There Is an Alternative to Corporate Rule

Published on STWR (share the world resources), by Mark Engler, Sept. 08, 2008.

One of the remarkable features of modern political life is how consistently global elites deny that viable alternatives to the current global order exist, even as the terrain of international politics rapidly shifts. The “imperial globalists” that rose to power in the Bush years contend that without U.S. military strength decisively projected abroad, the forces of evil will sweep the globe. Meanwhile, “corporate globalists” of Wall Street persist in their belief that, in the post-Cold War world, we have no choice but to embrace the continual advance of the “free” market …

… Just Saying No, or First Do No Harm:

The ideas, experiences, and proposals of the World Social Forum provide a trove of information for all those who want to construct a new agenda for the global economy. At the same time, as long as democratic movements do not have the power to overrule political and economic elites, there exists an important case for just saying “no” — for first insisting that those now in power stop doing harm …

… When Washington mandates a more “flexible” labor market –one without unions or worker protections – an alternative is to defend living wages, collective bargaining, and the right to associate. And when IMF bailouts for wealthy investors create a situation in which, to paraphrase author Eduardo Galeano, “risk is socialized while profit is privatized,” an alternative is simply to end these bailouts, making speculators bear the cost of their gambles.

The demand to reverse neoliberal structural adjustment policies proposes a fundamentally different relationship between wealthy nations and the global South than currently exists. It would grant countries the freedom to determine their own economic policies, priorities for government spending, and rules for controlling foreign investment. Instead of imposing a single hegemonic model on the entire world, this new relationship would allow for broader diversity and experimentation in international development. While this does not by itself constitute a vision for ensuring human rights or protecting the environment, it nevertheless represents an important strategic gain. It alone would likely bring change of great enough magnitude to make the politics of the global economy look virtually unrecognizable to those who have grown accustomed to Washington-dictated corporate globalization.

Those who reject corporate and imperial models of globalization have a wealth of ideas at their disposal, a healthy internal debate to refine their strategies, and a vibrant, growing international network of citizens that see their efforts as part an interconnected whole. They also have very powerful enemies. Fortunately, as we enter the post-Bush era, the international community has voiced a firm rejection of unilateralism and preemptive war. Likewise, ever-larger swaths of the globe view the neoliberal doctrine of corporate expansion as a failed and discredited vision. This creates unique opportunities for citizens to fight to bring a democratic globalization into existence. More exciting still is that many people are already doing so, and, on key issues like debt relief and across entire regions like the Latin America, they are winning. The punditry is increasingly taking notice. For there is nothing so dangerous to those who insist that the world must remain as it is as the simple, stubbornly defiant doctrine of hope. (full text).

(Mark Engler, a senior analyst with Foreign Policy In Focus, is author of How to Rule the World: The Coming Battle Over the Global Economy (Nation Books, 2008), from which this article is adapted. He can be reached via the web site Democracy Uprising.com).

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