The Effects of Globalization and the WTO on Third World

Xxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx at xxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx
Sat Apr 7 09:14:18 MDT 2001



For Brian! criticizing the effects of Globalization and WTO on third world
countries has nothing to do with chauvanism. Anti-globalization students at
Seattle were protesting these effects, ie  the labor consequences of NAFTA
and other free trade arrangements elsewhere, such as sweat shops and union
free environments in the third world. You should  not conflate Pat's
opposition to globalization with the progressive opposition to
globalization. These are two seperate issues, and if you conflate, you end
up defending the status qou or making a revisionist case for the efficacy
of capitalism through free trade=imperialism!

Xxxx

Here is an article posted by Lou a while ago.

http://www.mail-archive.com/marxism@lists.panix.com/msg19526.html

Village Voice, Week of March 14 - 20, 2001

      Global Harming by Rick Perlstein

      Views From the South: The Effects of Globalization and the WTO on
Third
      World Countries
      Food First Books and the International Forum on Globalization, 175
pp., $12.95

      Five Days That Shook The World
      By Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair
      Verso, 118 pp., $20

      Let's say you're a farmer. That's  not a stretch: According to the
new
      book Views From the South:  The Effects of Globalization and  the WTO
on
      Third World Countries,  three-quarters of humanity earns  its living
from
      agriculture. You're  South Asian; that's not unlikely,  either.
One-fifth
      of the world's  population lives on the  subcontinent. Once upon a
time you
      grew the foods you and your neighbors actually ate, diverse cereal
grains,
      which kept stomachs comfortably full even if they left your village
poor in
      cash. Now you have been globalized—pressured to raise commodities for
sale
      abroad. Integrating the nation into the "global marketplace" was not
your
      choice—not even your prime minister's choice. It was, simply, an
imperative
      if India was to receive the International Monetary Fund and World
Bank
      loans it needs to survive.

      Unfortunately you grow soybeans. You are forced to charge much more
than
      your competitors in America, who sell their beans at $155 a ton;
that's
      because American farmers get paid outright by the government $193 for
every
      ton they grow. India could never afford such subsidies. But even if
it
      could, that would be illegal; international trade rules disallow such
      subsidies unless they are already written into national law. And
America
      has been paying off its farmers in this protectionist manner for over
65
      years.

      It's enough to make a used-car salesman blush. Or cause a farmer to
take
      his own life. In the district of Warangal, acreage once devoted to
grains
      and vegetables has been dug up at the siren song of "white
gold"—miracle
      hybrid cottonseeds devised in Western laboratories to yield Jack and
the
      Beanstalk-like bounties. Problem is, they don't turn out to yield all
that
      much. And they are so vulnerable to pests that chemical use in the
district
      went from $2.5 million for a typical year in the '80s to $50 million
three
      years ago. And where once farmers saved their seeds to use over again
each
      season, now they have to buy them fresh each year from the global
"life
      science" corporations that own the copyrights. Debt upon debt,
      hopelessness, no way out; and in 1998, 500 of Warangal's farmers died
by
      their own hand. This is what people are talking about when they talk
about
      the ravages of what those in power prefer to call "globalization."

      Views From the South, a splendidly constructed anthology of essays by
      leading Third World critics of the World Bank, the International
Monetary
      Fund, and the World Trade Organization, is a book to break your
heart. You
      want to cry when you read about the feisty tools the United Nations'
poor
      majority forged for themselves in the '60s and '70s to achieve record
      levels of economic growth, only to see them crushed as
"protectionist" by
      nations superciliously demanding a "level playing field" for First
World
      products. Learning how the WTO makes its rules, by a process it
prefers to
      call "consensus," which better resembles the techniques of a
street-side
      bunco artist—a sensitive soul might just blubber uncontrollably.
"I've
      always been on the side of the little guy," says WTO director general
      Michael Moore. It's not too much to begin calling the situation by
its
      proper name: evil. India's exports to Europe are less than half of
what
      they were before globalization began. Africa's food import bill has
doubled.

      What, dear reader, to do about it? You're way ahead of me: You've
seen
      those masses taking to the streets to protest globalization in
Seattle,
      Prague, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, seen the teargassing and
      paramilitaries on TV, read the exemplary coverage in this very
      newspaper—all of which give anyone with eyes to see the suspicion
that
      America is closer to becoming a police state than it ever has been.
You
      might, then, turn to Five Days That Shook the World, a new book of
      reporting on the antiglobalism activism that began in November 1999
at the
      WTO meeting in Seattle, in which you'll read about Madeleine Albright
      pressuring the mayor of America's most self-consciously liberal city
to
      declare the equivalent of martial law (Seattle's mayor resisted her
request
      to allow the federal government to take over the policing
altogether); a
      civil emergency declared in Detroit (2000 police in riot gear) for a
      meeting across the river in Canada; police holding kids against jail
walls
      by their necks until they turn blue; and police shutting down a
      Philadelphia convergence center based on intelligence that it was
being run
      by "the former Soviet-allied World Federation of Trade Unions." But
you
      also might put Five Days down in frustration. They say that
journalism is
      the first draft of history. That doesn't mean that journalists are
supposed
      to publish their first drafts as history.

      It's hard to trust a book that hasn't learned some very basic lessons
in
      punctuation, doesn't know whether Seattle boasts a "Mayor Shell" or a
      "Mayor Schell," offers its sympathy to war-torn "Etitrea"—or boasts
of a
      strong feminist tinge within the movement even while leaving off the
cover
      the names of the two people who wrote the book's most riveting
chapters,
      both of whom happen to be women. (Many of the book's chapters are
signed,
      though none by Alexander Cockburn, which isn't surprising since
Cockburn's
      delightfully distinctive writing voice is nowhere to be discerned in
its
      pages.)

      Five Days That Shook the World bears an argument, an important one,
and one
      worth chewing on with friends: that rather than having forged a
triumphant
      coalition between unionists, Greens, and passionate young devotees of
      "direct action," Seattle and its aftermath were successful only when
the
      more radical forces of direct action drowned out the enfeebled,
      establishment-addled voices of groups like the Sierra Club and the
AFL-CIO.
      But it's carried on here in sound bites, ad hominems, macho
posturing, and,
      too often, editorial incoherence. I've never seen a more slapdash
book.
      There's evil out there. The victims deserve better.

---
Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
Ph.D Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222






More information about the Marxism mailing list