Mr Popular, John Bruton, is putting me straight again. Lecturing from his pulpit on the pages of the Irish Independent. An Independence, John informed me, the newspaper would have gotten without the need for the Easter Rising.
Mr Popular is bemoaning our desire to challenge the social and corporate structures that “rescued the developing world from extreme poverty”. He is disgusted that we have “perceived” our “living standards as stagnating”. He is miffed that we want to address the inequalities systemic in the “global capitalist economy”.
John worries that we just don’t get it; pointing out “containerisation” has revolutionised the way we transport “food, clothing and consumer goods”. And, he’s right. The Capitalist Globalisation revolution, going all the way back to 1492 and Christopher Columbus, has helped lift more people out of poverty than any other economic system.
Without Capitalist Globalisation, we would not have made countless discoveries and millions of advances across all areas of our civilisation. It was nothing short of the mother invention. But now, Mr Popular laments, we are turning our backs on it.
He’s fearful of a societal breakdown; a fracturing that doesn’t except Capitalist Globalisation as the cure to our modern ills. We are listening to populist people like Bernie Sanders, Yanis Varoufakis, Paul Krugman and Naomi Klein, allowing them fill our heads with all sorts of new solutions, rather than listening to Mr Popular. I mean, who cares if we are in a never ending Global Capitalist economic cycle of boom and bust the past four hundred years?
When silver started to flow from the Americas to Europe, it also moved to China, via Manila, in exchange for silk, spices and fine art. As the silver piled in, flooding the market, the value of the “precious metal” plummeted. The subsequent devaluation caused massive price inflation and the collapse led to severe economic and political crises across the globe. Globalisation was a problem then; it is a problem today.
When Columbus wrote of his discovery of the new lands of “India beyond the Ganges” to Spain’s Ferdinand and Isabella, he was lying. He told of “great mines of gold” and “a thousand other things of value” in attempts to deflect from the fact that he didn’t have a clue a) where the hell he was? b) what, if anything, was of value? and c) how would he keep the truth from getting out?
For six years, Columbus spun and spun what (the brilliant historian) Peter Frankopan called “a tissue of exaggerations, misconceptions and outright lies”, until 1498, when he “discovered” pearls in what is now Venezuela.
Emboldened by this “discovery” and satisfied with the timidity of the natives, they carried on. Exploration became conquest and violence became the vehicle of progress. Nascent Globalisation brought wealth and riches to Spain and Portugal, at the expense of the eradication of the native people of the New World. Entire tribes bloodily erased, those who survived the guns died to Old World diseases of small pox and influenza. And the template was set.
Modern Capitalist Globalisation, while not as obviously violent, is every bit as ruthless and systematic in how it preys on the resources (human and environmental) of the lands it expands into. The problem today is that natural resources are scarcer or more difficult to access than before. Fracking and Tar Sands extractions are just easy to say terms, they avoid us having to say obliteration of the planet. It’s not human innovation; it’s human self-destruction.
Then there’s the continual shrinking of the public sphere. Despite the bullsh!t peddled by our Right Wing Capitalist owned and operated media, Water is the next natural resource to be removed from the list of basic human rights. Water Commodification is a Capitalist Globalisation Wet Dream (pun intended). CNBC have recommended that investors get into trading in Water, calling it “the commodity of the future”. But we are expected to trust politicians, who do U-turns faster than Lionel Messi, that our water will not be privatised! Sorry, no can do.
Then there’s the biggest problem with the latest iterations of Capitalist Globalisation; “Free Trade” Deals TTP and TTIP. Agreements Drawn up in secret by Chumocracy members that, when we question the content (as I did to a Fianna Fail member this week) we are told, “TTIP will create jobs, you’re not against job creation, are you?” ; as if any concerns can be addressed by smug deflection.
So, what do we know?
We know TTIP enforces a leveling of food industry standards. Sounds good, a uniform food safety standard, what could be bad about that? Well, it’s awful if not dangerous. It is not that the US has to raise their standards to EU levels. It in fact, insists that the EU reduces their standards to US levels. Say hello to growth hormone and chemical spraying as standard. No wonder Obama has urged the EU to get the deal done.
Not bad enough that our food will be more toxic, but our jobs will be less well paid. TTIP will enforce an erosion of public services and workers rights via a “level playing field” agenda. Again, this “equalisation” is a downward race to the bottom. Yes, Mr Fianna Fail, TTIP will create jobs…..Yellow Pack ones.
Both TTIP and TPP agreements are not about free trade. They are, as a highly respected Pro-Free Trade Economist (they exist) told me recently, “about geopolitical positioning… and both are damaging to free trade”.
But that’s enough of my malfeasance. Let’s get back to the Hero of 1916, John Bruton. He admits “globalisation is being abused by some tax avoiders”, a few bad eggs. He’s advocating for further Globalisation, which is good if it leads to a rising of living standards. He’s proposing we do it via the capitalist right wing “ideological politics”, which is bad, potentially very bad.
But at least Mr Popular is having the debate. Our government don’t want to even peep inside the pages of the deal. They want to be able to plead ignorance. They want to ignore that TTIP is an agreement to legalise the stamping down of workers rights and hard won environmental safety laws. They’ve adopted a triple x due diligence technique; as in “Sign here, here and here. Good lads!”.
They can’t be bothered reading the entire agreement. They’ve read an EU Commission brochure. A six page idiots guide to TTIP. The content of which is as factual as Columbus’s claims, to have discovered India beyond the Ganges. If you look closely, you can see the small print reads: “This brochure was brought to you by Apple, Google, Starbucks, Goldman Sachs and the letters T, T, I and P.
Tony Groves April 2016