Globalization Goes Bankrupt

The rage of the
disposed is fracturing the country, dividing it into camps that are
unmoored from the political mainstream. Movements are building on the
ends of the political spectrum that have lost faith in the mechanisms
of democratic change. You can't blame them. But unless we on the left
move quickly this rage will be captured by a virulent and racist right
wing, one that seeks a disturbing proto-fascism.

The rage of the
disposed is fracturing the country, dividing it into camps that are
unmoored from the political mainstream. Movements are building on the
ends of the political spectrum that have lost faith in the mechanisms
of democratic change. You can't blame them. But unless we on the left
move quickly this rage will be captured by a virulent and racist right
wing, one that seeks a disturbing proto-fascism.

Every day counts. Every deferral of protest hurts. We should, if we
have the time and the ability, make our way to Pittsburgh for the
meeting of the G-20 this week rather than do what the power elite is
hoping we will do-stay home. Complacency comes at a horrible price.

"The leaders of the G-20 are meeting to try and salvage their power and money after everything that has gone wrong," said Benedicto Martinez Orozco,
co-president of the Mexican Frente Autentico del Trabajo (FAT), who is
in Pittsburgh for the protests. "This is what this meeting is about."

The draconian security measures put in place to silence dissent in
Pittsburgh are disproportionate to any actual security concern. They
are a response not to a real threat, but to the fear gripping the
established centers of power. The power elite grasps, even if we do
not, the massive fraud and theft being undertaken to save a criminal
class on Wall Street and international speculators of the kinds who
were executed in other periods of human history. They know the awful
cost this plundering of state treasuries will impose on workers, who
will become a permanent underclass. And they also know that once this
is clear to the rest of us, rebellion will no longer be a foreign

The delegates to the G-20, the gathering of the world's wealthiest
nations, will consequently be protected by a National Guard combat
battalion, recently returned from Iraq. The battalion will shut down
the area around the city center, man checkpoints and patrol the streets
in combat gear. Pittsburgh has augmented the city's police force of
1,000 with an additional 3,000 officers. Helicopters have begun to buzz
gatherings in city parks, buses driven to Pittsburgh to provide food to
protesters have been impounded, activists have been detained, and
permits to camp in the city parks have been denied. Web sites belonging
to resistance groups have been hacked and trashed, and many groups
suspect that they have been infiltrated and that their phones and
e-mail accounts are being monitored.

Larry Holmes,
an organizer from New York City, stood outside a tent encampment on
land owned by the Monumental Baptist Church in the city's Hill
District. He is one of the leaders of the Bail Out the People Movement.
Holmes, a longtime labor activist, on Sunday led a march on the
convention center by unemployed people calling for jobs. He will
coordinate more protests during the week.

"It is de facto martial law," he said, "and the real effort to
subvert the work of those protesting has yet to begin. But voting only
gets you so far. There are often not many choices in an election. When
you build democratic movements around the war or unemployment you get a
more authentic expression of democracy. It is more organic. It makes a
difference. History has taught us this."

Our global economy, like our political system, has been hijacked by
a tiny oligarchy, composed mostly of wealthy white men who serve
corporations. They have pledged or raised a staggering $18 trillion,
looted largely from state treasuries, to prop up banks and other
financial institutions that engaged in suicidal acts of speculation and
ruined the world economy. They have formulated trade deals so
corporations can speculate across borders with currency, food and
natural resources even as, according to the Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, 1.02 billion people on the
planet struggle with hunger. Globalization has obliterated the ability
of many poor countries to protect food staples such as corn, rice,
beans and wheat with subsidies or taxes on imported staples. The
abolishment of these protections has permitted the giant mechanized
farms to wipe out tens of millions of small farmers-2 million in Mexico
alone-bankrupting many and driving them off their land. Those who could
once feed themselves can no longer find enough food, and the wealthiest
governments use institutions such as the International Monetary Fund,
the World Bank and the World Trade Organization like pit bulls to
establish economic supremacy. There is little that most governments
seem able to do to fight back.

But the game is up. The utopian dreams of globalization
have been exposed as a sham. Force is all the elite have left. We are
living through one of civilization's great seismic reversals. The
ideology of globalization, like all utopias that are sold as inevitable
and irreversible, has become a farce. The power elite, perplexed and
confused, cling to the disastrous principles of globalization and its
outdated language to mask the political and economic vacuum before us.
The absurd idea that the marketplace alone should determine economic
and political constructs caused the crisis. It led the G-20 to
sacrifice other areas of human importance-from working conditions, to
taxation, to child labor, to hunger, to health and pollution-on the
altar of free trade. It left the world's poor worse off and the United
States with the largest deficits in human history. Globalization has
become an excuse to ignore the mess. It has left a mediocre elite
desperately trying to save a system that cannot be saved and, more
important, trying to save itself. "Speculation," then-President Jacques
Chirac of France once warned, "is the AIDS of our economies." We have
reached the terminal stage.

"Each of Globalization's strengths has somehow turned out to have an opposing meaning," John Ralston Saul
wrote in "The Collapse of Globalism." "The lowering of national
residency requirements for corporations has morphed into a tool for
massive tax evasion. The idea of a global economic system mysteriously
made local poverty seem unreal, even normal. The decline of the middle
class-the very basis of democracy-seemed to be just one of those things
that happen, unfortunate but inevitable. That the working class and the
lower middle class, even parts of the middle class, could only survive
with more than one job per person seemed to be expected punishment for
not keeping up. The contrast between unprecedented bonuses for mere
managers at the top and the four-job families below them seemed
inevitable in a globalized world. For two decades an elite consensus
insisted that unsustainable third-world debts could not be put aside in
a sort of bad debt reserve without betraying Globalism's essential
principles and moral obligations, which included an unwavering respect
for the sanctity of international contracts. It took the same people
about two weeks to abandon sanctity and propose bad debt banks for
their own far larger debts in 2009."

The institutions that once provided alternative sources of power,
including the press, government, agencies of religion, universities and
labor unions, have proved morally bankrupt. They no longer provide a
space for voices of moral autonomy. No one will save us now but

"The best thing that happened to the Establishment is the election
of a black president," Holmes said. "It will contain people for a given
period of time, but time is running out. Suppose something else
happens? Suppose another straw breaks? What happens when there is a
credit card crisis or a collapse in commercial real estate? The
financial system is very, very fragile. The legs are being kicked out
from underneath it."

"Obama is in trouble," Holmes went on. "The economic crisis is a
structural crisis. The recovery is only a recovery for Wall Street. It
can't be sustained, and Obama will be blamed for it. He is doing
everything Wall Street demands. But this will be a dead end. It is a
prescription for disaster, not only for Obama but the Democratic Party.
It is only groups like ours that provide hope. If labor unions will get
off their ass and stop focusing on narrow legislation for their
members, if they will go back to being social unions that embrace broad
causes, we have a chance of effecting change. If this does not happen
it will be a right-wing disaster."

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