fin de la
David Orton sur
de David Orton
- How the New
(Épreuve de force
combattent le règne
Orton explique la
logique de "Global
soulevées dans ce
livre (pour le
Orton déclare que
sous silence le
font face les
longue date. Il
mesure que le
la plupart des
vouloir prendre le
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below, or ending industrial civilization?
||"Global Showdown: How the New Activists
Are Fighting Global Corporate Rule"
by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke,
Stoddard Publishing Co. Limited,
Toronto, Canada, 2001,
hardcover, ISBN 0-7737-3264-0.
This commentary will outline why I think this book is important,
explain the critique in "Global Showdown", and bring out
what seems to me to be some of the important questions this book
raises for the radical, deep ecology-influenced environmental
First, one has to say that this book is an excellent source of
information on the various corporate structures which are trying to
make the world safe for international capital– (for example the
World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the
World Bank) and the ideas of the mainstream groups in opposition to
this. I agree with the authors when they note that "civil
society politics are the politics of the twenty first century."
(p. 5) Although most of us reading this commentary share an
opposition to the belief that trade is the supreme good, there is an
ongoing discussion on what will be the nature of such politics. This
book advocates a mainstream view of civil society politics that
ultimately can be accommodated within industrial capitalism. (The
People's Summit in Quebec City in April of 2001, was partly financed
by the federal and Québec governments.)
"Global Showdown" shows the historical emergence of
global economic institutions and, following the ending of the Second
World War, how United Nations supervision of such institutions was
replaced by US control, with what has come to be called "The
"Led by American business interests, the free-market
doctrine would eventually force most governments in the world to
give up controls on foreign investment, liberalize trade, deregulate
their internal economies, privatize state services, and enter into
head-to-head global competition." (p. 57)
Because of the necessary exposure of the labyrinth corporate and
bureaucratic structures which underpin the ever expanding
globalization of capital, this book is not easy, although it is
Tony Clark and Maude Barlow, 1998
Maude Barlow is the chairperson of the Council of Canadians.
Barlow has played a major role in educating and arousing Canadians
to fight back against the forces of globalization and increasing
corporate governance. Anyone who has heard her speak knows she is a
very effective and knowledgeable speaker, who "eats up"
the apologists for more unrestricted free trade. Tony Clarke is the
director of the Polaris Institute of Canada. This institute, which
emerged in 1997, describes itself in its mission statement as
seeking "to provide a compass for social movements", in
order "to bring about democratic social change" in this
era of corporate driven globalization. Both authors know their
stuff, and reading this book bringsabout a growing rage at the
sell-out, and its extent, of the interests of the Canadian (and the
world's) people to a transnational corporate agenda.
Barlow and Clarke do not basically oppose globalization; they
seek "fair" trade, not free trade. The authors want
"Canada to help bring democratic governance to the operation of
the global economy." (p. 176) They want to democratize, not
dismantle, the institutions of global economic governance. Taken for
granted is the spread of capitalist industrialism all over the
globe. Barlow and Clarke want to control globalization from below,
not the corporate control from the top. So they do not oppose global
trade, foreigninvestment or capitalism. They support
"compensating" corporations when the state expropriates.
(p. 193) Their book reflects the Declaration of the Second People's
Summit of the Americas in Québec City (April 19, 2001), which said:
"We want socially productive and ecologically
responsible investment. The rules applied across the continent
should encourage foreign investors who will guarantee the creation
of quality jobs, sustainable production and economic stability,
while blocking speculative investments."
Barlow and Clarke do not share the anarchist critique of the
state, which they essentially dismiss without discussion. They even
give support in the book to arresting anarchists involved in
property damage at the Seattle demonstration in 1999! (p. 13.)
(Anarchism advocates some type of stateless society, that is a
society without government, or at least extremely limited
government, and sees attempts to work within existing states as
The authors' view seems to be that we once had
"democracy" in Canada and that the state was in control of
the economy. I think this assumption is false. They want the nation
state to become strengthened and "redemocratized".
This is a progressive book, but it stays within a
"human" context. The Earth itself and the millions of
nonhuman organisms are largely excluded from the authors'
human-centered vision of democracy. The primacy of the Earth is
absent. There is no fundamental ecological critique in "Global
Showdown". There is no sense of having exceeded the ecological
footprint of industrial humankind. The "democratic rights"
put forward as desirable, presuppose a high standard of living.
There is no understanding that socially worthy measures may be just
as ecologically harmful and unsustainable as socially unworthy ones.
There is no understanding that the ecological question is deeper,
and of a different nature, than trying to democratically control the
global economy. Human history shows much waste and ecological
destruction, so a politics of controlling globalization, or for that
matter a politics of anti-globalization or anti-capitalism, while
important, is not sufficient. There is no sense that there are too
many people and that the existing lifestyle "role model"
in North America or Western Europe is a recipe for ecological
disaster for the rest of the world. There is no sense that economic
growth and consumerism need to be ended, for a sustainable planet to
exist for all species, not just humans. Finally, there is no sense
that, even from a social perspective, for us to achieve global
sustainability means focusing on redistributing wealth nationally
and internationally, not promoting more "investment" and
The radical ecocentric activist who is also socially aware sees
that the forces of globalization and increasing world trade attack
all the social buffers from the marketplace as
"impediments" to trade, but also sees how these forces
undermine the ecological integrity of the planet. In "Global
Showdown" and in the anti-globalization movement in Canada, it
is the first concern which is overwhelmingly dominant.
I think it important to try and think outside of the existing
paradigm and the self-destructive industrial growth society that
seemingly overwhelms us. We do not have to accept thinking within
the framework of the current society. (This is what Arne Naess
referred to as "shallow" ecology.) A major issue is how to
deal with "property" , a human- and class-centered
concept. Governments and corporations want to turn everything into
private property, as in the fishery. (Yet even many inshore
fishermen, while theyoppose ITQs [Individual Transferable Quotas],
see no apparent contradiction in "selling" lobster
licenses for hundreds of thousands of dollars.) To preserve Nature's
"Commons" we need to move to "usufruct rights"
and to see the concept of private property as a social fiction used
to justify Earth exploitation. Usufruct rights, in a society that is
Earth-centered and socially just, would be accountable to an
all-species community of life forms and not privately transferable.
To corporations and the governments that serve them,
anti-globalization activists have become the new subversives and are
being defined as "non-persons" against whom very severe
measures can be used. "Democracy" can always be withdrawn
in the interest of capital. If rubber bullets and tear gas do not
suffice, then live ammunition will be used, as was the case recently
in Sweden, the home of social democracy. Corporations want consumers
not politically active citizens.
"Global Showdown" ignores the dilemma that long-time
activists face, that as the world becomes increasingly complex, most
citizens do not seem to want to spend the time to understand and
work to change it. Yet democracy requires such an involvement.
In a recent book by Hugh Brody, "The Other Side of Eden:
Hunters, Farmers And The Shaping Of The World", he points out
that until 12 000 years ago, all of us lived as hunter-gatherers,
and that in such societies the material wellbeing of people depended
on KNOWING, rather than changing their environment. Such societies
were spiritual, with worldviews of respect for Nature, grounded in
animism. Somehow we must reorient to this. It is quite a task that
we face, more encompassing than the theme of this edition of
"Elements": "Localization versus Globalization."
Rather than trying to tame industrial globalization, as in
"Global Showdown", with its underlying destructive belief
that all of Nature is subject to human control and exploitation, we
need to mentally revisit and reorient towards those cultures which,
for 90 percent of our human history, served us well.
"Global Showdown" presents a social democratic,
"nonviolent" model for reigning in the global economy,
with a major role for labour unions. The overall thrust of the book
is reformist but with hints of a more radical agenda. The deep green
and deep ecology alternative to this model, urgently awaits