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Alter-globalization is considered distinct from the more widely-used word 'anti-globalization', which is thought to be pejorative by members of the movement. The name may be taken as coming from the popular slogan of this movement: 'Another world is possible', coming from the World Social Forum.
This movement objects to what it deems as neo-liberal globalization. The movement mainly opposes the way it believes that international institutions (such as the WTO, the IMF, and the World Bank) work towards First World economic interests. This is not to be confused with proletarian internationalism as put forth by communists in that their criticism of First world economic interests is not necessarily a repugnance with the free market.
Originally developed in French as altermondialisme, it has been borrowed into English in the form of altermondialism or altermondialization. It defines the stance of movements opposed to a neoliberal globalization, but favorable to a globalization respectful of human rights, the environment, national sovereignty, and cultural diversity. Following the French usage of the word altermondialist, the English counterpart alter-globalist may be coined.
The term alter-globalization is derived from the term anti-globalization, which journalists and others used to describe the movement. Many French journalists, in particular, have since ceased using the term anti-globalization in favor of alter-globalization. It is supposed to distinguish proponents of alter-globalization from different "anti-globalization" activists (those who are against any kind of globalization: nationalists, protectionists, communitarians, etc.).
Also criticised is the liberalisation of international financial flow, which, according to the alter-globalisationists, has resulted in the destabilisation of local economies and disastrous humanitarian consequences, for example, the Argentine economic crisis (1999–2002) and the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997.