WTO Campaign, was Re: The 10 Worst Corporations of 1999

Carrol Cox cbcox at SPAMilstu.edu
Fri Dec 31 14:21:42 MST 1999

Louis Proyect wrote:

> The Ten Worst Corporations of 1999 By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
> There is of course no one single answer to these and the many other
> critical questions [SNIP] But there is one
> connecting theme that serves, at least, as a partial answer to many of
> these questions: concentrated corporate power.

Those who make "corporate power" the enemy (and Mokhiber & Weissman
are prototypical) are today our partial friends; but we must be clear that
"corporate power" is a deliberate (and fundamentally anti-marxist) euphemism
for Capitalism. There is currently a debate on lbo-talk which reflects a
debate going on all over the world, in connection with the WTO campaign.
The debate has been framed as "nix it" vs "fix it." The liberal, or I would
say sell-out, position is being framed with the slogan "Fix it or Nix it."
This is should be contrasted to an only apparently similar slogan of
some community organizing in the '60s: Jobs or Income Now." Note that
the latter specified *results*. The "Nix it or Fix it" campaign specifies
only language in some pointless international agreemens as the content
of "Fix It." Various NGOs. AFL-CIO bureaucrats, and liberal Thinktanks
(e.g., Max Sawiciki's EPI) are behind the Nix it or Fix it campaign.

Nader (with whom Mokhiber & Weissman arre associated) and
the Naderites are preeminent among those who are preaching a
retreat from the demand that energized Seattle: Destroy the WTO.

Incidentally -- one great service Lou's former party the SWP provided
the antiwar movement was simplifying a mess of complex suggestions
about "what we should do in Vietnam" to "Bring the troops home."
Great mass campaigns -- and particularly those which are decentralized
 and with out an established leadership -- can only grow and succeed
when organized around such clear-cut slogans. You can't organize
mass struggle around complex amendments to the language of
complex bureaucratic procedures (and then leave it to your enemies
to implement the alleged changes).

I hope Comrade Bond will not object to my attaching to the end of
this post his post on the subject on lbo-talk.



Patrick Bond, on LBO-TALK:

On 29 Dec 99, at 15:32, Nathan Newman wrote:
> > -----Original Message-----
> > On Behalf Of Jeffrey St. Clair
> > [another example of how the beltway crowd "out-thinks" itself. they
> > admit WTO can't be fixed, but plot a campaign to do just that.--jsc]
> No they don't, which is why a two sentence ad hominen analysis
> very little to building real coalitions, as opposed to selling copy in a
> magazine.
> The key sentence in the strategy piece is:
> "The thing about this approach is if the 10 points were to be
> we effectively have just killed the WTO and replaced it with a new
> institution even if it is still called WTO. If the key changes to prune
> back WTO are not made, then we got on the warpath with added credibility
> as to why it has to go and cannot be repaired and we need to start over.
> (ie either WTO bends or it breaks."

Nathan, I've got to join Jeff's team on this again. Here's my
nightmare deja vu: that language is EXACTLY the babble spoken 5
years ago when the 50th anniversary of the World Bank evoked
massive popular consciousness and protest. But the sharpies in
Washington (a different set, then) also went into email-type
discussion sessions mainly with each other, and also generated
about about 10 extremely progressive reforms for the WB, and
claimed precisely -- same language, you wouldn't believe it -- that
"if the WB actually adopted our reforms, it would have to shut
down." But in reality, any attempt by movement people to actually
put the "shut down" (or defund) demand squarely on the table got
suffocated in this reformist babble. I remember Kevin Danaher of
Global Exchange advancing the WB Bond Boycott idea to a 50
Years Meeting for the first time back in 1995, with his
multicoloured literature at that (but he wasn't even given a platform,
he raised the strategy/tactic from the floor in a packed workshop
session, to great enthusiasm). Indeed there was just no space on
the plenary -- organised by Inside-Beltwayers -- until around the
1998 50 Years parallel meeting of the WB/IMF, when finally some
tentative calls for Nix It were made. So as an international
movement, we were effectively set back 5 years, just twiddling
thumbs calling for same old same old environment, gender,
transparency and participation reforms. We got some. We also got
more brutal neoliberal economics.

But now it really is time to talk straight to comrades across this
growing global movement. Inside-Beltway sharpies--even extremely
impressive comrades at Nader's office--have got to remember that.
People get turned off if they are given bizarre messages about
reforming those monsters, when in their gut and with their analysis,
every activist knows it's time to blow off the WTO/WB/IMF.

Patrick Bond

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