the environment and may impoverish workers. Globalization, too, strips governments of their sovereign powers. For the critics, all of this means that globalization paves the way for global capitalism[37]. Moreover, Bové insists that the WTO is not a democratic organization since members of this body are not elected but appointed, and the organization conducts its business in secrecy. According to Bové, the WTO favors the rich nations at the expense of the poor ones[38].

Moreover, those supporting free trade often argue that the trickle down effects from deregulation are positive, such as reductions in poverty. The experience of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Association between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, suggests that there is a poor record for the labor and environmental side of the agreement. Poverty, too, has not been reduced in a country like Mexico, where fifty-three million of the one hundred million inhabitants of the nation live in poverty. Since 1994, the beginning of NAFTA, 1.7 million Mexican workers in the agricultural sector have lost their jobs, and there has been an increased concentration of wealth, with the richest ten percent of Mexicans garnering forty-six percent of the total income[39]. It is clear that globalization needs to be monitored and the rights of citizens protected against the greed sometimes associated with global corporate power.

In France, an interesting organization has emerged that is dedicated to combating globalization and liberalization, at least the negative aspects of these trends. The organization is called ATTAC - Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens. ATTAC was inspired by Viviane Forrester's L'Horreur économique, first published in 1996, a book that became a best seller and was translated into numerous languages. ATTAC, which has several thousand members, calls for a tax on the flow of international capital, to be used to help poor countries[40]. Bové supports ATTAC as a way of restoring ethics and democracy to corporations.

While Bové is not completely opposed to globalization, he maintains that it must be policed to prevent corporations and shareholders addicted to profits from reducing life to mere commodities and the "logic" of market exchange. Although Bové began his protest by attacking McDonald's and genetic modification of food, he has inspired many critics to speak out against what he sees as an undemocratic globalization process. To some small degree he contributed to the moral victory of the G 21 (a grouping of poor nations that included Brazil and China) at the September 2003 meeting of the WTO, where poor nations and the rich northern hemisphere failed to agree on such matters as agricultural subsidies paid to farmers in developed nations, which stifle agriculture in the Third World[41]. What Bové undoubtedly hopes for is to give a human face to globalization to protect citizens' rights and national sovereignty. This sheep farmer from Aveyron has inspired an international protest movement that will surely continue to demand protection for human rights, including the right to control the supply and safety of one's food.

Bové and the phenomenon that he represents are products of factors that are internal and external to France. Like a Gandhi or a Martin Luther King, he has the charisma and the skills to lead a protest movement that has taken on international dimensions. Bové and the anti-globalization movement that he represents - perhaps a new "International" according to Le Nouvel Observateur[42] - show us that activism is still very much alive in the western world and that unbridled capitalism is not necessarily the end of ideology. Bové has not only succeeded in uniting le milieu populaire, including farmers and intellectuals; he has also raised significant questions about the functioning of multinationals, the WTO, and the safety of the food supply, especially genetically modified crops. In France, Bové represents a post-soixante-huitard phenomenon and perhaps the rise of a new, new left. Bové's next challenge will be to shift the discussion from the negativism implied by the anti-globalization movement to a specific debate about democracy in France and elsewhere, convincing others that "another world is possible," a theme now used by the Confédération paysanne. While he has helped to create what some are calling "the movement of movements," this is a fragmented group of dissidents who sometimes have different agendas. Nevertheless, his neo-humanism has raised important questions about global economic power that need to be addressed in France and abroad. The contradictions inherent in the current globalization process, such as WTO agricultural policy, will insure more protests and mass movements as concerned citizens around the globe attempt to improve the human condition and control the global economic forces that we now confront.

1-1. I would like to thank the Research Council at Niagara University for awarding me a summer grant which facilitated the completion of this manuscript. Also, I must thank Denise and Maurice Aldon for their assistance with documentation for this project. Renée, my wife, read the manuscript and made valuable suggestions for which I am most grateful.

2-Quoted in Paul Ariès and Christian Terras, José Bové: La révolte d'un paysan (Villeurbanne: Editions Golias, 2000), 90.

3-Le Figaro, 26 Feb. 2001.

4-For a who's who of the leadership of the anti-globalization movement, see Capital, Jan. 2002, 40-46. The June 2000 issue of the American magazine Business Week listed Bové as one of the fifty rising stars in Europe (see Le Nouvel Observateur, 29 June - 5 July 2000, 54).

5-Naomi Klein, Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate (New York: Picador, 2002), 67.

6-José Bové, Le Monde n'est pas une marchandise: Des paysans contre la malbouffe (Paris: Editions La Decouverte & Syros, 2000).

7-See Ariès and Terras, 6-7.

8-Bové announced in the summer of 2003 that he would resign from his post as spokesperson of the Confédération paysanne in the spring of 2004.

9-For example, Divergence FM 93.9 radio interview with Bové, Montpellier, France 16 June 2003.

10-Le Monde, 6 Sept. 2003.

11-The Times (London), 1 July 2000.

12-See Midi Libre, 18-20 June 2002.

13-Ibid., 10 Sept. 2003.

14-See the monthly publication of Confédération paysanne: Campagnes solidaires, no. 150 (March 2001): XVI.

15-The Times (London), 1 July 2000.

16-Ariès and Terras, 33. The CNT, Confederación national del trabajo, was an anarchist organization during the Spanish Civil War.

17-Denis Pingaud, La Longue Marche de José Bové (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 2002), 21.

18-See Noël Mamère and Jean-François Narbonne, Toxiques Affaires: De la dioxine à la vache folle (Paris: Editions Ramsay, 2001); and Dominique Predali, Enquête sur les dessous de l'agroalimentaire (Paris: Editions du Dauphin, 2001.)

19-Ariès and Terras, 48.

20-See Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001), 4-6.

21. See Naomi Klein, No Logo, 2nd ed. (New York: Picador, 2002), 3-4.

22-Schlosser, 4.

23-Ibid., 22.

24-Ibid., see cover.

25-Ibid., 261.

26-According to Confédération paysanne, the number of people working in agriculture in France stood at 1,240,000 in 1980; 939,000 in 1990; and only 663,000 in 2000 (see Campagnes Solidaires, no. 173, (April 2003), III.

27-Ariès and Terras, 86-87.

28-See Pingaud, 165-69; Ariès and Terras, 83-87.

29-See, for example, Serge Cordellier and Sarah Netter, L'état de la France, 2003 (Paris: La Découverte, 2003), 241-42; also Le Monde, sélection hebdomadaire, 9 Aug. 2003.

30-This point was made, for example, by François Roux, Bové's high profile lawyer from Montpellier who has helped to keep the activist's name before the public (see Libération, 23 June 2003).

31-Le Monde, 29-30 June 2003.

32-Ibid., 24 June 2003.

33-Ibid., 29-30 June 2003. Roux told the press that 800,000 people had written to Chirac asking that the labor leader be pardoned: see Le Point, 27 June 2003, 50.

34-Le Monde, 28 June 2003.

35-Le Monde, 11-12 Aug. 2003.

36-See Le Figaro, 10 Aug. 2003.

37-See The Globe and Mail (Toronto), 17 April 2001.

38-See Pingaud, 216-27.

39-Le Monde, 5 July 2003.

40-See Viviane Forrester, L'Horreur économique (Paris: Fayard, 1996); and René Passet, Eloge du mondialisme par un «anti» présumé (Paris: Fayard, 2001).

41-The industrialized nations pay out $300 billion in subsidies to their farmers, which retards the development of agriculture in the Third World, where 70% of the population earn their livelihood from agriculture. See Le Monde, 7 Aug. 2003.

42-Le Nouvel Observateur, 29 June-5 July 2000, 55-57.

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