An essay on globalization and the protests against global capitalism.

  During the long preparations for the Prague Protests some relevant questions came up. Do we expect that some cosmetic reform if accepted by these world bodies will wipe out the ills of globalisation? Simultaneously the proponents of globalisation are claiming that this is the only way for economic well being and sustainable development. There cannot be a greater lie than this. Even the 1998 statistics of the World Bank reveal a different picture.

The 1998 statistics show - one sixth of the population enjoys 80% of world income and 57% of world population in 63 countries share 6% of world income that is about 2$ per day. The number of extremely poor people in South Asia increased from 495 million in 1997 to 522 million in 1998. And in Sub-Saharan countries in one year it increased by 48m .At this juncture I would like to remind that there are 354 billionaires and thousands of multi-millionaires. Even in rich countries there is a growing practice of the merging of big companies resulting in unemployment (about 10%). Only in US unemployment decreased. And it is a well-known fact that GATT was signed to bring life to the US economy. Globalisation of economy has opened the door of globalisation of poverty.

Vivian Forrester in her best selling book Economic Horror rightly commented that economic neo-liberalism has introduced a new paradigm, "Increasingly it offers the most vulnerable in our society a quite new choice - poverty at work or poverty on the dole." In terms of human value a worse thing has happened. In market dominated society people have been converted into commodity. The usefulness of the working mass is counted in terms of their contribution to the profit mechanism.

The grandeur of great promises, the marvels of material and intellectual achievements of the industrial age must be visualised in order to understand the trauma that realisation of its failure is producing today. The industrial age has indeed failed to fulfil the great promise-Unlimited production, absolute freedom and unrestricted happiness because of its psychological premises, that is radical hedonism which postulates: 1.that happiness can be achieved by fulfilment of any material or sensual desire; 2.that in order to fulfil those desires, egoism, greed and selfishness have to be encouraged. This according to hedonist belief will Lead to harmony and peace. It is well known to the world that radical hedonism is the philosophy of rich people and has been adopted by the neo-liberals. Under the influence of such psychological premises we cannot expect that the economic oligarchies will change their system.

With the new rules of the trinity (WTO, WB and IMF) the free flow of money, goods and services should be allowed but not the free flow of labour. If we look at the statistics, investment has increased by about 500% in last 8 years but employment generation has increased by less than 1%. Each day about 800 billion to one trillion US$ changes hand in stock market without generating any employment.

Who supports this system? Firstly the members of the corporate class which comprises people such as corporate managers, lawyers, consultants, public-relation specialists, financial brokers and wealthy investors; and secondly the people who get direct benefit from this system - the new upper middle class. This system directly benefits 20% of the population and indirectly another 20%. Those are the people who control the political power, economic power, mass media, and educational and cultural institutions. And the 60% of the population who suffers due to this system has no power, no voice. (This figure corresponds to the poorer countries) They wait with a hope that the trickle down economy may pour a few drops as a concession one day.

Now the question is what is the goal to achieve? In economic terms it is common sense to expect that guarantee of minimum requirements of life for all should be the economic goal of any just economic system. It is also a fact that physical wealth is not unlimited. The just economic paradigm must design its policy based on the above two principles. To meet The above demands the following steps need to be taken which I believe will not be supported by the economic oligarchies:

1. Scrap the policies of SAP and also TRIM, TRIP and GATS; and the WB, IMF and WTO should function under UN auspices to help different socio-economic zones to achieve economic self-reliance. Economy should be production oriented and not export oriented.
2. Industry should be based on the availability of raw materials and local consumption should get priority rather than export.
3. Except in exceptional cases only capital goods which are needed to develop basic industries, and hi-tech goods can be exported and imported.
4. Big corporations and banks should be compelled to pay 25% of their net income to meet the social cost. Tax should also be levied on money exchange. This will generate billions of dollars and can be utilised in education promotion, health care and ecological protection.
5. In all spheres of economic activities - farming, industry, trade and services the co-operative system should be introduced and also individual ownership is to be encouraged in the case of small-scale farming and industry.
6. Income tax for low-income people should be eliminated in favour of taxes on resource extraction, international money exchange, luxury goods, and upper level income. It will be best if the highest income does not exceed 20% of the lowest income for the time being.
7. Economic communities for free flow of goods; money, services and labour will be beneficial only if countries with the same economic standard combine to form one economic unit. Some examples are - the EU, ASEAN, SAARC, ANDEAN, African countries etc. Free market between countries of an unequal standard (like NAFTA) will be detrimental for the people of both the countries. East Europe should form a separate economic unit and not join the EU. Only after developing its economy to Western standard should they join the EU. One day the whole world can become one economic unit but not as long as an unjust distribution system and the gap between rich and poor countries exist.
8. Killing of whales, elephants, gorillas, birds and other endangered species should be banned. Also the destruction of rain forests and the destruction of eco- systems should be banned. 
9. Suppression of language and culture should be opposed.

It is inevitable that neither the trinity (WB, IMF, WTO) nor their supportive governments can accept these recommendations. So the question arises 'What next?'

The only alternative is to organise grassroots people's movements. We should not forget communism collapsed by people's movement and we also saw the collapse of the dictatorial regime of Marcos in The Philippines by people's movement.

Simultaneously wherever possible we should form economic co-operatives or communities mobilising small farmers, industry owners and traders. There already exist a few such projects. Each NGO also can take responsibility to establish economic projects for the benefit of the local people. Such efforts also do exist. The only thing needed is to expand such efforts.

I finally propose on this occasion to form a platform to co-ordinate our activities throughout the world. This can be termed as globalisation of people's effort. We can give any name to this platform like-universal social forum or neo-humanistic forum or any other.

I agree that after the collapse of the Commintern and the ineffectiveness of socialist international, this protest shows a new dimension to create an anti-thesis against the concentration of wealth, unjust systems and neo-liberalism. I strongly believe that this will in the near future blossom into a revolution: a revolution of a new paradigm.

But we should remember that economy as content of life is a deadly illusion. If we want economic democracy to take its root it is essential to be aware of the cultural environment and political system that promote it. Psycho-economic exploitation precedes economic exploitation. The economic system reflects the psychology promoted by the cultural and political system. Hence if we have any vision for revolution we must be aware of this phenomenon. The psychology of 'to have' needs to be changed into psychology of 'to be'.

Lastly, I would like to emphasise that as we are eager to restore ecological balance and to live in harmony with nature and not in contradiction with it, we should also make efforts to bring harmony within in the physical, intellectual and spiritual dimensions of our life.

If we do not alter the framework of the social system and the international order, which are based on force and the exploitation of the weaker section of society and backward nations, world peace will be a wild dream.