For those of you who think I use historical parallels too much, you might not like the next few paragraphs. But if you care about indigenous industry, workers rights and environmental protection, I pray patience…
In 1494, the Portuguese and Spanish Royal Families sat down to carve up the world between them in the Treaty of Tordesillas. They didn’t seek input from the inhabitants of the lands to be dissected or inquire as to the native’s preference for Imperial Occupation. No, they simply drew an imaginary line from the Arctic to the Antarctic and using the Cape Verde Islands as a demarcation, they divided the world into Portuguese East and Spanish West.
The authority for this, apart from naval supremacy, was granted from none other than God himself. The Vatican sanctioned the Treaty via the papal bull inter caetera; job done. In the intervening years, new treaties replaced old, more people were displaced or massacred and natural resources have been stripped like a Yeats’ September 1913’s drying “the marrow from the bone”.
Now they’re back again; this time with the TTIP or TTP or various other “Free Trade” deals designed to devour declining natural resources, destroy indigenous self sustaining industries and ride roughshod over any environmental legislation or protections.
Syriza knew this. Before their election, they sought a mandate to Renegotiate the Odious Debt and Stop the mining of the Greek Peoples natural resources by Big Energy. Forgotten in the “Syriza are idiots” narrative, is that they had the courage of their convictions. Less than a month after they took power, the Drilling stopped! Now I can’t prove it, but am fairly certain that not all of the unhappiness with Syriza came from the Troika dealings with Yanis Varoufakis . No, I suspect some of it came from Multinational Companies ire, put out that their pillaging and piracy had been (briefly) stalled. Naomi Klein covers this wonderfully in her book: This Changes Everything.
Tragically, it gets worse. The TTIP package we are currently facing, is being negotiated in private. We are not even to be privy to the deal that we will be bound by. While some of the text has leaked, in general, anyone following it closely is afraid. They should be. Imagine a local manufacturer of a textile being told he must cease trading, as he is paying his staff in Waterford more than their equivalent in a Ukrainian manufacturer. Sound stupid and impossible? Well, it’s happening right now.
A Solar Panel manufacturer in Ontario Canada has been forced to close, at the loss of hundreds of jobs, because they had the gall to want to source between 40-60 per cent of their workforce and materials locally. You see, this Buy Local initiative was against World Trade Organisation “Free Trade” legislation. This legislation meant they had to buy or use cheaper materials and lower paid staff… or close! I mean WTF???
But, I hear you say, our Government won’t let that happen here, right? Wrong! Our Government* MEP’s are universally SUPPORTIVE of this deal. They feel that the Neoliberal Wet Dream of less workers right, less regulation and carving up of already limited resources by Multinational Companies, will benefit Ireland’s “Tax Inversion Knowledge Box” Economy. Beggar thy Neighbour via “Free Trade”. Welcome Ireland 2020, the best small country in the world for a brass plate tax inversion start up…
In fact, our Government Party MEP’s have voted consistently for these Free Trade agreements and are hell bent on the TTIP passing without so much as letting You or I know what’s happening. I think enda might phrase it as: I’m not going to get into economic jargon here because the vast majority of people don’t understand.”
The TTIP is the Tip of the Iceberg and the Ships Captain is asleep at the wheel.
Tony Groves Feb 2016
*These MEP’s also voted against the EU pardon of Edward Snowden for spying