cj#1154,rn> Guidebook 1.d. “Economic globalization: Robber Barons writ large”


Richard Moore


        (C) 2000, Richard K. Moore

   Chapter 1:

   How does the world work today, and where is it headed?

        a. Globalization and the West: a covert coup d'etat
        b. Globalization and the third world: empire by another name
        c. Kultur-kampf: enforcing the New World Order
 ===>   d. Economic globalization: Robber Barons writ large
        e. Decoding propaganda: matrix vs. reality
        f. Capitalism's growth imperative and societal engineering
        g. Elite rule and the Dark Millennium


   1.d. Economic globalization: Robber Barons writ large

        "And so it went, in industry after
        industry - shrewd, efficient businessmen
        building empires, choking out
        competition, maintaining high prices,
        keeping wages low, using government
        subsidies... By the turn of the century,
        American telephone and Telegraph had a
        monopoly of the nation's telephone
        system, International Harvester made 85
        percent of all farm machinery, and in
        every other industry resources became
        concentrated, controlled. The banks had
        interests in so many of these monopolies
        as to create an interlocking network of
        powerful corporation directors, each of
        whom sat on the boards of many other
        - Howard Zinn, "A People's History of the
        United States," Chapter 11, "Robber
        Barons and Rebels," p. 251.

   Globalization is usually described as a thoroughly
   modern phenomenon - but there is nothing new about
   the political policy of turning control of the
   economy over to corporate interests. That was in
   fact the dominant Western political philosophy
   during the late 1800's, when it went under the name
   of "laissez-faire." The results were dismal. The
   era was characterized by sweatshops, exploitive
   child labor, suppression of labor unions,
   widespread poverty and disease, giant trusts and
   monopolies, "robber baron" magnates, unstable
   economies, and corrupted politicians. Eventually,
   throughout the West, laissez-faire policies were
   abandoned and repudiated. Regulatory reforms were
   introduced, some infrastructures were nationalized,
   economies were stabilized, and working conditions
   improved along with social conditions generally.

   The economic side of globalization amounts to
   little more than the restoration of a previous
   century's failed laissez-faire policies - but on a
   global scale. And as could only be expected, the
   same dismal consequences are now unfolding
   worldwide. Sweatshops and child-labor pervade the
   third world; Western wages are declining in
   comparison to the cost of living; international
   financial markets are dominated by speculators;
   each major segment of world commerce - from
   shipping to communications to automobiles to
   foodstuffs - is being increasingly dominated by a
   handful of transnational corporations.

   Politicians tell us that the downside of
   globalization is temporary. By such statements they
   only reveal the extent to which our politicians
   have been once again corrupted by corporate power.
   In fact, the 19th century robber-baron abuses ended
   only when laissez-faire policies were abandoned -
   and the globalization agenda permits no
   consideration of any such reversal of policy. For
   every ill the prescription is always "more of the

   When NAFTA (The North American Free Trade
   Agreement) was being sold to the U.S. Congress,
   part of the evidence presented was the computer
   output from a certain economic model. The results
   seemed to show that in both Mexico and the United
   States, NAFTA would bring higher wages and lower
   prices. But consider the assumptions upon which
   that model was based, as cited by David Korten in
   his book, "When Corporations Rule the World" (p.

     1. Capital is immobile [investors will keep their
        money at home.]
     2. Labor costs are the same in both countries.
     3. Americans will always clearly prefer American
        (vs Mexican) products even if Mexican products
        are much cheaper. (And similarly for Mexicans
        re/ U.S. products).
     4. There is always full employment in both
     5. Nothing will ever be imported to (from) Mexico
        unless it is exactly balanced by an import
        from (to) Mexico.

   Far from being reasonable approximations to
   reality, these assumptions are outright fantasy -
   they are preposterous. Like Australia's Aborigines,
   today's orthodox mainstream economists live in a
   dream world. In that dream world of perfect
   competition, markets are never monopolized by giant
   corporations or manipulated by speculators, prices
   are never inflated in cornered markets, no nation
   or worker is every exploited, and an "invisible
   hand" magically guides us to best of all possible
   worlds. Plans are made in this dream world by
   academics and technicians. The plans are then
   applied to the real world by legislation, judicial
   rulings, and treaties. Politicians are then left
   with the job of trying to explain away the
   consequences - usually by finding someone or
   something else to blame. The beneficiaries of the
   dream-world orthodoxy are the corporate elite who
   run the global regime.

   Historically, this pattern is a familiar one. Kings
   and emperors of bygone days were always backed up
   by priests and religions whose job it was to
   promote an ideology which served the interests of
   the ruler. The Roman Emperor Constantine and the
   English King Henry VIII both replaced state
   religions so as to better suit their political
   objectives. Today we don't have royal rulers in the
   West, but we have a ruling elite. Mainstream
   economists, trained in business school cloisters,
   function as a priesthood for this elite - muttering
   unintelligible technical incantations and then
   declaring absurdities to be truth. The corporate
   mass-media reinforces the orthodoxy in a thousand
   ways every day - in news and commentary and even in
   entertainment fare. Mumbo jumbo has served rulers
   down through the ages, and it is still being used
   today. As science or as common sense, the
   laissez-faire orthodoxy stands on a par with the
   belief in a flat Earth.


Recommended reading.

Richard Douthwaite, "The Growth Illusion," Lilliput Press,
Dublin, 1992.
     A fascinating and wide-ranging look at growth and
capitalism, their historical roots and their consequences.
Offers a healthy dose of common sense, and a vision of
stability and sustainability.

David C. Korten, "When Corporations Rule the World," Kumerian
Press, West Hartford, Connecticut, 1995.
     "This is 'must read' book - a searing indictment of an
unjust international economic order, not by a wild-eyed
idealistic leftwinger, but by a sober scion of the
establishment with impeccable credentials. It left me
devastated but also very hopeful. Something can be done to
create a more just economic order." - Archbishop Desmond M.
Tuttu, Nobel Peace Laureate.

James Goldsmith, "The Response," Macmillan, London, 1995.
     A critique of neoliberal thinking presented as a debate
with those who criticized the author's previous book, "The
Trap." It may be pointless for the author to attempt logical
debate with mainstream apologists, but the book is
informative for other readers.

Howard Zinn, "A People's History of the United States,"
HarperCollins, New York, 1989.
     "Zinn has written a brilliant and moving history of the 
American people from the pont of view of those who have been 
exploited politically and economically and whose plight has 
been largely omitted from most histories." - Library Journal.