Of course, there is no greater lie than the suggestion that economic globalization done along corporate-friendly lines has been good for the world's poor.
Just as this form of globalization has robbed American communities of factories and service jobs and has impoverished farmers in the United States, so it has deprived the poor of developing countries of traditional livelihoods and hope for a better life.
It has to be that way because, for multinational corporations to reap the excessive profits their shareholders demand, they must squeeze the last penny out of even the poorest of the poor.
Yet, while that much should be obvious, you will still see the dupes and stooges of corporate capital pitching for free trade, market reforms and privatization. Unfortunately, while they are consistently wrong, the dupes and stooges continue to occupy stations of great influence in both major political parties and most of the major media in the United States. As a result, the lie that says globalization leads to prosperity for the poor continues to be spread.
But it is going to be harder to sell the lie, now that the results are in from India's national elections.
India has been held up in recent years as a globalization success story. The country's high-tech economy and its much-talked-about "call centers" - where so many U.S. companies service their accounts - have become symbols of the sort of globalization that is, at the least, good for the poor. Critics of outsourcing point to India as the place where U.S. jobs are being shipped, with some accuracy. But supporters of globalization respond with the claim that India's rapid growth rate is creating a better future for historically dispossessed people.
Last week, the people of India got a chance to weigh in. And guess what?
Supporters of corporate globalization were voted out of office in the most stunning political upset in the country's history.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had embraced the corporate model of globalization, willingly accepting the dictates of the World Bank, selling off even profitable state-owned firms to foreign investors, and dramatically cutting business tax rates. A small sector of the India economy did boom, and the BJP sought a new term with a campaign that celebrated that growth. Its slogan was: "India shining."
Pollsters, pundits and business analysts predicted an easy victory for the BJP.
But the voters had a different view. They recognized that India's so-called "boom" has not shined on most Indians. As one opposition party slogan asked, "What did the common man get?" The answer was "nothing." And in India, where poor people vote at the same or sometimes higher rates than the rich, anger over the elitist nature of the boom proved to be decisive.
The BJP was swept from office, to be replaced by a coalition led by the Congress Party of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and, now, Sonia Gandhi, and the Left Front, an alliance of socialist parties that has been fiercely critical of corporate globalization. The left won its best finish ever in an Indian election by promising to stop the sell-off of state-owned companies to foreign interests, to force corporations to pay their fair share of the tax burden and to spread the wealth.
The new government will not deliver on all those promises. But there is now little question that the process of privatization will be slowed as public policies are shifted toward creating an economy that benefits all Indians.
This already has the backers of corporate globalization grumbling. The New York Times editorial page, long the champion of "free trade" and "market reforms," got busy urging the new leadership of India to maintain the economic policies of the BJP.
But the Times was forced to acknowledge a little bit of reality: In "a country where poor people vote in large numbers, most of them remain unimpressed" with those policies.
The poor don't usually get a voice in economic decision-making. But when they are given a chance to vote, and when they take that chance, the corporate model for economic globalization invariably loses. That's because the poor, unlike the editorial writers for the New York Times, have learned to recognize - and reject - the lies.
Copyright 2003 The Capital Times