cj#873.1> (1/2) Introduction – final-final?

1998-12-03

Richard Moore

Dear rn, cj, and Bcc friends,

I believe the following TOC and Introduction are final-final, but comments
continue to be welcome.  I hope you enjoy.  A formatted version is on the
website, and a final-final Chapter 1 will show up there today or tomorrow.

Reviewers have continued to put in dedicated effort, with detailed
critiques and suggestions -- many thanks. This phase of the project has
been highly collaborative, leading to a much better product than I would
have been able to do on my own.

This material can be forwarded, for non-commercial use.

yours in solidarity,
rkm
http://cyberjournal.org

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                    Achieving a Livable, Peaceful World

                    A radical response to globalization

                        a book in progress - draft 2

                     Copyright 1998 by Richard K. Moore
                       Latest update: 2 December 1998
                    comments to: •••@••.•••

                        Summary of Contents [1 page]

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Table of Contents
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Introduction [5100 words] - Globalization and Western society: nations
betrayed

Part I - Corporate rule and global ruin: understanding the dynamics of
today's world

     Chapter 1 [11,000 words] - Evolution of Western power: from
     national rivalries to collective imperialism, by way of American
     hegemony

     Chapter 2 - Evolution of elite power: from kingdoms to corporate
     rule, by way of republics

     Chapter 3 - Evolution of capitalism: the growth imperative,
     societal engineering, and the finite Earth

Part II - Envisioning a livable world: an inquiry into democracy,
sustainability, and world order

     Introduction

     Chapter 4 - Sustainable societies: a realizable necessity

     Chapter 5 - Democracy: harmonization, not factionalism

     Chapter 6 - Stable world order: collaborative internationalism and
     the trap of world government

Part III - Achieving a livable world: a strategic framework for global
transformation

     Introduction

     Chapter 7 - Building a global movement: learning from history and
     moving beyond class struggle

     Chapter 8 - Engaging the corporate regime: anticipating elite
     responses and avoiding co-option

     Chapter 9 - The Democratic Renaissance: making the transition to a
     livable world

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Introduction - Globalization and Western society: nations betrayed
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In May 1998, at the United Nations building in Geneva, US President Bill
Clinton opened his keynote address with the words, "Globalization is not a
policy choice; it is a fact". The occasion was the fiftieth anniversary of
GATT (General Agreement Tariffs and Trade), the first of the postwar
free-trade agreements.

His statement suggests a number of questions: What is globalization? Where
did it come from? Where is it heading? What does it mean to ordinary people
in different parts of the world? What does it mean for national sovereignty,
and for constitutional democracy? Whose interests does it serve? Why does
the world's most powerful leader say that even he has no choice about it? Is
globalization really inevitable?


Market forces -- old wine in new bottles
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
At the heart of globalization is the doctrine of free trade and a belief in
the virtue of market forces. This doctrine, enunciated most clearly in 1776
by the Scotsman Adam Smith, came to dominate the Western world in the
nineteenth century(1). Economists called it "laissez-faire capitalism", and
philosophers justified it as "Social Darwinism". Smith spoke of market
forces as an "invisible hand": if each individual and business pursues their
own self-interests, then a kind of "invisible hand" will, theoretically,
guide the overall economy to society's best advantage. Smith backed up his
conclusions with an early example of systems analysis, showing how the
forces of supply and demand act themselves out in the marketplace, with
beneficial effect. There is, however, an all-important proviso: Smith's
analysis requires that society provide sufficient guidance -- market
regulation -- to ensure fair and open competition. If monopolies are allowed
to arise, they upset the workings of the invisible hand and they amount to a
form of tyranny. For the "invisible hand" of the market to work for societal
benefit, government must provide an overseeing "guiding hand" in the form of
regulation and anti-monopoly enforcement.

     People of the same trade seldom meet together... but the
     conversation ends in a conspiracy against the publick, or in some
     contrivance to raise prices.
     - Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

Wealthy industrialists, in the nineteenth century and again today, were
happy to adopt Smith's notion of unfettered markets, because it maximized
their freedom to make money. But they were also happy to ignore his warnings
about government regulation. The laissez-faire doctrine is one of
unregulated free markets -- a perversion of Smith's model, with the
tyrannical consequences Smith anticipated. The result then, as now, was the
creation of powerful monopolies -- large enterprises which dominate and
manipulate markets to their own advantage. In economic theory, free markets
are about fair exchanges among large numbers of small producers and
consumers. But in political reality, the free-market doctrine results in the
concentration of wealth into a few hands.

In the US, the nineteenth-century laissez-faire period is sometimes called
the "robber baron" era. Magnates like John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil) and
Andrew Carnegie (US Steel) built gigantic economic empires. Such "robber
barons" forced competitors out of business or bought them out. They
monopolized transport, energy, and finance, and charged "whatever the
traffic will bear". With their wealth, they exerted considerable power over
government policy -- Rockefeller bragged about how many Governors were "in
his pocket". Economic power was translated into political power, which only
served to further consolidate economic power. In the nineteenth century,
national economies were being integrated and monopolized by colorful robber
barons; today, faceless transnational corporations (TNC's) are integrating
and monopolizing the global economy. Once again "free competition" is the
rhetoric while concentration of wealth and power is the reality(2).

     The masters make the rules, for the wise men and the fools...
     - Bob Dylan, "It's Alright Ma (I'm only bleeding)"

Capitalist elites play a central role in the dynamics of a laissez-faire
era. It is through their political influence that the laissez-faire doctrine
becomes government policy, and it is through their monopolistic ambitions
that they come to dominate economies. The reality of a laissez-faire society
is the exploitation of society by a wealthy, capitalist elite(3). The
free-market rhetoric justifies their freedom of action, but it does not
deliver the societal benefits that Smith envisioned. The nineteenth century
was a time of widespread exploitation of child labor, poor wages, long
working hours, dangerous working conditions, no pensions or sick-pay, dire
poverty, boom-and-bust economic cycles, giant monopolies and trusts,
super-wealthy magnates, and government corruption.

During the Irish Famine of the 1840's, while hundreds of thousands were
starving, Britain refused on principle to provide assistance: such
assistance would interfere, said the British Government, with market forces.
Meanwhile, British landowners exported tons of food daily from Irish
ports(4). Today, as disease and famine infest the third-world, market forces
are offered once again by the West as the prescribed solution. And once
again coffee and beef plantations, for example, export tons of products
daily from the same countries which are experiencing famine(5).

Today, as then, the rhetoric of free markets is used to justify exploitation
of those at the bottom, while at the same time giant corporations exempt
themselves from the harshness of free-market discipline. They instead avail
themselves of government subsidies, lucrative government contracts,
expensive bail-outs, and favored tax treatment(6). An investment fund for
billionaires, "Long Term Capital Management", got in trouble recently due to
its own unwise gambling in the markets. The US Federal Reserve quickly and
quietly organized a $3.5 billion bail-out fund. In contrast, when a
hurricane left 10,000 dead and millions homeless in Central America a few
months later, through no fault of their own, the West's rescue package came
to a mere $200 million -- less than six percent of the bail-out figure(7).

The conditions of the nineteenth century laissez-faire era were so
deplorable that massive popular movements arose against the regime of
capitalist domination(8). Labor unions, socialist movements, and reformist
groups worked stridently for higher wages and better working conditions, the
busting up of monopolies and trusts, regulation of banking and industry, and
the reform of government. Suppression of union movements was brutal, with
the government and police usually siding with management during strikes and
disputes. Whenever a depression or major recession occurred, which happened
regularly, these popular movements gained added strength. The laissez-faire
era gradually gave over, in fits and starts, to an era of reform. Capitalism
continued as the primary engine of the economy, but most Western governments
began to impose a "guiding hand", as Adam Smith had insisted they should,
and as John Maynard Keynes and others rediscovered. Competition was
re-introduced where monopoly had prevailed, and many of the reforms which
workers and others had fought for were eventually implemented(9).


Postwar prosperity and the Crisis of Democracy
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
This tide of friendlier capitalism reached its peak in the postwar
(post-1945) era. In the US, there had been Roosevelt's New Deal, and when
the war was over, returning soldiers received educational and housing
subsidies. The US had effective labor protections, anti-trust legislation,
regulated industry, stabilized finances, a Social Security pension program,
and an economic policy aimed at general prosperity and low unemployment. The
savings and loan industry was established to make home ownership available
to millions(10). In France, the Front Populaire (1936-38) had already
achieved considerable social gains(11). In postwar Britain and Europe
extensive social programs were implemented, including free health care,
housing assistance, and government operation of transport and utilities.
Corporate profits soared, and the taxes they paid kept budget deficits
within manageable bounds. Western prosperity seemed to be climbing
ever-upward, and the prosperity was being shared by large segments of the
population -- particularly the burgeoning middle classes(12).

By 1948, the Bretton Woods agreements had led to a stable international
financial system, backed up by the World Bank and the International Monetary
Fund (IMF)(13). Major currencies were given fixed exchange rates to the
dollar, and the dollar was fixed at $35 per ounce of gold. Western nations
enforced controls over the flows of capital across their borders, and the
IMF and World Bank acted as flywheels to stabilize international finance.
The Bretton Woods arrangements served as a "guiding hand" to the global
economy, and the hyper-inflation and currency collapses which followed World
War I were avoided, at least in the West.

In the postwar era it seemed that capitalist and popular interests had
achieved a mutually beneficial political arrangement in the West. With this
friendlier version of capitalism, one might have expected Western
populations to be grateful and content. But at the crest of Western popular
prosperity and well being, in the sixties and seventies, massive movements
arose against what was called "the establishment"(14). The civil-rights,
anti-Vietnam War, environmental, and "New Left" movements gained strength
and achieved political influence.

Middle- and upper-class youths, the prime beneficiaries of postwar
prosperity, championed these protest movements. They questioned the actions
of their governments, the organization of their societies and even the
motives of their elders. Those elders -- who still commanded the heights --
reacted with shock and anger. And perhaps as well with fear.

Abraham Maslow (1908-70), with his "hierarchy of needs", can perhaps help
explain this postwar youth rebellion. According to his observations and
research, people must have their basic needs satisfied before they pay much
attention to their higher needs(15). The most basic needs are physiological,
such as for food and sleep. After that comes security, membership in family
or group, and self esteem and recognition. Only after those are all
satisfied are people likely to worry about their highest needs, which Maslow
described as "self-actualization".

The prosperous and rebellious youth of the sixties were raised in the
postwar era. Unlike their parents, who had lived through depression and war,
they rarely had to worry about their basic needs. They were the first
Western generation, since industrialization at least, where a majority was
able to indulge themselves with "self-actualization"(16). And,
significantly, they were a generation that had been raised on the grand
rhetoric of justice, universal democracy, the end of imperialism, and the
defeat of dictatorship.

Apparently, the youth of the sixties believed fervently in the rhetoric they
had been raised on, and given the freedom to "self-actualize", they seemed
determined to make the rhetoric come true. Some chose to "drop out" and
indulge in personal "self actualization", but many others became politically
active. "Freedom Riders" risked their lives to assist the Civil Rights
movement in the American South. Students held strikes and "teach in's", and
physically attacked university facilities that were associated with
militarism. Counselling networks were set up in the US to help young people
understand their rights as war protesters and learn how they could avoid
being sent to Vietnam. Globally popular entertainers such as Bob Dylan and
Joan Baez developed the protest-song genre, and sang out blistering moral
attacks on racism, exploitation, and military adventurism.

These kinds of activism, largely non-violent, created a potential crisis for
the capitalist system, as the youth generation grew up and eventually would
become a voting majority. If they retained their idealism, and their
rejection of materialist values, it did not bode well for maximizing
capitalist growth and development. Elite planners took note of this crisis.
In 1975, Samuel P. Huntington, an esteemed member of the influential
Trilateral Commission and Council on Foreign Relations, offered his analysis
in a paper called The Crisis of Democracy(17).

According to Huntington, democratic societies "cannot work" unless the
citizenry is "passive". The "democratic surge of the 1960s" represented an
"excess of democracy", which must be reduced if governments are to carry out
their "traditional policies", both domestic and foreign. Huntington's
priorities are clear: the capitalist system comes first, government's role
is to sustain it, and "democracy", whatever that may be, cannot be allowed
to interfere. That is to say, the purpose of government in Huntington's eyes
is to control the people, not to represent them. In 1980, Alan Wolfe, in the
anthology Trilateralism, wrote:

     The warning that comes across clearly from a reading of The Crisis
     of Democracy is that some people with access to the center of
     power now understand that the change in popular attitudes toward
     government will necessitate a rapid dismantling of the whole
     structure of liberal democracy(18).

     Note: "Liberal" has nearly opposite meanings in the US and Europe.
     The European sense of "liberal" is similar to the American term
     "conservative", while the American Heritage dictionary defines
     "liberal" as "political views or policies that favor civil
     liberties, democratic reforms, and the use of governmental power
     to promote social programs". Wolfe uses the American sense of the
     word. The term "neoliberal", of European origin, is essentially a
     synonym for "laissez-faire" -- the doctrine of unregulated free
     markets.

There are good reasons to take notice of Wolf's warning, regarding the
"rapid dismantling of the whole structure of liberal democracy". For one
thing, Huntington is indeed a person with "access to the center of power".
Ideas published by elite think tanks such as the Trilateral Commission and
the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) frequently become US policy in later
administrations. In old issues of Council's Foreign Affairs journal, and in
the memorandums of the Council, one can find the origins of many of the most
significant US policy decisions of the twentieth century, such as when to
enter World War II, and how to restructure the postwar world(19).

Not every idea generated by elite think tanks is adopted as policy, but
there is considerable evidence that Huntington's Crisis of Democracy
reflected a consensus of elite thinking. Since his article was published in
1975, there have been several radical shifts in Western policy, each of
which has served either to undermine democratic institutions, to disempower
nations, or to dismantle the structures of society itself. These policy
shifts are in fact rapidly "dismantling of the whole structure of liberal
democracy".


(continued...)
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