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IMPERIALISM -
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Globalization and the Revolutionary Imperative: from Global Tyranny to Democratic Renaissance

Posted in the database on Tuesday, August 16th, 2005 @ 23:13:40 MST (4119 views)
by Richard K. Moore    cyberjournal.org  

Untitled Document © 2000 by Richard K. Moore
14 January 2000



Prolog: The crisis of globalization

1. Pax Americana and the postwar corporate regime
2. The neoliberal revolution & The Crisis of Democracy
3. The New World Order & The Clash of Civilizations
4. The revolutionary imperative

Epilogue: Toward a Democratic Renaissance



 

Prolog: The crisis of globalization          
Only when the last tree has died
And the last river been poisoned
And the last fish caught
Will we realize that we cannot eat money.

- from a member of the Cree tribe

There is an almost gravitational pull toward putting out of mind unpleasant facts. And our collective ability to face painful facts is no greater than our personal one. We tune out, we turn away, we avoid. Finally we forget, and forget we have forgotten.
- psychologist Daniel Goleman

The decision-making part of humanity is dominated by a particular ideology - the ideology of economic growth. Our very definition of a "healthy economy" is expressed in terms of the rate at which it is growing. The process of globalization has entrenched the growth ideology even further - as reflected in the modern usage of the term "competitive". In earlier times "competitive" referred to the ability of a nation to compete on world markets. The term reflected efficiency of production, competence in marketing, and a sound national economy. But under globalization, nations compete to attract investors and corporate operators. Global investors seek those opportunities which offer the greatest promise of growth for their funds. Thus in order to be competitive - in the modern sense - a nation must orient its policies around encouraging and supporting unrestrained economic growth - despite whatever social deterioration and environmental degradation might be caused.

In 1995 the globalization process was institutionalized in the form of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO has the power, by binding treaties, to overturn national policies whenever those policies are deemed to be contrary to competitiveness. In every case where the WTO has been asked to review a health, safety, or environmental regulation, that regulation has been overturned.

Even the United States must kowtow to WTO directives. Venezuelan gas refiners challenged U.S. rules requiring that gas exported to the United States meet basic clean air standards. The WTO ruled that the U.S. Clean Air Act was an "unfair restriction on trade". In 1997, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency obediently changed the rules to allow foreign refiners to avoid U.S. performance standards. When American steelworkers asked President Clinton for aid in defending their jobs in the face of the dumping of steel from Japan, Russia and Brazil into the U.S. market, Clinton responded by telling them he could do nothing to protect U.S. jobs because World Trade Organization rules forbade such an action.

For the people of the West, globalization has brought declining living standards, reduced social programs, increased crime and other social stresses, and the loss of sovereignty to centralized global institutions. In effect, Western political leaders have abandoned constitutional sovereignty and have betrayed Western democracy and prosperity to global corporate interests. But in the third world, the ravages of globalization have been far greater. The West has been spared the worst - for the time being. But once the WTO regime is firmly established in power, the West will have little protection from the full consequences of "investor friendliness". The third world offers chilling examples of where this process can lead.

The case of Rwanda is particularly poignant. Rwanda had enjoyed a reasonably healthy economy by third-world standards. Roughly half of the economy was devoted to agriculture, providing for the needs of the local population. The other half was devoted to export production of coffee and other commodities. An international quota system maintained reasonably stable prices for coffee producers, and coffee income was a major source of Rwandan public finances. A population growth of 3.2% per annum was negligible, and up until 1989 inflation remained low and food imports were minimal. The Rwandan economy was then totally destroyed - not by population growth, not by drought, and not by tribal conflict - but by the actions of international coffee traders and the IMF.

In his book The Globalization Of Poverty, economics professor Michel Chossudovsky examines this and many other third-world collapse scenarios. In the chapter Economic Genocide In Rwanda he explains in detail how international capital, with assistance from the U.S. government and the IMF, systematically reduced Rwanda to a state of poverty, famine, and genocidal civil war. The first blow was struck in 1989 when large U.S. coffee traders persuaded Washington to undermine the international quota system. In a matter of months, coffee prices to producers plummeted by 50%. Retail coffee prices remained high - 20 times what Rwandan producers were receiving. The difference was being pocketed by powerful international traders who controlled distribution and retail markets.

Nonetheless, the Rwandan government was coping with the situation as best it could. Restrictions on food imports and subsidies to coffee growers kept the domestic economy and society functioning. Similar government measures have been used routinely in the West to stabilize domestic economies. Nonetheless, by 1990 the Rwandan government needed some outside financing and had no choice but to turn to the IMF. Western governments too depend on debt financing, but they have more control over the terms of the loans. The terms attached to Rwanda's loans were dictated by the IMF, and those terms led directly to the destruction of the Rwandan economy.

The IMF, as usual, based its conditions on what is called "trade liberalization" - one of the many names used for policies which serve the interests of global capital at the expense of national economies. The IMF ordered a devaluation of the currency, prohibited restrictions on imports, and strictly limited the price that could be paid to coffee growers. Inflation followed quickly and cheap food imports undermined domestic agriculture. Soon coffee producers could not cover their costs and in 1992, in desperation, growers uprooted 300,000 coffee trees. The economy collapsed along with government finances. Society disintegrated and civil war arose out of the chaos.

When scenes of genocide appeared on Western television screens, the media said nothing about the IMF dictates and international financial manipulations which caused the problem. Viewers were led to believe that traditional tribal rivalries were to blame - that's just "how things are" in the backward third world. The U.S. government, whose actions had contributed directly to the problems, offered no "humanitarian intervention". The IMF has little chance of recovering its loans from Rwanda, but that is of secondary concern. The goal of the IMF is not to be a successful lending institution, but rather to serve the interests of global capital.

Today, small farmers in the U.S. and the European Union are being put out of business in much the same way that Rwandan agriculture was destroyed. Free-trade treaties and government policies are reducing prices paid to farmers and eliminating import restrictions. Small farms are going bankrupt on a massive scale - even while retail food prices remain relatively constant. As in Rwanda, "trade liberalization" squeezes the small operators and enables the big corporate operators and distributors to pocket the difference and to monopolize markets. Thus the full ravages of globalization are gradually spreading from the third world to the West.

The increased profits of the large corporations show up in official figures as "economic growth", but that "growth" does not benefit the consumer, farmers, or workers. Instead it destroys rural economies, lowers wages, creates widespread unemployment, and undermines the fabric of societies. Globalization represents a dire crisis for democracy, for national economies, for societal harmony, and for human welfare generally. As market forces collide with a finite Earth, the destructive stresses are being channeled onto ordinary people and their societies. Meanwhile, large corporations and a tiny wealthy elite manipulate the system to protect themselves from the consequences of their own insane growth ideology.

As the scale of human activity has grown over recent centuries, the Earth's life-support systems have been stressed to the breaking point. The Atlantic Shelf was at one time the world's most productive fishery. Today, due to the operations of city-size factory trawlers, the Shelf's productivity has been reduced to a comparative trickle. Consequently the trawler fleets have moved on to other oceans - systematically repeating the destructive pattern on a global scale. Meanwhile due to over-grazing and intensive agricultural practices, irreplaceable topsoils are being destroyed and green areas are turning into deserts. Food supplies from land and sea alike are being threatened and famine is increasing on a global scale. Carbon-dioxide pollution, ozone depletion, acid rain, deforestation, poisoning of air and waterways - all of these stresses and more have global consequences that cannot be easily predicted.

Over-population and resource scarcity do not account for these crises. This point was made concisely and dramatically in the book, World Hunger, Twelve Myths, published in 1986. Permit me to paraphrase just two of the many surprising observations... "During the past 25 years food production has outstripped population growth by 16%. India - which for many of us symbolizes over-population and poverty - is one of the top third-world food exporters. If a mere 5.6% of India's food production were re-allocated, hunger would be wiped out in India." These figures were computed in 1986, but the basic picture hasn't changed since. Population growth must be brought under control, but the more immediate threat to humanity's survival has to do with economic arrangements and the misuse of resources.

We don't really know when we will reach a critical breaking point, yet in our collective ignorance we plunge recklessly ahead as a global society - accelerating our usage of fossil fuels, generating ever-more pollution, and squeezing ever-more resources out of an over-stressed Earth. We are like a blind man who charges ahead, even though he knows he is near the edge of a precipice. As a species, our behavior is not merely careless or imprudent - it is suicidal and insane. The ideology of growth at one time seemed to be more or less functional. The nations which opted for growth industrialized and became prosperous and powerful. The Earth seemed to offer endless new territories and resources, and the growth ideology - due to its apparent success - became firmly ingrained, especially in the West. A once functional ideology has now become dysfunctional and yet it remains globally dominant. This is humanity's mental disconnect; this is our collective insanity - our dysfunctional, out-of-date growth ideology.


Recommended reading:

Frances Moore Lappé, Joseph Collins, Peter Rosset, World Hunger, Twelve Myths, Grove Press, New York, 1986.

Michel Chossudovsky, The Globalization Of Poverty, The Third World Network, Penang, Malaysia, 1997.

Jerry Mander & Edward Goldsmith, ed, The Case Against The Global Economy And For A Turn Toward The Local, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, 1996.

Hans-Peter Martin & Harald Schumann, The Global Trap, Globalization & The Assault On Democracy & Prosperity, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1997.

William Greider, One World Ready Or Not, The Manic Logic Of Global Capitalism, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1997.

Richard Douthwaite, The Growth Illusion, Lilliput Press, Dublin, 1992.

James Goldsmith, The Response, Macmillan, London, 1995.

Third World Resurgence, a magazine published monthly by the Third World Network, Penang, Malaysia.

The New Internationalist, a magazine published monthly by New Internationalist Publications, Ltd, Oxford, UK.


Table of Contents


1. Pax Americana and the postwar corporate regime
If we see that Germany is winning we should help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany and that way let them kill as many as possible.
- Harry S. Truman, 1941

World War II resulted in overwhelming U.S. military supremacy. A regime of American-backed "peace" - a Pax Americana - was established early in the postwar world. European businesses could get the benefit of foreign trade and investment without the assistance of their own fleets and armies. Under this new regime, it no longer made much sense for European powers to fight with one another or to compete militarily for economic spheres. After 1945 the old empires were gradually dismantled and Western Europe entered an unprecedented era of collaboration.

The fundamental structure of the international economy had rapidly shifted from partitioned to integrated. And for the first time in many centuries a lasting peace in Western Europe had been achieved. Both of these developments followed naturally from a single revolutionary shift - the establishment of the Pax Americana regime. Before that regime, globalization was impossible and European peace had been unachievable; with the regime, the peace followed naturally and the integration of the global economy, in one form or another, became inevitable.

The outcome of World War II had given America military supremacy, but the U.S. had other options available to it besides establishing the Pax Americana regime. There was considerable domestic pressure for the U.S. to return to isolationism and minimize foreign entanglements. Why did America instead pursue a role of active leadership, guiding the creation of the UN, the IMF, and the other postwar international institutions? And why didn't America follow standard Western tradition, and use its overwhelming power to carve out its own private sphere of influence, leaving the European powers to stake out their own?

It turns out there are very clear answers to these questions. In fact, the strategic considerations that went into these momentous policy choices are a matter of public record.

In 1939 important parts of the world were coming under the control of Japan and Germany, and the U.S. government was trying to figure out what response would best serve U.S. interests. The government turned to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and empowered it to convene a series of planning sessions in order to come up with a sensible U.S. strategy. The CFR was a prominent voice for sentiment which was widespread among U.S. policy makers and elites. The planning sessions were highly secret at the time, but notes and bulletins produced by the sessions have since become publicly available. The development of the strategic thinking can be clearly traced.

The CFR sessions immediately focused on economic considerations. They systematically assessed market sizes, and resource availability, in different parts of the world. They were seeking to identify what sphere of influence the U.S. would require in order to fulfill the trade requirements of the imperialist American economy. Out of these deliberations came the fundamental framework for U.S. war strategy.

In their initial thinking, the Council planning teams were inclined to write off Hitler's gains as irreversible. They painstakingly calculated that they needed the Western Hemisphere, the British Commonwealth, and Asia - as "friendly" zones - in order to remain viable as a world power. They decided that Japan's expansion must be stopped, that Japan must be ultimately incorporated into the American fold, and that Great Britain was central to U.S. strategy. But by 1941 the grand planners expanded their objectives to include the defeat of Germany and the establishment of a world-wide "friendly" zone - what was to later become known as the free world, the underdeveloped world, or the third world.

The Council also outlined, during 1941-2, the basic structures of the Bretton Woods arrangements - the IMF, the World Bank, and the UN. The fundamental objectives behind this blueprint were stated clearly and candidly by the participants themselves in publicly available documents. The excerpts below are from the book Trilaterialism - The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management.

Recommendation P-B23 (July 1941) stated that worldwide financial institutions were necessary for the purpose of "stabilizing currencies and facilitating programs of capital investment for constructive undertakings in backward and underdeveloped regions." During the last half of 1941 and in the first months of 1942, the Council developed this idea for the integration of the world.
- Trilateralism, p. 148

Isaiah Bowman first suggested a way to solve the problem of maintaining effective control over weaker territories while avoiding overt imperial conquest. At a Council meeting in May 1942, he stated that the United States had to exercise the strength needed to assure "security", and at the same time "avoid conventional forms of imperialism". The way to do this, he argued, was to make the exercise of that power international in character through a United Nations body.
- Trilateralism, p. 149.

From this it becomes clear that the primary objective behind this planning was to facilitate the growth of the global capitalist economy ("facilitate programs of capital investment"). No other primary concerns seemed to play any role in the planning process - least of all any related to human rights, or world peace, or democratic sovereignty. Economic growth, and economic growth alone was the prize upon which these planners always kept their eyes. The rest of the agenda, as expressed above, was about how to accomplish this single objective.

The third world ("backward and underdeveloped regions") was targeted as the place where growth can be generated - through corporate-funded development projects ("capital investment for constructive undertakings "). The planners anticipated that third-world nations would need to be coerced into this agenda ("the problem of maintaining effective control over weaker territories"). They also anticipated that overt imperialism would be politically unacceptable in the postwar world ("avoid conventional forms of imperialism."). A solution was identified to solve these anticipated problems. That was to deploy American power ("United States had to exercise the strength"), but to disguise it as an international mission ("make the exercise of that power international in character through a United Nations body."). Ironically, the covert objective for the UN - coercion through intervention - was nearly the opposite of the public objective - peace through cooperation.

These policy recommendations were adopted and the postwar "free world" developed accordingly. In public reality the U.S. would be providing benign leadership and policing on behalf of the international community in pursuit of democracy and peace. In hidden reality the U.S. would be intervening on behalf of international capital while explaining its actions in public-reality terms. That's what was explicitly anticipated in the CFR planning documents, and that's precisely how things have developed ever since. William Blum's Killing Hope chronicles in detail the postwar history of this dual-agenda system, contrasting rhetoric with reality in 55 separate intervention incidents. Some of these interventions were overt and some covert - but the motivating agendas were in all cases covert.

In order to carry out the hidden agenda - maximizing capital growth through exploitive third-world development - it was necessary that the socialist ideology be contained. "Mother Russia", which had been heralded as the West's staunch ally against fascism, suddenly became the "Red Menace". In 1946 Churchill articulated the doctrine of the "Iron Curtain" and the Cold War was on. There followed a decades-long propaganda campaign in Western media which demonized the Soviet Union. The Nazi intelligence network which had operated throughout Eastern Europe was kept intact and was incorporated into the new U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Covert destabilization operations against the Soviets were an ongoing part of the Cold War.

It was the ideology of socialism that needed to be contained much more than the USSR itself. Any ideology which sought to organize a third-world economy around its own local self interests, rather than external investor interests, was labeled "Marxist", and the Soviet expansionist Bogeyman was offered as an excuse for whatever "order restoring" military intervention might be required. In fact Soviet forces, and later Chinese, preferred for the most part to stay home and keep order within what was called the Communist Bloc. It was American bases that were strung around the globe, not Soviet or Chinese ones.

The leadership of this global regime remains to this day centered in the top echelons of the U.S. government. And the tradition of ongoing elite strategic planning has been institutionalized in the form of the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and miscellaneous other agencies - all working closely with a network of corporate-linked think tanks and consulting firms. As the U.S. continues to impose its leadership, using unilateral force when considered necessary, it follows the policy guidelines defined by this highly secret, ongoing, corporate-dominated, elite planning process.

Thus it is a corporate elite which is guiding the direction of global events - for its own benefit. Western populations benefitted economically from this system in the immediate postwar years - but the price they paid was the loss of democratic control over their destinies. In the final analysis the people of the West are just as much victims of this elite global regime as is the rest of the world. This fact became apparent with the unfolding of the neoliberal revolution.


Recommended reading:

Holly Sklar ed., Trilaterialism - The Trilateral Commission And Elite Planning For World Management, South End Press, Boston, 1980.

William Blum, Killing Hope, U.S. Military And CIA Interventions Since World War II, Common Courage Press, Monroe Maine, 1995.

Michael Parenti, The Sword And The Dollar, Imperialism, Revolution, And The Arms Race, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1989.

Noam Chomsky, World Orders Old And New, Columbia University Press, New York, 1994.

David Horowitz, editor, Containment And Revolution, Beacon Press, Boston, 1967

James Bradford, The Puzzle Palace, Inside The National Security Agency, America's Most Secret Intelligence Organization, Penguin Books, New York, 1983.

Covert Action Quarterly magazine, published quarterly by Covert Action Publications, Inc., Washington D.C. 1994.


Table of Contents



2. The neoliberal revolution & The Crisis of Democracy

In the postwar years the West continued to exploit the third world as it had been doing for centuries. The primary difference was that the imperial partitions had been removed and a single nation was providing overall "security". Imperialism went from being competitive to being collective. Western nations, apart from America, shed their roles as first-rate military powers - but strong industrialized economies continued to be the fulcrum of global economic affairs. The vision of the postwar era was one of prosperous and contented populations in the industrialized world, living in economically sound nations.

When Volkswagens sold on world markets, the economic benefits went largely to German workers, to a German corporation, and to the German national budget. The story was similar for Renault & France, Fiat & Italy, General Motors & America - or Toyota & Japan. As the global economy grew, the general prosperity of the populations in industrialized nations reached unprecedented levels. The postwar system worked to the benefit of industrialized nations, their corporations, and their populations.

Today - as was discussed above in The Crisis Of Globalization - industrialized nations are in decline. Economic power has shifted from nations to transnational corporations and financial institutions. The WTO - which acts as the agent of international capital - is able to dictate economic policy even to the USA, the world's only super power. General Motors, for example, no longer "belongs to" the U.S. - its factories are spread around the world, Detroit is cluttered with abandoned factories, auto workers have sought new jobs or have become unemployed, and the U.S. treasury receives little direct benefit from GM's immense profits.

The postwar economy was governed by two things: the industrialized nations themselves, and the Bretton Woods institutions. These institutions - primarily the IMF and the World Bank - acted as system gyroscopes. They were designed to stabilize the system and to buffer it against financial and market fluctuations. The U.S. dollar was pegged to gold at thirty-five dollars per ounce, and other major currencies were linked to the dollar by a schedule of stable exchange-rates. Industrialized nations controlled the flow of currencies and capital across their borders. They could establish trade restrictions and could regulate industry so as to maintain the overall health of their national economies.

For two decades the elite-designed system operated according to plan. On the surface it seemed ideal for all parties in the West - the general population, nations, and investors. But stresses were building up beneath the surface and by the late 1960s those stresses were leading to serious problems for Western capital interests. One of these stresses was caused by the very success of the system. Economic growth had been so strong up through the 1960s that maintaining that rate became problematic. Western corporations were finding it difficult to keep up their record levels of growth.

Another source of stress came from the emergence of non-Western economic powers such as Japan. Lower Japanese wages allowed their products to be priced attractively on world markets. The Western commitment to general prosperity - and decent wages - made it difficult for Western firms to compete against such non-Western upstarts. The principle of general prosperity in the West was coming into conflict with the goal of capital growth for Western investors. The postwar system was under stress, and as Japanese products flooded world markets this source of stress mounted.

Western prosperity was important to the postwar regime for two reasons. One reason was that well-paid Westerners were good consumers - their buying power created demand for the products the capitalist system was producing. Prosperity was also important because it provided public support for the regime. The elite planners had assumed that a prosperous population would be a content population, and that a content population would be a politically docile population. Why would people be concerned about how the inner circle was running the world, if those people were well off and had lots of goodies to enjoy? A democratic political system was no problem for the inner circle who ran the regime - as long as voters were docile. A prosperous electorate, it was assumed, would be happy to simply vote and leave the elite regime to run things.

Then quite unexpectedly in the mid 1960s a significant wave of popular discontent began to arise throughout the West. Prosperity was experiencing all-time highs but people were beginning to demonstrate that they lived by more than bread alone. A civil-rights movement sprang up in America, along with an anti-Vietnam War movement. An environmental movement arose throughout the West, challenging the exploitive practices of capitalist development. A general sentiment against militarism and interventionism prevailed, challenging the methods by which the regime managed world affairs. In America there arose a broad-based and fairly well-organized New Left political movement. In Europe, 1968 took its place with 1848 as an historic milestone of popular unrest.

Environmental protection laws were passed which raised corporate costs and cut into profits. Anti-militarist sentiment remained high, making it difficult for interventions to be justified - a phenomenon that came to be known as the Vietnam Syndrome. Even the system of government secrecy - enabling the inner circle to exercise covert control - came under attack in the U.S. with the passage of the Freedom of Information Act. The elite regime was under attack from below, and continued prosperity was failing to quell the tide.

As a consequence, the democratic process itself was becoming a net liability to the regime. Popular idealism was taking the political initiative and was pushing politicians in directions that were contrary to elite interests. As environmental and other popular reform measures were implemented, the strong nation state - with its ability to regulate capital flows and corporations - was also becoming a hindrance to corporate growth. The primary interests of the elite were being seriously challenged, and the architecture they had designed was spinning out of control. A crisis had arisen for the elite, and by the early 1970s the time had come to make fundamental adjustments in the postwar architecture.

The first revolutionary shift in the postwar regime came in 1972 when President Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard. That act immediately removed the solid anchor to which major currencies had been pegged. Soon after that the system of fixed exchange rates had to be abandoned since the real value of the American dollar was now subject to fluctuations. A process of creeping destabilization occurred, leading to the gradual development of international financial markets of astronomical size and extreme volatility. Ultimately, in the modern era of globalization, the Bretton Woods institutions themselves have become a vehicle of intentional destabilization.

In 1980, under the charismatic leadership of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, a host of other revolutionary changes were introduced. The Reagan-Thatcher revolution goes under several names, and the term that is used most in international circles is neoliberal revolution. Economic liberalism is the doctrine that Adam Smith advocated: free markets unhampered by government interference. In the late 1800s economic liberalism was dominant in the USA and Britain, and it was referred to as laissez-faire capitalism. This era was disastrous for society, and the doctrine fell into general disrepute. Reagan & Thatcher re-introduced the doctrine with a vengeance. Economic liberalism was being revived, and hence the name "neoliberalism". The American political term "liberal" is quite a different thing altogether - American liberals tend to favor government regulation of industry if they think it will be good for society. Neoliberals always put capital growth first, American liberals would put societal benefit first.

The central themes introduced by the neoliberal revolution were deregulation, tax cuts, privatization, and the use of mass propaganda to create support for neoliberal policies and to undermine confidence in government itself. This turned out to be a very radical program of change and sophisticated propaganda was central to its success. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of economic history knew that neoliberalism would devastate society as it had in the late 1800s. The elite planners faced a major challenge: how to somehow hoodwink the electorate into tolerating the inevitable consequences.

As in the war-years, a dual-agenda propaganda strategy was adopted. The hidden agenda, as one would expect, was about the expansion of capital growth for wealthy investors. The public agenda was one of liberation: liberating individuals and businesses from "bungling government interference".

The propaganda line went something like this... Tax cuts would take money away from "the politicians" and put it into the hands of businesses and ordinary people - where it could be used "more efficiently". Deregulation would put an end to "government meddling" and allow the "efficient private sector" to "get on with business". All of our societal woes had been caused by "government bungling" and "special interest politicians". If those evil forces could be reined in, then corporations can get on with the job of "rebuilding our economies" and everyone would benefit. Privatization of government-run industries and services was "obviously a good thing" - it would give some "efficient private operator" a chance to clean up the mess that had been created by government ownership.

A notable feature of this propaganda line is its radical fundamentalism. That is, there aren't any qualifiers: government is always bad, it is always inefficient, and it never does anything right. Private business on the other hand is always efficient and never does anything wrong - and it certainly never needs to be regulated by government. There are no balancing considerations, no data to be looked at, no debate to be entered into. The question, once this line has been swallowed, is simply how quickly the project can be undertaken. How quickly can government be made "smaller"? How quickly can business be "freed"? How rapidly can taxes be cut and by how much?

There were in fact two limits to the rate at which the neoliberal agenda could be pursued. The first limit came from the elite planners themselves. Their own agenda was about the orderly expansion of capital growth, which does require the balancing of various considerations, and looking at data, and debating tradeoffs. But in terms of public resistance, the only limit was that society shouldn't be allowed to deteriorate so quickly that unrest outstripped the ability of propaganda to placate that unrest. As long as the ongoing propaganda campaign remained effective, its fundamentalist nature allowed the elite to push things along at their own chosen speed. There was no obvious point where a new propaganda line would be needed - as long as a single regulation remained on the books, the neoliberal revolution could continue to march forward.

In the initial postwar regime, Western governments were expected to regulate industry so as to achieve healthy and balanced national economies. Critical industries or infrastructures might be subsidized, so as to support better operation of the economy as a whole. Financial institutions were prevented from investing in over-risky ventures so that stable financing would be available to businesses and individuals generally. Regulations of wages and working conditions protected worker's interests and encouraged general prosperity. Other regulations protected public health and safety, and helped ensure the quality of products and foodstuffs. Regulations on mergers and acquisitions helped maintain competition and prevent the formation of monopolies. Regulations on capital transfers across borders encouraged capital to stay at home where it could be re-invested in the domestic economy. Naturally, elite economic planners used their influence to minimize the impact of regulations on corporate profits, but this was balanced against other considerations.

Over time, the effect of neoliberal deregulation destabilized this postwar system, drove down wages, reduced worker safety, increased industrial pollution and environmental degradation, encouraged more corporations to relocate their production facilities "offshore" to lower-waged countries, increased unemployment and poverty, and permitted the increasing concentration of ownership and the domination of markets by big operators. Quite predictably, the same kind of social devastation arose which had characterized the Robber Baron era of the late 1800s. Corporate profits were skyrocketing, the stock market grew wildly, and many fortunes were made. Television told people the system was working and that only more deregulation could make things better.

The postwar regulatory regime had served society's best interests and it had been intentionally encouraged by the elite planners themselves. Neoliberal propaganda, on the other hand, claimed that all regulations had arisen out of the perversity of "interfering bureaucrats". Neoliberal propaganda was and still is shallow and simplistic, it ignores all history, and it flies in the face of direct experience. But as propaganda pioneer Paul Goebbels discovered, if you tell a big enough lie, and you tell it often enough, people will eventually believe it. When that big-lie philosophy is augmented by the talents of Madison Avenue and Hollywood, and the mass channels of film and television - it is very difficult for the average viewer to know what is real and what is not.

Although the nation state was losing its power over corporations, it remained as powerful as ever over ordinary people. Social deterioration led to unrest and increased crime, as was easily predictable. Policing was increased, tough-on-crime policies were adopted, and prison populations increased. Police forces started getting better equipment and elite police groups were formed which used military-style automatic weapons. Films like "Dirty Harry" depicted police as being hampered by bureaucratic and constitutional restrictions - generating public support for more aggressive policing. Social order in the postwar regime had been largely based on voluntary compliance with laws. Under neoliberalism, the beginnings of police-state tactics and a police-state mentality began to emerge. With general prosperity abandoned, and society rapidly deteriorating, a strong nation state - in terms of police power - was important to the success of neoliberalism.

Part of the police-state mentality was the belief that constitutional civil liberties were a "bureaucratic nuisance" that hampered police investigations and contributed to crime. Popular opinion began to revile the very protections that had been so greatly valued by the earlier citizens who had fought and died to achieve them. The denigration of politicians and government - a central theme of neoliberal propaganda - further eroded public support for democratic institutions. Citizens were applauding the weakening of the only institutions which could possibly represent their interests effectively.

Let us now take a look at some of the elite thinking that went into the formulation of this bold neoliberal architecture. Recall that the Council on Foreign Relations was the elite think tank which had been responsible for designing the postwar architecture. CFR has continued to be highly influential in planning circles. One of the most prominent spokesmen for the CFR is Harvard history Professor Samuel P. Huntington. Huntington has published several pivotal articles and books which serve to promote elite regime changes in terms which appeal to wider leadership circles in government and industry.

In May 1975, a remarkable report was made public - the Report of the Trilateral Task Force on Governability of Democracies. In the book Trilateralism, Alan Wolfe discusses this report. He focuses especially on the analysis presented by Huntington in a section of the report entitled the Crisis of Democracy. Permit me to paraphrase from Wolfe's discussion, which begins on p. 295...

Huntington tells us that democratic societies "cannot work" unless the citizenry is "passive". The "democratic surge of the 1960s" represented an "excess of democracy", which must be reduced if governments are to carry out their "traditional policies", both domestic and foreign.

Huntington's notion of "traditional policies" is expressed in the following passage from the report:

To the extent that the United States was governed by anyone during the decades after World War II, it was governed by the President acting with the support and cooperation of key individuals and groups in the executive office, the federal bureaucracy, Congress, and the more important businesses, banks, law firms, foundations, and media, which constitute the private sector's "Establishment."

As you can see, Huntington's analysis was in complete agreement with the one which has been developed in this article. He concurs that citizen docility ("passivity") is central to the success of the elite regime - if "traditional policies" are to be carried out. In other words, docility is necessary if the interests of elite capital ("important businesses, banks" and the rest of the "Establishment") are to be served. His words also re-confirm that policy making is indeed an elite process, centered at the top echelons of U.S. government. Even the title "Crisis of Democracy" was unusually candid - as the "crisis" was one being faced by the elite, not by the public or by government - democracy itself was the crisis.

Huntington was accurately describing the fact that the democratic process was becoming a hindrance to elite objectives, and he was recommending that the "excess of democracy" be "reduced". Huntington's remarks were surprisingly candid - he was giving us a rare glance into inner-circle thinking. Huntington takes it for granted that the purpose of government is to support capitalist growth - democracy is only useful if it serves that purpose. As Wolfe expressed it:

The warning that comes across clearly from a reading of The Crisis of Democracy is that some people with access to the center of power now understand that the change in popular attitudes toward government will necessitate a rapid dismantling of the whole structure of liberal democracy.

As we have seen, neoliberalism indeed did lead to "a rapid dismantling of the whole structure of liberal democracy". Five years before Reagan & Thatcher unleashed the neoliberal assault the clear signals about the agenda were already visible - if you knew where to look. As it turns out, Huntington has published subsequent material which forecasts in some detail later dramatic regime changes. His book The Clash of Civilizations will prove to very useful in section 3 when we investigate the meaning of President George Bush's "New World Order".

The changes caused by neoliberalism were extensive and all-pervasive. They were revolutionary changes and they transformed not only British and American society but they also exerted pressure on other nations to adopt similar policies in order to remain competitive. But as dramatic as it was, the neoliberal revolution did not result in modern globalization. Under neoliberalism, trade barriers remained as an acceptable tool for governments to use to protect local industry. The core of the globalization agenda is about radical free trade - the elimination of all restrictions on international trade and investment. Under globalization transnational corporations are the center of power and national boundaries are irrelevant to corporations and investors.


Recommended reading:

William Greider, Who Will Tell The People, The Betrayal Of American Democracy, Touchstone - Simon & Schuster, New York, 1993.

Haynes Johnson, Sleepwalking Through History, America In The Reagan Years, W. W. Norton, New York, 1991.


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3. The New World Order & The Clash of Civilizations

The period 1989-1990 brought more revolutionary shifts in the postwar global architecture. Two very significant historical events occurred during that period - the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Desert Storm. Even before the dust had settled from these events, President George Bush announced on global television that a new world order had been established. What he meant by that was not immediately obvious, but the meaning became clear as subsequent events unfolded - under U.S. leadership and with the support of massive propaganda.

Desert Storm represented a revolutionary shift in international relations. It set a precedent which was to pave the way for later interventions in Albania, Bosnia, and eventually Yugoslavia and East Timor. The kind of "order restoring" interventions which the U.S. had formerly carried out unilaterally - and which were often opposed by global public opinion - were now being carried out on behalf of global public opinion. In addition, other Western powers and NATO started playing a bigger role. Pax Americana continued to provide the framework of world order, but within that framework other Western powers were assuming a partnership role in maintaining by force the system of collective imperialism.

Meanwhile, the collapse of the Soviet Union offered major new opportunities to the West. The Soviet realms were abandoning socialism, and looking to the West for a vision of their new future. Big Western investors and transnational corporations stood to realize immense profits out of development projects in that vast region. A world-class investment vehicle was in the process of being launched. And the Soviet deterrent to U.S. aggression was to be no more - the New World Order was to have a free hand on the world scene.

The build-up to Desert Storm witnessed an unprecedented global propaganda campaign aimed at building widespread support for intervention. Lies were spread about babies in Kuwait being taken from their incubators and left to die. Saddam Hussein - who had been favored by the West during the decade-long war with Iran - was rapidly transformed by a demonization campaign into a reincarnation of Hitler himself.

The U.S. government blocked all attempts at effective negotiation before the war, and the invasion was launched at the earliest moment permitted by the UN authorization - despite (or because of) the fact that a Soviet-brokered deal seemed about to bear fruit. The evidence was clear that the U.S. government wanted this intervention very badly, although the motivation was not apparent at the time. The only thing that was clear was that some hidden agenda was being pursued. The public agenda was all about freeing Kuwait, but the actual execution of Desert Storm went far, far beyond that limited objective. As the Storm progressed - utterly destroying Iraq as a modern nation - the public objective of the campaign gradually shifted from freeing Kuwait to ousting Saddam from power. The way was being prepared for Bush to make historic new-world-order announcement. Once again, by means of dual-agenda propaganda, top U.S. leadership had accomplished their own hidden agenda - in this case the establishment of a new global regime of international "order".

The sanctity of national sovereignty - which had been taken very seriously by the UN's general membership ever since the UN was formed - was to be rapidly abandoned by this new world order. Sovereignty was becoming conditional. If a nation met with the disapproval of the "international community" then it was now to be subject to forceful disciplining by means of Western military power. And what the "international community" approved or disapproved of - it turned out - was whatever the corporate-owned international media said it approved or disapproved of. Since the 1970s the West had funded and supported genocide in East Timor. But only when the mass media started covering events there did "international opinion" take note.

The basic outline of Bush's new world order became eventually obvious from events. However a much more comprehensive perspective was provided for us, once again, by Samuel P. Huntington. In the summer of 1993 he published an article in Foreign Affairs entitled The Clash Of Civilizations. In 1997, he elaborated his vision further in the book, The Clash Of Civilizations And The Remaking Of World Order. In this book he divides the world into eight "civilizations," and provides a detailed description of the dynamics planned for the new global regime. Ongoing kultur-kampf (culture clash) is to be expected.

When Huntington's Crisis Of Democracy was published, little public note was taken. Its prophetic significance only became apparent five years later with the launch of the neoliberal revolution. In the case of Clash Of Civilizations there was again a delay of four years from the time the initial article was published before its full importance was noted. Soon after the publication of the book version, the significance of Huntington's vision was duly noted in the mainstream press:

The Clash of Civilizations, the book by Harvard professor Sam Huntington, may not have hit the bestseller lists, but its dire warning of a 21st century rivalry between the liberal white folk and the Yellow Peril - sorry, the Confucian cultures - is underpinning the formation of a new political environment.

To adapt one of Mao's subtler metaphors, Huntington's Kultur-kampf is becoming, with stunning speed, the conceptual sea in which Washington's policy-making fish now swim.
- Guardian Weekly, April 6, 1997

Within regions, according to the kultur-kampf paradigm, there are to be "core states," which are to have a special role in maintaining order within "their" regions. As the US "authorizes" Turkish incursions into Iraq - and as Turkish attempts to join the EU are regularly rebuffed - we can see Turkey being excluded from the Western "civilization" and being guided into a core-state role in the Islamic "civilization."

Between regions, says Huntington, we are to expect perpetual "fault-line conflicts," which are to be resolved through the auspices of "non primary level participants." This is what has been happening in Yugoslavia, where allegedly neutral NATO is "resolving" the fault-line conflict between the Muslim and Christian "civilizations." The media reported on Serbian "ethnic cleansing," but in the larger picture it was the West that has engaged in ethnic cleansing. By destabilizing and fragmenting Yugoslavia, the West could then assign the various pieces to their appropriate "civilizations."

Huntington's core states are nothing really new, but are simply a renaming of what have been traditionally called Western "client states." Managing "fault line conflicts", for supposedly humanitarian reasons, becomes the excuse for intervention, in place of "defending strategic interests" or "resisting communism," - but maintaining collective Western domination continues to be the underlying agenda.

Under this regional regime there is little danger of Armageddon, nor is there any hope of a final peace. Ongoing managed conflict is to be the order of things, providing dynamic stability, with the price in suffering to be paid by the people of the non-Western "civilizations." George Orwell's 1984 becomes especially prophetic at this point in history, not only because of its kultur-kampf-like warfare scenarios, but also because of the rapid "Orwellian" shifts in public rhetoric that have accompanied globalization and the onset of its new world order.

The latest propaganda cloak - masking the regime of kultur-kampf imperialism - is called humanitarian intervention. Clinton made it all quite clear, when he spoke to NATO troops in Macedonia in July 1999. In this momentous announcement, amounting to a global Monroe Doctrine, the US - along with its faithful assistant, NATO - declares its right and its intention to forcefully intervene in the affairs of any nation, whenever and wherever it chooses:

"We must win the peace. If we can do this here...we can then say to the people of the world, 'Whether you live in Africa or Central Europe or any other place, if somebody comes after innocent civilians and tries to kill them en masse because of their race, their ethnic background or their religion and it is within our power stop it, we will stop it.'"
- "The Clinton Doctrine", from the Washington Post, reprinted in The Guardian Weekly, July 1-7 1999, p. 31

You've got hand it to him... it's a very effective formula. Who can resist the idea of taking action to prevent genocide?

The problem with the tidy little formula is that the same folks who decide where to intervene are the ones who run the global system that intentionally creates the conditions which are destabilizing societies globally and making pretexts for intervention plentiful.

It is the USA which installed or supported Noriega, Marcos, Pinochet, the Shah, the Ayatollah, and Saddam Hussein. It is the West that sold Saddam weapons of mass destruction. It is the West that supported Suharto and profited from his crony-capitalist regime and East Timor repression. It is the US and Germany who intentionally promoted the destabilization of Yugoslavia over the past decade and repeatedly encouraged Milosevic, giving him enough rope so they could later hang him with it.

A band of arsonists has successfully usurped the role of global fire crew. They start fires all over the world on a routine basis, and whenever they want to intervene militarily, all they have to do is turn the media spotlight on the results of their own diabolical handiwork. Not only that, but when they do intervene, as we've seen in Iraq and Yugoslavia, they don't put out the fire: they simply burn down the rest of the house. Ethnic repression is going on all over the world, including within staunch American allies such as Turkey and Israel, and Most Favored Nations such as China. But only when the corporate mass media gets around to 'revealing' such a circumstance does it become a 'humanitarian crisis'.

Huntington's civilizational paradigm gives Western nations a plausible justification for pursuing their self interest on the world stage, as they play their "natural role" as one of the contending "civilizations." It gives Western forces a "right" to intervene, as "disinterested parties" adjudicating "fault-line" conflicts or protecting "humanitarian" interests. The kultur-kampf mythology reeks of Western hypocrisy, and its implicit imperialism is disastrous for most of the world in terms of human rights abuses, disease and starvation, and lack of self-determination. Nonetheless, the doctrine appears to offer an effective propaganda strategy for maintaining Western hegemony under globalization into the new millennium.


Recommended reading:

Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash Of Civilizations And The Remaking Of World Order, Simon and Schuster, 1997.


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4. The revolutionary imperative

The course of world events, for the first time in history, is now largely controlled by a centralized global regime. This regime has been consolidating its power ever since World War II and is now formalizing that power into a collection of centralized institutions and a new system of international "order". Top Western political leaders are participants in this global regime, and the strong Western nation state is rapidly being dismantled and destabilized. The global regime serves elite corporate interests exclusively. It has no particular regard for human rights, democracy, human welfare, or the health of the environment. The only god of this regime is the god of wealth accumulation.

From the beginning, this evolving regime has employed dual-agenda propaganda. For each elite initiative there has been a public cover story which made that initiative seem palatable to public opinion. There has been a public reality and a hidden reality. In public reality the UN was to begin an era of peaceful international collaboration. In fact the postwar era has been dominated by US interventionism in support of international capital. In public reality the Reagan-Thatcher revolution was about freedom and individualism. In fact neoliberalism was about transferring power to corporations and dismantling democracy. In public reality humanitarianism has been the motivation for the recent acceleration in Western interventions in places like Iraq, Albania, Yugoslavia, and East Timor. In fact the global regime has been establishing - in the public mind - the "legitimacy" of its new world order.

In Section 1, The Crisis Of Globalization, the following observation was offered:

A once functional ideology has now become dysfunctional and yet it remains globally dominant. This is humanity's mental disconnect; this is our collective insanity - our dysfunctional, out-of-date growth ideology.

But in fact it is not humanity - in any democratic sense - which has a "mental disconnect". It is not humanity that directs the course of world events. It is not humanity that decides to give top priority to unrestrained growth. And yet humanity, in a general sense, is acquiescing to this state of affairs. It is acquiescing not out of informed choice, but out of a diet of disinformation and a lack of perceived alternatives.

In two centuries the Western world has come full circle from tyranny to tyranny. The tyranny of monarchs was overthrown in the Enlightenment and semi-democratic republics were established. Two centuries later those republics are being destabilized and a new tyranny is assuming power - a global tyranny of anonymous corporate elites. This anonymous regime has no qualms about creating poverty, destroying nations, and engaging in genocide.

Our elite rulers did not lead us into tyranny and environmental collapse because they are evil people, but because they were forced to by the nature of capitalism. Capitalism must continually grow in order to survive. If investors have nowhere to increase their funds then they stop investing and the whole system collapses like a house of cards.

Propaganda myth tells us that capitalism and free enterprise are one and the same thing. They are not. Under free enterprise a business can provide a service or product, make a profit in the process, and continue on stably for many years. Under capitalism such a business would be considered a failure - it does not provide a growth opportunity for an investor. Under capitalism society is forced to continually destroy old ways of doing things and adopt new ways - not because it is good for society but because that is how wealthy investors can increase their wealth still further. That's why General Motors and Firestone banded together to destroy excellent urban transit systems throughout the U.S. in the 1940s and 1950s - so that people would be forced to convert to automobiles and create growth for the automobile, tire, and petroleum industries. For exactly the same reasons, and during the same period, rail systems were destroyed in Great Britain and Ireland.

The history of the past two centuries can be understood as a process of creating new growth vehicles as required by the capitalist system. Imperialism provided immense room for capital growth and enough wealth was generated to be shared with Western populations. This process continued up until the late 1960s. At that point growth through external imperialism began to slow down. Neoliberalism permitted growth to continue by consuming the nest of capitalism - by dismantling Western societies and subjecting them to intensive capitalist exploitation. Globalization takes this process even further - creating capital growth through intensive exploitation on a global scale. The new-world-order system of global tyranny is a necessity for capitalism - in order to force the world's people to submit to the exploitation which globalization represents.

Humanity can do better than this - much better - and there is reason to hope that the time is ripe for humanity to bring about fundamental changes. For the past two hundred years capitalism has employed an unbeatable formula to maintain its stranglehold over the world. That formula has been based on the relative prosperity of Western populations. Popular support maintained Western regimes and those regimes had the military might to dominate the rest of the world. That formula reached its culmination in the postwar years when Western prosperity reached unprecedented heights.

With neoliberalism and globalization, this formula has been replaced by another. Western populations and democracy have been abandoned and capitalist elites have bet their future on the success of their WTO new-world-order tyrannical system. In a few years this regime may be so thoroughly established that it will be invincible. But in the meantime - if Western populations wake up to the fact that they are being betrayed - they have the opportunity to rise up and assert the democratic sovereignty which they in theory yet possess.

Maintaining the status quo is no longer an option. The nature of capitalism is forcing revolutionary changes. Those of us in the West have a choice. On the one hand we can acquiesce to global tyranny so that capitalism can continue its insane growth. On the other hand, we can assert our rights as free peoples - we can oust the elites from power and reorganize our economies so that they serve the needs of people instead of the needs of endless wealth accumulation.

This is our Revolutionary Imperative. Not an imperative to violent revolution, but an imperative to do something even more revolutionary - to set humanity on a sane course using peaceful, democratic means.


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Epilogue: Toward a Democratic Renaissance

How is it that elites are running the world when the most powerful nations claim to be democracies? Not only are these nations officially called democracies, but most of their citizens believe it to be true. Clearly democracy and elite rule cannot exist at the same time. Something in this scenario doesn't make sense.

The answer to this dilemma is that what we call democracy is not really democracy. We have been taught to believe that choosing between competing candidates is what democracy is all about. It isn't. Who decides who the candidates are? Who finances their campaigns? Whose interests do candidates really serve once they are elected? These are the kinds of questions that need to be answered if we want to begin to understand what democracy is about.

If a candidate wants to get elected, funds are needed to run a campaign. A candidate who is wealthy - or who has access to the wealth of others - is able to run a more impressive campaign. Therefore wealthy people are able to influence elections to their own advantage - and therefore a political system based on competing candidates is ideally suited to corruption by wealthy interests. That is the reality.

Two thousand years ago, in the ancient Roman Republic, most modern forms of political corruption were already well known. Voting-district boundaries were manipulated to favor one constituency over another. Candidates lied to get votes, bribed voters, and sought the favor of wealthy interests. Astronomical sums were spent on campaigns. Then as now, democracy was the rhetoric - and rule by elites was the reality. And then as now, the ultimate outcome was a society ruled by tyranny while the people were distracted by bread and circuses. Today, candidates for major offices are selected and funded by elites, groomed by public-relations consultants, and then sold to the voters like a new brand of blue jeans. This is not democracy.

Even if candidates sincerely want to represent the wishes of their constituencies - how can they know what those wishes are? If most people participate in politics only by occasional voting, then how are their wishes to be known? And if those people are lied to by the media, then how can their wishes be relevant to their own self-interest or the interest of their families and communities? How can such a system possibly lead to a democratic result? It cannot and it does not. Again we are faced with dual-agenda propaganda. The public reality is democracy; the hidden reality is elite rule.

In order to understand how a genuine version of democracy might work, let us consider the "excess democracy" that frightened elites in the late 1960s and caused them to respond with their neoliberal assault on democratic institutions. If elites were worried, then perhaps we the people were on to something useful. That "excess democracy" took the form of massive grass-roots movements. These movements did not overthrow governments, nor did they exercise power directly - but they were powerful instruments of democracy nonetheless.

Such movements spread information without depending on mass-media channels. They acted as vehicles of public education by means of teach-ins, and speeches at mass rallies. They reflected public opinion and they helped form public opinion. They served as forums where people could discuss and develop their common interests - and where they could pursue those interests collaboratively. By means of such movements people became politically active instead of politically passive. In the face of such movements, our official democratic institutions were forced to live up to their best purposes - reflecting popular will. For a few dramatic years, these movements made democracy somewhat of a reality. For elites this was a threat; for we the people it was a glimmer of hope - genuine democracy is perhaps possible.

Historically there have been many previous mass movements: for better working conditions, union recognition, votes for women, the abolition of slavery, and others. Some of these movements were much larger than those of the sixties and achieved even more dramatic results. Although government leaders typically claim credit for democratic reforms implemented while they are in office, it has always been mass movements which have actually been responsible for achieving those reforms.

But these movements have all been ephemeral. When the enthusiasm fades, politics returns to business-as-usual - and elites are once again in charge. Whatever reforms were achieved are then gradually undermined. With all the gains of the environmental movement, for example, environmental degradation is now proceeding at a faster pace than ever before. And the gains of the sixties movements were undone by the elite-sponsored neoliberal revolution. How can we - the people of the world - achieve lasting democracy?

First of all we need another powerful mass movement - for that is the only thing that has ever successfully challenged the power of elites. Second, the goal of the movement must be the achievement of a democratic society - if the goal is anything less, then the movement will dissipate when that lesser goal is achieved. Third, the movement itself must operate democratically - for the means always become the ends.

In building such a movement, different groups will need to listen to one another, identify common interests, and learn how to collaborate together in pursuit of common objectives. As the movement grows, more and more people and groups will need to be brought in, and their interests incorporated. Even members of current elites must be included - but with a voice no louder than anyone else's. In the end, such a movement becomes a democratic civil society. The collaborative movement process evolves into a democratic societal process. If this can be achieved on a global scale, then a livable and peaceful world becomes a possibility. If this is achieved then we will enter a new era - the era of a democratic renaissance.

In early December 1999 a ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization was held in Seattle Washington. Activists from around the world, from many different "causes", and across social divisions, all gathered in opposition to the WTO - the central symbol of the global regime. Television viewers worldwide were aware of the street demonstrations, the violent response of the authorities, and the fact that the WTO process was temporarily stalled. But these were not the strategically significant events. Of strategic significance was the fact that an embryonic movement became aware of itself and accelerated a collaborative movement-building process. It was in the street demonstrations that a visceral feeling of movement self awareness arose; it was in the less dramatic classes and discussion groups that the collaborative process gathered momentum.

If new-world-order global tyranny is to be overcome, this beginning spark of a democratic mass movement may represent our last and best hope. In order to succeed, this movement must learn from the successes and failures of past movements and it must aim to become a permanent, inclusive, and democratic political force. If we fail in these objectives - and the elite global regime is allowed to consolidate its power - then we are unlikely to get another chance. Like the Germans after 1933, we will find that our democratic options have been taken away from us. And in our case, there will be no one left to come to our rescue.


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