I made the t-shirt
Maximize Profits, Minimize Democracy..."
an essay! I love to read!]
would you feel if your government gave all of the precious water
in your country (even that which falls from the sky) to a private
corporation that was then allowed to sell it back to the people
at whatever price they wanted? It happened in Bolivia
thanks to the "free trade" ideology behind corporate
World Trade Organization (WTO) is an unelected group (dominated
by elites from rich western countries like the US) that exerts substantial
control over the world's economies--both those that have signed
on to its treaties and those who haven't. More importantly, the
WTO has immense and undue control over the world and national governments.
Countries, especially Third World countries suffering under perpetual
crushing debt, are under enormous pressure to be a part of the WTO.
Countries who have signed onto the various world trade treaties
must abide by rulings of the WTO's tribunal when it comes to trade.
WTO has the power to designate legislation in any country that is
a member of the WTO as a "trade barrier". A trade barrier
is essentially anything that prevents a corporation from making
a profit, regardless of any other factor such as national, social,
labor or environmental interests. If a country does not remove trade
barriers--that is get rid of pesky environmental or labor protections
for example--then that country can be sued for billions of dollars
by the corporation whose profits are being blocked by them. So,
laws that were democratically institued in sovereign countries have
to answer to a higher power now: the WTO. That pretty much does
away with national sovereignty.
Tribunal has ruled many times concerning "trade barriers"
and every time it has ruled against public interests and in favor
of private profits. Tax payers in sovereign countries have not only
been stripped of hard fought public interest protections by an unelected
body, they've had to pay billions of dollars in penalties to foreign
corporations (although modern corporations are mostly transnational
these days; that is they behave as independent entities similar
to countries by virtue of the fact that they have assets and operations
in many different countries). Sounds pretty democratic, eh?
Canadians who paid billions of dollars to the manufacturer of MTBE,
a gasoline additive that causes cancer, because they had banned
the product in Canada in an effort to protect the Canadian public's
health. The Canadian government got rid of the law banning MTBE
after paying its manufacturer the penalty awarded by the WTO Tribunal.
is so much to cover on the topic of globalization. I cannot adequately
discuss it all here right now. Although I will add to this essay
in the future. One important thing that I will say, is that the
corporate media and other proponents of the WTO have
made it hard to understand the issues surrounding the opposition
to corporate dominated globalization by repeatedly
misinforming and under-informing the world public.
It is an unfortunate fact that those opposing the WTO and its agenda
have been labelled as "anti-globalization".
is an inevitable process that will continue to happen regardless
of whether anyone wants it to. It is the process of opening communication
and sharing culture as well as commerce betweeen all the peoples
on earth. The WTO and its corporate ilk have attempted to take control
of the process of globalization to the detriment of people everywhere.
They would have globalization be a one-way system of removing wealth
and natural resources from the majority of the world (the global
South) and giving it to corporations owned primarily by stock holders
living in the global North. They would have globalization be just
another face of the imperialism and colonialism that has gone on
for centuries robbing Africans, Indians, Asians, Latin and Central Americans, and so many others
of their land, resources and freedom of self determination. This
brand of globalization is unfair and undemocratic.
those opposing it have been labelled "anti-globalization",
this is misleading. In reality, for the most part, they do not oppose
the idea of globalization itself. But, they favor a more just and
equitable globalization that affords rights and meaningful representation to all peoples ,
if not direct participation, in the process. They are against globalization
or BUY this Shirt
many sources of more in depth information about globalization, the
WTO, and other aspects of world trade. Here are some good ones:
for Global Justice - Non-violent
activist group helping to organize protests against the World
Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC in April
- This is What Democracy Looks Like
- A must see documentary about the ground breaking protests against
the WTO that happened in Seattle in 1999. Get the film here WWW.THISISDEMOCRACY.ORG
- The Corporation
- An encyclopedic documentary for globalization beginners and
verterans alike. Gives both sides of the story, as well as stunning
testimony by the CEO of the world's largest carpet manufacturer
who is also a born again environmentalist. WWW.THECORPORATION.COM
- Trading Democracy
Moyers PBS special about the gritty details of Chapter 11 of the
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Excellent tool for
exposing the anti-democratic nature of so called "free trade"
and corporate driven globalization. http://www.pbs.org/now/politics/tradingdemocracy.html
- The Miami Model
about the 2003 Free Trade Area of the Americas protests in Miami.
Thousands of union members, environmentalists, feminists, anarchists,
students, farm workers, media activists, and human rights activists
who gathered in Miami to struggle against the FTAA were brutally
attacked with rubber bullets, pepper spray, electric guns and
shock batons, embedded reporters and information warfare, all
coordinated by the new United States Department of Homeland Security
- The Yes Men
- Movie about some activist pranksters who infiltrate international
business events posing as World Trade Organization officials.
Their bizarre presentations at these events use satire to decode
the euphemistic happy talk of "free trade" proponents
to reveal just how absurd many polices of the WTO are. To the
emposters' disbelief, their audiences (including news media!)
actually fall for their pranks. WWW.THEYESMEN.ORG
- DEBTWEEK.ORG - grassroots coalition dedicated to to compeling governments and international financial institutions to cancel and/or repudiate illegitimate debt in poverty stricken nations.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have trapped many countries in debt and wreaked havoc on the environment by sponsoring major dams and other destructive
- Indymedia - The
Independent Media Center is a global network of independent media
organizations and websites specializing in reporting from the
streets during protests like the 1999 Seatle protests against
the WTO where Indymedia was born, and in grassroots reporting
on all things from the perspective of individuals and communities
whose views are not represented in the mainstream media. You can
report the news immediately and without initial review on the
nearly 200 Indymedia websites. WWW.INDYMEDIA.ORG
- Z Magazine and Z Net - Exceptional
sources of information on all radical and progressive issues as
well as issues faced by the entire world such as war. WWW.ZMAG.ORG
- Multinational Monitor - Indepth
reporting on corporations and corporate crime, etc. WWW.MULTINATIONALMONITOR.ORG
- Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy - this
org deals with farming and biotechnology, organics, environmental
concerns, etc. WWW.IATP.ORG
- Public Citizen's
Global Trade Watch promotes
democracy by challenging corporate globalization, arguing that
the current globalization model is neither a random inevitability
nor free trade.
- Green Peace - One
of the biggest, most influential environmental activism organizations
in the world WWW.GREENPEACEUSA.ORG
- CorpWatch - WWW.CORPWATCH.ORG
- Peoples Global Action - http://www.nadir.org/nadir/initiativ/agp/en/index.html
- Global Exchange - www.globalexchange.org
Center of the Americas WWW.AMERICAS.ORG/GLOBALIZATION
many more organizations and websites that deal with globalization.
Please scour the web for more and find them on the ground in your
communities as well.