Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Virtues of De-Globalization - Walden Bello (UPDATED)

"We have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3% of its population.... Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming, and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction....We should cease to talk about vague and unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better." 

-George Kennan, U.S. State Department memo, 1948 

“There is no literate population in the world that is poor; there is no illiterate population that is anything but poor.” – John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006)

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HI All,

Back in 1995, the Fidel Ramos government, with the enthusiastic support of then Senator Gloria Arroyo, was one of the first among the Third World (poor countries) to sign into the WTO in the Philippines. Obviously, most of our native technocrats in the national government and private institutions that deal and partner with foreign businesses were all for it.
At the time, even the EU member nations (except England) and Japan were hesitant and ambivalent about the WTO. Being more nationalistic and thus protective of their own subsidized agriculture and industries, these developed nations were content with the already well-functioning General Trade and Tariff Agreement (GATT) for liberalizing trade.

With the threat of a potentially stronger and unified EU, it was only the USA which was really pushing hard for the WTO. Anyone who knows reality economics is aware that America (as most other developed nations) still practices protectionism while she simultaneously preaches and works against its use by weak and poor countries like ours. We Filipinos have our enthusiastic native apologists of the WTO -- they profit from it (WTO is the polite name for and serves to facilitate or bolster neoliberalism or neocolonialism as seen by those who seriously study the big picture.)

Given our damaged culture, acquired colonial mentality and conditioned subservience to American policies especially by our national leadership in government and business, these fellow natives unquestioningly follow the American line despite the warnings by other Asian leaders such as Dr. Mahathir, then Prime Minister of Malaysia, who of course was/is detested by the American leadership.

We Filipinos, due to our miseducation , seem to have an American residing in our minds, thus we tend to think like we are Americans, love to mimic the Americans, decide like the Americans, i.e. what is good for America is good for the Philippines. Thus, we Filipinos and our homeland are in deep shit for so long and who knows until when (hopefully we will grow up and free ourselves from our "liberators." Some informed and decent Americans wish we would really grow up).

Fast forward today, 14 years since, thanks to this WTO Agreement, our homeland, our agricultural and industrial economies, our patrimony, etc. have been either gobbled up by foreigners or simply forced to vanish; and our sovereignty trampled upon so repeatedly. Our already suffering native people have drastically and continually slid down the slippery slope of national misery, hunger and poverty, our impoverished majority ever becoming enlarged due to a dwindling native middle class (not the foreign middle class of Chinese, Koreans, Americans, etc.).

Since the precipitous slide, our homeland has been/is being converted into a paradise garden exclusively of and for the few native rich, and the growing number of foreigners, who live like kings, brazenly creating their own exclusive enclaves right before our noses, in our homeland and who would really be nothing in their own homelands. So we have many of these Chinese who were either smuggled into until they became legalized thanks to the Marcos Dictatorship; and thus able to bring in more of their relatives and friends. These foreigners and former colonist Americans -including its ex-servicemen, and now Koreans, etc. who find our homeland cheap, our native Malay people hospitable and naive; and thus decide to stay while taking us for granted and look down on us, in our own homeland.

Let me add that the presence of American citizens and businesses can be used as an excuse for US military intervention/invasion in the future; it has happened throughout US history, The so-called Chinese "Boxer Rebellion" should remind us of where we have been heading and being directed at now by our rulers. The rebellion where eight foreign nations with businesses in China came to suppress nationalistic --however crude then- aspirations. After its suppression, the foreign nations divided China up among themselves until the 1949 Revolution.].

It may added that China with its own background in imperialism and with its now large economic, oil, mineral,etc. interests in Africa, has stationed 4,000 Chinese troops in Sudan to guard oil pipelines -China gets 25% of its imports from Africa.

As to our burgeoning foreign residents and businesses, some deep thinking will help us see and foresee where their true interests lie when our native majority, unified by Filipino nationalism, rises up to assert and fight for our sovereignty. 

And that is why our majority is kept ignorant though our mendicant quislings in government and business. And that is why these foreigners together with our mis-educated  selfish elite, and our supposedly educated middle class wannabes pontificate birth control on the native population to ensure that a critical mass do not occur.

The camouflage of "war against terrorism" (in lieu of the demised "Cold War"), the US troops through the unconstitutional Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) now in the homeland, whose mostly unknown whereabouts to the native majority, have already been accused in the media to be directly involved in fighting against Filipino rebels ( with some driven by nationalism) such as the NPA and MILF.

20th century American history has demonstratively reinforced American militarism in US government and foreign policies. And US troops have shown their desire to be in foreign lands because they enjoy so much amenities than if they were stationed or be unqualified for a decent job and be jobless in their own homeland.

All these foreigners say they love our homeland --not because they really care for the native Filipino. They do say they love our homeland because it easily makes them rich, or helps them become richer, and live rich. Which they can neither have nor be in their own homelands

The situation of the native Filipino today is worse than that of the Black/Negro people in the old cotton plantations of the Deep South or below the Mason-Dixon line of 19th/early 20th century America. Then, at least the Black people were cared for, to some albeit meager degree, by their white masters.

Our native countrymen, many of whom due to poverty are/become/kept ignorant, conditioned to feel inferior to foreigners and easily duped or manipulated. While at the same time looked down upon by our elite and middle-class wannabes, with no voice in their own homeland, given the callously uncaring and traitorous attitudes and behaviours of our so-called leaders in business and government.

The below article by Walden Bello highlights the alternatives to the tsunami of globalization enforced by the IMF and WB via the WTO which hit our country in 1995, thanks to our traitorous rulers Fidel Ramos and Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo. Walden Bello's ideas are logical and true but given the duplicity of our rulers/technocrats,the external/foreign interests and globalized media that saturate and influence many of us against anti-globalization thoughts, globalization is truly difficult to control and defeat; but it is not impossible; if we native Filipinos are educated for Filipino nationalism, unified by nationalism and fight with nationalism.

Gloria Arroyo proudly reminded us that she wanted to be like his father. let us therefore be reminded that his dad Diosdado was the first guy to devalue the Philippine peso upon becoming President; as he promised to obtain American support against FILIPINO FIRST President Carlos Garcia, who was hated by American business interests. But this is another story.

- Bert


The Virtues of De-globalization

Walden Bello,| September 3, 2009
Editor: John Feffer

The current global downturn, the worst since the Great Depression 70 years ago, pounded the last nail into the coffin of globalization. Already beleaguered by evidence that showed global poverty and inequality increasing, even as most poor countries experienced little or no economic growth, globalization has been terminally discredited in the last two years. As the much-heralded process of financial and trade interdependence went into reverse, it became the transmission belt not of prosperity but of economic crisis and collapse.

End of an Era

In their responses to the current economic crisis, governments paid lip service to global coordination but propelled separate stimulus programs meant to rev up national markets. In so doing, governments quietly shelved export-oriented growth, long the driver of many economies, though paid the usual nostrums to advancing trade liberalization as a means of countering the global downturn by completing the Doha Round of trade negotiations under the World Trade Organization. There is increasing acknowledgment that there will be no returning to a world centrally dependent on free-spending American consumers, since many are bankrupt and nobody has taken their place.

Moreover, whether agreed on internationally or unilaterally set up by national governments, a whole raft of restrictions will almost certainly be imposed on finance capital, the untrammeled mobility of which has been the cutting edge of the current crisis.

Intellectual discourse, however, hasn't yet shown many signs of this break with orthodoxy. Neoliberalism, with its emphasis on free trade, the primacy of private enterprise, and a minimalist role for the state, continues to be the default language among policymakers. 

Establishment critics of market fundamentalism, including Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, have become entangled in endless debates over how large stimulus programs should be, and whether or not the state should retain an interventionist presence or, once stabilized, return the companies and banks to the private sector. Moreover some, such as Stiglitz, continue to believe in what they perceive to be the economic benefits of globalization while bemoaning its social costs.

But trends are fast outpacing both ideologues and critics of neo-liberal globalization, and developments thought impossible a few years ago are gaining steam. "The integration of the world economy is in retreat on almost every front," writes the Economist. While the magazine says that corporations continue to believe in the efficiency of global supply chains, "like any chain, these are only as strong as their weakest link. A danger point will come if firms decide that this way of organizing production has had its day."

"De-globalization," a term that the Economist attributes to me, is a development that the magazine, the world's prime avatar of free market ideology, views as negative. I believe, however, that de-globalization is an opportunity. Indeed, my colleagues and I at Focus on the Global South first forwarded de-globalization as a comprehensive paradigm to replace neo-liberal globalization almost a decade ago, when the stresses, strains, and contradictions brought about by the latter had become painfully evident. Elaborated as an alternative mainly for developing countries, the de-globalization paradigm is not without relevance to the central capitalist economies.

11 Pillars of the Alternative

There are 11 key prongs of the de-globalization paradigm:
  1. Production for the domestic market must again become the center of gravity of the economy rather than production for export markets.
  2. The principle of subsidiarity should be enshrined in economic life by encouraging production of goods at the level of the community and at the national level if this can be done at reasonable cost in order to preserve community.
  3. Trade policy — that is, quotas and tariffs — should be used to protect the local economy from destruction by corporate-subsidized commodities with artificially low prices.
  4. Industrial policy — including subsidies, tariffs, and trade — should be used to revitalize and strengthen the manufacturing sector.
  5. Long-postponed measures of equitable income redistribution and land redistribution (including urban land reform) can create a vibrant internal market that would serve as the anchor of the economy and produce local financial resources for investment.
  6. De emphasizing growth, emphasizing upgrading the quality of life, and maximizing equity will reduce environmental disequilibrium.
  7. The development and diffusion of environmentally congenial technology in both agriculture and industry should be encouraged.
  8. Strategic economic decisions cannot be left to the market or to technocrats. Instead, the scope of democratic decision-making in the economy should be expanded so that all vital questions — such as which industries to develop or phase out, what proportion of the government budget to devote to agriculture, etc. — become subject to democratic discussion and choice.
  9. Civil society must constantly monitor and supervise the private sector and the state, a process that should be institutionalized.
  10. The property complex should be transformed into a "mixed economy" that includes community cooperatives, private enterprises, and state enterprises, and excludes transnational corporations.
  11. Centralized global institutions like the IMF and the World Bank should be replaced with regional institutions built not on free trade and capital mobility but on principles of cooperation that, to use the words of Hugo Chavez in describing the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), "transcend the logic of capitalism."

From the Cult of Efficiency to Effective Economics

The aim of the de-globalization paradigm is to move beyond the economics of narrow efficiency, in which the key criterion is the reduction of unit cost, never mind the social and ecological destabilization this process brings about. It is to move beyond a system of economic calculation that, in the words of John Maynard Keynes, made "the whole conduct of life…into a paradox of an accountant's nightmare." 

An effective economics, rather, strengthens social solidarity by subordinating the operations of the market to the values of equity, justice, and community by enlarging the sphere of democratic decision making. To use the language of the great Hungarian thinker Karl Polanyi in his book The Great Transformation, de-globalization is about "re-embedding" the economy in society, instead of having society driven by the economy.

The de-globalization paradigm also asserts that a "one size fits all" model like neoliberalism or centralized bureaucratic socialism is dysfunctional and destabilizing. Instead, diversity should be expected and encouraged, as it is in nature. Shared principles of alternative economics do exist, and they have already substantially emerged in the struggle against and critical reflection over the failure of centralized socialism and capitalism. However, how these principles — the most important of which have been sketched out above — are concretely articulated will depend on the values, rhythms, and strategic choices of each society.

De-globalization's Pedigree

Though it may sound radical, de-globalization isn't really new. Its pedigree includes the writings of the towering British economist Keynes who, at the height of the Depression, bluntly stated: "We do not wish…to be at the mercy of world forces working out, or trying to work out, some uniform equilibrium, according to the principles of laissez faire capitalism."

Indeed, he continued, over "an increasingly wide range of industrial products, and perhaps agricultural products also, I become doubtful whether the economic cost of self-sufficiency is great enough to outweigh the other advantages of gradually bringing the producer and the consumer within the ambit of the same national, economic and financial organization. Experience accumulates to prove that most modern mass-production processes can be performed in most countries and climates with almost equal efficiency."

And with words that have a very contemporary ring, Keynes concluded, "I sympathize…with those who would minimize rather than with those who would maximize economic entanglement between nations. Ideas, knowledge, art, hospitality, travel — these are the things which should of their nature be international. But let goods be homespun whenever it is reasonably and conveniently possible; and, above all, let finance be primarily national."

Foreign Policy in Focus columnist Walden Bello is a member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines and senior analyst at the Bangkok-based research and advocacy institute Focus on the Global South.


*******************END OF POST*************************

Hi All,

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- Bert


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1 comment :

josé miguel said...

Your aforementioned introductory comment on the Walden Bello is articulating our filipino reality today of having an identity so brutally injured by the Americans that we do not anymore have any of what we inherited from our fathers who gave-up their lives to deliver us the birth to our nation. The result just as the Americans designed it, is a people so despising our own that taking advantage or abusing our own as we fit more into being the recipient of favor from the Americans and now the Chinese has become a defense mechanism to escape from our being filipinos and be reborn into becoming any of these two aliens.

The thesis in the article of Bello is compatible with the universal biological development. Any biological unit must maintain its integrity before it can by functional towards it's wider biological circle. A nation should have a well maintained integrity and sovereignty if it has to be funtional towards the global environment.