August 3 2003
Dear Richard, Re: Too much theatre, too little debate - [RM archive copy]
I think your criticism of the "anti-globalists" is way off, in a number of ways.
1. First, these people who protest the so-called 'trade" talks are not "against" any and all types of globalisation as the "pro-globalisers" like to pretend - we (I am one who supports the street actions, although cannot be there in person) are against the ongoing drive to create new so-called "trade" treaties which are actually designed to benefit the wealthy corporations of the world by continually expropriating and exploiting the resources and labour of less-developed countries (not to mention the less-affluent in our own countries, but that is something for another day), by many means fair and foul, which these "treaties" basically try to legitimise and give the force of international law, such as it is. It is rather nonsensical to call us/them "anti-globalist" - we are and have been in the forefront of using modern communication techniques such as the internet, for instance, to work together all around the world, in almost every country in the world, against all odds, I might add, to put together a **global** movement to fight for justice and freedom for all people everywhere - not to mention related things such as stopping war and killing - which are, again, as much as not tools of giant MNCs to increase their profits in many ways (I'm sure you're aware of the corporate killing going on in Iraq right now for Bush's friends, or perhaps masters would be a more accurate word, and the related international arms trade which, if the "pro-globalists" were serious about helping people in developing countries, they would be doing a great deal more to curtail). As with trade - we are not in any way "anti-" trade - we are **pro** FAIR trade, in which the people who do the work and whose resources are consumed in producing goods or services get the lion's share of the benefit from those goods and services, and the labour and resources that went into their production, rather than having their labour and resources essentially stolen by completely rigged "trade" deals for the benefit of those MNCs.
2. You say "..If their purpose was to get a public debate started about Globalisation, they failed miserably.." - I would like to point out to you that the "failure" to have a public debate about this is rather obviously not the fault of the protesters, but the rather apparently very deliberate refusal of both government and media to dare to engage in such a debate!! - the protesters desperately want and have been wanting for years such a public discussion of these very important issues, but the complete stonewalling of such a debate by both government and media is precisely what makes street protests such as this one, and the many before, a necessity! Witness Pettigrew, supposedly representing the people of Canada as a "trade" minister, wandering around saying such nonsense as 'the anti-globalisation movement is dead!", and very falsely and even stupidly accusing us of "promoting" poverty in developing countries - as you yourself mockingly do in the first of this piece. I would suggest to you that the refusal to hold such a debate or debates is because both the government and the media-supporters of such "trade" deals (few protesters own newspapers!) know very well that, although FAIR trade and increased prosperity for ALL of the peoples of the world are indeed very laudable objectives, the current "trade" talks will not achieve such a thing - for the very simple reason they are not designed to achieve such a thing, and the true motives of these trade talks as outlined above - increasing the power and wealth of MNCs and their "investors" at the expense of the poor people and countries of the world - would be impossible to conceal in any kind of open, ongoing debate about them, and the rather disgusting dissembling and even lies of the government and the supporters of these talks would become evident.
3. Finally (I could go on at length, but I do not hold out much hope of having any impact here or even receiving a reply, so am not going to spend a lot of time on this) I would point out your greatest fallacy - I expect you are well aware of this, which would (by your omission of it) put your entire article into the realm of establishment propaganda, but in case you have forgotten, I will point it out to you - you say that there are a number of reasons developing countries remain poor, including corrupt government, diseases such as AIDS, and perhaps things like agricultural subsidies in the west - the big talking point of the current round - but I would submit to you that although these things are certainly important, there is one major, overriding reason so-called developing countries are finding it next to impossible to get on their feet - and that is the odious debts that have been levied upon them over decades of so-called IMF, World Bank, etc loans - debts which now eat up anywhere from 20-50% of their entire budgets simply in paying the usurious "service charges" on these debts, many or most of which have been repaid several times over already, yet rather magically, and to the obvious benefit of the loaning countries and the MNCs, simply get bigger and bigger, year after year, and it is that iron boot of debt on their necks which keeps them in financial bondage. Given the circumstances under which most of these "debts" were incurred - in which anywhere up to 90% or more of the billions in so-called aid was simply transferred into private bank accounts of completely corrupt dictators like Marcos or Suharto or Amin or many others (through complicit (they could not have not known what was becoming of their "aid"), and therefore equally corrupt, loaning agencies), it is absolutely criminal to hold the people of these countries to ransom year after year and demand they repay these debts on penalty of exclusion from the western markets - yet that is what most western governments continue to demand. And as long as they do, any talk at all of "lifting" these countries out of their poverty by "trade" will continue to be farcical at best - and a lot of people believe it is criminal, in reality.
Anyways, Richard, I will leave it at that - but I will also issue a challenge - although I am far from the most knowledgeable person to be talking about these things, I am at least aware of the issues - the REAL issues! - and I would be more than happy to engage you in an honest debate in the pages of your paper about these issues - I too agree that they need very badly to be debated, and am most disappointed in both the Canadian government and the Canadian media that they basically refuse to do so.
What about you? Walk the walk? Or just bury this letter like your newspapers bury every other effort we make to talk about the real issues at stake in the current "trade" talks? (And then continue to berate us for "not talking" about them!!)
[[haha.... a polite, albeit occasionally rude, reader]