As this brilliant analysis by Deborah James makes clear, the decade of popular efforts since Seattle have failed to radically reform much less stop the lethal energy of the World Trade Organization from grinding on.
Back in the day, the demand on the streets was “shut it down” and, for a significant time, the so-called anti-globalization movement succeeded in stopping the momentum of this profoundly undemocratic organization which continues trying to impose its neo-liberal agenda of rolling back anything resembling a New Deal for the global economy. In the course of struggle, certain of neo-liberalism’s projects have fallen by the wayside, for example, the Free Trade Area of the Americas which was to be headquartered in Miami. But while the forms change, neo-liberalism does not die and cannot be reformed, not so far.
Movements like Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS) are engaging in a prolonged, multi-layered battle against the WTO, often to simply prevent things from becoming worse. In the process, an organic and organizational solidarity has grown through the many connections made in continual battles. The phenomenon we call global civic society has arisen. It is a force to be reckoned with and the laboratory from which great reforms may arise. Overlapping with the movements to end the Long Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and build a global conservation and renewable resource economy on the remains of the fossil-fuel economy, a strike a new spiritual peace in place of the religious wars, a new global vision is arising, like a mirror ball, in the consciousness of this generation.
The dominance of the Global One Percent is under challenge more than anytime in decades. All over Europe, people are learning what colonized people have known since the beginning, that an unseen class of well-connected rich people, masked as the impersonal force of The Market, is pulling the strings that will close the curtains on democracy. One government after another is forced to bow down to the god of investor confidence. It is colonialism now turned inward, on the people and previously-democratic institutions of the colonial West.
Resistance is most important when it is local, around concrete grievances and moral insults, like the great rising this year in Wisconsin and the explosion of encampments by Occupy Wall Street. Local people can resist, by exercising their neighborhood power, their labor power, their consumer power and their voting power. But since the problem lies in the global economy, local protests, elections and uprisings will create a dynamic for global solutions.
Since the recent era of globalization has meant a corporate and financial retreat from the reforms of the New Deal era, the new demands may gravitate towards calls for a global New Deal. Since globalization has meant a rollback of public regulation, the demands will evolve towards ways to hold private capital publicly accountable. Since the financiers will never offer to pay their fair share, the demands for a financial speculation tax will grow, alongside demands for a carbon tax and a tax on arms sales. New norms may emerge first, then innovative laws in one country or another, then enforceable negotiated agreements. If there can be international agreements to protect corporations from “pirates”, or to put dictators in the dock of International Criminal Court, why should it be impossible to criminalize sweatshops or global pollution, or corporate bribery, or bureaucratic strangulation of open source, or secret armies that violate national sovereignty?
The long effort of the anti-globalization movement has not been in vain. Our lives would be worse without the effort. Our democratic rights would be shuttered. Who said the beast would slink away die instead of reappearing in new masks of his own? But now, finally, the One Percent is on the defensive all over the world. Wounded, the beast may strike back in nihilistic ways. Or, wounded, the beast may be forced to adjust, even to accept or embrace. No one knows. Nothing is given. It is a special time.
For more, please read James' correspondence below:
Next week - December 15-17, 2011 - Trade Ministers will convene in Geneva, Switzerland for an 8th WTO Ministerial Meeting. After many failed Ministerial meetings and nearly ten years of negotiations, the Doha Round of WTO expansion is at a crossroads. Increasingly, developed countries have tried to push aside agreements to negotiate on key developing country issues intended to correct the imbalances within the existing WTO, which formed the basis of the development mandate of Doha. Instead, rich-country governments appear to be re-packaging the old liberalization and market access demands of their corporate interests as so-called “21st century” issues. This Ministerial will determine the future path of WTO negotiations, and the global Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS) network is calling for a fundamental transformation.
I hope you enjoy the following article which hopefully sheds light on the current situation of the negotiations and movements’ demands in light of the global crises.