cj#971> Thomas Kocherry: GLOBALISATION NEEDS A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING

1999-08-04

Richard Moore

Dear cj,

I recommend the piece below for a number of reasons.  Kocherry writes well,
and speaks, I believe, from a broad and well-informed perspective.  After a
brief but cogent description of the globalization process, he focuses in on
the plight of the fishing industry and on traditional fishing communities.

These two paragraphs started me thinking about movement strategy...

    For the first time such a mass campaign is taking place. The
    victims of globalisation are asserting their rightful place
    in this planet. We feel an urgent need to create a new
    paradigm of development and politics, a paradigm in which
    all human beings have the right to live, with equal access
    to the resources and opportunities.

    About the writer: Thomas Kocherry, an Indian priest, lawyer
    and trade union leader, is a prominent leader of the
    traditional fisherpeople's movement in his country. He is
    one of the moving forces behind the World Forum of
    Fish-harvesters and Fishworkers and can be contacted via
    email at: •••@••.•••

I've written in the past that a successful movement against globalization
must be based in the West, since that's where the overwhelming power is.

On the other hand, I must acknowledge that Western populations are the
least likely to get stirred up over the fundamental issues.  The 'slow
boiling' approach is very effective - conditions in the West aren't
declining precipitously enough for ordinary people to feel a sense of
urgent danger to their own way of life.  Also effective is the power of the
media over Western minds.  As we recently observed re/Yugoslavia, the media
is capable of 'selling' almost any interpretation of events it chooses -
irregardless of what the facts might be.

In the third world, however, media repitition of Big Lies is not so
effective.  The realities of globalization are 'in the face' of third-word
peoples and there is a much broader constituency there for radical analysis
and for effective collective action.  I receive mailings from several
third-world groups who are involved in struggle, and most of them seem to
be very sensible people with a clear understanding of their situation and a
strong dedication to working for change.

I believe there are some lessons we can draw from the US Civil Rights
Movement of the sixties.  The movement began in the South, among those most
directly effected, but it gained its overwhelming political power only when
Northerners (who were considerably more numerous) responded sympathetically
and demanded reform.  The movement could not have begun in the North but,
in the final analysis, it could only be won in the North.

For better or for worse, Western populations seem to be strongly motivated
by sympathy for perceived underdogs.  This tendency is systematically
exploited by our elite leaders - whenever they want to wreak havoc, they
always gen up some underdog whom they can pretend to be 'saving'.
(Remember the baby-incubator scam?  Or the poor, innocent KLA?  Or the
'endangered students' in Grenada?)

---

I'd like to invite discussion on the following line of thinking...  Perhaps
the third world is the most likely source of a strong global movement
against globalization - or more accurately, _for global democracy,
self-determination, and sustainability.  Perhaps the most likely path for
the movement to follow is to first become strong and unified in the third
world, and for Westerners to be drawn in primarily out of sympathetic
support.  Once engaged, Westerners would find themselves confronting the
political hegemony of the capitalist elite in their own societies, and
perhaps this would encourage the necessary degree of 'radicalization' to
complete the creation a deeply committed and potent global movement for
societal transformation.

I'd like to hear people's thoughts on this scenario.  If it holds water, I
could imagine some new and different directions for Western organizing
aimed at accelerating the development this particular scenario.

Consider, for example, how those of us in the West could best support and
synergize with the heroic efforts of people like Thomas Kocherry and his
compatriots.

solidarity,
rkm


============================================================================
Delivered-To: moderator for •••@••.•••
From: "Tim Murphy" <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Fw: Globalisation needs a deeper understanding
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 01:29:21 +0100

---<fwd>---
Rich Winkel <•••@••.•••> wrote in message
news:<zzJn3.1462$•••@••.•••>...
/** twn.features: 301.0 **/
** Topic: Globalisation needs a deeper understanding **
** Written  5:18 PM  Jul 28, 1999 by •••@••.••• in cdp:twn.features

July 1999
GLOBALISATION NEEDS A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING

Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder, writer of the bestseller Sophie's World,
which is a novel about the history of philosophy, donated a large sum of his
fortune from book sales to the cause of environment and development. This
year's Sophie's Prize of US$100,000 was shared by the leader of the Indian
traditional fisherpeople Thomas Kocherry and American economics professor
Herman Daly. Below is Kocherry's acceptance speech, delivered on 15 June in
Oslo.

By Thomas Kocherry

 First of all I want to thank the Sophie Foundation for honouring me with
the Sophie Prize. In particular I thank Jostein Gaarder for creating the
Foundation for honouring such ventures to recognise and to encourage
re-imaging a world where every human being is equal in opportunities;
without discrimination on the basis of caste, class, creed, religion or
gender. Please accept my heartfelt thanks.

 Today we are in the context of 'globalisation' and 'liberalisation'. The
words look very attractive, but the vast majority of the people are the
victims of globalisation.

 Globalisation began with colonialism. In the 16th century Europe was
overpopulated and the people began to migrate from Europe to other
continents as if they were discovering new places. It ended up with
conquering other places and people. The Sword and the Cross went together.
They forcefully enslaved and converted natives and indigenous peoples. They
conquered lands, exploited the resources and accumulated wealth.

 In the 20th century, the world witnessed the uprising of peoples for
political freedom. However, economic exploitation continued through
multinational corporations (MNCs) and transnational corporations (TNCs). But
the rich and the ruling class of the newly freed Third World countries
generally sided with the MNCs for their own advantage, against the interest
of the common people.

 Again the natives and the indigenous peoples were the worst hit. As a
result, according to a UN study, today 20% Northern minority of humankind
has: 82.7% of world gross national product, 81.2% of world trade, 94.6% of
all commercial lending, 80.5% of all domestic investment, 80.6% of all
domestic savings, 94.0% of all research and development.

 It is in this context that we should understand 'globalisation' today.
Those who have more are bound to get more. This means more accumulation and
centralisation. The North's 20% people are better placed to take away even
the 10-20% of the wealth in the hands of 80% people in the South. The real
Centre is G8 countries and of course the USA is the real centre of the
centre.

 They are wielding the power of wealth and arms. They are placed in a better
position for quick profit at the expense of the vast majority of people and
the environment. All the rest are in the periphery. Thus, the
peripheralisation of the vast majority is the other side of globalisation.

 In the period following de-colonisation and political independence of the
Third World (South) countries particularly after World War II, the
international relationships among the countries at bilateral and
multilateral levels were considered very important and viewed as mutually
beneficial. This language and practice seems to be in the wane today.

 Northern MNCs want to take over the control of the UN. If the UN does not
dance according to their tune they will not give it their share. They are
more interested in strengthening the WTO than the UN. They talk of democracy
and human rights but they have no concern for the people of the South. The
market economy determines everything, there is no other value in life. Money
has more value than people of the South.

 The UN has become a weak instrument. Globalisation is beneficial to those
who have. All those who are have-nots are the victims. Globalisation is a
mechanistic process (and therefore most easily manipulatable by the wielders
of power) in the face of which there is no choice and alternative. This is
the most insidious aspect of this ideology: that it could present itself as
the only possible way of being. It creates a certain sense of inevitability
and absoluteness. Outside globalisation and the market economy, there is no
salvation.

 Let me show how this is true as regards the fisheries sector. In the 1990s
fishing reached the point of diminishing returns. Many fish populations have
fallen to levels from which they can no longer recover without significant
reductions in the catches or a moratorium on fishing. There are simply too
many boats catching too many fish.

 The first surge in numbers of fishing vessels occurred during the
industrial revolution. This upwell tapered off during the two World Wars,
but boomed again in the 1950s through the 1970s. The world's fishing fleet
doubled between 1970 and 1990. More than 100 million people in developing
countries (South) are dependent on fisheries for our livelihoods. For us
fishing is a way of life, not just a source of income. The Sea is our
mother.

 Traditionally, small-scale or artisanal fishers have provided fish for
local consumption; but as fish becomes scarce and its value increases, it
enters the global market and becomes unaffordable for common people.

 In the process we are displaced and the MNCs take over completely. Most
governments, particularly those of the North, are trying to prop up an
unsustainable fishery. According to the FAO, every year governments world
wide pay US$116 billion to catch just $70 billion worth of fish.

 Developed nations, which have overfished their own waters, have headed into
the waters of the developing nations. The European Union (EU) has around 40%
more vessels than necessary to catch fish on a sustainable basis.

 Volatile 'fish wars' are commonplace. There are more than one million large
industrial fleets in the world. They have depleted all the oceans in the
world. They have become a threat to the 100 million fisherpeople in the
world. Further, these have organic links with the coastal mono shrimp
culture.

 Fresh fish caught by the industrial vessels are converted into fishmeal for
the production of shrimp. Ten thousand tons of fish that would have been
available for common people are converted into fishmeal to produce 1,000
tons of shrimp that only the rich can afford to buy.

 Further, the coastal shrimp industry depletes fishing grounds, salinates
drinking water, destroys mangroves and displaces fisherpeople and
agriculturists who depend on these resources for their livelihood. In
addition, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has shifted
polluting industries to the coastal belts of the developing nations,
threatening the very lives of small fishing communities who are totally
dependent on fishing and fishing alone.

 All over the world the victims of globalisation - the small fishing
communities - are realising the need of coming together to establish our
right to life. We want to establish our right as persons. The World Forum of
Fish-harvesters and Fishworkers is the result of this realisation. The Forum
is involved in a campaign to establish the right of the fishing communities
to own the water-bodies, including seas and rivers, fishing implements and
distribution of the catch.

 Management of the distribution of the catch should be done by the
fisherwomen. We have declared November 21 as World Fisheries Day to claim
and to campaign for this right. We wish to establish our right by exercising
our duty, even through struggles and sacrifices.

 India's 10 million fisherpeople were able to change the government policy
of joint and lease fishing through long-standing struggles. Canadian
fisherpeople have been fighting against huge fishing vessels. The Gloucester
fisherpeople in the USA, particularly the wives of fishermen, have succeeded
in banning factory trawlers through legislation.

 In Senegal, fisherpeople are on a war path against destructive fishing. In
Brazil the fisherpeople are involved in a struggle against predatory
fishing. In Pakistan and in South Africa the fishing communities are
struggling to establish their right to life. Thus the fisherpeople in both
the North and South, who are victims of globalisation, are involved in
establishing a new paradigm of development and politics.

 We, the fisherpeople in India, are part of a larger alliance - the National
Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM) - all of whom are victims of
globalisation. There are over 150 peoples' movements in this alliance, not
only struggling to survive, but searching for alternatives to the present
form of development which in the long run is destructive for all.

 It is through these struggles that the whole of humanity is going to be
saved. True development is not by conquering and enslaving, not by
accumulating and centralising, not by displacing peoples and destroying
cultures. True development is only by integrating and working together,
through distributive justice and decentralisation by nurturing and including
native and indigenous peoples.

 It is here that the struggles of the victims of mega dams in India can be
understood. There are 3,600 mega dams in India. These have displaced 50
million natives, tribals and fisherpeople and have proved to be mass
destruction rather than development. These victims are involved in a
long-standing struggle to create a new paradigm of development, where native
skills and technologies are enhanced, small is accepted  as  beautiful and
sustainable and simplicity has become a  way of  life with due respect to
native cultures.

 We have gone to the extent of jal-samati - sacrificing ourselves in the
rising reservoirs - rather than inflicting violence upon others, for the
creation of this new paradigm. Right now, about 400 leaders, representing
different movements in India - farmers, fishworkers, people displaced by the
Narmada project and others - are in Europe campaigning against MNCs, TNCs
and the WTO.

 For the first time such a mass campaign is taking place. The victims of
globalisation are asserting their rightful place in this planet. We feel an
urgent need to create a new paradigm of development and politics, a paradigm
in which all human beings have the right to live, with equal access to the
resources and opportunities.

 Development cannot be measured solely by the quantity of production, but by
its sustainability, by its capacity to protect the livelihood of all human
beings. Production should be coupled with distributive justice. There is no
development for the sake of development.

 True globalisation should make free movement of labour unhindered by
national boundaries. Let the year 2000 be a real Jubilee Year; let the debts
of the developing countries be wiped out; and let all nations experience
true freedom and equality.

 The life of the planet and the dependent health and welfare of humanity
must not be sacrificed to the greed of the few. - Third World Network
Features

-ends-

About the writer: Thomas Kocherry, an Indian priest, lawyer and trade union
leader, is a prominent leader of the traditional fisherpeople's movement in
his country. He is one of the moving forces behind the World Forum of
Fish-harvesters and Fishworkers and can be contacted via email at:
•••@••.•••

When reproducing this feature, please credit Third World Network Features
and (if applicable) the cooperating magazine or agency involved in the
article, and give the byline. Please send us cuttings.

Third World Network is also accessible on the World Wide Web. Please visit
our web site at http://www.twnside.org.sg

1925/99

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