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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

The Anti- Globalisation Movement and its Discontents: the Real Issues for Organisations

The unconscious fantasies projected onto the increasingly vocal and violent anti-globalisation protest have far- reaching implications for global organisations. A group analytical approach can be applied to understand the unconscious dynamics operating in the discourse around globalisation, and the challenges faced by global organisations as they struggle to contend with the non-rational forces from without and from within. Globalisation as a symbolic construct is explored also in terms of its function as a receptacle for projected utopian, or messianic fantasies (in Bions use of the term). Implications pertaining to power, identity and politics are explored from the vantage point of the groups that are at the core of the debate and protest over globalisation, including the anti-globalisation protesters, global corporations as organisational and symbolic entities, their leaders, their employees, and the general consumer population. The anti-globalisation protest increasingly permeates public discourse and the cultural imagination, and global organisations are faced with paradoxical demands of managing their symbolic expression (their brand and public image) and their use of power in face of a revolt against power. As the anti- globalisation message intensifies, so does the omnipotence that is projected onto global organisations, while these organisations themselves are feeling increasingly vulnerable. Their leaders must deal with questions of power and leadership that are being continuously redefined on moral, ideological and political grounds. Employees of these organisations, as well as the consumers of their products, appear virtually silent in the unfolding drama. Nevertheless, they find themselves in the midst of a conflict that touches on deep- seated anxieties that are expressed through a variety of symptoms and re-enactments that are described in this paper.'