cj#1129> Walden Bello defrocks globalization…


Richard Moore

Dear cj,

David Korten and Michel Chossudovsky are world-system
insiders who have turned into two of the most outspoken
critics of that system.  Both have recieved considerable
attention on this list. Their critiques carry special weight
because they can speak in the language of the system
itself... "I've been behind the curtain, and the wizard is a
phony", so to speak.  Allow me to introduce another in this
heroic tradition, Walden Bello.  

This posting may be a good one to send to friends who think
that the globalized economy is a good thing.  There are extensive
bibliographic notes at the end.



Walden Bellow - mini bio
    Executive Director of Focus on the Global South, a program
    of research, analysis, and advocacy of the Chulalongkorn
    University Social Research Institute (CUSRI) in Bangkok,
    Thailand; and Professor of Sociology and Public
    Administration at the University of the Philippines.  Author
    or co-author of 11 books on Asian economic and political
    issues, including A Siamese Tragedy: Development and
    Disintegration in Modern Thailand (London: Zed Press, 1998)
    and Dragons in Distress: Asia's Miracle Economies in Crisis
    (London: Penguin, 1992)

Occasion of speech
    Talk delivered at a series of engagements on the occasion
    of demonstrations against the World Economic Forum (Davos)
    in Melbourne, Australia, 6-10 September 2000.

Sample paragraphs
    Disabling the Corporation -
    Indeed, I would contend that the focus of our efforts these
    days is not to try to reform the multilateral agencies but
    to deepen the crisis of legitimacy of the whole system. 
    Gramsci once described the bureaucracy as but an "outer
    trench behind which lay a powerful system of fortresses and
    earthworks."  We must no longer think simply in terms of
    neutralizing the multilateral agencies that form the outer
    trenches of the system but of disabling the transnational
    corporations that are fortresses and the earthworks that
    constitute the core of the global economic system.

    Let us put an end to this arrogant globalist project of
    making the world a synthetic unity of individual atoms shorn
    of culture and community.  Let us herald, instead, an
    internationalism that is built on, tolerates, respects, and
    enhances the diversity of human communities and the
    diversity of life.

From: "Int'l Network on Disarmament and Globalization" <•••@••.•••>
To: "MIL-CORP" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: [mil-corp] From Melbourne to Prague: the Struggle for a 
                    Deglobalized World - Walden Bello
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000 15:15:08 -0700
X-Priority: 3
MIME-Version: 1.0
Sender: •••@••.•••

Network members:

What follows is a speech by Walden Bello, an economist and
one of the most effective critics of corporate
globalization. His previous works on UNCTAD were posted to
this list (and are available on our website - see Bello on
the index).



From Melbourne to Prague: the Struggle for a Deglobalized

By Walden Bello*

(Talk delivered at a series of engagements on the occasion
of demonstrations against the World Economic Forum (Davos)
in Melbourne, Australia, 6-10 September 2000.)

We are, here in Melbourne in the next few days and in Prague
in two weeks' time, participating in an historic enterprise:
that of creating a critical mass to turn the tide against
corporate-driven globalization.

For years, we were told that globalization was benign, that
it was a process that brought about the greatest good for
the greatest number, that good citizenship lay in accepting
the impersonal rule of the market and good governance meant
governments getting out of the way of market forces and
letting the most effective incarnation of market freedom,
the transnational corporation, go about its task of bringing
about the most efficient mix of capital, land, technology
and labor.

The unrestricted flow of goods and capital in a world
without borders was said to be the best of all possible
worlds, though when some observers pointed out that to be
consistent with the precepts of their 18th century prophet,
Adam Smith, proponents of the neoliberal doctrine would also
have to allow the unrestricted flow of labor to create this
best of all possible worlds, they were, quite simply,

Such inconsistencies could be overlooked since for over two
decades, neoliberalism or, as it was grandiosely styled, the
"Washington Consensus" had carried all before it.  As one of
its key partisans has nostalgically remarked recently, "the
Washington Consensus seemed to gain near-universal approval
and provided a guiding ideology and underlying intellectual
consensus for the world economy, which was quite new in
modern history." (1)

Globalization Unravels I: The Asian Financial Collapse The
unrestricted flow of speculative capital in accordance with
Washington Consensus doctrine was what our governments in
East Asia institutionalized in the early 1990's, under the
strong urging of the International Monetary Fund and the US
Treasury Department.  The result: the $100 billion that
flowed in between 1993 and 1997 flowed out in the bat of an
eyelash during the Great Panic of the summer of 1997,
bringing about the collapse of our economies and spinning
them into a mire of recession and massive unemployment from
which most still have to recover.   Since 1997, financial
instability or the constant erosion of our currencies has
become a way of life under IMF- imposed monetary regimes
that leave the value of our money to be determined
day-to-day by the changing whims, moods, and preferences of
foreign investors and currency speculators.

Globalization Unravels II: The Failure of Structural
Adjustment The Asian financial crisis put the International
Monetary Fund on the hotseat, leading to a widespread
popular reappraisal of its role in the Third World in the
1980s and early 1990's, when structural adjustment programs
were imposed on over 70 developing countries. After over 15
years, there were hardly any cases of successful adjustment
programs.  What structural adjustment had done, instead, was
to institutionalize stagnation in Africa and Latin America,
alongside rises in the levels of absolute poverty and income

Structural adjustment and related free-market policies that
were imposed beginning in the early 1980's were the central
factor that triggered a sharp rise in inequality globally,
with one authoritative UNCTAD study covering 124 countries
showing that the income share of the richest 20 per cent of
the world's population rose from 69 to 83 per cent between
1965 and 1990. (2)   Adjustment policies were a central
factor behind the rapid concentration of global income in
recent years - a process which, in 1998, saw Bill Gates, with
a net worth of $90 billion, Warren Buffet, with $36 billion,
and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, with $30 billion,
achieve a combined income that was greater than the total
combined income of the 600 million that live in the world's
48 least developed countries, a great number of which had
been subjected to adjustment programs.

Structural adjustment has also been a central cause of the
lack of any progress in the campaign against poverty.  The
number of people globally living in poverty - that is, on less
than a dollar a day -  increased from 1.1 billion in 1985 to
1.2 billion in 1998, and is expected to reach 1.3 billion
this year. (3) According to a recent World Bank study, the
absolute number of people living in poverty rose in the
1990's in Eastern Europe, South Asia, Latin America and the
Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa - all areas that came under
the sway of adjustment programs. (4)

Confronted with this dismal record, James Wolfensohn of the
World Bank had the sense to move the institution away from
its identification with structural adjustment with public
relations initiatives like the SAPRI, or the Structural
Adjustment Program Review Initiative, that it said would be
jointly conducted with NGOs.  But the IMF under the
doctrinaire Michel Camdessus refused to see the handwriting
on the wall; it sought, instead, to embed adjustment
policies permanently in the economic structure through the
establishment of the Extended Structural Adjustment Facility

Yet as a consequence of greater public scrutiny following
its disastrous policies in East Asia, the Fund could no
longer pretend that adjustment had not been a massive
failure in Africa, Latin America and South Asia.  During the
World Bank-IMF meetings in September 1999, the Fund conceded
failure by renaming the ESAF the "Poverty Reduction and
Growth" Facility.  There was no way, however, that the Fund
could successfully whitewash the results of its policies.
When the G-7 proposed to make IMF certification a condition
for eligibility in the now defunct HIPC Initiative, Rep.
Maxine Walters of the US House of Representatives spoke for
many liberal American lawmakers when she commented, "Do we
have to involve the IMF at all?  Because, as we have
painfully discovered, the way the IMF works causes children
to starve." (5)

So starved of legitimacy was the Fund that US Treasury
Secretary Larry Summers, who in an earlier incarnation as
chief economist of the World Bank was one of the chief
backers of structural adjustment, told the US Congress that
the "IMF-centered process" of macroeconomic policymaking
would be replaced by "a new, more open and inclusive process
that would involve multiple international organizations and
give national policymakers and civil society groups a more
central role." (6)

Globalization Unravels III: The Debacle in Seattle Freedom,
said Hegel, is the recognition of necessity.  Freedom, the
proponents of neoliberalism like Hegel's disciple, Francis
Fukuyama, tell us, lies in the recognition of the inexorable
irreversibility of free- market globalization.  Thank god,
the 50,000 people who descended on Seattle in late November
1999 did not buy this Hegelian- Fukuyaman notion of freedom
as submission and surrender to what seemed to be the
ineluctable necessity of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In the mid-nineties, the WTO had been sold to the global
public as the lynchpin of a multilateral system of economic
governance that would provide the necessary rules to
facilitate the growth of global trade and the spread of its
beneficial effects.  Nearly five years later, the
implications and consequences of the founding of the WTO had
become as clear to large numbers of people as a robbery
carried out in broad daylight.  What were some of these

- By signing on to the Agreement on Trade-Related Investment
Measures (TRIMs), developing countries discovered that they
had signed away their right to use trade policy as a means
of industrialization.

- By signing on to the Agreement on Trade-Related
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), countries realized
that they had given high tech transnationals like Microsoft
and Intel the right to monopolize innovation in the
knowledge-intensive industries and provided biotechnology
firms like Novartis and Monsanto the go-signal to privatize
the fruits of aeons of creative interaction between human
communities and nature such as seeds, plants, and animal

- By signing on to the Agreement on Agriculture (AOA),
developing countries discovered that they had agreed to open
up their markets while allowing the big agricultural
superpowers to consolidate their system of subsidized
agricultural production that was leading to the massive
dumping of surpluses on those very markets, a process that
was, in turn, destroying smallholder-based agriculture.

- By setting up the WTO, countries and governments
discovered that they had set up a legal system that
enshrined the priority of free trade above every other
good - above the environment, justice, equity, and community.
 They finally got the significance of consumer advocate
Ralph Nader's warning a few years earlier that the WTO, was
a system of "trade uber alles."

- In joining the WTO, developing countries realized that
they were not, in fact, joining a democratic organization
but one where decisions were made, not in formal plenaries
but in non-transparent backroom sessions, and where majority
voting was dispensed with in favor of a process called
"consensus" - which was really a process in which a few big
trading powers imposed their consensus on the majority of
the member countries.

The Seattle Ministerial brought together a wide variety of
protesters from all over the world focusing on a wide
variety of issues.  Some of their stands on key issues, such
as the incorporation of labor standards into the WTO, were
sometimes contradictory, it is true. But most of them,
whether they were in the streets or they were in meeting
halls, were united by one thing: their opposition to the
expansion of a system that promoted corporate-led
globalization at the expense of justice, community, national
sovereignty, cultural diversity, and ecological

Seattle was a debacle created by corporate overreach, which
is quite similar to Paul Kennedy's concept of "imperial
overstretch" that is said to be the central factor in the
unraveling of empires. (7)  The Ministerial's collapse from
pressure from these multiple sources of opposition
underlined the truth in Ralph Nader's prescient remark, made
four years earlier, that the creation of global trade pacts
like the WTO was likely to be "the greatest blunder in the
history of the modern global corporation."  Whereas
previously, the corporation's operating within a more or
less "private penumbra" made it difficult to effectively
crystallize opposition, he argued that "now that the global
corporate strategic plan is out in print...gives us an
opportunity." (8)

Truth is eternal, but it only makes a difference in human
lives when it becomes power.  In Seattle, truth was joined
to the power of the people and became fact.  Suddenly, facts
that had previously been ignored or belittled were
acknowledged even by the powers-that-be whose brazen
confidence had been shaken.  For instance, that the supreme
institution of globalization was, in fact, fundamentally
undemocratic was recognized even by representatives of its
stoutest defenders: the United States and the United

Listen to US Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky after
the revolt of the representatives of developing countries
that helped bring down the Ministerial:   "The process...was a
rather exclusionary one," she admitted. "All meetings were
held between 20 and 30 key countries...And that meant 100
countries, 100, were never in the room...[T]his led to an
extraordinarily bad feeling that they were left out of the
process and that the results...had been dictated to them by
the 25 or 30 privileged countries who were in the room." (9)

Listen to Stephen Byers, the UK Secretary for Trade and
Industry, after the Seattle shock:  "WTO will not be able to
continue in its present form. There has to be fundamental
and radical change in order for it to meet the needs and
aspirations of all 134 of its members." (10)

Globalization Unravels IV: Meltzer Torpedoes the Bank The
Asian financial crisis triggered the IMF's crisis of
legitimacy.  The Seattle Ministerial collapse brought the
WTO to a standstill. However, under
Australian-turned-American Jim Wolfensohn's command, the
World Bank seemed likely to escape the massive damage
sustained by its sister institutions. But the torpedo in the
form of the famous Meltzer Commission found its mark in
February of this year.

Formed as one of the conditions for the US Congress' voting
for an increase of its quota in the IMF in 1998, the
Commission was a bipartisan body that was tasked to probe
the record of the Bank and Fund with the end in view of
coming up with recommendations for the reform of the two
institutions. Exhaustively examining documents and
interviewing all kinds of experts, the Commission came up
with the devastating conclusion that with most of its
resources going to the better off countries of the
developing world and with the astounding 65-70 per cent
failure rate of its projects in the poorest countries, the
World Bank was irrelevant to the achievement of its avowed
mission of global poverty alleviation.  And what to do with
the Bank?  The Commission urged that most of the Bank's
lending activities be devolved to the regional developing
banks.  It does not take much, however, for readers of the
report to realize that, as one of the Commission's members
revealed, it "essentially wants to abolish the International
Monetary Fund and the World Bank," a goal that had
"significant pockets of support... in our Congress." (12)

Much to the chagrin of Wolfensohn, few people came to the
defense of the Bank, and it was in a state of shock that the
agency held its joint spring meeting with the IMF in a
Washington, DC, that was shut down by some 40,000
protestors.  The spirit of demoralization that gripped the
Bank was conveyed in Wolfensohn's missive to Bank staffers
before the meeting that "the next week will be a trying time
for most of us." (13)  That the April 2000 meeting of the
Bretton Woods twins could take place only under heavy police
protection, with the use of a system of decoys to breach
protesters' lines in order to bring apprehensive delegates
to the fortified bunkers at Pennsylvania and 19th NW in
central DC spoke volumes about the tattered legitimacy of
the two institutions.

The Davos Process I: Relegitimizing Globalization Why do I
keep coming back to the question of legitimacy?  Because, as
the great Italian thinker Antonio Gramsci pointed out, when
legitimacy has vanished and is not regained, it is only a
matter of time before the structure collapses, no matter how
seemingly solid it is. Many of the key advocates of
globalization realized this in the wake of the joint crisis
of the WTO and the Bretton Woods twins.  They knew that the
strategy of denial that these three institutions deployed in
the past would no longer work and that the aggressive
approach of pro- globalization firebrands like Martin Wolf
of the Financial Times, who accused NGOs of ignorance and of
being an "uncivil society," was likely to be

To the more soberminded among the pro-globalization forces,
the first thing to do was to recognize the facts.   Fact No.
1, according to the influential free trader C. Fred
Bergsten, head of Washington's Institute of International
Economics, was that "the anti-globalization forces are now
in the ascendancy." (14)  And Fact No. 2 was that central to
the response to these forces "has to be an honest
recognition and admission that there are costs and losers,"
that "globalization does increase income and social
disparities within countries" and "does leave some countries
and some groups behind." (15)

Here is where the Davos process - of which the current
exercise of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is a part - has
proven to be central to the project of relegitimizing
globalization.  Davos, high up in the Swiss Alps, is not the
center of a global capitalist conspiracy to divide up the
world.  Davos is where the global elite meets under the
umbrella of the WEF to iron out a rough consensus on how to
ideologically confront and defuse the challenges to the
system. Meeting shortly after what many regarded as the
cataclysm in Seattle, the Davos crew in late January
composed the politically correct line. Repeated like a
mantra by personalities like Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Bill
Gates, Nike CEO Phil Knight, and WEF guru Klaus Schwab, the
chorus went this way:  "Globalization is the wave of the
future.  But globalization is leaving the majority behind. 
Those voices spoke out in Seattle.  It's time to bring the
fruits of globalization and free trade to the many."

It was British Prime Minister Tony Blair who best
articulated the vision and rhetoric of "compassionate
globalization."  Blair said: "Alongside the advance of
global markets and technologies, we are seeing a new search
for community, locally, nationally, and globally that is a
response to change and insecurity, but also reflects the
best of our nature and enduring values.  With it is coming a
new political agenda - one that is founded on mutual
responsibility - both within nations and across the world."

He continued: "We have the chance in this century to achieve
an open world, an open economy, and an open economy with
unprecedented opportunities for people and business.  But we
will succeed only if that open society and economy is
underpinned by a strong ethos of mutual responsibility - by
social inclusion within nations, and by a common commitment
internationally to help those affected by genocide, debt,
and environment." (17)

"I call it a Third Way," Blair declared with passion.  "It
provides a new alternative in politics - on the centre and
centre-left, but on new terms. Supporting wealth creation. 
Tackling vested interests.  Using market mechanisms.  But
always staying true to clear values - social justice,
democracy, cooperation.... From Europe to North America,
Brazil to New Zealand, two great strands of progressive
thought are coming together.  The liberal commitment to
individual free in the market economy, and the social
democratic commitment to social justice through the action
of government, are being combined." (18)

Now, one thing that the British public has finally realized
about Mr. Blair is that with him, there is a huge gap
between rhetoric and substance.  What actually does
"globalization with a conscience" or the "Third Way" or
"globalization with compassion" have to offer? To find out,
one must turn from Blair to Bergsten, who, to his credit,
dispenses with the soaring rhetoric and admits that the
program is actually a system of "transitional safety
nets...to help the adjustment to dislocation" and "enable
people to take advantage of the phenomenon [of
globalization] and roll with it rather than oppose it." (19)
 In short, instead of being run over by the globalization
express, people will be asked to quietly and peacefully roll
over and adjust to the constant and unpredictable change
wrought by the TNCs search for profitability.

The Davos Process II: Coopting the United Nations As
important as the rhetoric in the Davos response is the
process of bringing people onto the bandwagon.  This would
be achieved through dialogue, consultation, and the
formation of  "partnerships" between TNCs, governments, the
United Nations, and civil society organizations.

The UN was a piece of cake.  Discussions with Secretary
General Kofi Annan produced the "Global Compact" that has
become the centerpiece of the United Nations' Millennial
Celebrations.   Signed by 44 TNCs, the Compact has been
promoted by Annan as a major step forward for it supposedly
commits its signatories to respect human, labor, and
environmental rights and provide positive examples of such
behavior.  To many NGOs, on the other hand, the Global
Compact is turning out to be one of the UN's biggest
blunders for the following reasons:

- Despite a Compact provision that membership in the Compact
will not be given to business entities complicit in human
rights violations, the founding membership includes the
worst corporate transgressors of human rights, environmental
rights, and labor rights:  Nike, Rio Tinto, Shell, Novartis,
and BP Amoco.

- The Compact will provide a great public relations venue
for these corporations to promote a clean image very
different from the reality since compliance with the Compact
will be self-monitored and no sanctions exist for violating
the Compact's principles.

- The Corporations will be able to use the UN logo as a seal
of corporate responsibility, thus appropriating the UN's
image of international civil service "not only for
short-term profit but also for the long-term business goal
of positive brand image." (20)

The Davos Process III: Managing Civil Society

As for civil society organizations, they were not as naive
as Annan and the UN and thus neutralizing them demanded more
sophisticated measures.  As a first step, one had to divide
their ranks by publicly defining some as "reasonable NGOs"
that were interested in a "serious debate" about the
problems of globalization and others as "unreasonable NGOs"
whose agenda was to "close down discussion." (21)  Then
towards those identified as "reasonable," one put into
motion what one might call a strategy of "disarmament by
dialogue" designed to integrate them into a "working
partnership" for reform.

Here the model was the "NGO Committee on the World Bank" and
other joint World Bank-NGO bodies set up by Wolfensohn and
his lieutenants in the mid-nineties.  While the NGOs that
joined these bodies may have done so with the best of
intentions, Wolfensohn knew that their membership in itself
already helped to legitimize the Bank and that over time
these NGOs would develop a stake in maintaining the formal
relationship with the Bank. Not only was Wolfensohn able to
split the Washington, DC, NGO community, but he was able to
harness the energies of a number of NGOs - many of them
unwittingly - to project the image of a Bank that was serious
about reforming itself and reorienting its approach to
eliminating poverty before Meltzer Commission was able to
expose the hollowness of the Bank's claims.

Wolfensohn 's neutralization of a significant section of the
Washington, DC, NGO community in the mid-1990s should serve
as a warning to civil society of the mettle of the forces it
is up against.  The stakes are great, and how civil society
responds at this historical moment to the aggressive
courtship being mounted for its hand will make the
difference in the future of the globalization project. 
Developments are so fluid in the correlation of forces in
the struggle between the pro- globalization and
anti-globalization camps that strategies that might have
been realistic and appropriate pre-Seattle, when the
multilateral institutions had more solidity and legitimacy,
may be timid and inappropriate, if not counterproductive,
now that the multilateral agencies are in a profound crisis
of legitimacy.

Let me be specific:

- Will NGOs breathe life into a WTO process that is at
standstill by pushing for the incorporation of labor and
environmental clauses into the WTO agreements instead of
reducing the power and authority of this instrument of
corporate rule by doing all in their power, for instance, to
prevent another trade round from ever taking place?

- Will they throw a life saver to the Bretton Woods
institutions by participating in the civil society-World
Bank-IMF consultations that are to be the central element of
the "Comprehensive Development Framework" that Wolfensohn
and the IMF leadership sees as the key to the
relegitimization of the Bretton Woods twins?

- Will they allow themselves to be sucked into the Davos
process of "reasonable dialogue" and "frank consultation"
when the other side sees dialogue and consultation mainly as
the first step to the disarmament of the other side?

Reform or Disempowerment?

Our tactics will depend not only on the balance of forces
but will turn even more fundamentally on our answer to the
question: Should we seek to transform or to disable the main
institutions of corporate-led globalization?

Institutions should be saved and reformed if they're
functioning, while defective, nevertheless can be reoriented
to promote the interests of society and the environment. 
They should be abolished if they have become fundamentally
dysfunctional.  Can we really say that the IMF can be
reformed to bring about global financial stability, the
World Bank to reduce poverty, and the WTO to bring about
fair trade?  Are they not, in fact, imprisoned within
paradigms and structures that create outcomes that
contradict these objectives?  Can we truly say that these
institutions can be reengineered to handle the multiple
problems that have been thrown up by the process of
corporate-led globalization?

Perhaps we can best appreciate the current situation by
borrowing from Thomas Kuhn's classic Structure of Scientific
Revolutions. (21) Scientific paradigms, says Kuhn, enter
into crisis when they can no longer explain or handle
dissonant data after dissonant data thrown up by
observation.  At this point, the community of science
diverges in its responses.  Some try to salvage the dominant
paradigm with endless minute adjustments that merely prolong
its inevitable demise.  A brave few try to cut cleanly from
it in favor of a simpler, more elegant, and more useful
paradigm - in a manner similar to the way the founders of
early modern science simply junked the old, hopelessly
complex Ptolemaic paradigm for explaining the cosmos (the
sun and other celestial bodies moving around the earth) in
favor of the simpler Copernican paradigm (the earth moving
around the sun).

Like scientific paradigms in crisis, the dominant
institutions of globalization can no longer handle the
multiple problems thrown up by the process of corporate-led
globalization.  Instead of trying to reform the multilateral
institutions, would it in fact be more realistic and "cost-
effective," to use a horrid neo-liberal term, to move to
disempower, if not abolish them, and create totally new
institutions that do not have the baggage of illegitimacy,
institutional failure, and Jurassic mindsets that attach to
the IMF, World Bank, and WTO?

Disabling the Corporation

Indeed, I would contend that the focus of our efforts these
days is not to try to reform the multilateral agencies but
to deepen the crisis of legitimacy of the whole system. 
Gramsci once described the bureaucracy as but an "outer
trench behind which lay a powerful system of fortresses and
earthworks."  We must no longer think simply in terms of
neutralizing the multilateral agencies that form the outer
trenches of the system but of disabling the transnational
corporations that are fortresses and the earthworks that
constitute the core of the global economic system.  I am
talking about disabling not just the WTO, the IMF, and the
World Bank but the transnational corporation itself.  And I
am not talking about a process of "reregulating" the TNCs
but of eventually disabling or dismantling them as
fundamental hazards to people, society, the environment, to
everything we hold dear.

Is this off the wall?  Only if we think that the shocking
irresponsibility and secrecy with which the Monsantos and
Novartises have foisted biotechnology on us is a departure
from the corporate norm.  Only if we also see as deviations
from the normal Shell's systematic devastation of Ogoniland
in Nigeria, the Seven Sisters' conspiracy to prevent the
development of renewable energy sources in order to keep us
slaves to a petroleum civilization, Rio Tinto and the mining
giants' practice of poisoning rivers and communities, and
Mitsubishi's recently exposed 20-year-cover up of a myriad
of product-safety violations to prevent a recall that would
cut into profitability.  Only if we think that it is
acceptable business practice and ethics to pull up stakes,
lay off people, and destroy long-established communities in
order to pursue ever-cheaper labor around the globe - a
process that most TNCs now engage in.

No, these are not departures from normal corporate behavior.
 They are normal corporate behavior.  And corporate crime
against people and the environment has, like the Mafia,
become a way of life because, as the British philosopher
John Gray tells us, "Global market competition and
technological innovation have interacted to give us an
anarchic world economy."  To such a world of anarchy,
scarcity, and conflict created by global laissez-faire, Gray
continues, "Thomas Hobbes and Thomas Malthus are better
guides than Adam Smith or Friedrich von Hayek, with their
Utopian vision of a humanity united by "the benevolent
harmonies of competition." (22)  Smith's world of peacefully
competing enterprises has, in the age of the TNC,
degenerated into Hobbes' "war of all against all."

Gray goes on to say that "as it is presently organized,
global capitalism is supremely ill-suited to cope with the
risks of geo-political conflict that are endemic in a world
of worsening scarcities. Yet a regulatory framework for
coexistence and cooperation among the world's diverse
economies figures on no historical or political agenda."
(23) Recent events underline his point.  When the ice cap on
the North Pole is melting at an unprecedented rate and the
ozone layer above the South Pole has declined by 30 per
cent, owing precisely to the dynamics of this corporate
civilization's insatiable desire for growth and profits, the
need for cooperation among peoples and societies is more
stark than ever.  We must do better than entrust production
and exchange to entities that systematically and
fundamentally work to erode solidarity, discourage
cooperation, oppose regulation except profit-enhancing and
monopoly-creating regulation, all in the name of the Market
and Efficiency.

It is said that in the age of globalization, nation-states
have become obsolete forms of social organization.  I
disagree.  It is the corporation that has become obsolete. 
It is the corporation that serves as a fetter to humanity's
movement to new and necessary social arrangements to achieve
the most quintessentially human values of justice, equity,
democracy, and to achieve a new equilibrium between our
species and the rest of the planet. Disabling,
disempowering, or dismantling the transnational corporation
should be high on our agenda as a strategic end.   And when
we say this, we do not equate the TNC with private
enterprise, for there are benevolent and malevolent
expressions of private enterprise.  We must seek to disable
or eliminate the malevolent ones, like the Mafia and the
TNC. (24)

The Struggle for the Future I: Deglobalization It is often
said that we must not only know what we are against but what
we are for.  I agree - though it is very important to know
very clearly what we want to terminate so that we do not end
up unwittingly fortifying it so that, like a WTO fortified
with social and environmental clauses, it is given a new
leash on life.

Let me end, therefore, by giving you my idea of an
alternative.  It is, however, one that has been formulated
for a Third World, and specifically Southeast Asian,
context.  Let me call this alternative route to the future

What is deglobalization?

I am not talking about withdrawing from the international
economy. I am speaking about reorienting our economies from
production for export to production for the local market;

about drawing most of our financial resources for
development from within rather than becoming dependent on
foreign investment and foreign financial markets;

about carrying out the long-postponed measures of income
redistribution and land redistribution to create a vibrant
internal market that would be the anchor of the economy;

about deemphasizing growth and maximizing equity in order to
radically reduce environmental disequilibrium;

about not leaving strategic economic decisions to the market
but making them subject to democratic choice;

about subjecting the private sector and the state to
constant monitoring by civil society;

about creating a new production and exchange complex that
includes community cooperatives, private enterprises, and
state enterprises, and excludes TNCs;

about enshrining the principle of subsidiarity in economic
life by encouraging production of goods to take place at the
community and national level if it can be done so at
reasonable cost in order to preserve community.

We are talking, moreover, about a strategy that consciously
subordinates the logic of the market, the pursuit of cost
efficiency to the values of security, equity, and social
solidarity.  We are speaking, in short, about reembedding
the economy in society, rather than having society driven by
the economy.

The Struggle for the Future II: A Plural World

Deglobalization or the reempowerment of the local and
national, however, can only succeed if it takes place within
an alternative system of global economic governance.  What
are the contours of such a world economic order? The answer
to this is contained in our critique of the Bretton Woods
cum WTO system as a monolithic system of universal rules
imposed by highly centralized institutions to further the
interests of corporations - and, in particular, US
corporations. To try to supplant this with another
centralized global system of rules and institutions, though
these may be premised on different principles, is likely to
reproduce the same Jurassic trap that ensnared organizations
as different as IBM, the IMF, and the Soviet state, and this
is the inability to tolerate and profit from diversity.

Today's need is not another centralized global institution
but the deconcentration and decentralization of
institutional power and the creation of a pluralistic system
of institutions and organizations interacting with one
another, guided by broad and flexible agreements and

We are not talking about something completely new.  For it
was under such a more pluralistic system of global economic
governance, where hegemonic power was still far from
institutionalized in a set of all-encompassing and powerful
multilateral organizations and institutions that a number of
Latin American and Asian countries were able to achieve a
modicum of industrial development in the period from 1950 to
1970. It was under such a pluralistic system, under a
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that was
limited in its power, flexible, and more sympathetic to the
special status of developing countries, that the East and
Southeast Asian countries were able to become newly
industrializing countries through activist state trade and
industrial policies that departed significantly from the
free-market biases enshrined in the WTO.

Of course, economic relations among countries prior to the
attempt to institutionalize one global free market system
beginning in the early 1980's were not ideal, nor were the
Third World economies that resulted ideal.  But these
conditions and structures underline the fact that the
alternative to an economic Pax Romana built around the World
Bank-IMF-WTO system is not a Hobbesian state of nature. The
reality of international relations in a world marked by a
multiplicity of international and regional institutions that
check one another is a far cry from the propaganda image of
a "nasty" and "brutish" world. Of course, the threat of
unilateral action by the powerful is ever present in such a
system, but it is one that even the most powerful hesitate
to take for fear of its consequences on their legitimacy as
well as the reaction it would provoke in the form of
opposing coalitions.

In other words, what developing countries and international
civil society should aim at is not to reform the TNC-driven
WTO and BrettonWoods institutions, but, through a
combination of passive and active measures, to radically
reduce their powers and to turn them into just another set
of actors coexisting with and being checked by other
international organizations, agreements, and regional
groupings. These would include such diverse actors and
institutions as UNCTAD, multilateral environmental
agreements, the International Labor Organization, the
European Union, and evolving trade blocs such as Mercosur in
Latin America, SAARC in South Asia, SADCC in Southern
Africa, and a revitalized ASEAN in Southeast Asia.

More space, more flexibility, more compromise - these should
be the goals of the Southern agenda and the civil society
effort to build a new system of global economic governance.
It is in such a more fluid, less structured, more
pluralistic world, with multiple checks and balances, that
the nations and communities of the South - and the North - will
be able to carve out the space to develop based on their
values, their rhythms, and the strategies of their choice.

Let me quote John Gray one last time.  "It is legitimate and
indeed imperative," he says, "that we seek a form of
rootedness which is sheltered from overthrow by technologies
and market processes which in achieving a global reach that
is disembedded from any community or culture, cannot avoid
desolating the earth's human settlements and its non-human
environments."  The role of international arrangements in a
world where toleration of diversity is a central principle
of economic organization would be "to express and protect
local and national cultures by embodying and sheltering
their distinctive practices." (25)

Let us put an end to this arrogant globalist project of
making the world a synthetic unity of individual atoms shorn
of culture and community.  Let us herald, instead, an
internationalism that is built on, tolerates, respects, and
enhances the diversity of human communities and the
diversity of life.

    Walden Bellow - Executive Director of Focus on the Global
    South, a program of research, analysis, and advocacy of the
    Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute (CUSRI)
    in Bangkok, Thailand; and Professor of Sociology and Public
    Administration at the University of the Philippines.  Author
    or co-author of 11 books on Asian economic and political
    issues, including A Siamese Tragedy: Development and
    Disintegration in Modern Thailand (London: Zed Press, 1998)
    and Dragons in Distress: Asia's Miracle Economies in Crisis
    (London: Penguin, 1992)

1. C. Fred Bergsten, "The Backlash against Globalization," Speech
delivered at the 2000 Meeting of the Trilateral Commission, Tokyo,
April 2000.  Downloaded from Internet.
2. Cited in Giovanni Andrea Cornia, "Inequality and Poverty Trends
in the Era of Liberalization and Globalization," Paper delivered at the
"United Nations Millenium Conference," Tokyo, January 19-20,
3. Ibid.; see also, "Number of World's Poor Unchanged in the
1990's," Reuters, August 3, 2000.
4. Cornia.
5. Quoted in Associated Press, reproduced in Business World, Nov.
15, 1999.
6. Op-ed column, Washington Post, reproduced in Today (Manila),
Nov. 15, 1999.
7. Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (New York:
Vintage Books, 1989).
8. Ralph Nader, speech at International Forum on Globalization
Teach-in on  "The Social, Ecological, Cultural, and Political Costs of
Economic Globalization," Riverside Church, New York, Nov. 10,
1995; quoted in Joshua Karliner, The Corporate Planet (San
Francisco: Sierra Club, 1997), p. 207.
9. Press briefing, Seattle, Washington, Dec. 2, 1999.
10. Quoted in "Deadline Set for WTO Reforms," Guardian News
Service, Jan. 10, 2000.
11. Bergsten.
12. James Wolfensohn, Memo on "Disruptions at Spring Meetings,"
World Bank, Washington, DC, April 13, 2000.
13. Bergsten.
14. Ibid.
15. Prime Minister Anthony Blair, Speech at the World Economic
Forum, Davos, Switzerland, January 28, 2000.
16. Ibid.
17. Ibid.
18. Bergsten.
19. Letter of International Coalition against Global Compact, July 26,
20. The Wolfensohn memo, above, is an interesting exercise in this
branding or categorization of NGOs.
21. Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1971).
22. John Gray, False Dawn (New York: New Press, 1998), p. 207.
23. Ibid.
24. For excellent recent critiques of the corporation, see David
Korten, When Corporations Rule the World (San Francisco:
Kumarian Press/Beret-Koehler, 1995), Joshua Karliner, The
Corporate Planet (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1997), and
Richard Barnet and John Cavanagh, Global Dreams: Imperial
Corporations and the New World Order (New York: Simon and
Shuster, 1994).
25. John Gray, Enlightenment's Wake (London: Routledge, 1995), p.

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