Monday, 27 May 2013

The global kleptocracy: 'free trade' and corporate economic imperialism

Whilst arguments rage in the UK about the aftermath of the horrific and senseless murder of a soldier in Woolwich, around the world corporations are continuing to push ahead with globalisation by looting the natural resources of developing nations and destroying the livelihoods of indigenous peoples. This is capitalism actively creating poverty in action. A recent article in the Guardian reported that:
"Land conflicts between farmers and plantation owners, mining companies and developers have raged across Indonesia as local and multinational companies have been encouraged to seize and then deforest customary land – land owned by indigenous people and administered in accordance with their customs. More than 600 were recorded in 2011, with 22 deaths and hundreds of injuries. The true number is probably far greater, say watchdog groups."
When this happens, there is invariably collusion between local politicians,  and the police and army, and the corporations, resulting in deaths and injuries to people trying to defend their land and resources. These are the very same corporations we are told we should be supporting, because they provide jobs and create wealth. But this is simply theft. This is the 'free' market in action, showing its true face.

Not so long ago this is what the empires of Britain, France and other colonial powers were doing, but since then nothing has really changed apart from the fact that this naked exploitation is hidden behind a veil of corporate respectability and underpinned by a raft of secretive trade agreements, supported by global organisations like the WTO. The impact of this, long evident in developing nations, is now being felt in western countries, in Europe and the UK, as the same corporations loot our pensions and asset strip our public services, putting profit before people. One of the best explanations of this process I've read 'Globalisation and Democracy' by Michael Parenti which I can't recommend highly enough. Parenti nails the mechanisms by which the 1% and corporations, which I like to call the 'global kleptocracy' steal wealth from the rest of us:
"With international “free trade” agreements such as NAFTA, GATT, and FTAA, the giant transnationals have been elevated above the sovereign powers of nation states. These agreements endow anonymous international trade committees with the authority to prevent, over rule, or dilute any laws of any nation deemed to burden the investmentand market prerogatives of transnational corporations. These tradecommittees–of which the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a prime example—set up panels composed of “trade special ists” who act as judges over economic issues, placing themselves above the rule and popular control of any nation, thereby insuring the supremacy of international finance capital. This process, called globalization, is treated as an inevitable natural “growth” development beneficial to all. It is in fact a global coup d’├ętat by the giant business interests of the world [my italics]."
The latest of these agreements is the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) , which is a further extension of corporate power, enabling corporations to bypass or overrule the democratic decision of our elected governments. Our leading politicians, including President Obama, are promoting this corporate destruction of our democratic rights. We need to raise awareness of what is happening not only because of the destructive power of globalisation, but because it is a theft, not only of land and resources but also our democratic sovereignty.

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