Ronaldo Bressane on 26 Sep 2000 19:19:36 -0000

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-----Mensagem original-----
De: nettime's roving reporter <>
Para: Nettime <>
Data: Terça-feira, 26 de Setembro de 2000 16:10
Assunto: <nettime> Growing Up and Getting Practical Since Seattle

>Growing Up and Getting Practical Since Seattle
>September 24, 2000 MOVEMENT By ROGER COHEN
>PRAGUE -- With her Danish mother, her Syrian father, her French passport
>and her Oxford education, Annie-Christine Habbard, 31, seems every inch
>the global citizen equipped to succeed in a shrinking world. Yet here she
>is, chic in black, articulate in several tongues, at the annual meeting of
>the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, protesting the state
>of the globe. What she wants is more social justice, respect for human
>rights, a "counterpower" to high finance and, for good measure, a more
>equitable distribution of the spoils from a new Chad-Cameroon oil
> Say "anti-globalization" and stormy images come to mind: ransackers of
>McDonald's restaurants in France, smashers of Seattle storefront windows.
>The police on every corner here, and the shuttered shops, confirm the
>power of such specters, and indeed some protesters say they want a repeat
>of Seattle. But the specter of violence can deceive. The deeper reality is
>more significant: that of an increasingly sophisticated, intellectually
>robust protest movement, mixing idealism with pragmatism, that is fast
>playing catch-up with the forces of multinational capital.
> It is time to change icons: replace the angry visage of Jose Bove, the
>French farmer recently imprisoned for storming a McDonald's, with the cool
>features and articulate aplomb of Ms. Habbard.
> "Ours is a new planetary citizenship, reflecting the fact that decisions
>have migrated from state level," Ms. Habbard, the deputy secretary general
>of the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights, said. "Voting
>for national representatives, an old expression of citizenship, achieves
>nothing, because they have scant power. We have to be here to fight the
>political battles that will ensure globalization does not continue to
>accentuate inequities."
> She is not alone. More than 350 citizens' organizations are here
>debt-reliefers, save-the-Earthers, human-dignity-firsters, and everything
>in between, representing lands from Mauritius to Mexico. Forget right and
>left and the stale duels of national politics: the battle of universal
>principles against universal capital now unfurls.
> It might be argued that the lines are being drawn in the wrong place. The
>$1.2 trillion traded daily on world money markets equals the entire
>lending of the World Bank over its 55 years of existence. But all that
>fast-moving money has no identifiable face. By contrast, the altar of
>market liberalization, privatization and public spending cuts is
>identifiable, and the protesters are sure such orthodoxy has run its
> Ms. Habbard is determined to change the world through international
>human-rights law where her predecessors deployed Marxist revolution or
>flower power. She is intensely pragmatic. She has lawyers behind her,
>ready to use the body of international law to compel the World Bank to
>avoid loans to any projects that might compromise human rights.
>Multinational corporations are more difficult to control, she concedes,
>but they are the next target. The Internet links her to other groups like
>Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth, with their own batteries of lawyers.
>Nothing dreamy here: this fight to shape globalization has all the romance
>of a corporate takeover battle.
> Organizations like Attac in France, whose membership has increased in two
>years to 26,000, including more than 20 members of Parliament, argue for
>taxes on international capital flows, codes of conduct obliging
>multinationals to respect human rights and restraints on the activities of
>United States pension funds that pursue returns in Europe in ways that cut
>back jobs. For Bruno Jetin, a French economist, such measures are
>essential to "put equality and human beings back at the center of economic
> Such ideas have a particular resonance in France, where equality is a
>founding principle of the republic and rapid Americanization in recent
>years has stirred uneasiness. But everywhere in Europe, where the state's
>heavy role in balancing the excesses of the market had been widely
>accepted, the triumph of the private sector causes some unease. One
>challenge before these Europeans and all the anti-globalists is to make
>the case that their concern for equity will not hobble growth in the
>developing world, as it sometimes has done on this continent. On the other
>hand, the intellectual ammunition of the anti-globalists has also been
>reinforced by the spread of poverty in places that include Eastern Europe
>a trend that has led James D. Wolfensohn, the World Bank president, to use
>some very strong language here.
> "Today you have 20 percent of the world controlling 80 percent of the
>gross domestic product," he said. "You've got a $30 trillion economy and
>$24 trillion of it in developed countries. The income of the top 20 is 37
>times the income of the bottom 20, and it has doubled in the last decade.
>These inequities cannot exist. So if you are looking for systemic
>breakdown, I believe you have to think today in terms of social
> Dramatic words. But another side to the story clearly exists. Open
>markets and free trade have slashed poverty in East Asia, and a few
>countries in Africa have also begun to respond to this recipe of economic
>opening. As Daniel Bachman, chief economist at The, an
>online magazine, pointed out: "Globalization can also improve conditions
>by forcing a race to the top." In states like Argentina, the dismantling
>of local oligarchies caused by open markets has had a tremendous
>liberating effect. In a place like Haiti, subsistence wages may be
>undignified, but they are better than starvation.
> Globalization can also be a very fertile process. Much has been made of
>the Americanization of the world, but cultural currents are more mixed
>than that, and the United States has also been Europeanized, from its
>coffee to its eating habits. In some areas, such as data privacy, stricter
>European standards seem likely to prevail, to Ameridcans' benefit.
> Yet the president of the World Bank warns of a social breakdown because
>of the very global economic system he is deemed to personify. So there is
>clearly a problem, and a growing one. Its nature is economic and
>political. Some basic statistics are not encouraging about 1.2 billion
>people still living on less than $1 a day, another 1.3 billion people on
>$2 and the diverse protests stirred by such numbers are now so vigorous
>that dialogue and compromise have become essential.
> "If we do not succeed in making clear to citizens that globalization is
>to their benefit, we run a big political risk," said Caio Koch-Weser, a
>senior German economic official. "There's a feeling in the population that
>nobody's in charge. People are afraid of losing jobs to the whims of
>multinationals. We need to bring Wall Street to Main Street."
> This sharpening of official concern reflects the fact that a decade of
>globalization has allowed a keener dissection of its characteristics. The
>wild denunciations of the inhuman scourge of rampaging global capital in
>the French author Viviane Forrestier's immensely popular "The Economic
>Horror" (one million copies sold worldwide, but unpublished in the United
>States), have given way to subtler analysis. Often this has concentrated
>on the way a global economy can prompt a "race to the bottom," as the
>cheapest labor and lowest taxes are relentlessly sought out. The net
>effect has been described by the German sociologist Ernest Beck as "the
>Brazilianization of the West"  the progressive recourse to uninsured,
>temporary workers and the slow dismantlement of the welfare state.
> John D. Clark, a development specialist on leave from the World Bank, has
>argued that globalization was always a highly selective thing. Advocates
>of free trade really wanted only an unrestrained market for capital. The
>result has been to maximize returns on capital, while minimizing returns
>to labor. "The world over, gaps between rich and poor have widened as
>richer populations and countries raced ahead of poorer," Mr. Clark wrote
> Many economists dispute that view. But officials seem convinced that
>beyond debt relief, an enormous effort must now be made to give more
>people the basic tools to benefit from a global economy: education,
>lifetime training, access to technology, encouragement for the stock
>ownership that alone will spread America's brand of popular capitalism, in
>which even blue-collar workers benefit from investing. Without such
>measures, the distorting effects of the wild premium placed by modern
>markets on talent and technology seem likely to grow, miring a third of
>humanity in abject poverty.
> The other new priority seems to be dialogue. Mr. Wolfensohn spent time
>Friday with non-governmental organizations including the Bolivian
>Episcopal Conference, the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society of the
>Kyrgyz Republic, and a representative of something called World Vision
>from Uganda. Questions ranged from corruption to control of multinationals
>to that Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline. The meeting, in such a setting,
>amounted to a first. But the evolution is natural enough: world politics,
>however cumbersome, for a global economy.
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